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




Tory squabbles highlight need for public inquiry

There should be an ‘immediate public inquiry’ over the government's handling of Covid-19, the union GMB has said. It was speaking out after big questions emerged over the government's role in the crisis. In a revealing seven-hour testimony on 26 May, the prime minister’s former senior adviser Dominic Cummings raised questions over the UK government’s response to the pandemic and the role played by the prime minister. He also accused health secretary Matt Hancock of lying 15 to 20 times and blaming others for PPE failings. The health secretary subsequently said the claims were “not true”. Commenting on 27 May, GMB national secretary Rehana Azam said: “It’s abundantly clear that there was a lack of strategy and direction, hence why we are now getting so many differing accounts.” She added: “Last year during a PPE shortage, thousands of care workers and NHS staff were put in the line of fire whilst the government squabbled and lied to each other. They even hid thousands of Covid deaths, with just the HSE reporting 111 people have died at work whilst their own statistics, showed more than 5,000 people had died from Covid. It’s a disgrace and they deserve so much better.” The GMB official concluded: “It's time for an immediate public inquiry as needless lives have been lost. We need answers and urgent safeguards put in place to protect workers still putting themselves in harm’s way.” A report last week from the TUC noted that between April 2020 and April 2021 the ONS reported that 15,263 people of working age died from Covid. But according to the legally-required reports filed by employers just 387 (2.5 per cent) of these deaths were work-related (Risks 997).
GMB news release. BBC News Online and related article on Dominic Cummings’ claims.
Health and Social Care Committee and Science and Technology Committee are holding a joint inquiry and 26 May evidence session featuring Dominic Cummings.

Release data on schools Covid variant cases

Eight trade unions, collectively representing the majority of school and college staff, have written to the secretary of state for education to call for immediate publication of the data held by the government and Public Health England (PHE) on the total number of variant cases linked to schools and colleges. The letter to Gavin Williamson, coming as a succession of experts warned the government against a further relaxation of Covid restrictions on 21 June, notes: “Education unions have repeatedly requested this data since early May. It should have been released in advance of the change in guidance on face coverings, which came into effect on 17 May.” The joint letter, signed by the unions ASCL, GMB, NAHT, NASUWT, NEU, NSEAD, UNISON and Unite, adds: “There are growing concerns around the variant B.1.617.2 and reports from areas such as Bolton that cases are growing fastest amongst school age children, with cases in Bolton higher now than at any point during the pandemic.” The letter asks for three urgent questions to be answered immediately. The unions questions when did PHE first share data with ministers on variant B.1.617.2 spread in schools and colleges? The letter also queries if the government instructed PHE not to release this data, and if it did, why. It requests the government “now commit to sharing the data immediately? If not, why not?”
UNISON news release. GMB news release. Unite news release. Environmental Health News. BBC News Online.

Union call for jobcentre closures in variant-hit areas

Civil service union PCS has called for jobcentre closures in eight areas affected by the ‘Indian variant’ of Covid. This new B.1.617.2 strain of Covid referred to as the “Indian variant” has been found to be prevalent in Burnley, Bedford, Blackburn with Darwen, Bolton, Kirklees, Leicester, Hounslow and North Tyneside. PCS representatives have called for all jobcentres in those areas to be closed and that claimants are instead serviced remotely and online, as they were when Covid-19 first hit the country. However, the union said DWP bosses had rejected the suggestion, despite “stricter guidance” for people in those eight affected areas appearing on a government website. PCS said it members in DWP working in the eight affected areas are angry that their concerns are not being taken seriously when the updated guidance calls for people to meet outdoors and to maintain a two metre distance. General secretary Mark Serwotka said: “It cannot be right that our members are being put in harm's way once again, even though new government guidance says people from different households should not meet indoors.” He added: “DWP staff deal with a range of claimants who travel in from across the wider region so asking them to travel to jobcentres for appointments contradicts the government’s own advice. This is just the latest example of incompetent ministers showing scant regard for the safety of their own staff who could provide a first-class service to claimants by working from home.”
PCS news release.

‘Disappointment’ at poor UK Covid infection guide

A new UK guide to prevention of Covid-19 infections in health care settings has been criticised as ‘outdated’, ‘inaccurate’, ‘confusing’ and ‘ambiguous’ by airborne hazard experts. The US and UK authors of the criticism express “disappointment” with the joint guidance from the UK-based British Infection Association (BIA), Healthcare Infection Society (HIS), Infection Prevention Society (IPS) and Royal College of Pathologists (RCPath). The guidance, based on the findings of a Rapid Guidance Working Party, concludes the main risk from Covid is from “droplet transmission”, with “aerosol transmission” largely dismissed and classified only as a “possible” route. It notes the important questions “are whether two-metre distance is sufficient and whether respiratory masks designed for filtering airborne particles are necessary to prevent SARS-CoV-2 transmission.” The model in the guidance would limit the most protective measures to a small proportion of health care workers. Criticising the guidance, Leicester University respiratory disease specialist Julian Tang and US environmental engineering experts Linsey Marr and Donald Milton note: “The main issue is the article’s outdated and inaccurate use of the terms ‘droplets’ and ‘aerosols’ and how these relate to the term ‘airborne’.” It highlights the guide’s reliance on the “definition of these terms an 18-year old WHO document on the 2003 SARS-CoV-1 outbreaks.” They say stricter controls more broadly applied are necessary. “With regard to SARS-CoV-2 aerosols in well ventilated environments, 2m distancing is better than 1 m, but not as good as 3m or more; and surgical masks will reduce exposure some, but N95/FFP2/FFP3 will reduce exposure by a lot more,” they note. Other factors not acknowledged in the new UK guidance are the demonstrable protective effect delivered where workers are in unions or the lower rates where workplaces are adequately staffed.
Aggie Bak, Moira A Mugglestone, Natasha V Ratnaraja and others. Guidelines. SARS-CoV-2 routes of transmission and recommendations for preventing acquisition: joint British Infection Association (BIA), Healthcare Infection Society (HIS), Infection Prevention Society (IPS) and Royal College of Pathologists (RCPath) guidance, The Journal of Hospital Infection, Published: April 30, 2021 DOI:
Julian W Tang, Linsey C Marr and Donald K Milton. Letter to the Editor: Aerosols should not be defined by distance travelled, Lancet, Published: May 25, 2021 DOI:
Sophie Cousins Volume 396, Experts criticise Australia's aged care failings over COVID-19, Lancet, ISSUE 10259, P1322-1323, October 24, 2020. DOI:
Matthew D McHugh, Linda H Aiken, Douglas M Sloane,  Carol Windsor, Clint Douglas, Patsy Yates. Effects of nurse-to-patient ratio legislation on nurse staffing and patient mortality, readmissions, and length of stay: a prospective study in a panel of hospitals, Lancet, Volume 397, ISSUE 10288, P1905-1913, May 22, 2021. DOI:
Adam Dean, Atheendar Venkataramani, and Simeon Kimmel. COVID-19 Are Lower In Unionized Nursing Homes, Health Affairs, volume 39, number 11, pages 1993-2001, September 2020.



Uber union recognition deal will protect safety and rights

GMB and ride hailing firm Uber have announced a groundbreaking trade union recognition deal which the union says will mean Uber drivers are safer and have greater employer protection. Under the collective bargaining agreement, drivers will retain the freedom to choose if, when and where they drive whilst also having the choice to be represented by GMB. Uber will also support drivers if they choose to sign up as a member of GMB, and union representatives will have a presence in Uber’s driver support hubs to help drive up membership. Under the landmark agreement, GMB and Uber will work together on key topics including pay and employment conditions and health, safety and wellbeing. GMB national officer Mick Rix said: “This agreement shows gig economy companies don't have to be a wild west on the untamed frontier of employment rights. When tech private hire companies and unions work together like this, everyone benefits - bringing dignified, secure employment back to the world of work. We now call on all other operators to follow suit.” Drivers also continue to receive free insurance which covers sickness or injury, as well as parental payments, which has been in place for all drivers since 2018. The recognition agreement comes in the wake of February’s UK Supreme Court judgment against Uber (Risks 986), the most recent in a series of successful legal workers’ rights challenges taken by GMB (Risks 990). TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said the Uber agreement “was just the start.” She added: “Unions won’t rest until platform companies across the gig economy agree to work with their staff on improving pay and conditions. And we need the government to stop dithering and deliver on its promise to strengthen workers’ rights. The failure to bring forward an employment bill in the Queen’s speech was a big missed opportunity.”
GMB news release, news tweet and news release on the membership increase. TUC news release. ITF news release. The Guardian.

FBU protects ‘vital’ fire safety apparatus

The firefighters’ union FBU has successfully overturned a policy it said would have “endangered firefighters’ lives and undermined public safety.” The policy proposed by London Fire Brigade (LFB) would have allowed firefighters fighting a fire in a tall building, to be deployed without breathing apparatus (BA) including an air supply. The policy move came about because of a crisis in building safety highlighted by the Grenfell Tower fire, the union said. In response, the FBU made submissions to LFB’s Health and Safety Advisory Panel arguing that the proposed policy would breach health and safety legislation, overturn decades of BA safe practice and expose firefighters to toxic fire effluents and other hazardous substances. Ultimately, the union argued that it could undermine public safety by hampering fire ground operations, winning support from the panel and the subsequent climbdown by LFB in a 25 May statement. The FBU said ‘alarmingly’ National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) national guidance that would also permit this proposed policy across Fire and Rescue Services in England and Wales. Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “We are pleased that the union’s work to oppose this policy has been successful. It has become clear that building safety in much of the UK has been compromised by lax regulation, poor research, and lack of adequate enforcement action, by cost cutting and profit seeking.” He added: “The ultimate problem is a crisis in building safety, and all parties, but especially government, must work urgently to fix it.”
FBU news release. LFB statement, 25 May 2021.

MPs set to debate protection for shopworkers petition

A parliamentary petition that seeks to protect retail staff from violence, threats and abuse has been timetabled for a parliamentary debate on 7 June 2021. The Usdaw organised petition is seeking the support of MPs and the UK government for new protective legislation. The petition, which attracted 104,000 signatures, is backed by major retailers and the industry’s leading trade bodies, with research by the Co-op showing its aims have public support as well. Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said: “I am grateful to our reps, activists and members who worked hard to pass the necessary 100,000 signatures, which has now secured a parliamentary debate. This is a hugely important issue for shopworkers, with incidents of abuse doubling during the pandemic. Abuse should never be just a part of the job.” He added: “We now urge MPs to support the aims of the petition and persuade the government to back legislation to protect shopworkers. They have the perfect opportunity by accepting an amendment from Sarah Jones MP to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which we hope will be supported in the bill committee.”
Usdaw news release and Freedom from Fear report. House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee Inquiry.  Sarah Jones MP: NC45 amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, “Offence of assaulting etc. retail worker”. Morning Star.

Bromley library workers to strike over under-staffing

Bromley Central Library workers will strike over plans by their employer, Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL), to impose late-night openings with fewer staff, Unite has said. The 17 employees, members of Unite, voted unanimously in favour of strike action over a proposed change to working hours so that staff, instead of working one late night every two weeks, will work four late nights every two weeks. Part-time staff, who currently do not work late nights, will now be required to work one late night per week. Unite said that the late nights plan, which only involves employees at Bromley Central Library, comes following a reduction in staffing – so it will mean fewer workers to cover longer opening hours. Beginning on 14 June, Bromley Central Library workers will strike every day from 6pm. Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “GLL’s plan to open Bromley Central Library for longer with less staff is simply not feasible. The workers know it, which is why every single one of our members voted for strike action.” He added: “It is hard to see why GLL seems incapable of acknowledging the facts: the library can only run extended hours with the correct staffing levels in place. Strike action can be avoided but only if GLL enters into meaningful discussions with Unite to produce a late-night working plan that our members can accept.”
Unite news release.

Many new school buildings ‘have combustible insulation’

Dozens of schools have been built using combustible insulation since the material was banned on high-rise apartment blocks after the Grenfell Tower disaster, raising fears for safety. More than 70 schools are likely to have used plastic foam insulation, which burns, since it was banned on residential buildings over 18 metres in height in December 2018, according to industry research. The study by the insulation manufacturer Rockwool also found about 25 recently built hospitals, care homes and sheltered housing complexes that were likely to have been constructed with combustible insulation. The figures are thought to be an underestimate. The claims came after the Department for Education last week unveiled new fire safety proposals for school buildings that would continue to allow combustible cladding on structures below 18 metres in height. The government closed a separate consultation on whether to extend its ban on combustible materials to shorter buildings a year ago, but has not yet announced its findings. The Department for Education last week launched a consultation on new fire safety guidance for schools requiring non-combustible cladding on school buildings that are above 18 metres tall, but suggesting the material would be allowed on shorter blocks unless they were deemed vulnerable to vandalism. In the last five years, 47 primary and secondary school buildings have been destroyed by fire in England, according to the insurer Zurich. The insurer and the National Fire Chiefs Council are calling for sprinklers to be mandatory in new and refurbished schools. Dr Mary Bousted, the joint general secretary of the teaching union NEU, told the Guardian: “It is clearly very unwise to choose to use insulation material that makes a school more likely to suffer a fire. Not only does it risk lives, but [there is] also disruption to education – not to mention the cost to the taxpayer in putting things right following a major fire.” MPs, firefighters, the Construction Industry Council and the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, are among those calling for the ban to be extended to schools.
The Guardian.

Amazon ridiculed over 'wellness chamber' for stressed staff

Amazon has faced ridicule after it announced plans to put ‘wellness chambers’ in its warehouses so that stressed workers can sit inside and watch videos about relaxation. In a video shared on its Twitter account, Amazon said the ‘AmaZen’ chamber would help staff focus on their mental health. But Amazon deleted the post after a wave of ridicule from other social media users. The US retail giant has been repeatedly criticised over working conditions in its facilities, with unions in the UK accusing it of high accident rates and workplace welfare and safety abuses (Risks 998). The company announced its WorkingWell scheme last month, saying it will focus on giving staff “physical and mental activities, wellness exercises, and healthy eating support.” Describing the AmaZen booths, it said: “During shifts employees can visit AmaZen stations and watch short videos featuring easy-to-follow wellbeing activities, including guided meditations, positive affirmations, calming scenes with sounds.” In the Twitter video, the pod can be seen to have just enough room for a chair, small computer table against one wall, and a few small potted plants on shelves. The top panel is painted blue sky with clouds. But news site Motherboard described the chamber as a “coffin-sized booth in the middle of an Amazon warehouse.” Some viewers were quick to re-upload the video to other accounts and criticise the tech giant for what has been labelled a “crying booth” or a “dystopian” work practice.
Motherboard. BBC News Online. AmaZen YouTube clip.

RMT anger at stabbing after ignored warnings

Rail union RMT has demanded that rail bosses take full responsibility for the stabbing of a member at London’s Bromley South station after they ignored union warnings that violence on Southeastern was “out of control” and a serious incident of this nature was bound to happen. The RMT member was stabbed seven times on 31 May and another member had a tooth knocked out. Commenting in the wake of the attack, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “RMT has been warning for months that violence on the London end of Southeastern was out of control and that someone was going to get killed or seriously injured and today the inaction of company bosses has left one of our members stabbed seven times. Our thoughts are with our member and his colleagues and we are offering our full practical and legal support and we hope he makes a full recovery.” The union leader added: “We are also furious that this incompetent and dismissive attitude by Southeastern in respect of violence against staff has led to this. They should certainly be investigated by the police for their culpability. I want an urgent meeting with the head of Southeastern to discuss this brutal attack and the working environment that enabled it and I want action taken on the ground in conjunction with our reps and the police and I want it now. This violence against rail workers must stop.”
RMT news release. The Standard. The Mirror.

Covid firm fined after worker seriously injured

Kepak Group Limited (formally 2 Sisters Red Meat Limited), a food firm hit by large scale Covid-19 outbreaks (Risks 976), has been prosecuted for criminal safety breaches after a worker was seriously injured. Merthyr Tydfil Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 17 February 2017, an employee of a contractor that had a permanent presence on the Kepak’s Merthyr Tydfil site, was struck by a forklift truck (FLT) when he was walking along the internal roadway at the back yard end of the site. He was struck from behind by the FLT and trapped beneath the metal container it was carrying. He was dragged along the ground and received multiple serious and life changing injuries, including the loss of a leg. The premises were operated by 2 Sisters Red Meat Limited at the time that the incident occurred. This company name was changed to Kepak Group Limited in July 2018. Kepak Group Limited pleaded guilty to a criminal safety offence and was fined £600,000 and ordered to pay costs of £ £38,183. Speaking after the hearing, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Rhys Hughes said: “This was a tragic and wholly avoidable incident, caused by the failure of the host company to undertake and implement an adequate risk assessment and ensure a safe system of work was in place.” Both Kepak (Risks 976) and 2 Sisters (Risks 990) have been hit by multiple large Covid-19 outbreaks. A company’s safety record should be taken into account when deciding on enforcement action over Covid breaches, including prosecution, under HSE’s Enforcement Management Model, however neither firmed faced prosecution or sanction.
HSE news release.

Waste firm convicted after traffic marshal is killed

Grundon Waste Management has been found guilty of a criminal health and safety offence after a traffic marshal was hit and killed by a waste lorry at a construction site at the former BBC Television Centre. The incident took place on 22 February 2016. Kiril Karadzhov was one of the marshals guiding vehicles down a ramp for the BBC Worldwide Offices during a redevelopment. He was struck and killed by a 26-tonne waste lorry as it reversed down the slope into a loading bay. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Grundon “failed to identify reversing as a hazard that needed to be eliminated or controlled and that suitable actions had not been taken to control the risk of reversing”. In May, Grundon Waste Management Limited was found guilty of a criminal safety offence at Southwark Crown Court and fined £550,000 plus £96,874.15 costs. HSE inspector Sharon Boyd said: “If the hazard of reversing vehicles had been properly identified and appropriate discussions had taken place with those responsible for traffic management, a consistent system of work which properly controlled the risks associated with the hazard could have been developed and Mr Karadzhov’s death could have been avoided.” In November 2020, construction logistics provider, Wilson James Limited, was fined for its role in the incident. It pleaded guilty to a criminal breach and was fined £850,000 plus £11,750 in costs.
HSE news release and earlier news release. Materials Waste Recycling.

Director fined after teen injured in fall from height

Company boss Wayne McKnight has been fined for criminal safety breaches after a 17-year-old worker fell from a mezzanine floor to the ground below. Sheffield Magistrates’ Court heard that, on 28 February 2019, the worker and two others were building the mezzanine floor at a site in Sheffield. The young worker stepped on a loose board and fell 2.8 metres to the ground below, sustaining cuts and bruises. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that safety nets had not been put in place before boarding commenced. No other fall from height protection was present to prevent or mitigate falls through the mezzanine floor. Wayne McKnight, trading as RJE Construction, pleaded guilty to a criminal breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2015. He was fined £500 and ordered to pay costs of £1,300. HSE inspector Sarah Robinson commented: “Falls from height often result in life-changing or fatal injuries, which thankfully did not eventuate here. In most cases, these incidents are needless and could be prevented by properly planning the work to ensure that effective preventative and protective measures are in place. This incident could have easily been prevented if the company had installed safety nets prior to work starting on the mezzanine.”
HSE news release.



Clearing the air at work, webinar, 17 June 2021

The Hazards Campaign have organised a zoom seminar on 17 June to discuss the future work of the Trade Union Clean Air Network (TUCAN). The network seeks to address both the risk posed to workers by pollution at work and the role of the workplace as a source of pollution. The seminar, which coincides with Clean Air Day, will include a discussion led by Prof Andrew Watterson, and presentations on initiatives by trade unions and campaigners in Scotland, Wales and England to improve air quality and introduce toxics use reduction (TUR).
What next for the Trade Union Clean Air Network (TUCAN)?, online seminar, Thursday, 17 June 2021, from 18:00–19:30 BST.



Where you will be working? Short survey.

The Hazards Campaign wants to find out if employers are supporting the health, safety and welfare of their workforce properly, wherever they are working.  Its short survey, which should only take about three minutes to complete, “will inform our campaigning priorities and enable us to support workers better.”
Complete the Hazards Campaign ‘Where will you be working?’ survey.



Bangladesh: Garment safety transition accord extended

Negotiations on the future of the 2018 Transition Accord on labour standards in the Bangladesh garment sector are to continue after global unions and international fashion brands agree to a three-month extension. The deal between global unions UNI and IndustriALL and a negotiating committee representing leading fashion brands must still be signed by the individual brands. IndustriALL general secretary Valter Sanches commented: “The Accord has played an outstanding role in preventing fatal accidents since its creation in 2013, and the work must continue. This three-month extension is a very important commitment. It demonstrates that we will not allow the safety and health of the Bangladeshi garment workers to be jeopardised while we continue negotiating a successor agreement with the brands, preserving the achievements in Bangladesh and also expanding them to other countries.” Christy Hoffman, UNI general secretary, added: “We welcome this extension, which will allow us more time to negotiate a successor agreement to the Accord. We must put the mechanisms in place to ensure the success and credibility of the Ready-Made Garment Sustainability Council  (RSC) as well as a safe workplace for millions of workers.” She said: “A decision by the Bangladesh High Court led to the day-to day Accord operations being handed over last year to the Ready-Made Garment Sustainability Council - a tripartite body made up of brands, factory owners as well as global and national unions.”
IndustriALL news release. UNI news release.

Japan: IOC must review Olympic Covid-19 protocols

The global union confederation ITUC is calling for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to fix the ‘deeply flawed’ Covid-19 protocols it has published for the Tokyo Olympics, through engagement with sports players’ unions and pandemic experts. An article published on 25 May in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine reveals major deficits in the IOC plans, which would expose athletes, workers, volunteers and potentially people in athletes’ home countries to avoidable risk of infection. Sharan Burrow, ITUC general secretary, said: “An event that would bring together people from virtually every country in the world when the global pandemic is raging could only be envisaged on the basis of the most up-to-date scientific knowledge. This is not the case with the IOC’s ‘Playbook’ for the Tokyo Olympics.” She added: “Best-practice occupational health and safety standards on ventilation, testing, sharing accommodation, prevention of transmission and other vital protections are not included in the IOC’s plans. Participation in the Olympics is the summit of their sporting experience for many thousands of athletes, and everyone involved in the Games deserves the maximum protection, not arrangements that cut corners and expose people to risks that can be prevented and avoided.” The ITUC is also concerned that substandard protocols at the Tokyo Games would set a dangerous precedent for other international sporting events, given the IOC’s position at the pinnacle of world sport. “The IOC should urgently engage with the players’ unions and experts in public health and occupational health and safety. The ITUC is ready to support this and will be closely monitoring the situation to see that the best practice is the bottom line,” said Burrow.
ITUC news release. Asahi Shimbun. Japan Today.
Annie K Sparrow, Lisa M Brosseau, Robert J Harrison and Michael T Osterholm. Protecting Olympic Participants from Covid-19 — The Urgent Need for a Risk-Management Approach, New England Journal of Medicine, 25 May 2021. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp2108567

Global: IUF focus on safety in fast food

Global food union IUF has said it is sharpening its focus on the fight on health and safety in the fast food sector. On 19 May, the IUF, together with its European regional group EFFAT-IUF, held a global video conference focused on increasing pressure on the sector to deal with the many occupational health and safety concerns reported by IUF affiliates across the globe. The 30 plus IUF affiliates gathered to review the results from EFFAT’s survey on health and safety in the fast food sector and to discuss next steps in the fight to hold the industry accountable. Also on 19 May, fast food workers across the US went on strike to demand safe working conditions and fair pay. IUF said since the beginning of the pandemic, fast food workers, many of whom are paid as little as US$7.25 per hour, have reported serious workplace hazards around Covid-19. The meeting heard after a “long and determined struggle by IUF affiliates”, the Spanish government had recently approved a decree that recognises food delivery riders as workers and not independent contractors as the companies argue. Precious Cole, a US McDonald’s worker told the meeting: “We want a union, so that stuff like this can’t happen and that we have a voice. This is us letting them know, ‘We’re here to stay and we’re going to be in your face. Every time you turn around, we will be there’.”
IUF news release.

USA: Survey exposes health care worker safety concerns

A George Washington University survey of frontline health care workers during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic has found many reported unsafe working conditions and faced retaliation for voicing their concerns to employers. “This survey gives a voice to US health care workers who have been on the frontlines of Covid-19,” said David Michaels, a professor of environmental and occupational health at the George Washington University and former administrator of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Michaels, an adviser on the study, added: “Health care workers have valuable first-hand knowledge about this pandemic and this report offers recommendations that could help keep the US on a steady course now and in the future.” About 1,200 health care workers from all 50 states and the District of Columbia took part in the survey. They expressed frustration with unsafe working conditions, especially the unavailability of adequate personal protective equipment. Respondents also described instances of retaliation and at times bullying for voicing their safety concerns to employers. There was a perception that employers prioritised hospital profits over worker safety and created an unhealthy work environment where workers felt devalued and threatened. “The responses to the survey contain important insights that cannot be gleaned from statistics alone,” Nathan L McCray, a lead author of the report, said. “Workers voiced a range of experiences during the first few months of pandemic, including those that were positive and others that were excruciating.”
GWU news release and study, COVID-19 National Health Worker Survey, May 2021.




TUC Hazards at Work 6th Edition

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Price £22 RRP £52
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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.
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