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Sheila Pantry Associates Ltd

News from around the World

News Archive

June 2019

  1. News from US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
  2. Two Important New Books
  3. We need real investment in adult learning in the UK, says TUC
  4. New Info Available from the US NIOSH on Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder
  5. Event: ETUI conference – The future of health and safety in Europe
  6. Event: 4th Future of Surfactants Summit North America 2019
  7. World No Tobacco Day
  8. Event: Vision Zero Summit – Strategy, Mindset, Practice
  9. Event: FIREX International – Europe’s only dedicated fire safety event
  10. British Safety Council: Upcoming Events
  11. Event: HSE Construction Health Inspection Initiative
  12. News from France: ANSES launches public consultation on OEL for dust
  13. Unions lobby investors over Amazon working conditions
  14. Coroners should recognise work-related suicides – union
  15. Use safety laws to tackle mental health issues
  16. The future role of big data and machine learning in health and safety inspection efficiency
  17. OSH and the Future of Work: Benefits and risks of artificial intelligence tools in workplaces
  18. The involvement of social partners in national policymaking
  19. Charity workers suffering stress ‘epidemic’
  20. Most LGBT people report being sexually harassed at work
  21. Government complacency risks another Grenfell
  22. Canada: Nurses have had enough of violence on the job
  23. Global: Seafarers condemn working conditions onboard
  24. Insurer warns overtime burden is creating driving ‘zombies’
  25. Pregnant women are not always safe at work
  26. Unite secures new £1.9 million blacklisting settlement
  27. HSE: Tackling work-related stress using the Management Standards approach – A step-by-step workbook
  28. Teachers facing ‘unjustified’ drug and alcohol testing
  29. Unite to campaign for Heathrow safety inquiry
  30. Shopworkers need protection from knife crime
  31. A good work environment is good for you
  32. ‘Urgent’ action call on growing work cancer menace

News from US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

The Human Face of Artificial Intelligence

The term artificial intelligence, usually referred to as AI, first came into use in the 1956, when computer scientists began to predict that machines had the potential to be programmed to “think” and learn from experience, just like human beings. It was in the 2010s that AI became more of a reality, thanks to the availability of practically unlimited storage capacity on computers, along with faster, cheaper processing power, and a flood of big data.

Recently, many articles have been published in the popular press about various uses of AI in areas such as robotics, healthcare (e.g., to identify lung cancer from x-ray images), visual and speech recognition, and text translation.

In addition, the U.S. government’s interest in understanding the benefits and risks of AI has also increased, as highlighted in a 2018 White House Summit report. Recently, NIOSH established its own Artificial Intelligence Interest Group (AIIG) which held its inaugural meeting in May 2019. Through AIIG, NIOSH is bringing together individuals from across NIOSH to share information about how AI is being used, what successes and pitfalls come from using AI, and what new ways AI may be applied to solve problems relevant to the NIOSH mission.


Read more:

Two Important New Books

Health and Safety in Contemporary Britain: Society, Legitimacy, and Change since 1960

by Paul Almond and Mike Esbester

Charts the development of modern British health and safety, in response to ideas around risk society, managerialism, regulatory capitalism, and demographic and economic changes in the workplace. Draws on interviews, detailed archival research, and a review of both academic and policy literature and contextualises recent debates over voluntarism and identity, the limits of political consensus, and the commercialisation of health and safety

This 8-chapter book analyses the perceived legitimacy of health and safety in post-1960 British public life. Since 2010 health and safety has appeared to be in crisis, being attacked by press, politicians and public alike, but are these claims of crisis accurate? How have understandings of health and safety changed over the past 60 years? By exploring the history, culture, and operation of health and safety in contemporary Britain, this book provides a new assessment of an understudied, but surprisingly far-reaching, part of the British political and social landscape. Combining archival research with focus group, social survey and oral history testimony, the book examines the historical background to health and safety, how health and safety has been enacted in public and in the workplace, the impact of changing economic, occupational and social structures on the operation of health and safety, and the conflicts and interests that have shaped the area.

Foundations of safety science: A century of understanding accidents and disasters

by Sidney Dekker

How are today’s ‘hearts and minds’ programs linked to a late-19th century definition of human factors as people’s moral and mental deficits? What do Heinrich’s ‘unsafe acts’ from the 1930s have in common with the Swiss cheese model of the early 1990s? Why was the reinvention of human factors in the 1940s such an important event in the development of safety thinking? What makes many of our current systems so complex and impervious to Tayloristic safety interventions?

It covers the origins of major schools of safety thinking, and traces the heritage and interlinkages of the ideas that make up safety science today.

We need real investment in adult learning in the UK, says TUC

Commenting on the publication on 30 May 2019 of the Augar Review into post-18 education and funding, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“Everyone should have access to quality education and training whatever stage of life they are at. But our further education sector has been cut to the bone by years of devastating cuts.

“This review is right to call for more support for our colleges. And for maintenance grants to be brought back.

“The government must repair the damage austerity has caused and properly invest in adult learning.

“As the world of work changes working people will need to keep gaining new skills throughout their career.”

More information:

New Info Available from the US NIOSH on Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder

On 23 May 2019, US National Institute of Occupational Safety Health (NIOSH) released a new document on using Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for Opioid Use Disorder to provide general information about MAT (also known as medication-based treatment) AND provide information to employers wishing to assist or support workers with opioid use disorder.

The opioid crisis is taking an especially devastating toll on certain parts of the U.S. workforce. High rates of opioid overdose deaths have occurred in industries with high injury rates and physically demanding working conditions such as construction, mining, or fishing. Certain job factors such as high job demands, job insecurity, and lack of control over tasks have also been linked to opioid use. MAT has been shown to be effective for many people with opioid use disorder.

Event: ETUI conference – The future of health and safety in Europe

3-4 December 2019, Brussels, Belgium

30 years after the EU Framework Directive on health and safety at work, what’s the way forward?

Thirty years ago, on 12 June 1989, the European Union adopted the Framework Directive on health and safety at work, taking up many of the major demands voiced by the trade union movement over the previous two decades. From the end of the 1960s onwards, health and safety issues had been at the centre of social conflict, highlighting workers’ needs to increase control over work organization in order to protect their health. In these struggles, convergences emerged between the trade union movement and the very critical research world, resulting in a strong link between collective action and knowledge production.

Under the initial name of the European Trade Union Technical Bureau for Health and Safety, a knowledge centre was set up at the initiative of the European Trade Union Confederation. It was later integrated into the European Trade Union Institute.

Thirty years later, what is the state of play regarding occupational health in Europe? What are the prospects for development in the face of an ever-increasing pace of change in the world of labour and with the future of the European Union marked by uncertainties? What links can be forged between collective action and knowledge? What role does expert knowledge play?

These questions will be at the heart of this two-day conference held in Brussels by the European Trade Union Institute.

Simultaneous interpretation will be provided into and from English, French and Spanish.

More information:

Event: 4th Future of Surfactants Summit North America 2019

18-19 September 2019, Chicago, USA

Two days of exchanging perspectives, learning and excellent networking opportunities with your peers.

Agenda Committee for this year’s event:

More information:

World No Tobacco Day

On World No Tobacco Day, 31 May 2019, more people sick from smoking having been given free cigarettes come forward

On World No Tobacco Day more people have come forward who have been made seriously ill by their addiction to smoking, caused by the free cigarettes they were given by their employers. This follows publicity about the case of Simon Neale, suffering from inoperable lung cancer because of cigarettes given to him when he was a salesman for Rothmans, now part of British American Tobacco (BAT). The practice of handing out “free fags” to employees and the public was endemic in the tobacco industry, and ASH urges anyone else in the same situation to get in touch. In the 1980s over 30,000 people were employed in a number of manufacturing plants in the UK, in addition to sales representatives who operated all over the country.

Although the tobacco industry denied publicly that smoking was addictive and downplayed the health risks, internal documents make it clear that they were well aware of the dangers. ASH has challenged all four major tobacco manufacturers, BAT, Imperial Tobacco, Gallaher (part of Japan Tobacco International) and Philip Morris International, (PMI) about these practices and what they did to warn people of the risks.

More information:

Event: Vision Zero Summit – Strategy, Mindset, Practice

12-14 November 2019, Helsinki, Finland

Vision Zero is a strategy and a holistic mindset. It is continuous improvement of safety, health, and wellbeing at work, not just a numerical goal. This summit focuses on discussing different aspects of Vision Zero, taking the Vision Zero thinking and actions to the next level, and sharing best practices and lessons learned. Come and join the discussion with participants from different industries and leading international experts and safety practitioners.

More information:

Event: FIREX International – Europe’s only dedicated fire safety event

18-20 June 2019, ExCeL London

Join 18,000 fire prevention & protection professionals attending yearly.

Why should you attend FIREX International?

Entry also to Neighbouring security, health and safety, and facilities management events to source further technologies.

More information:

British Safety Council: Upcoming Events

British Safety Council are presenting a series of seminars at the Safety & Health Expo at the ExCeL London on 18-20 June 2019:

More information:

Event: HSE Construction Health Inspection Initiative

17 June 2019

What: This initiative will continue the focus on health, in particular the measures in place to protect workers from occupational lung disease caused by asbestos, silica, wood and other dusts when carrying out common construction tasks.

Why: Priority is often given to safety but thousands more workers suffer ill-health at work than are harmed by at-work accidents. Asbestos and dust are ‘slow killers’. HSE estimates that annually there are around 8,000 work-related cancer deaths a year. The construction industry accounts for around 3,500 of these with asbestos and silica the major causes. Construction businesses and workers need to be aware of how dangerous and hazardous to someone’s health such substances can be.

How: HSE inspectors will be looking to ensure those involved with construction projects know the risks, properly plan their work and use the right controls. For more information see:

Where poor standards are found, enforcement action will be taken. Work right and Go Home Healthy.

Follow: To keep up to date with the initiative follow HSE on social media via Facebook (SaferSites) and Twitter using the hashtags #Dustbusters and #WorkRight.

Support: Resources are available to help you take part and show your support. Use our selfie cards and promote your good practice.

News from France: ANSES launches public consultation on OEL for dust

The French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety ANSES has launched a public consultation, open until 13 of July 2019, on draft recommendations for “dust without specific effects” (OELs).

The aim of this public consultation phase is to enable interested parties to share their comments regarding the scientific data collected for and used in the expertise work, and to express their positions regarding application of the available data by the OEL Expert Committee, prior to publication of the Agency’s finalised reports and opinions. It does not concern the collective expert appraisal on the measurement methods.

More information:

Unions lobby investors over Amazon working conditions

Trade unions are lobbying City investors to increase the pressure on Amazon to improve conditions for its workers in the UK.

At a meeting at the TUC’s head office this month GMB presentations, including one from an Amazon employee, were made to a dozen leading fund managers and pension funds that own stakes in Amazon, including Legal & General, Baillie Gifford and Aberdeen Standard. The meeting was organised by Trade Union Share Owners (TUSO), which forged a successful coalition with institutional investors in 2016 to force Sports Direct to set up an independent review of working practices. TUSO’s strategy then involved highlighting the high number of injuries at the company.

More information:

Coroners should treat suicides precipitated by incidents while working as work-related fatalities, the train drivers’ union ASLEF has said.

ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan was speaking after an inquest heard a train driver killed himself just months after a suicidal pedestrian was killed when they walked in front of the train he was driving. The union leader said: “Our thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by these deaths, especially the families and the friends of those who lost their lives. We believe all incidents of this nature should be treated as work-related and will start campaigning to this end.”

More information:

Use safety laws to tackle mental health issues

The journalists’ union NUJ is calling on its workplace reps to use health and safety law to improve mental health at work, urging them to send their managers emails with links to a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prevention guide.

The regulator’s ‘Talking toolkit: preventing work-related stress,’ published late last year, takes managers through the steps they should take to assess the risk of stress to their staff. The NUJ’s health and safety committee said reps should use this resource “to exercise their right to carry out workplace inspections, looking for potential ‘stressors’.”

More information:

The future role of big data and machine learning in health and safety inspection efficiency

European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) has issued this discussion document and considers how labour inspectorates might be able to use big data to select targets for health and safety inspections effectively. It explains how authorities currently select objects for inspection and use digital developments for identifying high-risk companies. It looks at examples of relevant technologies in practice, including a tool developed by the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority that appears to target high-risk companies with a significant degree of precision.

It identifies challenges, and concludes that a combination of artificial and human intelligence is likely to be the ideal solution for risk-based targeting.

Full document:

OSH and the Future of Work: Benefits and risks of artificial intelligence tools in workplaces

This report from the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), discusses the potential implications of using digital developments, like artificial intelligence and ‘big data’, for OSH at the workplace.

While it is clear that digital developments will change the way we work significantly, the question remains how this will impact on wellbeing, safety and health at the workplace. The article provides examples of how AI is being used in workplaces, such as for people analytics and recruitment procedures in human resources; for AI-augmented robotics; chat-bots in support centres; or wearable technologies in a production assembly line.

Full document:

The involvement of social partners in national policymaking

This report investigates the involvement of the national social partners in the design and implementation of reforms and policies in the context of the European Semester and country specific recommendations 2017–2018. In line with previous reports on the same theme, it also analyses the quality of the involvement of the social partners in elaborating the National Reform Programmes.

The report assesses the timeliness and depth of this involvement in the respective national processes to implement reforms. Using examples of reforms implemented since 2017, the report also compares social partners’ involvement in 2018 with that in the former European Semester cycle. Overall, the picture that emerges is one of a stable, effective performance in most Member States, although some countries in which social dialogue has been deemed unsatisfactory show limited progress; in some other Member States, emerging issues and gaps may undermine the effectiveness of social dialogue.

Full document:

Charity workers suffering stress ‘epidemic’

A confidential survey of members of the union Unite has uncovered an epidemic of stress-related illness and ‘massive’ mental health issues among people employed by charities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

The survey found that 80 per cent of respondents said that they had experienced workplace stress in the last 12 months, while 42 per cent believed their job was not good for their mental health. Over 850 members from 238 organisations replied to Unite’s survey. Overall, 44 per cent of respondents didn’t believe they worked for a well-managed organisation, over a third (34 per cent) didn’t feel valued at work and four in 10 (40 per cent) didn’t feel their job was secure. Over one in five (22 per cent) respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement ‘I work in a safe and healthy working environment’.

More information:

Most LGBT people report being sexually harassed at work

Nearly 7 in 10 (68 per cent) lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people report being sexually harassed at work, according to new research published by the TUC.

The report – which the union body says is the first major study into LGBT sexual harassment at work in Great Britain – found that more than 2 in 5 (42 per cent) LGBT people who responded to the survey said colleagues made unwelcome comments or asked unwelcome questions about their sex life. More than a quarter (27 per cent) reported receiving unwelcome verbal sexual advances. But two-thirds (66 per cent) said they did not tell their employer about the harassment, and quarter of those said they didn’t report it because they were afraid of being ‘outed’ at work. Around 1 in 6 (16 per cent) said the sexual harassment at work affected their mental health. A similar proportion (16 per cent) told the TUC that they had left their job as a result of being sexually harassed – and for 1 in 25, the experience was so unbearable they said it caused them to leave their job without another job to go to.

More information:

Government complacency risks another Grenfell

Nearly two years since the Grenfell tragedy in which 72 people lost their lives, the government has done nothing to adequately prepare fire and rescue services for a similar incident, the firefighters’ union FBU has said.

The union says there is a “postcode lottery of preparedness across the country, with some fire services planning to send as few as two fire engines to a high rise fire.” The union attacked the ‘utter complacency’ of fire minister Nick Hurd, who it said has claimed repeatedly that fire services are prepared for a Grenfell-type fire. “It’s no longer possible to claim that fire like Grenfell is unforeseeable,” commented FBU general secretary Matt Wrack.

More information:

Canada: Nurses have had enough of violence on the job

Facing a rising tide of workplace violence across the country, nurses have been demanding action from Canada’s federal government for almost 18 months.

In May, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health finally got the message and commenced the first-ever parliamentary study on workplace violence in health care. “Nurses in Canada have had enough of being kicked, punched, stabbed, scratched, spat on, on a daily basis while they care for and heal patients,” said Linda Silas, president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU). “I think any Canadian would find it shocking to hear that nurses face a workplace violence crisis that is worsening at a faster rate than for police and correctional officers. And yet that’s the reality that nurses face every day.”

More information:

Global: Seafarers condemn working conditions onboard

Current and former seafarers have detailed exploitative working conditions aboard vessels operated by Blumenthal, raising grave concerns about the welfare and rights of seafarers working on their global fleet.

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) said it has been told ‘distressing stories of intimidation, threats and abusive conditions’ onboard the German shipping company’s global fleet. “Seafarers have described atrocious stories of exploitation and discrimination on Blumenthal vessels, practices that have no place in the maritime industry,” said ITF maritime coordinator Jacqueline Smith.

More information:

Insurer warns overtime burden is creating driving ‘zombies’

A survey of British workers has exposed how the UK’s overtime culture is putting drivers at risk at the wheel, owing to poor sleep, pressure to respond quickly and stress and distraction.

The research by business insurer NFU Mutual found that more than a third of people who work full- or part-time in the UK are expected to work outside of their contracted hours (35 per cent). Almost a third (30 per cent) are expected to respond to calls and emails out of hours, and sometimes slog away late into the night (46 per cent). Nearly one in ten who also drive for work, either as part of the job or their commute, admitted they have fallen asleep or nearly fallen asleep at the wheel as a direct result of work pressure (8 per cent), while a quarter have driven tired specifically due to out-of-hours work demands.

More information:

Pregnant women are not always safe at work

The TUC and Maternity Action have warned that employers are not doing enough to protect pregnant women at work.

The organisations have published new guidance which details steps bosses should be taking to keep female staff safe during and after pregnancy. It says there are clear laws in place to protect new and expectant mothers. But it warns that many bosses don’t know what they should be doing or are ignoring their legal responsibilities.  The groups point to a recent survey by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) that found that two in five (41 per cent) expectant mothers felt that there was a risk to their health or welfare at work during pregnancy.

The guide highlights a wide range of workplace risks to new and expectant mothers, including irregular and long working hours, stress, excessive heat, chemicals, infectious diseases and violence.

More information:

Unite secures new £1.9 million blacklisting settlement

Unite has settled a second major blacklisting case against the UK construction companies it says systematically ruined the lives of site workers.

As part of the overall settlement, which is subject to court approval, 53 blacklisted workers will receive over £1.9 million in compensation. The defendants have also agreed to pay Unite’s legal fees. In what the union describes as a legal breakthrough, the construction companies have also agreed to provide £230,000 for a Unite-administered training fund, providing support to victims of blacklisting who have brought proceedings. The fund is not restricted to retraining in the construction sector. The latest settlement follows the 2016 court action that resulted in Unite securing £19.34 million for 412 blacklisted workers.

More information:

Stress is a major cause of sickness absence in the workplace and costs over £5 billion a year in Great Britain. It affects individuals, their families and colleagues by impacting on their health but it also impacts on employers with costs relating to sickness absence, replacement staff, lost production and increased accidents.

This Health and Safety Executive workbook will help your organisation meet its legal duty to assess the risks to its employees from work-related stress and gives advice and practical guidance on how to manage work-related stress. It promotes the Management Standards approach to tackling work-related stress – a systematic approach to implementing an organisational procedure for managing work-related stress. It uses a clear step-by-step method which includes checklists to help you make sure you have completed a stage before you move to the next step. HSE’s stress webpages support the workbook with other guidance and tools.

The workbook will also be useful to organisations choosing to use an alternative approach, and provides advice on ensuring their approach is suitably equivalent – many of the practical solutions may also be applicable.

Full document:

Teachers facing ‘unjustified’ drug and alcohol testing

Teachers in Scotland could be subjected to alcohol and drug testing at work without any justification and without appropriate safeguards, a union has warned.

NASUWT was commenting on the ‘punitive’ plans by some local authorities in the country to introduce ‘random’ and ‘with cause’ alcohol and drugs tests. Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: “Clearly teachers, as with all employees, have a responsibility to meet appropriate professional standards in respect of their conduct in the workplace. However, there are already procedures in place to deal with any situations where teachers are failing to meet these standards or where their behaviour is causing concern.”

More information:

Unite to campaign for Heathrow safety inquiry

A campaign to persuade Heathrow to commission an independent inquiry to improve airport safety has been launched by Unite.

The union’s concerns were amplified by the death at the airport of Unite member John Coles in February 2018. Reports into Mr Coles’ death pointed to failings with Heathrow’s safety systems and emergency medical response procedures. Unite reps at Heathrow report that airside safety is not ‘fit for purpose,’ resulting in minor accidents and frequent near misses.

More information:

Shopworkers need protection from knife crime

Shopworkers need better protection from the growing menace of knife crime, their union has said.

Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said: “Knife crime in the UK has seen a drastic increase in recent years and we support the call for stab vests to be provided by law, to all security guards and other public facing employees who are at increased risk of violence at work.”

He added: “Stab vests won’t solve the problem of violence against our members, but they may offer some extra protection when the worst happens. We would always advocate for the tightening of the law around the sale of knives and with the terrifying growth in knife crime, this is more pressing than ever. Knives should not be left on shelves, but should be behind counters, so that they are more difficult to steal.”

More information:

A good work environment is good for you

A good work environment with job control and job security doesn’t just help prevent mental illness, it also promotes positive wellbeing, according to a new study.

Researchers from the Toronto-based Institute for Work & Health examined the impact of psychosocial exposures in the work environment on the mental health of a population-based sample of workers. Writing in the occupational hygiene journal Annals of Work Exposures and Health, they concluded: “Psychosocial work conditions were associated with both negative and positive measures of mental health. However, mental illness and mental wellbeing may represent complementary, yet distinct, aspects in relation to psychosocial work conditions.”

More information:

‘Urgent’ action call on growing work cancer menace

Occupational cancer is the largest single cause of work-related deaths and the numbers affected are increasing, leading experts have warned.

A position paper authored by an international group of work cancer specialists, published in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine, notes “it is clear that occupational cancer now represents the primary cause for work-related deaths globally and in many regions of the world, and the numbers continue to grow. In spite of efforts for prevention and control by several international organisations, institutions and authorities, the level of occupational cancer mortality and morbidity has remained high.”

The paper cites recent estimates that indicated occupational cancer accounted for 27 per cent of the 2.4 million deaths due to work-related diseases. “In numerical terms, this estimate means that the number of deaths attributable to occupational cancer annually increased from 666,000 deaths in 2011 to 742,000 deaths in 2015. This increase could be explained by different variables such as the evidence on new carcinogens, the methods of estimation, changes in the industry distribution of workers and the growing and ageing of the population.”

More information: