News from around the World
- Trades Union Congress (TUC): Covid-19 Coronavirus – Guidance for unions
- Trades Union Congress (TUC): A Better Recovery – Learning the lessons of the corona crisis to create a stronger, fairer economy
- Trades Union Congress (TUC): Rebuilding after recession – A plan for jobs
- Trades Union Congress (TUC): Young workers are most at risk from job losses due to the coronavirus crisis
- UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE): Gas safety during the coronavirus outbreak
- UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE): New online training solutions available now for slips and trips
- Events offered online by British Safety Council
- Event: RoSPA Covid-19 Return to Work Webinar
- Event: RoSPA Safer by Design Workshop – A framework to reduce serious accidental injury in new build homes
- Event: The Health & Safety Event
- Event: ACI 27th Maritime HR and Crew Management Summit
- Rescheduled events from September 2020
- UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advice on air conditioning and ventilation, during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
- More coronavirus-related updates and advice from HSE
- TUC report on new and expectant mums affected by health and economic impacts of coronavirus crisis
- RMT launches Covid-19 charter for Tube staff
- Hospitals and GP practices must have clarity and adequate supplies as new face covering rules come into effect, says BMA
- UK Government plans to fund just 12 new fire inspectors after Grenfell in “gross underestimate” of building safety crisis
- Grenfell anniversary: FBU “will not accept another year of inaction”
- Europe: Campaign wins Covid-19 guarantees for workers
- Workplace safety not in European Commission’s top 40 priorities despite coronavirus
- Easing lockdown and return safely to work
- London Fire Brigade: Fire service awards recognises women’s exceptional leadership at the Brigade
- Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary and Virtual meetings
- HSE and the Manufacturing sectors: Returning to work safely during the coronavirus outbreak
- Wide concern as lockdown relaxed and 2m rule eased
- GDP: Protect and create jobs for a faster recovery, says TUC
- HSE advice on social distancing, keeping businesses open and in-work activities during the coronavirus outbreak
- UK Health chiefs tell Prime Minister Boris Johnson to prepare for new COVID wave
- HSE safety alert issued against KN95 facemask
- Unite calls for action following coronavirus call centre report
- New and enforced rights needed to protect pregnant women
- IARC confirms night work cancer link
- TUC calls for UK to take lead on seafarer crisis
- Firefighters’ coronavirus response agreement extended
- HSE adviser calls for better health worker protection
- Imperial COVID-19 scientists’ outcry at staff cull
- Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) and partners launch free toolkit to help employers create safer workplaces for returning employees
- Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) publishes Mental health and the workplace: A guide for line managers
- Events: Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) Online Symposia – Safely returning to work
- Get your essential TUC guide to Hazards at Work
- Postponement of XXII World Congress on Safety and Health at Work to 19-22 September 2021
- New Lancet Psychiatry paper – Multidisciplinary research priorities for the COVID-19 pandemic: A call for action for mental health science
- Event: A Life Course Approach to Work and Health
- Global: WHO ignores evidence for greater worker protection
- UK Health and Safety Executive latest news bulletin
- UK Coronavirus outbreak FAQs: what you can and can’t do
- Workers need financial support to quarantine for testing and tracing to work, says TUC
- Virus on the brain: Does COVID-19 attack the brain? The worrying rise of neurological symptoms
- Exposure to cancer risk factors at work – a new survey for Europe
- TUC Report – A Better Recovery: Learning the lessons of the corona crisis to create a stronger, fairer economy
- Events: FABIG Lunchtime Webinars
- News from the IUF: Making women visible in occupational health and safety
- European Agency for Safety and Health at Work reports
- ITUC: Health and safety is paramount for return to work
- New Passive Fire Protection Software Unveiled
- ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow on international solidarity
- Event: Global Day of Action Climate- and Employment-Proof Our Work
- British Safety Council Advice
- UK Stop smoking services open to smokers thanks to rapid response of local councils
- This World No Tobacco Day, 280 children will start smoking in England – enough to fill over 17 school minibuses
- Event: Safely Returning to Work – ACOEM Virtual Symposium
Trades Union Congress (TUC): Covid-19 Coronavirus – Guidance for unions
The coronavirus pandemic has created an unprecedented situation for public health and the economy. This Trades Union Congress guide is for trade union reps, designed to give you an understanding of the workplace issues in the context of Covid-19, and to provide support in being effective at negotiating with employers steps that can be taken to best protect the health and safety of the workforce. Normally there are around two or three such pandemics every century. The most recent was in 2009 with the H1N1 virus, commonly referred to as ‘swine flu’. Around half a million people died globally.
An earlier outbreak of the same H1N1 virus in 1918 caused an estimated 20-40 million deaths worldwide, mostly among people aged between 20 and 45. As of 11th March 2020, the World Health Organisation has defined the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic.
Covid-19 Coronavirus – Guidance for unions
Trades Union Congress (TUC), 16 April 2020, 21 pages
Trades Union Congress (TUC): A Better Recovery – Learning the lessons of the corona crisis to create a stronger, fairer economy
Learning the lessons of the corona crisis to create a stronger, fairer economy. A plan to get Britain growing out of the crisis – and stop mass unemployment. The pandemic alone did not cause this economic crisis. It was made worse by a decade of austerity and the government’s failure to strengthen the UK’s economy. Choosing the wrong approach to recovery now risks embedding low growth, long-term unemployment and all the social ills that go alongside. An investment for growth approach means taking action on six key areas:
- Decent work and a new way of doing business: New business models based on fairer employment relationships. A fairer share for workers of the wealth they create, with a higher minimum wage and new collective bargaining rights.
- Sustainable industry: Economic stimulus for a just transition to net zero carbon. Rebuilding the UK’s industrial capacity with modern tech and training in new skills.
- A real safety net: Reforms to social security to provide help faster and prevent poverty. A job guarantee scheme so everyone can work and long-term unemployment does not take hold.
- Rebuilding public services: Bringing our public services back to full strength, with decent pay for those who looked after us in the crisis, and a new focus on good jobs and direct employment in social care.
- Equality at work: Specific actions to make sure women, disabled people and BME groups do not suffer disproportionately from the impact of the coronavirus recession.
- Rebuilding internationalism: New international rules must prioritise decent jobs and public services for all.
A Better Recovery: Learning the lessons of the corona crisis to create a stronger, fairer economy
Trades Union Congress (TUC), 20 May 2020, 45 pages
Trades Union Congress (TUC): Rebuilding after recession – A plan for jobs
Research carried out for the TUC by Transition Economics reveals that fast tracking spending on projects such as broadband, green technology, transport and housing could deliver a 1.24 million jobs boost by 2022. The analysis shows that projects which could create jobs include:
- Investment in high-speed broadband: this could help create over 40,000 new jobs
- Research and development in de-carbonising technology in manufacturing: this could help create over 38,000 new jobs
- Expanding and upgrading the rail network: this could help deliver over 120,000 new jobs
- Investing in the electrification of transport, including electric buses, new electric ferries, battery factories, and electric charging points: this could help deliver 59,000 jobs
- Building new social housing and retrofitting existing social housing: this could create 500,000 jobs
Rebuilding after recession: A plan for jobs
24 Jun 2020, 45 pages
Trades Union Congress (TUC): Young workers are most at risk from job losses due to the coronavirus crisis
TUC analysis shows that young workers (aged 25 and under) face the highest risk of unemployment due to the coronavirus crisis. The analysis suggests that, without urgent action, the UK may be on the brink of a surge in youth unemployment.
- Of 4,352,000 UK workers aged 25 and under, 890,000 work in either accommodation and food, or arts, entertainment and recreation.
- It means that 20% of workers aged 25 and under work in these two sectors, compared to 6% for workers older than 25.
- Workers aged 25 and under are therefore three times more likely to work in one of the two sectors where jobs are at greatest risk.
- Women workers aged 2 5 and under face the greatest risk of all. They are six times more likely than male workers over 25 to work in the highest risk sector, accommodation and food.
Trades Union Congress (TUC): Young workers are most at risk from job losses due to the coronavirus crisis. 12 Jun 2020, 8 pages
UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE): Gas safety during the coronavirus outbreak
HSE has published guidance for landlords, gas engineers and clinically vulnerable (shielded) tenants.
HSE has published information on gas safety with an overview of our guidance during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak for:
- registered gas engineers
- clinically vulnerable (shielded) tenants
More information: https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/gas-safety
UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE): New online training solutions available now for slips and trips
As a result of the coronavirus outbreak, HSE postponed all face-to-face training and events. However, we have been developing new, effective ways to deliver our health and safety training.
HSE has teamed up with Virtual College to develop a new online health and safety training solution for slips and trips in the workplace.
The new online courses have been designed to help businesses meet their compliance needs, with the learner at the forefront of the creative process. This ensures a training solution that is relevant, engaging, flexible and accessible to all. Find out more below.
- Slips and trips: Introduction
- Slips and trips: Intermediate
- Slips and trips: Advanced
Events offered online by British Safety Council
The following events are available:
Health and Safety for Directors and Senior Managers
This course aims to inspire directors and senior managers and provide them with an understanding of their responsibility for the safety, health and wellbeing of people in their organisation.
Display Screen Equipment
This short online course is for all users of display screen equipment (DSE). The course includes a workstation self-assessment allowing the user to report any concerns they have with their own workstation.
This short online course is for employees who undertake any form of manual handling as part of their work. It aims to ensure that employees understand the hazards associated with manual handling and how to reduce the risk of injury.
This practical online course will help employees identify, manage and reduce their own stress. It will also make them aware of the consequences of not doing so.
Event: RoSPA Covid-19 Return to Work Webinar
1 July 2020
Presented by Dr Karen McDonnell, RoSPA OHS Policy Adviser and Nick Pahl, CEO, SOM
More information: https://www.rospa.com/Events/RoSPA-Webinars
Event: RoSPA Safer by Design Workshop – A framework to reduce serious accidental injury in new build homes
15 September 2020, Virtual event
Responsible for more than 6,000 accidental deaths each year, our homes are statistically the most dangerous place to be. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Low-cost, evidence-based changes to house design can have massive implications for the safety, health and wellbeing of residents.
Join the growing club of elite designers, working hard to go beyond current building regulations, to ensure that the next generation of new-build homes are safer by design.
Sign up to attend this hands-on, discussion led, workshop for all those with responsibilities for the design of new-build homes. Hear the first-hand experiences of adoption and implementation from those in both the private and social housing sectors. Find out how you can get involved, and lead the way in shaping the safety agenda.
More information: https://www.rospa.com/Events/Safer-by-design.aspx
Event: The Health & Safety Event
22-23 September 2020, The NEC, Birmingham, UK
Located at the NEC Birmingham, UK The Health & Safety Event is the UK’s largest gathering of anyone responsible for running a safe and efficient workplace. With a unique range of seminars, practical workshops and exhibition hall, it attracts 16,000+ workplace professionals from the industrial, commercial and public sector.
New for 2020, is the Machinery Safety Zone, which is supported by Premier Partners Pilz UK and Machine Safety. This dedicated area will showcase the latest technologies and solutions around this vitally important area of the workplace and will also offer specially curated CPD-accredited content.
Another new feature is the Professional Development & Career Zone sponsored by HSE Recruitment Network, which will offer expert and industry advice from their consultants.
More information: https://www.healthandsafetyevent.com
Event: ACI 27th Maritime HR and Crew Management Summit
21-22 October 2020, London, UK
The aim of the meeting and discussions with senior experts on solutions to provide seafarers with essential support. One of this year’s main topic will focus on preserving and assessing the human factor in a digitalised future at sea, introduced by Dr. Dimitrios Dalaklis, Associate Professor at the World Maritime University.
Full list of speakers and detail topics: https://www.wplgroup.com/aci/event/maritime-hr-crew-management-europe
Rescheduled events from September 2020
18-20 May 2021 – Safety and Health EXPO
The UK’s largest dedicated event for health and safety professionals.
Safety & Health Expo is the UK’s largest dedicated event for health and safety professionals.
18-20 May 2021 – FIREX 2021
FIREX International is your chance to stay up to date with the latest technologies and legislation within the fire and life safety industry.
UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advice on air conditioning and ventilation, during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
The risk of air conditioning spreading coronavirus (COVID-19) in the workplace is extremely low. You can continue using most types of air conditioning system as normal.
However, if you use a centralised ventilation system that removes and circulates air to different rooms, it is recommended that you turn off recirculation and use a fresh air supply.
Find out more about using air conditioning and general ventilation during the coronavirus outbreak:
More coronavirus-related updates and advice from HSE
HSE has published a range of guidance and advice, which you may find useful.
It includes information on:
- Display screen equipment (DSE)
Advice to help you reduce DSE risks, including a short video showing how you can achieve a reasonable posture while working at home.
- Face coverings and face masks
Details about using face coverings and face masks in the workplace.
- Working safely during the coronavirus outbreak
HSE guidance will help you manage the risk associated with restarting or running your business, across a number of topics.
For all the latest information and advice visit coronavirus microsite: https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus
TUC report on new and expectant mums affected by health and economic impacts of coronavirus crisis
New and expectant mums have been acutely affected by the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis, and the actions that government and employers have taken to respond to it. As a result, in June 2020, the TUC surveyed over 3,400 pregnant women and mums on maternity leave to find out about their experiences of work during the period.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic began:
- One in four pregnant women and new mums in our survey have experienced unfair treatment or discrimination at work including being singled out for redundancy or furlough.
- Pregnant women’s health and safety rights are being routinely disregarded, leaving women feeling unsafe at work or without pay when they are unable to attend their workplaces.
- Low-paid pregnant women responding to our survey are almost twice as likely as women on median to high incomes to have lost pay and or been forced to stop work (either by being required to take sick leave when they were not sick or to take unpaid leave, start their maternity leave early or leave the workplace altogether) because of unaddressed health and safety concerns.
- 71 per cent of new mums in our survey planning to return to work in the next three months are currently unable to find childcare to enable them to do so.
There are three immediate actions the TUC recommends the government take to protect women’s health, jobs and livelihoods. These include changes to health and safety practices, preventing discriminatory redundancies, an urgent emergency childcare bailout, an extension of the job retention scheme for parents (including mums returning from maternity leave) who cannot find childcare and an increase in protection for casual, agency and zero-hours workers.
RMT launches Covid-19 charter for Tube staff
On the day that face masks were made compulsory on public transport in England, London Underground union RMT has launched a Covid-19 charter for Tube workers.
The transport union said its charter, announced on 15 June 2020, offers support to the London Underground workers who have kept the Tube and other Transport for London (TfL) services running throughout the Covid-19 crisis. It explains that while union members want to provide the best possible service to workers in London, there cannot be increased use of the Tube without the necessary safety planning and before conditions are right.
Hospitals and GP practices must have clarity and adequate supplies as new face covering rules come into effect, says BMA
Responding to new UK Government rules making it mandatory for hospital staff in England to wear face masks and patients and visitors to wear face coverings from today, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said:
“It is imperative that we do all we can to prevent the spread of infection in healthcare settings, so that patients and visitors can attend hospital and GP practices without fear of contamination. The wearing of masks by staff and face coverings by the public will be key to enabling this.
“It is clear though that the Government has failed to properly plan for these changes which are now in effect and have left providers of NHS services confused and unprepared for how this will be implemented on the frontline.
“Furthermore, it is still unclear as to whether mandatory face coverings will extend to patients attending GP practices.”
UK Government plans to fund just 12 new fire inspectors after Grenfell in “gross underestimate” of building safety crisis
The government expects to fund just a dozen extra staff to inspect and enforce fire safety in more than 2 million homes after Grenfell, new analysis reveals, in a “gross underestimate” of the resources needed to tackle the building safety crisis in England.
The revelations have prompted calls from the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) for ministers to establish a permanent statutory advisory body for the fire and rescue service, allowing the voices of frontline firefighters and inspectors to influence the “dangerously short-termist thinking” of Whitehall and to provide a ‘reality check’ before final votes take place in the Fire Safety Bill.
The Fire Safety Bill, currently in its committee stage, would extend responsibility for fire services to inspect and enforce fire safety in the common parts of all of England’s multi-occupancy buildings, including building structures, external walls, stairs, and doors between residences.
Grenfell anniversary: FBU “will not accept another year of inaction”
On the third anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire (14 June 2020), the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has said firefighters will not accept another year of inaction on building safety.
The FBU has called for an end to “a politics that values profit over people”, condemning “endless promises, excuses, and platitudes” from government.
Europe: Campaign wins Covid-19 guarantees for workers
European workers will benefit from better protection from Covid-19 following pressure from the union federation ETUC and MEPs on the European Commission.
The Commission had decided against putting Covid-19 in the highest risk group of its Biological Agents Directive, a decision made without proper consultation of trade unions and the European Parliament. However, in response to concerns raised by trade unions, MEPs threatened to use their power of veto over the Commission decision.
The Commission has now struck a compromise with MEPs on the Employment and Social Affairs committee to accept the classification but with guarantees on protections for workers. ETUC said Nicolas Schmit, the Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, made important clarifications on the protective and preventive measures employers must take, including an obligation to inform staff in writing about all safety measures being taken.
Workplace safety not in European Commission’s top 40 priorities despite coronavirus
Trade unions are shocked and concerned that the European Commission still has no official plans to make workplaces safer in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
An updated work programme published by the Commission today includes 43 new initiatives, including proposals ranging from airport charges to crypto assets and ‘better regulation’.
But the Commission has again omitted improvements to health and safety from the document, having already overlooked the issue in its political guidelines and original work programme.
That is an astonishing decision after thousands of deaths caused by exposure to Covid-19 at work, while millions more remain at home because their workplaces are considered unsafe.
Even without Covid-19, there are still an annual 4,000 fatal accidents at work while more than 100,000 people die every year from work-related cancer.
There is a need for a new and ambitious EU strategy on occupational health and safely, including additional binding occupational exposure limits on cancer-causing substances and a directive on combating stress.
Easing lockdown and return safely to work
While governments are starting to ease lockdowns, unions around the world are negotiating the return to work. Health and safety are main priorities, and how the return to work will happen is critical for unions and workers.
Together with the UK’s Trades Union Congress (TUC), IndustriALL Global Union’s UK affiliates Unite, GMB and USDAW, stressed that “they will not recommend a return to work for their three million members until the government and employers agree to a nationwide health and safety revolution as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic”.
In South Africa there is a clear opposition against the unsafe reopening of the mining sector as the industry targets a return back on 1 June 2020. Union opposition has increased with the massive spread of Covid-19 of at AngloGold Ashanti’s operation in Western Gauteng. The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) says that the mine cannot be reopened until the entire workforce has been tested.
More information: http://www.industriall-union.org/negotiating-the-return-to-work
London Fire Brigade: Fire service awards recognises women’s exceptional leadership at the Brigade
Four female colleagues at the Brigade have been recognised for their exceptional leadership, innovation and for delivering on the Brigade’s commitment to diversity in the 2020 Women in the Fire Service (WFS) awards.
Dr Anne Scoging, the Brigade’s Head of Psychological Health, and Lynsey Seal, the Brigade’s Principal Fire Engineer, share the Dany Cotton Inspiring Leader award in its inaugural year. They were selected out of 11 other nominations across the UK’s fire services.
Sub Officer Kim Jerray-Silver, based at Acton Fire Station, wins this year’s WFS Bright Light award, she was one of 16 nominees, for her work supporting older people in her local community.
Kleria Baptista-Mendes, Assistant Commissioner Ambassador Fire Cadet, is a joint runner-up in this year’s Young Person’s Role Model award. That award recognises someone aged 11-24 years old in the Fire and Rescue Service who has shown they are an excellent role model.
Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary and Virtual meetings
Virtual meetings have become the norm for many of us as the world continues to try to contain the spread of Covid-19.
While nothing can replace time together in person, the virtual launch of the 2020 ITUC Global Rights Index brought together over three hundred people from sixty-one different countries.
The 2020 Global Rights Index has exposed the breakdown of the social contract with violations of workers’ rights at a seven-year high. The ten worst countries for working people in 2020 are Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Honduras, India, Kazakhstan, Philippines, Turkey and Zimbabwe.
The Global Day of Action to Climate- and Employment-Proof Our Work took place on 24 June with trade unions and civil society organisations in many countries taking part in virtual and in-person activities. Unions know that jobs and employment are serious concerns for the majority of people, and that’s why we need to have the conversation about both climate and employment.
We will be continuing these conversations as we support recovery and resilience plans which should address both job creation and action on climate.
The Covid-19 pandemic has brutally exposed the fault lines of the global divide between those that have universal social protection, including health and income support, and those that don’t. The ITUC is preparing a global campaign to support a Global Social Protection Fund to build economies and be the foundation of resilience for people weathering future shocks.
We held a virtual Executive Bureau to ensure our governance procedures are fulfilled despite the restrictions on travel during the pandemic. The Executive Bureau confirmed the decision to host the 2022 ITUC World Congress in Melbourne the week of 4th July 2022.
Welcoming the decision, Michelle O’Neil, President ACTU told the Executive Bureau, “Friends I want to let you know how pleased and honoured the Australian union movement will be to welcome you to the ITUC World Congress in Melbourne, Australia in 2022. Australian unions look forward to sharing our hospitality and solidarity. We know that by coming together we will build global workers power.”
ILO Global Summit on Covid-19 and the World of Work – Building a better future of work
The ILO Global Summit will provide a high-profile platform for government, employers and a limited number of worker representatives, and other high-level actors, to address the economic and social impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The presentations and discussions can be followed by all.
The summit will be an opportunity to discuss the challenges and responses of countries and regions that are battling with the pandemic and of those that are starting the recovery process. A concept note provides further details on the rationale, context and main topics for discussion and invites participants to draw on the ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work in the immediate response to the pandemic and as a framework for building back better in the post-pandemic recovery.
UN High-level Political Forum
Trade unions around the world have been supporting the Time for 8 Campaign ahead of the UN HLPF 7-16 July for a New Social Contract with SDG 8 at its core and decent work for all. Take part in the campaign with actions online and in your country.
Unions will fight to ensure that full employment and decent work remain the foundations of our economies, and a New Social Contract is a vital start as we design economic recovery and resilience plans that will support workers from future shocks and the Covid-19 pandemic.
HSE and the Manufacturing sectors: Returning to work safely during the coronavirus outbreak
HSE has published guidance for employers and businesses in manufacturing sectors that explains how to continue or restart operations safely.
HSE has published practical advice on manufacturing for employers and businesses to help manage any additional risks caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The new guidance covers:
- safe use of machinery and equipment
- general building safety
- how to protect people from coronavirus
More information: https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/working-safely/manufacturing
Wide concern as lockdown relaxed and 2m rule eased
Unions have warned that workers could be put at risk as a result of a government decision this week to weaken lockdown rules in England.
In changes announced on 23 June 2020, prime minister Boris Johnson said people should remain 2 metres apart where possible but a “one metre plus” rule will be introduced from 4 July 2020. TUC general secretary said any relaxation of the rules must be accompanied by greater enforcement of health and safety protections for workers and said there were too few inspections and an under-resourced inspectorate.
GDP: Protect and create jobs for a faster recovery, says TUC
Commenting on 12 June 2020 monthly GDP figures, which show UK GDP plummeting 20.4% in April due to the impacts of the lockdown, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“If we act now, we can stop deep damage becoming lasting damage. The government must work closely with unions and business to get the next steps right.
“The national recovery plan must prioritise protecting and creating jobs. The more people in work, the faster we will work our way out of recession.
“The government should set up a national recovery council with unions and business to plan how we can build back better. We need targeted support for hard hit sectors of the economy, and a jobs guarantee to help those who do lose work.”
HSE advice on social distancing, keeping businesses open and in-work activities during the coronavirus outbreak
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has produced guidance for employers and others on measures you can take to help you carry on working safely during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. It covers:
- social distancing measures
- staggering shifts
- providing additional handwashing facilities
- how to talk with workers about working safely
Full guidance: https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/social-distancing
UK Health chiefs tell Prime Minister Boris Johnson to prepare for new COVID wave
Senior figures from across the NHS have issued an urgent plea for a comprehensive plan to tackle a second wave of coronavirus infections, no relaxation to the lockdown until track and trace is working properly and a strategy to ensure the correct PPE is available. The calls came as Boris Johnson continued to lose public confidence in his handling of the pandemic. Health chiefs say there should be no further easing before a comprehensive test and trace system has been proved to work.
The Observer spoke to organisations including the Royal College of GPs, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, the Royal College of Anaesthetists, the NHS Confederation and NHS Providers on how ministers should plan for a potential second wave. They called for retraining of more hospital staff so that they could be a “reserve” force, redeployed in the event of a second peak. There were also demands for more open communication about the risks ahead and the strategy being adopted, following the prime minister’s much-criticised claim that the UK would have a “world-beating” test and trace system by the start of June.
HSE safety alert issued against KN95 facemask
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is warning against the use of KN95 facemasks as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
A safety alert has been issued on Thursday 11 June 2020, urging all employers and suppliers not to purchase or use KN95 facemasks as PPE.
KN95 is a performance rating that is broadly equivalent to the EU standard for FFP2 facemasks. Products manufactured to KN95 requirements rely on a self-declaration of compliance by the manufacturer. There is no independent certification or assurance of their quality.
This respirator has been identified as suspect by HSE experts and locally arranged testing has confirmed they would not meet requirements, including to protect against the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. About 90% of the PPE concerns and queries currently being received by HSE involve KN95 masks which are often accompanied by fake or fraudulent paperwork.
HSE has quarantined around 1.5 million KN95 masks, prevented 25 million items claiming to be FFP3 respirators entering the supply chain and prevented a further four lines consisting of many millions of items entering the supply chain.
Unite calls for action following coronavirus call centre report
Unite union has called for urgent action after a survey of nearly 3,000 staff working in call centres throughout the UK found what the union described as ‘massive alarm’ amongst the workforce about the safety conditions.
The independent research was conducted by Phil Taylor, a professor at the University of Strathclyde. His study found 47.2 per cent of respondents ‘strongly agreed’ and 30.7 per cent ‘agreed’ with the statement, ‘I think it is likely that I will catch COVID-19’. It found 37.8 per cent of respondents stated that they were seated less than the required 2 metres, with one in six (16.4 per cent) at 1.5 metres separation or less. Almost threequarters (73 per cent) believed that social distancing when moving around the building was either ‘hazardous’ or ‘very hazardous’.
New and enforced rights needed to protect pregnant women
The TUC’s new report on pregnancy discrimination during the COVID-19 crisis shows working women do not have the protection they deserve. ‘Pregnant and precarious: new and expectant mums’ experiences of work during COVID-19’ calls for wide-ranging changes to improve and enforce legal curbs on discrimination.
“Employers are already required to undertake a COVID-19 risk assessment, which should take account of additional risks to anyone who is pregnant or a new mum,” the report notes. “The government should now change the law to require employers to undertake individual written risk assessments when they are informed that a woman who works for them is pregnant, has given birth in the past six months or is breastfeeding. Assessment of risk should involve discussions with the woman involved, and if there is any risk then it must be removed.”
IARC confirms night work cancer link
An association between night work and breast and other cancers has been confirmed after a major review by an International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) expert group.
IARC’s 2007 ‘probably carcinogenic in humans’ Group 2A ranking was challenged in 2016 after an Oxford University study co-financed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Cancer Research UK (CRUK) concluded “night shift work, including long-term night shift work, has little or no effect on breast cancer incidence.” The paper, which attracted headlines worldwide and whose findings were welcomed by both HSE and CRUK, concluded IARC’s ranking of night work as a ‘probable’ cause of breast cancer in women “is no longer justified.”
However, the paper attracted strong criticism and was dismissed as ‘bad science’ by leading work and breast cancer experts. The controversy led IARC, a World Health Organisation (WHO) agency, to convene a ‘Monographs Working Group’ in June 2019, The findings of IARC’s re-evaluation, published online this month, rejected the HSE/CRUK study’s conclusions. Instead, the IARC expert group again “classified night shift work as ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’ (Group 2A), on the basis of limited evidence of cancer in humans (for cancers of the breast, prostate, colon, and rectum), sufficient evidence of cancer in experimental animals, and strong mechanistic evidence in experimental animals.” However, unions have expressed concern that the doubt cast on the cancer association by the HSE/CRUK backed paper adversely affected efforts to recognise, address and compensate night-work related breast cancer.
TUC calls for UK to take lead on seafarer crisis
The TUC has warned the UK government of the threat posed to Britain’s economic recovery from the mounting crisis on board merchant vessels, where up to 200,000 seafarers remain stranded at sea by COVID-19 travel restrictions. The union body urged the UK government to lead the international effort to facilitate crew changes in the world’s merchant fleet.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Seafarers play an essential role in global trade networks, keeping our economies running and delivering essential goods. They should be recognised as key workers and given the pay and support they need. But instead thousands are stranded at sea and in ports. Without action, this crisis will undermine our critical supply chains and hurt the UK’s economic recovery.”
Firefighters’ coronavirus response agreement extended
Firefighters’ work responding to the COVID-19 pandemic has been extended until July, as the UK continues to battle coronavirus.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU), National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), and National Employers agreed the extension to the national agreement stating that the virus “continues to be a risk in our communities”. The agreement first reached on 26 March has allowed firefighters to assist ambulance services, deliver vital supplies to the elderly and vulnerable, and move the bodies of the deceased. Since then, a number of further activities have been agreed, including assembling personal protective equipment (PPE) and training care home staff in infection, prevention and control.
The work has now been extended to 15 July and could be extended until 26 August. COVID-19 testing guidelines for fire and rescue personnel have also been agreed, requiring a test after three days of removal from detachment for coronavirus response duty. Staff will not be permitted to return to fire stations until they have tested negative.
HSE adviser calls for better health worker protection
A top expert adviser to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has said current evidence justifies far more extensive health worker protection than is provided in the UK.
Professor John Cherrie, who is a member of HSE’s Workplace Health Expert Committee (WHEC), cites HSE advice and evidence of good practice, but points out the UK follows neither HSE’s preventive hierarchy nor the masks requirement the evidence indicates is required.
Writing in the journal Occupational Medicine, Cherrie and colleagues from the Institute of Occupational Medicine note HSE’s established guidance “sets out eight action areas, beginning with designing and operating activities to minimise emission, release and spread of hazardous agents. In general, there seems to be little attempt to do this in healthcare settings, although in principle there is no reason why this could not be done. The traditional approaches of partial enclosures, localised ventilation and other containment strategies could be applied.
Imperial COVID-19 scientists’ outcry at staff cull
Members of the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team have warned against plans to cut the staff who have made their life-saving work possible.
On 3 June Imperial College told 281 staff in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) that 156 of them were at risk of losing their jobs. Imperial says it expects 75 staff to be made redundant, meaning more than a quarter of the department will go, with the first jobs expected to be axed in July.
The Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team has been advising government on how to respond to the pandemic and its modelling of the spread of coronavirus informed government’s decision to go into lockdown. Members of the team including Samir Bhatt and Seth Flaxman said their globally important work relies on the support of the ICT staff who are now at risk.
Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) and partners launch free toolkit to help employers create safer workplaces for returning employees
Businesses can get free expert advice on how to make their workplaces COVID-secure, from The Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM).
With the support and input from several national organisations, SOM today launches a Returning to the workplace after the COVID-19 lockdown toolkit designed to help employers and occupational health professionals get the nation back to work, safely.
Dr Will Ponsonby, President of SOM, said: “Our toolkit supports the directions and advice from the UK Government, the Health and Safety Executive, and Public Health England. It provides advice, guidance and links to other resources that will help employers manage risks in reopening workplaces, and help them understand and conform to their legal obligations. Following the toolkit’s guidance will ensure workers feel confident to go back to work safely.”
The toolkit, free to download from the SOM website, has been developed with help from the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas), the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), Business in the Community (BITC), and Mind, the mental health charity.
Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) publishes Mental health and the workplace: A guide for line managers
Good work makes us feel more fulfilled, imbues confidence and self-esteem and rewards us socially and financially. From a medical perspective, it is desirable to return to work as soon as it is safe to do so after any illness or injury. Between 60–70 per cent of people with common mental health problems are in work. Mental ill health is estimated to cost UK businesses £35 billion annually and is the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK, with 127 million hours of work lost in 2015 due to mental health-related absence.
It’s important to support those with mental health conditions to stay in work, because once they drop out of employment, re-entering the workplace is difficult. The employment rate for adults with mental health problems remains unacceptably low: 43 per cent of all people with mental health problems are in employment, compared to 74 per cent of the general population and 65 per cent of people with other health conditions.
So, if we can support colleagues in the right way it’s not just good for them, it’s good for society and your organisation. Supporting colleagues at work with temporary or longer-term mental health issues in quite small ways can very often make them fully productive employees. Staying within such a supportive working environment and being productive will also assist their recovery.
Events: Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) Online Symposia – Safely returning to work
18 June 2020 12-2 pm and 15 July 2020 12-2 pm
These Virtual Symposia are designed primarily for professionals who specialize in or have an interest in occupational and workplace health, including HR professionals, GPs, nurses, hygienists, safety professionals, and environmental health specialists. These symposia will cover a comprehensive approach to returning to work including use of the SOM return to work toolkits as attached.
- Describe the role that OH and other professionals play in returning employees back to work safely
- Assess the psychological impacts that the pandemic has on workers, especially health care providers, and the strategies and resources needed to assist them.
More information: https://www.som.org.uk/events
Get your essential TUC guide to Hazards at Work
The newest update of TUC’s bestselling Hazards at Work guide is now available. The mammoth 6th edition is packed with advice on health and safety laws and good practice at work.
It covers all the ‘classic’ hazards and has new COVID-19 related advice and reworked chapters on mental health, bullying, harassment, and all other modern workplace causes of illness and injury. It also has extensive checklists, case studies and links to online resources. It’s the best single source on health and safety, union style.
Postponement of XXII World Congress on Safety and Health at Work to 19-22 September 2021
In light of public health guidance regarding COVID-19, the International Organizing Committee (IOC) has taken the difficult decision to postpone the XXII World Congress on Safety and Health at Work to 19-22 September 2021.
The good news is that the XXII World Congress will still take place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in the heart of downtown Toronto, Canada exploring the Congress theme, Prevention in the Connected Age: Global solutions to achieve safe and healthy work for all. The Congress is also being expanded to include virtual options, including live streaming to facilitate further global engagement.
Given the impact of COVID-19 on workplaces around the world, the IOC has also decided to convene a virtual meeting of global thought leaders focused on COVID-19 on October 5, 2020. More information about this meeting and how to participate will be posted to the Congress website in the coming weeks.
More information: https://www.safety2020canada.com
New Lancet Psychiatry paper – Multidisciplinary research priorities for the COVID-19 pandemic: A call for action for mental health science
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is having a profound effect on all aspects of society, including mental health and physical health. We explore the psychological, social, and neuroscientific effects of COVID-19 and set out the immediate priorities and longer-term strategies for mental health science research. These priorities were informed by surveys of the public and an expert panel convened by the UK Academy of Medical Sciences and the mental health research charity, MQ: Transforming Mental Health, in the first weeks of the pandemic in the UK in March, 2020. We urge UK research funding agencies to work with researchers, people with lived experience, and others to establish a high level coordination group to ensure that these research priorities are addressed, and to allow new ones to be identified over time. The need to maintain high-quality research standards is imperative. International collaboration and a global perspective will be beneficial. An immediate priority is collecting high-quality data on the mental health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic across the whole population and vulnerable groups, and on brain function, cognition, and mental health of patients with COVID-19.
Full paper: https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(20)30168-1
Event: A Life Course Approach to Work and Health
27-29 October 2020, Grand Hotel, Reykjavik, Iceland
Maintaining and maximizing a healthy working life is important for building healthy societies. To promote healthy aging throughout working life and to extend healthy lives, a life course perspective must be integrated into work and health research.
This course introduces participants to core life course concepts. The participants will learn how core life course concepts can be applied to work and health research, policy and practice.
Upon completing the course, participants will understand how a life course approach has implications for work and health research, policy and practice. They will be able to use the core life course concepts to inform their work and health research, policy and practice.
More information: https://niva.org/course/a-life-course-approach-to-work-and-health
Global: WHO ignores evidence for greater worker protection
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has so far ignored the findings of a major medical review it commissioned and part-financed and which called for high quality respirators as the ‘minimum’ necessary to protect health care workers at risk from COVID-19.
The review, published in the Lancet on 1 June, also noted that physical distancing of two metres is twice as protective as WHO’s ‘at least one metre’ recommendation. However, ‘Advice on the use of masks in the context of COVID-19’, interim guidance published by WHO on 5 June, did not revise the health care worker mask advice to stipulate respirators. And the global health body’s physical distancing advice remains at the twice-as-dangerous 1 metre.
UK Health and Safety Executive latest news bulletin
The Weekly Digest of coronavirus workplace guidance and advice:
- NHS test and trace: workplace guidance
- Using PPE and face masks at work
- Hand sanitisers and surface disinfectants
- Help to improve our coronavirus guidance
- Plus, get the latest news on future building safety regulations
UK Coronavirus outbreak FAQs: what you can and can’t do
Updated 29 May 2020
COVID-19 new guidance and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about staying at home and who you can and cannot meet and much more from 1 June 2020.
The government has set out its plan to return life to as near normal as we can, for as many people as we can, as quickly and fairly as possible in order to safeguard livelihoods, but in a way that is safe and continues to protect our NHS.
The government has published staying safe outside your home guidance on what the new rules will mean. This page sets out key FAQs to help you prepare for these changes.
This guidance applies in England – people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should follow the specific rules in those parts of the UK.
Workers need financial support to quarantine for testing and tracing to work, says TUC
Commenting on the 27 May 2020 launch of the UK NHS Test and Trace programme, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“We need a testing and tracing programme up and running as soon as possible.
“But it will not be effective if workers are pushed into hardship when they are required to self-isolate.
“Statutory sick pay is just £95 per week – and two million workers aren’t even eligible for that.
“If workers can’t afford to self-isolate, then they will be forced to keep working. That will put them, their workmates and their local community at risk, and undermine the entire test and trace programme.
“The government must extend statutory sick pay to everyone – no matter what they’re paid – and raise it to the level of the real Living Wage, £260 per week. And the self-employed income support scheme must remain in place as a source of financial support for those forced to self-isolate. That’s how to show that we really are all in this together.”
“If a worker tests positive, then their entire workplace could be closed down overnight. This could lead to schools and childcare settings closing unexpectedly, perhaps repeatedly. The government must set out clearly how they expect employers to treat their staff in this situation, and what support is available.”
Virus on the brain: Does COVID-19 attack the brain? The worrying rise of neurological symptoms
by Jessica Hamzelou
The New Scientist, 30 May 2020, volume 246, No. 3284, pp. 34-38 edition carries this article.
It appears that some neurological symptoms have been found in those with COVID-19. People were passing out before they were hospitalised. Once in hospital, some of the patients started having unusual movements. Some had seizures and other had strokes. Similar reports have been coming in from hospitals around the world. Some neurological symptoms appear mild, such as loss of smell and taste. And at the other end of the spectrum, a few people have developed encephalitis – a potentially fatal inflammation of the brain.
Exposure to cancer risk factors at work – a new survey for Europe
The European Week Against Cancer – between 25 and 31 May 2020 – raises awareness of cancer prevention, access to treatment and support for survivors
To mark the week, EU-OSHA presents its plans for a new and innovative Worker Survey on Exposure to Cancer Risk Factors in Europe. By collecting reliable data on workplace exposure, the survey is expected to fill significant gaps in the information that we have on one of the biggest work-related health problems in Europe.
The information collected will provide an accurate and comprehensive picture of current risks and help to inform future preventive measures. Preparatory work on the survey has already begun, and EU-OSHA plans to publish the first findings in 2023.
TUC Report – A Better Recovery: Learning the lessons of the corona crisis to create a stronger, fairer economy
A plan published 20 May 2020 to get Britain growing out of the crisis – and stop mass unemployment. The pandemic alone did not cause this economic crisis. It was made worse by a decade of austerity and the government’s failure to strengthen the UK’s economy. Choosing the wrong approach to recovery now risks embedding low growth, long-term unemployment and all the social ills that go alongside.
An investment for growth approach means taking action on six key areas:
- Decent work and a new way of doing business
- Sustainable industry
- A real safety net
- Rebuilding public services
- Equality at work
- Rebuilding internationalism
The evidence from the post-war recovery is that this investment for growth recovery plan can pay for itself. Millions of working families with higher disposable income create the economic demand needed for strong growth and healthy public finances. Stronger public services and an effective safety net will support people to start and grow businesses, and will better protect against a future pandemic.
Full report: https://www.tuc.org.uk/ABetterRecovery
Events: FABIG Lunchtime Webinars
Are unconfined hydrogen vapor cloud explosions credible?
Wednesday, 3 June 2020, 13.00-14.00 (BST)
Speakers: Darren Malik & Kelly Thomas, BakerRisk
This webinar poses the question “Are unconfined hydrogen vapour cloud explosions credible?”. It will review the characteristics of hydrogen explosions and the requirements for the transition from deflagration to detonation, and draws conclusions by examining real accidental events from the last 50 years as well as test result data on the dispersion, ignition and blast loads generated by hydrogen releases.
Risk assessments and standards leading to safety distances for hydrogen refuelling stations
Wednesday, 17 June 2020, 13.00-14.00 (BST)
Speaker: Asmund Huser, DNV GL
This Webinar will review safety distances for Hydrogen Refuelling Stations (HRS), providing some background and indicating differences. Recent accidents will be used to review the safety of HRS, using the safety distance risk parameter for comparison. DNV GL has developed generic HRS safety distances for the Norwegian Safety authorities (DSB) and the underlying risk analysis will be presented. The report is now at the public hearing stage and the presentation will hence outline the current status. In addition, Risk-based assessment will be outlined as an approach whereby a safe and cost optimal solution can be obtained. This may be critical when HRS are scaled up and moving into cities.
News from the IUF: Making women visible in occupational health and safety
The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF) have produced this new guidance.
Trade unions help make workplaces safer and healthier for all workers, women and men, but often women’s occupational health and safety (OHS) is neglected, putting workers at risk of injury and ill-health. Many women trade union members have raised concerns that health and safety issues particularly affecting women at work (such as gender-related violence, pregnancy, menstruation and menopause) are not being adequately addressed. The IUF has now published a resource on integrating gender into workplace health and safety.
This resource includes a brief outline of the problem, specific concerns raised by IUF affiliates, and proposals for action. It includes a briefing on do it yourself research including body and hazard mapping, and a checklist of issues which can help trade union members fully integrate gender into occupational health and safety.
Full guidance: http://www.iuf.org/w/?q=node/7273
European Agency for Safety and Health at Work reports
Prevention policy and practice. Approaches to tackling work-related musculoskeletal disorders
As part of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work’s project ‘Review of research, policy and practice on prevention of work-related musculoskeletal disorders’, the project team carried out an extensive analysis of policies on preventing musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) carried out in a number of countries. The aim was to gain a better understanding of the circumstances under which strategies and actions to address this very common work-related health problem are most effective.
The report describes 25 policy-level initiatives and includes an in-depth analysis of six countries with a variety of strategic approaches to preventing MSDs. The results include data and evaluation gaps identified and success factors that emerged from the analysis.
Work-related musculoskeletal disorders: why are they still so prevalent? Evidence from a literature review by the Institute of Occupational Medicine
This literature review investigates the reasons for the continuing prevalence of musculoskeletal disorder (MSDs) in workers across the EU. Despite legislation and prevention measures, the levels of work-related MSDs remain high.
The authors identify the factors that affect the prevalence of MSDs in the workforce, including changing ways of working, age and gender, health behaviours and beliefs, psychosocial factors and socio-economic differences. They conclude that we need new approaches to preventing MSDs and make recommendations.
Among these is adopting a more holistic approach to risk assessment combining physical and psychosocial risks, both of which put workers at risk of developing MSDs.
European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (ESENER) 2019 Policy brief
This publication presents a summary of the main findings of the 2019 ESENER – European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks, revealing the risk factors that workplaces are most concerned about, the level of employee involvement in measures to address these issues and the reasons why workplaces are or are not managing safety and health. For the first time, the results show how the situation has changed compared to the previous survey in 2014 and include a section on the emerging issue of digitalisation.
The results of the survey are of interest to policy-makers and employers, among others; they help us to understand the needs of workplaces to better protect workers and ensure their well-being.
COVID-19: Back to the Workplace – Adapting workplaces and protecting workers
These non-binding guidelines aim to help employers and workers to stay safe and healthy in a working environment that has changed significantly because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
They give advice on risk assessment and appropriate measures such as minimising exposure, resuming work, coping with absences and managing workers working from home.
Workers’ involvement and taking care of those who have been ill is also included as well as information and further links for many sectors, occupations and countries.
ITUC: Health and safety is paramount for return to work
Ensuring health and safety in workplaces must be the highest priority as people return to work in many countries emerging from COVID-19 restrictions and closures
“Drastic public health measures were, and in many cases still are, needed to tackle the initial waves of COVID infections around the world. Re-opening workplaces is much more complicated than closing them, and it is crucial that occupational health and safety regulations, procedures and systems provide the basis for return to work, as well as in situations where work has continued. Social dialogue and negotiations between employers and unions are central to this. Arrangements which are simply imposed on workers without consultation and union involvement pose a much higher risk, both to working people and to the public in general. All the evidence shows that workplaces, whether health and care facilities, transport systems, public venues and other places where workers come into contact with the public, or processing facilities, offices and other places where significant numbers of workers are together, are major vectors for the spread of the virus. Good occupational health and safety protects workers, members of their households and the public,” said Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary.
More information: https://www.ituc-csi.org/health-and-safety-is-paramount-for
New Passive Fire Protection Software Unveiled
FireArrest has officially launched this new innovative passive fire protection app, available to download on Android and iPhone devices is set to take the industry by storm. Not only is it intuitive, but it’s modern design and competitive price point make it the perfect solution for anyone looking to ensure they’re compliant with all fire safety measures.
The FireArrest App allows site managers, surveyors and onsite teams to communicate across multiple fire safety projects. The app has been designed alongside fire stopping professionals, specifically for use in the fire protection sector, with the aim of offering a solution that is modern, easy to use, intuitive, wide-ranging and all at a competitive price.
The full array of features allows fire professionals to work simultaneously on a project effectively and collaboratively while providing a complete audit trail of any work that has been completed to ensure compliance every step of the way.
Managing Director, Mark Shaw, had this to say, “I’m delighted we have been able to roll this technology out. We’ve worked incredibly hard to create a product that is simple, affordable and effective,” Mark continues, “We are able to cover every stage of your passive fire protection project, from the first survey to completion. The app is full of tools and features which give users the opportunity to report and complete work efficiently.”
To coincide with the launch, FireArrest has also unveiled a brand-new website. “We’ve opted for a modern and sleek design, to correspond with our brand values, and we’re really pleased with the results.”
To mark the app launch, FireArrest is offering an exceptional launch price, with the first six-months at half price for anyone who signs up.
For more information about the FireArrest passive fire protection software, visit https://firearrest.co.uk/how-it-works
ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow on international solidarity
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown as never before the importance of international solidarity. Some countries are starting to re-open businesses and community spaces, and unions are demanding safe workplaces and provision of PPE. Other countries are still to face the peak of the pandemic.
Since the outset of the crisis, the ITUC has responded to the needs of working people by:
- Collecting and analysing information from affiliates in order to provide a global overview of national responses
- Co-ordinating international advocacy with multilateral institutions
- Providing advice and guidance to national affiliates
- Campaigning and lobbying for a coherent and progressive international response
More information: https://www.ituc-csi.org/covid-19-responses
Event: Global Day of Action Climate- and Employment-Proof Our Work
24 June 2020
While the wave of COVID-19 infections has flooded across the world, the climate emergency remains a clear and present danger to people everywhere. Rebuilding and resilience must be done in a way that creates jobs and drives carbon emissions to zero with a Just Transition for all those affected.
The ITUC will hold a global day of action to focus attention in workplaces around the world on both employment and climate action. This global day of action will be June 24 – #CEPOW: Climate- and Employment-Proof Our Work. Download the campaign pack and take part.
The ITUC will hold a series of virtual meetings with affiliates at national level in the coming weeks to listen to your experiences, gather evidence for advocacy and look for opportunities to support organising. We will evaluate these activities at the end of June to see what works best for expanding the Frontlines campaigns.
More information: https://www.ituc-csi.org/cepow
British Safety Council Advice
May has been a very busy month as the UK government has started encouraging people to return to work, issued updated guidance for employers and workers and relaxed the lockdown.
The British Safety Council, in its role as a campaigning organisation, has called on the government to provide more clarity and we continue to demand that workplaces must be made safe – whether that’s buildings, sites, schools, shops or offices.
COVID-19 guidance for all
Stay alert. We can all help control the virus if we all stay alert. This means you must:
- Stay at home
- Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home)
- If you go out, stay 2 metres (6 ft) away from other people at all times
- Wash your hands as soon as you get home.
COVID-19 information for employers
On 25 May 2020, the government updated guidance for employers to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic.
There are eight guides which cover a range of different types of work. Many businesses operate more than one type of workplace, such as an office, factory and fleet of vehicles. You may need to use more than one of these guides as you think through what you need to do to keep people safe. Further guidance will be published as more businesses are able to reopen.
There is different guidance for educational and childcare settings and public transport operators.
New COVID-19 Assurance Assessment Service
The British Safety Council has developed a detailed general return to work guide across all sectors. The framework should enable organisations around the world to develop robust protocols and arrangements, designed to effectively manage the risk of transmission of COVID-19 as far as is reasonably possible within their workplace.
Sector Interest Groups
Sector interest groups (SIGs) bring together organisations with a common interest to share best practice and to exchange intelligence. Most of the groups are meeting regularly online, with a focus on how they are addressing the challenge of coronavirus.
- Transport, manufacturing and logistics
- Local authority and housing
More information: https://www.britsafe.org/campaigns-policy/sector-interest-groups
UK Stop smoking services open to smokers thanks to rapid response of local councils
A new survey by public health charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has found that within a month of lockdown, most councils had services in place to help smokers quit, and around a quarter reported an increase in smokers seeking help to quit.
The results come as PHE issues guidance to smokers in light of the COVID-19 pandemic recommending that smokers quit.
The PHE guidance states that “on the available evidence, we advise:
- if you smoke, you generally have an increased risk of contracting respiratory infection and of more severe symptoms once infected. COVID-19 symptoms may, therefore, be more severe if you smoke
- stopping smoking will bring immediate benefits to your health, including if you have an existing smoking-related disease. This is particularly important for both you and for our NHS at a time of intense pressure on the health service.”
On Friday, 29 May 2020 the British Lung Foundation has also issued new data, showing that half of smokers with a lung condition in England want to Quit for Covid.
Further information for smokers about quitting is available from www.TodayistheDay.co.uk
Lockdown posed a real challenge for these normally face-to-face services as they moved online and over the phone. But local authorities have risen to the challenge, with 96% reporting that smokers still have access to support from a trained advisor and 88% that smokers can still access medications or e-cigarettes via the services. In addition, 24% report that they have seen an increase in smokers seeking support.
The results are from a national snapshot survey undertaken by ASH in late April and responses were received from 74% of local authorities with public health responsibilities.
This World No Tobacco Day, 280 children will start smoking in England – enough to fill over 17 school minibuses
Calculations by Cancer Research UK show that 280 children a day start smoking in England, two thirds of whom will go on to become daily smokers. Tobacco kills nearly 100,000 people a year in the UK, and 8 million globally; consumers who must be replaced by new young smokers if the industry is to remain profitable. That’s why the World Health Organisation’s World No Tobacco Day on 31 May is dedicated to protecting young people from Big Tobacco’s strategic, aggressive and well-resourced tactics to attract youth to tobacco.
The UK is a world leader in tobacco control and through increasingly tough regulation of the tobacco industry has seen the proportion of children in England smoking shrink from 1 in 5 two decades ago to 1 in 20 in 2018.
However, the steady decline we’ve seen in youth smoking since the millennium is not certain to continue. In the ten years prior to the millennium child smoking in England actually went up, from 16% in 1990 to 19% in 2000. And in many countries round the world, youth smoking rates have continued to increase since the millennium.
In July 2019, the UK Government set out its ambition for England to be smokefree by 2030, now just ten years away. It recognised that this will be “extremely challenging” and so it also committed to bring forward further measures to deliver on its ambition, including consulting on a ‘polluter pays’ approach which would require the industry to pay for the measures needed to bring the tobacco epidemic to a close.
Event: Safely Returning to Work – ACOEM Virtual Symposium
9-11 June 2020, 12:00-3:00 PM EDT
The Virtual Symposium is designed for physicians and other health care professionals who specialize in or have an interest in occupational and environmental medicine (OEM), including nurses, physician assistants, industrial hygienists, safety professionals, environmental health specialists, and human resource professionals.
As the world continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses struggle to reopen. In order to reopen safely, employers will need support in facilitating employees returning to work, including dealing with testing protocols, business-specific guidance, and workplace modifications to reduce the potential for workplace transmission. These modifications will need to include defining and adjusting to workplace physical distancing, and the use of personal protective equipment (e.g., masks), engineering controls (e.g., ventilation), and administrative controls (e.g., staggered shifts) to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This Symposium will cover a comprehensive approach to returning to work during the pandemic, the biological science of viral transmission, as well as industry-specific guidance that can be applied to workplace environments. It will also discuss the role that medical, safety, and industrial hygiene plays in safely returning employees to the workplace.
More information: http://acoem.org/COVID-19-Resource-Center/Safely-Returning-to-Work