OSHWorld | News: August 2018

Sheila Pantry Associates Ltd

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August 2018

  1. Tattoo inks and permanent make-up
  2. HSE to prosecute following 2011 explosion at Pembroke Refinery
  3. Event: The 10th British Safety Council annual conference – health and safety in uncertain times
  4. History of Occupational Safety and Health website
  5. New TUC analysis just published reveals that 1 in 12 UK workers are not getting their legal holiday entitlement
  6. Stuck at the start: Young workers’ experiences of pay and progression
  7. Unite 2018 gender pay gap report
  8. High temperatures can be a major problem in the workplace
  9. Five things you need to know about evacuating a tall building: Advice from Evac+Chair
  10. Union concerns over toxic foam on film sets
  11. Event: Findings of a recent review into ISO 50001
  12. Unite concern at Aberdeen school asbestos exposures
  13. HSL Foresight Centre – emerging health and safety issues: Telescope looking out at horizon
  14. Courageous quartet of UK Staffordshire drivers handed top health and safety honours
  15. Heatwave: ‘Keep out of the sun’, says Met office
  16. Event: Mental Health 2018 – Delivering the Five year Forward View for the UK
  17. Event: The Next Steps for Building Regulations and Fire Safety
  18. Event: Fire and Blast Information Group – 96th Technical Meeting: Developments in Fire & Explosion Engineering for a Hydrogen Economy
  19. Event: Workshop on the Chemistry Data Requirements for Biocides Regulated under Regulation 528/2012
  20. Full report on Building Safety & Security Workshop now available
  21. NFPA 921: Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations
  22. UK Agriculture fatality figures released for 2017/18
  23. Event: 36th Annual Conference and Exhibition of the Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists (AIOH)
  24. Lorry driving in crisis due to health, age and skills problems
  25. Offshore cost- and corner-cutting risks another Piper Alpha
  26. Strike action will shut oil and gas offshore platforms
  27. Health warning on new Brexit secretary Raab
  28. Work-related deaths continue to rise
  29. ECHA: Study identifies key parameters for carrying out reliable market studies on nanomaterials
  30. TUC urges bosses to keep workplaces cool

Tattoo inks and permanent make-up

Tattoos are a popular form of body art – 12 % of Europeans have them. They are made by injecting coloured inks under the skin to leave a permanent design. The health risks of using dirty needles to inject the inks have already been under scrutiny for some time, but there may be chemical-related concerns to consider, too. Tattoo inks, as well as permanent make-up such as eyeliner inks, are a mix of several chemicals. As these chemicals may stay in the body for life, there is also the possibility for long-term exposure to the potentially harmful ingredients in tattoos and permanent make-up products. These chemicals may cause adverse health effects, but little is known about the consequences of their use.

What are tattoo inks and permanent make-up?

A tattoo is made by penetrating the outer layer of the skin with a needle and injecting ink into the area beneath to create a design. The top layer of skin – the epidermis – regenerates itself continuously, so to make a tattoo last, the ink is injected into the second, deeper layer of skin – the dermis.

Permanent make-up is similar to a tattoo, with the design aiming to resemble make-up.

Why is ECHA working on tattoo inks and permanent make-up?

Tattoo inks and permanent make-up may contain hazardous substances that are known or suspected to cause cancer, genetic mutations, toxic effects on reproduction, allergies or other adverse effects in animals or humans.

More information: https://echa.europa.eu/hot-topics/tattoo-inks

HSE to prosecute following 2011 explosion at Pembroke Refinery

The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has just informed two companies they face prosecution following an incident at the Pembroke Refinery on 2 June 2011, which resulted in the deaths of four people and serious injuries to another.

Valero Energy UK Limited and B & A Contracts Limited are to face charges under Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The charges relate to the deaths of Dennis Riley, Robert Broome, Andrew Jenkins and Julie Jones and major injuries to Andrew Phillips who were all working on the Amine Recovery Unit when an explosion and subsequent fire took place.

At the time of the incident the refinery was operated by Chevron Limited, but ownership changed in August 2011.

More information: http://press.hse.gov.uk/2018/hse-to-prosecute-following-2011-explosion-at-pembroke-refinery

Event: The 10th British Safety Council annual conference – health and safety in uncertain times

14 November 2018

Is your organisation prepared to manage health and safety effectively in a rapidly changing environment? There are significant challenges on the horizon for businesses in the UK.

The conference will feature expert speakers, case studies and thought leadership sessions to help you and your business prepare for the challenges ahead.

More information: www.britsafe.org/awards-and-events/events/conferences-and-workshops/2018/the-10th-british-safety-council-annual-conference-health-and-safety-in-uncertain-times

History of Occupational Safety and Health website

In 2011, the NOSHC decided to take forward the History of Occupational Safety and Health project in order to create a suitable “map” of occupational safety and health information sources and materials from an historical point of view, with as many links to original texts as possible.

The website, www.historyofosh.org.uk launched to mark the World Day for Safety and Health at Work on 28 April 2014, is the result of that project. It is constantly updated. An amazing collection of information

New TUC analysis just published reveals that 1 in 12 UK workers are not getting their legal holiday entitlement

The analysis estimates that 2.2 million employees are not getting the minimum paid leave entitlement they are due. And over half of this number (1.2 million) are not getting any paid leave at all.

The analysis shows:

The TUC says the main reasons people are missing out are:

More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/1-12-workers-not-getting-legal-holiday-entitlement-warns-tuc

Stuck at the start: Young workers’ experiences of pay and progression

Young people are getting a raw deal at work. Low pay, few opportunities to progress and a feeling that nothing will change often dominate their working lives. But this is through no fault of their own. Many of the barriers facing young workers are structural and outside of their control.

This report identifies five issues that young workers face in getting ahead at work and makes recommendations to help.

More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/research-analysis/stuck-start

Unite 2018 gender pay gap report

The report was prepared in line with the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017 and Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties and Public Authorities) Regulations 2017.

The report has been run on figures based on our 1216 employees and their pay based on the payroll figure of the union’s payroll at 05 April 2017.

More information: http://www.unitetheunion.org/unite-at-work/equalities/unite-2018-gender-pay-gap-report

High temperatures can be a major problem in the workplace

It can be an issue in some places, like foundries, all year round, and in others during the summer months when outside temperatures soar.

When the temperature rises too much then it can become a health and safety issue. If people get too hot, they risk dizziness, fainting, or even heat cramps. In very hot conditions the body’s blood temperature rises. If the blood temperature rises above 39 °C, there is a risk of heat stroke or collapse. Delirium or confusion can occur above 41 °C. Blood temperatures at this level can prove fatal and even if a worker does recover, they may suffer irreparable organ damage.

However even at lower temperatures heat leads to a loss of concentration and increased tiredness, which means that workers are more likely to put themselves or others at risk. High temperatures mean there is an increase in the likelihood of accidents due to reduced concentration; slippery, sweaty palms as well as an increase of discomfort of some personal protective gear which can result in reduced protection through inappropriate usage or non-usage.

Heat can also aggravate other medical conditions and illnesses such as high blood pressure or heart disease due to increased load on the heart as well as interacting with, or increasing the effect of other workplace hazards. Workers at greater risk of heat stress include those who are 65 years of age or older, are overweight, have heart disease or high blood pressure, or take medications that may be affected by extreme heat. In addition high temperatures are associated with a reduced sperm count and can be dangerous during pregnancy.

Scientific studies confirm that indoor temperature can significantly impact on productivity and the best performing ‘comfort zone’ lays between 22° C and 25° C. When the temperature went above that productivity fell. By 28° C there was already a 5% decrease, and the higher the temperature the lower the output.

At the same time working in the sun can, for many people, increase their risk of skin cancer, while the glare from the sun can be a problem for drivers and those working on roofs where roof lights can blend into the surrounding roof in bright sunlight.

It is usually accepted that people work best at a temperature between 16 °C and 24 °C, although this can vary depending on the kind of work being done. Strenuous work is better performed at a slightly lower temperature than office work. The Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers recommends the following temperatures for different working areas:

More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/resource/cool-it-reps-guide-dealing-high-temperatures-workplace

Five things you need to know about evacuating a tall building: Advice from Evac+Chair

As a health & safety manager, what should be top of your priorities when evacuating? Gerard Wallace, Managing Director at Evac+Chair, lists his ‘high five’.

Everyone is your responsibility

It is the employer’s or service provider’s responsibility to evacuate all people from a building in an emergency – that means it is no longer the responsibility of the fire service to facilitate the evacuation of non-domestic premises.

Neglect to prepare properly for evacuating employees, visitors, students or the mobility-impaired and you can be found guilty of failing to provide a duty of care which carries a charge of corporate manslaughter in workplace cases.

Who have you trained?

Evacuation procedures should be set in place along with designated, trained, team members who will assist those in need during the evacuation process. Those employees must undergo practical training in the operation of any evacuation equipment.

They should practice using this equipment when an evacuation drill takes place – at recommended six monthly intervals.

Keep an eye on your PEEP

Planning is essential, as is ensuring the needs of all employees, visitors and the mobility-impaired are identified. A Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan, known as a ‘PEEP’ or a ‘GEEP’ (General Emergency Evacuation Plan), must be devised by the relevant person responsible to comply with the Fire Safety Order.

Questions your PEEP needs to answer:

  1. Can a wheelchair user be accommodated with emergency evacuation chairs?
  2. How might my team transfer the wheelchair user into an emergency assistive device?
  3. How do I establish if the wheelchair user is prepared to be evacuated?

All very simple questions that wouldn’t want to be addressed during the real event where the fire timeline is being eaten into by every deliberation.

Practice, practice and practice

The plan should be tested in regular drills, to ensure all staff involved are aware of the procedures and have received a copy of the relevant PEEP. When planning for an emergency in a public access building where mobility-impaired or people with disabilities have total access, a PEEP would be insufficient. The responsible person would need to devise a GEEP to accommodate the needs of everyone.

What about the vulnerable?

Evacuation chairs have proved to be the most efficient and user-friendly, enabling the operator and passenger to safely exit the building. Due to more than one person possibly needing assistance, other types of evacuation product may be required such as slide sheets, rescue mats or stretchers in addition to evacuation chairs.

All evacuation aids must be located in a designated refuge point which is specified in the buildings fire strategy. Each fire exit has to accommodate the able-bodied and mobility-impaired therefore all equipment has to be readily available and accessible at the refuge point.

Further information: https://www.safelincs.co.uk/evac-chair

Union concerns over toxic foam on film sets

Film and theatre crafts union BECTU is in talks with safety specialists about potential life-threatening health risks from a foam product used by film set construction workers. The union is responding to concerns raised by members about the short and long term effects of inhaling chemicals from the foam “due to incorrect usage and inadequate ventilation in workshops and on sets.”

Polyurethane foams contain diisocyanates, a group of chemicals that are a recognised and potent cause of occupational asthma. Once a worker becomes sensitised, minute exposures of even a few parts per billion can lead to an asthma attack.

Foams can off-gas dangerous diisocyanates after they appear to be ‘cured’, with dangerous contamination also remaining on the surface of the product.

More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/tuc-risks-859-28-july-2018#_Toc520295907

Event: Findings of a recent review into ISO 50001

18 September 2018

On 18 September 2018, the Energy Institute (EI) in partnership with the BSI, will present the findings of a recent review into ISO 50001 and discuss how to ensure that the standard of the updated version meets the needs of an ever-changing energy industry.

ISO 50001 supports organisations in all sectors to use energy more efficiently, through the development of an energy management system.

There are limited spaces available, so book now to avoid disappointment.

More information: https://www.energyinst.org/whats-on/search/events-and-training?meta_eventId=61809A

Unite concern at Aberdeen school asbestos exposures

Warnings from union safety reps went unheeded before asbestos was disturbed at an Aberdeen school, Unite has said.

Concerns have been raised that workers may have exposed to the carcinogenic fibre at Bridge of Don Academy during holiday maintenance work. Asbestos materials were disturbed by building service workers during the removal of a corridor panel.

However, Unite says “it took a few working days for Aberdeen City Council’s own risk control team to be made aware of the suspected asbestos exposure situation. The area involved has now eventually been made safe a week after the incident and the materials removed for further examination.”

More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/tuc-risks-859-28-july-2018#_Toc520295908

HSL Foresight Centre – emerging health and safety issues: Telescope looking out at horizon

The Health and Safety Laboratories (HSL) use horizon scanning, knowledge sharing and a range of futures activities to enable HSE and the broader health and safety system to anticipate and keep pace with change.

This year HSE’s Foresight Centre Report looks at the developments that may be coming in the UK’s approach to the generation, storage and use of energy. This is a timely consideration given the priority of reducing the carbon dependency of the UK’s energy supply and also the changing split of consumption between industry sectors.

HSE futures scenarios can be used in various ways, e.g. to test the plausibility of future changes and consider the potential impact on occupational safety and health in your organisation or area of interest.

Scenarios and summaries of topics selected by the horizon scanning process: Robot realities, Synthetic Biology, Rapid manufacturing, Towards Generation Z, the hydrogen economy

View all topic summaries: www.hse.gov.uk/horizons

Courageous quartet of UK Staffordshire drivers handed top health and safety honours

Four drivers from Staffordshire have been presented with prestigious health and safety awards, given only to those who have gone above and beyond to protect the wellbeing of others.

In an unprecedented first, four individuals from the same organisation have received RoSPA Archangel Awards – Stef Buckley, Vince Keeling, Paul Rowley and, in a special posthumous award, Robbie Forrester – in recognition of their outstanding acts of bravery performed while working for Wincanton on the company’s Screwfix contract.

Stef Buckley, of Cannock, was delivering to York when he heard a scream and saw a cyclist struck by a lorry. He rushed to the scene and found the woman had a significant leg injury. He managed to stop the bleeding and keep the cyclist conscious until the emergency services arrived. The cyclist was 16 weeks pregnant, and Stef later received news that the baby had survived, and that medical teams were able to save the cyclist’s injured leg.

While on the A1, Vince Keeling, of Leek, came across an overturned HGV. Vince stopped his own vehicle and climbed up the overturned cab to get inside. He found the driver unconscious and remained with him, taking care of him until the emergency services arrived. The driver had suffered a suspected heart attack. Vince went above beyond to help protect the life of a complete stranger.

While driving to work on the A34, Paul Rowley, of Stoke-on-Trent, spotted someone lying at the side of the road. He called the emergency services and the paramedic gave guidance over the phone on what first aid action to take. The individual had suffered a stroke and the emergency services advised that Paul’s actions had helped to save the person’s life.

Robbie Forrester, who lived in Stafford, was on the M40 when he met a damaged car facing the wrong way in the middle lane. The driver was clearly in shock, and was posing a risk to himself as he was trying to put up a warning triangle in the live carriageway. Robbie manoeuvred his truck and trailer, protecting the man from the traffic. While doing this, he also found a woman lying in the middle of road, with cars still driving around her. The emergency services arrived and took control. The driver of the car contacted Robbie’s depot to express gratitude for his quick thinking. His partner – who had been found on the road – made a full recovery, having been sheltered from further injury.

The four were celebrated at a gala dinner at Birmingham’s Hilton Metropole on Thursday, July 5. Sadly, Robbie passed away at the end of 2016, so his award was collected by Claire Bowden, who nominated the quartet, on his behalf.

More information: https://www.rospa.com/media-centre/press-office/press-releases/detail/?id=1584

Heatwave: ‘Keep out of the sun’, says Met office

A heat health watch has been issued by the UK Met Office and people are being advised to ‘stay out of the sun’ for the remainder of this week as temperatures soar.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has called on bosses to keep workplaces cool and relax dress codes to allow staff to work as comfortably as possible. Staff should also be allowed to work flexible hours, to avoid the sweltering conditions on public transport during the rush hour commute.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s no fun working in a baking office or factory and employers should do all they can to take the temperature down.”

The National Farmers Union has said that livestock farmers are using water rations and has warned that many crops are ‘parched to the bone’.

Santon Downham in Suffolk recorded temperatures of 33.3 °C on Monday, making it the hottest day of the year so far. The HSE warns that ‘too much sunlight is harmful to your skin’.

It’s the third time this year that the level 3 alert has been reached in England. It is put in place when temperatures are expected to hit 30 °C during the day and 15 °C during the night, for at least two consecutive days.

Working in conjunction with Public Health England, the Met office has set up a Heat Health Watch for health and care workers be prepared to keep people safe.

A Met Office Spokesperson said: “We advise people to take care in the sun. Either by staying out of the sun or being sensible and not going out in the strongest sunshine hours, 11 am to 3 pm, where possible.”

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

19 September 2018, Royal Society of Medicine, London

The independent UK 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.

Mental Health 2018 – Delivering the Five year Forward View is an opportunity to consider progress of the Implementation Plan and monitor progress on its commitments to transform mental health services.


Event: The Next Steps for Building Regulations and Fire Safety

25 September 2018, Central London

The recent Hackitt Review concluded that the current framework for building regulations and fire safety is not fit for purpose. The reforms that are due to follow will have a huge impact on how Fire and Rescue Services and other partners operate. Headline measures include a stronger regulatory framework and a shift in culture across the sector.

Attend this Westminster Briefing to hear from Dame Judith Hackitt on her review’s findings. Book by Friday this week for a discount on all bookings.

Key Issues to be addressed:

Website and event details: http://www.westminster-briefing.com/Building-Regulations-Fire-Safety

Event: Fire and Blast Information Group – 96th Technical Meeting: Developments in Fire & Explosion Engineering for a Hydrogen Economy

26 & 27 September 2018

This FABIG Technical Meeting is organised in partnership with the consortium of the EU-funded research project HySEA (Improving Hydrogen Safety for Energy Applications through prenormative research on vented deflagrations), the results of which will be presented during the first session of this event.

The main objective of HySEA was to conduct pre-normative research on vented hydrogen deflagrations so as to provide recommendations for European and international standards on hydrogen explosion venting mitigation systems. Experiments performed in containers and smaller enclosures comprising obstacles have been used to develop and validate engineering models, computational fluid dynamics tools and finite element methods.

Please register for the event online at www.fabig.com/events

Event: Workshop on the Chemistry Data Requirements for Biocides Regulated under Regulation 528/2012

3 October 2018, York, UK

HSE’s Chemicals Regulation Division (CRD) is running a one-day workshop aimed at providing training on data requirements for the EU approval of biocide products regarding the physicochemical properties and methods of analysis under Regulation EU 528/2012. The event will also include a discussion on novel guidance that is available for specific biocidal products and active substances such as Biocide Product Families, carriers and in situ generated active substances.

The aim of the event will be to provide training and updated guidance via a series of presentations and practical sessions. The workshop is designed for technical and registration specialists involved in the preparation and submission of biocide dossiers to CRD.

The course will cover:

More information: www.hsl.gov.uk/crd

Full report on Building Safety & Security Workshop now available

Last month, the USA NFPA hosted the Building Safety and Security (BS&S) Workshop, which brought together a diverse group of stakeholders to address targeted violence issues, and to collectively prioritize the next layers of “security safety” to be written into codes, planning documents, and related outreach materials.

Over two days of lively debate and discussion, participants reviewed the current building, life safety, and fire code provisions for elements such as egress and systems design, then identified new solutions, strategies, and building features. They were further asked to identify priority solutions to integrate, balance, and blend security-related goals and objectives into the range of built environment regulations.

More information: https://community.nfpa.org/community/nfpa-today/blog/2018/06/28/full-report-on-building-safety-security-workshop-now-available

NFPA 921: Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations

NFPA 921 sets the bar for scientific-based investigation and analysis of fire and explosion incidents. Referenced in the field, in training, and in court, it is the foremost guide for rendering accurate opinions as to incident origin, cause, responsibility, and prevention. It is intended for use by both public sector employees who are responsible for fire investigation and private sector professionals who conduct investigations for insurance companies or litigation purposes.

More information: https://catalog.nfpa.org/NFPA-921-Guide-for-Fire-and-Explosion-Investigations-P1386.aspx?icid=D729

UK Agriculture fatality figures released for 2017/18

The agricultural industry still has the highest rate of fatal injury in Great Britain according to the latest statistics.

Released on the first day of Farm Safety Week, HSE’s annual agricultural fatal injury statistics have revealed that a total of 33 deaths were recorded in the sector between March 2017 and April 2018.

Twenty-nine agricultural workers were killed at work and an additional four members of the public were also killed on farms – two of them children.

HSE’s website provides useful information and guidance on health and safety in agriculture.

More information: http://press.hse.gov.uk/2018/hse-releases-annual-agriculture-fatality-figures

Event: 36th Annual Conference and Exhibition of the Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists (AIOH)

1-5 December 2018, The Crown Conference Centre, Southbank, Melbourne, Australia

The conference will continue to provide opportunities for professional development on a wide range of traditional and trending occupation hygiene topics through Continuing Education Sessions, Presentations from International and National Speakers, Exhibitors showcasing products and services and Social programs and activities.

More information: https://www.aioh.org.au/events-public/aioh-2018-conference

Lorry driving in crisis due to health, age and skills problems

A severe shortage of skilled UK lorry drivers is being fuelled by a combination of health problems, an ageing workforce and a failure to recruit younger workers and will damage the economy, the union Unite has warned.

It said the average age of large goods vehicle (LGV) drivers has increased from 45.3 years in 2001 to 48 in 2016. The union added that levels of injury and ill-health are ‘incredibly high’ for the transportation and storage sector, which includes lorry drivers. Unite points to research that it says found LGV driving, particularly long-haul – over 250 miles from base – is an ‘occupational detriment’ due to excessive anti-social working hours and unhealthy lifestyles. Related health effects include obesity, high blood pressure, poor diet, lack of exercise, lack of sleep and disturbed sleep and stress.

This leads to diabetes, sleep apnoea and cardiovascular disorders, the union said, adding these disorders are also linked to an increased risk of accidents. The health problems associated with driving could be a contributory factor in drivers falling asleep at the wheel, it said. In April this year a confidential survey by Unite of its HGV drivers found that 29 per cent admitted having fallen asleep at the wheel of a lorry.

More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/tuc-risks-857-14-july-2018-1#_Toc519160776

Offshore cost- and corner-cutting risks another Piper Alpha

The UK government and regulators must do more to protect the safety of oil and gas employees, who have been under pressure since a downturn in the North Sea industry in 2014, offshore unions have said.

The message came on the 30th anniversary of the Piper Alpha oil rig tragedy in which 167 rig workers died. There were only 61 survivors when the oil rig exploded off the coast of Scotland on 6 July 1988. Pat Rafferty, Unite’s Scottish secretary, said: “The tragedy, which Lord Cullen blamed on inadequate maintenance and safety procedures by the operator Occidental, should have led to significant changes in the oil and gas sector that would protect workers in the future and make the industry safer. Instead 30 years on, we have witnessed an industry that is driven increasingly by cost reductions, with corners and jobs being cut to save money.”

More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/tuc-risks-857-14-july-2018-1#_Toc519160781

Strike action will shut oil and gas offshore platforms

There will be a series of strike days on North Sea oil and gas platforms operated by Total E&P, over concerns including a gruelling work rota linked to much higher rates of ill-health, Unite has said.

The union says that following the ‘overwhelming mandate’ for industrial action, from 23 July there will be a series of 24-hour and 12-hour stoppages on the Alwyn, Dunbar and Elgin platforms, all of which will be forced to cease production. There will also be a continuous ban on overtime. Unite said the dispute concerns the company’s wage review and its plans to force workers to increase their offshore working time. A report by Robert Gordon University identified that workers on three-week, equal-time rotas were nearly twice as likely to experience ill-health as those on two-on-two-off shifts. The three on/three off rota pattern is now worked by 56 per cent of the workforce offshore, compared with just 17 per cent working this pattern in 2007.

More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/tuc-risks-857-14-july-2018-1#_Toc519160782

Health warning on new Brexit secretary Raab

The new Brexit secretary poses a ‘direct and immediate threat’ to workers’ rights and safety, GMB has warned.

Dominic Raab previously called for Britain to use negotiations with the European Union to scrap workers’ rights. Raab, who was appointed to lead the UK’s negotiations to leave the EU after David Davis resigned last week, authored a paper calling for opt-outs from EU employment regulations, including those that guarantee employees time off and limit the number of hours staff can be made to work. He also opposed rules that give long-term agency workers the same rights as full-time staff, and those that stop people being sacked if their company changes owner.

In a 2011 report for the right-wing Centre for Policy Studies, Raab argued the UK’s Working Time Regulations, based on an EU directive, should be scrapped. These safety regulations restrict the number of hours an employee can be forced to work to 48 hours a week. They also guarantee at least one day off a week, a minimum of four weeks’ paid annual leave a year. He wrote: “Britain should secure a total opt-out from the working time directive and scrap the UK regulations, ensuring that this costly, anti-jobs legislation cannot cause further damage to the economy.” He added said it should be made easier for companies to sack “underperforming” employees.

More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/tuc-risks-857-14-july-2018-1#_Toc519160785

Work-related deaths are continuing to rise, latest official statistics show. Provisional figures released this week by the Health and Executive (HSE) reveal fatalities at work increased to 144 in 2017/18, up from 135 the year before. HSE conceded the long-term decline in work-related fatalities dating back to 1981 has ended, “and the number has remained broadly level in recent years.”

According to TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson: “One of the most striking figures was that 40 per cent of fatal injuries in 2017/18 were to workers aged 60 or over, even though such workers made up only around 10 per cent of the workforce. Agriculture had a fatality rate 18 times that of the average and the figure for waste and recycling was 16 times the rate of other industries. Construction continued to have the highest number of fatalities.” The figures are incomplete, with HSE admitting its “fatal injury figures do not include fatal accidents on non-rail transport systems or work-related deaths from fatal diseases.” Neither do they include work-related suicides. Evidence suggests work-related transport and suicide deaths each year cause several times more deaths than those included in the HSE’s official fatality total. HSE also published figures on deaths from one occupational cancer.

More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/tuc-risks-857-14-july-2018-1#_Toc519160785

ECHA: Study identifies key parameters for carrying out reliable market studies on nanomaterials

A study commissioned by the European Union Observatory for Nanomaterials (EUON) has reviewed data sources, methods and parameters for carrying out market studies on nanomaterials in the EU.

Market studies can contribute to increased transparency about nanomaterials, their uses and their market trends. Based on the review of a number of existing market studies and further data sources, the study identified a set of basic parameters for producing reliable market studies on nanomaterials. Additional parameters were also determined for comprehensive studies that take into account more variables and interactions.

More information: https://echa.europa.eu/-/study-identifies-key-parameters-for-carrying-out-reliable-market-studies-on-nanomaterials

TUC urges bosses to keep workplaces cool

As soaring temperatures prompted the Met Office to issue a heat health warning this week, the TUC has called on employers to keep indoor workplaces cool and relax dress codes so staff can work as comfortably as possible.

The union body says bosses can help their workers through simple measures. It says firms can move staff away from windows, install ventilation or air cooling, or open windows where safe and possible. Relaxing dress codes can also help workers cope. And flexible working could allow workers to dodge the hottest parts of the day or a sweltering commute. Frequent breaks and a ready supply of cold drinks will help staff stay comfortable too. The TUC warns that high temperatures can lead to sickness, a lot of concentration, and slippery, sweaty palms – all of which can increase risks at work. And overheating workers, faced with a choice between heat stress and other hazards, may feel they have to ditch uncomfortable safety gear.

More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/tuc-risks-859-28-july-2018#_Toc520295905