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TUC Risks E-Bulletins
Number 687 - 24 January 2015
Risks is the TUC's weekly online bulletin for safety reps and others. Sign up to receive this bulletin every week. Past issues are available. Disclaimer and Privacy Editor: Rory O'Neill of Hazards magazine. Comments to the TUC at







Unite launches asbestos awareness campaign

Unite members who think they’ve been exposed to asbestos are being urged to join the union’s asbestos register. The call forms a part of the union’s new campaign to raise awareness about “the silent killer”. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says past exposure to asbestos as a result of corporate negligence kills around 5,000 people a year. But Unite says the true figure is likely to be much higher, and is on the rise. The register already contains the details of over 11,000 Unite members and has been developed to identify members who were employed by the same company, or on the same site, to support personal injury claims by those developing asbestos related diseases. As part of the campaign the union is issuing new guidance to safety reps on dealing with asbestos at work. Unite national officer for construction John Allott said: “Asbestos may be banned from being used in buildings, but it hasn’t gone. The impact of this silent killer is on the rise, which is why we are urging members who think they have been exposed to asbestos to get on the register.” He added: “It is shocking that around 5,000 people die every year from asbestos related diseases because of corporate negligence. Employers have a duty to prevent exposure of their employees to asbestos and members who have developed an asbestos related disease should get in touch with Unite legal services.” He said that it is also important to raise awareness about the deadly risks of exposure. “That is why our campaign is also about prevention and why we are issuing new guidance to our health and safety representatives to help ensure that employers protect their employees from exposure to asbestos at work.”

Ÿ  Unite news release and online campaign pack on asbestos for Unite members.

Violence against shopworkers is ‘still a big problem’

Violence, threats and harassment at work are still major problems facing shopworkers, surveys from their union and the retail industry have shown. John Hannett, leader of the shopworkers’ union Usdaw, launched the results of Usdaw’s latest Freedom From Fear survey this week, which tracks the levels of violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers. The survey of over 5,000 retail staff from across the UK found that in the last 12 months on an average day 241 shopworkers were assaulted. The survey also revealed that a third (33 per cent) of shopworkers were threatened by customers last year and over half (53 per cent) were verbally abused. John Hannett said: “Our survey shows that life on the frontline of retail can be pretty tough for many shopworkers and there is still a lot to do to help protect them. We have released our survey results on the same day that the British Retail Consortium has published their Retail Crime Survey. Both show the levels of offences have remained pretty steady from last year, which is little comfort for our members on the receiving end of violence and abuse. A worrying aspect of the BRC report is the increase in the value of shop theft, because all too often these incidents can lead to the criminal assaulting or abusing shop staff.” He said the government had on four occasions blocked attempts to introduce tougher penalties for those who assault shopworkers. “It is time for the government to act,” the union general secretary said. “Crime in shops remains steady and is not coming down in line with the overall levels of crime. Retail staff have a crucial role in our communities and that role must be valued and respected.”

Ÿ  Usdaw news release.

Ÿ  BRC news release.

Nautilus sinks plans to scrap ferry safety rules

Seafarers’ union Nautilus has welcomed the UK government’s decision to abandon controversial proposals to scrap rules requiring roll-on, roll-off (ro-ro) passenger ships to be fitted with lockers containing emergency equipment (Risks 667). Following an eight-week consultation and talks between the union and shipping minister John Hayes, the government said ‘persuasive’ arguments had been made in favour of retaining the regulations, which were introduced following the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster in 1987. The regulations were developed in response to the findings of the formal investigation into the loss of the ferry and require ro-ro passenger ships to be fitted with on-deck emergency equipment lockers, containing items including axes, crowbars, lifting gear and ladders. “We made a robust case for these regulations to remain in place and we are pleased the minister has made the sensible decision to maintain them,” said Nautilus senior national secretary Allan Graveson. “While this is a specific UK requirement, we believe there is a strong case for the UK to take this forward internationally and regionally for all ro-ro passenger ships, passenger ships and other high-sided vessels such as car carriers and livestock carriers.” He said  that particularly in the light of recent high profile tragedies on passenger vessels, the union would be looking to the Maritime & Coastguard Agency “to take this further”.

Ÿ  Nautilus news release.

Pilots issue safety warning on offshore safety

North Sea aviation safety must not be put under threat by the industry downturn in the industry, helicopter pilots have warned. Their concerns were raised after BP said it would shed 300 jobs. This week Talisman Sinopec said it would also be implementing a similar reduction in its North Sea workforce. At a special meeting of North Sea helicopter pilots represented by the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA), it was stated that despite difficulties caused by falling oil prices, safety managers must resist any commercial pressure to cut corners, which would put the safety of pilots and oil workers at risk. The meeting also called on the UK regulator to proceed with the implementation of all the safety measures agreed in the wake of five significant offshore helicopter incidents in the last four years, including two fatal accidents. BALPA general secretary Jim McAuslan said: “When the industry has its back to the wall there will be a temptation – even unconsciously – to cut back. Our warning to the oil and helicopter companies is to make sure safety isn’t compromised.” He added: “Our repeated call for a public inquiry into the impact of commercial pressure on offshore helicopter safety is now even more relevant, given today’s news.” BP, Talisman Sinopec, Shell, Chevron and Conoco Phillips have all said they will reduce North Sea staffing in response to falling oil prices.

Ÿ  BALPA news release.

Ÿ  BBC News Online.

HSE needs resources to tackle work diseases

The fall in fatalities at work in the Health and Safety Executive’s first 40 years is a testament to the value of a dedicated regulator, GMB has said. But the union warns funding cuts have left the watchdog ‘unprepared’ to tackle the much bigger toll of work-related diseases. John McClean, GMB’s national health and safety officer, said: “GMB pay tribute to HSE now in its 40th year as the main workplace regulator for UK industries. The experience and dedication of the staff over those 40 years has no doubt contributed to the fall in workplace fatalities.”  He said while enormous changes to “the industrial landscape” had an impact on fatalities, the knowledge and experience of HSE inspectors and policymakers had made a lifesaving contribution. But the GMB safety expert warned “the performance on occupational health however is not so positive. Deaths from asbestos are now 10 times higher than in 1975 and reported stress absences have doubled in the last decade.” He added GMB is concerned about the impact of “the on-going cuts to the HSE budgets – 35 per cent so far and counting. This has left HSE unprepared to deal with the increases we have seen in occupational health problems particularly in areas such as asbestos exposure, other carcinogens and stress.” According to McClean: “HSE must be fully funded to meet challenges of occupational ill health and disease which damages vast numbers of people and costs the UK economy and the taxpayer billions in lost productivity and social security support. How much does the government think good health and safety is worth? Government needs to recognise that ill health from work has enormous impact on both individuals and society and greater resources should be allocated for their control and prevention.”

Ÿ  GMB news release.

Overworked nurses to 'make a stand'

Overworked and underpaid nurses are to take industrial action alongside other health service staff later this month in pursuit of better working conditions. The action comes on the heels of new official figures obtained by the Observer showing ‘soaring’ levels of stress in NHS nurses. “It's time for us to take our placards and make a stand for us and for generations of nurses to come,” said UNISON head of nursing Gail Adams. Members of UNISON and other health service unions across the English NHS will stage a 12-hour strike from 9am to 9pm on Thursday 29 January. They will then work to rule - working their contracted hours, taking their breaks and not doing unpaid overtime - from Friday 30 January to Tuesday 24 February. A further 24-hour strike is planned for Wednesday 25 February. “We are less than five months away from an election. Not satisfied with not paying everyone 1 per cent, the government has now made it clear that, if re-elected, it is coming for your unsocial hours pay,” Gail Adams said in a message to nurses. “It is more important than ever that nurses join the strike action. While MPs receive a massive pay rise, some are quite happy to deny you a small rise. This government has made a political decision to do this, it seems able to find billions for other things at the drop of a hat, but not for you - while you care for the most vulnerable.” The Observer reported last week that the number of nurses taking time off due to stress has soared as the NHS struggled to cope with rising demand for care.

Ÿ  UNISON news release and NHS pay campaign.

Ÿ  GMB news release

Ÿ  The Observer.

Cotton gloves treatment gives machinist dermatitis

A machine operator who was provided the wrong gloves by his employer contracted occupational dermatitis as a result. Unite member Graham Taylor, from Telford, worked at Mahle Filter Systems where he welded components and dipped seals in ‘P80 solution’.

The firm gave the 62-year-old light cotton gloves, which became soaked through, leaving his hands wet from the solution throughout his working day. As a result he developed dermatitis, a painful and itchy skin disease. The condition meant that for three months Graham had to stop doing many of the activities he enjoyed in his spare time such as swimming and golf, because it caused his dermatitis to flare up. “Supplying cotton gloves to protect staff from handling harmful chemicals didn’t do the job, and as a result I contracted a painful skin disease,” he said. “The chemicals that I worked with badly affected the fingers on my right hand and it was something that unfortunately impacted on both my work and personal life for months.” Stef Blasczyk, Unite regional officer, said: “Cotton gloves are no adequate form of protection against harmful irritants. Employers who cannot remove a hazard have a responsibility to control it. If they have to expose their staff to harmful materials they must protect them, ignoring known dangers is not an option.” He said: “It is shocking that Graham had to suffer a painful injury,” adding “risk assessments, safe systems of work and the provision of appropriate personal protective equipment to avoid such injuries should be a norm."

Ÿ  Thompsons Solicitors news release.


Business boosting government boasts we are more lawless

The government’s frantic rush to ‘boost business’ by removing safety regulations has come at a cost, the TUC has warned. The union body was commenting after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced this week that  “84 per cent of health and safety rules will have been scrapped or improved in this parliament, freeing employers from unnecessary red tape.” DWP said under its ‘One in Two Out’ approach, regulations covering health and safety had been halved “without compromising or diluting health and protection for workers.” Work and pensions minister Lord Freud said by simplifying regulations and removing unnecessary requirements, “businesses have been boosted and workers have never been safer. By making it easier for businesses to understand what they need to do on health and safety, they can protect their staff and concentrate on prospering rather than pointless box-ticking.” Health and Safety Executive (HSE) chair Judith Hackitt added that the regulator had “delivered a substantial package of reforms and reduced the regulatory burden – all without compromising or diluting protection for workers.” This view was challenged by the TUC, which said some changes, like the paring back of occupational injury and disease reporting requirements, had compromised safety. The union body added the need for new laws to tackle growing workplace health problems was being neglected. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s standard practice to remove unused or outdated regulation. But while in most cases this has been done without losing workers’ protection, some changes, such as those to reporting, have caused confusion and left us with a lack of information about the problems arising.” She added: “While some regulations become outdated, new needs arise. The government is failing to improve regulations to properly address the newer needs, such as stress and back pain. Ministers should drop the numbers game and look at better regulation that protects workers and which can be understood and implemented by employers.”

Ÿ  DWP news release.

Forgers jailed for faking site and security certificates

Two men who made and sold thousands of counterfeit identity documents, construction skills certificates (CSCS) and licences to work in the security industry have been jailed, following an investigation by the National Crime Agency. Medi Krasniqi, 47, and Arsen Meci, 26, were arrested by NCA officers on 9 October 2014. Krasniqi acted as the ‘broker’ for the pair, collecting information and payment from clients. Albanian national Meci was the forger, creating thousands of fake documents from his bedroom flat. The pair are believed to have charged their clients between £80 and £500 for made-to-order documents. On arrest Krasniqi, a UK national of Albanian origin, had around 70 completed counterfeit cards in his possession. A search of a property linked to him also led to the seizure of around £12,000 in cash, much of which had been stashed behind an oven. At Meci’s flat, NCA officers discovered a forgery factory including computers, laminators and professional printing equipment, along with a number of photos, blank cards and fake passports ready to be made up. Both men pleaded guilty at Chelmsford Crown Court to conspiring to produce false identity documents, possession of false ID and money laundering charges. Meci was jailed for six-and-a-half years while Krasniqi got five-and-a-half years. Meci will also face deportation after serving his sentence. Carl Eade, senior investigating officer from the NCA, said: “Krasniqi and Meci were prolific forgers and could supply almost any form of ID – from passports and national identity cards through to construction or security industry certification. These documents were designed to be used to help people obtain work or services they weren’t qualified for or entitled to.” CSCS cards provide proof that individuals working on construction sites have the required training and qualifications, including health and safety knowledge. The security industry licensing system includes “criminality” checks and confirmation of the necessary training.

Ÿ  NCA news release.

Ÿ  Construction Enquirer.

Ÿ  CSCS safety test. Security industry licensing system.

Long working hours can drive you to drink

Individuals who exceed 48 hours per week at work are more likely to consume “risky” quantities of alcohol, researchers have concluded. Their overview of studies covering more than 400,000 people showed that long working hours boosted the likelihood of higher alcohol intake by 11 per cent overall. The paper, published last week in the British Medical Journal, found those who worked 49-54 hours a week ran a 13 per cent higher risk of developing a “risky alcohol use” habit compared to counterparts who worked a 35-40 hour work week. Those working 55 hours or more were 12 per cent more at risk. “Risky” alcohol use was defined as more than 14 units per week for a woman and more than 21 for a man - levels that have been linked to a higher risk for liver and heart disease, cancer, stroke and mental disorders. More than a dozen developed economies were covered by the research, including Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan and the United States. “This meta-analysis supports the longstanding suspicion that among workers subjected to long working hours, alcohol can seem like a fast acting and effective way to dull work-related aches and pains and smooth the transition between work life and home life,” Cassandra Okechukwu of the Harvard School of Public Health wrote in an accompanying editorial. “Any exposure associated with avoidable increases in disease or health damaging behaviour, or both, warrants careful examination. Indeed, these findings could add impetus to further regulation of working hours as a public health intervention.”

Ÿ  Marianna Virtanen and others. Long working hours and alcohol use: systematic review and meta-analysis of published studies and unpublished individual participant data, British Medical Journal, volume 350, g7772, published online 13 January 2015. doi:

Ÿ  BMJ 2015; 350 (Published 13 January 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:

Ÿ  Cassandra Okechukwu. Editorial: Long working hours are linked to risky alcohol consumption, British Medical Journal, volume 350, g7800, published online 13 January 2015. doi:

Ÿ  The Guardian.

Debate about work cancer links hots up

A union thinktank has welcomed a call for more research and action on the prevention of work-related breast cancer, and has criticised a study that suggested bad luck was the major factor in cancer causation. The European trade union research institute (ETUI), which has its own health and safety unit, was commenting after the publication of two contrasting reports. One, a resolution from the American Public Health Association (APHA), called for more research and action to address the occupational causes of breast cancer (Risks 686). The other, in the journal Science, suggested most cancers were the result of ‘bad luck’, and largely dismissed the occupational, environmental, socioeconomic and other causes (Risks 685). According to ETUI: “The organisations struggling to support workers who have fallen victim to cancer as a result of their jobs” will have welcomed the APHA appeal, in contrast to the message of the Science paper. ETUI was critical of the Science paper, which had already been denounced by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and others (Risks 686). Laurent Vogel, a researcher in the ETUI’s health, safety and working conditions unit, said the paper ignores breast and prostate cancers and “confuses causality with a merely statistical relationship. It bypasses an essential feature that certainly cannot be attributed to individual luck, for it is possible to come up with a social mapping of each form of cancer and to show important links between working conditions and the different locations of cancer in the human body.” Jim Brophy, whose research for Stirling University prompted the APHA resolution, said: “Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer in women across the globe but the majority of women do not have the known or suspected risk factors, therefore more attention to the exposures and hazards faced by women at work is required.”

Ÿ  ETUI news report.

Ÿ  Stirling University news release.

Companies exposed plumbers to asbestos

Two plumbers were exposed to potentially-deadly asbestos because of criminal failures by two Barnstable companies, a court has heard. Employees of Pilkington Plumbing and Heating Ltd were allowed to carry out removal of a back boiler and to drill a wall panel at a North Devon Homes property in Ilfracombe, despite not receiving an asbestos survey from North Devon Homes. The incident, on 27 September 2012, was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). North Devon Magistrates’ Court heard that Pilkington had requested copies of asbestos surveys on the properties but decided to go ahead without the documentation. Instead, the contractors relied on information about asbestos on North Devon Homes’ website for contractors, but this was not specific to each property being worked on and was incomplete or misleading. As a result, asbestos insulation board (AIB) was disturbed and the workers exposed when fillets of a fire surround were moved, an AIB panel above a door was drilled and another AIB panel moved. North Devon Homes Ltd pleaded guilty to a criminal breach of the Construction (design management) Regulations and was fined £1,000 plus £650 costs. Pilkington Plumbing and Heating Ltd pleaded guilty to two criminal breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations at an earlier hearing and was fined £1,500 with £642 costs.

Ÿ  HSE news release and asbestos webpages.

Ÿ  North Devon Gazette.

Builder jailed for manslaughter of young labourer

A West Yorkshire builder has been jailed after an inexperienced labourer was killed when a chimney collapsed on top of him while he was left to carry out work unsupervised. Danny Hough, 23, was crushed to death when two tonnes of masonry landed on top of him as he carried out work at a house in Batley. Self-employed builder Nigel Parker, 56, was given a two-year sentence after pleading guilty to manslaughter over the incident which took place at a family home in Batley on 25 July 2013. Leeds Crown Court heard Mr Hough had been recruited to work on the day of the tragedy as Parker was desperately short of labour. Mr Hough, who had no building qualifications or experience in the industry, was tasked with demolishing the chimney with an electric Kango hammer drill. Jailing Parker, Mr Justice McDuff said: “What you did is almost unbelievable. It goes beyond incompetence, carelessness and thoughtlessness. You allowed Danny Hough to use a powerful Kango hammer to demolish brickwork from a chimney breast which was supporting a heavier part of the chimney structure above it. Any modicum of thought would have told you that support was necessary.” The court heard Mr Hough was working in the bedroom and had been placed in the “gravest possible danger”. Shortly before the chimney gave way, Mr Hough had sent a text to his girlfriend saying how much he was enjoying the work. Parker, who also pleaded guilty to two criminal health and safety offences, had left 45 minutes before the incident to go look at another property he was due to do work on. Mr MacDonald said Parker failed to carry out a risk assessment and had not obtained a structural report. He had also failed to put safety measures such as support props in place. He said: “It is the Crown’s case that to start demolishing this chimney without supporting the upper part of the chimney would place anyone near that work in the gravest possible danger.”

Ÿ  Huddersfield Examiner.

Ÿ  Yorkshire Post.

Farming auction firm fined over worker's death

A major Scottish farming auction firm has been fined £30,000 following the death of a worker in who was crushed by his quad bike. Allan Frame was found dead on Bonnington Farm in Lanark on 17 September 2012. His employer, Lawrie and Symington (L&S), pleaded guilty a criminal safety offence, admitting it failed to provide him with proper training. A neighbour fought to save the 41-year-old farm manager but was unable to lift the all terrain vehicle (ATV). Prosecutor Selena Brown told Lanark Sheriff Court said Mr Frame had been with his wife Lea at around 4pm on the day of the incident, before heading out on the quad bike. It was nearly two hours later when the residents of the neighbouring farm investigated a light in a field, and found Mr Frame. Two reports reached conflicting conclusions on the incident, one concluding that the ATV rolled over, trapping Mr Frame underneath, and the other saying it is likely that Mr Frame was thrown from the quad which then ran over the top of him. The court heard that L&S had instructed NFU Mutual to provide it with health and safety advice from 2010. The prosecutor said: “Although the risk assessment produced by NFU Mutual indicated that Allan Frame had received training on the use of the ATV, certification was never produced or sought which would have confirmed this position by either NFU Mutual or Lawrie and Symington.” Sheriff Nicola Stewart fined the firm £45,000 but reduced this to £30,000 in light of an early guilty plea. She said: “The breach which Lawrie and Symington have pleaded guilty to is a very serious one as it is accepted by all involved that it did have linkage to the tragic death of Mr Frame. Given that no training was provided, the company clearly fell short of the acceptable standards.”

Ÿ  COPFS news release.

Ÿ  The Herald.

Digger bucket broke worker’s back

A building company has been fined for its criminal safety failings after an employee broke his back when he was struck by the bucket on a digger.  RMC Building and Civil Engineering Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following an investigation into the incident at the Longleat Estate in Warminster. Swindon Magistrates’ Court heard that the company had been hired to install fencing around the estate in January 2014. Peter McGrellis, who was 48 at the time, was one of three employees carrying out the work, which involved using a digger to push wooden fence posts into the ground. The posts were held by hand whilst the operator of the digger rested the bucket on top of the post and applied downward pressure to it. On 16 January, Mr McGrellis was holding one of the posts ready for the digger to push it down. The top of the post split, causing the bucket to slip and hit Mr McGrellis on the shoulder, knocking him to the ground. He suffered significant injuries including a broken vertebra. An HSE investigation found that the company had failed to plan, manage and monitor the work. RMC Building & Civil Engineering Ltd was fined £1,500 and ordered to pay costs of £1,117 after pleading guilty to a criminal breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. HSE inspector Ian Whittles said: “The use of excavator vehicles in such a manner is dangerous and is known to cause injury. The serious failure of RMC Building & Civil Engineering in not managing this job properly led to this avoidable incident and unfortunately Mr McGrellis suffered as a result.”

Ÿ  HSE news release and construction webpages.

Ÿ  Construction Enquirer.


New consolidated listings of TUC resources

A consolidated alphabetical listing of all the TUC’s health and safety resources is now available online. The new resource pulls together the TUC’s health and safety publications and those on the same theme produced by TUC Education for union safety training courses.

Ÿ  TUC website: Guides and reports for reps. TUC Education health and safety resources webpage.


Australia: Work drug tests ‘a waste of time and money’

Australia’s Immigration Department is wasting its time and taxpayers' money on forced drug tests for thousands of public servants, according to a leading workplace drug and alcohol expert. The tests will be no deterrent, enormously expensive and might even make matters worse by forcing drug users in the department on to harder substances, according to Dr Donna Bull. The department’s 8,500 workers were told before Christmas that they would be tested as part of an “integrity framework” for the new department, a merger of Immigration and Customs. But Dr Bull says a mandatory testing regime in the British Army resulted in soldiers switching from cannabis to LSD, which is harder to detect, and similar programmes in Australia's mining industry were fuelling a progression from cannabis to methamphetamine among workers. The specialist has advised Australia’s Defence Department, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, the Qantas pilots' union and energy sector companies on workplace drug and alcohol issues. She told The Canberra Times that bosses who hoped drug testing would make workplace problems go away had often been disappointed. “The evidence based for drug testing in workplaces is pretty weak in terms of its effectiveness,” Dr Bull said. “There isn't any really good evidence... that productivity will be increased, safety will be enhanced, fewer people will be using prohibited substances.”

Ÿ  Canberra Times.

Canada: Work death jail terms still ‘too rare’

The short weekends-only jail terms handed to two corporate directors in Ontario, Canada following a workplace death are a step in the right direction “but do not address the crying need to enforce the Criminal Code when workers are killed on the job,” the United Steelworkers union (USW) has said. “There is an average of 1,000 workplace deaths in Canada every year,” commented USW Canada national director Ken Neumann. “But we rarely see enforcement of Criminal Code provisions that are specifically intended to hold employers responsible for workers' deaths and injuries.” The union leader was speaking after an Ontario judge sentenced two corporate directors of New Mex Canada Inc to 25-day jail sentences - to be served on weekends - for Occupational Health and Safety Act violations that led to a worker's death in 2013. However, the directors did not have to face criminal prosecution or potential criminal penalties, despite Criminal Code provisions commonly known as the Westray Law that have been in effect since 2004. The Westray provisions of the Criminal Code give Crown prosecutors the ability to hold corporations and their officers criminally responsible when their disregard for health and safety results in a worker's death or injury. “Steelworkers were a driving force during a decade of lobbying that ultimately led to passage of the Westray Law, named in memory of the 26 workers killed in the Westray Mine explosion in 1992,” said USW’s Ken Neumann, whose union is running a high profile ‘Stop the Killing’ campaign. “We are determined to work with governments, Crown prosecutors, health and safety regulators and police across the country to ensure the law is enforced to the full extent whenever a worker is killed or injured.”

Ÿ  USW news release and Stop the Killing campaign.

Ÿ  NUPGE news release. Rabble.

Global: Chinese firms choke Ugandan workers

Residents of Kasenge ‘A’ village, a rapidly expanding industrial zone outside of the Ugandan capital Kampala, are learning the price of industrialisation – dangerous jobs and once clean air now choked with fumes.  The hamlet of about 1,000 homes is home to over 20 Chinese owned factories. The Independent reports that plastics manufacturing plants snuggle toilet paper mills, foundries, car battery plants, mattresses factories and steel rolling mills. Ismail Kibirango, the vice chair of Kasenge village, told the paper the biggest polluter is the Chinese complex of the Tian Tiang Group of companies which opened in 2009. Its flagship plant is a steel rolling mill with a capacity to produce 70,000 tons of steel per year. “Whenever we try to say anything we are warned not to disturb the investors,” Kibirango said. An attendant at one of the clinics in the area told the Independent they have seen an influx of patients with respiratory and factory-related traumas. “Most of the patients we get here are those suffering from cough and flu and victims who have been cut by machines in the factories,” the attendant said as a man, in his late 20s walks and asks to buy cough syrup. He says he works in the Tian Tiang steel factory. “It is the steel factory that emits most pollution,” said the man who cannot be named for fear of jeopardizing his employment.  Kibirango said workers at Tian Tang complex had lost limbs in the machines, but had received only small amounts of compensation.

Ÿ  The Independent.

USA: Republican regulatory moves threaten safety

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would have been prevented from issuing timely guidelines on protecting health care workers and first responders from the Ebola virus under a Republican proposed law. The Regulatory Accountability Act of 2015 (HR 185), which was passed by the House of Representatives last week – but which President Obama had at an earlier airing of the same legislation threatened to veto - would add dozens of new procedural and analytical roadblocks to any new enforceable rule such as workplace safety or consumer protection regulations and even to non-binding federal guidelines to protect workers and the public, such as the CDC’s Ebola guidelines. The RAA would mandate that federal agencies adopt the least costly rule unless the agency can demonstrate that the additional benefits of any alternative justify additional costs. The legislation would also allow any interested party to ask an agency to hold a public hearing to challenge data that the agency used in drafting proposed rules. In a letter to the House ahead of the vote, AFL-CIO government affairs director Bill Samuel wrote that the Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA) “will not improve the regulatory process: it will cripple it,” and will add years to the process. National union federation AFL-CIO argues the development of major workplace safety rules already takes six to 10 years, even for rules where there is broad agreement between employers and unions on the measures that are needed to improve protections. It says the law will further delay these rules and cost workers their lives. The bill is a top priority for business groups such as the US Chamber of Commerce and others, which plan to mount major lobbying campaigns for the legislation.

Ÿ  Climate Progress.

Ÿ  AFL-CIO Now blog.

Ÿ  House of Representatives Committee on Rules statement.



Ÿ  TUC courses


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