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Occupational Safety, Health and The Environment
OSH Issues

Another Pesticide, Same Pesticides Lobby

The food system must be ‘transformed’ to keep deadly pesticides out of the workplace and the food chain, the global farm and food union federation IUF has said. The IUF was speaking out in the wake of a March 2015 report in the journal, LANCET ONCOLOGY, which revealed the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s IARC) new classification of glysophate – the active ingredient in Montsanto’s Roundup and the world’s most widely used herbicide – as “probably carcinogenic to humans”, according to HAZARDS, the workers’ safety and health magazine.

IARC, a part of the WHO, cites evidence in Canada, Sweden and the USA linking workers occupational exposure to glysophate to increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. According to IUF: “with this report, the WHO explicitly recognizes the importance of independent research on the impact of pesticides on human health and the food chain – a field long dominated by pesticide manufacturers. And it gives advocates of food rights and a safer, saner food system an important opportunity to push for action”.

According to HAZARDS, Montsanto immediately attacked the credibility of the report.

Paraquat Defeat

The highly toxic pesticide Paraquat will not be added to the UN’s Rotterdam Convention list of restricted products after a handful of Government’s blocked the move, according to the April-June, 2015 edition of HAZARDS N0. 130, the Workers’ Health and Safety magazine. Prior to the May 2015 vote, global food and farming union, the IUF noted: “While this highly toxic pesticide is banned in Europe, it continues to be widely used on many crops and in many parts of the world.” It said users do not have the information or the means to protect themselves so they “suffer from headaches, vomiting, breathing difficulty, muscle pain and abdominal discomfort. Chronic exposure can lead to lung, brain or skin damage.”  www.iuf.org

Nose Cancer

A man who was diagnosed with nasal cancer caused by wood dust at work has been awarded legal protection for the rest of his life. The 63 year-old, whose name has not been released was diagnosed with nasal cancer in August 2010 after being exposed to wood dust while working at a wood mill in England from 1974 until 2002. The cancer was treated, then recurred and treated a second time. The affected worker has received a compensation settlement, in a deal that allows him to claim again should the cancer return a third time.

We are particularly concerned about this matter since we are aware that some carpenters on building sites as well as in private situations seem not to be aware that wood dust can be harmful. We believe that carpenters should wear appropriate personal protective equipment and also ensure that wood dust is cleared from the worksite as often as is necessary so as not to cause a hazard to workers. We are advocating that proper housekeeping is essential.

Resolving Mental Health Issues in the Workplace 

Workers in the UK have been experiencing significant increase in stress, which in some cases, has led to mental health problems, as a result of the impact of austerity on their work and home lives a new TUC report has concluded. Hazards magazine states that many employers do not deal with mental health issues and this may lead to people losing their job or failing to find new work as a result of the associated stigma.

The TUC report recommends measures to make workplaces ‘mentally healthy’ including:

  • Training for union representatives and middle managers; and
  • Early referral to occupational health and stress risk assessments.

The TUC noted that people with mental ill health continue to have amongst the lowest employment rates for disabled people according to the Labour Force Survey. The evidence suggests that mental ill health can be linked to workplace stress which makes it particularly concerning that recent surveys have reported a rise in the incidence of stress at work.

Menopause Action 

Working through the menopause, a new guide from teaching union NUT, says it is “important to recognise that the menopause is an occupational health issue for women teachers, as well as being an equality issue.” NUT says its guide suggests “practical ways in which the school environment can be improved for women who are going through the menopause.” The guide is built around responses from more than 3 000 NUT women members about their experiences of working through the menopause. Most had not told the line manager they were menopausal. Only around 1-in-10 has ever requested an adjustment to their working arrangements to help them cope.

Work Risks to Women Go Ignored 

Risks to women at work are under-estimated, under-researched and women continue to suffer as a result. This was the conclusion of a March 2015 conference on women’s health and work, organised by the European trade union research body (ETUI).

Delegates at the Brussels event heard University of Manchester sociologist Colette Fagan present findings from the latest European Working Conditions Survey, which showed in 2010, 69 per cent of management posts in the UK were filled by men, while 67 per cent of service and sales workers are women, women’s paid work hours were lower than men’s, but add unpaid labour at home and “no category of male worker ….works a comparable number of hours”, she said.

Fagan said that women were affected just as much as men by long hours spent working standing up or tiring positions, or undertaking repetitive movements. These risk factors contribute largely to the development of musculoskeletal problems among women, causing them to complain more than men of pain in the shoulders, neck and upper limbs. Women also more frequently report ‘poor general health’, and ‘mental health at risk’.

Work Injuries Force Workers Into Poverty 

Injuries at work force workers into poverty and keep them there, a new report from the US health and safety regulator OSHA has warned. The report says at least three million workers are seriously injured every year in the United States.

OSHA head David Michaels said many workers will lose more than 15 per cent in wages over ten years because of their injury while bearing nearly 50 per cent of its cost.

“These injuries and illnesses contribute to the pressing issue of income inequality: they force working families out of the middle class and into poverty, and keep the families of lower wage workers from ever getting out’, he said.

 
Taking HIV/AIDS Education To The North

The Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) was most fortunate to be part of the team of volunteers led by Ms Rhonda Boucher, HIV/AIDS Project Coordinator in the Ministry of Labour, on a tour of businesses and agricultural farms in the north of the island on 20 January 2011.

According to Comrade Wilma Clement, Tutor at the BWU Labour College, who represented the Union on the tour, “he tour was a novel way to raise awareness and to get a sense of the attitude of workers regarding HIV/AIDS”.  She stated that the response to the Ministry’s message at its meeting with the workers on their own turf was “positive” 

 
Address By Orlando Scott, Senior Assistant General Secretary, Barbados Workers’ Union, To The AIDS Society Of Barbados’ Annual General Meeting, Sunday, November 11, 2007.

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. Psalm 127

 
Address by Orlando Scott, Senior Assistant General Secretary, Barbados Workers’ Union, at the REA Environmental International Seminar at the Sherbourne Conference Centre, Two Mill Hill, St. Michael, on February 3, 2006

Distinguished presenters, John H. Murphy and Harold Oxley, friends, participants, I am honoured to be invited to deliver what Mr. Oxley has termed the state of the Nation’s Overview of occupational safety and health in Barbados. Delivering the state of the nation’s address sounds a bit like what President Bush did, earlier this week, and I hope that what I say would not be deemed so controversial.

 
Healthy Lifestyle – The Best Recipe For A Quality Life

The term Healthy Lifestyle is very fashionable and perhaps is one of the most commonly used phrases in the Western World today. Notwithstanding, the pursuit of good physical and mental well-being must not be regarded as a fashion because, while we will all die, the medical people say that the root causes of illness and death are largely unhealthful lifestyles. Also many deaths due to infectious diseases are caused by an immune system that is weakened by a poor lifestyle.

 
Occupational Health And Safety In Teaching

By Edwin Orlando Scott, BSS, JP, Senior Assistant General Secretary, Barbados Workers’ Union.                                                          

 
Stress and The Barbadian Worker

Stress has become the “buzz word” of the last two decades, and stress and related illnesses, like burnout, depression, anxiety and heart disease are among the leading causes of ill health and death across the industrialised world. It’s fitting for us to deal with the issue for the following reason. Some people seem to believe that stress is something people imagine, perhaps, because stress and other mental health problems do not present in the same way as physical injuries, for example, a broken leg or a cut (the things we can see).

 
Globalization and Occupational Health And Safety

I am framing this discussion on Occupational Safety and Health and the Environment (OSHE) and Globalisation, against the background of the perceived harmful factors of trade liberalisation and globalisation and their impacts on the health of nation states and health and safety of workers.

 
Address By Orlando Scott, Senior Assistant General Secretary, Barbados Workers’ Union, To The 29th Annual Conference Of The Barbados Union Of Teachers, Almond Bay Conference Centre, Monday, April 14, 2003.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the head table, renowned company, I wish to express my thanks to the Executive and Members of the Barbados Union of Teachers for inviting me to address this conference. The subject which you have asked me to speak on is entitled ‘Striving for a Healthier and Safer Environment in Public Schools’. I am very pleased to have been invited by the BUT, because, over the years, I have worked very closely with you and have been part of a team which developed an occupational safety and health policy for the Caribbean Union of Teachers.

 
Unhealthy Workplace or Poor Work Ethic?

Unhealthy workplace or poor work ethic? It’s an absolutely great question that is so complex that the answers cannot be put in either white or black.

 
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