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(en) Britain, Catalyst #11 - Exposed - 'accidents' at work What a waste, Geest Greed, Crown killers get off lightly, etc,

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Thu, 26 Aug 2004 12:12:12 +0200 (CEST)

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What a waste - A recent HSE-commissioned report, Mapping
health and safety standards in the UK waste
industry, found that death rates in the waste
industry are over 10 times the national average,
which makes the waste industry now more
dangerous than construction. It also found accident
rates are four times the average, and says incidents
predominantly occur to refuse and recycling
collection workers who manually handle and sort
waste. The handling of bags, wheelie bins and skip
feature strongly in the HSE accident reports.
Responding to the findings, the HSE does not
mention any plan to enforce higher standards, but
instead says it will be good partners with the
industry, encouraging self-regulation. As reported in
the last Catalyst (Cat10), this good partnership
approach adopted by the HSE in recent years has
proved totally ineffectual in stemming the rise in
death and injuries at work. The bosses will always
put profit before the heath & safety of their
workers. The only way of ensuring proper safety a
work is through workers organising and forcing the
bosses to take action to ensure safety.

Geest Greed
Food multinational Geest must pay out fines
and legal costs of just £10,000 after an untrained
teenage migrant worker lost three fingertips while
working at one of its Spalding factories. Portuguese
worker Diana Fernandes, 18, was cleaning a moving
conveyor belt on a night shift at Lincs Cuisine when
her clothing got caught and her hand was dragged
into machinery. When Miss Fernandes, an agency
worker, started at Geest, there was no formal
training on health and safety, she was just shown
how to put on her clothing and cap.

Crown killers get off lightly
Company bosses criticised in court for a series
of fatal safety blunders have escaped with fines
totalling £17,000. A safety review has now been
ordered by Crown Holdings plc following a fireball
explosion at the Carnaud Metalbox factory in
Westhoughton, which killed Craig Whelan and Paul
Wakefield. Factory bosses Ian Billington, Colin
Stevens and engineer John Kither were found guilty
of breaching health and safety laws. They were
originally charged with manslaughter, but these
charges were later dropped. The court heard that
company bosses had been warned of the fire risk.
One witness said he was flabbergasted by the poor
quality of the risk assessment prepared by the
company for the demolition job.

Railway contract killers
A 21-year-old railway worker was hit and killed
by a train in London because a construction
company and a recruitment agency failed to train
him properly, a court heard recently. Balfour Beatty
and McGinley Recruitment Services both denied
they had employed Michael Mungovan, but pleaded
guilty at City of London Magistrates Court to
failing in their duty to ensure he was not endangered
while at work, and failing to make sure he was
informed properly about his hazardous work.
Michael Mungovan, a Brunel University student
from County Cork in Ireland, was earning holiday
money as a casual railway worker and had been in
the job just three days when he was killed. Mr
Mungovans family said he had received just nine
hours training and did not hold a valid track safety
card. Directors and managers from both firms were
in court, although neither company would accept
they were Mr Mungovans employer, instead facing
charges relating to safety duties to non-employees.
This case follows the May 2002 inquest, which
ruled that Mr Mungovan was unlawfully killed. It
also highlights that, in Britains flexible deregulated
labour market, firms can truly get away with murder.

* Catalyst is Freesheet of the anarchist Solidarity
Federation - IWA September 2004

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