Issue date
06 May 2016
TUC Risks E-Bulletins
 
Number 749 - 7 May 2016
 
Risks is the TUC's weekly online bulletin for safety reps and others. Sign up to receive this bulletin every week. Past issues are available. Disclaimer and Privacy Editor: Rory O'Neill of Hazards magazine. Comments to the TUC at [email protected]
 

UNION NEWS

UCATT slams ‘derisory’ HSE site inspections

Unions stand up against safety attack

Warning on dangers of changing offshore shift patterns

Blacklisting firms pay out millions in compensation

High Court ‘blacklisting’ trial adjourned

Performance management is ‘divisive and unfair’

Soaring stress levels sickening DWP staff

Warning on exodus of stressed school support staff

NHS workers are being fed rubbish

OTHER NEWS

Lawyers confirm Brexit rights threat

Martin Temple to be new HSE chair

Site workers return after bridge tragedy

UK prison system in crisis as violence soars

Former teacher's death linked to asbestos

Dangerous demolition firm fined after tip-off

ACTION

Tell CGL to reinstate safety rep Alison!

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Australia: ‘Regulatory capture’ allows return of fatal disease

Global: The price of your cup of tea

Japan: Bus driver’s suicide was work-related

Norway: Helicopter tragedy is a ‘wake-up call’

TUC COURSES FOR SAFETY REPS

Courses for 2016

 

UNION NEWS

UCATT slams ‘derisory’ HSE site inspections

A ‘shocking’ decline in the number of Health and Safety Executive (HSE) construction inspectors is leaving many potentially deadly sites ‘effectively unmonitored for safety’, UCATT has warned. The union says construction comprises 280,000 businesses and employs almost 3 million workers. “It’s also the most dangerous industry to work in – with 35 worker fatalities in 2014/15”, the union notes. “And yet, the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) monitoring of this gargantuan, vital and highly dangerous industry is done by a mere 132 individuals. And this is a figure that is dropping – in an industry experiencing increased activity. It was 141 in 2011/12.” The figures, obtained by the union through a Freedom of Information request, also reveal a more dramatic drop in London, the South East and the East of England, which accounts for almost half of the UK’s total construction activity. During the current construction boom there are just 36 HSE inspectors covering this region, down from 48 site inspectors in 2011/12. UCATT acting general secretary Brian Rye said “a British government should be utterly ashamed that its capital city, London, one of the great metropolitan centres of the world – in the midst of a construction boom – has become effectively unmonitored for safety. This union calls on the British government to do its rightful duty and protect the hardworking citizens in the construction industry. One more death is one too many.”

UCATT news release.

Unions stand up against safety attack

Attempts by Conservative ministers and unscrupulous firms to dilute or circumvent health and safety legislation must be resisted, Unite has said. Unite regional secretary for the south east Jennie Formby, speaking on 28 April – International Workers’ Memorial Day - said: “Tory ministers driven by ideology, coupled with unscrupulous bosses trying to circumvent the regulations, are putting the lives of workers at risk.” She added: “If the government continues to battle with unions protecting their members in the workplace, by limiting the training provided to health and safety representatives and reducing the right to strike, we will see more deaths in the workplace.” A record number of International Workers’ Memorial Day events were held nationwide, according to the TUC, with a number attracting several hundred of people. High profile events were also held worldwide. On several occasions throughout the day, the campaign hashtag, #iwmd16, was trending on twitter as around 10,000 event tweets were posted. Global union federation ITUC said one worker dies every 15 seconds due to occupational injury or illness. Sharan Burrow, ITUC general secretary, said: “Over two million workers die needlessly every year because their workplaces are dusty, dirty and dangerous. The risks are as obvious as they are preventable, whether they are falls from height, crippling workloads or chemical exposure. Every single death represents an employer’s failure to act.”

 Unite news release. ITUC news release. HSE news release.

TUC 2016 Workers’ Memorial Day activities listing.

ITUC/Hazards global events listing and resources.

Warning on dangers of changing offshore shift patterns

New offshore work patterns could make the already hazardous work more dangerous and must not be imposed on workers, a coalition of unions has warned. The Offshore Co-ordinating Group (OCG) was speaking out on the publication of its report, ‘Safety critical offshore workers in the UK oil and gas sector: Hours, shifts and schedules’, commissioned from the Scottish Centre for Employment Research (SCER) at Strathclyde University. The report examines the implications for health, safety and wellbeing of a change from two weeks offshore, two weeks onshore (2/2) to three weeks offshore/onshore (3/3) working schedules. It says while there is a lack of evidence about whether working regular three week tours poses significant health and safety risks “there are suggestions this may indeed be the case.” The report identifies several ‘particularly problematic’ safety issues arising from a three week tour offshore, including fatigue, increased potential for severe accidents and excessive overtime. Unite’s Tommy Campbell, the chair of the OCG, said the report was commissioned in response to “widespread concern of the offshore workforce over the imposition of new working patterns and the possible impact on safety and safety culture as a result of the current economic downturn in the North Sea.” He added: “Its findings suggest that workers’ concerns are more than justified and that operators must now cease implementation of 3/3 schedules in order that legitimate concerns can be properly addressed by all relevant authorities. Government at all levels and regulatory agencies must pressure operators to stop using these potentially dangerous new working patterns and fund additional research into their impact on health, safety and wellbeing.” RMT’s Jake Molloy, the OCG’s vice-chair, said: “The OCG strongly believes that offshore workers, or indeed workers in any safety critical occupation, should not be forced to work 21 straight days of 12 hours shifts. However too many operators have taken advantage of the turbulence caused by the falling oil price to implement these very work schedules. This report strongly suggests that the industry as a whole needs to urgently address the safety implications of 3/3 working before real damage is done”.

STUC news release. Safety Critical Offshore Workers in the UK Oil and Gas Sector: Hours, Shifts and Schedules, OCG, 2016.

Blacklisting firms pay out millions in compensation

Hundreds of workers blacklisted by Britain’s biggest construction firms in an illegal conspiracy have won compensation following a long-running lawsuit. Last week approximately 420 trade unionists secured damages from the firms after launching the legal action four years ago. The out of court settlement was reached by lawyers acting for the Blacklist Support Group and the unions GMB and UCATT. It brings to more than 600 the number of workers who have received compensation after their names appeared on the construction industry financed and run Consulting Association blacklist. The amount of compensation has not been disclosed but, according to campaigners, could exceed £50m. Some blacklisted workers have been reported to have received damages of up to £200,000. Steve Acheson, a blacklisted electrician from Manchester who chairs the union-backed Blacklist Support Group, commented: “Seven years ago when the files were discovered these firms denied everything and offered us nothing. Two years ago, their misnamed compensation scheme offered most people £1,000. These wretches have now been forced to pay out millions in compensation, as well as legal bills for four sets of lawyers. That's a big kick in the profit margin.” He added: “The construction firms may 'wish to draw a line under this matter' but for blacklisted workers this is still unfinished business. Until such time that the full conspiracy is exposed and those responsible for the human rights abuse are called to account in a court of law, we will never stop fighting.” The claims were brought against Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and Vinci, who all paid for and used the blacklisting services provided by the Consulting Association. In October 2015, these construction companies admitted the system was unlawful and made a full public apology. Unite is continuing its High Court blacklisting case against the construction firms on behalf of 90 members.

GMB news release. UCATT news release. Blacklist blog. BWI news release. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Construction Enquirer. Morning Star. The Mirror. Blacklist Support Group facebook page.

High Court ‘blacklisting’ trial adjourned

A High Court trial involving outstanding blacklisting compensation claims against major construction firms has been adjourned until June. Commenting on the move, Unite director of legal services Howard Beckett said the union application for the adjournment “was granted by Lord Justice Supperstone until Tuesday 7 June. The reason for the application was that the four claimant teams have now become one which meant that it was impractical for the trial, estimated to take 11 weeks, to start on Monday 9 May. In addition, some late disclosure has come in from the Information Commissioner’s Office and this evidence needs to be considered and evaluated by our legal team.” The union legal expert added: “Unite understands that the date for Cullum McAlpine, the alleged architect of the ‘blacklisting’ scandal, to give evidence is Tuesday 21 June.” McAlpine heads construction firm Sir Robert McAlpine and has been identified as the founding chair of the illegal blacklisting organisation the Consulting Association. The organisation provided construction firms with profiles of construction workers identifying their union and safety activities, many subsequently being blacklisted by firms as a result. “Unite still represents about 90 members whose jobs were ruined and lives turned upside down by the ‘blacklisting’ scandal,” said Unite’s Howard Beckett. “Unite has not reached any settlement although we continue to negotiate to achieve justice. The key question that has to be asked of the construction firms, which made an unprecedented admission of guilt last October, is why have they not yet settled? Unite continues to seek maximum compensation and justice on behalf of our members following those admissions.”
Unite news release. Morning Star.

Performance management is ‘divisive and unfair’

The performance management system used across the civil service is ‘divisive, unfair and demotivating’, an extensive survey by the union PCS has revealed. The system, which has been linked to high levels of workplace stress, burnout (Risks 664) and ill-health (Risks 661), ranks workers and puts a fixed percentage of lower ranked staff on a path to performance-related dismissal (Risks 681). Only 4 per cent the respondents to the PCS survey of 27,000 staff said performance management "generates healthy competition between team members.” Just 6 per cent of line managers agreed with this statement. More than half of respondents said performance management was “used to bully and harass staff” and only 12 per cent of line managers described is as “a clear and transparent way of managing.” PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “These results are devastatingly clear and show a system that is not only unfair, divisive and demotivating, but also time-consuming and ineffective. The kinds of processes that use forced rankings have been abandoned in other industries for these very reasons, and they must be scrapped from the civil service.” Performance management has also come in for criticism from CWU members employed by telecommunications giant BT. A union resolution called for the system to be scrapped, after delegates highlighted “its destructive impact on workers and the performance of the company itself.”

PCS news release and performance management guidance. CWU news release.

Soaring stress levels sickening DWP staff

More sick days are lost to depression and anxiety than any other illness at the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), new figures show, with civil service union PCS saying it highlights the pressure on staff forced to implement “cruel policies”. Figures seen by The Independent show that workers at the DWP took more than 112,000 days off sick because of mental health problems in the year to 31 January 2016. The figure is around double the number of days lost because of “diseases of the respiratory system” – a category that includes colds and flu. PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka linked the evidence of high pressure on DWP staff to government policies. He told the Independent: “This highlights the huge pressures on staff who are forced to carry out the government's cruel policies that have turned jobcentres from places of help and support into ones of conflict and suspicion. DWP staff know that punishing and vilifying sick, disabled and unemployed people is not only morally wrong, it is counterproductive.”

The Independent.

Warning on exodus of stressed school support staff

More than half (52 per cent) of school support staff across the UK have experienced stress, anxiety or depression as they struggle to cope with their workloads, according to a new survey by UNISON. Over two-fifths (41.5 per cent) of those who took part in the survey said they had difficulty in completing their work, and more than one in eight (13.4 per cent) said they found it impossible to manage all that was being asked of them. UNISON said these findings, based on over 14,000 responses, highlight a crisis in health and well-being engulfing schools, which could lead to a mass exodus of hardworking, dedicated staff unless urgent action is taken by the government. Almost half of support staff (47 per cent) said they are considering leaving their jobs, citing issues like low pay, stress and huge workloads. UNISON’s head of education Jon Richards said: “It’s shocking that more than half the UK’s school support staff are now experiencing stress, anxiety or depression because they are being given way too much to do. These are dedicated professionals, but with too few of them employed for the amount of work that has to be done, schools are increasingly relying on the goodwill of staff.” He added: “With almost half of school support staff considering leaving their jobs due to low pay, stress and workload, there’s a danger that if the government doesn’t buck up its ideas soon, parents will start to notice the impact in the classroom.” UNISON is calling on the government to establish a national initiative with unions and employers to come up with recommendations for schools to reduce workload pressure on support staff.

UNISON news release and survey findings.

NHS workers are being fed rubbish

Health service workers are begin compelled to eat unhealthy, poor quality food, with night shift workers particularly badly served, a survey from UNISON and the Campaign for Better Hospital Food (CBHF) has found. It discovered nurses and other health employees are being forced to survive on fast food – or on poor quality vending machine snacks - because hospitals are failing to provide proper facilities. More than a quarter (29 per cent) of respondents often work night shifts yet almost half (49 per cent) of hospital canteens close before 8pm which limits staff access to healthy meals. The survey is based on responses from nearly 4,000 NHS employees. UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Healthy hospital food that is available around the clock is essential for dedicated staff who are working night shifts caring for patients. Yet nurses and other NHS workers often have no choice but to resort to meals that are high in salt, fat and sugar.” He added: “Takeaways and fizzy pop don’t make for a healthy workforce.” CBHF campaign officer Katherine Button said there needs to be a “focus on hospital retailers and suppliers to ensure that staff working hard for patients have access to healthy meals and snacks 24 hours a day.” A December 2015 TUC report on workplace well-being programmes warned that far fewer workers now have the option of healthy food provided by a workplace canteen (Risks 732).

UNISON news release.

Workplace well-being programmes: A guide for safety reps, TUC, December 2015. Other workers’ health resources.

OTHER NEWS

Lawyers confirm Brexit rights threat

A new legal opinion has confirmed that workers’ employment rights are at risk if the UK votes to leave the EU. The report says that even if the UK was to remain in the single market, but outside the EU, some rights would be at risk, including working time protections, discrimination compensation, and protections for agency workers. The assessment by GQ Employment Law examined a Brexit scenario where the UK negotiates a deal similar to Norway of paying to remain in the single market and abide by all its rules, but outside the EU and without a say in making those rules. Under this scenario, the law firm found that several protections for working people could be reduced. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “A lot of the debate has focussed on how many people might lose their job because of Brexit. But even people whose jobs are not a risk would still face the threat of losing hard-won rights at work.” She added: “GQ Employment have optimistically assumed that the UK would negotiate a similar Brexit deal to Norway. But even on this basis, they think that some important employment rights will still be at risk. Nobody knows for certain how bad it could get. But all the employment law experts agree that it will be worse for workers’ rights.” An independent legal opinion for the TUC (Risks 745), published in March 2016 and written by Michael Ford QC, noted “it can no longer be assumed that there is a political consensus about improving health and safety standards at work, despite the long history of legislation in this area which has mostly been left intact by successive governments… the regulations which implement duties in EU health and safety directives are both legally and factually vulnerable in the event of Brexit...” A TUC report on the safety implications of Brexit published in April concluded that if the UK votes to leave the EU, the government would be able to choose whether or not to keep protections derived from EU laws (Risks 748). It warned there is no guarantee ministers would keep health and safety legislation at its current level, noting the UK government has already indicated it wants to reduce the ‘red tape’ of EU protection.

TUC news release. GQ Employment Law news release. Opinion by Michael Ford QC, March 2016. EU Membership and Health and Safety, TUC, April 2016.

Martin Temple to be new HSE chair

Martin Temple is to be the new chair of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), replacing Judith Hackitt, whose second term had ended. Hackitt, meanwhile, now holds Temple’s old job as chair of manufacturers’ lobby organisation EEF. Temple led the Triennial Review of HSE which in 2014 found the regulatory regime “is fit for purpose” (Risks 638). Health and safety minister Justin Tomlinson said: “I am delighted with Martin’s appointment. He brings a wealth of experience to the role and joins at a time when the work of the HSE in promoting health and safety amongst employers is as important as ever.” Martin Temple said he was “delighted” to get the job, adding: “I hold a long-standing interest in health and safety and look forward to working with HSE and the board to build on its success as a world-leading workplace health and safety regulator and I look forward to this challenge and the opportunities ahead.” Both Temple and Hackitt came to the position of HSE chair from roles heading industry lobby groups. Temple was director then chair at the manufacturers’ organisation EEF, where he has been replaced by Hackitt. Hackitt was the head of both the UK and then the European chemical industry lobby groups before taking up the HSE chair role in 2007.

DWP news release.

Site workers return after bridge tragedy

Workers returning for duty on Scotland’s Queensferry Crossing construction job fell silent to honour a colleague killed on the site on 28 April, International Workers’ Memorial Day. John Cousins was fatally injured in an incident on the under-construction bridge over the Forth. It is understood the 60-year-old banksman was struck by the moving boom of a spider crane on the north tower deck. Shortly before the tragedy, he had joined colleagues in a minute’s silence to remember victims of workplace fatalities and occupational diseases. Part of the north tower remains closed as an investigation by Police Scotland and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) continues. Staff paused for silent reflection at a series of meetings held on 3 May as they began their first shift since the tragedy. A second worker was hurt in the incident which happened shortly after midday but his injuries were said to be minor. The crossing is being built by the Forth Crossing Bridge Constructors consortium, with 1,200 people currently working on site. Commenting in after news of the fatality emerged, Pat Rafferty, Unite’s Scottish secretary, said: “Once again, a loved one has gone to work and will not return home. That is hard to swallow any day but on today of all days, on International Workers’ Memorial Day, when we remember those who have perished at work, this loss is especially poignant.” Bernard MacAulay, Unite's national construction officer, added: “There can never be any corners cut where health and safety is concerned. We need an urgent investigation into this tragic death at Queensferry, but it is crucial that trade unions play a part in that process of establishing the facts.” Harry Frew, regional secretary for UCATT Scotland, said: “UCATT will be doing everything it can to find out how and why this accident occurred and to ensure that similar fatalities are prevented in the future.”

Unite news release. UCATT news release. Daily Record. The Courier. Morning Star.

UK prison system in crisis as violence soars

An alarming rise in violent incidents has sparked warnings the prison system is failing prisoners and staff. Figures released by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) have revealed that violence has increased in the past 12 months and, in some cases, is close to double the rates from 2010. Between 2010 and 2015, the number of sexual assaults recorded has more than doubled from 137 incidents per year to 300. In the same period, the number deaths in prisons has risen from 198 to 257 per year. The data, released by the MoJ as part of its annual ‘Safety in custody’ figures, also confirm a sharp rise in attacks on prison staff. Prisoner on staff assaults increased from 3,640 in 2014 to 4,963 in 2015, an increase of 36 per cent. “This is equivalent to 14 members of staff being assaulted by prisoners every day of the year within our prisons,” said the union POA. “These figures also show an increase of over 31 per cent in what are classed as serious assaults on staff, which have required hospital treatment.” Steve Gillan, POA general secretary, said the figures showed the prison service is “failing in their duty of care not only to their employees but also those individuals who the courts have sent into their care.” He said the service was being run “on a wing and a prayer”, adding: “The Ministry of Justice and Treasury are equally to blame, as the savage cuts imposed on the service are the prime catalyst that have led to the deterioration in service delivery.”

Safety in Custody statistics, MoJ, 28 April 2016. POA news release. Howard League for Penal Reform news release. The Independent.

Former teacher's death linked to asbestos

Former colleagues of a man who died from asbestos-related cancer are being urged to help with an investigation into how he came into contact with the harmful substance.

David Clegg, a former teacher and factory worker from Knottingley, was diagnosed with mesothelioma just a week before he died in February, aged 58. He worked at Pollards Bearings in Ferrybridge for eight weeks over the summer while he was at university in the 1970s.He also worked at Goole Grammar School between 1979 and 1980 and Featherstone High School from 1980 to 2000. He had described scraping out a fibrous material he believed was asbestos from the inside of furnaces at Pollards Bearings.

His family also have concerns that exposure could have happened in classrooms at the two schools. His wife Susan, 59, appealed for former colleagues to come forward. She said: “David and I were shocked and devastated by the diagnosis. We had no time to come to terms with it. We had made plans for our retirement together and now I am facing that future alone.” Ian Toft, a personal injury solicitor representing Mrs Clegg in a compensation claim, said: “It’s important that we now help Susan and her family get answers about his exposure to the deadly dust. Mesothelioma is an aggressive and incurable cancer which causes so much distress for people like Susan and her family.”

Pontefract and Castleford Express. Anyone with information is being asked to contact Ian Toft at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors on 0113 218 6453.

Dangerous demolition firm fined after tip-off

A Nottinghamshire demolition company has been fined for criminal safety failings following a call from a whistleblower to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Leicester Magistrates’ Court heard how Prodem Demolition and Asbestos Limited was removing roof tiles from a domestic property on 16 July 2015 when it was reported to the HSE for undertaking unsafe work at height. HSE found workers on a steep roof removing tiles without any form of equipment or protection to prevent them falling off the roof. The original plan was to work from a basket of a mobile elevated work platform or cherry picker. However, HSE said the company did not follow this plan, putting the workers at significant risk of falling and risk of serious injury. Prodem Demolition and Asbestos Limited pleaded guilty to a criminal breach of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay costs of £765.

HSE news release and demolition webpage.

ACTION

Tell CGL to reinstate safety rep Alison!

Victimised Unite health and safety representative Alison Morris was sacked after raising concerns about inoperable fire alarms at the Birmingham drug and alcohol abuse charity CGL (Risks 748). Unite says within days of Alison’s dismissal, the campaign for her reinstatement had seen around 1,500 emails sent to David Biddle, CEO of CGL. According to the union: “The more pressure we can put on CGL to reconsider Alison's dismissal the better chance Alison has of being reinstated. And it seems to be working with the management of CGL agreeing to come back to the table to discuss the situation. We will continue the fight to get Alison's dismissal overturned but need your support to strengthen our voice.”

Send an email to CGL’s David Biddle and show your support for safety rep Alison.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Australia: ‘Regulatory capture’ allows return of fatal disease

A federal government inquiry into the re-emergence of work-related black lung disease in Australia has called for company doctors and government safety inspectors to be trained to avoid ‘regulatory capture’. A ‘perfect storm’ of regulatory failure, indifference from the mining industry, poor dust control and patchy health monitoring is responsible for the re-emergence of black lung disease among Queensland coalminers, the inquiry found. In an interim report – ‘Black Lung: "It has buggered my life"’ – the Senate Select Committee on Health said the evidence “reveals a litany of regulator failure and regulatory capture, industry indifference and incompetence, inconsistent risk mitigation and patchy and sometimes compromised health monitoring throughout Australia. The sum of all these failing parts has left Australian coal workers vulnerable to CWP [coal workers' pneumoconiosis] and therefore vulnerable to early death.” The report adds: “Failure to address these failures will inevitably lead to more cases of CWP in this country.” According to the Australian National Audit Office, regulatory capture occurs when a person involved in administering a regulatory regime “develops a relationship with the regulated entity or industry and represents their interests in advance of the interests of the regulator.” Six cases of black lung, a potentially deadly disease also known as coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, have been confirmed in Queensland. Unions have said there’s been a black lung “cover-up” and the number of cases could be as high as 1,000, a figure disputed by the industry.

Black Lung: "It has buggered my life". The Guardian. Labour Herald.

CFMEU Make black lung history campaign.

Global: The price of your cup of tea

A damning report on the working and living conditions of India's tea workers has been published by the global food and farming union IUF and the Global Network for the Right to Food and Nutrition. ‘A Life without dignity - the price of your cup of tea’ is the outcome of a fact-finding mission led by the IUF and involving members of the network. The team found that poverty wages and harsh working conditions lead to massive violations of the right to food and nutrition and other human rights of tea workers. Women make up 70 per cent of a workforce of 1.2 million. The report makes detailed recommendations which IUF says will be raised in in the coming months with the Indian government, the UN’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and the Committee on World Food Security as well as with tea packers and retailers. It notes the Indian government should “formulate, carry out and periodically review a coherent national policy on safety and health on tea gardens,” in line with the ILO’s safety in agriculture convention. “This policy shall have the aim of preventing accidents and injury to health arising out of, linked with, or occurring in the course of work, by eliminating, minimising or controlling hazards in the agricultural working environment,” the report notes. In a recommendation to the industry, it adds: “Tea garden owners must take immediate steps to improve occupational health and safety especially reducing use of highly hazardous pesticides starting with paraquat.”

IUF news release. A Life without dignity - the price of your cup of tea, IUF, May 2016.

Japan: Bus driver’s suicide was work-related

The Nagoya High Court in Japan has overturned a lower court decision and recognised the suicide of a Nagoya City bus driver as work-related, caused by heavy workloads and “power harassment”. Yamada Akira, who was 37 at the time of his death, had been warned about his on-board announcements. His manager said: “Your announcements are gloomy like being at a funeral.” He also blamed Yamada for a minor in-vehicle accident, forcing him to turn himself into the police. In July 2007, Yamada killed himself after sending an email to the manager explaining he was innocent and could not accept the charge. The judge stated that an average of more than 60-hours of overtime a month probably deprived him of his mental and physical power to recuperate, and that he eventually suffered from a nervous breakdown due to verbal abuse from the manager and lengthy police interviews around the same time regarding the accident. After the court ruling, Yamada’s father Isao, 75, said, “At last, my son can rest in peace. I hope City Bus will create a working atmosphere which is not detrimental to mental health.” Work-related suicide linked to overwork, or ‘karojisatsu’, is a state recognised and compensated occupational condition in Japan.

Japan Press. More on work-related suicide.

Norway: Helicopter tragedy is a ‘wake-up call’

The 29 April helicopter crash that killed 13 people on their way back from an oil platform off Norway’s west coast has heightened concerns over whether the industry’s deepest cost cuts in 15 years are undermining safety. While the cause of the crash of the CHC Group Ltd helicopter on Norway’s North Sea coast is still unknown, the accident is a “wake-up call,” Leif Sande, the leader of the Industry Energy, the biggest oil union in the country, told Energy Voice. “It’s about time we started a discussion about safety on the Norwegian shelf and what effect the savings programmes are having on our safety, because something is wrong,” he said. “It’s legitimate to talk about these things.”

The first fatal helicopter accident in Norway’s oil industry since 1997 happened as petroleum producers are cutting spending and trimming costs for the second consecutive year to adapt to a collapse in crude prices. There’s no doubt workers are feeling more pressure in daily operations after about 40,000 jobs have been cut from the industry and more downsizing is expected to come, Sande told the publication. In an annual report published the day before the crash, the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA), the industry’s watchdog, said safety could be at a “crossroads.” An indicator gauging the risk of serious accidents rose for the first time last year since 2012, after reaching a record low in 2014, it said. Injuries and hydrocarbon leaks were on the rise. Norway’s oil industry also saw its first deadly accident since 2009 when a worker was killed on 30 December 2015 as a giant wave hit a China Oilfield Services Ltd rig working for Statoil ASA in the North Sea. “It’s very worrying that the figures are developing in the wrong direction this systematically,” said Inger Anda, a spokesperson for the PSA.

Energy Voice. BBC News Online. The Guardian.

TUC COURSES FOR SAFETY REPS

Courses for 2016

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