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Showing posts with the label health and safety

The Price of Cost-Saving

Steven Conway died while working at Diamond Wheels (Dundee) Ltd. There were no safety protocols in place at the premises, no risk assessment was carried out and there was no safe system of work in place.
The 33-year-old was sent in to remove debris from a tank containing "volatile" chemicals with limited protective clothing. He was wearing only trainers, tracksuit bottoms and a t-shirt and fleece. The mask he was given did nothing to protect him from the toxic fumes let off by the chemicals and was actually releasing "contaminants" into his air supply. The gloves he was given had holes in them. He had suffered chemical burns from contact with hydrofluoric acid. Pathologists concluded he had died from inhaling industrial paint stripper.
Diamond Wheels, pleaded guilty to a charge under the Health and Safety at Work Act. They will face a fine as a punishment.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-tayside-central-34119674

Blood Money

Socialist Courier previously reported on a mining company’s criminal neglect of safety that caused the lives of 29 workers in New Zealand, here and here .

The NZ prime minister at the time hit out at the mining company, saying it "completely and utterly failed to protect its workers"

The company was found guilty of 9 charges of health and safety breaches.  Its former chief executive Peter Whittall was also charged with 12 counts of violating labour laws following the blast. Government lawyers say they would now be dropping the charges against the CEO in exchange for a payment of 3.41 million New Zealand dollars (about £1.72m), made on behalf of company officials to victims’ families.

Anna Osborne, whose husband Milton died in the explosion, said that she has lost faith in the justice system. “It is just another slap in the face for the families,” she said, adding that “as far as I’m concerned, it’s blood money”.


Giving your right arm for the job

A sawmill firm has been fined £30,000 after a young worker was injured in a "wholly avoidable" accident. Damian Gawlowski, 20, lost full use of his arm after it was pulled into unguarded machinery at Tennants (Elgin) Ltd.

Health and Safety Executive principal inspector Niall Miller said: "This incident was wholly avoidable. HSE said its investigation revealed that the saw-blade guard was positioned incorrectly. Additionally, Mr Gawlowski was not trained to use the machine and was left unsupervised despite his inexperience.

"Mr Gawlowski was let down by the company's lack of proper training, inadequate assessment of risks and ineffective measures to stop access to dangerous parts of equipment." He added: "From Mr Gawlowski's point of view, his life has been destroyed. He is unable to go back to work, unable to use his hand and he relies on others for many of the tasks of daily living."

Blood Sports

Former Scotland internationalist Rory Lamont has lifted the lid on rugby players “cheating” concussion protocols and insisted many well-known figures are knowingly taking the field with head injuries. When Lamont started pro rugby concussion brought a mandatory three-week lay-off, but that was argued, largely by coaches, to be over-prescriptive in cases of minor concussion. Coaches flouted it in any case by pretending concussion had not occurred.

The 30-year-old retired last month after a succession of injuries, undergoing 16 operations and suffering “at least six or seven clean knock-outs” in games, and many more what he terms “minor concussions”. He explained “... there is a high risk of me developing neurological issues associated with the early stages of ‘Parkinson’s Disease’. But what’s done is done...Once you start losing your mind there’s no coming back from it. You can be an alcoholic and have cirrhosis of the liver, and get a new liver and come off the booze, but there’s no …

health and safety

The number of people who died at work in Scotland rose last year, an increase driven by fatalities in agriculture and industry, a new report reveals.  There were 22 deaths at work in Scotland in 2012-13. Deaths rose north of the Border for the second year running, while falling across the UK. The death rate in Scotland is now 0.9 per 1,000 workers, almost double the 0.5 in England.

David Snowball, regional director for Scotland and the north of England for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which compiled the report, said risk-taking farmers, and a lack of precaution in industry, were factors in many of the deaths.

The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) wants more to be done to protect workers. Grahame Smith, STUC general secretary, said: “Once again we have seen a rise in the number of workers killed in Scotland – 22 workers left for work never to return home and this is unacceptable and does not compare to an overall reduction in the UK wide figure of 148 which is 24 fewer t…

The Price of Profit

Yesterday was Workers Memorial Day when we highlight the bloody toll capitalism inflicts upon us.
In New Zealand a coal mining company, Pike River Coal, was found guilty of nine health and safety violations over a 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners.
A government investigation found the company ignored 21 warnings that methane gas had accumulated to explosive levels in the mine and it was exposing miners to unacceptable risks as it strove to meet financial targets. Each of the charges comes with a maximum penalty of 250,000 New Zealand dollars ($211,000). But since the company is bankrupt, just who will pay the penalty?

Former chief executive Peter Whittall has pleaded not guilty to 12 charges. His case has yet to be heard.

Dalgety Bay Cancers

Government scientific advisers have discovered a almost double the incidence of cancers among people living near Dalgety Bay in Fife, which is contaminated by radioactivity.Last month, the UK Government's Health Protection Agency (HPA) issued advice that public health risks from radiation at Dalgety Bay were low. But this has now been undermined by the report for the Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (Comare), which advises ministers in Westminster and Holyrood.

 An expert report for a Department of Health advisory committee on radiation has found a marked increase in liver and blood cancers close to the site of the contamination. The report pointed out that liver cancers were concentrated in communities near the polluted foreshore. This "reinforces the suspicion" they were linked to the discarded radium that has littered the area for decades, the report said.

Radioactive contamination was first discovered at Dalgety Bay, a popular sailing reso…

Workers safety?

The father of a Fife miner who was killed at a mine in New Zealand said he was "disappointed and angry" to hear the gas blast was preventable.

Scots Malcolm Campbell, 25, from St Andrews in Fife, and Pete Rodger, 40, from Perthshire, were among 29 workers killed at the Pike River mine in 2010. The miners' bodies remain in the mine

An investigation has found multiple warnings were ignored. Safety systems at the mine were inadequate, and reports of excessive methane levels were "not heeded". Workers were exposed to "unacceptable risks" because health and safety was not adequately addressed in a drive to achieve production created the circumstances for the tragedy, the report found. "In the last 48 days before the explosion there were 21 reports of methane levels reaching explosive volumes, and 27 reports of lesser, but potentially dangerous, volumes," the report said. "The reports of excess methane continued up to the very morning of the t…

North Sea Spills its secrets

Oil companies operating in the North Sea have been fined for oil spills on just seven occasions since 2000, even though 4,123 separate spills were recorded over the same period, the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) has confirmed. In total, 1,226 tonnes of oil were spilt into the North Sea between 2000 and 2011. (A tonne of crude oil is broadly equivalent to seven barrels, or, more precisely, 1,136 liters)

Total fines resulting from prosecutions between 2000 and 2011 came to just £74,000 and no single oil company had to pay more than £20,000. Two companies received fines of £20,000: BP, for causing 28 tones of diesel to spill into the sea in 2002 from the Forties Alpha platform, and, a year later, Total E&P, for causing six tones of diesel to enter the sea during a transfer between fuel tanks on the Alwyn North platform. The smallest fines over this period were those imposed on two companies, Venture North Sea Oil and Knutsen OAS Shipping, of £2,000 each, after 20 …

No one is forgotten and nothing is forgotten

A few hundred yards from where missionary David Livingstone was born, stood five pits run by William Dixon Ltd. Together they produced hundreds of thousands of tons of coal and made wealthy men of the mine owners. In 1871, the first two pits were sunk in High Blantyre and by 1876 there were 8 pits in production in the area. The demand for an increased labour force was high, and there was reluctance among the local mill and farm workers to work in the new mines. This labour force was found principally in Irish emigrants who were refugees from the suffering and deprivation caused by the potato famine in Ireland (and later many Lithuanians both of whom the coalmasters exploited to full advantage, particularly in times of industrial unrest).  Blantyre was at this time; "a district of pits, engine houses, smoke and grime" and led to the nickname "Dirty Auld Blantyre". The miners and their families carried out back-breaking work for little more than a pittance and were …

Safe Motoring

Scottish towns and cities had the worst rates for major MoT failures in the UK last year, figures have shown. Motoring groups expressed alarm at the news, which they said suggested there were more unsafe cars on Scottish roads than elsewhere.

Dundee topped the test table for “major failures”, with 15.3 per cent of vehicles not getting an MoT certificate

Halfords Autocentres said the cost of repairs following failed tests had nearly doubled to an average of £143 compared with £82 some 18 months ago. The firm said that added up to a total bill of £1.44 billion for motorists. A survey found nearly a quarter of drivers just “keep their fingers crossed” and hope their car will pass.

Edmund King, president of the Automobile Association said: “It is of concern that a higher proportion of cars in Scotland are failing the MoT as this indicates that there are more unsafe cars on the roads in Scotland.” He said: “We have also found that 10 per cent of drivers are cutting back on servicing their car…

Justice for all?

Legal experts have raised concerns about a lack of justice over health and safety failures.

Only 3% of complaints ever lead to a prosecution or enforcement notice in Scotland. The number of cases recommended for prosecution has fallen by nearly 50% in two years.

One in three deaths at work is not scrutinised by a fatal accident inquiry (FAI) , despite being mandatory by law. The cases that do result in an FAI, they take an average of 30 months to set up. In one-third of instances, it took three to four years for an FAI to be held. None took under a year.

Patrick McGuire, of the major personal injury specialists, Thompsons Solicitors Scotland, said: "Breaching health and safety legislation is a crime but is not treated with the seriousness it deserves. For as long as the perception remains that this is not a 'proper crime' that devastates lives, the effectiveness of health and safety legislation will not be maximised. Disregarding people's safety at work or anywhere…

capitalism makes you sick

Long working hours may raise the risk of mental decline and possibly dementia, research suggests
The study found that those working more than 55 hours a week had poorer mental skills than those who worked a standard working week.
Lead researcher Dr Marianna Virtanen, from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, said: "The disadvantages of overtime work should be taken seriously."

It is not known why working long hours might have an adverse effect on the brain. However, the researchers say key factors could include increased sleeping problems, depression, an unhealthy lifestyle and a raised risk of cardiovascular disease, possibly linked to stress. The effects were cumulative, the longer the working week was the worse the test results were. Employees with long working hours also had shorter sleeping hours, reported more symptoms of depression and used more alcohol than those with normal working hours.

Professor Mika Kivimäki said "It is particularly important to exami…

Not legal eagles but legal vultures

Two solicitors who took millions of pounds from compensation payouts given to sick miners have been struck off.
The Solicitors' Disciplinary Tribunal heard the men acted "unacceptably" by charging clients even though the government was paying their fees.
Beresford, 58, said last year to be Britain's highest-earning solicitor, and Smith, 52, made millions of pounds from personal injury claims for miners under the government's coal health compensation scheme. Tribunal chairman David Leverton said: "If ever there was a group of persons who needed the full care and attention from solicitors, it was these miners. Mr Beresford described himself as an entrepreneur. Unfortunately, his attitude allowed himself and Mr Smith to put commercial goals before his clients' best interests."
The lawyers were also accused of not giving adequate advice and entering into contingency fee deals against their clients' best interests.The tribunal heard that up to 30% of a…

work is bad for your health

Writing in the European Journal of Oncology, Prof Watterson, an expert in occupational health, said "In Scotland more people die from occupational cancers than die from road traffic fatalities, murder and suicide all combined."
He estimated that about 10% of all cancers were work related.While the issue is usually associated with older industries involving asbestos, Prof Watterson said carcinogens were present in diesel, pesticides, silica, wood dust and solvents. He added that Scotland gives a higher priority to road deaths and murders, which claimed about 1,250 lives in 2003/04, than it does to tackling work-related cancers.

Capitalism an all that Jazz

A Canadian airline is removing life vests from all its planes to cut weight and save fuel , in other words , to save money .

Canada regulations allowed airlines to use flotation devices instead of life vests within 80km of shore . Jazz spokeswoman said it was a transcontinental airline that never flew over the ocean. However , she didn't explain that they do fly over the Great Lakes and along the eastern seaboard from Halifax to Boston to New York.




Calton and Lenzie wealth and health differences

"social injustice is killing people on a grand scale...The toxic combination of bad policies, economics, and politics is, in large measure responsible for the fact that a majority of people in the world do not enjoy the good health that is biologically possible."

Social factors - rather than genetics - are to blame for huge variations in ill health and life expectancy around the world, a report concludes.

For instance, a boy living in the deprived Glasgow suburb of Calton will live on average 28 years less than a boy born in nearby affluent Lenzie.

The average life expectancy in London's wealthy Hampstead was 11 years longer than in nearby St Pancras.

A girl in the African country of Lesotho is likely on average to live 42 years less than a girl in Japan.In Sweden, the risk of a woman dying during pregnancy and childbirth is one in 17,400, but in Afghanistan the odds are one in eight.

The report, drawn up by an eminent panel of experts forming the WHO's Commission on the…

Capitalism : A Dirty Business

Graham Meldrum Memorial Campaign vigil at Glasgow Sheriff Court August 2007 Glasgow Sheriff Court, 17 June

The Fatal Accident Inquiry into the workplace death of Dr Graham Meldrum heard employer Val Brown admit that he had no knowledge of any employers' legal health and safety responsibilities. Mr Brown was asked four times if he had knowledge of the various different laws which govern health and safety in the field of driving and lifting operations. Four times he replied simply, “No.”

Mr Brown, former boss of the Suzyline agency, was then asked if he was aware of employers' legal obligations under Section 2 of the Health and Safety Work Act 1974, which applies to everyone with a contract of employment. Again he replied “No.”

Dr Meldrum was killed when crushed by the faulty tail lift of an Allied Bakeries delivery truck at their Glasgow depot on 12 July 2005. Both Allied Bakeries and TNT Logistics UK wer…

Lazy Workers !!!

From the BBC

A 30-year-old Toyota worker who collapsed at one of its plants had died of overwork.
It emerged that the man had worked 106 hours of overtime in his final month, most of it unpaid.

Unions say that companies generally see working unpaid overtime as a sign of loyalty. Toyota has a reputation for using employees' ideas to improve production methods and efficiency and reduce costs.

And they dare call workers lazy

work causes cancer

Further to this earlier post that health inequalities between rich and poor have widened since Labour came to office in 1997 , American research shows that night-shift workers, and their number is growing by about 3% per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics , are known to be at higher risk for accidents, sleep disorders and psychological stress due to daytime demands, such as family and other obligations, that interfere with sleeping. Now scientific evidence suggests their disrupted circadian rhythms may also cause a kind of biological revolt, raising their likelihood of obesity, cancer, reproductive health problems, mental illness and gastrointestinal disorders.

The evidence for an increased cancer risk is so compelling that, in December, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a unit of the World Health Organization, declared that shift work is "probably carcinogenic to humans."

*Night-shift workers have a 40% to 50% increased risk of heart disease …