Issue 193 - SafetyNet Journal 193Welcome to SafetyNet 193 - our regular fortnightly OHS e-journal. Read about reasons why workers retire early, the latest on asbestos and nanotechnology, and much more.
ACTU has new PresidentNew ACTU President Gerardine (Ged) Kearney took office on Thursday last week. Ms Kearney replaces Sharan Burrow. Ms Kearney has been a member of the ACTU Executive since April 2008, when she was elected Federal Secretary of the Australian Nursing Federation.
Ms Burrow was last week elected General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation – the first woman and first Australian to be elected to this position. Ms Burrow has vowed to tackle 'corporate greed' in her new role representing 175 million workers around the world. 'I know that my election to this position is in equal part for support for me but also respect and admiration for the strength of the Australian union movement in standing up for rights at work,' she said.
Ask RenataCould you please advise if it's compulsory for OHS Reps to be elected in the workplace ? What is the consequence if workplaces refuse to follow this process?
Under the Victorian OHS Act, workers have the right to elect one of their fellow workers to represent to represent them in ohs matters with the employer (or employer's rep). It is very important to have a representative, as this rep has rights and powers, and can take a matter up in various ways in order to reach a resolution.
The workplace should be divided into one or more 'designated work groups' or 'DWGs', each of which then has at least one elected rep. While it's not compulsory to have such consultative arrangements in place, if and when the workers want to go down this path, then the employer must cooperate and begin negotiations.
The employer has a duty under Section 35 of the Act to consult with workers on what consultative arrangements will be implemented in the workplace, as well as a duty to consult with workers and elected reps on a whole range of matters.
If your employer is refusing to initiate discussions on establishing DWGs - which is the first process that must be done prior to then the workers being able to elect/nominate a representative, then you should do the following:
- if you are in a union, contact the union and seek assistance
- if you're not in a union, contact the WorkSafe Advisory service for assistance - the number is 9641 1444 (if you're in country Victoria, there's a 1800 136 089 number).
If you have an issue or problem you would like some advice on, then Ask Renata. You'll get an answer within a couple working days at the latest.
Asbestos NewsNational Asbestos Summit June 28 & 29
Paul Bastian, AMWU Federal President, told over 100 people at the National Asbestos Summit in Sydney last week, that asbestos is still present in more than one-million homes, and many schools and workplaces, throughout Australia.
Cancer Council CEO Ian Oliver says the number of mesothelioma cases is still increasing in Australia, and is expected to kill up to 18-thousand Australians by 2020. Mesothelioma is a cancer the cause of which is asbestos exposure. The summit unanimously passed a declaration calling for an Australia free of asbestos by 2030 and called for the establishment of a dedicated and independent National Asbestos Unit to implement a wide range of strategies to deliver this.
Read more Coalition calls for asbestos free Australia by 2030 and Let's make Australia asbestos-free
Newsletter: One of Victoria's asbestos support groups which participated in the National Summit, GARDS, has just released its latest newsletter [pdf]
New SWA study shows trained worker more aware of asbestos
A new report from Safe Work Australia has found that workers who have received specific OHS training understand the risks of asbestos much better than older workers. This study follows up a previous one which found thousands of Australian workers still lack the skills or knowledge to identify asbestos-containing materials (ACMs).
262 electricians, plumbers, carpenters and painters, were surveyed. The findings make a very strong case for the need for employers to provide proper information and training on this deadly fibre, also because it found that workers who believed they were at risk of asbestos exposure were 1.8 times more likely to follow safe work practices at all stages of work with ACMs.
The Asbestos Exposure and Compliance Study of Construction and Maintenance Workers: Follow-up Report can be downloaded from the SafeWork Australia website.
Queensland to adopt asbestos plans
The Queensland Government has announced it will adopt recommendations in an independent audit of its policies and procedures for asbestos in schools. The auditor, former Master Builders' Assoc pres John Gaskin, said schools should have to obtain and file asbestos contractors' compliance and licensing details before they started work. Non-compliance should lead to potential show-cause exclusion from education department contracts and school staff should receive non-technical safety training. The Education and Training minister Geoff Wilson said all 13 recommendations were being adopted as well as tougher prosecution of asbestos breaches.
New rules for asbestos removal in WA
WA has only just made it mandatory for removalists to be licensed. Under the new requirements which came into effect on June 1, business operators removing more than ten square metres of "bonded asbestos" - including asbestos cement material - in a workplace will need to have completed an approved training course and hold an asbestos licence. "Bonded asbestos" is the term being used as the equivalent of Victoria's "non-friable" asbestos. WorkSafe WA Commissioner Nina Lyhne said that the National Code of Practice for the Safe Removal of Asbestos had been in place for many years, and therefore, 'there has always been a requirement for working safely with asbestos. These changes aim to improve compliance with the Code.'
Protests flow in to government on Canada Day
Workers around the world were urged to send a letter of protest to the Canadian government on July 1, Canada Day. In Australia, asbestos is still one of the highest causes of occupational death. It is unacceptable that a government of a first world country like Canada, can be so hypocritical as to have laws protecting their own workers from this deadly fibre, yet continue to subsidize its asbestos mining companies and increase export to third world countries. There is even government support to further expand the mining of asbestos with a new mine in Quebec. National health organisations in Canada on June 30 called for their government to ban both the use and export of all forms of asbestos.
ACTU campaign page
Protections under S*x Discrimination Act to be extendedThe Federal Government last week introduced amendments to the S*x Discrimination Act which will establish breastfeeding as a separate ground of discrimination and extend the existing protections from discrimination on family responsibility grounds. The S*x Discrimination Amendment Bill 2010 - introduced into the House of Representatives by Attorney General Robert McLelland - also protects students and workers from sexual harassment and ensures women and men are equally protected from sex discrimination. The changes will give effect to recommendations of a Senate Standing Committee report on the effectiveness of the S*x Discrimination Act in eliminating and promoting gender equality. Of particular interest to workers, the amendments will extend protection from discrimination on family responsibilities to both women and men in all areas of work. It has been reported that 'small' employers are already seeking exemption from these responsibilities.
Source: Workplace Express
Nanotechnology NewsGovernment opens new $63m nanotech research facility in Melbourne
Parliamentary Secretary for Innovation and Industry, Richard Marles, opened the new Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication this week. Mr Marles said the facility would be the centrepiece of the Australian National Fabrication Facility, and will position Australia at the forefront of the rapidly emerging field of nanotechnology. 'Nanotechnology is a genuinely exciting scientific field and the Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication is a state-of-the-art facility,' Mr Marles said. 'Nanotechnology has the potential to lead to life altering developments in fields as diverse as telecommunications, pharmaceuticals and medicine. This $63 million facility will position Australia at the cutting edge of R&D and in a prime position to become a world leader in commercial nanotechnology.'
While nanotechnology certainly does have 'life altering' potential, it is important that the community, including workers, are engaged in decisions about the technology and that their health and safety, and the environment, are protected by adequate regulation. Both unions and non-government organisations are urging government to ensure that the development of the technology is undertaken in a responsible manner.
Media Release. Read more on Nanotechnology and its potential hazards
Friends of the Earth seeking Nanotech campaigner - Melbourne
NGO and active campaigner on nanotech, Friends of the Earth, is seeking someone with a keen interest in the politics of science and technology to work for precautionary management of nanotechnology's environment, health and social challenges. FoE says the role is focussed on alliance building and outreach, communications, policy work and volunteer management. Key goals are to raise the profile of nanotechnology issues within civil society and to help create opportunities for growth of the Nanotechnology Project. Confidence to engage critically with the technical and political dimensions of science and technology issues is essential.
More information on the position, the full selection criteria and how to apply [pdf] Applications close Friday 6 August 2010.
Stakeholders back EU inventory of nanomaterials
Like in Australia, there is "overwhelming demand" among European stakeholders for an inventory of the types and uses of nanomaterials that would include safety aspects, according to the results of a European Commission consultation published in May. Consumer associations are calling for a mandatory reporting system, which is part of a "two-track" approach recommended in an EU consultancy report last year. As far as industry is concerned, EU trade association Cefic does not object to an inventory, but says its purpose would have to be clearly defined.
There is a mix of high expectations for what nanotechnology can achieve and concerns about potential safety risks. ICT and energy were largely seen as two areas where the use of nanotechnology would pose little risk and offer high benefit. Healthcare, agriculture and food were seen as areas where there are higher risks.
Source: European Trade Union Institute Consultation results [pdf]
Stress affecting school principalsThe Age this week reported that parents, violent students and increasing workloads are causing dozens of school principals to make workers' compensation claims for stress. Over the past five years almost $2.4 million has been paid on stress claims. Ballarat Secondary College principal Paul Rose, who recently led an Australian Education Union delegation to see Victoria's Education Minister Bronwyn Pike, said that this number was only the tip of the iceberg. 'A significant number of principals do not submit a stress claim because they're concerned that it's essentially a career killer,' he told The Age. A spokesman for the minister said that the government has responded by giving principals professional counselling and greater support, leading to a decrease in the number of claims. The union, however, wants more action on matters such as increased paperwork, extra department-imposed requirements, and the fact there are now fewer options to suspend or expel unruly students: all factors contributing to stress. Mr Rose also pointed out that new schools are now designing escape doors in principals' offices to use in cases where aggression is out of control.
Source: The Age. Read more on Stress, which should be treated as any other workplace hazard.
New free resourceThe president of the Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists, Charles Steer, has launched a new online resource site OHLearning. Aimed at safety professionals, managers and engineers (in the mining, automotive and manufacturing sectors, for instance), as well as health practitioners and occupational hygiene students and training providers, the resource addresses issues relating to the evaluation and control of physical, chemical and biological hazards. At the launch he commented that heavy-industry employers can save a lot of money on compensation costs - and prevent human suffering by having their worksites assessed for health-affecting hazards. 'Occupational health issues can take a long time to manifest themselves, If [employees are] exposed to dust, or exposed to noise, it might take a while before [they] go deaf, or have a lung problem,' he said.
The latest reports from Safe Work Australia on exposure to airborne contaminants and vibration (see below), lend weight to Mr Steer's arguments.
UK: Workplace deaths 'unfortunate, but it's part of life'!The TUC continues to strongly criticise the review of OHS law announced June 14 and Lord Young who is to undertake the review. By 19 June, the former Tory employment and trade secretary was telling The Times: 'People occasionally get killed, it's unfortunate but it's part of life' and declaring health and safety regulations protecting office workers were 'nonsense'. The Tory peer added that police and paramedics should be excluded from health and safety laws. He said the emergency services were 'paid for doing a job that involves risk.' TUC general secretary Brendan Barber commented: 'We would have hoped that, at the very least, any proposals for a review of health and safety would be based on the evidence rather than a selection of myths and distortions peddled by the media, more for their entertainment value than anything. Health and safety regulation is about saving lives and protecting workers from injury and illness and Lord Young needs to start listening to both workers and the families of those who have fallen victim to a lack of regulation and enforcement in the past.' He added: 'There can be no justification whatsoever for giving those whose job is to protect us, such as firefighters and the police, less protection under the law. This is giving out a message that the lives and health of our emergency workers are of less value than those they are trying to help. We know only too well that these people already risk their lives every day to keep us safe. Is the government now going to remove the laws that say their employer has to give them the training, equipment and support they need to protect them as is suggested?' Lord Young's review is expected to report in July.
Source: Risks 462
International trade unions and climate changeUnions from all over the world meeting in Vancouver last week were ready to adopt an ambitious and historic resolution on climate change. In the framework of the 2nd ITUC Congress, unions have debated their role in the fight against climate change, the means to create green and decent jobs and ensure a just transition towards a low carbon economy and the need for achieving a fair, ambitious and binding deal on climate under UN auspices. 'In the last years, unions have deepened their understanding and commitment on climate change; the time has come in this 2nd ITUC Congress to consolidate our policies,' said Guy Ryder, General Secretary of the ITUC.'With this resolution, trade unions of the world show that if there is ambition and solidarity, it is possible to agree on the measures needed to combat climate change; governments should step up to their responsibilities, as unions have done.'
The resolution establishes policies on the need for ambitious emission reductions in developed countries, for sufficient funding to be allocated to help the poorest of the world to adapt to climate change, and for developing countries not to repeat the mistakes of the past but to engage instead in a different development path, so as to help build the low carbon, climate resilient and socially-fair world we need. 'Climate change is definitely a workers' issue, and Congress is demonstrating leadership by showing that there is no incompatibility between achieving decent work and social justice and protecting the environment', said Sharan Burrow, newly elected President of the ITUC.
ITUC media release
Early retirement due to poor health, high work demandsDutch researchers undertaking a review of a number of studies have found that while poor health was the most important reason given for early retirement, other factors identified include high work pressure, high physical work demands and low job satisfaction. Focus group interviews with older workers in the printing industry conducted by the researchers also identified heavy work loads, shiftwork and lack of support from co-workers and management as factors that could lead them to early retirement. When asked what might make them postpone taking early retirement, the workers nominated reducing workload, increasing social support from colleagues, appreciative and supportive leadership, and health promotion
Influence of Health and Work on Early Retirement - van den Berg, Tilja I. J. MSc; Elders, Leo A. M. PhD; Burdorf, Alex PhD Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine June 2010 - Volume 52 - Issue 6 - pp 576-583 [abstract]
Roofers: early retirement due to musculoskeletal injuries and poor healthAnother study has found that a combination of poor health and musculoskeletal disorders is forcing roofers into early retirement. The study of 979 roofers between the ages of 40 and 59 found that 10 per cent left the roofing trade within a year, and of those leaving, 60 per cent left their job due to chronic pain, work-related musculoskeletal disorders and poor health. When that group was examined in a one-year follow-up, researchers found that they were four times more likely to suffer mild economic impact, 19 times more likely to suffer moderate economic impact, and 6.5 times more likely to experience severe economic impact from their early retirement. The findings, based on a study of unionised workers in the US, are published in the July issue of the American Journal of Industrial Hygiene. 'We believe our research may understate the social and economic impact of injuries and diseases among aging workers in this industry,' said Laura Welch, the principal investigator and lead author of the paper. 'Our research drew from a population of union workers. Other research shows wage and benefit levels of non-union roofers are lower than that of union roofers, who have a retirement and disability pension system available to them.' The risk factors for leaving the trade identified in the study - age and physically demanding work - point to a need to modify work practices, a change in work organisation or modifying risk factors to prevent disability and the attendant economic impact, the authors said.
CPWR news release [pdf]. Source: Risks 463
'Workaholism' bad for healthRecent research done in Sweden has found that workers who push themselves too hard are more likely to ignore and aggravate health problems. They warn that employers should not encourage excessive "striving behaviour" which can have serious implications.
The study, which explored the association between performance-based self-esteem (PBSE) and sickness presenteeism (SP), was based on a survey of more than 7000 workers and students aged between 20 and 24. The researchers found that more than one in ten respondents said they had worked in spite of illness on more than five days in the previous 12 months, and that workers with PBSE were more likely to attend work when ill, and those with high PBSE did so more frequently. This characteristic predicts future long-term sick leave and reduced long-term health.
Source: OHSAlert "Pushing Oneself Too Hard": Performance-Based Self-Esteem as a Predictor of Sickness Presenteeism Among Young Adult Women and Men-A Cohort Study.[abstract] Jesper Löve, et al, Sweden, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Volume 52, Issue 6, June 2010.
A more serious note at the World CupWhile the buzz has certainly been an annoyance for fans watching the matches on TV, World Cup event workers who are experiencing repeated and extended exposure to vuvuzela noise may end up with some irreversible damage. A study published in the South African Medical Journal found that study participants exposed to vuvuzela noise "experienced peak sound pressure levels that exceeded 140 decibels." The Australian exposure standard for noise is that the maximum exposure not exceed 85dBA over 8 hours, but no more than a maximum of 140dB for any period of time. Eight of the 10 study participants experienced peak sound pressure levels that exceeded 140dB with a maximum peak level reaching 144dB. This is extremely loud: a jet engine at takeoff measures 130-140dB. Further, the study found significant changes in participants post-match hearing thresholds and cochlear responsiveness. While the researchers recommended that fans wear hearing protection, they seem to have forgotten the hundreds of workers (and the players and referees) who are repeatedly exposed to the noise. News reports over the past few days have also indicated that it looks like the vuvuzela will be banned from international rugby matches - apparently because it is more distracting to rugby players than to soccer (football) players!
Source: CDC NIOSH Science blog
More changes for OHSReaders will be aware of the significant changes which have occurred over the past few weeks in Australia, politically speaking. For a start, Minister Simon Crean will now be overseeing the harmonisation of Australia's OHS laws, as part of the Federal Education, Employment, Workplace Relations and Social Inclusion portfolio Prime Minister Gillard passed over to him in the frontbench reshuffle. The ACTU has welcomed the appointment of Mr Crean, former ACTU president and Opposition Leader, to this position. ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence said, 'We expect to have a constructive relationship with Mr Crean to build on the improvements to rights at work under the Labor Government. We need to go forwards on workers' rights, not backwards to the Liberals' new version of WorkChoices. Unions look forward to Mr Crean continuing the Government's positive agenda for working Australians.' (ACTU Media Release)
And the way things do sometimes, these changes have affected WorkSafe Victoria. Cathy Bowtell, WorkSafe's recently appointed Executive Director of Health and Safety, resigned last week, confirming she would be seeking preselection for the seat of Melbourne. Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner, who is currently the federal member for Melbourne, announced he would be retiring at the next election. WorkSafe will be recommencing a search for a replacement to fill the position of Executive Director of Health and Safety, with the position being filled for the moment by Ms Marlo Baragwanath, who is currently leader of WorkSafe's Legal Services Division.
Too many fatalities in 2009/10WorkSafe Victoria last week released a media release to coincide with the end of the 2009/10 financial year announcing that due to lapses in workplace safety, twenty-nine Victorians had been killed. One of these workers was female – a female vineyard worker in Woori Yallock died after being struck by a falling branch during heavy storms in June. Nine of the fatalities occurred in Melbourne, and 17 in regional Victoria. Regional fatalities included the double fatality of a father and son at Rainbow, who were electrocuted when the windmill they were transporting struck an overhead powerline.
'The workplace fatality toll serves as a continual reminder to employers and workers that health and safety can be a life or death matter,' WorkSafe's Strategic Programs Director Trevor Martin said. 'We know the overwhelming majority of deaths and workplace injuries can be predicted and therefore prevented – however, complacency and simple mistakes are still killing people needlessly,' he said.
Machine related injuriesWorkSafe has announced that its inspectors will be targeting small business safety over the coming year, with inspectors giving special attention to small businesses in 14 suburbs and towns across Victoria. Businesses in each area will be visited by inspectors over a five day period as part of WorkSafe's Safe Towns and Safer Work Zones campaign, which has been running for nearly a decade. 'The focus of this campaign is to encourage small businesses to identify and fix basic safety issues,' WorkSafe's Strategic Programs Director Trevor Martin said.
WorkSafe media release
SafeWork Australia releases two exposure reportsSafe Work Australia Chair, Mr Tom Phillips AM, yesterday announced the release of two reports from the National Hazard Exposure Worker Surveillance survey, which is used to determine the current nature and extent of Australian workers' exposure to identified occupational disease causing hazards.
The two reports, which can be downloaded from the Safe Work Australia website are:
- National Hazard Exposure Worker Surveillance: Exposure to dust, gases, vapours, smoke and fumes and the provision of controls for these airborne hazards in Australian workplaces - focusing on the exposure of Australian workers to dust, gases, vapours, smoke and fumes and the control measures that are provided in workplaces that eliminate, reduce or control worker exposure to these airborne hazards.
The report found that 39 per cent of Australian workers were exposed to airborne hazards in the workplace, and that young workers were more likely to be exposed. The industries with the highest likelihood of exposure to airborne hazards included manufacturing, transport and storage, construction and agriculture, forestry and fishing – with occupations such as technicians and trades workers, machinery operators and drivers and labourers having the highest likelihood of exposure. A finding of great concern was that almost one quarter of workers to airborne contaminants were not provided with any form of control, and another 22 per cent only provided with one (most likely PPE).
- National Hazard Exposure Worker Surveillance: Vibration exposure and the provision of vibration control measures in Australian workplaces - as above, but focusing on exposure to vibration. The report found that 23 per cent of exposed workers reported that no controls for vibration were provided, and only 27 per cent had received any training.
Both reports have three aims: The first aim is to describe patterns of exposure to airborne contaminants and vibration in conjunction with patterns of hazard control provisions with respect to industry, occupation and other relevant demographic and employment variables. The second aim is to make recommendations, where possible, for the development of work health and safety and workers compensation policy. The final aim of the reports is to provide researchers in these fields with clear and constructive directions for future research.
Safe Work Media Release [pdf]
Useful MaterialsA number of new publications from WorkSafe Victoria
Five new Health and Safety Solutions for the tyre fitting industry developed with the involvement of BACC, Bridgestone, Beuarepairs and the AMWU (vehicle division).
- Tyre fitting - Tyre changing
- Tyre fitting - Storage of new tyres
- Tyre fitting - Wheel dunking
- Tyre fitting - Wheel balancing
- Tyre fitting - Fitting and removing wheels
Guidance Note: Telehandlers - Design and licensing. Provides advice on design and licensing requirements for telehandlers.
Alert: Working with stone - For importers, suppliers and users of stone tiles and other decorative stones . Provides advice to people importing, supplying and using tiles and decorative stacked stone, loose natural stone or pebbles (harmonised with other jurisdictions).
WorkSafe WA has updated its franchise industry handbook, which lists hazards common to the food industry, and management tips: Managing health safety in food retail [pdf]
Anaconda prosecuted after fallAnaconda Group Pty Ltd was prosecuted last week after a 14 year-old boy fell approximately nine metres from the top of a climbing wall in its Frankston store, due to damaged climbing equipment. The incident, which occurred in November 2008, was due to the belay equipment not having been installed safely by the contracted installer; and Anaconda failing to adequately train workers on equipment maintenance and inspection. The Frankston Magistrates' court fined Anaconda Group a total of $70,000 without conviction, after the company faced two charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004.
'Operators have a duty towards members of the public to make sure their services and equipment are fail-safe – this is the only way their customers are going to have confidence in them,' WorkSafe's Manufacturing and Logistics Director Ross Pilkington said.
WorkSafe Media Release
Third prosecution after apprentice burned in 'prank'A 23 yr old Yarra Valley man was the third person to be convicted last week for setting an apprentice alight in a sickening workplace attack. Matthew Lever, 23, was one of three apprentices who sprayed brake cleaner on fellow diesel mechanic apprentice Daniel Bridgborn "for a laugh'. The young worker, then 17, spent a week at The Alfred hospital burns unit where surgeons used synthetic skin to repair his wounds. The man was fined $5000 plus $1000 in costs. The two other apprentices were convicted on health and safety charges in December 2008, and also fined $5,000 each.
In this case the company was not prosecuted as, according to WorkSafe, it had done the right thing: 'they'd spelt out their expectation that bullying and pranks would not be tolerated, and disciplined all three apprentices on a previous occasion.'
Source: WorkSafe Media Release
UK: BP broke safety rules 54 times in five yearsAccording to the UK's OHS body, the Health and Safety Executive, oil giant BP has broken vital health-and-safety rules 54 times over the past five years in the UK. The British multinational corporation, which is facing international condemnation for the incident that is polluting the Gulf of Mexico, has been accused of a series of maintenance and operating lapses which put workers and the environment at risk from major leaks, fires and accidents in the North Sea and elsewhere. As a result HSE has served BP companies with 21 legal enforcement notices since 2006, requiring lax and dangerous practices to be improved. Unfortunately, though, the company has not been prosecuted by the HSE since 2005.
Rory O'Neill, professor of occupational health research at the University of Stirling, was scathing about BP's record. 'BP has almost cornered the market on official health-and-safety reprimands in the US and it is deeply concerning that it is clearly failing to operate safely in the UK too,' he said. 'The company's egregious failings on safety can be traced, oily footprint by oily footprint, to decisions made and policies enforced by its London-based board. Those boardroom failings apply equally to its approach in the UK as they do in the US.'
Read more: The Herald Scotland
United States NewsWork safety laws are top public issue
Health and safety regulations are the most important workplace issue for the public, new US research has found. A national poll on by the Public Welfare Foundation and researchers at the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center found a massive 85 per cent say workplace safety regulations are 'very important', heading the poll. This was followed by family and maternity leave (78 per cent), a minimum wage (70 per cent) and paid sick leave (69 per cent) in the ranking of very important public concerns. Government data show that more than 40 million workers in the US do not have paid sick days, and many more do not have paid sick days that they can use to care for a sick child or family member. More than half of workers without paid sick days (55 per cent) have gone to work with a contagious illness like the flu, compared to 37 per cent of workers with paid sick days, the study found. Nearly twice as many workers without paid sick days (24 per cent) have sent a sick child to school or daycare than workers with paid sick days (14 per cent). Three in every four respondents overall (75 per cent) favoured a law that guarantees paid sick days for all workers, and most support pro-rated paid sick days for part-time workers. 'Americans overwhelmingly view paid sick days as a basic labour standard,' concluded Dr Tom W Smith, a senior fellow at the National Opinion Research Center and director of the study.
Public Welfare Foundation News Release, and Full report [pdf]. Source: Risks 462
NIOSH Monitoring Work-Related Cancer
Past estimates suggested that about 4 per cent of cancer deaths in the United States are caused by occupational exposures. However, current thinking is that this number underestimates the real burden of occupational cancer. Many of the studies that reported on the health effects of carcinogens were conducted in manufacturing, the sector which - with more than 16 million workers - has one of the largest workforces in the US. Based on the results of these studies, workplace exposures to carcinogens have been monitored and reduced worldwide, in some cases through the development of protective standards.
Now, the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) through the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) wants to focus cancer prevention efforts on the manufacturing sector, which includes industries such as Beverage and Tobacco, Food, Wood Products, Primary Metals, Fabricated Metal Products, Transportation Equipment, Furniture, and Chemical Manufacturers.
NORA recently released a publication, Work-Related Cancer [pdf] (NIOSH Publication No. 2010-145: May 2010) which outlines the strategic goal to reduce the incidence and prevalence of cancer due to exposures in the manufacturing sector. The publication suggests ways in which you can help in this effort by applying research findings, educating employees and employers about existing workplace hazards linked to cancer, and developing and adopting interventions shown to be effective in preventing work-related cancer.
Proposal of new rule to prevent black lung disease
The Mine Safety and Health Administration last week moved towards meeting a goal set in the Labor Secretary's regulatory agenda: proposing a rule to prevent black lung disease by submitting a proposed rule entitled "Lowering Miners' Exposure to Coal Mine Dust Including Continuous Personal Dust Monitors" for review. Mine workers in the US continue to develop debilitating lung diseases from exposure to respirable coal and silica dust. The most protective standards to protect miners' health are in the 1969 Coal Act, which include mandatory limits on the concentrations of dust allowed in miners' work environment. By the early 1990's however, public health researchers determined those measures were not adequate and too many US workers continue to be at risk of developing severe impairment.
Read more: The Pump Handle