Issue 229 - SafetyNet 229
Welcome to edition 229 we bring you once again the latest in national and international OHS news and useful information.
Fatality at Hepburn Springs
A truck driver died at Hepburn Springs the night of Tuesday 24 January when he was crushed by his rig. The Hepburn Springs man, who was aged in his 60s, had attached the prime mover to a trailer a short time before it rolled forward. He was crushed when he fell under the wheels, apparently as he tried to get into the cabin and apply the brakes. WorkSafe's preliminary inquiries suggest the brakes on the prime mover had not been applied. The added weight was initially supported by the trailer's parking brakes, but a build up of air pressure in the system allowed the trailer brakes to be released.
Source: WorkSafe Media Release
Industrial accident this morning leaves man in serious condition
A man suffered serious burns when he was sprayed with scalding liquid at a factory in Laverton North. The incident occurred just before 4am this morning. It appears the 41-year-old man was on a ladder trying to unblock a pipe, when the ladder slipped, tearing off a pressure valve. He was sprayed with a mixture of fat and water, heated to 140 degrees. His workmates put him in a shower to cool the burns until the ambulance crews arrived. The workers suffered burns to his face, neck and hands and was taken to the Alfred Hospital in a serious condition.
Source: ABC news online
I'm currently putting together an MSDS register for our company. We work with small children in a childcare setting. Do I need to include their craft materials; PVA glue, glitter glue, paint and so on, even though they all non-toxic?
The regulations stipulate that the employer must keep a copy, in a register, of current MSDSs for all chemicals or products that meet the definition of 'hazardous' - so if the materials are 'non-toxic' then there's no legal requirement to keep an MSDS on them.
However, it's always wise to make sure you have as much information as possible, as though something may be officially 'non-toxic' (or more particularly, non-hazardous) it may still be a problem for some people if they have sensitivities, and this may be the case with children. Part 4 of the 2007 regulations is on hazardous substances.
In any case the employer has a general duty of care to provide 'adequate information' for employees, and also make sure that nothing the business or employees do affect the health and safety of others (see: Employer duties) Manufacturers and supplier of substances also have a duty to provide adequate information – see this page.
Please take advantage of this great service which provides clear answers to OHS - related queries or questions. Sent these in through the Ask Renata function on the website. You'll get a response within a couple of working days at the latest.
Australian Matt Peacock ADAO keynote speakerThe Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) has announced that investigative reporter Matt Peacock of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation will deliver the keynote speech at the 8th Annual International Asbestos Awareness Conference in March.
Matt Peacock, who has participated in past VTHC Asbestos Awareness Week events, has been a thorn in the side of asbestos manufacturers in Australia since he first began reporting on the dangers of asbestos in the 1970s. Source: Abestos.com
Steve McQueen Award: Post-scriptAs detailed in the last edition of SafetyNet, US actor Steve McQueen will be honoured by ADAO at the conference. McQueen died of cardiac arrest, the day after an operation to remove large abdominal tumours, the result of metastasis of the mesothelioma throughout much of his body. While McQueen thought that asbestos used in movie soundstage insulation and race-drivers' protective suits and helmets may have contributed to his illness, he believed it was a direct result of massive exposure while removing asbestos lagging from pipes aboard a troop ship during his time in the Marines. Source: Wikipedia
Common cold may help attack mesothelioma tumoursResearchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania say that a clinical trial using a modified cold virus can help attack mesothelioma tumours. The study was featured in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. Researchers studied the effects of nine mesothelioma patients who were injected with the adenovirus, a version of the common cold virus, altered by the scientists to contain high levels of interferon-alpha, an immune system stimulant.
When the virus began killing the cancer cells, some patients showed signs that their immune systems continued to fight the tumour. Of the nine who were treated, evidence of stability or tumour regression was seen in five patients. Doctors observed no signs of regression in four patients with advanced stages of mesothelioma. The study's author, Dr. Steven M. Albelda, said that the treatment could eventually help patients with early stage malignant mesothelioma. Source: Mesothelioma News
What's it like working as an apprentice or trainee?
Tell us so we can make things better for apprentices and trainees like you in the future. Visit this page and anonymously answer some quick questions about the sorts of behaviours you have experienced at work during your time as an apprentice or trainee. The Australian Catholic University and Swinburne University are running this research project for Skills Victoria. All Victorian apprentices and trainees are encouraged to participate so please forward the survey link on to anyone who may be eligible to take part.
Union launches campaign against money grab
The Australian Workers Union this week launched a campaign to stop the Victorian Government grabbing money from WorkSafe. The government intends to introduce legislation to Parliament this month which would allow it take $471.5 million from surplus funds held by WorkSafe.
AWU Victorian Secretary Cesar Melhem said the move would compromise the ongoing viability of WorkSafe, and was a slap in the face for workers and employers alike. 'This money has come from premiums paid to WorkCover for the benefit of injured workers and to support occupational health and safety in the state,' Mr Melhem said. 'It is beyond outrageous to even suggest that this money should simply be skimmed off and redirected to general revenue.'
The AWU is asking members, employers, and MPs to join the campaign and sign the online petition 'Mr Ted Baillieu: Keep your hands off WorkCover'.
'If there is a surplus, improve safety services, research and compensation for injured workers, and if there is still money left over then employers obviously should be paying lower premiums,' said Mr Melhem. AWU Media Release
Get help and training on the prevention of bullying
Have you thought about participating in the previously announced WorkSafe funded (but independently-run) bullying prevention project) on bullying. As reported in SafetyNet, the team running the 'Top Down Bottom Up' Bullying Prevention Project, is looking for small to medium (up to 200 employees) workplaces in the manufacturing, hospitality or retail sector to participate in developing an ongoing collaborative approach to bullying that is more than compliance. Designed as an intensive prevention/early intervention program, 'Top Down Bottom Up' is both innovative and unique. The project will involve both management and elected health and safety reps (or if no reps, then employee reps) in either intensive training/coaching or seminar attendance – and sounds fabulous.
If you think your workplace has a capacity to implement change in the workplace and does not have a current unresolved bullying issue (the project has a prevention focus), then contact the project team directly for more information – but do it quickly! Either phone or email: Brian Martin Tel: 0400 939 800 or Deb Ferguson Tel: 0410 212 001
Teachers Union/FoE distribute leaflets on nano in sunscreen
The Australian Teachers Union and Friends of the Earth (FoE) have arranged to distribute 50,000 copies of the organisation's Safe Sunscreen Guide to teachers, encouraging them, and their students, to use sunscreens that don't include nanoparticles. The initiative is the result of a position taken by the AEU last year. AEU Victorian president Mary Bluett released a statement at the time that said, 'While the jury is still out on how safe nanoparticles are, we are advising schools to be cautious and consider using nano-free sunscreen, of which there are a number widely available on the market.' Read more: ABC Environment Online
Melbourne's wheel awaiting technical report
Bill Oliver, secretary of Victoria's building union the CFMEU, has told the media that despite reports of work on the Dockland's big wheel having recommenced, this was not the case. He said the union's position was clear: 'Until safety concerns regarding the … wheel are examined by an independent engineers report, work cannot resume.'
The company behind the wheel, Southern Star Management, had said that work had restarted on the wheel which had been 'restrained and secured'. The company also said WorkSafe had lifted a non-disturbance notice on the site and work was expected to restart 'shortly'. In November last year work was halted after the wheel broke from its mountings and spun freely, sending large chunks of metal crashing to the ground and workers fleeing for safety. Source: The Age
Secure Jobs. Better Future – Insecure Work in Australia, Public hearings
More than 500 workers, unions, community and other representative groups have lodged a submission with the Independent Inquiry into Insecure Work in Australia. ACTU President Ged Kearney said the overwhelming response to the inquiry, chaired by former Deputy Prime Minister Brian Howe, showed insecure jobs were clearly a major concern for Australian workers and their families. Submissions and other information are available from the Secure Jobs. Better Future website
During February and March 2012, members of the Inquiry panel will be visiting every capital city as well as a number of regional centres to hear from workers, employers, academics and community groups. This will be an important opportunity for workers to tell their own stories about insecure work. In addition to written submissions, the ACTU is asking unions to organise for members in different areas of insecure work to appear as witnesses. The Melbourne hearings will be March 21 & 22, but more details of dates and venues will be provided in the next SafetyNet. Read more: ACTU Media Release
International Union News
British government blames 'health and safety culture'!
British Prime Minister David Cameron's last month claimed that that UK businesses are in a 'stranglehold' of health and safety 'red tape' and compensation claims and resolved to 'to kill off the health and safety culture for good'. In a speech to a business audience on 5 January he said, the government was 'waging war against the excessive health and safety culture that has become an albatross around the neck of British businesses.'
safety bodies and corporate killing campaigners are naturally appalled. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said the prime minister's comments 'represent probably the biggest verbal assault on health and safety by a senior politician for many years, which is saying something, given that only last summer the PM was blaming the English riots on the UK's health and safety culture.' Robertson added: 'I wish we had a health and safety culture in the UK... Instead of headline-grabbing claims, what we need is a commitment to protect workers with proper enforcement and penalties against those employers that flout the law and put lives at risk.'
Against Corporate Killers (FACK), said the PM's speech was 'completely fact-free' and 'based in fantasy'. FACK spokesperson Louise Taggart said: 'Whereas Cameron believes he is signalling the end of alleged 'burdens on business' in fact he has just sounded the death knell for hundreds of workers and members of the public.' Louise, whose brother Michael was electrocuted at work aged 26, added Cameron's casualties would include 'loved ones who, like my brother, will leave the house one day only to return in an undertaker's van.' Richard Jones of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) described the prime minister's comments as 'appalling and unhelpful'. He added: 'The number of work-related fatalities rose recently for the first time in years.' Source: Risks 258
But proof that safety reps improve safety AND save employers money
According to a new TUC report Facility Time: Separating Fact from Fiction [pdf ] , a 2007 review conducted by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills found the UK's work-related injury and illness rates were lower in unionised workplaces – a saving to employers of between £171 (A$253) million and £578 (A$855) million each year. Dismissal and voluntary exit rates were also lower in unionised workplaces, saving employers up to £356 (A$527) million a year in recruitment costs. 'For every £1 spend on trade union facility time in the public sector... between £2 and £5 is returned in accrued benefits,' the TUC report said.
The report, written by Industrial Relations Professor Gregor Hall of Hertfordshire University, was prompted by a Government-commissioned study (undertaken by what Hall called a 'right-wing pressure group') that found £113 (A$167) million of taxpayers' money was used to support the activities of union representatives in the public sector in the 2010/11 financial year. 'Crucially, what was missing from the [study] was any consideration of the benefits which might accrue to the tax payer and wider public from supporting the work of trade union representatives,' the report said. 'In other words, the [study] made no attempt to undertake a 'cost-benefit' analysis of the role of union reps in the public sector'
The report also noted that union reps in the UK public sector contributed up to 100,000 unpaid hours of their own time each week, and that the benefits of union representation 'are spread across the whole workforce, not just those in membership'.
Tackle teacher stress or pay, says Scottish union
Schools must tackle soaring teacher stress, Scottish teaching union EIS has said. The union says excessive workloads and poor management are causing physical and mental injuries to teaching staff. The union revealed it had settled a six figure out-of-court compensation claim for a member who suffered a stress-related psychiatric injury after the employer failed to act on a series of warnings about excessive workloads. EIS general secretary Ronnie Smith said: 'The fact that this record compensation award arose from a workload related case, which was compounded by a lack of management support, is no coincidence. This clearly illustrates just how serious such injuries can be, and the heavy price that employers will have to pay if they fail in their obligations to protect their staff.' He added: 'Employers should be using the Health and Safety Executive's stress management standards and trying to reduce and control the levels of stress caused by work activities. Stress-related illnesses are extremely serious and can take a huge toll on the individual concerned. The long-term effects can be significant, and recovery can take a long period of time. While the EIS supports members in stress-related claims, our preference would always be for such cases to be avoided completely.' Source: Risks 538 EIS news release.
International union statement on the Costa Concordia
With regards to the sinking of the Italian cruise ship the Costa Concordia, International Transport Federation general secretary David Cockroft said on January 16: 'This is a human tragedy that came close to being even worse than it was. We understand that six people are currently known to be dead and 10 missing, six of them seafarers. The wellbeing of their families and of the passengers and crew who went through this harrowing experience is at the forefront of everyone's thoughts today.'
'There is some comfort in the fact that the ship is owned by a reputable company and, importantly, is Italian flagged, so a full investigation is certain. We trust that this will cover all aspects of the accident and issues surrounding the subsequent evacuation.' He continued: 'We wish to salute the individual acts of heroism and selflessness that are emerging, including from crew, rescue services and the people of Giglio who have thrown open their homes to the survivors. The ITF is ready to offer any help it can to its colleagues in Italy, where the trade unions are playing an important support role in helping those affected.'
The latest news is that there have been seventeen confirmed deaths and there are 16 people still missing, although numbers are unclear as it appears there could have been a number of unaccounted for 'guests' on the ship at the time. Officials have virtually ruled out finding anyone still alive, almost three weeks after the ship sank. Rough seas and conditions have led to an announcement that the search for the missing is being discontinued. Removing the hundreds and thousands of litres of fuel is likely to take almost a year.
Europe: Temporary jobs are bad for health
A study of workers in the European Union has found getting stuck in a series of temporary jobs has a significant negative effect on health. Researchers from Germany's Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung (RWI) used data from 27 European countries, including the UK, to evaluate the impact of temporary employment on health. They say their 'findings suggest that there are differences in self-reported health by type of employment contract. Regarding temporary employment, one can observe that full-time permanent workers are more likely to be in better health than full-time temporary workers.' While they found the health status of temporary and permanent workers was no different at the start of their employment, 'repeated temporary contracts have a significant negative impact on health.' The report says the health impact is not immediate, but affects those 'who have an additional temporary contract compared to workers who find a job with a permanent contract. Therefore, temporary employment seems to have only an impact on health after some time in temporary employment, but not at the beginning.'
Christoph Ehlert and Sandra Schaffner. Health effects of temporary jobs in Europe, Ruhr Economic Papers, Number 295 [pdf ]. Source: Risks 539
Cost of work-related injury and disease compares with cost for heart disease, cancer
A recently published paper has found that at (US)$250 billion, the cost of work-related injury and disease in the US is comparable with the cost of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. J. Paul Leigh, a professor of health economics at University of California, assembled data from more than a dozen sources to estimate the annual economic burden of occupational injuries and illnesses. Using data from 2007, his estimate includes direct and indirect costs for fatal and nonfatal injuries, as well as numerous diseases associated with exposures in the work environment. Cost components included spending on hospitals, physicians, pharmaceuticals, and so on, as well as current and future lost earnings, fringe benefits, and home production.
The $250 billion estimate for occupational injury and disease compares to estimates for other major diseases: cardiovascular disease ($431.8 billion), cancer ($219 billion), diabetes ($174 billion), coronary heart disease ($151.6 billion) and stroke ($62.7).
Leigh. J P Economic Burden of Occupational Injury and Illness in the United States University of California, Davis [pdf] Milbank Quarterly Volume 89, Issue 4, Article first published online: 22 DEC 2011 Source: The Pump Handle
Miscarriages in nurses linked to work exposures
A US study has found that nurses who worked with chemotherapy drugs or sterilising chemicals were twice as likely to have a miscarriage as their colleagues who didn't handle these materials. Lead author Christina Lawson, a researcher at the US government's National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH), said because chemotherapy drugs typically target rapidly dividing cells, such as those in a tumour - or a foetus - they have been a concern for pregnant women who come into contact with them. Lawson and colleagues from NIOSH and the Harvard School of Public Health surveyed nearly 7,500 nurses who had a pregnancy between 1993 and 2002.The nurses were asked to remember how often they worked with certain chemicals or equipment, such as x-rays, anaesthetics, anti-cancer drugs and disinfectants, during each trimester. One out of every 10 nurses ended up losing her pregnancy before the half-way point, 20 weeks, similar to the rate of miscarriages in the general population. However, among nurses who handled chemotherapy drugs for more than an hour a day, that rate was double - about two out of every 10 nurses lost her pregnancy. Nurses who gave patients x-rays had a slightly elevated risk of miscarriage too, about 30 per cent higher than nurses who didn't work with x-rays. And nurses who handled sterilising agents, such as ethylene oxide or formaldehyde, more than an hour a day also had a doubled risk of miscarriage, but only during the second trimester. The findings were published online last month in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Christina C Lawson and others. Occupational exposures among nurses and risk of spontaneous abortion [abstract], American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, published online ahead of print, 30 December 2011. Source: Risks 540
WorkSafe free RTW workshop
WorkSafe Victoria is holding a free workshop in Melbourne's west to give employers the tools they need to help injured people back to safe work sooner on February 16.
Latest figures show employers who attend WorkSafe's return to work events achieve return to work rates up to 3.4% better than employers who do not. Speakers include Occupational Physiotherapist Nick Economos as well as psychologists Jacqui Stanford and Dr Peter Cotton who will provide information about how to support injured people who are at the highest risk of not returning to work, particularly those with a musculoskeletal and/or psychological injury.
The workshop will run from 9am to 11.30am at Sanctuary Lakes Resort in Sanctuary Lakes (Point Cook). Register for the event on WorkSafe's Workshops and events section of the website.
WorkSafe Victoria Machine operators project
As part of a broader project targeting key manual handling and slip and trip hazards, risks and related claims for workers in a number of prioritised occupations, WorkSafe has provided information on the 'machine operators project'. The project is seeking to ensure employers of machine operators control so far as is reasonably practicable musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) risks associated with hazardous manual handling tasks, and musculoskeletal disorder, dislocation and fracture risks associated with housekeeping slips and trips through compliance and enforcement activities.
WorkSafe inspectors will be looking at how workers 'interface' with the machine (eg loading and unloading of materials etc), the operation of the machine (location of levers and operating buttons, reach and postures adopted by employee during operation etc) and other issues such as training and supervision, floor surfaces, housekeeping, noise, and guarding. Inspector visits commenced on 1 December 2011 and will run until end of June 2012 December WorkSafe Media Release
Government funds new Nanotech project
With 12 months initial funding from the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education under the National Enabling Technologies Strategy, Flinders University's Centre for Nanoscale Science and Technology, South Australia is launching a pilot program, Nanoconnect, to demonstrate to businesses how nanotechnology could help improve their products or processes. The aim of Nanoconnect is to bring together researchers with companies to assess the feasibility of harnessing nanoprocesses and nanomaterials to commercial products. It will facilitate commercialisation of early stage nanotechnology and provide links between universities and industry. The program will provide government with a report identifying what types of companies are involved and major hurdles faced by these companies in early stage R&D, including developing linkages, practical issues, skills and cost. Importantly, an analysis will be made of what the NanoConnect program adds to existing government or private programs that facilitate commercialisation of university research.
New material on the Safe Work Australia website:
A number of FAQs on Emergency Services and how these will be affected by the new WHS legislation.
Following recent reports on how the legislation affects volunteers (see below), a new webpage with details of a dedicated Helpline and specific information for Volunteers and Volunteer organisations.
Volunteer Sector communiqué: Harmonisation supported
Following Opposition claims that the new WHS legislation would 'kill volunteering in Australia' and the subsequent concern caused to volunteer organisations (SafetyNet 228), Volunteering Australia and a number of other volunteer associations met with the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, the Hon Bill Shorten on 20 January.
In a communiqué issued on behalf of the volunteer sector after the meeting, VA Chief Executive, Cary Pedicini said, 'VA supports the harmonisation of WH&S legislation. The recent media coverage has created unnecessary fear and apprehension amongst volunteers and volunteer involving organisations. VA is concerned that this is creating uncertainty amongst current volunteers and will discourage future volunteering. Harmonisation increases the protection afforded to Australia's volunteers and this brings with it the need for organisations and volunteers to be aware of their responsibility to work safely. To have volunteers protected in the same way as employees are protected is a positive outcome for volunteers. Harmonisation will ensure that volunteers are treated consistently across Australia. Sector communiqué: WH&S Harmonisation
Geelong business fined for unguarded machine
GT 10 Geelong Pty Ltd, which operates "The Groove Train" restaurant in Geelong, has been convicted and fined $6000 over an August, 2010 incident that left a chef with a broken arm. She was preparing pizza dough using a large unguarded mixer when her sleeve became caught in the machine's rotating hook, trapping her arm while it continued to operate. It was switched off by nearby colleagues after they heard her cry for help.
A WorkSafe investigation found the mixer had originally been fitted with a guard and a cut-off switch design to activate when the lid was raised, but it had broken off two weeks prior to the incident. This made it possible for someone to put their hands into the bowl while the machine was operating and the dough hook was rotating. The employer allowed the unguarded machine to remain in use, the court was told. The investigation also found employees did not receive adequate training on how to properly use the machine. The company installed a replacement guard immediately after the incident.
WorkSafe's Operations General Manager, Lisa Sturzenegger, said guarding on machinery was an essential component that kept workers safe. 'Unfortunately, we often hear of workers being pulled into machinery and suffering horrific injuries,' she said. 'Such incidents can easily be avoided if workplaces ensure machines have appropriate guarding and that staff are trained in how to operate equipment. Not only does equipment maintenance often come at little to no cost, but it ensures workers get to go home safe at the end of the day.' Source: WorkSafe Media Release
Reservoir firm fined $37,000 over crush incident
A Reservoir business, MJDJ Holdings Pty Ltd, trading as "Bang Stationery and Packaging," has been fined $37,500 plus costs after a worker's hand was crushed in a faulty machine in September 2009. The company pleaded guilty, admitting it had failed to provide a safe working environment for its employees and failed to provide the information, instruction and training needed to do the job safely.
The worker had three of his fingers crushed and partially amputated by a mechanical press which exerted one tonne of force and was being used to manufacture DVD presentation boxes, the court heard. The day before the incident the company's own mechanical engineer had warned that the machine was unsafe to use after one of the machine's buttons was found to be cracked and faulty and that it could be operated by a single button, instead of two buttons simultaneously. Although the company ordered a replacement button when it became aware of the problem, it allowed its workers to continue using the machine.
Furthermore, it was also discovered that the practice at the company was for two workers to use the machine together, pressing both button, thus putting their hands at risk of being crushed.
WorkSafe Operations General Manager, Lisa Sturzenegger, said 'If workers aren't properly trained on what's safe and what's not, they will keep working the way they do because they have been told it's acceptable. Unguarded or faulty equipment should be taken out of service, until it is fixed or made safe. As this incident shows us, the consequences of not doing this are considerable and long lasting.' Source: WorkSafe Media Release
NSW company fined $225k after death
A Far North Coast NSW company was fined $225,000 and ordered to pay WorkCover's legal costs after a labourer was fatally injured when struck by a loader in Rappville, north of Grafton and west of Ballina. Finray Pty Ltd (Finray) provided extraction and transportation services for logs from dump sites to a local sawmill for processing. In the August 2008 incident, a 60-year-old worker had been using the loader to load logs onto a semitrailer for transportation to the nearby sawmill when the loader rolled forward, striking the worker. The employee sustained severe crush injuries and died at the scene.
The investigation found that the 30-year-old loader was in poor condition and was unsafe. It had not had an operating park brake or any other braking mechanism for some time before the incident. Justice Marks, in the NSW Industrial Court, determined the safety breaches were serious. Source: NSW WorkCover Media Release
ILO workplace stress prevention checkpoints
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has produced a manual of 'easy-to-apply checkpoints for identifying stressors in working life and mitigating their harmful effects.' The ILO says: 'The negative impacts of stress are multiform and can include circulatory and gastrointestinal diseases as well as physical, psychosomatic and psycho-social problems. These in turn can lead to poor work performance, high accident and injury rates, and low productivity.' Consequently, it is 'vital' employers 'optimise work conditions and organisation.' It adds that its manual, which was produced with guidance from international experts, is 'especially useful for companies and organisations that wish to incorporate stress prevention into their overall occupational safety and health policy and management systems.' The ILO manual is 'good on involvement and consultation of workers and reps.'
Stress Prevention at Work Checkpoints. Practical improvements for stress prevention in the workplace , ILO, January 2012. Developing a workplace stress prevention programme. Source: Risks 538
Global: Apple supplier audit reveals abuses
Electronic giant Apple, manufacturer of the Apple Mac, i-phone and i-pad, has announced a more stringent and open appraisal of problems in its global supply chain to its business portfolio. The firm recently published its previously closely guarded list of 156 suppliers, after a succession of reports had highlighted safety, labour and environmental abuses in some of the firms. New chief executive Tim Cook said: 'With every year, we expand our programme, we go deeper in our supply chain, we make it harder to comply'. He told Reuters: 'All of this means that workers will be treated better and better with each passing year. It's not something we feel like we have done what we can do, much remains to be done.' Apple said it conducted 229 audits last year, an 80 per cent increase over 2010. These found violations including: underage workers, excessive working hours, unguarded machines, testing workers for pregnancy and falsifying pay records. Further, Apple will grant access to an independent auditing team from the Fair Labor Association in an effort to overcome criticism regarding working conditions at factories in its supply chain. It also terminated business with one supplier and was correcting the practices of another supplier, both of which according to the report were repeat offenders. Suppliers based in China have been a particularly source of bad press for Apple. In 2009, over 100 workers at Apple supplier Wintek suffered adverse health effects following exposure to the industrial solvent n-hexane (International Campaign for Responsible Technology) . In 2010, Foxconn - Apple's main supplier in China - experienced a spate of suicides. In response, Apple set up a team of suicide-prevention experts to conduct a wide-ranging investigation into the deaths and recommend ways to support workers' mental health.
US: Republicans unhappy with child labour protection bill
Republican Senator Chuck Grassley (Iowa) has raised concerns about a proposed Department of Labor's intent to greatly limit child labour on family farms in the US. 'This farm bill will greatly affect our FFA and 4-H programs,' said Grassley. 'Kids won't be able to help on farms not owned by their parents. It's interesting that this child labor bill goes against Michelle Obama's anti-obesity initiative,' he said. 'How can kids be active if they are limited by this law?'
Under current US law, 400,000 children working on farms are not protected from exploitation and dangerous labour. The proposed rules would forbid children younger than 16 from working with pesticides, timber operations, handling 'power-driven equipment', or contributing to the 'cultivation, harvesting and curing of tobacco.' This is demonstrated by the fatality rate for child farm workers, which is four times higher than that of nonagricultural child workers. Source: Daily Kos Labor
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