Risks 598 - 23 March 2013

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Asbestos - the hidden killer
Hazards magazine
Hazards at work

Risks is the TUC's weekly online bulletin for safety reps and others, read each week by over 23,000 subscribers. To receive this bulletin every week, click here. Past issues are available. This edition contains Useful links TUC courses for safety reps Disclaimer and Privacy

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

Union News

Major anti-blacklisting breakthrough

Trade unions have achieved what they describe as 'a major breakthrough' in the campaign against blacklisting. Employers' representatives on the Construction Industry Joint Council (CIJC), responsible for the official union-employer industrial Working Rule Agreement which covers 500,000 construction workers, agreed on 20 March to insert a new anti-blacklisting clause, as a result of strong union pressure. The new anti-blacklisting clause in the CIJC agreement states: 'The CIJC does not condone any form of blacklisting of any worker.' Steve Murphy, general secretary of the union UCATT, who proposed the new clause, said: 'This is a major step forward; blacklisting is a vile and disgusting practice. There must be no hiding place for blacklisters in construction or any other industry.' Mr Murphy added: 'The majority of the major companies responsible for blacklisting follow the CIJC agreement. By inserting this clause we are a further step forward in eradicating blacklisting from our industry for once and for all.'

Site workers miss out on employment rights

Hundreds of thousands of construction workers are missing out on employment rights and facing job insecurity because firms wrongly label them as self-employed. Construction union UCATT said under the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) it is the responsibility of the employer to register workers correctly under the scheme. Employers were told that they would be fined if they wrongly recorded the employment status of workers. But the union says the government admits it is unable to provide any information regarding how many companies have received fines for wrongly recording the employment status of construction workers. Research for UCATT recently concluded that false self-employment was affecting 400,000 construction workers and was costing the Exchequer £1.9 billion a year in lost tax revenues. Self-employed construction workers miss out on many employment rights and have been shown to be at greater risk of work-related injuries and ill-health (Risks 578). The HSE 2011/12 fatalities report notes the fatality 'rate among employees in construction is 2.0 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared to 2.8 in self-employed construction workers.' Steve Murphy, general secretary of UCATT, said: 'Once again it is clear that CIS is not fit for purpose,' adding if the government 'can't answer how many fines they have issued how on earth can they hope to chase companies ignoring the rules on employment status.'

Attacks on community workers must be stopped

UNISON members working in the voluntary sector are calling for urgent action to stem a growing tide of violence and aggression at work. The union says thousands of its members in the sector are assaulted, abused and suffer debilitating injuries at work every year. Meeting last week for their annual conference in Manchester, the union members highlighted instances of catastrophic physical and psychiatric injuries that can leave members unfit to work again. Motions to the conference echoed the growing fears of workers who find feel that managers need to take more action to protect their staff, UNISON said. Simon Watson from UNISON, said: 'Violence and aggression should never be seen as acceptable and part of the job. Our members work in some difficult situations, many work alone and others look after people with very challenging behaviour. But it is not good enough for management to say that they should deal with it - they must put measures into place to protect staff as far as possible.' He added: 'We want a much more rigorous approach from managers to take positive action on prevention, support those who find themselves victims of aggression and to prosecute perpetrators where appropriate.'

NHS trusts are 'wasting money' on sick leave

Too many NHS trusts in England are failing to implement key recommendations made in 2009 to reduce staff sickness absence, physios' union CSP has said. NHS trusts in England spent more than £1 billion on sick pay in the past three years, new research for CSP found. Documents obtained by CSP under freedom of information (FoI) laws reveal that musculoskeletal conditions alone accounted for more than 19.3 million sick days among NHS staff during that period. The figures show that many trusts have failed to act on key recommendations in the Boorman Review, a landmark 2009 report into the health of the NHS workforce (Risks 434). The government-backed review said the NHS could save £555m a year by introducing effective health and wellbeing strategies and giving staff rapid access to physiotherapy and other occupational health services. But the CSP's study found more than a third (37 per cent) of the 163 trusts that responded to the CSP's FoI request admitted to not having a strategy in place. Nearly one in five (19 per cent) did not even offer staff rapid access to physiotherapy to help them stay in work and so reduce waiting times for patients. CSP chief executive Phil Gray said the delay in implementing Boorman was an 'unacceptable waste of money on prolonged sick leave' and damaging to patient care. 'The NHS takes a double hit when an employee is unfit to work - there is the cost of covering that absence, and a gap in provision that can lead to cancellations and longer waiting times,' he said.

Rail worker compensated for vibration injury

An RMT member who suffered permanent damage to his hands caused by excessive levels of vibration from workplace tools has received a 'substantial sum' in compensation. Kevin Thornton, 48, developed hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), a condition which causes numbness and loss of grip, through working with vibrating tools for 22 years for Network Rail and its predecessors, including British Rail. His employers failed to monitor and control the levels of vibration he was exposed to in order to ensure they stayed within safe limits. Instead the bricklayer and engineer used vibrating tools like rock drills on a daily basis for hours at a time. He first began to suffer from symptoms of HAVS in 2009 and was diagnosed with the condition shortly afterwards. After he started a union-backed compensation claim, he was moved to another job which did not involve using vibrating tools. Network Rail admitted liability and settled the claim out of court for an undisclosed but 'substantial' sum. RMT general secretary Bob Crow commented: 'Employers have known since 1976 that excessive exposure to vibration can cause industrial injury. Any employer with staff using vibrating tools must have a policy in place to ensure they are monitored and are not exposed to excessive use. Network Rail is a large employer and many of its staff use vibrating tools and it is not good enough that it did not protect this worker against this condition.'

Chancellor accused of sneaky attack on rights

Construction union UCATT has accused George Osborne of hiding a further attack on workers' safety and rights in the small print of this week's Budget. The union says buried on page 50 of the chancellor's 2013 Budget document was the announcement that the government will launch a 'second phase of the Red Tape challenge', while on page 93 it confirms that the second phase of the Red Tape Challenge will begin in 'summer 2013'. UCATT says the previous round of the Red Tape Challenge was used by the government to attack workers' rights and to begin dismantling health and safety laws. Steve Murphy, general secretary of UCATT, said: 'The Red Tape Challenge has been used to cynically attack workers' rights and safety laws. A second phase is likely to be even worse.' He added: 'If the government really thought that cutting safety laws and making it easier to sack workers was the way to increase growth and prosperity, surely they would publicise their polices and not hid them in the Budget's small print.'

Other news

Burnout bigger heart risk than smoking

Burnout at work is worse for your heart than smoking cigarettes, research has found. The study, published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, found that people suffering work-related burnout are even more likely to develop heart disease than smokers. People in the top 20 per cent of the burnout scale were 79 per cent more likely to develop heart disease, whilst all workers suffering from any degree of burnout were 40 per cent more likely, the research found. The findings were based on a study of 8,838 apparently healthy people, who were tested for signs of burnout and heart disease respectively. High stress, heavy workloads, long hours, lack of control over job situations and insufficient emotional support lead to physical wear and tear, which when sustained, eventually weakens the heart. 'What is most shocking', commented TUC working hours specialist Paul Sellers, 'is that the risk of burnout associated heart disease is much higher than previously thought. Without labouring the point, this kind of risk, which also extends to psychological conditions like stress and depression, is the reason why the TUC is campaigning for a stricter application of the 48 hour limit on average weekly working time set by the Working Time Directive, and for better enforcement.' Writing in the TUC's Touchstone blog, he said: 'It can't be right that some people are working themselves to death while others are struggling to find work - the UK must be able to do better than that.'

Work is the top cause of stress

Work is the most stressful factor in people's lives, research commissioned by Mind has found. The mental health charity found one in three people (34 per cent) said their work life was either very or quite stressful, topping both debt or financial problems (30 per cent) and health (17 per cent). The survey of over 2,000 people found that workplace stress has resulted in 7 per cent (rising to 10 per cent amongst 18 to 24 year olds) having suicidal thoughts and nearly one in five people (18 per cent) developing anxiety. Mind said the survey suggested stress caused people to resort to alcohol and drugs to cope. Nearly three in five people (57 per cent) say they drink after work and one in seven (14 per cent) drink during the working day to cope with workplace stress and pressure. Other coping mechanisms cited were smoking (28 per cent), taking antidepressants (15 per cent), over the counter sleeping aids (16 per cent) and prescribed sleeping tablets (10 per cent). Chief executive of Mind, Paul Farmer, said: 'Improving mental wellbeing in the workplace doesn't have to cost a lot. Our research shows that people whose organisations offered flexible working hours and generous annual leave said such measures supported their mental wellbeing.' Three in five people said that if their employer took action to support the mental wellbeing of all staff, they would feel more loyal, motivated, committed and be likely to recommend their workplace as a good place to work.

HSE urged to do act on women's cancers

Campaigners waved bras outside a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) conference last week, to highlight the watchdog's 'denial, delay and dithering' on occupational cancer risks, particularly those affecting women. Speaking ahead of 14 March event, 'Tackling occupational disease - developing new approaches', HSE chair Judith Hackitt said: 'The scale of the challenge and some of the complicating factors can make the challenge of addressing occupational disease seem daunting, but there are some examples of activities that have made a real difference. It takes a variety of interventions from supply chain working to improve equipment, new guidance to raise awareness and change working methods and sharing of good practice among businesses to bring about change.' She added: 'It takes action now to change the legacy of occupational disease for years to come.' But the campaigners said so far action 'has been sidelined in favour of yet more research, and still work-related cancer in women is virtually ignored condemning more women to suffer and die.' Hilda Palmer of the Hazards Campaign called on HSE to make an explicit commitment to prevention, saying to date the watchdog was guilty of 'dithering, denying and delaying over occupational cancer, and employers and government are also guilty of doing almost nothing on prevention for all work cancers. But this 'three monkeys' approach is especially deadly for work-related cancer in women which has been completely ignored, under-researched and so much less likely to be targeted for preventive action.' Helen Lynn of the Alliance for Cancer Prevention added: 'For female cancers, specifically breast cancer, not to act now in a precautionary way, applying existing knowledge to reduce the occupational and environmental risk factors could be viewed as an act of wilful neglect.'

Health surveillance needs worker involvement

New health surveillance guidance has been launched by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The official safety regular says the online guide will make it easier for employers to understand what they need to do to check and protect their workers' health. An HSE news release notes: 'Developed with industry, the clear and simple guidance makes it easier for employers to decide whether their workers need health surveillance, how to go about it and how to use the results. The guidance also makes it clearer when action is not needed, saving lower risk businesses, such as those that are office-based, from wasting time and money.' Paul Beaumont, HSE's policy lead for health surveillance, said: 'This new guidance, developed with industry, should help take any mystery away and give employers the confidence to know whether or not health surveillance is appropriate. Ultimately, better targeted health surveillance can lead to a healthier workforce and a more productive business.' HSE is clear that involving the workforce is critical. 'Employees should be encouraged to get involved in developing and using health surveillance because it is only effective with their co-operation. Workplaces where employees are involved in taking decisions about health and safety are safer and healthier,' the guide notes. It adds: 'You are legally required to consult all your employees on health and safety matters, including health surveillance. In workplaces where a trade union is recognised this will be through your union health and safety representatives.'

Tax breaks for workplace health interventions

Employers will be able to access tax relief for health-related interventions recommended by the forthcoming health and work assessment and advisory service, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in this week's Budget. George Osborne said the move, flagged up in the government's January 2013 response to the sickness absence review commissioned from workplace health czar Dame Carol Black and former business lobbyists David Frost, will 'recycle funding into creating the health and work assessment and advisory service for those in danger of long-term sickness absence.' He told the Commons: 'Companies that look after their employees, and help them return to work after periods of sickness, will get new help through the tax system.' Terry Woolmer, head of safety at the manufacturers' organisation EEF, said: 'Introducing targeted tax relief on employer health-related intervention is welcome recognition that these investments support growth by helping employees get back to work earlier.' TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson commented: 'The TUC has called for early access to rehabilitation. Where employers have ensured that happens then it was clearly wrong that either the worker or the employer should be taxed on this. We therefore welcome this change and hope that it will apply to all forms of rehabilitation.'

HM Treasury: Budget 2013. BBC News Online and Budget summary.

Baroness blasts government on safety

A member of the House of Lords has warned that the UK government's current safety policy will cost lives. Baroness Rita Donaghy, speaking to the Canberra Times ahead of a June address to a safety conference in the Australian capital, warned that political commitment to safety can mean the difference between life and death for construction workers. The baroness chaired a landmark site safety inquiry in 2009 (Risks 415). Her report, 'One death is too many', made wide-ranging recommendations including tougher court sanctions against companies that breach safety laws, making government procurement a model for safe work practices, greater worker participation and more resources for the Health and Safety Executive. The majority were accepted in March 2010 by the then Labour government (Risks 451). But speaking last week, Baroness Donaghy said the change of government meant many of her recommendations have been ignored, with HSE's budget and enforcement activity severely curtailed. She believed the rate of death and serious accidents in Britain was only being kept down by the recession and its effect on slowing down the construction industry. She said: 'To say things have deteriorated is an understatement. So it may sound political, but a government which listens is enormously important.'

Night shift linked to ovarian cancer

Working night shifts may increase the risk of ovarian cancer, research suggests. A study of more than 3,000 women found that working nights increased the risk of early-stage cancer by 49 per cent compared with doing normal office hours. The International Agency for Cancer Research has previously identified working shift patterns that disrupt the body's natural "clock" as a probable cause of cancer, with the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) already acknowledging the link between breast cancer and shifts (Risks 455). In the latest investigation, researchers looked at 1,101 women with advanced ovarian cancer, 389 with borderline or early disease and 1,832 women without the condition. Overall, a quarter with advanced cancer said they had worked night shifts, compared with a third of those with borderline disease and one in five of the control group. Analysis of the data showed a 24 per cent increased risk of advanced cancer and 49 per cent increased risk of early-stage disease for night workers compared with those who worked during the day. The results were only significant for women over the age of 50, the researchers reported in Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The risk did not seem to increase for those who had worked night shifts for the longest. However, occupational cancer expert Jim Brophy said age-related factors were an expected complicating factor 'and it is often difficult to establish a dose-response relationship, which would generally require an enormous study cohort.' In comments to Hazards magazine, he added: 'You also have to consider whether there were particular tasks being done on midnight shifts that might be influencing risk and whether these tasks were different than day shifts and of course different in different occupational settings.'

  • Parveen Bhatti and others. Nightshift work and risk of ovarian cancer, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 50, pages 231-237, 2013 [abstract]. BBC News Online.

Workman fined for friend's fall through roof

A self-employed maintenance worker has been fined after a casually-employed friend fell through the roof of a disused factory. The injured man, in his forties, suffered a broken elbow when he fell three metres through the asbestos cement roof at a disused rubber factory at Bullo Pill, Newnham, in the Forest of Dean on 4 September 2012. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which investigated the incident, prosecuted property maintenance worker Ashley Jones at Cheltenham Magistrates' Court for criminal safety failings. Jones, who was employed to dismantle the roof of the building, did not plan the work properly or have any safety equipment in place to prevent or mitigate the effects of a fall. A ladder was used to gain access but the work could have been done safely from a cherry picker lift or scaffold tower. No guard rails were provided around the roof to prevent falls. He pleaded guilty to a criminal breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £1,250 and ordered to pay £1,000 in costs. Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Sue Adsett said: 'Ashley Jones is a general property maintenance worker and had neither the training nor experience working on industrial roofs. Falls from height are the single biggest cause of deaths and serious injury in the construction industry but proper planning and simple precautions, such as working from platforms below when possible and using edge protection, can reduce the risks.' HSE confirmed to Hazards magazine that the injured man had no contract of employment and was paid cash in hand.

Work experience teen scarred by toxic cocktail

A Cannock vehicle repair company has been fined after a 16 year-old on work experience suffered burns when toxic paint stripper splashed into his eyes and face. The school pupil should not have been exposed to the risk and should have been provided with appropriate safety goggles. The toxic cocktail was capable of causing problems ranging from asphyxiation, to brain damage and bone rot. Bret Thomas, from Cannock, now 17, had his vision seriously affected for a month and has scarring on his face. He still suffers vision sensitivity and will be prone to migraines for the rest of his life. Stafford Magistrates were told that Bret, a pupil of Cannock Chase High School, had been on an extended work placement at Motorhouse 2000 Ltd since September 2011. On 18 January 2012 he was told to assist an employee who was refilling the wheel stripping tank. The employee poured toxic paint stripper from plastic containers into the tank and then passed the containers to Bret who was removing all the labels and cutting them in half in order to dispose of them. However, as Bret was cutting the last container with a Stanley knife, it flicked up and remnants of the toxic substance splashed into his eyes and face. He was not wearing any face or eye protection. Motorhouse 2000 Ltd pleaded guilty to a criminal safety offence and was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,319. HSE inspector Katherine Blunt said: 'The substance involved contains dichloromethane, hydrofluoric acid and methanol, which have been known to cause death through inhalation, burns when in contact with skin and eyes, and irreversible damage. Motorhouse 2000 Ltd gave little consideration to the health or safety of its employees when working with chemicals by not ensuring protective equipment, including face and eye protection, was worn.'

Company fined after paper mill injury

A paper manufacturer has been fined after a worker seriously injured his left arm when it became trapped in moving machinery. Stonehaven Sheriff Court was told that the 54-year-old from Aberdeen, whose name has not been released, was employed as a coaterman at the Stoneywood Paper Mill. The mill was operated by Arjo Wiggins Fine Papers Limited when the incident happened on 15 October 2010. The man had worked at the mill for 17 years and had been working on the paper coating machine, which applied separate coatings to paper after sheets had been formed, since it was installed in 2003. The court heard that he was attempting to clean the rolls at the coating head section of the machine, which was operating at around 300 metres per minute. Working from a small set of steps and using his right hand to steady himself, he then used a sponge pad and cloth in his left hand to clean the rolls, a method he had used on previous occasions. However, his left hand was suddenly drawn into the machine at the pinch point between two rollers. The worker managed to pull his hand free after a few seconds and raised the alarm, but not before he was badly injured. He has not regained full movement in his arm and has been told it will never heal entirely. He has since returned to work but is still on light duties. The court was told management were unaware unsafe work practices had developed since the machine was installed in 2003, and there was inadequate supervision. Arjo Wiggins Fine Papers Limited was fined £75,000 after pleading guilty to a criminal safety offence. The paper industry is no longer subject to unannounced HSE inspections.


TUC workplace health resources

Following up publication of the new edition of its best-selling and seriously large 'Hazards at work' guide for safety reps, the TUC has issued a tranche of straightforward short guides on issues free ranging from chicken pox at work to skin problems, vibration and noise. These guides are written for employees, and give straightforward advice on diseases, risks and employers' duties.


Workers' Memorial Day, 28 April 2013

TUC has added a Workers' Memorial Day facebook events page to its resources for health and safety's big day. The 28 April event is the biggest single workplace safety activity on the calendar, and is the day unions and safety campaigners worldwide pledge to 'Remember the dead and fight for the living'. Also now available is the Hazards 2013 Workers' Memorial Day poster.

International News

Australia: Asbestos eradication bill introduced

A draft law aiming to 'eradicate' asbestos in Australia has been introduced to the national parliament. Employment minister Bill Shorten said the legislation would establish an Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency. 'It's been almost a decade since asbestos was banned in this country and still, today, the dangers of this silent killer remain. Asbestos is the worst industrial menace that will go on killing for decades,' Mr Shorten said. 'The sad truth is that asbestos-related deaths are not expected to peak until 2020, and that tragically, we are expecting another 30-40,000 people to be diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases in the next 20 years. There are children not yet born who will die of asbestos related diseases. We owe it to future generations to come to grips with the blight of asbestos.' The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency Bill 2013 will establish the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency and will develop a nationwide approach on asbestos eradication, handling and awareness, including environmental and public health issues. The current Labour government 'is committed to a plan of action for asbestos eradication and handling across Australia that eliminates exposure, and establishing the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency is a critical step in that process,' Mr Shorten said. 'We lead the world in mesothelioma rates. Today we have the chance to lead in action.' He added: 'The agency will work in tandem with all levels of government, unions, industry and support groups to implement a plan of action to eliminate asbestos exposure. This is the first time that we will have a coordinated approach to eradicating, and handling asbestos beyond our workplaces.'

Egypt: Lose your thumb and you're fired

Ahmad Abdulghani Awad Abdulghani, 26, worked at Cadbury Egypt, now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mondelez, from 2008 to December 2011. He never had a permanent job, but was part of the army of precarious workers making chewing gum at the Alexandria factory. He lost half his thumb while operating a machine which should normally be run by three persons. Then he lost his job. Global union federation IUF points out this happened at a company whose CEO declared she had 'better ways to use her time' when requested by the UK Parliament to appear in response to public concern about the Cadbury takeover. It adds: 'It is a company that believes it can act with impunity and amputate rights in the way its machine amputated Ahmad Abdulghani Awad Abdulghani's thumb and its management then amputated his rights and his livelihood.' IUF general secretary Ron Oswald has challenged Mondelez to talk directly with the IUF. 'Why is Mondelez afraid to sit down with the IUF, an international union body that already meets regularly with a number of Mondelez's main international rivals? What is Mondelez hiding? In Egypt and Tunisia people have given their lives in nationwide fights for rights and democracy. Mondelez apparently believes those rights now stop at the gates of their factories. That cannot be right and it cannot be allowed to stand. We and our members worldwide will stand with Mondelez workers in both countries for as long as it takes to end these unjust practices.'

Europe: Action call on hormone disrupting chemicals

Europe's lawmakers have said chemical safety laws must be overhauled to take account of the impact of widely-used endocrine disrupted chemicals (EDCs). The large group of common industrial chemicals were linked last year to breast cancer in a range of industrial and other jobs (Risks 583). The study prompted renewed calls for action from unions and chemical safety campaigners (Risks 594). On 14 March, the European Parliament voted to adopt a report by MEP Asa Westlund calling for protection of public health from EDCs. Welcoming the vote, Lisette van Vliet of the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) said: 'The Parliament has rightly called for the European Commission and other legislators to take measures to reduce people's exposures to endocrine disruptors, and that measures to protect health should not wait for final proof of causal links between EDCs and diseases.' She added: 'MEPs want to see a systematic overhaul of EU legislation and policy so that by June 2015, existing laws are changed and new laws are proposed to properly deal with EDCs, including requiring the right tests to correctly identify them - the whole purpose being to protect people especially during vulnerable phases of their lives.' She concluded: 'The vote mirrors the implications of a recent World Health Organisation and United Nations Environment Programme report, which clearly shows that this leading international health agency is very concerned about the potential negative health impact of EDCs' (Risks 594).

USA: WSJ attack on asbestos victims criticised

The Wall Street Journal has been criticised for portraying asbestos compensation 'fraud' as the 'troubling underside' of a system that has forced asbestos companies into bankruptcy. In an 11 March article headlined 'As asbestos claims rise, so do worries about fraud', the paper presents one case of a fictional claim submitted by a lawyer to a trust created to compensate to asbestos victims. The article, which is riddled with basic errors such as failing to recognise the ongoing lung cancer risk from asbestos or the risk to relatively young people from 'paraoccupational' exposures from a parent's clothing, for example, uses the fraud claim as a hook to give column inches to a Republican-backed 'Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency" bill. WSJ cites House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Republican from Virginia, who scheduled a hearing last week on the bill. 'Right now there are a lot of suggestions that fraud and abuse are present,' he told WSJ. Brian Young, director of strategy at the Washington DC-based Corporate Action Network, is highly critical of the lack of journalistic vigour exhibited by WSJ. He noted its 'passive voice headline... is typical of a media source that can't stand behind their work.' Writing in the Huffington Post he added: 'In fact, the entire article's premise of rampant fraud seems to rest on an example of one fraudulent claim filed by one individual out of the 850,000 claims and cases over 30 years that they analysed for the article.' He concluded: 'Among the 'fraudulent' claims singled out in the article for more detailed explanation, the single supposedly suspicious claim resulted in a payout that could have been 'as much as $75,000.' The real scandal here is that over 850,000 lost lives have been valued so cheaply.'

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