Derek Maylor, Chairperson
Following a recent trip across Poland to Ukraine there were many noticeable differences to being at home, some things looked dated particularly much of the décor and just when I was thinking some things were same as the UK like workplace safety around the corner there were workers taking unnecessary risks to themselves, so that bit was just like the UK.
There were significant differences between the Poland and Ukraine as soon as we crossed the border. Some of the building sites we passed looked as if they were transposed from the UK, well fenced, good signage etc. but then pass one around a corner where they were just getting on with it; hence the need for enforced legislation.
Numerous pieces of legislation have been introduced in the UK over the years, covering a wide range of different industries, but their shared aim has been to ensure that workers can go home to their families safe and healthy at the end of each day.
Starting with the first workers protection legislation the 1802 Factory Act [Health and Morals of Apprentices Act], this year 2018, commemorates significant legislative changes and it is 100 years since the establishment of the British Industrial Safety First Association (BISFA) which was to tackle workplace safety nationally.
Statistics from 1913 show that there were 3,748 deaths and there were 476,920 disablement claims, figures that were rapidly increasing and had done so some twenty five percent on the preceding year. Added to this absorbing all of the demobilised men back into the workforce was also proving difficult.
It is 140 years since the Factory and Workshop Act 1878. No child anywhere under the age of 10 was to be employed and compulsory education for children up to 10 years old was established.
It is 90 years since the realisation that workplace safety starts in school education when in 1928 more than 250,000 schoolchildren wrote essays in safety first competitions.
More recently it 30 years since the introduction of Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations and 10 years since the HSC/HSE merged to form one organisation.
CWU conference earlier this year discussed concerns over components of pesticides, such as glyphosate, affect people's health and the EU call for a ban on glyphosate-based herbicides. Whilst that didn’t go far enough there was a special committee set up to monitor the health of 500 million Europeans and to evaluate the existing process. They will put forward concrete evidenced based proposals as soon as December.
In the US the Monsanto Papers scandal has raised interest in the subject, there are more than 415 lawsuits against Monsanto alleging that exposure to herbicide caused them, or a member of their family, to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma and that Monsanto covered up the risks.
The special committee will reassure people that their health is paramount but it has to have the resources to do its job, it to be seen to be completely independent and not affected by international corporate interference.
As always, and in conclusion; we aim to provide the best advice and representation for our members and to:
*Ensure a safe working environment
*Promote occupational health
*Help members raise safety concerns
*Advance industry best practice
*Provide representation at national meetings
*Raise issues with other safety or government bodies
Our greatest assets are our Union Safety Representatives and we fully support them in their work.