Risks 533 - 26 November 2011

Share this page

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 18,000 subscribers and 1,500 on the TUC website. 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

Unite warning on haulage dangers

The government must act to protect Britain's 300,000 heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers from excessive hours and other abuses, transport union Unite has said. The union is calling on transport secretary Justine Greening to boost the resources for the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA), which regulates the roadworthiness of the industry's lorries and drivers' working hours. Unite's call has come in the wake of the recent tragic accidents on the M5 and M56 which cost the lives of eight people and injured many more. Three of those that died were lorry drivers. Unite, which represents about 60,000 drivers and transport workers in the haulage industry, said it was concerned that some companies may be operating on 'the edges of legality'. The maximum legal hours ceiling is 56 hours-a-week. Unite national officer for road transport Matt Draper said: 'We have serious concerns that, potentially, a culture of long hours and unreasonable routing could be contributing to accidents. We are seeing the amount of hours drivers are expected to work continually rise, at a time when their terms and conditions are being eroded. Some haulage firm bosses, in a very competitive environment, are pushing at the boundaries of legality. The industry must recognise the cumulative effect of drivers working tough schedules and 15 hour-days.' He said the union would be writing to the transport secretary to call for extra funding for VOSA. It also wants the Health and Safety Executive to investigate the 'scheduling practices' of haulage companies. 'Drivers are expected to sleep in their cabs after a long shift, often by the roadside due to the lack of facilities that are taken for granted, such as washing facilities and a decent place to get some well-needed rest,' he said.

Government sticks with 'dangerous' coastguard plans

Government ministers plan to press ahead with station closures, despite overwhelming opposition from coastguards and the public, the union PCS has said. The union believes proposals to close eight coastguard stations around the UK and cut more than 140 jobs will result in the loss of life-saving local knowledge around our coastline. Following initial opposition and severe criticism from a committee of MPs earlier this year, the original proposals were watered down. PCS says revised plans were tabled in July without any formal discussion with the union. There was no commitment to prevent compulsory redundancies and nothing about improving pay for coastguards who are the worst paid in the emergency services, it adds. PCS remains opposed to the planned closure of the stations - Clyde, Forth, Portland, Liverpool, Yarmouth, Brixham, Thames and Swansea - but has said that any new national network must be fully tested. PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: 'Coastguards, the communities they serve and the wider public spoke with one voice in opposing these dangerous plans, but they have been shamefully ignored. We are seriously concerned that ministers want to press ahead with proposals that will mean the loss of vital local knowledge of our coastlines, and we are committed to keeping up the fight to defend our communities from these cuts.'

Renewed demand for dog law overhaul

A petition has been launched by top animal charities, the veterinary profession and trade unions to increase pressure on the government to overhaul the dangerous dog laws. Twenty organisations, including the unions CWU, GMB, Prospect, UNISON, Usdaw and Unite, hope to get more than 100,000 to sign up to the petition on the prime minister's official website. Hitting this target would force a House of Commons debate. CWU says despite last year's Defra consultation on dangerous dogs, and assurances from prime minister David Cameron to discuss the topic, the government has failed to address inadequate legislation that fails to protect the public, worker safety and animal welfare. The petition demands that the government brings forward a Bill in the Queen's Speech next year that consolidates and updates dog control legislation. CWU has been a driving force behind the campaign, with postal delivery workers particularly at risk from poorly controlled dogs. But other occupations also run a high risk. GMB health and safety officer John McClean commented: 'GMB members are attacked by dogs while they are doing their jobs. Just think how many people come to our homes to deliver goods and services to us. GMB members empty our bins, read our gas and electricity meters, dash to our homes when we need an ambulance or a district nurse, to deliver meals on wheels and help our elderly and vulnerable people, pick them up to go the day centre or the hospital and increasingly to deliver goods we have bought and all run the risk of being victims of the irresponsibility of dog owners who do not control their animals.' He added: 'The government must address this problem and the petition will give them the means to do that.'

Ferry worker victimised for raising safety concerns

A ferry worker and union rep was victimised after raising safety concerns, the union RMT has said. The union confirmed this week that it is to ballot for strike action and action short of a strike its members on Wightlink's Portsmouth routes over the victimisation and unfair dismissal of an RMT union rep. The rep, who cannot be named at this stage for legal reasons, was dismissed by the company after leading a union campaign against the imposition of new rosters. The union's effort to expose management deficiencies led to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) intervening because of the safety concerns raised. RMT says a local manager 'took exception to the strong campaigning role of the union and as a consequence bulldozed through dismissal on the grounds of the most minor of infringements.' RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: 'The events leading up to our member's dismissal appear farcical and clearly show an employer jumping at the opportunity to remove an effective representative. As a result, and in order to obtain justice in the face of this blatant victimisation, RMT will commence an immediate ballot for strike action and action short of strike covering all Wightlink [Guernsey] Ltd members who work on the Portsmouth routes.' He added: 'RMT remains available for talks and we will pursue all channels to obtain justice in this case.'

Cases highlight college asbestos dangers

An asbestos related death in a college cleaner, a secretary in a university science department who also succumbed to an asbestos cancer and the prosecution last week of a university for criminal breaches of asbestos law prove education staff need better protection from the deadly fibre, the union UCU has said. An inquest this month ruled that former Grimsby College cleaner Brenda Waddell, 61, died of an 'industrially-related disease' (Risks 532). In a second case, the family of Valerie White, an Aston University biological sciences department secretary from 1974 and 1984, is pursuing a compensation claim after she died from mesothelioma aged 52. Her lawyers believed she was exposed to the fibre on regular visits to laboratories in the department. And on 16 November, Lincoln University was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £12,759 costs after putting staff, students and contractors at risk of exposure to asbestos. The failings came to light on 24 February 2010 when a lecturer became trapped in a room after a door lock broke. She enlisted the help of a colleague to release her and once freed, they noticed debris around the door handle. They notified the university's health and safety department which examined the door and others in the area, and discovered most were lined with asbestos insulating board (AIB), and that some were damaged. UCU said it was essential that institutions meet their legal duties and carry out thorough risk assessments of buildings and classrooms. The union's general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'Around 5,000 people a year die because of asbestos-related diseases. The health of staff and students must be a priority for institutions. Even low-level exposure to asbestos over a short period of time can lead to cases of cancer.' She added: 'Employers must take their legal duties more seriously and carry out the necessary safety checks. It is really important that institutions consult and work with trade unions to develop plans for safely managing asbestos levels.'

Safety cuts 'pose deadly risk in schools'

Children and teachers could die because of government cuts that will hamper the identification of asbestos in schools, Unite has warned. Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said the deadly material is still rife and that government plans to slash 35 from Health and Safety Executive budgets will mean even more people are exposed. She was speaking after it was revealed a Grimsby College cleaner had died of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma (Risks 532). 'The most recent HSE report on 158 schools including academies found that 30 schools had actions taken against them,' she said. 'There were 70 breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act and 74 were related to poor asbestos management.' The union leader added that ministers' obsession with removing schools from local authority control was hampering the fight. Unite research has shown that the groups most at risk of exposure to deadly asbestos fibres are those who work to maintain buildings that still contain the material.

Work injury ended career before it started

An apprentice plater was forced to delay his training after a 37-stone steel structure broke his foot at work. GMB member James Davies, 22, was left with a fractured metatarsal and had to take four months off work after the huge steel component which was being built for the offshore industry fell towards him whilst he was working for Wilton Engineering Services in Port Clarence. He was working in a confined space when the structure began to fall towards him. As the floor underneath was slippery, he was unable to move out of the way in time and it crushed his foot. He ended up in plaster for six weeks and suffered from restricted mobility for several months. He still suffers from discomfort in cold weather. He was just a few months away from completing the training when the incident happened in March 2010. Just a month after he returned to work he was made redundant and was unable to complete his training. He hasn't been able to secure another job and is now considering a new career. 'Missing out on my final months of training has put me at a real disadvantage in the current economic climate,' he said. 'Finding work has been a struggle and I'm now considering giving up on being a plater despite all my training because the prospects of getting work are so poor.' In a GMB-backed compensation case, Wilton Engineering Services admitted liability and settled the claim out of court for £11,250. GMB organiser Tom Allison said: 'A young man at the start of a promising career not only missed out on vital training and experience but is now having to contemplate giving it all up because his bosses failed to adhere to simple and well known health and safety procedures. In the current jobs climate every ounce of training counts and it is no wonder that Mr Davies places his current unemployment at the door of the accident.'

Plater damaged for life by vibrating tools

A plater suffered permanent damage to hands as a result of using the vibrating tools provided to do his job. The 53-year-old GMB member from Northallerton, whose name has not been released, developed Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), which can cause numbness in the fingertips, discolouration of the skin and general aches and pains in the hands, arms and fingers. He used the vibrating tools while working for Severfield Reeve Structures at Dalton Airfield, Thirsk. The factory line plater started showing mild symptoms of HAVS in 2006 but wasn't diagnosed until 2007. The factory only introduced anti-vibration pads in 2007, reducing the level of vibration significantly. In a union-backed compensation case, Severfield Reeve Structures admitted liability and settled the claim for £18,000. Tim Roache from the GMB said: 'HAVS is a well known risk for workers exposed to excessive levels of vibration from tools. Employers have no excuse not to take the dangers into account when planning work. Our member unfortunately had an employer who didn't do so until it was too late.' John Gibson from Thompsons Solicitors, the law firm brought in by the union to handle the compensation case, commented: 'The risk of HAVS is significantly reduced if the correct measures are taken. Severfield failed to ensure that this employee was properly trained and protected against that risk and he has paid the price for that with his health.'

Other news

Sickness review ups pressure on ill workers

A government commissioned report that recommends taking responsibility for signing off sick workers out of the hands of GPs and handing it to a new Independent Assessment Service (IAS) could lead to damaging pressure on sick workers, the TUC has said. Commenting on the review of sickness absence carried out by Dame Carol Black and former business lobby leader David Frost published this week, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: 'The current method of sickness absence certification and pay is not in need of a major overhaul. Unions are concerned that however well-intended this report, there is a danger it will be seized upon by some rogue employers as an excuse to force people back to work before they are good and ready.' He added that the report, which has been welcomed by the government, 'while very limited in its remit, recognises that the current sick pay scheme is broadly fit for purpose, but makes a number of recommendations in respect of job-brokering and an independent assessment system which could be used to force sick and injured employees back to work far sooner than is good for their health. While employers need more advice and support in dealing with sickness absence, the biggest gains can be made by supporting workers through early access to rehabilitation, as well as increasing prevention measures to stop them becoming ill or injured in the first place. Unfortunately, because of the narrow remit that the government gave to the review, these issues are not covered.' The report comes a week after a research report in the USA showed that the absence of a sick pay system resulted in a cost to the US economy of over $1 billion a year (Risks 532).

Sickness plans are not about healthy workers

Workplace health campaigners have said a report for the government aimed at reducing the cost to business of sickness absence should have instead looked at preventing workers becoming sick in the first place. The findings of the government-backed review conducted by Professor Carol Black and former British Chambers of Commerce head David Frost, which include a recommendation that people should be signed off for long-term sickness by an independent assessment service and not by GPs, have been welcomed by government. Welfare reform minister Lord Freud said: 'The economy loses £15bn in lost economic output each year due to sickness absence and we cannot continue to foot this bill. But even more important is the impact of needless inactivity on people's lives; the damage to their aspirations and their health and the damage to their families and communities.' He added: 'The government will undertake a comprehensive assessment of the Review's findings and recommendations with the view to publishing a response during 2012.' But Hazards Campaign spokesperson Hilda Palmer commented: 'Instead of setting up more systems to punish workers who are on sick leave trying to recover - often from illnesses caused by their work - emphasis should be put on preventing them being made ill in the first place. Putting workers under more stress and punitive scrutiny while they are ill is the politics of the workhouse and this report feeds into the current 'blame the workers not the real culprits' thinking and policy-making that will send us down the road to utter bankruptcy even faster.'

Workers can't afford to be sick

Workers cannot afford to be off sick and rush back to work because of financial fears, new research has found. Insurance giant Aviva found over half (52 per cent) of UK workers could survive financially for only three months on statutory sick pay. Around a third (30 per cent) said they'd survive for less than a month. Aviva, who undertook a nationwide survey of 1,000 British employees and 500 employers, found two-thirds of workers (65 per cent) cite financial concerns as the main reason to get back to work quickly if they are off sick. Regaining a sense of purpose (28 per cent), getting well (21 per cent) and providing for their families (16 per cent) were also high priorities. Aviva said the research highlighted the simple steps employers can take to help their employees. Just under a half of employees (47 per cent) said their fears would be allayed if they knew that the proper support was available and a quarter (24 per cent) said they'd be happier if they knew that their boss would work with them to ease their return to work. However, just 25 per cent of employers agreed the rehabilitation process is vital and only one in ten bosses said they would consider how they could adapt workers' jobs to aid their return to work. Steve Bridger, head of group risk at Aviva UK Health said 'few people have the savings available to support themselves and their families for very long. Employment and Support Allowance can come to as little as £67.50 a week - even less than Statutory Sick Pay - which in many cases would hardly cover a family's food shopping, let alone their mortgage and other necessary expenses.'

Former Phurnacite workers face doubled cancer risk

Conditions at the Phurnacite smokeless fuel plant in South Wales were so bad they more than doubled the risk of certain workers developing cancers, according to medical experts. The claim came at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, where the High Court is hearing testimony after weeks of witness statements in a case where more than 300 ex-workers are seeking compensation for ill-health they say was caused by working at the National Smokeless Fuels plant at Abercwmboi, in the Cynon Valley, before it closed in 1991 (Risks 528).The claimants say owners British Coal failed to provide them with adequate protection against 'horrendous' conditions at what was described as 'the filthiest factory in Europe'. The plant employed about 1,000 people at its height, to crush small Welsh steam coal and combine it with tar to produce ovoid briquettes that were pre-heated to remove most of the smoke. Doctor Robin Rudd, a London-based respiratory disease and cancer expert, told the court he had met the defendants' experts for discussions. He said both sides agreed exposures to coal dust at the plant increased the risk of respiratory illness and fumes on the oven tops were sufficient to more than double the chances of lung cancer, even after allowing for smoking.

Site worker's foot injury takes time to heal

A construction worker whose foot was smashed in a fall from a tractor is still receiving treatment over a year after the incident. The 36-year-old, whose name has not been released, fell 15ft from a pallet fitted to the fork attachment of a tractor during a farm building job. The worker, from Bedale in North Yorkshire, was employed by Stephen Ramsey, trading as Up & Cover, who had been subcontracted by Waddington Buildings Limited to carry out steel erection work and cladding on the building at Brierton North Farm, Billingham. Both Mr Ramsey and Waddington Buildings Limited were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) over the incident on 29 August 2010. Teesside Magistrates' Court was told the worker was standing on a pallet fitted to the fork attachment of a tractor, which was lifted to heights of around four and a half metres to allow the worker to measure and fit guttering to the building. The court heard the tractor was being operated by Stephen Ramsey when it unexpectedly moved with the pallet in a raised position, causing the worker to lose his balance and fall to the ground. He spent 15 days in hospital after his left heel was smashed and his right ankle was fractured. His treatment is ongoing. Stephen Ramsey, 31, pleaded guilty to breaching the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £250 costs. Waddington Buildings Limited pleaded guilty to a criminal safety offence and was fined £3,500 and ordered to pay costs of £900.

Site firm fined after worker scarred for life

A construction company has been fined for criminal safety failings after a young worker was left permanently scarred when he struck an underground cable during digging work. Richard Baisley, 26, from Scunthorpe, received severe burns to his hands, arms, face and chest when he drilled through concrete and pierced a 415 volt cable. The company had not established the location of the cable before the digging work started. Scunthorpe Magistrates' Court heard Mr Baisley and a fellow employee had been instructed by a director of Kim Barker Construction Ltd to dig two holes outside their site entrance so they could erect a new company sign. The sign needed two large holes for the steel posts. Part-way through the job, the two workers hired a drill to break through some concrete and took it in turns to use it. During Mr Baisley's turn, the concrete gave way and he pierced the cable, resulting in an electrical explosion. Mr Baisley was in hospital for three days for treatment to his burns. His injuries mean he is unable to return to his original career as a welder. Kim Barker Construction Ltd pleaded guilty to a criminal breach of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 and was fined £13,000 and ordered to pay £2,039.10 in costs. HSE inspector John Dutton said: 'This is an example of how a simple job, no matter how straightforward it may seem on the face of it, can have serious, if not fatal, consequences if not properly planned.' He added: 'Had the company followed industry guidance and best practice when this happened back in 2009, Mr Baisley would not be bearing the long-term scars of their failings today.'

Feed firm fined for severed fingers

A North Yorkshire animal feed company has been fined for criminal safety offences after a supervisor suffered severe injuries to his hand. The man, who does not want to be named, had his right hand crushed and two fingers severed when he attempted to clean an air slide under a large machine used for mixing animal feed. Northallerton Magistrates' Court was told that the incident happened on 10 August 2010 at A.One Feed Supplements Ltd of North Hill, Dishforth Airfield, Thirsk. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) told the court the man had been informed by a production worker at the start of his shift that the air slide was not operating, a regular problem caused by a build-up of sticky feed deposits on the slide and runners. The supervisor went to inspect the machine and decided to clean the slide. After climbing a set of moveable steps, he reached up to undertake the work and was injured as his hand came into contact with moving parts in what HSE described as the 'known danger zone' of the machine. After the hearing, HSE inspector Paul Newton said the injured supervisor had lost two fingers of his dominant hand, suffered nerve damage to the rest of his hand and would have to live with a disability for the rest of his life. He has not returned to work. He added: 'The risk from contact with moving parts of machinery is well known in industry and should have been more so to this company as it was prosecuted in 2007 when another employee was injured undertaking maintenance on an energised machine.' A. One Feed Supplements Ltd pleaded guilty to a criminal offence under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and was fined £15,000 with costs of £2,594.30.

Scaffolding collapse sees partners punished

Partners in a company that erected unsafe scaffolding, which crashed to the ground in strong winds, have been fined. Terrence Foster, of Scaffolding Systems South West, was fined £8,000 and his partner in the business, Shaun Greenslade, was fined £5,000. Both pleaded guilty to a criminal breach of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and each was ordered to pay costs of £2,040 in the case brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) at Exeter Magistrates. A large section of scaffolding erected by the firm for a roofing job at a builders' merchants on 25 March 2009 fell away from the building, seriously damaging a number of parked cars. HSE inspectors told the court that netting had been fixed to the scaffolding but extended almost a metre and a half above the roof of the building. The netting was attached to the inside edge of the scaffold instead of the outside and acted as a sail, causing the scaffolding to collapse. The investigation also found there were inadequate stability measures on the scaffold, such as scaffolding ties, to withstand foreseeable wind speeds. Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Andrew Kingscott said: 'The degree of risk and danger to workers and the public was considerable. The standard of the scaffold as installed fell far short of the appropriate level. This incident could easily have led to human tragedy and should act as a wake-up call to scaffolders to carry their work out to industry standards.'

International News

Australia: Home improvement show gives asbestos warning

A major Australian TV channel is to broadcast asbestos warnings on a popular home renovation programme, after a high profile union campaign. Unions NSW welcomed Channel Nine's decision to include an alert about the dangers of asbestos on 'The Block' and called on the other TV networks to follow suit. The trade union movement in New South Wales and the Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia have been campaigning for asbestos danger warnings to be broadcast on home renovation programmes for the last six months. Unions NSW secretary Mark Lennon said Channel Nine's decision was appropriate, though overdue. 'There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos, and Channel Nine's decision is crucially important,' he said. 'There's now serious pressure on the other networks to do the responsible thing and also broadcast warnings about asbestos. These programmes are wildly popular but need to take into account their social responsibility.' The union leader added: 'Too many families have been touched by the tragedy of asbestos related illness and the last thing we need is a second wave of asbestos related illness.'

Qatar: FIFA challenged over World Cup work hazards

Trade unions are intensifying their campaign to get football's governing body FIFA to address poor working conditions in Qatar, host the 2022 World Cup. The Gulf state's preparations for the tournament include building nine football stadiums in the next 10 years, using primarily migrant labour. The activists say they will campaign for the tournament to be moved unless FIFA presses for better working conditions. Qatari workers have limited trade union rights, but the migrant labour doing much of country's construction work have no union rights at all. Global union bodies presented their case at FIFA's Zurich HQ on 17 November. Speaking after the meeting, Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), said the international union movement 'will not accept people working to build stadiums without respect for workers' rights.' She added: 'We took the message to FIFA and the meeting was constructive. We will work with FIFA in the coming months and are prepared to meet with the Qatari authorities to see if they will respect labour rights and decent work. We also agreed to discuss how labour rights can be included in the selection criteria for future bids from host cities for the World Cup. Migrant workers in Qatar have no labour rights, wages are exploitative and occupational health and safety risks are extreme. Qatar is a country wanting to gain acceptance from the global community of governments but refuses to acknowledge their treatment of migrant workers.' ITUC and the global construction unions' federation BWI are taking the fight for basic International Labour Organisation (ILO) labour standards to the Qatari authorities. 'The ball is now at the feet of the Qatari Authorities to respect and implement workers' rights,' said Burrow.

South Africa: Mining companies put profits first

The drive for profits by mining companies operating in South Africa is undercutting safety, unions have charged. The union call for corporate executives to take the industry's safety performance as seriously as they do the bottom line has won the backing of the country's mining minister. National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) president Senzeni Zokwana told a Mine Health and Safety Council Summit last week that the industry was not living up to the conference's 'Zero Harm' theme. 'The continuation of people dying in the industry is unacceptable,' said Zokwana, with the safety performance not given the same priority as the financial performance. He said the union's policy of taking a day of mourning at a mine site when a fatality occurs was to impress upon employers the need for 'a more caring industry.' The union leader added that higher monthly salaries were required, rather than wage packets dependent on production bonuses, a system that led to safety lapses. Susan Shabangu, the government minister of mineral resources, was also critical of the industry's high profits while still having a poor safety record. 'I do not understand how mining companies that make billions in profit fail even to buy the latest available and proven ground monitoring and detection equipment,' she said. 'These can cut down the number of potential fatalities considering the fact that the equipment is widely available and has been used by the civil engineering industry for a number of years.' She promised her ministry would increase the number of safety audits through the rest of 2011 and into 2012, and said stern action would be taken against companies that do not comply with established standards. Through the first ten months of 2011, 116 registered mine fatalities have occurred in the South African industry. That compares with 168 official deaths in 2009 and 127 in 2010, but the unofficial rate is certain to be much higher.

USA: Call for a US workplace homicide law

US law should be amended to reverse the decline in prosecutions for criminal safety offences and to allow grossly negligent employers to face workplace homicide charges, a law expert has said. Jane Barrett, a former state and federal state prosecutor who currently teaches environmental law at the University of Maryland, says there are a number of reasons for the declining number of criminal prosecutions for workplace deaths. Not least of these, she argues, are the relatively minor 'misdemeanour' penalties available to prosecutors who want to bring criminal prosecutions for workplace deaths under the occupational safety and health law. Barrett told Corporate Crime Reporter the US should pass a federal industrial homicide law modelled after the Seaman's Manslaughter Statute. 'The law says that a captain, an engineer, a pilot or any person employed on a vessel, whose misconduct, negligence or inattention to his or her duties results in a loss of life, can be held accountable for a felony that carries a ten year prison term,' Barrett said. 'It also covers an owner, inspector, or public officer whose fraud, neglect, connivance or misconduct results in the death of a person.' Barrett would expand the statute to cover land based businesses. She said: 'What we have now is not working. The Seaman's Manslaughter Act gives us a blueprint. We need to figure out how to bring the criminal provisions of OSHA [the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration] into the 21st century. That is something that needs to be done.' The academic, who has written a detailed paper on the topic in the journal American Criminal Law Review, added: 'If someone knowingly and intentionally decides not to spend the money to repair this tank because they want to push this cost off to the next quarter, and that tank ends up exploding because they didn't do the maintenance and that explosion ends up killing someone, the person who made that decision should be held accountable.'


TUC says it is time for 'unionreps ACTION!'

The TUC has launched of a new set of online resources for union reps to help them organise, campaign and build stronger unions - 'unionreps ACTION!' The union body says: 'We believe that these are the most comprehensive set of online resources of their kind available to reps in the UK. They include everything needed to build the union and campaign to win.' To access the resources, union reps have to register with the existing TUC 'unionreps' website. 'Don't let this put you off, all we need are a few details about where you live, work and what union you're a rep for,' TUC says. 'Registering will also give you access to a host of other resources on the site and you'll also receive the unionreps monthly newsletter.' The new resources will include an explicit 'organising around health and safety section', which is 'coming soon', as well as more general pointers on planning an organising drive, communicating with and recruiting new members and organising a campaign. The unionreps website already has a heavily used health and safety forum for safety reps.

Events and Courses

TUC courses for safety reps


Useful Links

  • Visit the TUC www.tuc.org.uk/h_and_s website pages on health and safety. See what's on offer from TUC Publications and What's On in health and safety.
  • Subscribe to Hazards magazine, supported by the TUC as a key source of information for union safety reps.
  • What's new in the HSC/E and the European Agency.
  • HSE Books, PO Box 1999, Sudbury, Suffolk CO10 2WA. Tel: 01787 881165; fax: 01787 313995
Printer-friendly versionSend by email

Share this Page