Texas officials have revoked its decision to evict a library cat which was to be cast out over health and safety fears
A rescue cat who resides at a state library in Texas has been saved from homelessness following an outcry from locals and the wider public who kicked up a huge fuss to save the poor feline when his livelihood was threatened by health and safety concerns.
The aptly named cat, Browser, was adopted six years ago by staff at White Settlement Library, in Texas, and he has since become a member of the library team, loved by employees and visitors alike.
He was rescued from an animal shelter six years ago and moved into the library to help with a rodent problem. Throughout this time, the library has become Browser’s home and he has become a top attraction for library goers.
However, according to reports from the Associated Press, Browser’s future was cast into uncertainty following a complaint by a man who was refused entry into a city hall because he was accompanied by his puppy. The man made a formal complaint and used Browser’s presence in the city library as an argument.
For this reason, city council officials met to discuss the health and safety issues involved in allowing a cat to live in a public building. It was decided that Browser posed a risk to those who suffer from cat dander allergies. A vote of 2-1 against Browser seemingly sealed his doom.
However, news of the poor cat’s eviction reached sympathetic ears and a petition was set up to keep Browser firmly in his bookish place. City council officials reacted to the public outcry and revoked their decision to boot Browser out.
The Dallas Morning News commented on Browser’s library duties: “Like most felines, Browser spends a good deal of time napping, lounging and sneaking out the door — but he also attends the library’s GED classes and has an honorary diploma, the library says. And each year, the library sells a calendar full of pictures of Browser as a fundraiser.”
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A Trades Union Congress report suggests a ‘Brexit’ could result in increased worker injuries and accidents
A report published last week by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), claims that if the UK voted out of the European Union in the June referendum, health and safety in the workplace could be negatively impacted.
According to the report, titled ‘EU Membership and Health and Safety’, the EU’s legislation on UK health and safety regulations has helped reduce the number of injuries and accidents sustained in the workplace.
The report was published on April 28, also the International Workers’ Memorial Day, and was meant to highlight how the EU rules have positively affected health and safety within Britain.
The report states that between 1997 and 2009, the UK imposed 41 new health and safety laws which originated from EU legislation; in total, 65 new laws were introduced within those years. In addition, the report claims that EU rules helped reduce workplace fatalities from 368 in 1992 to 142 in 2015.
According to the Trades Union Congress, the health and safety legislation for the construction industry, for police officers and for the control of asbestos are just three of the major areas where EU regulations have had a significant affect.
If the British public vote to leave the EU, the UK government can choose to retain EU laws or dispose of them. The General Secretary of TUC, Frances O’Grady, said that the government has already showed signs of “its readiness to water down key health and safety rules”.
The suggestion that health and safety standards would slip in Britain if a ‘Brexit’ took place, is a contentious statement considering that the UK is held as a global model for effective health and safety in the workplace.
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Health and Safety fears sparked by claims of mould and dirt at Asda store
An investigation has been launched by Asda after a worker at their big supermarket in Bristol claims that health & safety issues are not being adhered to.
The member of staff, who has remained anonymous, works at the Asda store, Bedminster. The anonymous worker became so concerned about the conditions in the store that they decided to take photographs, which clearly show signs of dirt and mould within the supermarket building.
The member of staff has said the they have reported various health and safety issues with store management on numerous occasions but to no avail and believes that cost-cutting has led to the health and safety standards dropping within the store.
The supermarket has now launched an investigation into the claims made by the anonymous member of staff.
The anonymous whistle-blower said, “Despite me and other staff informing management of these health and safety issues – mould, no first aiders – staff were not listened to and there is still a hazard that customers are not aware of and should be aware of.”
A spokesperson at Asda has said that they do take food safety and hygiene very seriously and pride themselves on maintaining the highest standards within their stores.
They have now launched a full investigation into the allegations and would like to reassure all Asda customers that they are confident that high standards are maintained in all Asda supermarkets.
A spokesperson at the city council said that it is Asda’s responsibility to make sure that all food safety and hygiene standards are complied with across all stores.
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Dame Judith Hackitt claims “non-sensical” health and safety rules in schools are damaging for children
The head of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has criticised the “excessive risk-averse” culture which dominates health and safety rules in schools and which could be harmful to children later in life.
Dame Judith Hackitt, who has been the chair of the HSE for the last eight years, has warned schools against exercising “nonsensical” health and safety rules in the school place, as it prevents children from preparing for the “real world” and damages the serious work being done by the HSE.
The comments were made by Dame Judith during a speech she gave at the Royal Academy of Engineering, where she told the audience a story about a school which banned pupils from wearing frilly socks because they could cause trips and falls.
Dame Judith said that raising children with this type of “bureaucratic” behaviour would create adults who will become “a liability in any workplace”. She further added that children’s education should involve learning how to deal with danger and risk.
According to a study carried out by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, one in four schools across the UK have banned such time-honoured playground games like British bulldogs and “tig” over health and safety concerns.
“Overprotective parents and risk-averse teachers who do not enable children to learn to handle risk will lead to young adults who are poorly equipped to deal with the realities of the world… unable to discern real risk from trivia, not knowing who they can trust or believe.” said Dame Judith.
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University of Oxford researchers have been analysing health and safety pamphlets from the Tudor period
A research professor at the University of Oxford has found that health and safety guides were popular in the Tudor period, when gruesome deaths by hay scythes and horse-drawn carts were not out of the ordinary.
According to Professor Steven Gunn, from the University of Oxford, the Tudor period was a dangerous era in which to be alive, and indeed to work. Statistics taken from multiple coroners’ reports from this era, show that over half of the fatal accidents recorded in Tudor times happened to people while they were working.
The coroners’ reports detail accidents which befell workers between the years 1551 and 1600. The reports list all fatal accidents from this period, but researchers from Oxford have been focusing upon those that happened in the workplace.
The incidents recorded include the death of three people in Lancashire while washing sheep in a river; and the brutal death of a farm labourer who was accidentally sliced by his colleague’s scythe at the end of a busy day on the fields.
The team of researchers found that drivers of horse-drawn carts in the Tudor period were the group most likely to become involved in a fatal accident; this was due to wheel-seizures, collisions, and overworked drivers.
Health and safety pamphlets, like Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry published in 1614, became popular due to the dangerous nature of the workplace for the common Tudor worker.
Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry advises farm labourers to work diagonally so as to avoid being caught by another’s scythe; advises cart drivers to carry a bag of snails to use a wheel-lubricants to prevent wheel seizures; and warns of the dangers involved in climbing trees.
Professor Steven Gunn, of Oxford’s Merton College, commented: “Reading about how people died in Tudor times, you might think that people must have been daft. Actually people did make an effort to work out the risks and minimise them.”
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Consultancy firm found guilty of health and safety offences
A health and safety company has been found guilty of committing multiple offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act at Ipswich Crown Court and will be sentenced next month.
Worksafe Training Consultancy, based in St Andrew’s Street, Bury St Edmunds, appeared in Ipswich Crown Court where the directors underwent a four day trial before a judge and jury, who decided that the company was guilty of failing to ensure the safety of workers at a factory which had hired the company for its supposed expertise.
Managers at Jan Cavelle Furniture, in Haverhill, hired Worksafe Training Consultancy to advise them on meeting current health and safety standards. Worksafe contracted the job out to a third-party consultant, who gave the managers at Jan Cavelle “bad advice”.
Two Jan Cavelle employees, Caine Heathcote and Stefan Puricel, suffered serious injuries at their workplace factory when operating a woodworking machine, an overhead router, and a biscuit jointer. Jan Cavelle and the Health and Safety Executive hold Worksafe responsible for providing an ‘inadequate’ consultancy service.
The court heard how Worksafe were to receive a payment of £1,500 from Jan Cavelle for its consultancy service. The managing director of Worksafe, Russell Fife, said his company would have pocketed half of this, while the other half would have gone to the sub-contracted consultant.
Worksafe Training Consultancy was found guilty of a number of breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act and will be sentenced in April.
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German supermarket firm fined £100k for health and safety breach
The German supermarket chain has been fined £100,000 in Teeside Crown Court following an accident in 2014 during which an employee was left trapped by an insufficiently secured smoking shelter.
The incident took place on a windy afternoon on 21 October, 2014, at Aldi’s Faverdale distribution centre, located in Darlington, when Michael Simpson went out on his lunch break to smoke a cigarette on the benches at the outside smoking point.
A sudden gust of wind caught up an insecurely fitted sheltered smoking area and blew it in the direction of the benches, where it struck Mr Simpson on the back and trapped him momentarily to the floor. He suffered damage to the soft-tissue on his back and says he still suffers from nightmares.
The metal smoking shelter had been removed from its formerly secured place by Wilkinson Maintenance who had been carrying out construction work at the distribution centre. Wilkinson Maintenance did not take any action to secure the shelter in its new place, believing that that was Aldi’s responsibility.
Aldi and Wilkinson Maintenance were both taken to court by Darlington Borough Council for breaching Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Both companies pleaded guilty to the charge; Aldi was fined £100,000, while Wilkinson Maintenance must pay a £20,000 fine.
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Farming company fined £125,000 for breaching health and safety regulations
A father and son farming company based in Cornwall has been fined £125,000 after being prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as a result of the fatal electrocution of one of the farm workers while he was out harvesting in the fields.
The 24-year-old farm worker was working on a potato field on July 3, 2011 at Higher Kergilliack Farm, near Falmouth, when he was struck by a overhead power line, which had been caught by a conveyor connected to the potato harvester on which the Polish man had been working.
Konrad Miskiewicz died as a result of being struck by the 6,300-voltage power line. Truro Crown Court heard how it could not be determined for definite whether Mr Miskiewicz died as a result of the first contact with the power line or by the re-surging power which is emitted to test if the line is actually broken.
The farm owner, Pengelly Farms Limited, pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety regulations as set out by the Health and Safety at Work Act. Truro Crown Court was told that the managers had now implemented a number of health and safety improvements, including staff training, and had invested in new equipment which make the farming operations safer.
Pengelly Farms Limited was ordered to pay a £75,000 fine and prosecution costs of £50,000. Judge Simon Carr criticised HSE for taking so long to decide to prosecute the farm, and told the court: “This is not a company that ignored its responsibilities in respect of health and safety … this is a company who long before the prosecution began had learned from this event and I would like to think would never fall foul of it again.”
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Star Wars to be prosecuted due to Harrison Ford injury
A production company involved in the making of the most recent Star Wars film is to be prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive for the injury that was sustained by Harrison Ford during filming.
The accident happened at Pinewood Studios in London, where Ford sustained an injury from a faulty hydraulic metal door, which resulted in him being air-lifted to hospital in an helicopter. He was out of action for two months with serious injuries, with director JJ Abrams forced to halt filming.
The 73-year-old American actor reprised his role as Hans Solo for The Force Awakens, the latest in the Star Wars franchise, and apparently received a handsome $34m salary for his efforts.
The Health and Safety Executive has announced it will be prosecuting Foodles Production (UK) Ltd for breaching health and safety regulations. The company, which is based in Hammersmith, London, was the main production company behind the The Force Awakens, according to BBC.
A spokesperson for HSE said: “By law, employers must take reasonable steps to protect workers – this is as true on a film set as a factory floor.”
The new Star Wars film was released in cinemas worldwide in December and became the highest-grossing film of 2015, making more than $2bn at box office. The sequel, Episode VIII, is already in production and finds Ford again reprising his famous role. There are no reports to suggest that the actor is suing the production company himself.
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The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has released figures showing the improvement that Great Britain has made in work-related healthy and safety issues within the last 10 years and has also announced a new six theme strategy for the future.
The HSE said that Great Britain can be proud of its record in health and safety in the workplace but that there is still much room for improvement. In the year 2014/2015, there was 142 incidents of fatality in the workplace, compared with 223 in 2004/2005; and more than £1.2million people are suffering from an illness caused by work-related issues.
The six themes for the new strategy read as follows:
1) Promoting broader ownership of healthy and safety in Great Britain
2) Highlighting and addressing the costs of work-related ill health
3) Simplifying risk management to allow businesses to progress
4) Provide support to small employers
5) Anticipating and addressing new health and safety issues
6) Promoting the success of Great Britain’s leading healthy and safety strategy
Dame Judith Hackitt, chair of HSE, said: “We can be proud of the country’s record on work-related safety and health – it’s one of the best in the world. Making it even better is the challenge, so that we can all continue to help Great Britain work well.”
Dame Hackitt has urged unions, top industry figures, local governments, workers and employers, to offer their opinion on the new strategy for healthy and safety in Great Britain and that they should now start “a conversation” in order to create a “strategy for all, shaped by all.”