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Local News

At the QUB Safety Reps Committee it was announced that Jackie OíConnor would not be standing for re-election of Chair, due to the pressures of work. Jackie has been a member of the Safety Reps Committee since 1995 and became Chair in 2001.
Pat Larkin stated that due to the impending changes in his employment status he would not be standing for re-election as Secretary. Pat has been a member of the Committee since 1980 and became Secretary in 1982.


Asbestos Awareness Training for Safety Reps is to take place on the 6th of March at 2012 from 2.00pm - 4.30pm in teaching room 01/023 at the Peter Frogratt Centre.


The Belfast Trust has pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the safety of staff at Belfast City Hospital in an incident linked to asbestos.

It also admitted failing to tell sub-contractors about the presence of asbestos before they started work at the hospital last January, and to failing to manage the risk. At the Belfast Crown Court, a trust representative pleaded guilty to three charges under health and safety legislation.

A fourth was not proceeded with. The trust will be sentenced next month.

General News

E-cigarettes are potentially hazardous and have no place in the workplace, the TUC's head of safety has advised. Hugh Robertson, who said he had received two inquiries from safety reps about the product in the last week, said while the electronic nicotine delivery systems are not banned, they should be subject to the same controls at work as real cigarettes. Noting that US authorities have discouraged their use, he said: 'Certainly e-cigarettes do contain a number of carcinogens and toxins, but these are likely to be at much lower levels than with cigarettes made with tobacco.' He added: 'In answer to the specific question about their legality, e-cigarettes are not covered by the ban on smoking in enclosed workplaces and public places, but an employer does have control over whether their employees can smoke them while at work. Given that the long term effects of the fumes are an unknown, then it could be argued that employers should not be allowing a potentially harmful substance to be used in the workplace under COSHH (the Chemicals regulations).' He said safety reps 'should try to ensure that the employer does not allow the use of e-cigarettes in enclosed places or anywhere that smoking tobacco is prohibited, but, as part of a health promotion campaign, might want to work with their employer to encourage smokers to switch to e-cigarettes and use them instead of tobacco cigarettes, but only in places not covered by the smoking ban.' Last year, NHS Fife and Blackburn College made e-cigarettes subject to the same controls under their smoking policies as normal cigarettes.

Employers who create healthy workplaces can reduce employee absence and boost productivity, according to a new TUC guide. 'Work and well-being' aims to promote healthier working and help union safety reps identify what in their workplaces is making staff ill. The TUC guide says the best method for improving the general well-being of a workforce is to change the way that work is organised and managed. For example, reducing workplace stress is far more useful than providing on-site massage for stressed workers. The report also says that running exercise classes during lunch hours may prove popular with some employees but employers need to ensure that workers have a proper lunch break in order to benefit. The union body says any lifestyle changes - diet, exercise, smoking or alcohol use - must be made available in a completely non-judgmental manner so that no-one feels any changes are being forced upon them. More info here.

The TUC is calling for in a new 10 point safety manifesto. 'Time for change' features 10 key recommendations which the TUC believes, if implemented by a future government, could help turn around the UK's poor health safety record, and prevent many of the 20,000 workplace-related deaths which occur in the UK every year. The TUC manifesto makes the case for good health and safety practice, in a climate where safety laws are increasingly seen by ministers as unnecessary burdens on business, and where spending cuts and changes in regulations are making it increasingly difficult to police employers who play fast and loose with their employees' safety.

The HSE has issued a reminder that in an emergency you can contact the emergency services using your mobile phone even if you donít have a signal. By dialling 999 or 112, your mobile will connect to any network. It can also be used with pay as you go phones that have no credit on them.
If you are unfortunate enough to have an accident while working alone you will then possibly be able to summon help.