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May 2021

International Labour Day: Solidarity is key to our common survival and prosperity

In a statement issued to mark May Day, ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, calls on workers, employers, governments, international organizations and all who are committed to building back better, to join forces to bring in a world of work with justice and dignity for all:

This year we again celebrate May Day, International Workers’ Day, under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic has devastated the world of work, destroying jobs, enterprises and livelihoods, throwing millions into poverty and global development into reverse.

And like most crises, it has hit the weakest and the most vulnerable, the hardest, making an unequal world even more unequal.

The pandemic and its consequences are a stark reminder of global interdependence.

That applies to health as much as it does to our working lives.

No one is safe until everyone is safe.

Full statement: https://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/multimedia/video/video-interviews/WCMS_787024/lang--en/index.htm

New Covid-19 and Waste Management Activities Information Document from WISH UK

This is version 10 of WISH’s COVID-19 information document released on 23 April 2021. It is based on UK government advice, industry experience and current knowledge, all of which is subject to change. You should first always follow the latest government advice (https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus). Please note, section 3 of this document gives general precautions and section 5 covers specific issues for different operational types – readers need to study both sections when considering their own situation.

It is NOT the intent of this information sheet to provide a general and comprehensive ‘one-stop-shop’ for advice on COVID-19. The emphasis is on waste management workplace specific issues. You should also read and understand the available government and other advice (such as noted above, in the links in section 6 and throughout this sheet). Use these in conjunction with this document.

These links are provided without prejudice – their inclusion does not imply WISH’s approval. Please also note that links may be superseded – check that the information is the most recent. This is a ‘live’ document and may be further updated. If you have any comments, please send them to info@wishforum.org.uk.

Full document: https://www.wishforum.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/INFO-13.pdf

UK RoSPA and NEBOSH sign MoU to enhance safety at work and beyond

RoSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) and NEBOSH (The National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to further their close, long-established working relationship.

The agreement between the two UK-based safety charities will encourage further collaborative efforts to promote awareness of both organisations with the aim of enhancing health and safety in the workplace and for the wider community at large.

Errol Taylor, chief executive of RoSPA, said: “Society and working lives have changed rapidly in response to the global Covid pandemic. More people than ever before are working from home and relying on online systems rather than travelling to their traditional workplace.”

Dr Chris Payne, chief executive of NEBOSH, said: “At NEBOSH, we are proud of the work that we do in increasing education. Our qualifications, and those who achieve them, help organisations across the world to protect people. We have a long-standing relationship with RoSPA and it’s a privilege to sign this Memorandum of Understanding; together we have committed to a relationship that will contribute to ongoing health and safety education and excellence. I’m excited to see what opportunities and improvements we can bring to the sector.”

More information: https://www.nebosh.org.uk/our-news-and-events/our-news/rospa-and-nebosh-sign-mou-to-enhance-safety-at-work

Covid-19 heightening ‘always on’ work culture

Despite the sharp increase in homeworking and perceived flexibility benefits as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, more than threequarters (77 per cent) of UK employers have observed ‘presenteeism’ – people working when unwell – in employees who are working from home in the last year. The figure is slightly up on last year (75 per cent), according to the latest CIPD/Simplyhealth Health and Wellbeing at Work survey report.

The survey of 668 human resources professionals, representing 2.7 million employees, also found ‘leaveism’ – working outside of contracted hours or using annual leave to work or when ill – is an issue, with seven in ten (70 per cent) employers observing this unhealthy behaviour over the same period. While more organisations are taking steps to address these issues compared with last year, over two-fifths of those experiencing presenteeism (43 per cent) and leaveism (47 per cent) aren’t taking any action.

More information: https://www.cipd.co.uk/about/media/press/270421-health-wellbeing-working-unwell

2021 – International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour

Throughout its 100-year history, the ILO has been working to regulate child labour. One of the first ILO international treaties was in 1919 and set to limit the minimum working age to 14 years old (Convention No 5). During the next few decades, the ILO worked to abolish child labour, with mixed results. It took the ILO almost 55 years to mark its next big success in their fight against child labour.

In 1973, the ILO Convention No 138 established the minimum age for all working children in all sectors, employed or not. The Convention applied rules for all children under the age of 18, but exceptions were possible for various sectors depending on the workload. Only in 1992, after the adaptation of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child in 1989, did the ILO launch an International Program on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC), which marked the start of a much-needed mindset change by its Member States.

During the 1990s, governments, employers’ and workers’ organisations identified the eliminations of child labour as a fundamental right at work and because of the worldwide attention and concerns, the “Worst Forms of Child Labour”, ILO Convention (No 182) and Recommendation (No 190) were adopted in 1999. This Convention complemented the Convention No 138 (minimum age) and outlined the agreed international standards. By 2001, two years after the launch of the Convention No 190, 100 Member States had ratified – a unique result in the United Nations history!

Statistics show that in the last 20 years, almost 100 million children have been removed from child labour, however it is still present in today’s world in multiple ways. We are down from 246 million in 2000 to 152 million in 2016; the fight to eliminate child labour has to continue.

Progress across continents is irregular. Today, 152 million children between the age of 5 and 14 are still forced to work in hazardous circumstances. Almost 50% of these children live in Africa, followed by Asia and the Pacific. This means that the other half of these children live in many developed countries and economies in transition (e.g., Eastern Europe). Also, there is a disproportion between girls and boys. Girls are more affected by forced labour than boys. In the sex industry, 99% of the victims are girls and in the others sector 58% are girls – an issue that the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated but joint and decisive action can reverse this trend.

Roughly three quarters of the 152 million children work in agriculture, and half of these children are exposed to physical danger or work in situations dangerous for their health and even lives. These worst forms of child labour include slavery and similar practices, child pornography and prostitution, drug trafficking, to only name a few.

Whatever you can do to help Stop Child Labour in the World – please do it now: https://endchildlabour2021.org

The aim is to stop child labour by 2025.

TUC – No one should have to return to work without “tough new measures” on safety

The TUC is calling on government to introduce tough new measures to ensure that before lockdown restrictions are eased, all employers assess the risks of their staff team returning to work outside the home.

In a new report, the TUC outlines what government and employers need to do to keep workers safe at work after lockdown is eased, and to give staff the confidence they need.

The union body is demanding that every employer in the UK be required to carry out a specific Covid-19 risk assessment, developed in consultation with unions and workers.

More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/tuc-no-one-should-have-return-work-without-tough-new-measures-safety

UK government scientific advisers admit need for better PPE

A year after campaigners and unions first called for better standard personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers potentially exposed to Covid-19, the UK government’s scientific advisers have finally admitted they were right all along.

A document by the government’s scientific advisory group (Sage) says higher grade masks may be needed when caring for Covid patients. Current guidance says that less protective medical or surgical masks are adequate, outside of intensive care units.

A long list of healthcare unions and professional bodies has been making appeals for the FFP3 respirators. These are designed protect workers from airborne viruses. Unions have argued consistently since the early stages of the pandemic that evidence of the risks of airborne transmission, believed by many experts to be the primary exposure risk, also required more emphasis on effective ventilation.

More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/risks-union-health-and-safety-news-number-994-28-april-2021#_Toc70496709

Workers suffering mental health ‘epidemic’ linked to pandemic stress, Unite survey reveals

Workers are suffering a mental health ‘epidemic’, a UK and Ireland-wide survey of Unite union workplace representatives has revealed.

Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, said there is a ‘clear link’ between the increase in stress brought on by the pandemic and called on employers to help prevent the crisis being carried forward as the country opens up. The health and safety-focused survey of 1,400 Unite reps, from across all sectors of the economy, found that 83 per cent are dealing with an increase in members reporting mental health-related problems. Mental health issues also came top of workers’ concerns during a similar survey last year. However, there has been a huge 18-point increase from the 65 per cent reported in 2020.

The survey also found that regulators and health authorities carrying out workplace visits are not routinely speaking to union reps. These organisations include the Health and Safety Executive, local authorities, Public Health England/Wales and others.

More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/risks-union-health-and-safety-news-number-994-28-april-2021#_Toc70496711

UK Government fire adviser pick a ‘harbinger of doom’

Firefighters must be ready to fight ‘tooth and nail’ for their service, the FBU has said, after a service slashing fire boss was appointed as a government adviser on forthcoming reform to fire and rescue services in England.

The firefighters’ union was commenting on the selection of former National Fire Chief’s Council (NFCC) chair Roy Wilsher as the person who would advise the Home Office ahead of a white paper, due later this year. The FBU said the proposals are expected to include a series of damaging attacks to the way fire and rescue services are run, with ‘operational independence’ being granted to fire chiefs and firefighters facing attacks on their trade union rights, their role, and their pay.

The FBU says the appointment of Wilsher, who helped to oversee cuts of £140 million to fire and rescue services in England between 2017 and 2021, is a ‘harbinger of doom’ for the service and for firefighters who work in it.

More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/risks-union-health-and-safety-news-number-994-28-april-2021#_Toc70496719

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Training and events

In order to provide a safe learning environment, some of HSE’s most popular courses are now available live online. Printed course material will be delivered direct to your door.

Site and Transport Safety

13-14 May 2021 – 2-day training course

https://www.hsl.gov.uk/health-and-safety-training-courses/site-and-transport-safety

Risk Management Webinar: Bringing your Risk Assessment to Life

25 May 2021 – Free webinar

https://events.streamgo.live/HSE-managing-risk/register

Slips and Trips – Falls Prevention

25-26 May 2021 – 2-day training course

https://www.hsl.gov.uk/health-and-safety-training-courses/slips-and-trips---falls-prevention