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Risks is the TUC's weekly newsletter for safety reps and others, sponsored by Thompsons Solicitors.

UNION NEWS

OTHER NEWS

EVENTS

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

UNION NEWS

Union power can protect jobs, health and safety

After civil service union PCS successfully fought off privatisation of the Land Registry (HMLR) in 2016, it set out to negotiate new and “meaningful agreements and practices” - and the union says this delivered ‘real progress’ on health and safety. PCS Land Registry group vice president Dave Lunn said the union had negotiated a formal agreement with the employer built on that successful campaign and high membership density levels. “What this highlights is the importance of lead group negotiators being reps who understand the day job and who are present in the workplace. This has enabled us to make the right technical and practical arguments to support our representations,” he said. “This excellent level of engagement has been particularly helpful around health and safety, with real progress being made.” Activities on issues including stress and mental health problems were big successes, he said, with “material changes on dealing with stress in the workplace and supporting members with mental health and neuro diverse conditions.” The union supported the introduction of mental health first aiders (MHFA) in every workplace, while recognising the importance of “trying to prevent issues from arising in the first place. That’s why alongside supporting the introduction of MHFA’s, we have secured agreement for a change of culture, moving away from the previous control and command approach and towards a more supportive and inclusive workplace. In addition, the employer has agreed to a major rewrite of all our key policies including sickness absence management, performance management and disciplinary policies with the full involvement of PCS.” Dave Lunn added: “In recognition our members are all unique with different levels of skill and experience, we have strengthened existing agreements on stress at work to ensure there is no individual output monitoring and no individual targets.”
PCS news release.
Resources: The Union Effect: How unions make a difference on health and safety. Organising for health and safety: A TUC guide for reps. More on the union safety effect. TUC guide to responding to harmful work-related stress. Tackling workplace stress using the HSE Stress Management Standards, TUC and HSE guidance for health and safety representatives. TUC workbook on mental health in the workplace. TUC mental health awareness training.
 

Big majority wants government to improve workers’ rights

Two-thirds of voters want the Conservative government to ban zero hours contracts, a poll has found. The public also wants workers’ rights protected after Brexit and tax rises for higher earners, according to the survey for the Trade Union Congress (TUC). Trade union leaders said the poll meant the prime minister Boris Johnson had “no more excuses” for not ensuring that rights are protected after Brexit. The prime minister has faced criticism for ditching workers’ rights guarantees from the bill ratifying his Brexit deal. A guarantee that current rights would not be weakened was included in a draft of the bill published in October but has been dropped from the post-election version announced in the 19 December 2019 Queen’s Speech. The government claims workers’ rights will be protected in separate legislation. According to the survey, conducted by GQR for the TUC, 73 per cent of voters want the government to maintain and enhance current workers’ rights guaranteed by the EU. Commenting on the poll, Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, said: “Working people will want to check the small print before trusting this government’s promises. Ministers should be taking action to outlaw hated zero hours contracts, which trap working families in poverty. And they should get wages rising by empowering workers to negotiate fair pay.” She added: “We know many in the cabinet who want to drive down labour standards, but there is little appetite in Britain for deregulation and further tax cuts for the rich – including among Conservative voters. No more excuses – the new government must improve rights at work and get wages rising to help working families.”
TUC news release. Prime minister’s office news release and Queen’s Speech background document. The Independent. The Guardian.
 

Union concern for workplace safety post-Brexit

The Conservative government must not reduce safety protections as part of its post-Brexit strategy, the union EIS has said. The Scottish teachers’ union was commenting on the publication of its latest work-related injury compensation figures. It said last year the figure secured for its members was £290,700, significantly higher than the 2018 figure of just under £230,000. The highest single payout was £141,500, awarded to a teacher who suffered long-term damage to their arms and legs, with “lasting implications for their future career” when they slipped and fell leaving a classroom. EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “Whilst the sums involved represent success for the EIS in pursuing appropriate compensation for injuries suffered at work, our desire is to eventually report a zero figure for compensation in the future owing to the elimination of these types of work-related injuries.” He expressed concern about possible post-Brexit related changes to health and safety legislation, noting: “Many valuable workplace protections that we enjoy today are the result of EU legislation. The Westminster government has already indicated that, post Brexit, they will be looking to roll-back on some of the protections afforded to employees in the UK. This is a matter of huge concern, and we must do all that we can to resist financial concerns being put before the health and wellbeing of people at work.” He concluded: “It is important, also, to emphasise the valuable role that unions such as the EIS play in standing up for employment rights and the health and wellbeing of employees. The EIS will continue to do all that it can to defend its members in an increasingly challenging political environment.”
EIS news release. BBC News Online. Morning Star.
 

Demolition workers ‘pay with their lives’ for lax safety

Unite has said 2020 must bring safety improvements for demolition workers following a high number of fatalities and serious incidents this year. The construction union said it would be writing to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to demand that the incidents are investigated properly and lessons implemented. Unite also said it will be pressuring enforcement agencies and employers to step up their efforts to safeguard demolition workers. Major incidents in 2019 included four deaths at three different sites. In February 2019, a demolition worker employed by Brown and Mason died at the Longannet power station in Fife. In September, two more demolition workers employed by JF Hunt died at Redcar Steelworks, North Yorkshire, while one Veolia employee died and another was seriously injured while dismantling a gas rig in Great Yarmouth in October. Unite also criticised “incomplete or unsatisfactory investigations” into the tragedies at Didcot, Oxford, involving Coleman and Company, in which four men died in 2016 after a disused power station collapsed, and the 2014 death of man who was crushed after a digger fell through the a concrete slab that was being demolished by McGee in Grosvenor Square, London. Unite national officer for construction Jerry Swain said 2019 was “horrendous for the demolition industry. In addition to four fatalities, we had a major scaffold collapse during the demolition of a shopping centre in Reading, in which thankfully no one was killed.” He added: “For too long there has been inadequate investigations and responses to accidents and dangerous conditions in the demolition industry and workers continue to pay for that with their lives. For instance, why are we are still in a position that closure has not been reached on the four fatalities at Didcot in 2016 or the death at Grosvenor Square in 2014? That’s five families still waiting for an outcome, years after the tragedies happened.” He said “Unite demands to know what the industry and enforcement agencies are going to do to address these incidents” and to ensure 2020 “is a safe year for demolition workers.”
Unite news release. Construction Enquirer.
 

POA to appeal after safety action ban upheld

Prison officers will appeal against a court judgment that fined their union £210,000 after they took part in protest action, the union POA has said. The prison officers’ union was commenting after a divisional court judgment published on 19 December 2019 backed the government, which had instructed government lawyers to apply for a Contempt of Court against the POA to block action by members over imminent safety fears in prisons. The POA had been ruled in contempt of court for a series of walkouts over rising prison violence (Risks 810). The divisional court ruled against the POA, with the union noting the court found “that we were in breach of the Permanent Injunction and the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act.” The union was fined £210,000. According to POA: “The court ruled that the walkouts were in breach of a permanent injunction which prohibits prison officers from engaging in industrial action, as well as the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act. However, the union claims that the judgment flouts human rights law.” Announcing the union would appeal against the “disappointing” judgment, POA general secretary Steve Gillan said: “The POA has been restricted by the courts and legislation since 1994. For 25 years we have campaigned against this pernicious piece of legislation which restricts POA members’ basic human rights. We hope our appeal against this judgment will be successful.” Ministry of Justice figures released in October 2019 revealed assaults on prison staff are at a record high (Risks 922). 

POA news release. Morning Star
 

RMT exposes ‘massive’ violence against transport workers

Almost threequarters (72 per cent) of frontline transport workers have experienced workplace violence in the last year, a survey by the union RMT has found. Of these, nearly 90 per cent had been subjected to violence on multiple occasions. The survey of RMT members working in rail, on London Underground and on buses and ferries, were released to coincide with industry advertising campaigns against violence to transport workers that ran during the festive season. While alcohol related incidents peak during the festive period, RMT said the results released on 23 December 2019 “prove that work-related violence is a year-round problem for transport workers, and that many employers are not taking action to prevent violence and protect their workers.” The most common form of attack was verbal abuse, affecting over 90 per cent of victims. Transport workers also described being spat at, sexually assaulted, racially abused and threatened with violence or physical assault. Nearly a quarter of transport workers had been physically assaulted at work in the last year. Despite the high rate of incidents, nearly all workers who were subjected to workplace violence did not take any time off work, 70 per cent of workers who experienced violence not satisfied with their employers’ response. Some said they couldn’t afford time off because they didn’t get sick pay and others said management treated it as ‘part of the job’. Overall, 70 per cent of the RMT transport worker members responding to the survey said there has been an increase in violence in the last year. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “It is frankly disgusting that the very same group of workers that the government is planning to ban from taking strike action to defend safety are the ones getting battered day in and day out with little or no serious protection.” He added: “Transport employers must take action to prevent violence and protect their staff and there must be tougher penalties against those who offend. Only a zero-tolerance approach will do. It is not acceptable that transport workers are being told that violence and abuse is ‘just part of the job’. RMT will be ramping up its campaign against violence at work in the coming months and will take whatever action is necessary to support our members.”
RMT news release. The Independent.
 

Nissan worker gets pay-out for job ending work pain

A Newcastle car factory worker who developed a painful repetitive strain injury that forced him to give up his job has secured compensation with backing from his trade union, Unite. Plant operative Colin Reay, 42, was asked to switch departments at the Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd plant in Sunderland to cover for staff shortages. “When I moved departments I was told that I’d rotate between three different jobs, like my colleagues did,” said Colin. “But after a few days on the wax booth, I realised this wasn’t going to be the case.” In the new department, Colin would repeatedly climb up and down a small set of stairs in order to work on individual cars. In an average shift, Colin estimates he worked on upwards of 450 cars, without rotating to other duties. In November 2014, a month after moving to this role, Colin asked bosses why he wasn’t being rotated - but Unite says his concerns went unanswered. By May 2015, he began suffering serious pain in his right knee, and was later diagnosed with significant damage to the cartilage there – known as a chondral flap. By June 2016, he was asked to leave Nissan as his employer claimed he had taken unauthorised absences – despite his GP and an orthopaedic consultant telling him he was unfit to work. The injuries, combined with his employer’s claim it was not at fault for what happened, “also caused Colin to suffer a nervous breakdown,” Unite said. Colin commented: “First they put my health at risk. Then they ignored my concerns. Then they laid me off.” Personal injury law firm Thompsons Solicitors, brought in by Unite to act in a compensation claim, secured Colin £100,000 in damages. “I don’t know what I would have done without Unite and Thompsons,” Colin said. “Nissan was refusing to admit any wrongdoing. I even contacted the Health and Safety Executive to investigate, but that didn’t make Nissan take my injuries any more seriously.” Unite regional secretary Karen Reay said: “This was a complex case made more difficult by Nissan defending its position vigorously until the case nearly came to trial. Our legal team and the experts at Thompsons obtained a number of witness statements from colleagues supporting Colin’s claim, including a Unite steward, as well as reports from medical experts. It was only through this that Nissan saw no other option that to admit fault and pay Colin a fair compensation for the pain and financial hardships this injury has caused him.”
Thompsons Solicitors news release.
 

OTHER NEWS

Government must ‘get health and safety done’     

The professional body for safety and health specialists has called for the Conservative government to “get health and safety done” by committing to the protection of workers’ rights and ‘future-proofing’ the UK’s health and safety system. The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) said the government must provide assurance on health and safety for the 2020s, maintain its focus on eradicating human trafficking and modern slavery and deliver upon its sustainability commitment by ensuring safety and health is at the heart of its proposed ‘infrastructure revolution’ and the creation of two million new, high-quality jobs in clean growth. Richard Jones, IOSH head of policy, said the Conservative’s “ran on a ‘get Brexit done’ slogan and has pledged high standards of workers’ rights. But as, concerningly, UK divergence could also allow a lowering of standards, IOSH calls on the prime minister to strengthen and future-proof the UK’s world-leading health and safety system and commit to get health and safety done.” He added: “The 2020s need to see the UK substantially raise its performance on occupational safety and health, from improving mental health at work, to preventing long-latency diseases like occupational cancers; and from securing building fire safety to strengthening protections for the most vulnerable workers. It’s about ensuring long-term commitment and real action on health and safety that delivers a successful and sustainable future for all.”
IOSH news release and IOSH Manifesto, Towards a safe and healthy world of work, highlights key OSH themes for UK and other Governments to help ensure a safe, healthy and sustainable future.
 

Reports an ‘indictment’ of government fire service failures

Official reports on Britain’s fire services have confirmed the existence of a ‘postcode lottery’ on emergency cover, the firefighters’ union FBU has warned. Responding to the third tranche of inspections from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS), FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “This tranche of reports is a complete indictment of the government’s dangerous complacency over the risk of fire, flooding, and other hazardous incidents. Austerity has ravaged our fire and rescue service, leaving residents in many areas at risk.” He added: “With no national standards and no national infrastructure coordinating fire and rescue service policy, residents inevitably face a postcode lottery of fire safety. While fire service bosses must be responsible for any failings, so too should the politicians who have starved them of funding, resources and boots on the ground. Our service is collapsing – it’s plainly unsustainable.” The union leader said the latest reports demonstrated the need to address an intimidatory management culture in the fire service, noting the union was “deeply concerned about toxic bullying and harassment from management in many fire and rescue services. Firefighters give their all to keep the public safe – it’s disgraceful that certain fire service bosses have thanked them with intimidation. We urge any firefighter affected to contact their FBU representative.”
FBU news release. HMICFRS news release.
 

Fedex UK Ltd fined £500k after forklift truck injury

Parcel carrier Fedex UK has been fined for criminal safety failings after an employee was seriously injured when he was struck by a forklift truck. Cannock Magistrates’ Court heard that in the early morning of 2 November 2017, an employee was walking across a depot when he was struck by a reversing forklift. The worker was trapped on the ground by the forklift and had to be freed by colleagues using a pallet truck. He suffered serious fractures to his arm and soft tissue injuries to his legs. He was off work for several months. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found there was inadequate segregation of forklift trucks and pedestrians within the workplace. A risk assessment had been carried out but had not identified the importance of achieving robust segregation in an area where frequent forklift truck movements took place. Fedex UK Ltd pleaded guilty to a criminal safety offence and was fined £533,000 and ordered to pay costs of £10,033.39. HSE inspector Wendy Campbell said: “Those in control of work have a responsibility to provide safe methods of working and a safe working environment. Collisions between vehicles and pedestrians can be avoided if the workplace layout is properly planned, effectively segregated and suitable systems of work are introduced. If physical barriers and a suitable system of work had been in place the injuries sustained by this employee could have been prevented.”
HSE news release.
 

Director sentenced after ignoring HSE notices

A construction company director has been ordered to undertake community service and has been given a suspended jail term for a criminal safety offence. Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that, between May 2018 and February 2019, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out a series of inspections at a construction site in South Woodford, London after receiving reports of health and safety concerns. During the inspections, site manager and company director Tahir Ahmed was served with two legally binding prohibition notices and his company, All Type Electrical and Building Limited, was served with two prohibition notices and two improvement notices. All Type Electrical and Building Limited’s improvement notice for competent advice was not complied with, HSE found. The company pleaded guilty to criminal breaches of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and the Health and Safety at Work Act. It was ordered to pay a fine of £60,000 and full costs of £5,216.46. Tahir Ahmed pleaded guilty to a criminal safety offence and was sentenced to 18 weeks’ imprisonment suspended for 12 months, 180 hours of unpaid work, and was ordered to pay full costs of £5,060.69. HSE inspector David King commented: “This case highlights the need for suitable and sufficient planning, managing and monitoring, using the appropriate work at height equipment and having a competent site manager. Dutyholders should be aware that HSE will hold to account those who do not comply with health and safety legislation, or who do not comply with enforcement notices served on them.”
HSE news release.
 

Construction must change to end modern slavery

The construction union Unite is calling for fundamental changes in the way that the construction industry is organised and for the introduction of licensing of gangmasters. The union call came in response to an investigation conducted jointly by Construction News and BBC Three, who used undercover journalists from the UK and Romania to reveal the extent of modern day slavery in construction. Unite said it believes the way that the industry operates means that there is a real potential for exploitative practices occurring on even the largest projects. The union repeated its all for the gangmasters licencing regime to be extended to construction. The licensing requirement currently only covers agriculture, food processing and shellfish collection. Companies which operate in the sectors where licensing exists are also required to ensure that they are only working with licensed gangmasters. Unite national officer for construction Jerry Swain said: “The revelations about the extent of modern day slavery and how it operates in construction must be a wake-up call to the industry and government. This is not simply a problem on smaller sites, even the largest sites have the potential for modern day slavery. Major contractors simply don’t know who is supplying labour on their sites, how they have been recruited and if they are being coerced.” He added: “Until the unnecessarily long labour supply chains are tackled the potential of modern day slavery will exist in every area of our industry. One major way to help tackle the problem is to extend gangmasters licencing to construction and to force the rogue employers out of the industry. The industry needs to be honest, if a labour supply company needs to get a third party to supply the labour, they are not really a labour supply company.”
Unite news release. Construction News. BBC Three.
 

Trump trade deal pressure shows toxic risk for Britain

UK government assurances that workplace safety and environmental standards won’t be on the table during trade negotiations with the Trump administration have been thrown into doubt by the equivalent talks between the US and Thailand. In December 2019, Southeast Asia's second-largest economy suspended an imminent move to ban three highly hazardous agrochemicals after the Trump administration announced wide-ranging tariff exemptions on Thai exports to the US would be lifted, with potentially serious financial implications for Thai industries. Thailand’s planned restrictions, which could have led to a significant reduction in American agricultural shipments to the kingdom, involved the insecticide chlorpyrifos and the herbicides paraquat and glyphosate, better known as Monsanto’s Roundup. The Thai government's National Hazardous Substances Committee voted in October 2019 to ban the three chemicals effective from 1 December. However, a few days after the Hazardous Substances Committee vote, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced a suspension of tariff exemptions for Thai exports to the US under its Generalized System of Preference, or GSP. Motorbikes and seafood products are among the 573 items vulnerable to tariffs starting 25 April 2020. The USTR attributed the suspension to Thailand's poor labour conditions and limited rights for unionisation in certain industries. But many economists do not buy this. “President Trump has not placed importance on workers' rights,” said Somchai Phakhaphatwiwat, a political economist from Thammasat University. Around the time of the USTR decision, agriculture undersecretary Ted McKinney sent a letter to Thai prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, urging him to postpone the ban on glyphosate specifically. “Should a ban be implemented, it would severely impact Thailand's imports of agricultural commodities such as soybean and wheats,” wrote McKinney, who earlier in his career spent nearly two decades working for agrochemical giant Dow AgroSciences.
Nikkei.
 

EVENTS

Workers’ Memorial Day - 28 April 2020: ‘Fighting for hearts and minds’

The global union confederation ITUC has announced the theme for 28 April 2020: ‘Tackling psychosocial hazards at work – taking the stress out of the job’. This year’s International Workers’ Memorial Day activities will highlight the harm caused by occupational stress and related conditions, including depression, anxiety, burnout, work-related alcohol and drug misuse and work-related suicides. The world’s largest health and safety event will draw together campaign targets including the harm resulting from low pay, high workloads an unacceptable working hours and work patterns. It will also highlight the real-life pressures that lead to work stress, including inadequate staffing, job insecurity, downsizing and precarious work. Bad management practices that contribute to the explosion in work-related psychosocial problems will also be highlighted, including punitive sickness absence policies and disciplinary procedures, oppressive performance management, targets and appraisal systems and a lack of control at work. New resources and updates on the ‘union fight for hearts and minds’ will be made available on the dedicated ITUC/Hazards 28 April website. Make sure you tell the TUC about your events, so they can be included in the TUC events list. To make it the best and biggest 28 April ever, start planning now!
Email the details of your events the TUC at: healthandsafety@tuc.org.uk
ITUC/Hazards 28 April 2020 International Workers’ Memorial Day website. TUC Workers’ Memorial Day pages.
RESOURCES: TUC guide to responding to harmful work-related stress. Tackling workplace stress using the HSE Stress Management Standards, TUC and HSE guidance for health and safety representatives. TUC workbook on mental health in the workplace. TUC mental health awareness training. TUC health, safety and wellbeing guide.
Hazards stress and mental health webpages and work-related suicide webpages. Hazards ‘heartbroken’ poster.
HSE ‘reporting a concern’ update, advice on How to report a work related stress concern, Tackling stress workbook, stress management standards and other HSE workplace stress resources.

 

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

France: Telcom bosses jailed over workers’ suicides

Three former bosses of a privatised French telecoms giant have been jailed for crimes related to a spate of worker suicides. Didier Lombard, the ex-CEO of French Telecom, and two former executives were jailed on 20 December 2019 over a restructuring policy linked to suicides among employees in the 2000s. Lombard, the company’s former president and chief executive officer, was jailed for a year, as were Louis-Pierre Wenès and Olivier Barberot, with eight months suspended. The company, now known as Orange, was fined €75,000 (£64,000). The landmark case marked the first time a French court has recognised “institutional harassment”.  The court examined 39 cases of affected employees, 19 of whom had taken their own lives and 12 who had attempted suicide. The others had lived with depression or had been otherwise unable to work. The escalation of work-related mental health problems in the workplace happened during a major restructuring of the company that affected thousands of employees. “The methods used to reach 22,000 job cuts were illegal,” the court ruled, rejecting arguments from Orange that the cuts were a necessary part of the privatisation process. Tactics included transferring staff without warning to places miles from their families, leaving them without workstations or offices for months while piling on impossible targets and aggressive micromanagement, with sanctions for failing to hit targets. Trade union campaigning forced Mr Wenès to resign in 2009, but France’s then-finance minister Christine Lagarde — now president of the European Central Bank — rejected calls to act against Mr Lombard, saying he had her full confidence. Four other executives were found guilty of complicity and given four-month suspended sentences and €5,000 fines. Lombard, his deputy Wenès, and Barberot, the former director of human resources, were each fined €15,000. Lawyers for the three said they would appeal against their convictions. In a statement, Orange said it would not appeal. “Orange’s social model is enriched each year with new initiatives and new agreements,” it said. “The Group is continuing its policy of strengthening social ties within the company, in particular through constructive and continuous dialogue with trade unions, and with a view to constantly improving its prevention systems.” Sébastien Crozier of CFE-CGC, one of the unions that exposed the scandal and pressed successfully for the court action, commented: “Our thoughts are with the victims and the families of the victims of managerial violence put in place by Didier Lombard and his henchmen. We hope that this judgment will serve as an example so that this type of situation never happens again. "
CFE-CGC news release (in French). Orange news release. Vice. Morning Star. The Guardian. New York Times. BBC News Online. ABC News.
Suicide note: Global experts tell HSE to address work-related suicide risks, Hazards, Number 149, December 2019.
ACTION! Use the Hazards e-postcard to tell the HSE to recognise, record and take action to prevent work-related suicides. www.hazards.org/hsesuicide
 

Asia: Development bank backtracks on asbestos use

In a remarkable about face, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has said it will now “refrain from financing any new projects containing any presence of asbestos” from 2020. The move followed media exposure of its failure to ban use of asbestos in the projects it financed. A number of countries in the region remain prime markets for the asbestos industry, some recently increasing their use of asbestos. The policy shift, announced in an ADB statement, came after its failure to prohibit asbestos use on its projects was exposed by the Asian Ban Asbestos Network (ABAN) and the Ban Asbestos Campaign for Union Aid Abroad, a campaign activity of APHEDA, the Australian union movements global justice organisation. APHEDA’s Emma Bacon said the absence of regulation on the importation and use of new asbestos products in the Pacific had given contractors ‘a free pass’ to use the hazardous material. She said another challenge was how the risk of exposure to asbestos increased when natural disasters and other climate events hit. The statement announcing the ADB policy rethink was emailed to ABAN’s Sugio Furuya. It reads: “The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has since 2009 explicitly prohibited ADB financing for the production of, trade in, or use of unbonded asbestos fibres. However, the purchase and use of bonded asbestos cement sheeting where asbestos content was less than 20 per cent has been permitted. This was consistent with prevailing industry standards and safety guidance.” But the statement added: “Given increased concerns regarding the potential risks of these products, ADB is now taking steps to address this. From 2020, ADB will refrain from financing any new projects containing any presence of asbestos. This update will be reflected in the next review of ADB’s Safeguard Policy Statement.”
ABC News.
 

Peru: Teens electrocuted at McDonald's

The beverage machine which killed the two teenage workers in a McDonald’s restaurant in Peru was known to be faulty, the franchise’s general manager has admitted. Alexandra Porras, 18, and Carlos Gabriel Campo, 19, were electrocuted while cleaning the kitchen at the fast food outlet in Lima on 15 December 2019. According to police, the girl suffered an electric shock when manipulating the drinks machine and her co-worker died after reportedly trying to come to her aid. Alexandra Porras’ mother told the press that her daughter had been working 12-hour shifts, and that the company provided no training and no safety equipment such as boots and gloves. Elizabeth Carmona, the family’s lawyer, claimed there is evidence confirming the presence of dangerous wiring in the restaurant that could put workers' lives in danger. She said that they will sue the local government, alleging there was no proper supervision in the restaurant. McDonald's franchises in Peru are exclusively operated by Arcos Dorados, McDonald's largest global franchisee with over 2,140 outlets in Latin America and the Caribbean. A press statement from the company noted: "We are working to find out the details of what happened and will give everything needed to the investigation.” Ricardo Elias, the legal representative of McDonald's, told local media that “police have done all due diligence. We as a company have done it right by giving all the information and access to the restaurant requested by them.” The franchise said it regretted the incident and announced two days of mourning, "so all our restaurants will remain closed in the whole country without affecting the conditions of our workers.” Prosecutors ordered a criminal investigation into the deaths, saying: “The police will collect statement from the owners and the managers of the restaurant and the statement of the workers, as well as doing an inspection of the electrical facilities, the security systems, the prevention of accidents at work and the conditions the victims were working under at the time of the incident.”
IUF news release. The Mirror.
 

USA: Boeing boss fired as plane crash crisis deepens

The head of aerospace giant Boeing has been fired after the company faced escalating criticism of its response to fatal crashes involving its 737 Max airliners. In a statement announcing the departure of its CEO Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing said the board had “decided that a change in leadership was necessary to restore confidence in the company moving forward as it works to repair relationships with regulators, customers, and all other stakeholders.” Muilenburg, 55, who has worked at Boeing for his entire 34-year career, has been widely criticised for failing to properly acknowledge the impact of the crashes on grieving families. He had also been accused of appearing to mislead the aviation regulator which in turn has been accused of being a ‘captive’ of the industry. His dismissal came days after Boeing announced it would suspend production of the 737 Max, the aircraft involved in two tragedies which cost a total of 346 lives. The plane was grounded worldwide in March 2019, days after an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max crashed in similar circumstances to a Lion Air aircraft the previous October. For the past nine months, Boeing has been seeking to fix anti-stall software known as the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). In both fatal crashes, the system forced the nose of the aircraft down despite the pilots’ efforts to overcome it. In October 2019, a multinational taskforce concluded Boeing’s defective 737 Max jet design was able to get by regulators because the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was too reliant on the company to vouch for its safety. John Samuelsen, president of the US Transport Workers Union, which represents thousands of mechanics with American Airlines, said the international fact-finding report showed the consequences of the FAA becoming a captive of the industry it regulates (Risks 921).
Boeing statement. The Independent. Daily Mail.

 

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