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News from around the World

News Archive

May 2018

  1. UK Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: Final report
  2. Oil and gas operators challenged on HCRs
  3. RR1124 – Hazardous substances at work survey: an analysis of respondents’ experiences and views of COSHH, CLAW and DSEAR
  4. Unlocking the potential of health and safety data – the Lloyd’s Register Foundation and HSE ‘DISCOVERING SAFETY’ programme
  5. Toxic cabin air warning should trigger public inquiry
  6. One-in-nine workers are in insecure jobs, says the UK TUC
  7. UK GMB takes on Hermes over workers’ rights
  8. TUC hails Scottish campaign against zero hours
  9. ‘Climate of fear’ at Lidl, claim Scottish workers
  10. Exploitation rife in UK nail bars, recycling, on sites and in car washes
  11. GLAA report ‘hits nail on the head’ on site exploitation
  12. Mental Health Awareness Week – this year the focus is on STRESS
  13. HSE Research reports relevant to MSDs
  14. News from US NIOSH: Injury from Work-related Assaults Increasing among Law Enforcement Officers
  15. Zero Hour contracts
  16. Steep rise in reported assaults against UK National Health Service staff
  17. REACH 2018 – New practical guide on substance identity profile
  18. Cefic’s new REACH 2018 FAQs
  19. 82% of inspected internet advertisements for hazardous chemicals lack required warning
  20. Event: Mental Health 2018 – Delivering the Five year Forward View
  21. Want to encourage safe and healthy behaviours in your workplace?
  22. Safety is top concern in Lidl distribution centres
  23. UK Health and Safety Laboratories Research Update
  24. For too many, work is pretty miserable
  25. Canada: Firm behind rail catastrophe is let off
  26. New index shows up mining industry failings
  27. USA – Latest NIOSH research: New Fentanyl Resources Available for Workers at Risk of Exposure
  28. US NIOSH April 2018 Research Rounds Newsletter Available
  29. More than 60 per cent of the world’s employed population are in the informal economy: ILO
  30. Iran: FIFA Called on to Enforce Human Rights and non-Discrimination Policy

UK Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: Final report

The Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety is being led by Dame Judith Hackitt.

Its purpose is to make recommendations that will ensure we have a sufficiently robust regulatory system for the future and to provide further assurance to residents that the complete system is working to ensure the buildings they live in are safe and remain so.

It examines building and fire safety regulations and related compliance and enforcement, with a focus on high rise residential buildings.

This final report sets out over 50 recommendations for government as to how to deliver a more robust regulatory system for the future.

Full 159 page report:

Oil and gas operators challenged on HCRs

With the thirtieth anniversary of the Piper Alpha disaster approaching, HSE’s Director of Energy Division has recently written to all offshore oil and gas production operators regarding gas releases in the North Sea.

The letter has been sent because, despite recent strides being made in reducing the number of hydrocarbon releases (HCRs), they continue to occur, and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is concerned that the industry needs to do more to tackle them.

Chris Flint, HSE’s Director of Energy Division, said “Every HCR is a safety threat, as it represents a failure in an operator’s management of its risks. I recognise the steps the industry has taken to reduce the overall number of HCRs, however HCRs remain a concern, particularly major HCRs because of their greater potential to lead to fires, explosions and multiple losses of life. There have been several such releases in recent years that have come perilously close to disaster.”

Chris believes a new approach is now needed, and has asked industry senior leaders to look critically at their own operations, and to reflect on the learning from incidents across the process industries, both onshore and offshore, to identify where improvements can be made.

More information:

RR1124 – Hazardous substances at work survey: an analysis of respondents’ experiences and views of COSHH, CLAW and DSEAR

Three domestic regulations set out employers’ responsibilities in Great Britain to protect the health and safety of their workforce from exposure to hazardous substances. These are: The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH); The Control of Lead at Work Regulations (CLAW); and The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR).

The Health and Safety Executive undertook an evidence gathering exercise to review these regulations to explore how risk management of hazardous substances at work could be simplified whilst maintaining standards of protection.

This report analyses the responses to an on-line survey about dutyholders’, employees’ and employers’ experiences of COSHH, CLAW and DSEAR. The research found that the regulations provide a useful framework for determining organisational policies and processes to manage the risks from hazardous substances but this could be simplified and supported by additional guidance.

Full report:

Unlocking the potential of health and safety data – the Lloyd’s Register Foundation and HSE ‘DISCOVERING SAFETY’ programme

Every year, huge amounts of incident investigation findings and operational health and safety data are collected globally. The Lloyd’s Register Foundation (LRF) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), supported by the Thomas Ashton Institute are running an ambitious new programme, ‘DISCOVERING SAFETY’ which aims to substantially improve health and safety and ultimately save lives, particularly in poorer or developing nations.

The team have been working with industry, trade groups, international networks, governments, academia and other stakeholders to identify health and safety challenges and opportunities where deeper insights from data could make a significant impact. Important questions emerging from this work include ‘How can we learn more about the root causes of product safety failures? and ‘What are the causes and circumstances leading to loss of containment accidents in high hazard industrial sites?’

These and other questions will be explored in a multi-disciplinary effort which will develop new techniques to aggregate and analyse health and safety data from sources around the world. The work will understand how to access and use the data available and apply leading expertise in data science, data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning. Much of the work will be underpinned by advances in areas such as text mining and language processing, which are expected to have important spin-off benefits.

The DISCOVERING SAFETY programme will build on the research outcomes to make a practical difference, applying the findings to international improvement initiatives, education and commercial tools and services.

By exploiting the value that data can bring to health and safety in a global context, DISCOVERING SAFETY will ultimately benefit both emerging and mature economies by reducing fatalities and injuries caused by industrial accidents and ill health. Organisations from all parts of the world will be able to develop strategies to sustain health and safety performance and to continue to make improvements to ensure longer term benefits and impact.

More information:

Toxic cabin air warning should trigger public inquiry

The recommendations from an inquest into the death of a cabin crew member should be the ‘catalyst’ for a public enquiry, the UK union Unite has said.

The union call came after Berkshire’s senior coroner in the inquest into the death of Matthew Bass, a Unite member and British Airways’ cabin crew, said he would write to the chief coroner asking him to warn all coroners in England and Wales of the need for additional tests where the cause of death could be toxic cabin air on board aircraft. Unite says the ‘unprecedented’ letter of concern, which recognises that exposure to toxic cabin air does lead to a clinical impact on the body, came on 30 April 2018 as the coroner recorded a verdict of ‘death by misadventure’ at the conclusion of the inquest.

Unite is currently taking over 100 legal cases on behalf of cabin crew who have been involved in fume events and suffered ill-health from toxic cabin air.

More information:

One-in-nine workers are in insecure jobs, says the UK TUC

Over 3.8 million people are in insecure work, such as agency work, zero hour contracts and low-paid self-employment, an analysis by the TUC has found.

The union body found that 1-in-9 workers, or 11.9 per cent of the workforce, is in insecure forms of employment. This amounts to 3,820,000 UK workers overall. As well as economic hardship and disruption to family life, the TUC says many workers in the ‘gig economy’ are denied key workplace rights, including protection from unfair dismissal and rights to be represented by a trade union.

Bosses are falsely labelling staff as self-employed, outsourcing work to agencies or using zero hours contracts to drive down costs and dodge their employment and tax responsibilities, says the TUC. It adds that agency and zero hours staff can he hired and fired at will and have no right to return to their job after having a baby. And ‘gig economy’ workers forced into bogus ‘self-employment’ by their boss are not guaranteed the national minimum wage, paid holidays or sick pay.

More information:

UK GMB takes on Hermes over workers’ rights

The delivery company Hermes is facing a union-backed challenge from its drivers.

The legal action, which started on 30 April at a Leeds employment tribunal, has been brought by eight couriers at Hermes, which delivers packages for retailers such as Next, Asos, John Lewis, Topshop and River Island. The union GMB says the drivers are being denied basic workers’ rights by being forced to declare themselves self-employed, meaning they are not entitled to holiday or sick pay or to be paid the legal minimum hourly rate under the national living wage. The union says this together with ‘unrealistic’ targets leaves them vulnerable to working long and potentially dangerous hours. The Hermes claim mirrors several other similar tribunal hearings – including verdicts in cases brought against Uber, Addison Lee, City Sprint, Excel and eCourier – where judges have ruled that the staff should be given the legal classification of “workers”, entitling them to the minimum wage and holiday pay rights.

More information:

TUC hails Scottish campaign against zero hours

The leader of the UK’s trade union movement has praised “brilliant” campaigns against zero hours contracts by young Scottish workers.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said the Better Than Zero campaign had revitalised unions in Scotland. The group campaigns against zero hours contracts, particularly in sectors overrepresented by young people. The TUC leader said the campaign, backed by the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), gave a voice to “isolated” and exploited young workers. “The STUC’s Better than Zero campaign has brilliantly exposed the insecurity faced by so many young workers in Scotland, namely being at the sharp end of low pay and modern insecure work patterns. Using practical support for young workers, the campaign has engaged many who would otherwise have been isolated in today’s fragmented world of work.”

More information:

‘Climate of fear’ at Lidl, claim Scottish workers

Workers at supermarket giant Lidl’s Scottish distribution depot “operate in a climate of fear”, retail union Usdaw has warned.

Hundreds of staff at the site in Livingston load groceries for transportation to Lidl’s 94 stores across Scotland. But random employee theft checks are held without reasonable grounds for suspicion, reports Usdaw.

The union adds that employees suffering extreme back pain from heavy lifting are afraid to take time off sick. Workers are also timed on how quickly they can complete tasks like stacking a pallet for delivery. A Lidl distribution staff member told the Sunday Herald workers are “always pressured to produce more than is capable in a tight time frame.”

More information:

Exploitation rife in UK nail bars, recycling, on sites and in car washes

Exploitation and abuse of workers is widespread across the UK economy, according to a new report, which found that 17 sectors are high-risk for mistreatment ranging from wages theft to slavery.

Construction, recycling, nail bars and car washes were among the top sectors where the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) said there was slavery. Agriculture, food packing, fishing, shellfish gathering, warehouse and distribution, garment manufacturing, taxi driving, retail, domestic work, and social care were also highlighted in the report. “It’s not until now that we’ve had the ability to look, but it’s a case of the more you look, the more you find,” said Ian Waterfield, the GLAA operations director.

More information:

GLAA report ‘hits nail on the head’ on site exploitation

The Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) on workplace exploitation ‘is entirely right’ in its criticism of the exploitation and modern slavery so prevalent in the construction industry, the union Unite has said.

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “This important and authoritative report from the GLAA ‘hits the nail on the head’ when it comes to identifying how and why exploitation occurs in the construction industry. The report is entirely right to identify that not only does false self-employment deny workers basic employment rights but by barring them from receiving holiday and sick pay, these workers are automatically being exploited and further abuses are likely.”

More information:

Mental Health Awareness Week – this year the focus is on STRESS

With more than 11 million working days lost each year due to stress, now is the time to support your people and start those conversations about stress and mental health.

Why should you invest in mental health training?

British Safety Council offer a suite of mental health and wellbeing programmes designed to start conversations and support employees who are experiencing poor mental health

More details:

HSE Research reports relevant to MSDs

RR1104 – Occupational health and extended working lives in the transport sector – The purpose of this study was to gather evidence about the health effects of working into older age, by focusing on the transport and logistics sector.

RR1132 – Manual handling risks to midwives associated with birthing pools literature review and incident analysis – This report describes research into the manual handling related risks to midwives associated with providing care to women choosing to use a birthing pool for labour and/or birth at home and in hospital.

A NIOSH (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health) study found that nonfatal injuries from work-related assaults are rising among law enforcement officers.

The rate of nonfatal injury from work-related assaults has increased among law enforcement officers, according to a NIOSH study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The study is the first national investigation of nonfatal injuries from assaults and other unintentional injuries, including accidental falls and motor vehicle crashes.

Law enforcement is recognized as a particularly dangerous occupation. Until now, however, little information was available on trends in nonfatal work-related injuries among law enforcement officers. Accordingly, this study aimed to provide information about the causes and extent of these injuries.

More information:

Zero Hour contracts

Commenting on new figures published on 23 April 2018 by the Office for National Statistics, which show that UK firms used 1.8 million zero-hour contacts in 2017 and that 901,000 people have a zero-hour contract as their main employment (final quarter of 2017), TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“Most people are not on zero-hour contracts by choice. They want the same rights, security and guaranteed hours as other employees.

“More than half of zero-hour contract workers have had jobs cancelled with less than a day’s notice. Zero-hour contracts are a licence to treat people like disposable labour and the government should ban them.”

More information:

Steep rise in reported assaults against UK National Health Service staff

Physical assaults on NHS staff in England rose by nearly 10 per cent last year compared to 2015/16, according to new research by UNISON and Health Service Journal (HSJ).

The figures were obtained following Freedom of Information (FoI) requests – submitted by HSJ on behalf of UNISON – to all the 244 NHS trusts in England. Responses were received from 181 organisations. The biggest increase was in the acute sector, with reported attacks on health workers in hospitals with an A&E department up a ‘staggering’ 21 per cent, said UNISON. There were 18,720 assaults in 2016/17 in the acute trusts who responded, compared to 15,469 the previous year. NHS trusts struggling to meet their performance targets were likely to fare particularly badly. Trusts who treated 90 per cent or fewer of their patients within 18 weeks of referral saw an average increase in reported assaults of 36.2 per cent on the previous year. Similarly, NHS trusts struggling with huge financial deficits were also likely to have witnessed a big rise in the number of reported attacks on staff. When measured per 1,000 staff, to take account of increases in the NHS workforce, the rise in reported assaults was 6 per cent up on the 2015/16 figures.

More information:

REACH 2018 – New practical guide on substance identity profile

The guide provides practical advice to potential and existing registrants of the same substance to prepare and develop the substance identity profile (SIP). It complements the advice given in Appendix III of Guidance for identification and naming of substances under REACH and CLP and the Q&As.

Practical guides | Guidance | Q&As

Cefic’s new REACH 2018 FAQs

The European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) has published a list of the most frequently asked questions about the REACH 2018 deadline and how the EU chemical industry is preparing for it.

Cefic’s FAQs

82% of inspected internet advertisements for hazardous chemicals lack required warning

An enforcement project checking online advertisements for hazardous chemical mixtures finds a significant number with no hazard statements. Administrative orders, fines and criminal complaints have been undertaken.

A total of 1,314 internet advertisements were checked, with 1,083 (82%) found to be non-compliant with the Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP) Regulation. The majority of the non-compliant advertisements did not contain the required information on hazards.

The project’s aim was to check whether the advertisements of hazardous chemical mixtures offered for sale on the internet comply with the requirements of Article 48(2) to CLP. This provision states that an advertisement for a mixture classified as hazardous has to mention the hazard indicated on the label if the mixture can be purchased without first seeing the label.

Enforcement authorities carried out the 1 314 desktop inspections from January to August in 2017. 95% of the checked websites were professional internet shops. The majority of the inspected mixtures were used for household (37%), construction (16%), and motor products (14%).

In cases of non-compliance, inspectors took appropriate enforcement measures to remedy or sanction it. In most cases, written or verbal advice was given, but other measures, such as fines, administrative orders or criminal complaints, were also taken.

Further information:

Event: Mental Health 2018 – Delivering the Five year Forward View

19 September 2018, Royal Society for Medicine (RSM), London

The independent Mental Health Taskforce published its Five Year Forward View in February 2016 which set out the current state of mental health service provision in England and made recommendations in all service areas.

In July 2016, NHS England published an Implementation Plan detailing how it will deliver the recommendations made by the Taskforce working with its partner arms-length bodies. The Plan presents the timeframes and funding for delivery of the programmes of work which will transform mental health services.

It is an opportunity to consider progress of the Implementation Plan and monitor progress on its commitments to transform mental health services.

More information:

Want to encourage safe and healthy behaviours in your workplace?

Whilst people normally have the required technical competence for their role, they sometimes lack the softer, interpersonal skills to engage with, encourage and influence others at work.

British Safety Council’s new one-day workshop provides learners with practical tools and skills to help drive health and safety performance.

The Interpersonal skills workshop teaches people how to:

Two versions of this workshop:

  1. For health and safety teams
  2. For managers, supervisors and team leaders.

The learning outcomes are the same, but the examples used are audience-specific.

Find out more and book:

Safety is top concern in Lidl distribution centres

Health and safety tops the list of concerns raise by staff in distribution centres for the discount chain Lidl, retail union Usdaw has said.

As the union embarked on the latest stage of its campaign for formal recognition in the centres, Paddy Lillis, Usdaw’s general secretary elect, said these workers need union representation. “Topping the list of staff concerns are significant issues around health and safety, often made worse by an unreasonable volume of work and difficult to achieve performance targets. Lidl staff do not feel they are able to raise these issues with managers and need an independent trade union to help prevent accidents and serious injuries.”

More information:

UK Health and Safety Laboratories Research Update

Latest research reports:

For too many, work is pretty miserable

More than one in every ten workers (11 per cent) report regularly feeling miserable at work and one in four workers (25 per cent) feel their job negatively affects their mental health, a study by the human resources professionals’ organisation – Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) has found.

CIPD also found nearly a third of workers (30 per cent) say their workload is too much. It says its UK Working Lives survey is the first comprehensive measure of job quality in the UK, across the workforce at all levels, sectors and regions. CIPD questioned a 6,000-strong representative sample of the UK workforce. It found those at the top of the workforce, in senior manager roles, are the most satisfied with their jobs.

More information:

Canada: Firm behind rail catastrophe is let off

Criminal charges have been dropped against Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA), according to Quebec’s Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions (DPCP).

The firm had been accused of causing the deaths of 47 people when 73 train cars of highly combustible crude oil derailed in the small Quebec town of Lac-Mégantic in 2013, turning the downtown into a raging inferno. MMA locomotive engineer Tom Harding, 56, rail traffic controller Richard Labrie, 59, and operations manager Jean Demaître, 53, were tried on 47 counts of criminal negligence causing death – one count for each of the victims of the rail disaster.

In January 2018, a jury acquitted the three MMA employees after the defence argued successfully that the rail workers were being blamed for the consequences of poor regulatory oversight and a clear failure of the rail firm to establish and enforce safe procedures. Much of the case was based on a 2014 Canada Transportation Safety Board report that documented MMA’s “weak safety culture” and faulted Transport Canada for lax oversight of the carrier. MMA has since declared bankruptcy. DPCP said it no longer believes there is enough evidence to obtain a guilty verdict against MMA, which operated the train.

More information:

New index shows up mining industry failings

A comprehensive new index, ranking large-scale mining companies in six different performance areas, has found that companies are scoring lowest on working conditions.

The Responsible Mining Index (RMI) 2018, launched in Geneva on 11 April 2018, assesses 30 global mining companies on several economic, environmental, social and governance issues, including working conditions. “While there is no winner in this ranking, the loser is clear – workers,” said IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan, speaking at the launch. “The Index shows what we have known all along – that while there is often the commitment from mining companies to do better, this does not turn into action.”

The Index, which is independent of the industry, ranks the mining companies on six thematic areas: Working conditions; economic development; business conduct; lifecycle management; community well-being; and environmental responsibility. It notes that “while many companies have clearly developed systematic approaches to address occupational health and safety and environmental impact management, the most frequent adverse impacts found in the RMI analysis relate to worker fatalities and environmental pollution.”

More information:

USA – Latest NIOSH research: New Fentanyl Resources Available for Workers at Risk of Exposure

USA NIOSH has posted updates to its Fentanyl resources for workers page:

More information:

US NIOSH April 2018 Research Rounds Newsletter Available

The April 2018 issue of NIOSH Research Rounds is now available.

Includes articles on how falls are a persistent cause of work-related death; how obesity, physical inactivity, or short sleep affect 1 in 5 workers, and how freestanding mast-climbing work platform remains stable during fall arrest, if properly used, and more.

NIOSH Research Rounds is a monthly bulletin of selected research conducted by researchers at NIOSH and NIOSH-funded researchers at other institutions.

More than 60 per cent of the world’s employed population are in the informal economy: ILO

A new ILO report shows that 2 billion people work informally, most of them in emerging and developing countries. The majority lack social protection, rights at work and decent working conditions.

Two billion people – more than 61 per cent of the world’s employed population – make their living in the informal economy, the ILO said in a report, stressing that a transition to the formal economy is a condition to realize decent work for all.

Women and men in the informal economy: A statistical picture (Third edition) provides comparable estimates on the size of the informal economy and a statistical profile of informality using criteria from more than 100 countries.

When excluding agriculture, half of the employed population are in informal employment, according to the report.

More information:

Iran: FIFA Called on to Enforce Human Rights and non-Discrimination Policy

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), along with several union and civil society organisations, is calling on FIFA to ensure that its human rights policy is fully respected, and ensure that Iran ends its ban on women attending men’s football matches.

The ITUC and the Building and Woodworkers’ International BWI, Human Rights Watch, the Centre for Human Rights in Iran and Football Supporters Europe have launched an online petition calling for FIFA to uphold its anti-discrimination statute and human rights policy.

“The workers who build stadiums and bring global sporting events to life are the people whose human and trade union rights are put at risk by these events, and the fans who go to matches all depend on the pledges that international sports federations are making to protect their rights. Iran’s ban on women spectators is a flagrant violation of FIFA’s non-discrimination rules, and severely undermines the protection that its human rights policy should ensure,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

Despite years of vague promises, the Iranian authorities have failed to end the ban on women.

More information: