Workers on World Cup Stadium Threaten to Strike

The progress of a World Cup Stadium in the Brazilian jungle city of Manaus is under threat as workers intend on going on strike to demand better working conditions and safety. This threat comes after a third death of a construction worker at the stadium.

FIFA fears that a strike would only cause further delays to the completion of the stadium, named Arena da Amazonia , a mere few months before what is supposed to be the start of the biggest soccer tournament in the world.

A union leader was quoted as saying:

“We have to guarantee the workers’ rights and their safety,” union leader Cicero Custodio told Brazilian news media. “Nobody will get in on Monday.”

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Seb Blatter said that Brazil was further behind in their world cup preparations than any other previous host and the venue in southern Brazil is at risk of not being finished in time.

The latest death was that of a 55 year old worker who was disassembling a crane that was used to install the stadium’s roof. He was the third worker to lose his life while working on this project within a year.

Brazil has already missed its December deadline – the date by which it promised that all 12 of its World Cup venues would be finished and with the tournament meant to start June 12th, only 7 have been completed. Six of the completed stadiums were done for the Confederations Cup warm up tournament held last June which means that only one stadium has been completed since then.

According to the stadium’s management, the Arena Da Amazonia was almost complete when the third fatal accident took place.

Authorities are currently investigating the latest incident and public prosecutors said they will halt construction if safety conditions at the site are not adequate as workers threaten to strike.

The following excerpt from an article on explains the history of Brazil’s World Cup preparation woes:

The first death in Manaus happened in March, when a man fell from a scaffold and hit his head. In December, another worker died after falling 35 metres while working on the stadium’s roof, prompting a work stoppage of four days as authorities inspected safety conditions. Later that same day, a worker died of a heart attack while paving an area outside the venue.

Seven workers have died at World Cup venues so far. In late November, two workers were killed when a crane collapsed while hoisting a 500-ton piece of roofing at the stadium that will host the World Cup opener in Sao Paulo. In 2012, a worker died at the construction site of the stadium in the nation’s capital, Brasilia.

Brazil has been under a spotlight because of its problematic World Cup preparations, with the southern host city of Curitiba still in danger of being dropped because of a delay in stadium construction. The country also is making headlines because of fan violence and turmoil in the

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White Card Update: Chemical Hazard Safety in Construction

Construction workers can be exposed to a number of chemical hazards on a job site. Chemicals can be present in dust, fumes, liquids, solids, mists, vapours or gases of products used at a site or released during a construction job. Asbestos, silica, lead, carbon monoxide, spray paint, solvents and welding fumes are examples of such hazards; they can be absorbed by touch, inhaled or ingested which is why each hazard needs to be identified and assessed to determine the risks to workers.

Many substances encountered in construction work have the potential to harm the skin. For example

  • Mineral oil or pitch may cause skin cancers with prolonged contact.
  • Disinfectant, bleaches, solvents, oils, acids and alkalis may cause irritation or allergic reactions in some people.
  • Epoxy resins, acrylic resins, formaldehyde,nickel, cobalt, chrome, natural gums andvegetation, including timber may cause allergic reactions in addition to other long term negative effects.

On the construction site, if skin contact with these substances is inevitable, workers need to utilise suitable protective clothing and gloves if necessary, whatever is needed to act as a barrier to the chemical and the skin. It is also important that hands are washed after work, remember that good skin care is essential to prevent dermatitis. Also in construction, solvents should not be used to clean the hands or any other body parts.

It is important to remember that PPE is the last possible option for managing a hazard and PPE should only be considered if other control measures in the hierarchy of control cannot be implemented because PPE only protects the wearer and does not control the risk at the source.

Chemical burns are a hazard that can occur in a number of industries and affect a number of workers. That is why it is critical that workers be trained on the correct procedure for handling chemicals as well as what to do in the case of an incident. Training on how to work safely with chemicals in order to avoid burns should be provided for all workers, not only those directly in contact with chemicals but all those on site.

In addition to site specific safety training based on workers duties and the specific hazards present on a construction site, it is also important that workers undergo general construction safety training to familiarise them with all of the hazards on the construction site, including in brief dealing with chemical hazards. Becoming familiar with the risks is the first step in ensuring safety, site specific as well as general construction safety training will assist workers with this.

The law requires any worker in the construction industry to be in possession of their White Card, luckily this certificate is easy to obtain and most importantly it equips workers with the knowledge of how to stay safe while engaging in construction activities on a hazardous building site.

For everything you need to know about the White Card or what to expect from work on a construction site visit



White Card Update: Asbestos Dumped near Childcare Centre

Yet another asbestos related incident has taken place in Sydney, this time near a childcare centre. A utility vehicle full of asbestos has been discovered and cleaned up after it was illegally dumped.

Police discovered the material while patrolling the area early on Friday morning in Watson Street, Belmore in the south west of the city. The site where the asbestos was dumped is near to a childcare centre and a primary school.

The public is reminded that asbestos can be deadly especially if it becomes airborne. Continuous exposure can result in life threatening illness. The danger of asbestos is often heightened by its inhalation.

The asbestos had to be treated and removed by Fire and Rescue NSW and local council officers. A Canterbury City Council confirmed that the asbestos was fully removed by 11:30am.

This is not the only asbestos discovery in Sydney, a similar incident occurred on the Sydney Harbour Bridge where workers walked off the site after discovering asbestos had been dumped illegally.

This post from explains what happened:

Parents, including federal environment minister Tony Burke, were shocked at the dumping.

“Just as I walked out the door I heard that not only that there’d been a dumping of asbestos but that it had been in front of my child’s school,” Mr Burke told the Seven Network.

Another parent described the sight as “disgusting”.

At a separate incident on Thursday, up to 40 Sydney Harbour Bridge workers walked off the job over concerns two apprentices were exposed to asbestos on the iconic structure.

The contractors were on the bridge to do plumbing work, the union said.


If asbestos containing material is identified in a workplace, the responsible person must ensure the associated risks are assessed in consultation with workers and/or their health and safety representatives.  This applies to all asbestos containing materials.

The main purpose of the risk assessment is to enable informed decisions to be made about control measures, induction and training, air monitoring and health surveillance requirements.

Risk assessments need to be done by competent persons who have been trained to do so.  Decisions about control measures to protect workers will depend on the assessed risks to health.

CFMEU safety co-ordinator Michael Preston was called to the site on the Sydney Harbour Bridge near the southern pylon of the bridge yesterday after one worker noticed the pile of exposed asbestos.  He arrived at the site to find open pieces of asbestos lying in the bin and workers taping up the rest. He reminded people that asbestos especially once it is airborne is life threatening and causes lung diseases which reveal themselves only years after exposure. The situation should have been handled much differently as Mr Preston went on to point out.

Once asbestos is discovered on a site especially if is an unexpected discovery, an exclusion zone should be immediately set up to keep workers away from the danger of inhaling the deadly fibres. Workers should not be tasked with removing asbestos unless they are qualified to do so. Specialist workers with appropriate PPE need to be called in to remove the waste safely.

More construction safety articles here

White Card Update: Plant Hire Company Fined After Worker Killed

A construction accident in Box, Wiltshire in the UK has resulted in the death of worker who was operating a tarmac cutter at the time. The plant hire company who employed the worker was fined for the gruesome accident which resulted in the machine operator’s death.

The incident occurred when the man became entangled in the cutting wheel of the tarmac cutter while preparing trenches for new gas pipes to be fitted. Once he had completed his task and cut the trench he exited the cab while the cutting wheel was still raised and rotating causing him to be entangled in it and sustain serious injuries which resulted in his death.

Read the report from which explains what happened:

On 30 July 2009, Mr Guard was driving a trenching machine with a top cutter attachment. After completing the trench Mr Guard got down from the cab of the machine while the cutting wheel was still raised and rotating. He became entangled in the wheel, suffering fatal injuries.

The court heard a safety switch under the operator’s seat to stop the engine and the cutting wheel when the seat was vacated had been deliberately disabled. HSE also found the safety switches on all three top cutters owned by the firm had been bypassed.

The HSE investigation found that it was common practice for trench machine operators to check and change the picks during and at the end of each job. Although the firm recognised checking the picks was a two-man job, it routinely hired out the top cutter with only one worker. Checking the picks by a sole operator was quicker if the worker could leave his seat and observe the slowly rotating raised wheel.

South and West Highways Trenching, of Old Mill Road, Portishead, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and three breaches of Regulation 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 in relation to the incident. The company was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay £56,890 in costs.

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The tragic incident was condemned by UK authorities who accused the companies involved of disregarding the welfare of its employees by taking dangerous shortcuts. Such an attitude towards safety cannot be tolerated because as this incident indicates, safety failings by a company can have disastrous consequences for workers however the company still carries on with work as normal.

A top cutter is a very powerful and potentially dangerous machine. It is designed to cut through tarmac, so imagine what it would do to human flesh and bones?

The law clearly states that employers have a duty of care to ensure the health and safety of their employees and a safe work environment is provided which includes ensuring machinery and systems of work are safe and that workers are trained on the safe operation of machinery and equipment, especially dangerous equipment and machinery such as a tarmac cutter. Also when engaging in such dangerous tasks, workers should be supervised and left to work independently as it appears this worker was.



Importance of Protecting Young Workers Proven by Study

A report released by Safe Work Australia a few weeks ago revealed that an alarming percentage of all workplace injuries across Oz involve young workers, under the age of 25.

The report found that one in five injuries that are workplace related happen to young workers, which is why it is so important to protect these new and young workers.

The report entitled “Work-related injuries experienced by young workers 2009-2010” showed that young worker’s injury rate per 1000 workers was during that period, 18 per cent higher than it was for workers over 25 years of age.

An article on detailed the findings of the report:

Ann Sherry AO, the Chair of safe Work Australia, said that it is important for young workers to grasp the different workplace safety issues and to understand the value of safety procedures that are designed to protect them whilst at work.

She said that often young people get caught up with excitement when they get their first job and they may not be aware of the importance of understanding hazards and safety procedures.

As this report clearly indicates young workers require more attention and supervision than more experienced or older workers do. Apprentice and young workers require special attention on a job site because of their inexperience and naivety with regards to safety. New workers are often keen to learn and energetic however it is precisely this eagerness which makes them more likely to suffer injury, and sometimes fatally.

The post goes on to state:

The main findings within the report are:

– There is a higher rate of injury for young people in the workplace

– The rates of injury are the highest in the manufacturing, accommodation and food services, health care and social assistance and construction industries

– Approximately two thirds of young workers did not apply for workers’ compensation after an injury with 50% thinking that the injury was minor and it was not worth claiming

– One quarter of injuries that were compensated were for injuries to the hand, fingers and thumb

– Two thirds of young worker fatalities involving traumatic injury concerned a vehicle

Even apprentices and trainee workers must be in possession of their general safety white card, in fact anyone who engages in work in the construction industry must undergo white card training in order to learn about the hazards presented by construction work and the control measures needed to remain safe on site.

Another important consideration is that young and inexperienced workers are being appropriately supervised especially when engaging in dangerous tasks. Often it is not enough to instruct workers and then expect them to go about conducting dangerous tasks, they need to be supervised especially while they are still familiarizing themselves with the task and with construction work in general.



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