Week Commencing 08/04/2024 – In The News

In praise of older workers

Dr Karen McDonnell, RoSPA’s Occupational Health and Safety Policy Adviser, discusses the benefits of having older workers and the considerations employers should make to ensure they remain safe and healthy.

Workplaces around the world can make a valuable contribution to the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing. It is widely recognised that ‘good’ work is good for you, and this message is relevant to workers at all stages of their working lives. Good work helps maintain functional capacity, which means that a person’s ability to do their daily tasks and activities remains optimal as they get older. 

Across the world, people are now living longer. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), one in six people in the world will be aged 60 years or over by 2030, reaching a total of 1.4 billion.

By 2050, the world’s population of people aged 60 years and older is predicted to rise to 2.1 billion. The number of people aged 80 years or older is expected to triple between 2020 and 2050 to reach 426 million.

In its 2021 report on ageism, WHO found that 50 per cent of people were ageist against older people, saying: “Despite the many contributions of older people to society and their wide diversity, negative attitudes about older people are common across societies and are seldom challenged.”

Read more on the SHP website.

Director jailed for asbestos failings

A company director has been jailed for eight months after failing to protect workers from exposure to asbestos at a student development project in Winchester.

Stephen Davies, 59, had set up Cavendish Winchester Ltd with the sole purpose of refurbishing the Winnall Close commercial unit into student rental accommodation. His co-director Neil Bolton, 56, was spared an immediate spell behind bars when he was handed a four-month suspended sentence at Southampton Crown Court on 27 March 2024. The company itself was fined £30,000 – with all three defendants pleading guilty.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed the company removed an estimated ten tonnes of asbestos insulating board (AIB) during the refurbishment in late 2019 and early 2020. The dangerous materials were stripped out by workers unqualified to do the job and unaware of the risks to their health.

The investigation arose when HSE received a concern that large quantities of AIB had been illegally removed. The work was all carried out under the direction of Stephen Davies.

Visit the HSM website to learn more.

UK’s greenhouse gas emissions fell 5.4% in 2023 on lower gas use

Britain’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions fell by 5.4% in 2023, government data showed on Thursday, with less gas used to generate electricity and heat homes.

The country’s target to reach net zero emissions by 2050 will require changes to the way people eat and travel, as well as how electricity is produced.

“This decrease in 2023 is primarily due to a reduction in gas demand from the electricity supply and buildings and product uses sectors,” the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) said.

Total greenhouse gas emissions were estimated at 384.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2023.

The electricity sector, which makes up around 11% of Britain’s GHG emissions, recorded the biggest drop at 41.1 MtCO2e compared with 51.9 MtCO2e in 2022.

For more on UK emissions, visit the Yahoo website.

Prime Minister launches retail crime crackdown

Assaulting a retail worker will be made a standalone criminal offence, sending a clear message that there will be tough consequences for this unacceptable behaviour.

Perpetrators could be sent to prison for up to six months, receive an unlimited fine and be banned from going back to the shop where they committed their crimes, with Criminal Behaviour Orders barring them visiting specific premises. Breaching an order is also a criminal offence and carries a five-year maximum prison sentence. For the most serious cases of assault, such as causing grievous bodily harm with intent, offenders could face a life sentence.

The move to create the new offence follows longstanding campaigning on this issue from Matt Vickers MP, and some of the biggest retailers, calling for more action to better protect their staff.

The government is also stepping up action to clamp down on offenders who repeatedly target the country’s high streets, with serial offenders forced to wear tags to track their movements.

Learn more on the HSM website.

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