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Showing posts with the label workers health and safety

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."

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 asp…

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…

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!!!


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 sta…

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…

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.

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..."

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…

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 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 .

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&…

Workers Have No Country

From the editorial of December's Socialist Standard

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…

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…

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 Neth…

...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 Janet…

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."

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

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 C…