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ISSUE 69 page 7

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Health & Safety
European Week highlights growing problem of stress at work
 THE EUROPEAN  HEALTH AND SAFETY AGENCY (EU-OSHA) held its fifteenth European Week in October; this time the focus was on stress. The Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress campaign will continue into next year but the annual week gives impetus in the form of training, seminars, film screenings and a push to highlight the subject in the media. As part of the more general term ‘psycho-social risks’, stress at work often comes out top of the list of hazards at work as in the recent TUC safety reps. survey in the U.K. In Ireland articles in leading newspapers and interviews on radio and television raised the profile of the problem. Several countries, including Romania and Estonia, organised film screenings of previous Healthy Workplaces Film Award winners as a stimulus for debate. Scottish campaigners used the week to launch their ‘Train 2015 Challenge’ which aims to raise awareness of mental health problems at work by training 2,000 workers.
EWHS2014


Preparation of entries for the European Good Practice Awards, to be held in April, also motivated events such as the national awards ceremony in Belgium where local councils, a technical college and a care home won out.  From industry companies like Toyota and Siemens took part, sending experts to conferences and using the social media web site Twitter to highlight their support of the week.
In November the winner of the Healthy Workplaces Film Award was announced: Paul Lacoste’s ‘Harvest’ is set among grape-pickers in southern France and highlights the precarious nature of their contracts, heavy loads and hot working conditions. With a view to stimulating debate EU-OSHA will distribute 1,000 copies of a DVD of the documentary with sub-titles in a selection of European languages.

 

 

 

Official report blasts Turkish disaster mine management

A 126-PAGE REPORT FROM THE TURKISH public prosecutor’s office has severely criticised all parties implicated in the Soma mine disaster (see issue 67) except the workers themselves. As well as the managers of the private company running the mine, eight of whom have been arrested, inspectors and ministry officials are blamed for failing to stop work after finding fluctuating carbon-monoxide readings and excessively high temperatures. Safety records did not correctly record this data and were often fabricated, being regularly copied and pasted from week to week. Despite a total of 48 gas and 19 carbon monoxide sensors being broken the instruments did alert management to the dangerous conditions in the pit before the accdent but no action was taken by company officials. The ventilation system, whose plan was inaccurate, was inadequate to reverse the flow of carbon monoxide, which accounted for 85% of the deaths in the accident, and gas masks went unchecked. There was neither an evacuation plan nor compulsory health and safety training for workers.

Building workers face brick dust cancer risk
SCIENTIFIC FINDINGS PUBLISHED in the International Journal of Cancer show that the risk of lung cancer for bricklayers increases the longer a worker has been in the industry. The researchers point to the prevalence of crystalline silica in sand, gravel clay, stone etc. but it is thought that a ‘synergistic’ effect is at work. In other words a cocktail of different chemicals to which building workers are exposed have a greater effect than if only one chemical at a time was in use. The study was based on data gathered in 13 European countries, Canada, Hong Kong and New Zealand. Currently, crystalline silica is not covered by the EU directive on carcinogens. Despite an opinion adopted in 2012 by the European Advisory Committee for Safety and Health at Work (ACSH), on which unions, employers and governments are represented, the EU directive has not, so far, been extended.
 WomanBrickie
Cutting bricks can raise risk




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