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



‘Union Improvement Notice’ served on British Museum

The British Museum must take action to remedy Covid-19 safety breaches – but it is a union and not a safety regulator that is laying down the law. Since the museum reopened following the lockdown, civil service union PCS has been raising safety issues relating to overcrowding and difficulties socially distancing in the women's locker room area at 1/1A Montague Street. The union says that despite its repeated representations to museum management, “there has been a failure to implement measures that will keep members safe. As a result PCS has been left with no alternative but to issue a Union Improvement Notice (UIN) on 30 October.” The union says a UIN is a formal notice from a union accredited health and safety rep to an employer highlighting breaches of workplace safety law. The notice sets out what legal duties have been breached and what measures need to be put in place to correct them. The union says a copy of the UIN issued to British Museum management will be sent to all members and posted on walls in the affected areas. It calls for 10 improvements to make the workplace “Covid-safe.” The UIN stipulates that full information including risk assessments “must be shared and properly consulted on in good time with PCS health and safety reps (at least 3 weeks before works are complete) and to allow time for union inspections to take place.”
PCS news release and webpage on Union Improvement Notices. TUC guide to union health and safety inspections and safety reps’ tools including UINs.  UIN form.

Prison union slams ‘absurd’ not-a-lockdown

Prison officers’ union POA has criticised as ‘absurd’ the new lockdown for England that leaves large parts of the economy working as usual. The union says it has worked cooperatively with prison management to help keep prisoners and staff safe during the pandemic, but says ‘inconsistencies’ in the new measures will ‘not assist’ these efforts. Steve Gillan, the POA general secretary, stated: “We will continue to work with our respective employers to ensure preservation of life, but it is absurd for government to say this is a national lockdown when it isn’t. Courts are still open, indoor prison gyms are open, visits are open in the YCS [Youth Custody Service] estate but not running in the female estate or adult estate. Evidently Public Health England agrees it is fine to open gyms in prisons but not the community, it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.” Mark Fairhurst, POA’s national chair, added: “The need to balance the stability of our prisons and the mental wellbeing of those in our care is a fine line but must be balanced against the threat of a deadly virus that is on the rise in our prisons. If gyms in our communities are not safe to open, then I fail to see how prison gyms can be any safer.”
POA news release.

Tube’s ‘dangerous’ positive virus test rules slammed

London Underground (LUL) union RMT has condemned the transport company’s dangerous policy on Covid-19. LUL is refusing to send staff home after a workmate reports a positive Covid-19 result. The union says this includes staff who would have been working with their colleague potentially for many hours per day and for up to eight days in a row. RMT says the policy ‘flies in the face’ of government guidelines that state that you ‘must’ isolate for 14 days if you have been in contact with a Covid-19 positive person. It adds a ‘most disturbing’ stipulation by Tube bosses instructs staff to turn off the NHS Covid-19 phone app, a move the union describes as ‘morally reprehensible.’ RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “It’s truly shocking that Tube bosses are dealing with Covid-19 in the workplace in such an appalling way. With the entire country living under strict measures, it’s beyond belief that LUL staff are being used as cannon fodder.” He added: “No lessons have been learnt from the fact that many transport workers have passed away from this awful illness doing the essential frontline work that all transport workers continue to do on a daily basis to keep London and the country moving. RMT will be urgently raising this matter with LUL bosses and do not rule out any options available to us to protect our staff and the travelling public.”
RMT news release.

Country at risk until universities move online

The UK government's failure to instruct universities to move to online learning where possible is putting public health at risk, lecturers’ union UCU and the National Union of Students (NUS) have said. A UCU and NUS joint statement calls on the Westminster government to revise its guidance for universities, and issue a clear call for learning to be immediately moved online wherever possible during the lockdown in England. The unions say that the latest government advice on online learning is ‘contradictory’. They add that instead of sending mixed messages, the government should encourage all universities to follow the example of institutions who have already moved their provision online following the lockdown announcement. UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “The health and safety of the country is being put at risk because of this government's insistence that universities must continue with in-person teaching.” She said the government should use the lockdown “to establish a workable test, trace and isolate system so the country can stop yo-yoing in and out of isolation.” NUS president Larissa Kennedy said: “Students deserve better than being scapegoated, lied to and left in the dark about their rights throughout the pandemic.” UCU has collated a running total of over 35,000 cases of Covid on campuses across the UK (Risks 972). It has also launched a legal challenge to the UK government's decision to ignore advice from its Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) to move learning at universities online (Risks 971).   
UCU news release.

Support for union push to close schools and colleges

Less than 48 hours after teaching union NEU launched a campaign to include schools in England’s lockdown, over 150,000 teachers and support staff have voiced their support. The union said over 20,000 had also written to their MP and lobbied them on social media. The union is seeking an amendment in parliament to the lockdown bill to include schools and colleges, and for rotas to be introduced at the end of the lockdown period. It points to the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimate that notes 1 per cent of primary pupils and 2 per cent of secondary pupils have the virus and that these levels have increased dramatically since wider opening in September. NEU says a 2 per cent virus level means that in every three secondary classes, on any given day, you can expect two of the students to have the virus. NEU’s analysis of ONS figures shows that virus levels are now nine times higher amongst primary pupils and an ‘astonishing’ 50 times higher amongst secondary pupils. Kevin Courtney, NEU joint general secretary, said: “The response to our call this weekend for school closures, shows that our concern is widely shared. The government is failing our communities as well as our schools and colleges, and that is why we are seeking an amendment to parliament’s lockdown bill. We have seen a fifty-fold increase in infections in secondary schools alone since September. Schools, clearly, are an engine for virus transmission.” He added: “Schools and colleges should be in the lockdown and the government should use that four-week period to improve test, track, trace, and to plan for the introduction of rota operation in secondary and sixth form settings.” A 9 November paper in the Lancet supports masks use and the introduction of a rota system for schools, and calls for “the restoration of an adequate health and safety inspectorate.”
NEU news release and related release on infection rates.
Deepti Gurdasani and others. The UK needs a sustainable strategy for Covid-19, The Lancet, Online first, 9 November 2020.

School virus spread needs ‘robust action’

There must be immediate and robust action from the government to ensure that all school and college employers carry out fresh risk assessments in light of the increased Covid-19 threat, the teaching union NASUWT has said. The union is calling on school employers to publish their risk assessments and to explain to parents and to employees the additional safety measures they are putting into place to prevent the spread of the virus. It said it is also concerned that some employers are becoming ‘complacent’ on staff safety and are refusing to consult with the workforce or trade unions. In the latest survey of NASUWT members, to which 7,440 responded, just one-third of teachers (34 per cent) said they believe the control measures in their school are adequate, compared to 46 per cent who said they are not. More than one in three teachers (36 per cent) reported that their schools had not updated or reviewed their Covid-19 risk assessments since the start of the autumn term. In addition, 38 per cent of teachers said that they had not been consulted on any revisions to their employer’s risk assessments. NASUWT general secretary Dr Patrick Roach said: “In light of the widespread evidence of increased Covid-19 transmission levels in schools and colleges, employers have a duty to review and update regularly their Covid-19 risk assessments and control measures.” He added: “Employers cannot continue to keep schools and colleges open on the basis of outdated risk assessments that were produced when Covid-19 transmission levels were significantly lower.”
NASUWT news release.

Whistleblower virus concerns dismissed by employers

More than 4-in-10 Covid-19 concerns raised by employees were ignored by bosses, who instead routinely victimised the workers raising safety issues, a legal charity has said. Research by Protect found 41 per cent of employees raising Covid-19 concerns were ignored by their employers and 20 per cent of whistleblowers were dismissed.  The charity said it has been inundated with Covid-19 whistleblowing concerns, many of an extremely serious nature. Its report, ‘The best warning system: Whistleblowing during Covid-19’ examines over 600 Covid-19 calls to the Protect advice line between March and September. The majority of cases were over furlough fraud and risk to public safety, such as a lack of social distancing and PPE in the workplace. Commenting on publication of the report, Protect chief executive Liz Gardiner said: “There is no excuse for employers to ignore whistleblowers, but during a global pandemic, it is a danger for us all when concerns are not acted on and the consequences could be a matter of life and death.” The organisation is calling for a penalty regime where an organisation can be fined or sanctioned for breaching the whistleblowing standards. It also wants “new legal standards on all regulators to ensure they deal effectively and promptly with whistleblowing concerns being raised to them – and regulators doing much more to drive up standards of whistleblowing arrangements amongst entities they regulate.”
Protect news release and report, The best warning system: Whistleblowing during Covid-19.

Workers need protection in mass testing pilot

As mass testing gets underway in Liverpool, the TUC’s North West region has called on employers in the city to support workers throughout the pilot. The union body is calling for financial security for workers to help them get tested and take action if needed, so that public health measures can be effective and the city can get on top of the pandemic. It says the success of mass testing will depend on employees being able to afford to do the right thing and follow public health advice to self-isolate if needed. The regional TUC is asking employers in Liverpool to support workers who wish to get tested and to provide full pay for workers who test positive or who are asked to self-isolate by track and trace. Lynn Collins, TUC North West regional secretary, said: “It’s important that employers, where they can, pay workers full pay when self-isolating. But where this can’t happen, the government needs to step in. They must increase access to statutory sick pay to all workers and boost the rate at which it is paid in line with the real living wage. We will continue to call on them to do this.” She added: “In the meantime, to protect lives and livelihoods, we’re calling on all employers to do the right thing – allowing workers time to get tested and ensuring they have financial security if they need to self-isolate. Working together, we can beat this pandemic.”
TUC news release.

Shoppers urged to follow the rules and respect staff

As the second lockdown for England took effect, retail trade union Usdaw urged shoppers to follow the rules and respect shopworkers. The union is highlighting five simple steps to encourage considerate shopping: Shop for essentials only and alone if possible; queue patiently and maintain social distancing; follow instructions inside and outside shops; observe all necessary hygiene measures and pay by card if you can; and be respectful to shop staff and other customers. Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis commented: “Regrettably the first lockdown saw instances of abuse towards shopworkers double and we are absolutely clear that ‘abuse is not part of the job’. Retail staff are key workers delivering essential services and that role must be valued and respected. It is not the responsibility of shopworkers to enforce the rules, it is up to the public to follow them.” He added: “With infections rising we understand why the government is imposing new restrictions, but customers need to play their part. They should wear a face covering in store, observe social distancing, shop alone if possible, only buy essential items and pay by card if they can. It is important that we all work together in these difficult times to help the country through this appalling pandemic.”
Usdaw news release and related news release.

Unions calls for transparency on Scottish workplace policy

Scotland’s national union body is seeking reassurance from the Scottish government that public health considerations will be prioritised over short-term economic decisions when deciding the country’s pandemic response. STUC says unions from across Scotland have raised concerns over transparency in the use of data and the decision-making process where workplaces are excepted from closure. The STUC is calling on the Scottish government “to consider the future necessity to extend restrictions in education settings, non-essential workplaces and in public transport.” STUC general secretary Roz Foyer said: “No-one is more concerned than trade unions about the economy and sustaining employment. However we continue to prioritise public health and sustainable economic recovery over quick fixes which might not achieve the decisive break in infections we need.” She added: “Scientific data is continually cited as the grounds for decision making. Each and every decision to exclude workplaces from restriction needs to be objectively justified.”
STUC news release.

30,000 NHS staff off in Covid second wave

Around 30,000 NHS staff are self-isolating or off sick from work due to coronavirus as the UK faces a second wave of infections. NHS England head Sir Simon Stevens said the numbers underlined the need to control the spread of Covid-19 in order to protect the care offered by the health service. Appearing at a Downing Street press conference on 5 November, Sir Simon said the NHS was looking to ensure “we’ve got as many nurses able to work as we can because where coronavirus takes off in the community that means that NHS staff themselves often are affected or have to self-isolate.” He added: “Right now we’ve got around 30,000 NHS staff who are either off with coronavirus or having to self-isolate, that has an impact. So our success in controlling community transmission of coronavirus also is a force multiplier, to what the NHS itself can then provide in the way of care.” He said new tests and increased capacity meant that testing for all frontline workers – regardless of whether they have symptoms – should begin within six to eight weeks. Routine testing of NHS staff is already taking place in the hardest-hit areas. Sir Simon said 70,000 staff in those regions have so far been tested in recent weeks.
Prime minister’s statement, 5 November 2020. Evening Standard and related story.


Work injury and sickness levels soar as enforcement falls

The Health and Safety Executive’s new workplace injury and ill-health statistics have revealed a major increase in the numbers being harmed at work. HSE’s annual statistics report includes figures for work-related ill health, workplace injuries, working days lost, enforcement action taken, and the associated costs to Great Britain. The figures show 1.6 million workers suffering from work-related ill-health, up from 1.4m the previous year. Within this total, 638,000 were new cases of work-related ill-health, up over 28 per cent from 497,000 cases in 2018/19. The non-fatal injury toll has seen a 20 per cent increase on the previous year, rising to 693,000 workers sustaining non-fatal injuries in 2019/2020 from the figure of 581,000 in 2018/19. The statistics, compiled from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and other sources, reveal that in Great Britain in the 2019/2020 period there were 111 fatal injuries at work, a record low, while work-related injuries and ill-health rose sharply. Despite the dramatic rise in workers harmed by work, only 325 cases were prosecuted and resulted in a conviction, less a third the level in 2000/01. The convictions tally represented a 12 per cent fall from the 2018/19 figure of 364 successful convictions. Enforcement notices issued by HSE have also fallen sharply. In 2019/20 notices issued by HSE fell by over a quarter (26 per cent) to 7,075, down from 8,936 in 2018/19, continuing a long-term downward trend. In 2019/2020, HSE estimates the economic cost to Great Britain totalled £16.2 billion, up from £15bn the previous year. There were 38.8 million working days lost in 2019/20, up from 28.2 million in 2018/19. The safety regulator reported that more than half of Britain’s working days lost in 2019/20 were due to mental ill-health.
HSE news release and statistics summary for 2019 and 2018 comparison.

Undercover police spied on union reps ‘for decades’

Undercover police officers spied on union reps raising safety and employment rights concerns ‘for decades’, an inquiry has heard. In his 6 November opening statements, made on behalf of trade unions represented at the Undercover Policing Inquiry chaired by Judge Mittings, Lord John Hendy QC said the infiltration dated back to at least 1973. Among a catalogue of offences, he detailed how undercover officer Mark Jenner, using the cover name Mark Cassidy, infiltrated the construction union Ucatt - now part of Unite. From 1996 to 1998 Jenner was heavily involved in rank and file and construction safety campaigns. The inquiry also heard undercover officer Pete Francis, who is now a whistleblower, has admitted to having spied on a host of unions around this time. Calling for the police to be required to hand over relevant documentation, Lord Hendy also spelled out how undercover officers fed information to construction industry blacklisters. Commenting on the union submission, Unite assistant general secretary for legal affairs Howard Beckett said: “Even with the scant information that has been disclosed, it is clear that undercover police officers were spying on the legitimate and legal activities of trade unionists for decades.” He added: “This basic disclosure of the relevant information is even more important given the government’s Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill which is currently before parliament and would make the undercover activities of the police which are presently illegal, legal. It is only by fully releasing [details of] the mistakes and the immoral and illegal activity undertaken by police spies that similar miscarriages of justice can be prevented in the future.”
Unite news release and Block the Spycops Bill campaign. NUJ news release. Morning Star.

Union campaign on facilities in Brexit lorry parks

Brexit lorry parks must provide decent facilities for the drivers who may end up stranded there, their union Unite has said. MPs and councillors in Kent are to be lobbied by Unite “to ensure that decent welfare facilities are installed at all lorry parks built in the county, to manage transport delays as a result of the UK’s transition deal with the European Union ceasing at the end of December,” the union said. The government has already announced that there will be at least four massive lorry parks in Kent to deal with delays caused by increased checks and paperwork, which will be required after January for lorries exporting goods to the European Union. Unite says that as delays are inevitable while the UK is gripped by the Covid-19 pandemic, decent and clean toilets and washing facilities with hot and cold running water are especially important. There should also be provision of hot food and areas for drivers to relax outside their lorries to combat the dangers of fatigue. Unite regional officer Phil Silkstone said: “Unite will not allow MPs and councillors to look the other way as lorry drivers are denied basic rights. This is a huge public health issue, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.” He added: “Unless there are adequate welfare facilities then it is inevitable that the local environment will be damaged. The government has had years to plan for how transport will be managed post-Brexit but it has singularly failed to do so. The health and safety of drivers must not be put at risk as a result of the government’s failings.”
Unite news release.

Firefighter’s water training death an ‘avoidable tragedy’

Firefighters’ union FBU has broadly welcomed the recommendations of an investigation the into a water training accident that resulted in the death of 35-year-old firefighter Josh Gardener. The union was commenting after Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) chief inspector Andrew Moll said: “This tragic accident could have been avoided had the training activities been properly planned and communicated to all the fire and rescue crew on the water that morning.” FBU assistant general secretary Andy Dark, commenting on the findings of the MAIB investigation into the September 2019 death of the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service firefighter, said: “Josh’s death was an avoidable tragedy that occurred during a training event which should have been well-planned and well-controlled… We have seen all too many fatal and near-fatal incidents involving firefighters undertaking water training, both inland and now, in this case, in tidal waters. The report’s recommendations appear to address both categories, which will be crucial to preventing further losses of life.” The FBU officer added: “The issues identified in this report must be addressed and individual firefighters must not be blamed for systemic, organisational, and procedural failings. We broadly support the recommendations of this report, which must be implemented swiftly and carefully, with full oversight of the Marine Accident Investigation Branch. Ministers should take serious note of the need for national standards in this area and develop a comprehensive set of statutory minimum standards for all fire and rescue services in the UK.”
FBU news release. MAIB news release and report. BBC News Online. Wales Online.

Truck firm fined after employee engulfed in fireball

A haulage firm in Scotland has been fined for the serious criminal safety failings that left a young worker with horrific injuries after he was engulfed in flames in a gas cylinder explosion. A hearing at Paisley Sheriff Court saw Linwood firm A&D Logistics being ordered to pay £48,000 for failures that resulted in worker Dean Beggs suffering life-changing burns to his face, arms and hands. The 23-year-old was thrown into the air by the explosion within a container he had been ordered to dry out with a propane gas torch. Frantic colleagues desperately tried to help him as his clothes melted onto his body during the terrifying incident at the company’s site. Fining the company, Sheriff Tom McCartney said “it should have been obvious to anyone that the use of propane gas torches is an operation that required an appropriate assessment of risk. The incident itself was serious in that Mr Beggs sustained injuries which have caused him severe injury and permanent disfigurement. The breach continued over a period of time, which increases the seriousness of the breach.” The court heard, more than 22 months later, Mr Beggs still receives counselling and suffers nightmares, and also endures flashbacks and panic attacks as a result of the explosion. A&D Logistics stated they had “sincere regrets” the incident resulted in such serious injuries to Mr Beggs, which are now subject to civil proceedings.
Daily Record.


Covid transmission and killer workplaces – new film

A new Hazards Campaign film explains why the coronavirus is so dangerous indoors, where aerosols can build up in the air. It notes Covid-19 risks can be higher in workplaces, where people spend long periods in an enclosed space in close proximity to others. The 27-minute film adds this is also why ventilation is so important and a critical factor that is barely mentioned in official guidance. The film, produced for the campaign by Reel News, “explains what you can do to keep yourself and your workmates safe – using the latest information about Covid-19, extensive case studies of superspreader events and successful collective struggles by well-organised workplaces.” The film is an excellent resource for union training and awareness raising sessions.
Covid transmission and killer workplaces, a Reel News/Hazards Campaign film, November 2020.

Face coverings in the workplace

The TUC has produced a new guide explaining why face coverings are used, the difference between face coverings and masks, exemptions from their use and the recommended standards for masks. The guide also spells out what union reps can do to support members. The TUC guide notes: “It is important to remember that, while face coverings are one measure used to help reduce the spread of coronavirus, it is not a replacement for other measures. For example, at least 2-metre distancing, regular hand-washing, effective ventilation systems and self-isolation when necessary are still considered as more effective control measures.” It adds: “If your employer requires you to wear face coverings at work, these should be provided to you for free. Workers should be given adequate supply, and these should also be made available for any commute to and from the workplace. This is not a legal requirement, but it is best practise and what unions should be negotiating. Unions estimate that the cost of disposable face coverings to each worker is around £25 per month – a significant spend, especially considering many of those expected to wear one are on lower wages.”
Face coverings in the workplace, TUC guide.

Get your essential TUC guide to Hazards at Work

The 6th edition of TUC’s best-selling Hazards at Work guide is the best single source on health and safety, union style. The revised new edition is packed with advice on health and safety laws and good practice at work. It covers all the classic hazards and has new Covid-19 related advice and reworked chapters on mental health, bullying, harassment, and all the other modern workplace causes of illness and injury. It also has extensive checklists, case studies and links to online resources.
Reps, unions, employers can order online from the TUC shop. Single copies, £22. For large orders, email the TUC.


Help build a database of coronavirus risk assessments

The TUC is collating the risk assessments published by employers as they start to open again after lockdown. The TUC says its aim is to support a safe return by increasing transparency about how safety is being addressed in each sector and to pressure non-compliant employers to conduct the proper risk assessments and publish them online. “You can help by checking out your own employer or others in your sector, and entering them into the database at”, the TUC said.
COVID Secure Check portal.


Canada: Suicide highlights pressures in visual effects work

Malcolm Angell took his own life in May, a tragedy former colleagues and unions believe was linked to his working conditions in Canada’s visual effects industry. The 46-year-old New Zealander moved to Montreal in 2019 to work in the city’s famed visual effects industry. His former colleagues allege the work environment at his workplace, Mill Film, was toxic. They say 80-hour work weeks were common, and that Angell was regularly humiliated by his bosses. Julia Neville, with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees union, said fear of being blacklisted for speaking out in the visual effects industry is a legitimate concern. Visual effects artists are precarious workers, Neville said, because their contracts are typically for one project at a time. “There’s always that underlying insecurity,” she said. Much of the film industry is unionised, while the large majority of visual effects artists are not, she explained. Long hours and unpaid overtime “are very common,” she said, adding that unfair labour practices are frequent in other entertainment sectors, such as animation, reality television and in commercials. Neville said visual effects companies try to underbid each other for work on projects produced by major movie studios. “That pressure is exerted downward onto the worker,” she said. “What ends up happening is there’s never enough time allotted to accomplish what you need done.” Another element that tied Angell to his employer was his contract. This included a clause stating he was a ‘key member’ of the team and liable to pay Mill Film a Can$35,000 indemnity should he leave in the middle of a project. Adelle Blackett, a law professor at McGill University and labour law expert, said that clause “is deeply disturbing.” Quebec's labour standards require employers to provide working conditions that “safeguard employees’ dignity, health and wellbeing,” she wrote in an email. “An employee working in conditions of freedom must be able to terminate an employment contract with only minimally necessary restrictions.”
Kamloops This Week. More on work-related suicide.
UK ACTION! Use the Hazards e-postcard to tell the safety regulator HSE to recognise, record and take action to prevent work-related suicides.

Denmark: Lockdowns as mutant mink Covid crosses back

Danish authorities have introduced a lockdown affecting large areas after the discovery a coronavirus mutation found in mink has spread back to humans. Bars, restaurants, public transport and all public indoor sports have closed in seven North Jutland municipalities. The restrictions came into effect from 6 November and initially last until 3 December. Denmark is also culling all its mink - as many as 17 million. The World Health Organisation (WHO) said last week that mink appear to be “good reservoirs” of coronavirus, after originally contracting the disease from infected humans. Coronavirus cases have been detected in other farmed mink in the Netherlands and Spain since the pandemic began in Europe. Cases are spreading fast in Denmark - 207 mink farms in Jutland are affected. Authorities said 12 people had been infected with the mutated strain. Meanwhile, Danish health minister Magnus Heunicke said about half of the 783 human cases reported in north Denmark related to a strain of the virus that originated in the mink farms. Originally transmitted from infected humans to the mink, genetic detective work has now shown that in a small number of cases, in the Netherlands and now Denmark, the virus seems to have passed the other way, from mink to humans. WHO has called on all countries to step up surveillance and tighten biosecurity measures around mink farms.
WHO statement. BBC News Online and related story. Science blog.

USA: Covid work safety fines near US$2.5m

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic through to 29 October 2020, the US government’s workplace safety regulator OSHA has issued citations arising from 179 inspections for violations relating to coronavirus, resulting in proposed penalties totalling $2,496,768 (£1.9m). Almost all the actions by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) involved offences in hospital or home care settings, with just four meat processing plants also facing fines. OSHA inspections have resulted in the agency citing employers for violations, including failures to: implement a written respiratory protection programme; provide a medical evaluation, respirator fit test, training on the proper use of a respirator and personal protective equipment; report an injury, illness or fatality; record an injury or illness on OSHA recordkeeping forms; or comply with general legal duties under workplace safety law. The workplace safety regulator has faced repeat charges of ‘abandoning’ workers during a pandemic that has seen hundreds of US workers die as a result of workplace exposures to the coronavirus (Risks 966 and Risks 953). Similar charges have been levelled at the UK safety enforcer, the Health and Safety Executive, which has been accused of being ‘missing in action’ (Risks 958).
OSHA news release and Covid-related citations list. OSHA’s short and long guides to employers on where they are getting it wrong and the laws they are breaking.


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