Showing posts with label workers health and safety. Show all posts
Showing posts with label workers health and safety. Show all posts

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Asbestos Again

Families of workers affected by asbestos related cancers have called for better screening for the condition. Illnesses associated with working in the construction industry are thought to kill more than 4,000 people across the UK every year.


Clydeside Action on Asbestos - the biggest asbestos charity in Scotland - called for more investment in screening, either through routine X-rays or a simple blood test that would detect illnesses. 

The charity's chairwoman, said catching the disease at the earlier possible opportunity would allow patients to "start making plans for their life and their families and so forth, but also to receive any form of treatment that may be available." 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Tyranny of Work

The mental health of Scottish workers is being put at risk thanks to the "relentless pressure" of management systems meant to increase their productivity. Unions and researchers claim workers have suffered extreme stress, depression and in a few cases threatened suicide.  Austerity has allowed some firms to use management techniques to make their staff's lives a misery.

The impact on the mental health of employees was highlighted in the report Performance Management And The New Workplace Tyranny. Phil Taylor, professor of work and employment studies at the university in Glasgow, carried out the research.  He said performance management had evolved into a "continuous, all-encompassing" process of "tight monitoring and strict target compliance".

Taylor said: "Many who have been in the workplace for 10, 15, 20 years, talk with great pain about how the workplace they joined has been transformed beyond all recognition over those decades and the aspects of work that gave them a degree of happiness or satisfaction – such as talking to colleagues, satisfying customers or doing a good job – have been subordinated to the pressure of targets. That is a genuine degradation: people shouldn't have to work like this. You are only as good as your last score, and you can have people who have been utterly loyal and committed to an organisation and excellent performers, then being thrust into the underperformance camp. That can exacerbate feelings of pressure and can lead to stress, which compounds the difficulties of actually doing the work and makes it difficult to get out of that category."

Mary Alexander, deputy regional secretary of Unite in Scotland, said an example from the financial industry showed it could take as little as six weeks from being put on a performance improvement process to being fired. She said, sales targets which were being set were often "not achievable and unrealistic".

Dr Andrew Fraser, director of public health science at NHS Health Scotland said: "We know that a tough and unsupportive working environment, and specifically workplace bullying and harassment can have a negative impact on a person's mental health and that, as a result of sustained bullying, some people may experience stress and anxiety. If that experience is sustained and not addressed by management at all levels, workplace stress may lead to depression which is a major risk factor for suicide." 

Meanwhile another report  reveals than more than 500 Scottish construction workers were blacklisted for jobs because of union activity. Personal details about 3213 workers were discovered at a Worcestershire-based firm called The Consulting Association. The files were used by more than 40 firms including Balfour Beatty, Robert McAlpine, Laing O'Rourke and Costain to check the backgrounds of potential workers. On the list are 142 workers from Glasgow, Clydebank and Dumbarton, 53 from Ayrshire, 51 from Edinburgh, and 28 from Aberdeen.

 The Consulting Association had links with police and security services. Construction industry directors were addressed by a "key officer" from the National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit (Netcu), a Huntingdon-based police organisation set up to counter "extremist" protest groups.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

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 tragedy." The Department of Labour did not have the "focus, capacity or strategies to ensure that Pike was meeting its legal responsibilities. The report called for a new regulator to be established to focus solely on health and safety issues and for mining regulations to be updated.

New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key apologised to relatives of those who died for regulatory failures, but hit out at the mining company, saying it "completely and utterly failed to protect its workers"

Malcolm Campbell snr, said  "Unbelievable in this day and age"

Socialist Courier is sorry to say that such tragedies are part and parcel of the capitalist system

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Over-worked

Nurses are "propping up" the NHS by repeatedly working more hours than contracted and providing last-minute shift cover, a union has claimed.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland said a survey of its members found just only one in 10.

96% reported working in excess of their contracted hours, with 27% saying they did this every shift.

More than a quarter said they provided last-minute cover for absentee staff at least fortnightly.

29% of nurses said they missed their meal time at work at least three times a week.

One in six said they rarely or never took the breaks they were entitled to.

One in five nurses said that in the past six months they had spent a week or more at work despite feeling too ill to be there.

Let hear it for the lazy workers once again!!!


Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Sweet Pickings

David Leslie Fruits , a Perthshire fruit farm , has been ordered to pay more than £26,000 to two fruit pickers. During their time at the farm they lived among 200 workers in cramped metal cabins with no running water or lockers for personal belongings. Workers were also expected to drag a sledge half a mile, unpaid, before spending between 10-11 hours a day in fields picking fruit.

After working for the firm for a month, Mr Kowal and Mr Obieglo asked Mr Leslie to clarify what their rate of pay was after some workers received between £1 and £5 per hour.As a result, the men were threatened then sacked but were later reinstated when other workers, who relied on their translation abilities, said they would go on strike. When the pair presented a 145-name petition calling on Mr Leslie to pay fair wages and to give them the minimum wage, they were accused of stealing fruit, told to collect their belongings and escorted from the farm by police. Eventually the pair were taken to Perth bus station by officers and told to board buses for either Glasgow or Edinburgh.

Judge Hosie said "They were treated appallingly, without any common decency or respect, and left frightened and humiliated."

Socialist Courier notes the farmer was fined , but we await details of the discipline taken by so called the upholders of law and order who ordered those exploited workers out of town and protected the interests of the bosses .

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

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 examine whether the effects are long-lasting and whether long working hours predict more serious conditions such as dementia."


Professor Cary Cooper, an expert in workplace stress at the University of Lancaster, said it had been long established that consistently working long hours was bad for general health, and now this study suggested it was also bad for mental functioning.

"But my worry is that in a recession people will actually work longer hours. There will be a culture of "presenteeism" - people will go to work even if they are ill because they want to show commitment, and make sure they are not the next to be made redundant."


Harriet Millward, deputy chief executive of the Alzheimer's Research Trust, said: "This study should give pause for thought to workaholics..."

Friday, November 07, 2008

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.

Green Health - Red Revolution

from the bbc
Across the country, there are "health inequalities" related to income and social deprivation, which generally reflect differences in lifestyle, diet, and, to some extent, access to medical care.
This means that in general, people living in poorer areas are more likely to be unhealthy, and die earlier.
However, the researchers found that living near parks, woodland or other open spaces helped reduce these inequalities.

While the health specialists and enviromentalists place their faith in capitalism re-designing cities , the SPGB once more argues only socialism will create the conditions for the separation of town and countryside to wither away.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Money worries 'may harm health'

The economic downturn could be bad news for our bodies, as well as our pockets

Britons are cutting back on expensive fruit and vegetables, and gym membership, claims a report by the Blood Pressure Association.

Some say they are drinking more alcohol than before the recent credit crunch.

Professor Graham Macgregor, the Blood Pressure Association's chairman, said: "It is clear that Britons are under pressure and this could have serious consequences..."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

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 Social Determinants of Health, found that in almost all countries poor socioeconomic circumstances equated to poor health.
"The key message of our report is that the circumstances in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age are the fundamental drivers of health, and health inequity."

Thursday, May 22, 2008

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

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Work Rage

Stressed out workers are increasingly suffering from 'work rage', according to a new study.

Four out of five people surveyed admitted they had lost their temper with a co-worker, for not pulling their weight in the office. More than two thirds of the 1,200 questioned said verbal abuse was common in their office.

"If you are one of those people who throw their Blackberry at the wall because you are frustrated at work, or snap at a co-worker while discussing how much you hate your job, then you are not alone."

Firms were urged to encourage staff to take regular breaks, and have a proper lunch in a bid to reduce stress.

Uh-huh , we can all see that happening in these days of speed-ups , unpaid overtime and the extraction of the last bit of labour-power from staff .

Monday, January 07, 2008

Blue Monday

A special course is being run to help businesses cope with unhappy workers on the "most depressing day of the year". Experts calculate that 'Blue Monday' will fall on January 21 - the first work day in the last week of January. A team of counsellors from Kirkcaldy in Fife will advise managers of medium-sized businesses on how to spot the symptoms of depression and stress.

Triggers for Blue Monday include the weather and the arrival of the Christmas credit card bill. The formula was calculated from research carried out by Dr Cliff Arnall from the University of Cardiff.
Jeni McCabe from HR consultancy Simple Corporate Resource Solutions said : "Problems can arise with the festivities being over, 'real life' resuming, foul weather, first credit card bills of the year coming through our doors and so on. But in reality these symptoms cause year-round headaches for employers. Our event will help delegates prevent and treat these common workplace ailments. There's no doubt that a happy workforce is a productive workforce."

Every day is a Blue Monday for the world's working class and everyday the capitalist class wants us to be more productive .

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Workers Have No Country




Whether Polish plumbers, Portuguese hop-pickers or Chinese cockle-pickers, migrant labour in the UK is undoubtedly higher profile now than it has been for many decades. The focus groups and private polling used by the major parties are confirming immigration as the No 1 issue for voters at the moment.


In some parts of the UK the influx may well have resulted in increased unemployment for existing workers and appears to be putting a downward pressure on wages in some sectors.


It’s worth noting that there has been an enormous effort made to vilify, criminalise and erase racist language and ideas over the last few decades. World socialists have not opposed these developments but we have argued that racism – like other the so-called "hate" crimes – is usually fuelled and ignited by poverty and fear, and therefore cannot be removed until the cause is.


For workers fighting over crumbs in lower wage unskilled jobs, the temptation to blame your unemployment or wage level on foreign labour may be strong. But nevertheless such views are false. The blame lies elsewhere. In order to stay profitable, UK employers are demanding cheap labour. It makes good business sense to welcome cheap labour from overseas – you didn't have to pay for its education, and after you have exploited it for a lifetime, you still won’t have to pay its pension.


In many ways the government is only repeating at the national level what has been happening at employer level for many years with out-sourcing of staffing costs.


And while the free movement of labour is restricted, capital is of course expected to roam the globe looking out for ever better rates of exploitation, sniffing around the sweatshops for signs of harsher working conditions or longer hours. But if these chickens come home to roost – if little pockets of the third world's poor actually have the gumption or bravery to start popping up on our doorstep – then our local administrators of capitalism start to get a bit edgy.


As with so many issues, politicians are slowly realising that governments must simply accommodate to capitalism with regard to migration and accept it. They can only try to control it but if they are to have any hope of effectively securing borders and finding those who slip through they must expend vast sums as on ID cards and the like.


The World Socialist Movement didn't get its name for nothing. Unique amongst all political parties left and right we have no national axe to grind. We side with no particular state, no government, no currency. We have no time for nationalisation or privatisation, for border controls or for migration incentives. The world over, workers must do what they can individually and collectively to survive and resist capitalism. In many parts of the world that means escaping the tyranny of political terror or economic poverty. Politically however, workers should try and resist taking sides in the battles of the economic blocs who just happen to be named on the front of your passport. You must not blame another worker for your poverty. Instead we would argue that workers should recognise that – whether migrant or not, whether illegal or legal.
"... socialists must oppose nationalism in all its forms: not just refusing to espouse their creed, but defying the rituals, the anthem signing, flag saluting and other expressions of craven loyalty to the nation-state, that help enforce the idea of nation in our minds."

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Your Lives , Their Profits

A "frightening" report by the Health and Safety Executive which said the North Sea oil industry was not doing enough to safeguard the 30,000 people who work offshore. The report follows a three-year investigation of almost 100 offshore installations which revealed that on nearly 60% the state of plant was below an acceptable level and 16% of them were failing to comply with legislation.
Lessons learned and highlighted at the inquiry into the Piper Alpha disaster in which 167 men died in 1988 have been forgotten . Speaking at the launch of the KP3 report, Health and Safety Commission Chair Judith Hackitt said "corporate memory" had been "lost" since the disaster.

Unite union said: "It is clear to me there are companies out there which are still risking the lives of our members and the offshore workforce for the sake of a barrel of oil and that is unacceptable."

Findings :-
On 58% of installations inspected the plant was considered "poor".
10 of the 20 deluge systems ,vital in fighting fires , tested failed to meet standard.
Concern over key issues identified at the time of Piper Alpha, including Temporary Refuges and air conditioning, heating and ventilation.
The performance of management systems showed wide variations across the industry and even within the same company.
Poor understanding of potential impact of degraded, non-safety-critical plant and utility systems on safety-critical elements in the event of a major accident.
Senior managers not making adequate use of integrity management data and not giving ongoing maintenance enough priority.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Holidays

The UK will still be at the bottom of the European Union league for holidays even after workers are given new rights to paid leave, according to a report published today.

UK workers are entitled to a minimum of 20 days but if companies include the eight bank holidays in this figure, they are in effect giving staff only 12 days. A study by Incomes Data Services (IDS) showed that workers in other EU countries had more holidays, with Germany topping the league at 39 days a year, including public holidays, followed by Austria , 38, Sweden, 36, Slovakia, Luxembourg and France, 35, Portugal, 34, the Czech Republic and Slovenia, 33, Italy, Spain and Greece, 32 and Poland and Finland, 31 days .

Minimum entitlement in this country is to increase in two stages to 28 days by April 2009 under government moves to stop firms counting public holidays in workers' annual leave. IDS said that even after the changes, the UK would still be joint bottom of the EU league table for holidays. with the Netherlands.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

...Names will never hurt me

Two of Socialist Courier contributers felt the need to comment on recent health and safety statistics and the rise in deaths at work .

Why increase the expenditure on safety? It cuts profits and capitalism hates that! said RD

The Sunday Herald carries a story with much the same conclusion concerning the weakness of the recently passed legislation governing "corporate killing", which has just received Royal Assent and is expected to become law within months.

In the UK, between 1966 and 2006, more than 40,000 people have been killed in work-related circumstances, according to Gary Slapper, professor of Law at the Open University. 40,000 deaths .

But under the common law of culpable homicide (or manslaughter in England), only 34 companies were prosecuted and only seven convictions were secured. In Scotland, only one company has ever been prosecuted for corporate homicide - utility firm Transco for the Larkhall gas explosion, caused by a leaking main, which killed Andrew and Janette Findlay and their two children in their house in December 1999. Although the company was eventually fined £15 million in 2005 for breaching health and safety laws, the homicide charge failed because, given the disperse communication channels of large companies, the court could not find a "controlling mind" or pin the blame on one senior figure who knew enough to be liable.

The new legislation removes the requirement to find a "controlling mind." Now, it must only be shown that someone in senior management was guilty of "gross negligence". YET , under the new legislation, there are no extra duties that directors must adhere to. The maximum penalties are the same as under existing health and safety laws.

Courts will now also be able to order the company to publicise any conviction. The reputational damage and stigma is thought most likely to act as a deterrent and encourage directors to take health and safety concerns more seriously.

Patrick Maguire, legal adviser to the Scottish TUC who was also a member of the Scottish Executive's expert panel , however interprets the new law as one that simply finds new scapegoats .
"...the need to identify the "controlling mind" has simply been replaced by the need to find a senior management who committed "gross negligence"...It is not the board of directors that makes these decisions on health and safety. They delegate the task to middle and lower management. They are going to say the guy who got it wrong was not a senior manager "

A Labour regime that purports to be "tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime", exempts business from this treatment.

Voicing what the capitalist class thinks - and echoing the words of RD that the a central concern with any proposal which could mean stricter laws coming into force in Scotland, would scare businesses away , David Watt, director of the Institute of Directors in Scotland, said: "We don't have different company law across the UK. We don't want bits and pieces of company law pulled out and made more punitive in Scotland. We need all the incentives we can for people to do business here."



Friday, July 27, 2007

Deaths increase at work

The number of people killed at work has risen to its highest level in five years, according to official figures released today by the Health and Safety Commission .
The figures show that 241 people died in the United Kingdom in the last financial year compared to 217 the previous year.
The largest number of fatalities was on building sites where 77 people were killed - up 31%.

Other high-fatality jobs are in agriculture, waste and recycling where there are large numbers of non-unionised, vulnerable labour, including many migrant workers.

Health and Safety Commission staff and inspectors have been cut by 1,000 .

Brendan Barber, the general secretary of the TUC, said:
"...ministers have refused to place a specific legal duty for health and safety on company directors, and, with less money than ever at its disposal, the HSE has had to cut its staff, including the number of its safety inspectors."

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Anyone for Tennis ?- The physical price of fame

A study of 33 young elite players aged between 16 and 23 at a national tennis centre, who represent Britain's best hope for a future Wimbledon winner, found 28 of them had damaged spines. Nine players had stress fractures. Some of the damage was irreparable.

Far from improving fitness, the game could leave them seriously damaged. The demands of modern tennis are so extreme and the competition so intense that young players in training face a high risk of fractures, slipped discs and damaged joints, researchers for the Lawn Tennis Association say. The increased speed and types of strokes used in tennis all boost wear and tear on the lower back.

"...These players have backs like 50-year-olds, not 16-year-olds." - David Connel, of the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital

Friday, July 13, 2007

Cost-Cutting Cost Lives

Hoping to expand profits has led to the courts for Cadbury chocolate.

A major salmonella outbreak caused by Cadbury chocolate bars followed a decision to change the company's product testing system . The confectionery giant sought to save money and reduce wastage by introducing an "allowable tolerance level" for salmonella in its products . There was no safe level for salmonella cells in ready-to-eat products and that the organism could survive in chocolate for years. Chocolate acts as a protective layer for salmonella organisms, shielding them from acid in the stomach.

Until 2003 Cadbury had destroyed any chocolate which tested positive for salmonella, adopting an approach that "no amount of testing will make a positive result go away."
They then changed it to what they believed to be an allowable tolerance level. Cadbury sought to save money from wastage by allowing a tolerance for salmonella in their food. Large quantities of product were being destroyed and Cadbury's were looking for ways of avoiding that . There is no dispute that there is a linkage between the chocolate that was distributed by Cadbury and the poisoning that took place later on.

Cadbury has pleaded guilty at Birmingham Crown Court to breaching food and hygiene regulations in the summer of 2006 and the scare led to the recall of more than a million chocolate bars.

Mr. Zheng Xiaoyu, the former head of China's ministry of food and drug safety , was found guilty of putting cash before food safety has been sentenced to death . Fortunately for Cadbury's directors and management , Socialist Courier does not condone capital punishment .

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