Workers’ health information must be protected, medical confidentiality rules respected and workplace practices agreed between employers and unions, the TUC has said. Responding to an Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) consultation on employment practices and data protection regarding information about workers’ health, the TUC added that it agrees ‘with the ICO that health information is some of the most sensitive personal information that might be processed about workers. An online resource with topic-specific guidance on employment practices and data protection could be vital to workers, employers, trade unions and trade union representatives.’
US: WARNING FOR BOSSES PUTTING PROFIT BEFORE SAFETY
New enforcement guidance from the US safety regulator OSHA will mean harsher penalties and greater scrutiny of employers who put profits before safety. ‘Smart, impactful enforcement means using all the tools available to us when an employer ‘doesn’t get it’ and will respond to only additional deterrence in the form of increased citations and penalties,’ said OSHA head Doug Parker. ‘This is intended to be a targeted strategy for those employers who repeatedly choose to put profits before their employees’ safety, health and wellbeing. Employers who callously view injured or sickened workers simply as a cost of doing business will face more serious consequences.’
Source: OSHA news release. Confined Space blog
INDIA: RESPONSE NEEDED ON WORK-RELATED SUICIDE
Deaths caused by overwork, stress and toxic work environments are a ‘social problem’ in India requiring an urgent, coordinated response, the Delhi High Court has warned. The court was hearing the case of Poonan Gupta, a worker who killed himself after being bullied at work. It emphasised the need for investigation of mental health issues at the workplace. Justice Jasmeet Singh observed ‘death caused due to overwork and toxic work environment is a social problem which requires the government, the labour unions, the health officials and corporates to formulate appropriate policies. What is needed is an examination of the issues of overwork and occupational stress focusing on mental health at workplace.’
UK: OVERWORKED TEACHERS AT ‘END OF THEIR TETHER’
Teachers are at ‘the end of their tether’, the leader of the teaching union NEU has said, ahead of further schools strikes in England. The union’s joint general secretary Mary Bousted said she saw little sign of movement from ministers in the ongoing pay dispute. ‘Teachers are at the end of their tether. They are undervalued, they feel underpaid, they are completely overworked,’ she said. Prime minister Rishi Sunak and his chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, have insisted repeatedly they are not willing to reopen the current year’s settlements for public sector workers.
Source: The Observer
US: LONG COVID, AND AN INCREASINGLY SICK WORKFORCE
Although COVID cases are down across the US, many employees report being too sick to return to work, requiring ongoing medical treatment due to long COVID. The New York State Insurance Fund (NYSIF) found almost a third of workers’ compensation claims in the state were for long COVID with more men than women suffering the condition. Roughly 70% of New York residents who filed for long COVID-related workers’ comp said they experienced symptoms keeping them out of work for at least six months or needed ongoing medical care. NYSIF found long Covid to be an ‘underappreciated yet important reason for the many unfilled jobs and declining labour participation rates’ forewarning a reduction in productivity and an increasingly sick work force.
Source: Confined Space 7 February