Category Archives: News

Global: What are you doing for 28 April?

It’s the biggest health and safety event in the world, and it is brought to you by unions and campaigners. What are you doing? #iwmd17

BWI affiliates urged to support the amendment of Rotterdam Convention, Article 22

BWI affiliates in South Asia have been be encouraged to submit letters to their respective Governments in support of a proposal to amend Article 22 of the Rotterdam Convention being considered at the conference – which runs from 25 April to 5 May. The current voting system allows a single government in the pocket of the asbestos, chemical or pesticides lobby to block the listing of even the most dangerous substances under the ‘prior informed consent’ system, which requires a health warning to accompany exports.

Global: ITF statement – Workers’ Memorial Day

Commenting on Workers’ Memorial Day, which takes place tomorrow 28 April, ITF president Paddy Crumlin said: “This is the day we remember all those, known and unknown, friends and strangers, who have suffered injury or death in the workplace. It’s the day we remember the dead and fight for the living.

“But remembering is not enough. Workplace deaths are preventable deaths. We have a duty as trade unionists and as human beings to fight back against what amounts to a continuing slaughter. We must enshrine health and safety at work and ensure that employers treasure it too. We have to live and breathe it, and make sure everyone else does too. It must be supported, paid for and promoted until every workplace is a safe place.”

ITF general secretary Steve Cotton added: “Worldwide, transport workers labour in some of the most dangerous environments there are: on sea, on land and in the air. Often isolated, sometime facing violence and the threat of violence. Our unions are working together to minimise those risks, share knowledge and strategies, and build safe workplaces. On Workers’ Memorial Day we take a moment to remember the lost, before returning to the struggle to build a better future. “

For more information about Workers’ Memorial Day see



ITF communications: getting the message out – when and where it matters

Twitter: @itfglobalunion

UK: New TUC guide will help health and safety reps keep both men and women safe at work

The TUC has  published a new guide for trade union representatives to help them take gender differences between men and women into account when identifying health and safety concerns at work.

Gender in occupational health and safety says that historically the health and safety needs of men in the workplace have been prioritised over women. Risk prevention has focused on visibly dangerous work – largely carried out by men – in industries like construction and mining, with an assumption that the kind of work that women do is safer.

However, the guidance argues that a gender-stereotyped or ‘one size fits all’ approach is now out-of-date. It has been issued in the run up to International Workers’ Memorial Day next week (Friday 28 April), the theme of which this year is ‘good health and safety for all workers – whoever they are’.

Where the differences between men and women are taken into account when assessing risk and deciding suitable risk control solutions, there is a greater chance of ensuring that the health, safety and welfare of all workers is protected, says the TUC.

The new guide outlines some of the main health and safety risks women can face at work:

  • Back pain: Women tend to suffer more from pain in the upper back and limbs as a result of repetitive work in both manufacturing and offices, while men tend to suffer more from lower-back pain from exerting high force at work.
  • Violence and harassment: Women tend to work in lower-paid and low-status jobs where bullying and harassment are more common, while men predominate in better-paid, higher status jobs and supervisory positions.
  • Not having the right tools: Women working in male professions like construction, engineering and the emergency services are at risk from inappropriately designed tools.

The handbook also provides a checklist for trade union representatives to help them pursue issues around gender at work – including questions about whether sex and gender differences are taken into account in manual handling risk assessments, and in assessments of postural problems including prolonged standing or sitting.

The findings should help union reps encourage employers to take action on the issues that will make a real difference to the health, safety and welfare of women in their workplaces.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “People come in all shapes and sizes and when it comes to health and safety, the ‘one size fits all’ approach is old-fashioned and dangerous. Nowhere is that clearer then when looking at gender.

“Pressing for healthy, safe workplaces for everyone is part and parcel of the union rep’s role, and the TUC’s new gender checklist will help reps to pursue issues around gender in the workplace, and make sure that all workers have the best possible protection from illness or injury.

“Safety studies show that workers are twice as likely to be seriously injured in a non-unionised workplace. I would urge any man or woman worried about their health and safety at work to join a union, to make sure that their concerns are heard and that their interests are protected.”


Notes to Editors:
Gender in occupational health and safety is available at
– Trade unions have been at the forefront of a number of campaigns to ensure that women’s health and safety at work is taken seriously, including:

  • Toilets for train drivers: ASLEF campaigned for the proper provision of toilets. Male drivers had endured poor provisions by coping with containers, this was plainly very difficult for female drivers. Station facilities for all staff were upgraded as a result.
  • Violence against women: USDAW has run the Freedom from Fear campaign for shop workers – who are predominantly women – since 2002, working with major retail employers, the police and politicians to make workplaces safer for all staff and customers.
  • Breastfeeding at work: Unite took up cases of cabin crew members who were new mothers whose employer’s rostering was not compatible with their need to breastfeed their babies. This case confirmed working women’s right to continue breastfeeding after returning to work and obligation on employers to accommodate this.

– International Workers’ Memorial Day serves as a reminder to workers across the globe that many of them are at daily risk of accidents, injury and illness at work. The event is an international annual day of remembrance and action for workers killed, disabled and injured by their work. For more information about the TUC’s involvement in the day please visit

Canada: National Day of Mourning – April 28, 2017 – CUPW Shows Respect

The National Day of Mourning, held annually on April 28, is dedicated to remembering those who have lost their lives, or suffered injury or illness on the job. This annual event was initiated by the labour movement 33 years ago to increase awareness of on-the-job injuries and fatal workplace accidents. This day of remembrance was officially recognized by the federal government in 1991, more than eight years after it was launched by the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) to raise awareness of on-the-job injuries and fatal workplace accidents.

While the National Day of Mourning is now recognized in over 100 countries, including Canada, and is observed each year, there is still a lot of work to accomplish to improve workers’ safety. A number of Canadian legislative provisions dealing with occupational health and safety are deemed exemplary internationally, but most Canadian governments have not provided the necessary resources to ensure they are applied.

At Canada Post, we’ve mourned the loss of workers. We’ve had to go through the grief and pain associated with the death of a sister or brother. This year, on April 28, the CLC will commemorate the Westray Mine disaster, in Nova Scotia, where 26 miners lost their life at work following a methane gas explosion. This tragedy led to the adoption, in March 2004, of Bill C-45 that provides for the attribution of criminal liability to organizations and their representatives who fail to abide by their health and safety obligations.

On April 28, we take the time to remember those who lost their lives, suffered injuries or became disabled on the job. We must all commit to continuing the struggle to force employers and governments to fulfill their obligation to make every workplace a safe and healthy one. We must also continue seeking stronger health and safety standards and protection, and better enforcement in our workplaces. 

Global: Día Mundial de la Seguridad y Salud en el Trabajo- 28 de abril de 2017 – ¡Los Sindicatos Hacen que el Trabajo sea Más Seguro!


Cada año, el 28 de abril, los sindicatos de todo el mundo organizan eventos para celebrar el Día Mundial de la Seguridad y Salud en el Trabajo. Este año, la ICM se complace en confirmar el tema internacional “¡Los Sindicatos Hacen que el Trabajo sea Más Seguro!”.

Los sindicatos tienen una responsabilidad considerable por garantizar que los empleadores adopten medidas para evitar riesgos en la salud y por cuidar la vida de los trabajadores; todo esto mientras los trabajadores siguen siendo asesinados, heridos y enfermos mientras realizan trabajos de rutina. Los peligros son bien conocidos y también lo son las medidas de prevención. La abrumadora mayoría de los “accidentes” son absolutamente previsibles y prevenibles. Son causadas por la falta de gestión de los riesgos o por negligencia directa por parte del empleador. Más

Britain: Protection call after surge in racist abuse of workers

Workers need protection from the upsurge in racist assaults and abuse at work since the Brexit vote last year, the TUC has said. The The ‘shocking results’ of a poll of over 1,000 Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) working adults by the TUC and ICM revealed over a third had witnessed or experienced racial abuse in the seven months following the referendum vote and almost one in five (19 per cent) had suffered or witnessed a racial assault.

TUC Stronger Unions blog and TUC/IBM BAME poll. TUC guide to violence at work. Risks 795.

Insegura e injusta, Unsafe and unfair, Dangereuse et injuste – ITUC-CSI

28 de Abril de 2017: Insegura e injusta – la discriminación en el trabajo nos afecta a todos
28 April 2017: Unsafe and unfair – discrimination on the job hurts us all
28 Avril 2017 : Dangereuse et injuste – la discrimination au travail nuit à toutes

Below are links to an op-ed by Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), on the 28 April 2017 global theme of ‘Unsafe and unfair – discrimination on the job hurts us all’. It deals with the way inequalities in the workplace, particularly based on class, race or gender, lead to a heightened risk of work-related injury or ill-health.

The document is available in Spanish, French and English versions with an accompanying briefing/work book.

Fair enough? We are all sickened by inequality at work – Hazards magazine
28 April 2017: Unsafe and unfair – discrimination on the job hurts us all

¿Les parece justo? La desigualdad en el trabajo nos enferma a todos – Hazards magazine
28 de abril de 2017: Insegura e injusta – la discriminación en el trabajo nos afecta a todos 

Vraiment? Nous sommes toutes et tous écœurés par l’inégalité au travail – Hazards magazine
28 avril 2017 : Dangereuse et injuste – la discrimination au travail nuit à toutes et à tous

BWI: 28 April Unions make work safer!

Each year on the 28th April trade unions around the world organise events to celebrate International Workers’ Memorial Day. This year, the BWI is pleased to confirm the international theme “Unions Make Work Safer.”

Considerable responsibility falls on trade unions to ensure that employers take steps to avoid health risks and save workers’ lives as workers continue to be killed, injured and made sick whilst carrying out routine jobs. The hazards are well known and so are the prevention measures. The overwhelming majority of “accidents” are absolutely predictable and preventable. They are caused by failure to manage risks, or by straightforward negligence on the part of the employer.

Against this background, BWI affiliates all over the world are encouraged to campaign and pick up one or several sub themes hereunder:

  • cement, construction and wood: “One death is too many”. BWI’s recent survey on cement stresses that 83% of fatalities in the cement sector are taking place in subcontracted operations. 30% of the cement plants surveyed report at least one death over the last 3 years and 60% recognize occupational diseases. Figures that contrast with managerial practices since 20% of the plants still do not have regular medical visits for workers. In construction and wood industries, for almost all key risks – chemicals, dusts, manual handling, physical hazards, and psychosocial hazards – exposures are routine and excessive. Sawmills are by far the most dangerous workplaces, and are increasingly subcontracted and informal, leading to deteriorating conditions for workers.
  • migrants: “No to xenophobia at work”. In many countries throughout the world, migrant workers are faced with unsafe, dirty, and dangerous working conditions. At the same time, they fall victim to racism and xenophobia particularly more so due to the rise of anti-migrant and xenophobic rhetoric.
  • women: “No to gender based violence at work”. More than 35% of women worldwide have experienced physical and/or sexual violence. Between 40% and 50% of women experience unwanted sexual advances, physical contact or other forms of sexual harassment at work.
  • asbestos kills: “Ban asbestos – the killer dust”. At least 100,000 people die from asbestos diseases every year, according to international estimates. The real figure is certainly even higher than that as there is no reliable recording of the medical cases in many countries. Furthermore, many victims do not know that they were exposed to asbestos and, because of the long time lag between exposure and the emergence of the symptoms, asbestos diseases are not correctly diagnosed, treated, compensated or, most importantly, prevented.

    Please ensure you send us the details of your planned activities, any resources and artwork you produce for 28 April 2017. You are invited to send them to us by email

    We will post all these materials on the BWI website.

    Amandla! Power to the Workers.

USA: Study exposes racial inequalities in work injuries

Fewer economic opportunities may be exposing black and Hispanic workers in the US to an increased risk of workplace injury, according to a new study. Researchers from the University of Southern California and Boston University found that even after adjusting for variables such as education, sex and age, black and foreign-born Hispanic workers often worked in jobs with the highest injury risks and as a result experienced higher rates of work-related disabilities.

Seth A Seabury, Sophie Terp and Leslie I Boden. Racial and ethnic differences in the frequency Of workplace injuries And prevalence of work-related disability, Health Affairs, volume 36, number 2, pages 266-273, February 2017. The Pump Handle. Risks 789