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

Hello, and welcome to the latest edition of RISKS, the TUC’s weekly update on union health and safety news.
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Right to strike limits would put workers at risk

Revelations that government ministers may draw up laws requiring minimum numbers of staff to work during a strike are ‘unworkable’ and could leave workers at risk of abuse, the TUC has said. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The right to strike is crucial in a free society…We will fight these unfair and unworkable proposals to undermine unions and undermine the right to strike. And we will win.”
TUC news release.

PCS calls for safety reforms

Stronger health and safety laws, more legal powers for reps and the right to digitally disconnect from work are needed to protect workers, civil servants’ union PCS has said. The union’s conference agreed to campaign alongside the TUC for a raft of health and safety measures. As well as a strengthening of health and safety laws, the union wants safety reps to have a legally enforceable right to force employers to comply with the law and for workers to have the absolute right to absent themselves from work whenever they feel it is unsafe.
PCS news release.

Covid death probe finds college broke law

A damning investigation into Covid-19 safety at Burnley College after the death of teacher Donna Coleman has found that “health and safety laws... were broken”.  The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) opened a fatality investigation into Donna Coleman's death aged 42 after lecturers’ union UCU raised Covid-19 health and safety concerns with both the safety regulator and the college (Risks 985). UCU general secretary Jo Grady said “We hope that the HSE investigation is a stark reminder to employers that they need to take workplace safety seriously and engage with unions when we raise health and safety concerns. The risk of not doing so is too great.”
FE Week.

Long Covid ‘protocol’ urgently needed

Civil service union PCS is calling on the Cabinet Office and the devolved administrations to put in place protocols so people affected by Long Covid are treated fairly. The union’s conference agreed to “press for the exclusion of all Long Covid absences from absence management triggers and to press for full pay to be paid for all Long Covid-related absences.” It is also calling for civil service sick pay schemes to be improved “to support long Covid and other long-term illnesses.” And PCS declared it will campaign with the TUC to get Long Covid classified an occupational disease.
PCS news releases on the protocol, sick leave and Covid-19 as an occupational disease.

Injured truck driver gets payout

A Unite member from Morecambe has received compensation of £200,000 in a union-backed claim after falling from his truck. Hugh Copeland, 56, suffered a bleed to the brain and has been left in life-long pain. He was travelling near Knutsford on 4 June 2018 while working for John Miller Ltd when he noticed the timber room dividers on his load had come loose, so he stopped to secure the load. However, one of the panels gave way, knocking him off the trailer and causing him to fall five feet to the ground. Sam Nicholson of Thompsons Solicitors, who represented Mr Copeland, said: “This is a classic example of someone cutting corners on health and safety and, due to their negligence, Hugh’s life has changed forever.”

Government failed to protect doctors

The government failed in its duty of care to protect doctors and other healthcare staff from avoidable harm during the Covid-19 pandemic, a major review by the doctors’ union BMA has concluded. Its two reports published on 19 May lay bare the devastating impact of the pandemic on doctors and the NHS, with repeated mistakes, errors of judgment and failures of government policy, the BMA said.
BMJ News.

HSE refused to investigate NHS Covid deaths

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) refused to look into at least 89 dangerous incidents that NHS trusts said involved healthcare workers being exposed to Covid, including 10 deaths, it has been revealed. Two organisations, University College London hospital acute trust and the Yorkshire Ambulance Service, each reported the regulator had refused to investigate five deaths they had reported as work-related. TUC safety specialist Shelly Asquith said HSE’s behaviour was “really concerning.”
The Guardian.

Low paid No 10 staff subject to ‘appalling’ treatment

Support staff at No 10 and the Cabinet Office have had to endure ‘unacceptable’ abuse at work, the Gray report has found. Civil servant Sue Gray’s report into the Partygate scandal disclosed that cleaners and security guards have been subjected to a “lack of respect and poor treatment”, and yet felt “unable to raise [this] properly” with the authorities. In the conclusion of her report, Gray states: “I found that some staff had witnessed or been subjected to behaviours at work which they had felt concerned about but at times felt unable to raise properly. I was made aware of multiple examples of a lack of respect and poor treatment of security and cleaning staff. This was unacceptable.”
The Guardian.

MPs’ staff have clinical ‘psychological distress’

Half of all MPs’ staff are suffering from clinical levels of psychological distress, a study has found. Parliamentary aides said they were at “breaking point” after years of crises, from Brexit to Covid, a lack of support from superiors and abuse from the public. Dr Ashley Weinberg, the Salford University occupational psychologist who carried out the study, said the 49.5 per cent of MPs’ staff suffering from distress was “far higher” than in comparable jobs. He found a “palpable” concern among staff over their safety, with almost one-fifth of workers saying they felt in danger for themselves or colleagues. The report recommends the introduction of greater support for MPs’ staff.
The Guardian.

'Extreme' work stress linked to alcohol death

A 26-year-old man struggling with ‘extreme’ work-related stress 'self-medicated' with alcohol, which subsequently caused his death, an inquest has heard. The inquest heard Jamie Honey was very successful in his job at Universal Marine Medical Supply (UNIMED), a company that ships medical equipment to the maritime industry. However, he has suffered anxiety since childhood and this increased as he faced “increasing demands” at work, including being required to take home a company phone so he could be contacted at all times. Area coroner Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp gave a narrative conclusion and said that Jamie Honey's death was drink related.
Hampshire Live.

Fish firm fined over worker’s forklift death

A Shetland fish company has been fined £80,000 over the death of a 61-year-old employee who was run over by a forklift. Karen Allan died three weeks after the incident at Blacksness Pier on 31 January 2018. Scalloway-based QA Fish Ltd admitted criminal health and safety failings at Lerwick Sheriff Court. Sheriff Ian Cruickshank described the offence as “very serious” with a high degree of corporate culpability. The victim was severely injured when a company forklift reversed into her while she was attending to the litter bins which were located on a busy and cramped outside area between two fish processing units. She was flown to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary for emergency operations but never recovered and died of organ failure on 22 February 2018.
BBC News Online.

Global: Twin climate and child labour perils in agriculture

There is a need for urgent action to address the twin perils in agriculture of climate change and child labour, an expert has warned. Writing in The Lancet Planetary Health, Hidayat Greenfield, noted: “There are several aspects of the link between climate change and child labour in agriculture that need further attention. One of these is the relationship between rising land surface temperatures, heat stress, and hazardous work.” Greenfield, the regional secretary of the global food and farming union federation IUF, concluded: “It is well understood that both child labour and climate change are complex, multi-layered issues. However, it is equally well understood that complexity should not justify inaction.”
An urgent need to reassess climate change and child labour in agriculture, The Lancet Planetary Health, first published online 18 May 2022.

Global: UN bodies rebut asbestos safety claims

The UN bodies responsible for global labour and health rights have rebutted statements by the asbestos industry lobby that they “support” the continued use of chrysotile, the last remaining commercially traded asbestos fibre.  The damning responses from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) came after the International Chrysotile Association (ICA) claimed both WHO and ILO policies are pro-asbestos. WHO responded: “The World Health Organisation reiterates its policy, which remains unchanged, that the most efficient way to eliminate asbestos-related diseases is to the stop the use of all types of asbestos.” ILO reiterated its long held policy that “calls for the elimination of the future use of asbestos.”
WHO position on chrysotile asbestos. ICA website

Global: Fifa urged to pay reparations to Qatar migrants

World football’s top body Fifa should pay reparations of at least $440m (£356m) to migrant workers whose human rights have been compromised by the Qatar World Cup, a group of non-governmental organisations has said. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Football Supporters Europe and the global union Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) are among those calling for a remediation scheme that would address the documented failings of human rights protections, including “a significant number of deaths”, which have scarred the history of Qatar’s World Cup. Fifa said it was “assessing” the proposals.
Open letter to Fifa  The Guardian.

Global: Big wins for seafarers at top level negotiations

Seafarers have won important concessions on connectivity, food and personal protective equipment during negotiations on amendments to the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC). The MLC, often referred to as the seafarers' 'bill of rights', is an international treaty guaranteeing basic standards for workers, covering everything from medical care to repatriation. Among the changes is an agreement that personal protective equipment will be made available in sizes that suit all the seafarers onboard a vessel, including women, and improved access to free drinking water, quality provisions and balanced diets. There was also agreement on further work on the eradication of sexual harassment at sea.
Nautilus news release

TUC Hazards at Work 6th Edition

Stock Code: HS111
Price £22 RRP £52
Also now available as an eBook
This is the Sixth edition of the TUC's best-selling guide to health and safety at work.
Used by reps, officers, employers, professionals in the field and even enforcement officers. This incredibly popular book is now even more informative at over 400 pages, an invaluable resource, which incorporates common hazards and cause of ill health at work, and how to assess and prevent them.
The book also contains HSE and other guidance, extensive checklists, case studies and web resources.
Order your copy
There are discounts on bulk orders, over 5 copies, please contact us for details.
Those on TUC approved courses can receive discount, please call for details 0207 467 1294. Or email at:


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