News from around the World
- UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) announces new Chief Inspector of Buildings
- The UK building services sector has launched a major new industry alliance of eight organisations
- Covid reports hit a record workplace high in the UK
- Celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March 2021
- UK REACH Agency statement on the use of Independent Scientific knowledge and Advice (ISA) and transparency in carrying out functions survey
- Grenfell Tower Inquiry latest
- Women working in UK garment factories four times more likely to die of Covid-19 than average woman worker
- Reopening UK schools could push the R number over 1
- Chem Trust webpage on chemical mixtures
- RoSPA delighted with appointment of new construction products regulator
- RoSPA’s Virtual classroom safety training
- ‘Dire consequences’ if workers aren’t protected better against COVID-19
- British Safety Council – New remote audits and consultancy
- Offices are prime sites for Covid outbreaks
- TUC Covid-19 guidance for unions
- Quarantine hotels must be Covid-secure says Unite
- Event: Safe NetZero 2021 – Hydrogen
- Event: The Health and Safety Event 2021, The Security Event, The Fire Safety Event, The Facilities Event and The Emergency Services Show
- Event: LEV 2021 – Extracting the Best Practices
- Event: OH2021 Conference
- Event: The Safety and Health Expo 2021
- Event: Airmon 2021 – The 10th International Symposium on modern principles of air monitoring and biomonitoring
- Use school closures to make them safer
- On your bikes push for site workers is ‘dangerous’
- Covid pressures on NHS staff bad for mental health
- Sort work transport risks before easing lockdown
- Covid-19 concerns after cases at army college
- New books
- Canada: Flight attendant wins Covid compensation fight
UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) announces new Chief Inspector of Buildings
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has announced the appointment of a Chief Inspector of Buildings to establish and lead the new Building Safety Regulator (BSR).
Peter Baker, HSE’s current Director of Building Safety and Construction, will take up the post with immediate effect.
The government asked HSE to establish a new building safety regulator in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster and following recommendations in the ‘Building a Safer Future’ report by Dame Judith Hackitt.
In his role as the Chief Inspector of Buildings, Peter Baker will head up the Building Safety Regulator to deliver the new regime for high-risk buildings, oversee work to increase competence of all professionals working on buildings and ensure effective oversight of the entire building safety environment. Peter will also be the first head of the building control profession, and lead the work to provide independent, expert advice to industry, government, landlords and residents on building safety.
Peter said: “I am honoured to be appointed as the first Chief Inspector of Buildings and for the opportunity to play a lead role in bringing about the biggest change in building safety for a generation. I look forward to working with government, industry, partner regulators and residents to shape and deliver a world-class risk-based regulatory system for the safety and standards of buildings that residents can have confidence in and that we can all be proud of.”
Peter has over 30 years’ experience with HSE as an Inspector and in a number of senior operational posts dealing with a wide range of industry sectors, including the role of HSE’s Chief Inspector of Construction. Since 2017 Peter has led HSE’s involvement in the Government’s Building Safety Programme.
The UK building services sector has launched a major new industry alliance of eight organisations
With the Building Engineering Services Association and the Electrical Contractors Association at the helm, the new body is similar to the Specialist Engineering Contractors’ (SEC) Group, disbanded this month.
However, the focus of the new alliance is firmly on building services engineering.
All members of the old SEC Group are in the new alliance with the exception of the British Constructional Steelwork Association.
But joining the group as well are the Building Services Research & Industry Association (BSRIA), the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) and the Federation of Environmental Trade Associations (FETA). FETA comprises manufacturers of ductwork, flues, heat pumps, building controls and related building components.
The new engineering services alliance is positioning itself to lead the building services sector’s response to the building safety agenda, sustainability and post-Covid green recovery.
It was officially launched on 10th February 2021.
The members of the newly formed alliance are:
- Building Engineering Services Association (BESA)
- Building Services Research & Information Association (BSRIA)
- Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE)
- Federation of Environmental Trade Associations (FETA)
- Lift & Escalator Industry Association (LEIA)
- Scotland’s Electrical Contractors’ Association (SELECT)
- Scottish & Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers’ Federation (SNIPEF)
Covid reports hit a record workplace high in the UK
The number of Covid reports made to workplace safety regulators hit a record high in January 2021, newly released official statistics have revealed.
The figures published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show January 2021 had the three highest numbers of weekly workplace Covid reports since the start of the pandemic. Since HSE started recording cases in April 2020, January is the only month so far where there have been over 1,000 reported cases each week, hitting an all-time high of 1,707 reports in week three (16-23 January).
In total there were 5,710 reports in January, of which 51 were deaths. The first week in February saw a further 22 reported deaths, the second highest weekly toll on record. Work-related Covid-19 reports have now increased sharply month on month since a low of 534 reports in August 2020. HSE notes the figures up to the week ending 6 February show “over the period 10 April 2020 to 6 February 2021, 27,446 occupational disease notifications of Covid-19 in workers have been reported to enforcing authorities (HSE and LAs), including 318 death notifications.”
Celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March 2021
A challenged world is an alert world! IWD 2021 campaign theme: #ChooseToChallenge
International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.
International Women’s Day (IWD) has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group or organization specific. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day, even in these challenging Covid-19 pandemic days!
We can choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequity.
We can choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Great examples have been shown worldwide during the 2020 pandemic and continuing now into 2021 … you will all know women who have responded to the challenges of surviving and daily striving to keep some “normality” for families, in workplaces and generally carrying on.
Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world. From challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge…
Now… Strike the #ChooseToChallenge pose…
- Raise your hand assertively and show that you choose to challenge inequity.
- Show your solidarity in choosing to challenge and call out aspects that are unhelpful to women.
- Will you raise your hand high and pledge to #ChooseToChallenge?
To see how, visit: https://www.internationalwomensday.com/2021Theme
IWD sees a number of MISSIONS to help forge a gender equal world. Celebrating women’s achievements and increasing visibility, while calling out inequality, is key.
Send in your #ChooseToChallenge images
Keen to show solidarity and support in choosing to challenge?
Individuals and organizations are invited to send in their #ChooseToChallenge images as we’ll be sharing images from around the world in the lead up to International Women’s Day 2021.
So, strike the #ChooseToChallenge pose with your hand high and pledge your commitment to choose to challenge inequality, call out bias, question stereotypes, and address all forms of gender inequity.
Please submit your #ChooseToChallenge pledge image as early as possible.
Have a Great IWD 8 March 2021
UK REACH Agency statement on the use of Independent Scientific knowledge and Advice (ISA) and transparency in carrying out functions survey
Following the UK’s exit from the European Union, the EU Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) has been lifted and shifted into UK law as ‘UK REACH’.
Article 77 in the UK REACH Regulation makes provisions for the Agency to obtain and use independent scientific knowledge and advice (ISA) to inform relevant Agency opinions.
The Agency’s approach to gathering and using such advice will be published in an ISA statement.
The aim of this statement is to communicate to stakeholders and the general public how ISA will be embedded within the UK REACH system and how the Agency will be transparent when carrying out UK REACH functions.
Take part in a short survey about the ISA statement.
More information: https://www.hse.gov.uk/reach/brexit.htm
Grenfell Tower Inquiry latest
The Grenfell Tower Inquiry was created to examine the circumstances leading up to and surrounding the fire at Grenfell Tower on the night of 14 June 2017.
The information on its website covers the inquiry and lists information under various headings: News, Documents, Evidence, Hearings, Venue, Team.
Phase 2 hearings will resume on Monday 22, February at 10:00. The Inquiry takes health and safety guidance extremely seriously. Following a full risk assessment, it has put in place arrangements to resume hearings remotely.
In line with current public health guidance on Covid-19, the Inquiry has postponed its monthly drop-in sessions until further notice.
For more information on the Inquiry, visit https://www.grenfelltowerinquiry.org.uk
Women working in UK garment factories four times more likely to die of Covid-19 than average woman worker
Women working in Britain’s garment factories are four times more likely to die from Covid-19 than the average woman worker, according to new analysis published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The analysis of official statistics reveals that women sewing machinists have the highest Covid-19 fatality rate (64.8 deaths per 100,000) of any female occupation.
This rate is higher than for women working in at-risk sectors like caring, leisure and other service occupations (27.3 deaths per 100,000).
Reopening UK schools could push the R number over 1
Fully reopening schools could push the reproduction number (the ‘R’ number) of the coronavirus in England above 1.0, potentially putting an end to the decline in new cases, suggests a new study.
The pre-print modelling study, not yet peer-reviewed, was conducted by researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). The study used data collected from the CoMix study, measuring children and adults’ social contacts during the November 2020 and January 2021 lockdowns, examining how this behaviour changed with the closure of schools. This was combined with different estimates of children’s susceptibility – how likely they are to be infected upon contact with an infected individual – and infectiousness, how easily they infect others.
Using official estimates of the current R number, the team estimated the possible increase in R upon opening schools. The effect of fully reopening schools saw R increase from an assumed baseline of 0.8 to between 1.1-1.5. Partial school reopening – primary or secondary schools only – resulted in lower increases, with an R of between 0.9-1.2.
Chem Trust webpage on chemical mixtures
UK chemical safety charity CHEM Trust has produced a new online resource on chemical mixtures.
The webpage includes information on why mixtures are a problem, support for action on mixtures, and links to related resources and position papers. Occupational exposure limits for chemicals at work are based on exposures to a single substance, but the multiple exposures typical in many workplaces can lead to different and sometime much more harmful effects.
RoSPA delighted with appointment of new construction products regulator
UK Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has welcomed the establishment of a new national regulator of house building products, which was announced by the Government.
The regulator will be introduced following testimony from the UK Grenfell Inquiry, and will have the power to remove products from the market if they present safety risks, as well as to prosecute companies flouting the rules.
Before the Covid pandemic, our homes accounted for 40% of the accidental injuries that were treated by hard-pressed NHS hospital Emergency Departments. RoSPA has been campaigning to make new-build homes safer – for those who live there throughout the life of the building – through its Safer by design initiative, which provides a framework for “designing out” common household accidents.
RoSPA’s chief executive Errol Taylor said: “We are delighted by UK Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick’s announcement, which implements recommendations from the Dame Judith Hackitt report on building regulations, and recognises some of the issues highlighted through the Grenfell Inquiry.
“We have been doing a lot of work with the housebuilding sector in producing our Safer by design initiative, which encourages developers to adopt zero- and low-cost designs and materials to reduce the number and severity of accidental injuries. Having a new national regulator in place will certainly help us meet this aim.”
RoSPA’s Virtual classroom safety training
All the benefits of face-to-face classroom learning delivered online at your home!
According to the Labour Force Survey, 38 million days are lost in Great Britain every year due to workplace accidents and RoSPA’s safety training will help you reduce this burden of injury. In this time of uncertainty and fear, organisations’ health and safety requirements need to change and adapt. With a large number of organisations having their employees working from home, the need for health and safety information, advice and training has never been greater. That is why RoSPA has developed a suite of health and safety training that is delivered via live virtual classroom.
What is a live virtual classroom?
Quite often learners want the structured support that a tutor provides but don’t have the time to attend an open course. Our live virtual classroom courses are a flexible, online learning alternative that allows for live interaction between a tutor and learners as they participate in learning activities wherever they are in the world. In other words, the live virtual classroom is a shared online space where learners and their tutor work together simultaneously.
What are the advantages of a virtual classroom?
Courses are taught by a tutor as they would be in a classroom environment. In fact, our virtual classroom tutors are the same tutors who facilitate our face-to-face training. Among the many benefits of an online education, a live virtual classroom gives learners greater freedom to engage with the material creatively and for the course content to adapt and respond based on their inputs.
Undertaking a live virtual classroom course is also a good way to advance your education whilst in employment, as the learning sessions are engaging and allow for greater flexibility and convenience.
It is also important to note that although the delivery might be different, the content is exactly the same as the classroom versions. Not only that, tutors are always on hand throughout the course to help and advise you.
More information: https://www.rospa.com/safety-training/work
‘Dire consequences’ if workers aren’t protected better against COVID-19
Workplace exposure control experts have warned of ‘dire consequences’ if better protection of workers from Covid-19 is not put in place. The British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS), which is the chartered body for workplace exposure professionals, was speaking out after latest UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures on Covid-19 deaths revealed ‘alarming trends’.
BOHS president Kelvin Williams said: “People are dying unnecessarily, because there is still insufficient understanding of occupational hygiene measures that can prevent the spread of this disease.” BOHS said the figures prove that more focus needs to be placed on getting the right workplace protections into the right sectors, including effective respirators for all key health and public-facing workers and more attention to other protection, including proper ventilation, enforced social distancing and hand hygiene in the workplace.
BOHS said it has “consistently campaigned since March 2020 to ensure that the NHS provides all its frontline workers with properly fitted filtering respirators within the context of properly thought out and managed occupational hygiene precautions, including ventilation.” The BOHS call for the more effective respirators – as opposed to the far less protective surgical or medical masks – to protect workers from Covid-19 has also been a repeated demand of unions and occupational medicine experts. They are concerned the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) continues to ignore the findings of its own research.
British Safety Council – New remote audits and consultancy
Unfortunately, the whole world is currently going through an unprecedented period of uncertainty and lock-down. British Safety Council understand that auditing and consultancy are a vital service for many of its clients and in order to help in this process, have restructured delivery of its audit and consultancy services.
Let British Safety Council help you transform your business.
The practical challenges of managing health, safety and wellbeing within organisations have changed focus with many staff now remote working from their home. The current COVID-19 situation is highlighting even more the need for robust systems and processes to be in place, whether that’s the legal requirements of safeguarding your people through to protecting physical property. Now is an appropriate time to think about starting or continuing your audit journey with British Safety Council.
Introducing remote auditing
In these uncertain times, there are many elements of your organisation that will need to change and adapt to remain operational. If you currently have an ISO 45001 or 14001 certification or previously held a 5-star best practice audit, one of those elements is your external audit arrangements. So, what happens now?
British Safety Council has embraced this challenge and adapted its services to meet clients’ needs. It launched an amended version of its services which allows clients to be audited remotely to the ISO 45001 and 14001 standards, together with its unique suite of 5-star best practice audit services, without compromising on the high standards you expect.
You receive all the benefits of a structured auditing process but with the benefits of the initial stages carried out remotely. This is being made possible by advances in technology that allow its auditors to carry out much of the initial assessment remotely. It enables organisations to obtain and maintain certification standards thereby helping to protect your workforce as well as win new business.
Offices are prime sites for Covid outbreaks
More than 60 suspected Covid outbreaks in offices were recorded in the first two weeks of the current lockdown in England, a BBC investigation has found.
Under England’s lockdown rules, in force since 6 January 2021, people should work from home if they can. Public Health England (PHE) figures, obtained via a Freedom of Information request, suggests offices have had more outbreaks compared to other workplaces.
The data from PHE, obtained by the 5 Live Investigations team, lists the different types of workplaces where there have been clusters of cases, and reveals offices top the list. The data showed there were more than 500 outbreaks, or suspected outbreaks, in offices in the second half of 2020 – more than in supermarkets, construction sites, warehouses, restaurants and cafes combined. This has prompted calls for curbs on employers bringing non-essential staff into offices as well as demands from unions for tougher safety rules.
TUC Covid-19 guidance for unions
This Trades Union Congress (TUC) guide is for trade union reps, designed to give 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. Covers:
- Why Covid-19 is an issue for trade unions
- Preparing for Covid-19: Protecting workers’ safety
- 10 things trade union members can do now
- Coronavirus resources from trade unions
- Understanding the issue
The coronavirus pandemic has created an unprecedented situation for public health and the economy. Thousands of lives have been lost in the UK and worldwide, as many workers continue to put their lives at risk.
It is vitally important that workers understand their right to safety in the workplace. It is an employer’s legal duty to introduce health and safety measures to protect workers from illness and injury – and Covid-19 safety measures are no exception.
Nobody should be made to work in unsafe conditions. If you have a concern about your safety at work, speak to your union.
Quarantine hotels must be Covid-secure says Unite
The UK Government’s plans to introduce quarantine hotels must not risk the health of the workers in these facilities, Unite has said.
The union issued its warning after Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures released last week revealed that several groups of hospitality workers have been at a greatly elevated risk of dying from Covid-19. The average death rate in working age people is 24 deaths per 100,000, but chefs are at 103 and restaurant workers at 119 deaths per 100,000.
Unite said it believes that the high toll of hospitality deaths is a result of a ‘toxic combination’ of insufficient sick pay, unscrupulous employment practices, a failure to maintain social distancing and a lack of PPE. The union is encouraging its members to report and challenge breaches of health and safety. It has launched a Make My Workplace Safe website which allows workers to report health and safety breaches and organise around their concerns.
Event: Safe NetZero 2021 – Hydrogen
2-4 March 2021, online
‘Safe Net Zero 2021 – Hydrogen’ is an online conference, running over 3 consecutive mornings and looking at the evolving work that is helping to deploy hydrogen as an energy vector as part of the UK’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions and become ‘net zero’ by 2050.
Formerly run under the banner ‘the Future of Gas’, our conference has been renamed to reflect the pace of change within the industry and the fact that the deployment of many projects and demonstrations is no longer a thing of the future.
With the announcement of the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan, the publication of the BEIS energy white paper and the advent of #COP26, decarbonisation is happening right now and there has never been more to discuss and learn.
The conference is the perfect round up of all the key activity happening in this space.
As you’d expect from HSE, it will pay particular attention to safety, with an agenda focusing on three key themes:
- 2nd March – Policies, Standards and Skills
- 3rd March – Foundations and Infrastructure
- 4th March – Advances in Use and Applications
Event: The Health and Safety Event 2021, The Security Event, The Fire Safety Event, The Facilities Event and The Emergency Services Show
7-9 September 2021 (postponed from 27-29 April 2021), NEC Birmingham, UK
Message from the organisers’ website:
In what has been the most challenging period in our event planning history, it is with great sadness, that we confirm the postponement of The Security Event, The Fire Safety Event, The Health and Safety Event, The Facilities Event and The Emergency Services Show. All shows due to take place this September, have been postponed to 7-9 September 2021 at the NEC.
Thank you for bearing with us during this incredibly difficult time. Feedback across all shows for this September has been understandably mixed, ranging from ‘supportive’ to ‘not sure’ and ‘prefer to postpone’.
Also, our venue, NEC, require authorisation from Government to open for shows, which at the time of this announcement, they unfortunately still do not have.
Without this authorisation and guidance, we cannot commit to September as we are prevented from having sufficient time to ratify exactly what, and how, we can work with the venue and partners to finalise what a Covid-secure event looks like.
More information: https://www.healthandsafetyevent.com/latest-coronavirus-covid-19-update
Event: LEV 2021 – Extracting the Best Practices
29 April 2021, Online
BOHS & ILEVE are holding their sixth joint ‘LEV – Extracting the Best Practices’ event. And for 2021 we are going virtual!
Now in its 6th year, this one-day event is for anyone who has an active involvement in the local exhaust ventilation (LEV) industry.
If you are involved in LEV system design, installation, commissioning, thorough examination and testing, servicing, maintenance work or if you own LEV installations then this conference is for you! BOHS & ILEVE are reaching out to those working specifically in LEV, those working within the broad field of occupational hygiene or even just those interested in these subjects and wanting to learn more.
They will be presenting topics and workshops delivering insight and generating debate into the topics affecting LEV control and its role in the reduction of industrial disease.
Event: OH2021 Conference
28 June - 1 July 2021, Nottingham, UK
BOHS plan the OH2021 Conference to include the best parts of the physical face to face annual conference we all know, love and missed during 2020 along with elements of the virtual world we have found to beneficial over the last few months.
The provisional dates for the Conference are 28th June – 1st July 2021 subject to government guidance and lifting of restrictions and the venue is the Nottingham Crowne Plaza Hotel.
The organising committee welcomes research, scholarly, technical and member-focused papers on any aspect of occupational hygiene, worker health protection, occupational and environmental health but have highlighted the following sessions as the focus.
Main conference themes for 2021:
- Innovation & new technologies for controlling worker health exposures digitisation, practices & techniques, practical demonstrations, research, case studies and in practice examples
- Challenges and Solutions in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and in occupational hygiene and health sector
- Health Risk Prevention Lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic case studies to demonstrate how Occupational Hygienists have influence and guided government and business decisions during the pandemic; research and emerging infectious disease planning
- Cross-disciplinary and Inter-industry partnerships for worker health protection Case studies to demonstrate how other occupational sectors are now engaging with OH professionals to share expertise and guidance.
Event: The Safety and Health Expo 2021
12-14 July 2021, ExCel London, UK
The Safety and Health Expo, the UK’s largest dedicated event for health and safety professionals, has been rescheduled to take place 12-14 July 2020 at ExCel London.
With a comprehensive seminar programme and thousands of solutions from hundreds of exhibitors, this is the perfect place to connect with the entire health and safety sector, and advance your skills and knowledge.
6 industry shows. 1 free ticket. All the shows Safety & Health Expo co-locates: Facilities – Workplace Wellbeing – IFSEC – FIREX – Safety and Health – Intelligent Buildings.
More information: https://www.safety-health-expo.co.uk/en/home.html
Event: Airmon 2021 – The 10th International Symposium on modern principles of air monitoring and biomonitoring
20-23 September 2021, Bristol, UK
This symposium is the leading international forum at which recent progress in workplace, residential and environmental exposure assessment strategies and associated analytical air sampling and biomonitoring methodologies can be discussed.
Building upon previous successful conferences, an exciting programme is planned which combines thought-provoking keynote presentations with accompanying oral presentation sessions. Presentations from students or early-career researchers are warmly encouraged and short training courses, delivered by experts in their field, are an integral component of this event. There will be ample opportunities for viewing posters during break-out sessions so facilitating discourse between researchers. As in previous symposia, no parallel lectures sessions are planned, as it is a long-standing opinion that this single stream event promotes a better awareness, connectivity and understanding between the various scientific disciplines in attendance. The language of the symposium will be English.
Use school closures to make them safer
The government must not squander the time between now and early March to improve the safety of schools for pupils and staff, UNISON has said. The union for school support staff said everyone wants schools to reopen fully as soon as possible, but this must be done safely.
The UK government’s announcement that schools will remain closed until 8 March 2021 buys valuable time for ministers to work with unions to make sure that when schools do finally open to all children, they stay open, said UNISON. Offering the vaccine to all school employees as well as a regular system of mass testing of staff and pupils are key to getting schools back to normal, UNISON said. The education staff vaccination call is backed by Labour.
On your bikes push for site workers is ‘dangerous’
Forcing construction workers in London on to bikes in a bid to ease pressure on public transport is dangerous, Unite has warned.
The construction union was commenting after the publication of a new Transport for London (TfL) advice notice aimed at the major construction contractors. Unite said it is ‘very concerned’ about a clause recommending: “Allocating those shifts starting and finishing around busy travel times (06:00 to 08:00 and 16:00 to 17:30) to workers who can walk or cycle to and from work.”
The union said encouraging construction workers to cycle to work is potentially dangerous. Many workers will have round trips of over 15 miles into central London, the union noted. It said expecting workers to cycle long distances during the winter, in the dark and in bad weather is a recipe for serious accidents. It said workers would be required to cycle home in the dark, often after undertaking a physically demanding 10-plus hour shift, when fatigue will be a major factor.
Covid pressures on NHS staff bad for mental health
Health staff are suffering severe mental health problems such as panic attacks and sleepless nights because of the pandemic, according to a UNISON survey.
The findings reveal almost half (48 per cent) of health employees including nurses, porters, paramedics, healthcare assistants and A&E staff across the UK have struggled to cope. The union says free 24-hour helplines are urgently needed to support those experiencing burnout, especially as hospital admissions continue to soar. The report, ‘Worry in Mind’, is based on responses from more than 14,000 employees in hospitals, GP practices and other locations such as community clinics. Some have experienced suicidal thoughts, suffered PTSD symptoms and panic attacks, felt helpless when supporting patients – or quit their jobs altogether.
Others say their mental health has been affected by having to leave rented accommodation because landlords are worried about Covid, or fears they will infect their families. The results show half (51 per cent) have sought mental health support, with the majority of these turning to friends and family (77 per cent) and colleagues (58 per cent). A significant number have used wellbeing apps (27 per cent) or professional counselling services (20 per cent). Fear of getting sick (60 per cent) with Covid was the top reason given for a deterioration in their state of mind, followed by being unable to see friends and family (55 per cent), and increased workload (49 per cent).
Sort work transport risks before easing lockdown
Ministers must hold a forum with transport operators and unions before any lockdown restrictions are eased to ensure the safety of workers, Labour has said, after latest figures revealed high numbers of Covid deaths in the sector.
Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon has written to Minister Grant Shapps asking for a virtual roundtable after Office for National Statistics (ONS) data revealed taxi drivers (101 deaths per 100,000 males) and bus and coach drivers (83 deaths per 100,000 males) had recorded some of the highest death rates of any occupation.
The shadow minister’s letter calls for clarity from the UK government around the guidance given to transport operators. It reads: “There is a mix of overlapping, and at times contradictory, scientific advice and guidance in circulation for essential workers. The job of government should surely be to cut through that noise and give those that need it clear, unified and constant guidance and direction. The fact that different operators have diverging views on the best approach is confusing matters further.”
Covid-19 concerns after cases at army college
UNISON members based at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate have expressed their fears of contracting Covid-19 on the site.
Concerns were first raised by the Compass employees on 7 January, when 11 of the 800 young soldiers returned from leave subsequently testing positive for coronavirus. On 14 January 2021 another 600 returned to the camp, of whom 53 tested positive a week later. A number of platoons were placed in isolation.
UNISON said it understands that there are now 100 confirmed cases. There are 23 UNISON members working for Compass at the college, in a variety of roles – catering, cleaning, admin, running the shop and looking after the electronic shooting range. UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea has written to defence secretary Ben Wallace, who has ultimate responsibility for the safety of workers at the college. “These outbreaks are of clear concern to the safety of our members employed to work at this site,” she noted.
The union said that under the management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has a duty to assess the risks of any work carried out on its premises, and how it will affect employees and contracted staff.
Preventing Industrial Accidents: Reappraising H. W. Heinrich – More than Triangles and Dominoes
by Carsten Busch
Herbert William Heinrich has been one of the most influential safety pioneers. His work from the 1930s/1940s affects much of what is done in safety today – for better and worse. Heinrich’s work is debated and heavily critiqued by some, while others defend it with zeal. Interestingly, few people who discuss the ideas have ever read his work or looked into its backgrounds; most do so based on hearsay, secondary sources, or mere opinion. One reason for this is that Heinrich’s work has been out of print for decades: it is notoriously hard to find, and quality biographical information is hard to get.
Based on some serious “safety archaeology,” which provided access to many of Heinrich’s original papers, books, and rather rich biographical information, this book aims to fill this gap. It deals with the life and work of Heinrich, the context he worked in, and his influences and legacy. The book defines the main themes in Heinrich’s work and discusses them, paying attention to their origins, the developments that came from them, interpretations and attributions, and the critiques that they may have attracted over the years. This includes such well-known ideas and metaphor as the accident triangle, the accident sequence (dominoes), the hidden cost of accidents, the human element, and management responsibility.
This book is the first to deal with the work and legacy of Heinrich as a whole, based on a unique richness of material and approaching the matter from several (new) angles. It also reflects on Heinrich’s relevance for today’s safety science and practice.
Workplace Investigations, 3rd Edition
by Jodie Fox, Jason Clark, Rose Bryant-Smith, Grevis Beard
Workplace Investigations shows you how to conduct a sound, procedurally fair and defensible workplace investigation. The 2020 edition is fully updated. The latest cases and additional practical exercises are also included.
The authors have collectively conducted and supervised more than 500 investigations. In this text they share their wealth of experience, depth of knowledge and analytical rigour.
In Workplace Investigations you will learn how to judge when an investigation is required scope and plan an investigation appropriately, identify, collect, preserve and analyse evidence, make findings of fact in a procedurally fair way, assess any wrongdoing against your organisation’s conduct standards, including bullying, harassment, discrimination, fraud and business integrity breaches, and determine what further steps your organisation should take to improve working relationships, manage risks and ensure future compliance.
This is essential reading for everyone with responsibility for investigating workplace conflicts or complaints.
More information: https://shop.wolterskluwer.com.au/items/10076337-0002S
Canada: Flight attendant wins Covid compensation fight
An Air Canada flight attendant who says she contracted Covid-19 during a series of long-haul flights last March 2020 has won a battle with the airline for workers’ compensation.
An official from WorkSafeBC, the safety and compensation agency in the province of British Columbia (BC), sided with the flight attendant, rejecting the airline’s argument that the risk of getting Covid-19 on flights was “relatively low.”
The province is alone in Canada for introducing ‘presumptive coverage’. This means employees who make a claim after catching Covid-19 at work do not have to prove they got it on the job if they work in an environment where the risk of exposure is significantly greater than to the public at large. In other provinces, Covid-19 claims are treated on a case-by-case basis.