Health and Safety News

Asbestos collusion 'killed thousands'

Was the knowledge that asbestos was a killer suppressed to save insurance companies from having to pay out millions? And did the government take part in this cover up?

US man wins $322 million payout after he contracts asbestosis from work

Working at height in China

HSE acknowledges that there is widespread under reporting of H&S failures

Cuts to Health and Safety Executive will cost workers their lives

Important court victorys in asbestos claims

Trade Union Coordinating Group Health and Safety Lobby on 2 March 2011

The 28th of February to 3rd of March is Health and Safety Action Week. The TUC and the Institute of Employment Rights will be working together to highlight H&S issues. There will be a lobby of parliament on the 2nd of March. Find out more.

First successful corporate manslaughter prosecution concludes

The First successful case against a company under changed laws for corporate manslaughter found Cotswold Geothechnical guilty as charged. More details on the case are listed in this section in an article from the 2nd of February, but essentially involved a junior geologist working in a trench that had no supports, resulting in a collapse and his suffocation.

Geotechnical were fined £385,000 and have been given 10 years to pay the full amount. The court indicated that collapse of Geotechnical would not necessarily be an inappropriate consequence of the offence and fine imposed.

Corporate manslaughter - how widespread is the problem

This is a landmark case for health and safety reps and will hopefully send out a warning to companies who fail to take seriously their responsibilities to keep their employees safe.

16th February 2011

Institute of Employment Rights says every day 60 people die from work

Labour's IoER refutes the governments claims that the UK is moving towards a "compensation culture" and cites a report commissioned by parliament in support of its position. The institute says that far from H&S laws being too strong, there are far too many peole dying or being seriously injured from work related accidents and diseases that are often entirely avoidable. According to the IoER's figures, every year around 1,500 die from injuries and 20,000 from work related diseases and the main problem is that existing laws are not properly enforced.

7th February 2011

Government consults on "cut price" injury reporting system

The latest H&S newsletter from the TUC comments on a Health and Safety Executive consultation document that invites comments on a proposal to extend the period of absence from work due to industrial accidents or disease from 3 days to 7 days. This follws a recommendation from Tory Peer, Lord Young last year.

The TUC correctly consider this to be a cost saving measure - both for business, but more particularly for the HSE, which is facing a funding cut of around 35%. However, it fails to take into account the cost of injuries to workers, their families and to companies. The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) are a main source of data for the HSE about the levels of safety in your workplace and the investigations that your company carries out after filing a report are an important reminder about maintaining safety standards.

Folow the link below to get a copy of the consultation document. The HLC strongly encourages all branches to contact the TUC or complete and return the consultation document themselves to highlight any concerns thay may have about the proposals.

5th February 2011

Pilots oppose rule change to allow them to work longer hours

Skyport reports that BALPA (British Airline Pilots Association) has been lobbying parliament this week to block a proposed EU rule change that could increase the period that they might be required to work from 10 hours and 15 minutes to 13 hours and 55 minutes. They have also presented reports to the European Aviation Safety Agency that indicate that pilot fatigue is the main factor in 15 to 20% of fatal air accidents and that the risk trebles when pilots have been on duty for over 12 hours.

5th February 2011

Waste firm has fifth fatality in 10 years, but is only fined £60,000

Health and safety reps will be concerned at the result of a recent case in which waste management firm Biffa, who has been prosecuted five times in the past ten years over fatalities at sites it manages was only fined £60,000 over a death at its Belfast facility. Biffa is valued at £1.2 billion and will barely notice the fine.

A far more substantial fine, or better still a conviction for corporate manslaughter appears to be necessary to make Biffa overhaul its safety procedures.

3rd February 2011

First Corporate Manslaughter trial under new law begins

Skyport reports that the family of Mohammed Abbasi Taj, who was killed in March 2008 after he was crushed by the tug he was working on have agreed a settlement of £220,000 with his employer's insurer after a high court battle. Hopefully after nearly three years of trying to achieve justice, this will bring some form closure to the family from Hayes in Middlesex. The accident happened near Heathrow's Terminal 1.

Mr. Taj was killed after the jack supporting the tug under which he was working slipped. A Health and Safety Executive investigation reported that the engineers for Aviance UK Ltd. were provided with jacks, but not axle stands, which exposed their enhineers to unnecessary risk. The HSE fined Aviance £90,000, who were also ordered to pay £18,800 in court costs.

The HLC hopes that Heathrow employers take note of the scale of the financial penalties and bad publicity that Aviance received in this case and will ensure that they provide suitable and properly maintained equipment to their staff, adequate training and supervision and sufficient assessment of the risks to which they are exposed.

We ask Heathrow workers to join us in remembering those of our colleagues who have died or been seriously injured as a result of their work on Workers' Memorial Day on April the 28th. Across the world people are still 3 times more likely to die from their work than because of war and the activities of Health and Safety reps in creating a safety culture remains as important as ever. The coalition government's position that H&S legislation is an unnecessary burden on the employer must be challenged and we deplore the 25% cut in the HSE's already inadequate funding.

23rd January 2011

The first trial for corporate manslauter under laws introduced in 2008 has started this week at Winchester Crown Court. The case concerns a junior geologist, Alexander Wright who died after a trench he was working in collapsed and he was suffocated by earth falling in to the trench. The prosecution alleges that his employer, Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings failed to line the sides of the trench with wooden supports.

If CGH are found guity of corporate manslaughter are found guilty they may be subject to an unlimited fine. The case in a landmark in health and safety and is expected to last for around three weeks. However, those of us who have lobbied for better H&S protection for workers are wary that so far the legal system has been reluctant to hold corporations and directors to full account for the deaths and injuries of their employees. We wish the family of Mr. Wright the best in their search for justice.

2nd February 2011

Aviance insurers agree to pay out £220,000 to family of killed engineer