Issue date
04 Jun 2014
TUC Risks E-Bulletins

Number 657 - 7 June 2014

 
Asbestos - the hidden killer Hazards magazine Hazards at Work

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Editor: Rory O'Neill of Hazards magazine. Comments to the TUC at [email protected]

 

Contents

UNION NEWS

OTHER NEWS

RESOURCES

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

UNION NEWS

Heroism Bill is really blame-the-worker ‘gobbledygook’

A new law the government says will protect ‘good Samaritans and community heroes’ could be just another ‘sinister’ attack on workers suffering occupational injuries and diseases, the TUC has warned. Announcing the planned law, which is due to take effect next year and which the government says is necessary “to tackle the growth of compensation culture”, justice secretary Chris Grayling said: “I don’t want us to be a society where people feel that they can’t do the right thing for fear of breaking regulations or becoming liable if something goes wrong. I don’t want us to be a society where a responsible employer gets the blame for someone doing something stupid. I want a society where common sense is the order of the day, and I believe this measure will help us get there.” But TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson, commenting on the Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill (SARAH) which was included in the Queen’s Speech on 4 June, countered: “Of course this is complete gobbledygook. There is not a shred of evidence that there is a problem. The police, fire and ambulance unions have worked closely with their employers and the HSE to develop guidance which ensures that health and safety protection is compatible with emergency situations, which is why the government changed its mind about exempting the police from the Health and Safety at Work Act (the one mention of health and safety in the Coalition agreement). There are no cases of anyone being prosecuted for trying to save someone in an emergency situation.” He warned: “There is however the possibility that this Bill will have a much more sinister application, which is shifting the blame to workers when they are injured, with employers claiming the worker was acting ‘irresponsibly’. If that is the case, this is not a Heroism Bill, it is a Blame Bill.”

Ÿ  TUC Stronger Unions blog.

Ÿ  MoJ news release.

Ÿ  Conservative Home.

Ÿ  BBC News Online.

Not that good work health scheme due

The Work and Health Scheme expected to make a delayed appearance towards the end of this year could end up as an inadequate and confusing mess, the TUC and doctors have warned. Under the new system, which it is anticipated will be rolled out to cover every general practice in England, Scotland and Wales by mid-2015, everyone who is absent from work more than four weeks because of illness will be given an assessment which will indicate if there is anything that might help their early return to work, with non-binding recommendations passed on to the employer. According to TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson: “In principle it is a good idea, although ideally the TUC would want a comprehensive occupational health service provided through the NHS. We are also concerned about the fact that many employers will simply do nothing as there will be a cost to them of providing any assistance.” He added: “In the long run we want every worker to be covered by a comprehensive occupational health service which is there to ensure that all workers are given the support and help they need, through the NHS, to get fit and healthy and at the same time seeks to ensure that, where a condition is work-related, workplaces learn from any illnesses to take action to prevent them happening again.” The occupational medicine committee of the BMA, who represent many of the doctors who will be referring patients to the service, also has concerns about the new service. It says the description of the service as “providing occupational health and support” is “unhelpful and confusing”. It warned: “It may damage existing provisions by replacing advice and employee support from providers who understand the hazards and jobs of particular workplaces.” For the great majority of workers who currently have no occupational health cover at all, the TUC believes the new service will be a small improvement, but says much more needs to be done.

Ÿ  TUC Stronger Unions blog.

Union blasts 'grossly inadequate' blacklisting offer

A ‘grossly inadequate’ compensation deal proposed by eight major blacklisting construction firms could see talks with unions collapse, GMB has said. The Construction Workers Compensation Scheme proposed last year by Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and Vinci PLC was met originally with scepticism by unions and campaigners, who wanted payouts to reflect the hardship faced by blacklisted workers and other measures including an apology and job guarantees. But GMB says the £15m-£20m compensation pot would mean payouts of just £16,000 to £20,000. GMB says the companies, which have a collective turnover of more than £34 billion and pre-tax profits of £1.04bn, should pay more. Paul Kenny, GMB general secretary, said: “GMB consider that the main stumbling block is the amount of compensation being offered to the victims of blacklisting in whatever form that took.” He added: “This is grossly inadequate to deal with the devastating damage inflicted on people in their working lives and the colossal invasion of their privacy. This compensation offer is not an act of contrition, it is a PR stunt. My advice is that the companies should get serious and make proper restitution and close the book on this shameful chapter.” The union leader warned: “The talks should not break down over the size of the cash envelope. The employers have to own up, clean up and pay up.”

Ÿ  GMB news release. Morning Star. Construction Enquirer.

Union spreads its bullying at sea message

A training film produced to combat bullying and harassment in the shipping industry, which was made in response to research by seafarers’ union Nautilus, has picked up an award in an international competition festival. The 20-minute film - ‘Say no to bullying, say no to harassment’ - was produced by Videotel for a European Union project to update guidelines and an associated training package originally produced in 2004, this also a response to a union report. Nautilus participated in the project steering group and contributed to the script and direction of the latest film, which won the silver award in the safety and security category of the 23rd annual Questar Awards for excellence in video communications.  “This is great news and a well-deserved award for those of us who have worked on this project,” Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson said. “The award will assist greatly in the dissemination of the training package which includes this film, joint industry guidelines and a workbook for trainers.”

Ÿ  Nautilus news release. ETF training video and supporting documents.

Nano sickness prompts precaution calls

A report of rapid onset serious nickel allergy in a nano-nickel exposed chemist (Risks 656) has prompted calls from both a union body and an official workplace safety agency for a precautionary approach to nanomaterials.  An author of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine paper described it as “the first well-documented case of a worker handling nanoparticles in a US manufacturing facility developing serious health effects.” The report prompted an action call from the global food and farming union federation IUF. “Action to protect against workplace exposure is needed now,” the IUF response noted. “To begin with, food (and other manufacturers) must declare to workers, consumers and regulatory authorities the nanomaterials they are currently using, their specific applications, the studies undertaken to establish their safety at the workplace and the environment and the specific measures introduced to limit exposure to this huge range of hazards. The need for a moratorium on the commercialisation of nano products and processes is more urgent than ever.” The US government’s occupational health research agency NIOSH said “important take-away messages” included “to take precautionary and protective measures as scientists learn more about the properties and potential effects of nanomaterials, including any changes in the known effects of the material in moving from traditional to nano-scale forms, such as, in this case, nickel.” NIOSH warns: “With a greater absolute particle number per gram and a greater total specific surface area, nanoscale constituents substituted for their macroscale counterparts increase the potential for occupational health risks.”

Ÿ  IUF news report.

Ÿ  NIOSH science blog. Journeay and Goldman, Occupational handling of nickel nanoparticles: A Case Report, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, published online ahead of print, 8 May 2014.

OTHER NEWS

Bid to control work amputation pain led to death

An accidental overdose killed a former cable fitter struggling to cope with the pain of a work-related amputation, an inquest has ruled. Father-of-one Daniel Batchelor, from Weymouth, was found unconscious in his bed aged just 36 by his fiancée Shari Newman on 22 January this year. She told the inquest into his death that he had been taking Methoxetamine, a drug that he bought over the internet, to provide pain relief since a below knee amputation of his right leg after a ladder collapsed from under him at work in 2011. The former cable fitter with Air Digital Wireless was allergic to opiates so struggled to manage his pain. He also struggled to manage his medication due to forgetfulness caused by the accident – meaning he often doubled up on doses as he couldn’t remember taking it previously. Coroner Sheriff Payne recorded a narrative verdict following the hearing at Dorchester Coroner’s Court and said that there was no evidence to suggest Daniel took drugs with an intention to end his life and it was another episode of him trying up get pain relief but misjudged the amount he was taking. He said: “Daniel died as a consequence of excess drugs but taken with probable intent to relieve him from pain.”  The former cable fitter suffered the injuries when a ladder collapsed under him, sending him plunging four metres onto a concrete floor. Days after his death he was scheduled to meet with representatives of his former employer, Air Digital Wireless, to discuss a compensation settlement. Shari, 35, said: “Companies have a duty to provide thorough training and appropriate work equipment, which was something Daniel was very passionate about following his injuries, and I’m determined to spread the message far and wide – it’s what he would have wanted.”

Ÿ  Irwin Mitchell news release. Dorset Echo. Western Daily Press.

Top private school caused deadly silica disease

A top independent boarding college has been handed a six figure fine for criminal breaches of safety law that left a worker with a life-threatening lung disease. Preston Crown Court heard how the ‘inexcusable’ failings at the £30,000 a year Stonyhurst College, Clitheroe, caused 54-year-old stonemason Terry McGough to develop silicosis, a disabling lung disease also linked to a higher rate of lung cancer and other conditions. The grandfather-of-three was employed by the college for almost 12 years, during which time he was exposed to extremely high levels of silica dust. His silicosis diagnosis came July 2011, four months before he was made redundant. The court was told how Mr McGough and his colleague Oliver Bolton had been exposed to the lung-scarring dust as they worked to preserve the Jesuit college’s sandstone buildings. The workshop they were in was inadequately ventilated and when Mr McGough asked for conditions to be improved, he said his request was brushed off.  Prosecuting, Craig Morris said: “Even after the employee presents with silicosis, there is no attempt to monitor the levels of exposure or to introduce health surveillance.” Stonyhurst was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found that he and other stonemasons may have been exposed to more than 80 times the daily limit for silica dust. Stonyhurst failed to take any measures to monitor or reduce the exposure of workers to silica dust, despite sandstone containing between 70 per cent and 90 per cent of crystalline silica, the watchdog found. The court heard that the college failed to recognise the risks and no equipment was used to remove, capture or supress the dust that was created by the use of the stonemasons’ tools. Even after the college was notified Mr McGough had developed silicosis, it failed to take any action to monitor exposure levels until its two remaining stonemasons were made redundant in November 2011. Stonyhurst was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay £31,547.78 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to a criminal safety breach. HSE inspector Mike Mullen commented: “Silicosis is irreversible and can be a fatal disease. It leads to an increased chance of suffering from lung cancer, tuberculosis, kidney disease and arthritis, and it’s therefore vital the risk from silica dust is taken seriously.”

Ÿ  HSE news release and lung disease webpages.

Ÿ  Burnley Citizen.

Ÿ  Clitheroe Advertiser.

Ÿ   BBC News Online.

Brains may never recover from work solvent damage

People who are exposed to paint, glue or degreaser fumes at work may experience memory and thinking problems in retirement, decades after their exposure, according to a new study. “Our findings are particularly important because exposure to solvents is very common, even in industrialised countries like the United States,” said Erika L Sabbath of Harvard School of Public Health, an author of the study published last month in the journal Neurology. “Solvents pose a real risk to the present and future cognitive health of workers, and as retirement ages go up, the length of time that people are exposed is going up, too.” The study involved 2,143 retirees from the French national utility company. Researchers assessed the workers’ lifetime exposure to chlorinated solvents, petroleum solvents, and benzene, including the timing of last exposure and lifetime dosage. Participants took eight tests of their memory and thinking skills an average of 10 years after they had retired, when they were an average age of 66. A total of 59 per cent of the participants had impairment on one to three of the eight tests; 23 per cent had impairment on four or more tests; 18 per cent had no impaired scores. The research found that people with high, recent exposure to solvents were at greatest risk for memory and thinking deficits. “The people with high exposure within the last 12 to 30 years showed impairment in almost all areas of memory and thinking, including those not usually associated with solvent exposure,” Sabbath said. “But what was really striking was that we also saw some cognitive problems in those who had been highly exposed much longer ago, up to 50 years before testing. This suggests that time may not fully lessen the effect of solvent exposure on some memory and cognitive skills when lifetime exposure is high.” Sabbath said the results could have implications for policies on workplace solvent exposure limits. “Of course, the first goal is protecting the cognitive health of individual workers. But protecting workers from exposure could also benefit organisations, payers, and society by reducing workers’ post-retirement health care costs and enabling them to work longer,” she said.

Ÿ  Erika L Sabbath and others. Time may not fully attenuate solvent-associated cognitive deficits in highly exposed workers, Neurology, volume 82, number 19, pages 1716-1723, May 2014.

Ÿ  American Academy of Neurology news release.

Ÿ  The Pump Handle.

Work solvents can raise breast cancer risks

Women who already have an above-average risk of breast cancer and who work with organic solvents may increase their risks still further, researchers have found. The study, published on 1 June in the journal Cancer Research, found only some women who handled the chemicals had an added risk. “Our study is an important first step toward understanding how the timing of chemical exposures may impact breast cancer risk,” lead author Christine Ekenga said in a statement. Ekenga and colleagues used data on 50,000 women taking part in the Sister Study, an ongoing study of women whose sisters have had breast cancer but who, when they enrolled, did not have breast cancer themselves. The women who used solvents early on in life had a greater risk of breast cancer. “The time between puberty and before first birth is an important period of development when the breast may be more vulnerable to chemical exposures,” said Ekenga, a researcher at the US government’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). “We identified several occupations where solvent exposure was associated with an elevated risk for breast cancer,” she added. “These include clinical laboratory technicians, maids and house cleaners, and production [factory] workers.” It was difficult to calculate the risk for house cleaners and factory workers, however. “All women should be familiar with the chemicals and hazards that are present in their workplace, and use personal protective equipment and minimise exposures when appropriate,” Ekenga added. A 2012 paper by University of Stirling researchers concluded working in a “toxic soup” of chemicals including solvents can double a woman's risk of developing breast cancer (Risks 583).

Ÿ  Christine C Ekenga and others. Breast cancer risk after occupational solvent exposure: The influence of timing and setting, Cancer Research, volume 74, number 11, pages 3076–83, June 2014.

Ÿ  AACR news release.

Ÿ  NBC News.

Staff say ‘filthy’ BBC HQ is making them sick

BBC newsreaders have complained the corporation’s flagship £1 billion building is unclean and dangerous with a “trend of filth and human waste products”. The London Evening Standard reports that staff have called on management to intervene over the basement studio which they say is so unhygienic staff regularly become sick. It says the claims were made by BBC World News presenter Peter Dobbie in an email sent to the head of human relations for BBC News, Dan Goad. In the email Mr Dobbie claims he was hospitalised after contracting norovirus, a vomiting bug, after working in basement studio B3, complaining other staff working behind the scenes have also become ill. He writes: “I’ve had ‘food poisoning’ three times now in the past year from B3, as have several of my colleagues. There is now obviously a trend down there – a trend of filth, human waste products, and a badly built building. Whatever is happening on B3 is vicious, adaptable and life-threatening.” A BBC spokesperson told the paper: “We take this issue very seriously and conducted a full investigation as soon as we were made aware of these concerns. We have found no evidence of a link to the studios. We are glad Peter is making a good recovery.”

Ÿ  London Evening Standard.

Recyling firm caused ‘devastating’ injuries

A plastics recycling company has been fined for serious criminal safety failings after a worker was struck by a reversing forklift truck and left unable to work. Robin Eddom, a 63-year-old engineer from Scunthorpe, suffered severe back and tissue injuries in the incident at ECO Plastics Ltd’s processing plant on 10 March 2012. He was walking through the ‘Goods Out’ warehouse when he was hit by the reversing vehicle. He was taken to hospital by air ambulance with internal bleeding, two damaged vertebrae in his lower spine and extensive tissue damage to his back, shoulders, neck, thighs and knees. Lincoln Magistrates’ Court heard that ECO Plastics had designated a separate walkway for pedestrians to use within the waste processing building. However, HSE found the company had allowed the walkway in the ‘Goods Out’ warehouse to be taped off and blocked with building materials and equipment whilst construction work was being carried out. Mr Eddom and other employees had to share a route used by loaded forklift vehicles which were regularly manoeuvring and reversing. ECO Plastics Ltd pleaded guilty to a criminal safety offence and was fined £12,500 and ordered to pay costs of £5,261. HSE inspector Karin Abbott said: “This could so easily have been a fatal incident. Mr Eddom has been left with devastating physical and psychological injuries, which have forced an earlier retirement from work and will leave him in discomfort for the rest of his life.”

Ÿ  HSE news release and workplace transport webpage.

Oil firm fined after fall from tanker

A Cumbrian oil distributor has been prosecuted for criminal safety breaches after an employee fell from the top of a tanker. Carrs Billington Agriculture (Sales) Ltd, which trades as Wallace Oils, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident at its depot in Langwathby on 12 November 2012. Carlisle Magistrates’ Court heard how David Strong, 39, from Carlisle, had returned to the depot following his morning delivery run and climbed onto the top of the tanker, which had no guard rail, to use a dipstick to check the remaining fuel level. As he did so, he lost his balance and fell over three metres to the concrete floor below, suffering a broken arm. An HSE investigation found it had become common practice for drivers at this small depot to climb onto vehicles to check the fuel levels as there was no gauge on the side of the tank and it was easier than emptying the tanker. Carrs Billington Agriculture (Sales) Ltd was fined £9,330 and ordered to pay £360 in costs after pleading guilty to a criminal breach of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. HSE inspector Matthew Tinsley said: “A worker at Wallace Oils could easily have suffered fatal injuries because the company failed to make sure its employees were safe.”

Ÿ  HSE news release.

Teen apprentice severely injured at fabric firm

A fabric company in Macclesfield has been fined after a teenage apprentice suffered severe injuries when his left arm was dragged around a machine roller. The 18-year-old from Buxton had been trying to remove a crease from a roll of silk at Medaax Ltd in Langley when his finger became caught, pulling him in up to his armpit. The company, which trades as Adamley Textiles, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found workers were regularly exposed to dangerous moving parts of the machine. Macclesfield Magistrates’ Court heard the employee had joined the firm as an apprentice at the age of 17. He had been operating a machine used to dye and wash silk when the incident happened five months later, on 6 November 2012. He was in the process of winding the dyed silk onto a roller so that it could be removed from the machine when he noticed a crease and used his left hand to smooth it out. As he did so, his finger became caught and trapped, pulling his arm into and around the roller. He had to be cut free and suffered injuries and fractures to his arm. He also suffered nerve damage which had limited the use of his left hand. The court was told employees at Medaax needed to lift the cover on the machine to unload fabric but no system was in place to cut the power in an emergency, or to reduce the speed of the rollers. Medaax Ltd was fined £24,000 and ordered to pay £4,466.86 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to criminal safety breaches. Like most manufacturing firms, this type of workplace is exempted from preventive HSE inspections as a result of the government’s hands-off workplace safety strategy.

Ÿ  HSE news release and manufacturing webpages.

Bedding firm in court over worker’s injuries

A bedding firm has been fined after a worker suffered severe injuries when his right hand was trapped in a moving machine. The 60-year-old from Rochdale, who does not want to be named, was carrying out maintenance work on a pillow filling machine at Comfy Quilts Ltd in Stakehill when the incident happened on 2 July 2013. Trafford Magistrates’ Court heard the fixed guards on the pillow filler had been removed to allow access, but correct procedures to isolate the power supply had not been followed and his right hand was trapped in the machine as a result. He lost a significant amount of skin and badly fractured his thumb, which had to be pinned. He was unable to return to work for two months and could then only undertake light duties. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) served an improvement notice at the site in the aftermath of the incident and also carried out an inspection of the company’s other site in Middleton. This resulted in further improvement notices being served, all highlighting the general lack of knowledge about the importance of machinery guarding. Comfy Quilts Ltd was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £718.50 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to a criminal safety offence. HSE inspector Emily Osborne said: “The fact we needed to serve improvement notices at both of the company’s Middleton sites shows that it did not properly understand the vital role guards play in keeping workers safe. Workers were put at a significant risk on a daily basis so it was almost inevitable that someone would eventually be injured.” Like most manufacturing firms, this type of workplace is exempted from preventive HSE inspections.

Ÿ  HSE news release.

Packaging printer left workers unprotected

A Bristol-based printer of healthcare packaging has been fined for criminal safety failings after an employee had two fingers crushed when they became trapped in unguarded machinery at its Cambridgeshire plant. The 39-year-old print worker was working on a label printing machine at Clondalkin Pharma & Healthcare’s factory in Huntingdon on 14 September 2012. As he was trying to clear a piece of adhesive from the anvil of the machine while it was running, his right hand became caught and two of his fingers were crushed in an unguarded in-running nip. The court was told the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the machine involved in the incident and a further three printing machines at the factory had inoperable interlocked guards. Despite having assessed the risks, the company did not identify this danger and instead relied on instructing operators to close the guards. The firm was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,890 after pleading guilty to criminal safety offences. HSE inspector Alison Ashworth said: “This case highlights the need for employers to assess risks adequately. It is a well-known fact that unguarded printing machines can cause major injuries and Clondalkin should have known better than to let its workers use inadequately-guarded machinery. Instructing operators to close guards is not reliable enough, as this incident demonstrates.” Under the government’s hands-off safety strategy, printing and paper firms are exempted from preventive HSE inspections.

Ÿ  HSE news release and printing webpages.

RESOURCES

New union cancer prevention guide

A new guide from the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) says prevention of occupational cancers must be given a far higher priority. Using case histories, the brochure concludes the fight against work cancers can be won if trade unions and public authorities adopt coherent strategies. It examines the history and causes of work-induced cancers and provides union tools for prevention. The estimates of work cancer prevalence would have benefited from a more critical analysis of the most commonly cited reports, particularly the in-build under-estimates in Lesley Rushton’s calculations for the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (Risks 455) – occupational cancer is a much more serious and deadly problem than these studies suggest (Risks 546). But the brochure, aimed at trade unionists, scientists, public health practitioners and policy makers, provides a useful, referenced guide for those seeking to reduce cancer risks from work.

Ÿ  ETUI publication notice and full report, Preventing work cancers: A workplace health priority, ETUI, 2014. Print version: ISBN 978-2-87452-311-3.

Ÿ  More: Occupational cancer - a workplace guide, TUC, February 2012.

Ÿ  ITUC/Hazards on work and cancer.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Australia: Unions are better in life and in deaths

In 2010, two fatalities occurred in the pulp and paper industry in New South Wales, Australia: one at a unionised workplace, the other at a non-unionised site. The difference in the responses was striking, according to the union CFMEU.  At the unionised paper mill a worker was fatally injured after colliding with a forklift carrying pulp bales. The union was notified of the incident within 20 minutes. The company and union immediately established a joint investigation team. With the union involved, the investigation was transparent, accountable and focussed on the root cause of the tragedy. Following a five week investigation, 12 key recommendations were presented back to the company and the union, all of which were accepted. The recommendations were quickly implemented with the active involvement of senior union delegates at the site. A safety alert was issued and distributed across all businesses in the sector, with the aim of improving safety knowledge and practice. Safety performance improved at the paper mill, significantly reducing first aid and medical incidents.  Last year was no time lost to injury. At the non-union paper finishing and converting plant, a worker was fatally injured when a 400kg reel fell on him as a truck was being unloaded. No details were forthcoming, with the official safety enforcer refusing to release information, citing the privacy of the company and the victim. No information on preventive action was released, and there was no safety alert. The official safety watchdog did not response to a union call for a comprehensive review of traffic management practices in the sector. According to CFMEU, which is running a ‘Stand up. Speak out. Come home’ campaign: “Unions play a vital role in standing up and speaking out on health and safety so that workers can come home safely to what matters most.”

Ÿ  Stand up. Speak out. Come home.

Philippines: Action call after fire lock-in deaths

Safety campaigners have called for action after eight female workers locked inside a DVD warehouse in Pasay City in the Philippines died of suffocation. The Chinese-owned business was engulfed in flames in the early hours of 30 May. A Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) official said the eight women were inside a padlocked room on the second floor of a warehouse when the fire started at 12.45 am. BFP investigator Romeo Pepito Jr told local journalists in a text message that the charred bodies of the trapped workers were found piled inside the room. Business owner Juanito Go, was taken into police custody, denied locking in the workers and insisted he had no idea why the room was padlocked. The Institute for Occupational Health and Safety for Development (Iohsad) said Go should be held accountable. An Iohsad statement said: “Reports said that the workers who survived the tragedy escaped through a narrow hole in the building. This is a clear violation of Rule 1943.03 of the Philippine Occupational Health and Standards (OHSS) that outlines the need to have at least two exits in every floor and basement capable of clearing the work area in five minutes.” Iohsad executive director Noel Colina said the “tragedy confirms our country’s recent inclusion in the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) report as one of the worst countries to work in.”  ITUC’s 2014 Global Rights Index, released two weeks ago, gave the Philippines a rock bottom rating, alongside India, Saudi Arabia, Cambodia and other countries where there is “no guarantee of rights.” Colina said: “We reiterate our call to the government to criminalise occupational health and safety violations to protect the workers and make companies liable for work-related deaths.”

Ÿ  The Inquirer and related article.

Qatar: World Cup labour abuses as bad as corruption

Last week’s World Cup bribe allegations mean that FIFA’s Congress this month has a massive case to answer going way beyond corruption, according to Owen Tudor, head of the TUC’s international department. He was speaking out after the Sunday Times claimed it has seen documents showing millions had been spent to influence the vote for a host for the 2022 World Cup in favour of eventual winner Qatar. But the problem is “not just about corruption,” Tudor said. “The case for FIFA to rerun the vote on whether the 2022 World Cup should be held in Qatar is as strong on workers’ rights as corruption.” He added: “FIFA needs to get real about what’s going on in Qatar, and that’s wholesale slavery for migrant workers… There’s clearly a case for FIFA to answer about how the Qataris bought the world cup, but there’s a far bigger case to answer about how FIFA deals with the abuse of worker rights, and about changing its rules so that future World Cups cannot be awarded to countries that don’t abide by the fundamental core conventions of the ILO.” There must be no World Cup in Qatar without workers’ rights, he said, adding: “Rerun The Vote now!”

Ÿ  TUC Stronger Unions blog.

Ÿ  Rerun The Vote.

Ÿ  BBC News Online.

Thailand: Nappy-wearing bus conductors fight for rights

Stuck for hours each day in snarling traffic, bus conductors in Thailand’s sprawling capital have found a radical solution to a lack of toilet breaks - adult nappies. Gulf News reports that with congestion worsening, conductors on the capital’s ageing buses spend long days on the polluted roads in the tropical heat, often with no toilet stops along the route. A recent survey found that 28 per cent of female bus conductors in Bangkok had worn nappies on a job that requires them to work up to 16 hours a day. “We were shocked,” said Jaded Chouwilai, director of the Women and Men Progressive Movement Foundation that carried out the research. “We also found that many of them suffer urinary tract infections and stones in their bladders,” he said. “Many of the female bus conductors also have uterus cancer.” Bangkok’s bus conductors and unions are starting to demand better working conditions. “Their working conditions are not good,” said Chutima Boonjai, secretary of the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority labour union, who has asked for more toilets to be placed along bus routes or in bus terminals. “They have to work long hours in the heat and when they are hungry, they cannot eat. When they want to go to the toilet, they cannot,” she said. Bus drivers also suffer problems ranging from back pain to haemorrhoids. “The worst cases are cancers, strokes and high blood pressure because of tiring and hot working conditions,” said Chutima.

Ÿ  Gulf News.

TUC courses for safety reps

COURSES FOR 2014

Ÿ  TUC courses

 

 

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