21 March 2013
Welcome to the 257th edition of the fortnightly OHS bulletin SafetyNet – we hope you enjoy it. Please feel free to distribute to contacts, and send though any comments on any of the items.
Victoria: man hit and killed by garbage truck
WorkSafe Victoria is investigating the death of an 86-year-old man who was hit by a garbage truck in the car park of a fast-food restaurant at Mill Park last Friday, March 8. The man's 83-year-old wife was also injured, sustaining head injuries which required she be hospitalised. Apparently the couple had just left the restaurant when they were struck by the vehicle as it emptied a bin. The man's death brings this year's workplace toll for the year to five, compared to four this time last year.
WorkSafe chief executive Denise Cosgrove said it was a tragedy for all involved, and was a reminder of the dangers of operating vehicles near pedestrians. 'We find that cordoning off the location during activity, having clear pedestrian pathways, using trained spotters and clear signage are just some of the ways workplaces can eliminate those dangers,' she said.
WorkSafe Media Release
Queensland – worker killed in forklift incident
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland is investigating an incident that occurred on Saturday 16 March 2013 at a workplace in Pimpama. A worker died after the forklift he was operating slid down an embankment and he was pinned under the roll cage.
eSAFE Incident Alert
Asbestos Bill introducedFederal Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten yesterday introduced legislation into Parliament to establish the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, which will work with the states and territories to develop a nationally consistent approach to handling and eradicating asbestos-containing materials. One of the Agency's first tasks would be to implement a plan to tackle the illegal dumping of asbestos.
Mr Shorten said, 'It's been almost a decade since asbestos was
banned in this country and still, today, the dangers of this silent
killer remain. Asbestos is the worst industrial menace that will go on
killing for decades.'
The establishment of an independent national agency was a key recommendation of the 2010 Asbestos Management Review, and would allow a coordinated approach to handling and eradicating asbestos 'beyond our workplaces' for the first time.
Read more: the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency Bill 2013 From this page the Bill can be downloaded, as well as the Explanatory Memorandum, the first reading speech and more.
Louise Williams – living with mesothelioma
Australian asbestos activist, Louise Williams, now a representative of the Bernie Banton Foundation, has once again featured in an article Double Mesothelioma Survivor Maintains Positive Attitude and Lives in the Moment - this time in the 'Patient Profiles' section of US website MesotheliomaHelp
Europe: Agreement to 'eradicate' asbestos for good
The European Parliament has agreed to 'eradicate' asbestos by 2028. The resolution, adopted by the parliament on 14 March with a 558 to 51 majority, calls for the implementation of a co-ordinated European Union (EU) strategy to remove all asbestos. The strategy should include a screening and registration programme for public buildings containing asbestos, as well as a roadmap for its removal. Stephen Hughes MEP, who is vice-president of the Socialists and Democrats group in the European Parliament, initiated the resolution. He said despite a growing number of bans, asbestos remains in millions of buildings, office and ships worldwide. He said he was 'very glad that the Parliament has today set a clear deadline for the total eradication of asbestos by 2028. With such a large majority of this house supporting my report we have sent a strong signal to the European Commission. It must now act.' The MEP added: 'The younger generation of workers are not necessarily aware of the dangers of asbestos. All types of asbestos are dangerous. That's why we are urging the Commission to present a specific directive so that workers who remove it are well-trained and qualified.' According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are between 20,000 and 30,000 cases of asbestos-related disease recorded every year in the EU alone. WHO's worldwide figure, which many believe to be an under-estimate, puts the toll at over 100,000 deaths a year.
S&D news release. Source: Risks 597 Sign on to our campaign to Make Australia Asbestos Free by 2030.
'Better' test for mesothelioma
Scientists claim they have developed a more sensitive test for mesothelioma. The test developed by a team at Oxford University looks at levels of a protein closely linked to the cancer in fluid around the lungs. A UK lung expert welcomed the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine study.
The researchers focused on ways of distinguishing mesothelioma as a cause of pleural effusion, the build-up of fluid in the pleural cavity surrounding the lungs. While there are many causes of this symptom, many of which are benign or linked to other types of cancer, over 90% of people with mesothelioma have the symptom.
Currently, doctors carry out pleural fluid cytology - a lab test which looks for cancerous cells. However the Oxford team say this is not a very sensitive test. Using pleural fluid samples from over 200 patients referred to a specialist respiratory clinic, the researchers looked at levels of the protein meothelin - which is released in high quantities in the pleural fluid of most patients with mesothelioma. They found that levels of the protein were almost six times higher in patients with the cancer than in those with secondary lung cancers, and 10 times greater than those with benign conditions.
The study may provide a tool for early and rapid diagnosis, minimise the number of invasive procedures and allowing for speedier interventions and treatment.
Read more: BBC News Online
We have no trained first aiders in our workplace, and only a very small first aid kit. There are over 50 workers at my worksite, and some of the jobs include working on machinery, using chemical products and general office work. What are the requirements under the law?
There is nothing specified in legislation (ie either the Act or the
regulations) regarding what first aid facilities an employer must
provide. However, the employer has a duty under Section 21(2)(d) of the
Act to provide 'adequate facilities' and the
Compliance Code for First aid in the workplace
sets out what an employer needs to do to comply. The Code provides two
options to employers – either the 'prescribed approach' which sets out
detailed guidance, including the number, duties and training of first
aid officers; the number of first aid kits and their contents; and the
number of first aid rooms and their requirements. This approach is most
suitable for workplaces with 10 or more employees, or workplaces with
few than 10 employees with a higher level of risk. The second option,
the 'Risk Assessment approach' involves undertaking an assessment of the
workplace and the hazards to make appropriate decisions about what
first aid requirements are needed.
Read more: FAQs on this topic First Aid - What are the requirements, and First Aid Kits
St John Ambulance: too many Australian businesses lacking in first aid
According to research commissioned by St John Ambulance Australia, only 13 per cent of Australian workplaces 'know how to keep their employees safe'. St John's research found:
- Only 48 per cent of Australian workplaces offer accredited first aid training to their employees.
- Less than half of workplaces have appropriate workplace first aid resources (e.g. first aid kits and signage).
- Only 24 per cent of employees have participated in first aid procedures training or first aid drills.
The organisation specifically noted that 65 per cent of employers
were unaware of the release of the Safe Work Australia's new Code of
Practice for First Aid and the 13 per cent referred to are those which
are compliant with it. This is not relevant to Victoria, as we have our
own Compliance Code. An item in the SafetyAtWorkBlog makes the point
that the survey results do not necessarily support the conclusions, as
only low-risk industries were surveyed – an 'odd' decision, as
'(l)ogically surveying high risk industries would be more relevant to a
study of first aid due to their risk nature, particularly if one is to
make sweeping generalisations.' Nevertheless, our experience is that
many employers are unsure about what they should be providing in terms
of adequate first aid.
St John Ambulance Media Release SafetyAtWorkBlog
ACTU welcomes penalty rate decision
Australian workers' right to be paid a decent wage for working unsociable hours has been reinforced with the Fair Work Commission this week comprehensively rejecting an employer push to scrap penalty rates. ACTU President Ged Kearney said the decision in the retail, fast food and hairdressing sectors was a major win for low-paid workers who depended on penalty rates to compensate them for being required to work weekends or at night. The full bench of the Fair Work Commission rejected twelve applications from employer groups which sought to remove or reduce more than twenty-five penalty and overtime entitlements for many of Australia's lowest paid workers.
'This is a victory for workers in these industries and a strong
demonstration that penalty rates remain a key part of Australia's
industrial relations system,' Ms Kearney said. Working late nights or
week-ends is still a sacrifice for workers, particularly those with
families and penalty rates must remain to reflect this. Removing penalty
rates would effectively be a pay cut for 500,000 low-paid workers.'
ACTU Media Release Low-paid workers the winners as Fair Work rejects bid to scrap penalty rates
Australia has second highest rate of temporary workers in OECD
New research released last week at the
National Community Summit:
Creating Secure Jobs and a Better Society
shows Australia has the second highest rate of temporary workers in the
OECD, people are worried about their children's future, and there is
support for a significant increase in the Newstart allowance. ACTU
President Ged Kearney said another surprising finding in the research
was people's perceptions of the importance of the mining industry to the
national economy were vastly exaggerated.
Empirica Research was commissioned to gain insights into people's attitudes towards insecure work, the economy and the welfare system ahead of the National Community Summit in Canberra which brought together more than 100 people from the community sector, government, unions and academia.
In her opening speech, Ms Kearney said, 'Many of the changes to our workplace have had negative effects on workers and their families. We have forgotten that the burdens of economic change do not fall equally, that the drive to a more efficient and flexible economy has hurt some people more than others and increased inequality.'
The research found that when asked about their greatest concerns
about the future, 55% nominated their children not having access to good
jobs when they grew up, followed by 54% who nominated a growing number
of working poor in low-paid, insecure jobs.
ACTU Media Release New research shows Australia has second highest rate of temporary workers in OECD Ged Kearney's Opening Address
Bullying laws to be introduced
The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, announced on Saturday that the
Federal Government will this week introduce to Parliament an amendment
to the Fair Work Act to allow victims of workplace bullying to seek help
from the Fair Work Commission. The proposed laws would allow those who
were bullied at work to seek "timely" assistance from the FWC, which
would be required to list the matter within 14 days and refer it to the
relevant state or territory OHS regulator, if required.
The Australian Government referred 10 of the 23 recommendations in the report Workplace Bullying 'We just want it to stop' to Safe Work Australia. At last week's Safe Work Australia Meeting 13, members agreed to progress a response to each of the recommendations and noted further consultation will take place as the work proceeds. Also, members agreed by majority to release the revised draft Code of Practice: Preventing and Responding to Workplace Bullying and draft Workplace Bullying – Guide for Workers for public comment. The public comment period will be open for six weeks. A Consultation Regulation Impact Statement on the draft Code of Practice will be released for public comment after it is approved by the Office of Best Practice Regulation. These documents will be available from the Safe Work Australia website soon.
Safe Work Australia Communiqué
Comprehensive Global Chemicals Regime needed
A new report released by the Center for International Environmental
Law (CIEL) and the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC)
analyzes existing global agreements for chemicals management and calls
for the creation of a comprehensive chemicals regime to protect people
and the environment from hazardous substances. Only 22 hazardous
chemicals – of possible thousands – are currently managed throughout
their lifecycle at the global level. This call is very much in line with
Australian unions' chemicals policy – chemicals regulation in Australia
is complex and very little is done to reduce the use of toxic
While acknowledging that significant progress has been made under existing agreements, including the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), Paths to Global Chemical Safety: The 2020 Goal and Beyond [odf http://ciel.org/Publications/Paths_GlobalChemSafety_Mar2013.pdf] concludes that the four principal international agreements in force – the Stockholm, Basel and Rotterdam Conventions and SAICM – are not adequate, even if fully implemented, to protect human health and the environment from the risks of dangerous chemicals.
CIEL Media Release New Report Calls for a Comprehensive Global Chemicals Regime
International Union News
Global: Failed auditing model led to 400 deaths
The 'blind faith' companies showed in a failed auditing model resulted in more than 400 garment worker deaths, say labour right groups. 'Fatal fashion', a new report by the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) and the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO), analysed the causes of two deadly factory fires in the export-oriented garment industry in Bangladesh and Pakistan. In September 2012, a fire at Ali Enterprises in Karachi killed almost 300 workers. In November 2012, the fire at Tazreen Fashions Limited in Dhaka killed 112. Both companies produced garments for well-known international clothing brands and retailers, including KIK, C&A, and Walmart. Both factories had been subjected to factory audits by the brands or social audit firms. According to CCC and SOMO, the tragedies 'are symptomatic of an ailing system. They reflect systemic flaws on the level of government protection of human rights, a deathly reliance of international brands on a failed auditing model where even the absence of a fire exit remains unaddressed, and a gross disrespect shown by the garment industry for workers' rights.' Martje Theuws from SOMO said: 'The report demonstrates that companies and governments knew about the risks, but failed to take sufficient measures to prevent the fires from happening or to address the needs of the victims afterwards. Governments and companies should act in accordance with the internationally recognised state duty to protect human rights and the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, as laid down in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.' The groups warn that 'unless there is a real game-change, death by factory fire is inevitable.'
SOMO news release and Fatal fashion report. The CCC is asking people to take action by sending an email.
Europe: European Federation of Public Service Unions rejects fracking
The exploitation of shale gas (or 'fracking') is causing much controversy, not only in Australia, but everywhere in the world. Some see it as a new way of bringing fossil fuels to the market and causing an upset of the gas market leading to lower prices such as in the US. Others argue that the environmental and social consequences are negative and the contribution to CO2 emissions detrimental to addressing climate change. The decision by the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) to reject fracking was adopted in response to EU Commission consultation on unconventional fossil fuels in Europe. The decision states: 'EPSU rejects the exploitation of shale gas (and oil) given that the impact on the environment such as ground water with the current state of technology and knowledge of the longer term consequences is negative. We further recognise that there is considerable public opposition given that much of these longer term effects on the life of citizens is unclear and including the contribution to CO2 emissions.' The EPSU supports more research, noting however, their scepticism of research carried out by private enterprise.
Read more: SustainLabour
China: Foxconn's labour union elections spotlight workers' rights
In what is a trend of increasing unionisation in Chinese multinational companies, the first-ever democratic labour union elections will be held at Apple's China-based contractor, Foxconn. Since reports of worker suicides in 2009 and 2010, employment practices at Foxconn, which owns three companies manufacturing Apple products, have been scrutinised. In 2012, the Fair Labor Association (FLA), an independent organisation which monitors labour standards on behalf of over thirty transnational corporations, found multiple violations of labor standards included in the FLA's Workplace Code of Conduct. One of the actions recommended by the FLA was to conduct more democratic union elections and eliminate management dominance from the union, strengthening workers' rights to freedom of association.
Read more: The Conversation
UK workers and unpaid overtime
The UK's peak union council, the TUC has published research which reveals that around one in five workers regularly do around seven hours of unpaid overtime a week. If everyone did all their unpaid hours at the start of the year their first paid day at work in 2013 would have been Friday 1 March, dubbed Work Your Proper Hours Day by TUC. The union body used the event to question whether it's really necessary for workers to do 1.8 billion hours of unpaid overtime a year - the equivalent of 1 million extra full-time jobs. It says one of the easiest ways to cut down on unpaid overtime is to end Britain's culture of 'presenteeism', where the working wounded troop in sick because they fear the sack or have too much work to take a day off. Too many employers still judge staff on the hours spent at their desk, rather than the work they actually do. TUC says this, combined with heightened anxiety about job security, means that many people feel unable to leave work on time, even if their work is complete. The union body says a lot of unpaid overtime is due to heavy workloads, and says this kind of long hours culture 'is a false economy. If staff are constantly required to work excessively long hours under heavy pressure from management, it can cause stress, anxiety and makes people unproductive.' TUC urges employers to consider whether a few more members of staff would ease workloads and make everyone far more productive.
Stronger Unions blog. TUC Work Your Better Hours Day website and infographic. Source: Risks 596
New research increases concerns with carbon nanotubes
Research released on March 11, at the annual meeting of the Society of Toxicology, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) researchers reported preliminary findings from a new laboratory study in which mice were exposed by inhalation to multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT). The study was designed to investigate whether these tiny particles have potential to initiate or promote cancer. "Initiate" means the ability of a substance to cause mutations in DNA that can lead to tumors; "promote" means the ability of a substance to cause cells that have already sustained such DNA mutations to then become tumors.
Laboratory mice injected with a cancer initiator before inhaling MWCNTs were found to be significantly more likely to develop lung tumours than mice that are injected with an initiator but not exposed to MWCNTs. The researchers found that 90 per cent of mice in the first group developed tumours, with an average of 3.3 tumours per lung. The mice that were injected with the cancer initiator (methylcholanthrene) but did not inhale MWCNTs, only 50 per cent developed tumours, with 1.4 tumours per lung.
'These results indicate that MWCNTs can increase the risk of cancer in mice exposed to a known carcinogen. The study does not suggest that MWCNTs alone can cause cancer in mice,' the researchers said. The researchers said that until more was known, employers must control worker exposure to nanomaterials through exhaust ventilation, filtration and PPE such as respirators. This is in line with the union of approach of the 'precautionary principle'.
Cadmium and lead linked to hearing loss in U.S. adults
A large study of adults in the United States has found that low
levels of lead and cadmium may contribute to hearing loss. Hearing loss
was seen at metal concentrations common in the general population and
below current workplace standards set by the Occupational Safety and
Health Administration. Hearing ability dropped about 14 to 19 percent.
Loud noise can harm hearing but two common metals – lead and cadmium –
may have a similar effect, according to a study published in the journal
Environmental Health Perspectives.
Although the study does not establish causality, the results support
previous animal and humans studies that link these heavy metals to
hearing loss. Animal studies show lead and cadmium have a wide array of
toxic effects on the hearing system. Both can affect the inner ear where
sound is received and sent on to the brain. Human studies are limited,
but exposure to high levels of lead has been linked to hearing loss in
children and males exposed at work. Studies in teens have also linked
cadmium exposure to hearing loss
Read more: Environmental Health Perspectives
Construction blitz finds safety shortfalls
Dangerous scaffolding, unsafe work at height and inadequate
temporary fencing were just some of the 90 safety breaches WorkSafe
inspectors found on housing construction sites across western Victoria
last month. Inspectors visited almost 120 housing construction sites in
and around Bendigo, Ballarat, Mildura, Warrnambool and Geelong as part
of Operation SafeSite - a 12-month campaign aimed at reducing workplace
injuries in the industry. Inspectors issued 51 improvement notices
requiring businesses fix health and safety breaches. Another 39
breaches were identified, but were able to be dealt with on the spot.
WorkSafe Chief Executive, Denise Cosgrove, said site safety was the responsibility of everyone on site including the builder, contractors and workers. 'It was pleasing to see some sites had heeded warnings about the blitz and made sure safety was up to scratch before inspectors arrived,' she said.
WorkSafe Media Release
129 breaches found in Warrnambool blitz
The result of the blitz reported in the last edition of SafetyNet was that WorkSafe inspectors, who visited 105 workplaces, issued 127 improvement notices requiring businesses to improve their safety practices. The improvement notices related to a number of matters including equipment maintenance, unsafe work platforms, storing of dangerous goods and guarding. Another 27 breaches were able to be fixed on the spot by employers. Return to work inspectors also issued two notices relating to insufficient RTW planning for injured workers.
WorkSafe CE Denise Cosgrove said businesses were pleased with the visits and took it as an opportunity to review their safety practices. 'It was disappointing a high number of notices were issued but businesses are now in a far better position to address and improve health and safety matters.' WorkSafe Media Release
Latest editions of WorkSafe e-newsletters
WorkSafe last week sent out the latest editions of both its e-newsletters: Safety Soapbox and Safety Express. It now seems that these will again be sent out regularly, after a hiatus of several months, and that some technical problems with the first editions have been solved. Safety Soapbox - for the construction, utilities, mining and quarrying industries - contains a warning on Carbon Monoxide, and also lists the 64 incidents notified to it since the last newsletter. These included a number of 'near miss' incidents, such as a forklift rollover, a bracket falling several floors on a building site, and electric shocks – all of which could have resulted in fatalities. Safety Express - for the manufacturing, logistics, agriculture and retail industries – has a number of items detailing serious incidents and an alert issued following the cattle 'knock box' fatality. This newsletter to has a link to the incidents reported to WorkSafe in these industries – there were 72 in the previous two weeks!
Quad bike safety research coming
The NSW Government has launched the first stage of a $1 million
research project aimed at reducing quad bike deaths on farms. 15
vehicles will be tested using a specially designed tilt-table to
determine the likelihood of the vehicles rolling over and causing severe
injuries. The testing will seek to determine whether safety
enhancements and design improvements can be made so that injury and loss
of life can be prevented. NSW Minister for Finance and Services, Greg
Pearce, said 200 tests by transport and safety experts will be conducted
using combinations of riders, loads and operator protection devices.
He said, 'The safety of quad bike users and improving the unacceptable
fatality and injury rates needs to be a priority for manufacturers,
suppliers and the farming community.'
The research project is being conducted by experts from the Transport and Road Safety Research Unit at the University of New South Wales on behalf of WorkCover NSW and the Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities.
SafeWork Australia news
Fatalities on Farms Report released
According to figures released by Safe Work Australia (SWA) last week, one in six workers killed in Australia worked on a farm even though farms only employ three per cent of the Australian workforce. The SWA report, Work-related injuries and fatalities on Australian farms, monitored data over an eight-year period to 30 June 2011. It found a total of 356 farm deaths over the eight-year period, an average 44 per year, and 17,400 farm workers suffered work-related injuries.
Almost three-quarters of the deaths were due to vehicles, with tractors being the most common accounting for 93 deaths (26%). Nearly one-third of all work deaths on farms involved workers aged 65 or over, nearly three times the rate of deaths in this age group across all workplace deaths in Australia. Young farm workers were more likely to be hospitalised for a motorbike or horse-related incident while older workers had more hospitalisations from machinery incidents.
Media Release: Farm safety report released by Safe Work Australia
New information on nanotechnology
Safe Work Australia this week published today the research reports, together with the associated media release and information sheets on:
- Investigating the emissions of nanomaterials from composites and other solid articles during machining process (CSIRO). The report found that significant quantities of material, which can pose a risk to health, are emitted from composites by high energy machining processes like cutting with an electric disc saw or band saw. It also concludes that if the composite contains a hazardous nanomaterial, the health risk from the dust may be higher. In our view, it is highly likely that the risk will be higher. Lower energy processes like manual cutting will result in lower exposures and lower potential health risk.
- Evaluation of potential safety (physicochemical) hazards associated with the use of engineered nanomaterials (Toxikos) Much of the emphasis to date has been on the health effects
of nanomaterials. This report considered the safety risks specifically,
and found that dust clouds of some engineered nanomaterials could give
rise to strong explosions if the dust cloud contains a high enough
concentration of nanomaterials and if an ignition source is also
present. The report gives examples of these. It concluded, however, that
in a well-managed workplace, emissions from nanotechnology processes
will be very significantly below the minimum dust concentration needed
for an explosion.
Safe Work Australia Media Release
Safe Work Australia Meeting 13
As noted above, Safe Work Australia met last week. In addition to agreeing to release the draft code on bullying, members also agreed by majority to:
- release the draft Code of Practice: Managing Risks in Stevedoring for public comment, subject to agreed amendments. It will be available for public comment for six weeks; and
- a process for prioritising hazardous chemicals. It was noted that the process will be refined over time to produce a manageable list of chemicals for national action or intervention.
Advice on Health Surveillance of workers from the UK's OHS regulator, the HSE. While the requirements under our legislation may be a little different, this is very useful advice. Also, more 'toolbox advice', this time on Working at Height
NSW: Workcover to charge winery for fatalities
The Newcastle Herald has reported that WorkCover NSW has initiated
criminal proceedings against Drayton's Family Wines at Pokolbin,
north-west of Newcastle, over a fatal explosion. The explosion at the
Draytons Family Winery in January 2008 killed high profile vigneron
Trevor Drayton and welder Eddie Orgo. Assistant winemaker William
Rikard Bell only survived after jumping into a dam to douse flames
engulfing his body. The decision comes almost 18 months after the Deputy
State Coroner Hugh Dillon blamed the explosion on systemic failures. (
see Coroner's Report pdf )
The Directors of the company at the time of the blast were Trevor's father Max and his brothers Greg and John. The charge is likely to be negligent manslaughter – under the NSW Act the company will face fines of up to $1.65million; individuals face fines of up to $165,000, or five years in jail.
Newcastle Herald WorkCover moves against Draytons
WA: BHP fined $130,000 for fatality
BHP Billiton was this week fined $130,000 and ordered to pay court
costs of $300,000 over the death of one of its workers in Port Hedland
five years ago. The worker was crushed when he was carrying out
maintenance work on a scissor lift in 2008. The company was prosecuted
and earlier this year was found guilty of a charge of failing to
maintain a workplace in which its employees were not exposed to hazards.
The Magistrate found the company had failed to provide proper instruction and supervision, and had not implemented and enforced a suitable job hazard assessment.
According to media reports, BHP Billiton will 'reflect on the decision' and will not make further comment at this stage.
Source: ABC News online
Europe: European Parliament vote on EDCs conveys urgency of protecting health
The European Parliament vote adopting MEP Asa Westlund's report on
the protection of public health from endocrine disrupting chemicals
(EDCs) last week reflects the serious concern and the strong desire to
see comprehensive and multifaceted EU policy action, says the Health and
Environment Alliance (HEAL), one of Europe's leading not-for-profit
organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the
European Union (EU). 'The Parliament has rightly called for the
European Commission and other legislators to take measures to reduce
people's exposures to endocrine disruptors, and that measures to protect
health should not wait for final proof of causal links between EDCs and
diseases,' said Lisette van Vliet, Senior Policy Adviser for chemicals
and chronic disease prevention at HEAL. 'MEPs want to see a systematic
overhaul of EU legislation and policy so that by June 2015, existing
laws are changed and new laws are proposed to properly deal with EDCs,
including requiring the right tests to correctly identify them – the
whole purpose being to protect people especially during vulnerable
phases of their lives.'
Read more: HEAL Media Release
Japan: Fukushima two years on
It has been revealed that the Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco)
failed to submit radiation dose data to an industry database, government
officials have said, compromising the health of 21,000 people who
worked at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear plant after the March 2011
meltdown. The official criticism reinforces concerns about inadequate
production for radiation exposed workers. The Ministry of Health, Labor
and Welfare has repeatedly told Tepco to submit the dose data to a
central register operated by the Radiation Effects Association. Last
month, Tepco agreed to provide workers' accumulated exposure data for
fiscal 2010 and 2011 by the end of March. 'We are extremely sorry for
the delay,' a Tepco spokesperson said. Electric power companies, primary
contractors and subcontractors are legally required to measure the
radiation exposures of nuclear plant workers and keep them under 50
millisieverts a year and 100 millisieverts over five years. Many primary
contractors set 20 millisieverts as the annual ceiling. Of the 25,000
people who worked at the Fukushima No.1 plant between 11 March 2011 and
31 December 2012, more than 4,800 were exposed to an excess of 20
millisieverts a year, compared with seven for all of Japan in the 2009
fiscal year. The average among 76,000 nuclear plant workers across the
country that year was 1.1 millisieverts. Greenpeace criticised a
'flawed' World Health Organisation (WHO) report released last week it
says hides crucial information on the health impacts of the Fukushima
nuclear disaster. 'The WHO report shamelessly downplays the impact of
early radioactive releases from the Fukushima disaster on people inside
the 20 km evacuation zone who were not able to leave the area quickly,'
said Dr Rianne Teule, Greenpeace International nuclear radiation expert.
WHO News Release Source: Risks 596