Prosecutions to go before inquest
Published: 12 Jan 2012
More health and safety prosecutions will take place before an inquest, under changes designed to speed up work-related death cases.
Families of people killed in work may be able to turn to an accident at work solicitor sooner than they had previously been able to. Currently, it is only in exceptional circumstances where prosecutions are brought before an inquest by any body other than the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). The revised protocol will allow prosecution before an inquest where manslaughter or homicide charges are not relevant.
The Work-Related Deaths Protocol was announced by the Work-Related Deaths National Liaison Committee (NLC), which includes members from the Health and Safety Executive, the CPS, local authorities and the Association of Chief Police Officers. It took effect on 1 October 2011 with the aim of ensuring families see a swifter resolution to some prosecutions.
Richard Daniels, chair of the NLC commented, "All signatories are committed to seeking justice for bereaved family members, when a work-related death has occurred and someone should be held to account. The change will help us deliver this justice more effectively and sooner in less complex cases."
Candidate List has 20 new Substances of Very High Concern
Published: 12 Jan 2012
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has added 20 substances to the Candidate List which now contains 73 Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC). Among these recent additions, 12 have been included in the Candidate List following the unanimous agreement of the Member State Committee while the other eight, which did not receive comments challenging the identification as SVHC during public consultation, were directly added to the Candidate List.
Also, 19 of the SVHCs are carcinogenic and/or toxic for reproduction. Additionally, for the first time a substance 4-tert-octyl phenol - has been identified as an SVHC because of its endocrine disrupting properties which give rise to an equivalent level of concern due to its probable serious effects to the environment.
For more information, see:
Late climate deal
Published: 10 Jan 2012
UN climate talks have closed in Durban, South Africa, with an agreement that could have "saved tomorrow, today."
The European Union will place its current emission-cutting pledges inside the legally-binding Kyoto Protocol, a key demand of developing countries. Talks on a new legal deal covering all countries will begin next year and end by 2015, coming into effect by 2020. The management of a fund for climate aid to poor countries has also been agreed, but not how the money will be raised.
Talks ran almost 36 hours past their scheduled close, with many delegates saying the host Government lacked urgency and strategy. However, there was applause when South Africa's International Relations Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, brought the proceedings to a close. She commented, "We came here with plan A, and we have concluded this meeting with plan A to save one planet for the future of our children and our grandchildren to come. We have made history."
The conclusion was delayed by a dispute between the EU and India over the wording of the "roadmap" for a new global deal. India did not want it to be legally binding. Eventually an agreement was reached. The roadmap proposal originated with the EU, the Alliance of Small Island States (Aosis) and the Least Developed Countries bloc (LDCs). They argued that only a new legal agreement covering emissions from all countries - particularly fast-growing major emitters such as China - could keep the rise in global average temperatures since pre-industrial times below 2°C, the internationally-agreed threshold.
A management framework was also adopted for the Green Climate Fund, which will eventually gather and disburse around £64bn per year to help poor countries develop cleanly and adapt to climate impacts. There has also been significant progress on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD).
Environment groups were divided in their reaction, with some believing it to be a significant step forward and others claiming it had done nothing to change the course of climate change. Michael Jacobs, visiting professor at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment in London, said the agreement could bring real changes. "The agreement here has not in itself taken us off the 4°C path we are on. But by forcing countries for the first time to admit that their current policies are inadequate and must be strengthened by 2015, it has snatched 2°C from the jaws of impossibility. At the same time it has re-established the principle that climate change should be tackled through international law, not national, voluntarism."
HSE releases statistics for 2010/2011
Published: 09 Jan 2012
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued a warning about workplace injuries after the number of fatalities at work rose in Britain in 2010/2011. Their warning urges employers to make safety a priority this year and reminds them of their legal responsibility with regard to safety.
The following are examples of some of the statistics regarding workplace health and safety in 2010/2011:
- two people died and 530 suffered major injuries in Tyne and Wear;
- 17 people died and 2,480 suffered major injuries in Greater London;
- 11 people died and 1,399 suffered major injuries in Wales;
- 25 people died and 2,987 suffered major injuries in the North West;
- 16 people died and 2,088 suffered major injuries in the East Midlands;
- 15 people died and 2,645 suffered major injuries in Scotland;
- four people died and almost 900 suffered major injuries in Birmingham and the Black Country;
- one person died and 205 suffered major injuries in Cornwall; and
- 24 people died and more than 2,600 suffered major injuries in Yorkshire and the Humber.
In total, 171 people lost their lives at work last year and more than 24,700 workers suffered serious injuries. This is quite an increase from 2009/10, which saw 147 deaths. The HSE state that the current statistics show that on average six in every million workers were killed between April 2010 and March 2011.
Construction was, in particular, one of the most dangerous industries, with 50 deaths, whilst the agricultural sector saw 34 deaths and there were nine deaths in the waste and recycling sector. The HSE explain that these three employment sectors account for over half of the workplace deaths in Britain in 2010/2011.
For further information on the statistics, go to http://cedr.ec/1w.
Hadrian's plaque problem
Published: 09 Jan 2012
A small memorial plaque in memory of "Nick White" from his "Aussie mates" has been found stuck to stonework on Hadrian's Wall. The famous wall, 84 miles long stretching from Tyneside to Bowness in Cumbria, is a World Heritage Site and a scheduled monument, making it a very protected site. It is therefore illegal to deface or damage the wall.
The plaque was found by local resident John Thirlaway who had gone to the wall to photograph the infamous sycamore tree that has grown in a valley amongst the wall stones and which has appeared in such films as Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. He then noticed something catching the sun and thought it was waste that had been left, so walked over to remove it. He said, "When I went over I saw this plaque glued onto the wall. I just couldn't believe someone had done this, and no-one had removed it."
However, the National Trust now has to find a way of removing the plaque without damaging the protected stone, and are currently consulting with English Heritage to find the best way to remove the plaque without causing further damage. Andrew Poad, who looks after Hadrian's Wall properties for the National Trust, said, "What we do not want to do is commit another criminal offence by damaging the stonework by removing it."
For more information, see the:
- Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979;
- Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990;
- Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Regulations SI 1990/1519.
Published: 06 Jan 2012
The Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI) has confirmed the Carrickfergus Amphitheatre is the subject of an “ongoing investigation” after its temporary closure earlier this month.
While the HSENI could not comment further on the details of the investigation, it is understood that Carrickfergus Borough Council held a special meeting on 22 December. The recently refurbished facility shut temporarily on 2 December after a routine survey revealed a build up of sediment in water tanks and pipes.
It was claimed that if left untreated, the sediment had the potential to provide a harbour for harmful organisms. After a deep-cleanse operation of the water systems, the centre reopened on 8 December.