RoundUp and other glyphosate products are herbicides used domestically and commercially. New evidence supports the calls by the Institute of Science in Society for a ban on the use of these products.
Scientists pinpoint how very low concentrations of the herbicide and other chemicals in Roundup formulations kill human cells, strengthening the case for phasing them out, and banning all further releases of Roundup-tolerant GM crops
Research that shows an alternate perspective is available through Monsanto’s website.
This type of opinion or science war makes it very difficult for safety professionals to determine appropriate control measures when the evidence fluctuates however, as ever, protect to the lowest common denominator and eliminate the hazard wherever possible.
shows that chronic diseases are associated with more days off work and/or being out of the workforce, and some of the biggest culprits are depression, arthritis and asthma.
The report focuses on chronic illnesses rather the workplace impacts of the illnesses themselves but there is information that is relevant to how we manage our employees and psychosocial hazards. For instance the report says
Arthritis, asthma and depression were associated with 76% of the total loss due to days away from work (29% associated with depression, 24% with arthritis and 23% with asthma).
For people participating full-time in the labour force, there was a loss of approximately 367,000 person-years associated with chronic disease, approximately 57,000 person-years in absenteeism associated with chronic disease and 113,000 person-years were lost due to death from chronic disease.
The report acknowledges that any estimates of loss are underestimated and also provides very useful data on chronic diseases and absenteeism
Loss due to absenteeism from full-time and part-time employment was calculated as the difference between the number of days off work for people with chronic disease, and the number expected if age and sex-specific rates of absenteeism among people without chronic disease applied.
The loss from absenteeism associated with chronic disease was approximately 500,000 days per fortnight. This was equivalent to approximately 13.2 million days per year or 57,000 person-years of full-time participation (assuming 48 working weeks of 5 days duration with 10 public holidays per year).
About two-thirds of this cost was carried by males, and people aged 35-44 and 45-54 years accounted for the majority (75%) of lost days.
Analysis of absenteeism by specific chronic disease showed that depression, arthritis and asthma were associated with around 76% of days away from work.
Last week, the release of the final report of Australia’s review into National Model OHS Law was touted by many as immediately after the meeting of the Workplace Relations Ministers Council (WRMC). This occurred with the first report in 2008. WRMC met in a teleconference yesterday. When the report is released officially (rumours are that the report is already doing the rounds of the unions and the employer associations), SafetyAtWorkBlog will provide a link to the report and some initial commentary.
However, as reported yesterday, the Australian Financial Review obtained a copy of the report and highlighted several issues of interest. The AFR report held no great surprise for safety professionals but the union movement is going to be ideologically tested.
Early in the review process, the New South Wales union movement was very vocal about the risk of losing their right to initiate prosecutions over OHS breaches. The right was rarely applied and could be a very costly exercise. Since that time there has been silence from that quarter, perhaps because they realised that its contentious right was out-of-step with the rest of the country and the review process is all about legislative harmonisation.
According to media reports this week, the Review Panel’s final report recommends the omission of the right to prosecute but allows an option to instigate prosecutions through the OHS regulators. In effect it keeps the power where it is most cost-effective and through which a similar outcome could be achieved. It gives the unions a seat at the table, just not the same seat but still with a comfy cushion.
Prior to the WRMC meeting, Sharan Burrows issued a media statement on several matters, the source of the ACTU quotes in today’s AFR article, in which she said
Media reports also suggest that the Ministers will tonight discuss the final report of the National Review of OHS Laws.
“It is vital that the national, harmonised health and safety laws are based on the highest possible standards. This should include providing workers with the right, through their unions, to initiate prosecutions against employers when there are serious health and safety breaches.
“In the past, union prosecutions have been few in number but have secured important improvements for employees who work in potentially dangerous situations. We also need a truly tripartite, well resourced national workplace health and safety watchdog that is able to set, monitor and upgrade health and safety standards,” said Ms Burrow.
It seems that Ms Burrows may, pragmatically, welcome the cushion.
Also, the union movement would be well aware of the potential boost to the revenues of OHS training providers, a status many unions and union bodies enjoy. A national five-day training course for Health & Safety Representatives could be financially useful. Also the courses have always been a very good recruiting opportunity.
In April 2002, I interviewed Lawrence Lorber of US law firm Proskauer Rose on workplace bullying. It was at the height of the Enron collapse and corporate behaviour towards staff was gaining a lot of attention. Over the last fortnight I have been researching some of the management books and concepts concerning leadership, emotional intelligence, modern expectations of managers – all of which could be thrown into “workplace culture.”
As I was reading back issue of the SafetyATWORK magazine, I used to published, there seemed to be valuable comments from Lawrence that remain relevant. Below is an extract of the interview. The full interview is available HERE
SAW: In Australia, the approach to workplace bullying seems to be coming from a systemic management system rather than one relying on psychological assessment.
LL: The highly competitive and highly contentious nature of what is coming out about Enron, the “up or out” atmosphere is one aspect of a system that can lead to managers or co-workers to engage in bullying. The characteristics of being tough or abrasive may be necessary to get ahead in the organisation. The environment can encourage or create bullying tendencies. However, not everybody turns into Attila the Hun in a highly competitive environment. Others survive without taking on the attributes of the bully.
Psychological testing is frequently applied in the States with regard to executive promotions. Dealing with bullying does require a combination of the systemic and individual approach. I work for some companies who are publicly perceived as fairly aggressive, there are tough people there who I might not want to work for but they are effective. They might be perceived as bullies. But looking at bullying as an environmental issue does mask the problem.
SAW: Managers sometimes need to motivate a staff member, perhaps, by rebuking them. The receiver of the rebuke may perceive that as bullying. How can we balance these perceptions?
LL: There were management books in the States in the 1980s, which encouraged management by intimidation. At one point that was the vogue. After the movie PATTON came out, everyone wanted to be General Patton.
If you look at a harsh manager who is demanding in an abrasive manner, that could be bullying.
How do you define bullying? Do you define it by your own reaction? A very US example is sex harassment. Is harassment in the eyes of the beholder? Does it have to be a reasonable woman who believes she is being harassed? In the circumstance where the bully is a male and the recipient is a female, frequently that becomes harassment.
SAW: That is a problem for the managers where for the last 30 years, harassment, bullying and discrimination has been handled outside the OHS field, in Human Resources. Now there are national and international moves to combat bullying because of the stress at work issues. I haven’t seen that approach in the United States.
LL: Here it’s not health and safety. Our definition of harassment is an “intimidating atmosphere”. That can also be a definition of bullying.
I don’t think it will be considered as a health and safety issue because workplace stress is not a field that is devoid of regulation. It is simply being regulated in a different context-employment discrimination and to a lesser extent under the disability laws.