State Pension Age (Compensation) Bill for WASPI women

Since the WASPI Campaign began in 2015 there have been many questions and contributions to debates on the subject.  In fact, if you search “WASPI” in Hansard (the Parliamentary Record) there have been 948 mentions.  As a comparison, the topic of menopause only got 446 mentions, despite the vastly greater coverage it gets in the media, thanks, in no small way to the work of Carolyn Harris MP and many women celebrity endorsers.

In addition to WASPI specific mentions, there have been 1,973 mentions of women’s pensions, and 3,915 about State Pension generally.

This shows the level of support for WASPI women and our issue and is a credit to the women who have campaigned consistently over the years, and are still seeking compensation for the maladministration by the Department for Work and Pensions. A department which has consistently denied any failures to provide information and have defended their actions all along.   Even now that the Ombudsman has found maladministration (July 2021) they refuse to acknowledge it.

It’s more than time for the Government to accept responsibility and compensate women affected by the maladministration.

A Bill now set to require the Secretary of State to publish proposals for a compensation scheme for women born between 6 April 1950 and 5 April 1960 inclusive who have been affected by increases in the state pension age; and for connected purposes.  religious, cultural considerations.

Industry fights for equality with PPE for women

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is primarily designed based on anthropometric data (the scientific study of the measurements and proportions of the human body) that historically has been derived from male body measurements. This poses challenges for women, as there are anatomical and physiological differences between men and women. The lack of proper design for women in PPE can result in ill-fitting equipment, reduced comfort and compromised safety.

Several reasons contribute to the underrepresentation of women in the design and production of PPE.

  1. Historical bias: Traditionally, industries like construction, manufacturing and other sectors where PPE is essential have been male-dominated. 
  2. Limited data for female measurements: Until recent times, there has been insufficient data on female body measurements in many industries.
  3. Cost considerations: Designing PPE that accommodates different body shapes and sizes can be more expensive due to the need for additional sizes and variations.
  4. Safety standards based on male bodies: Safety standards and regulations have historically been based on male measurements, further perpetuating the cycle of PPE that may not adequately fit women.

While progress is being made, there’s still much work to be done to ensure that PPE adequately accommodates the diverse needs of both men and women across various industries. Collaboration between industries, researchers, manufacturers and regulatory bodies is crucial to achieving gender-inclusive PPE design.

Employers play a significant role in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of their employees, including providing appropriate PPE.

A petition fighting to amend the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 to require employers to take into account the specific needs of female employees in respect of PPE, and ensure that appropriate PPE is provided.

According to the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), women’s specific workwear and PPE has been available on the market for a number of years, and is constantly evolving, yet 59.6% of employers do not provide women’s PPE, as of August 2023 (NAWIC, 2023).

High visibility clothing for women is available, including vests, coats, polo shirts, trousers and overalls, all designed specifically for the female form. It’s important to note that high visibility clothing specific for pregnancy and modesty is also available, including polo shirts and trousers for pregnancy, and long-sleeved shirts for modesty.

Safety footwear is another item which is available, unfortunately, limits on the sizing of safety footwear due to the way in which the regulations for PPE testing is set up.

Areas where the range of women’s specific PPE is sparce include hard hats, harnesses, eye protection and ear protection.

The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) has launched a major new initiative to address widespread inequalities in PPE provision across the construction industry.

The #PPEthatfits campaign will drive awareness around the lack of inclusive PPE in the market and consider how this is impacting health and safety on site, while also hampering the industry’s ability to attract and retain a more diverse workforce. The campaign also features a directory of suppliers who provide #PPEthatfits and this will be updated regularly.

The campaign defines #PPEthatfits as:

“PPE that fits the wearer properly, regardless of their gender, culture, religion, size or shape, is safe, and compliant with health and safety regulations.”

The three key objectives of the campaign are:

  1. Construction organisations to ask suppliers to provide #PPEthatfits for their workforce.
  2. PPE manufacturers to make #PPEthatfits.
  3. Manufacturing standards for PPE to address gender, religious, cultural considerations.

Chemical Safety in Laboratories

Best Practices for Handling and Storage to Ensure Personnel Safety and Prevent Accidents

Chemicals are essential in any laboratory. They help to power groundbreaking discoveries, advances in science, and research that drives innovation. But with great power comes great responsibility, and it’s essential to handle these substances with care. Improper handling and storage of chemicals can lead to accidents, harmful exposure, and dangerous reactions. To ensure the safety of everyone in the laboratory and promote efficient research, it’s vital to follow the best practices for safe chemical handling and storage. These guidelines help to minimize risk and promote safety while enabling researchers to focus on their work.

Best Practices for Safe Chemical Handling
When working with chemicals in a laboratory, safety should always be your top priority.  The substances could be hazardous, potentially causing harm to both yourself and others. By following some best practices, you can minimize the risk of accidents and ensure that you’re handling chemicals in a safe and responsible manner. From wearing the right protective equipment to using proper labelling and storage techniques, there are plenty of ways to promote safety in the laboratory.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The first line of defense against chemical exposure is personal protective equipment (PPE). PPE includes gloves, goggles, lab coats, and respirators. It is essential to wear the appropriate PPE when handling chemicals to protect against skin, eye, and respiratory irritants.

Chemical Compatibility

Chemicals should be stored according to their compatibility to prevent accidental mixing. Mixing chemicals can lead to unexpected reactions, such as the release of toxic gases or an explosion. The laboratory staff should be trained on how to identify incompatible chemicals and store them separately.

Proper Labelling

All chemicals should be properly labelled with the name of the substance, the date of receipt, and the expiration date. Labels should also include hazard information, such as flammability, toxicity, and reactivity. Proper labelling ensures that researchers and lab personnel can identify the chemical and its hazards before use.

Chemical Spills and Accidents

Accidents happen, and chemical spills are a common occurrence in a laboratory setting. In the event of a spill, lab personnel should know how to contain the spill safely. The laboratory should have a spill response plan in place, and all personnel should be trained on the proper procedures to follow in the event of a spill.

Best Practices for Safe Chemical Storage

The way chemicals are stored can have a significant impact on the safety of all in the laboratory, as well as the quality of the research. Improper storage can lead to spills, fires, and other dangerous incidents that can cause harm and disrupt scientific progress. By following some best practices for safe chemical storage, you can ensure that your chemicals are stored safely and securely, reducing the risk of accidents and promoting efficient research.


Chemicals should be stored in a well-ventilated area to prevent the buildup of toxic vapors. The laboratory should have a ventilation system in place to ensure adequate airflow. The ventilation system should be regularly maintained to ensure its effectiveness.

Storage Location

Chemicals should be stored in a designated storage area that is separate from the laboratory work area. The storage area should be secure, well-ventilated, and away from sources of heat, flame, or direct sunlight. The storage area should also be organized to facilitate the identification and retrieval of chemicals.

Shelving and Cabinets

Shelving and cabinets should be used to store chemicals, with each shelf or cabinet designated for a specific type of chemical. Shelving and cabinets should be sturdy and secure to prevent accidental spillage or breakage of chemicals.

Chemical Segregation

Chemicals should be segregated according to their compatibility. Incompatible chemicals should be stored separately to prevent accidental mixing. For example, flammable chemicals should be stored away from oxidizing agents, which can increase the risk of fire.

HSE publishes annual work-related ill health and injury statistics for 2022/23

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published its annual statistics on work-related ill health and workplace injuries. The figures also show that 135 workers were killed in work-related accidents in 2022/23, while 561,000 workers sustained a self-reported non-fatal injury in the workplace during the same period.

The statistics reveal that 1.8 million workers reported they were suffering from work-related ill health in 2022/23, an estimated 875,000 down to stress, depression or anxiety. Which is higher than the pre-pandemic level.

In the recent years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the rate of self-reported work-related ill health had been broadly flat, but the current rate is higher than 2018/19.

An estimated 35.2 million working days were lost in 2022/23 due to self-reported work-related ill health or injury.

HSE’s statistics also reveal the impact that the work-related ill health and workplace injuries are having on Britain’s economic performance. Preventing or tackling work-related stress can provide significant benefits to employees, improving their experience of work and their overall health; and also to employers including increased productivity, decreased absenteeism and reduced staff turnover

In 2021/22, the estimated annual costs of workplace injury and new cases of work-related ill health reached £20.7 billion, representing a £1.9 billion increase compared with 2019/20.

10 Easy Tips To Build and Design A Small Greenhouse Watering System

Building your own Mini-Greenhouse can be a Fun and Educational Experience, As well as a rewarding one. Especially if you’re good with tools. If you are using a Greenhouse To Initiate Transplants or Grow Plants To Maturity, The greenhouse should be located in an area that will receive the most sunlight and a well-Ventilated area. Avoid building greenhouses In low-lying areas surrounded by buildings or forests. Also, consider easy access to water, and for a small Greenhouse Watering System.

Regardless of the type and size of Greenhouse you choose, consider how long the system will last. Greenhouse Environments can be Maintained with little maintenance, with Ventilation, Heating, Humidity, Artificial Lighting, Irrigation, Etc. For plants that are easy to maintain.

There are many Ready-Made Greenhouses available for purchase or Build your own with a very simple frame. However, making sure that you use licensed Plumbers and Electricians.

Here Are Some Tips To Help You Build And Design A Small Greenhouse.

  1. Start with a medium Design and use readily available Materials. An attractive Greenhouse for using Recycled Materials such as reclaimed wood, doors, and window frames.
  2. Adapt to the local climate.
  3. Plan a design that can use standard sizes of Materials, most of which come in “4x”.
  4. Timers and Thermostats can be set to Control exactly the heating or lighting.
  5. Design and Build “Backup” facilities in case of power outages or severe weather.
  6. To use Wood- Cedar, Cypress or plain Wood (pressure-treated lumber) and painted works well. This is the efficient and cost-effective Material.
  7. Greenhouses often use “Glass Panels”, But Polycarbonate Plastic, Fiberglass, Plastic Sheeting or Acrylic can be used.
  8. A Permanent Foundation is recommended to support the structure, (but a Floor is not really necessary). A bottom of Gravel a few inches deep provides adequate drainage. A smooth stone or concrete Walkway between the seats provides a stable surface.
  9. Greenhouse Design should allow ample space for Tall Plants, and the Plants will only be Occupying Half of the “Two-Thirds” of the Greenhouse Area, leaving the rest for Relaxation and Work Areas.
  10. No Overwatering! One of the biggest mistakes new Greenhouse Gardeners make is overwatering. A drip small greenhouse watering system Is Ideal. Use only Room-Temperature Water.
  11. For your Comfort, the Planters can be Designed High enough so that you won’t have to bend when tending to the Plants/Fruits/Flowers or Vegetables.

E-bike battery found to be cause of fire in Coventry apartment block

Around 50 firefighters were called to respond to a flat fire on the 11th floor of a high-rise in Coventry caused by an e-bike battery setting alight.

The West Midlands Fire & Rescue Service (WMFS)

Several fire engines and response vehicles also attended the blaze in Coventry, where several people were evacuated while others were able to remain safely in their homes.

The fire affected the whole flat in which it broke out, with smoke spreading to floors above. No casualties have been reported, but the damage to the flat was described as ‘severe’.

The WMFS found the cause of the fire to have resulted from an electric bike battery being left on charge.

Copyright: West Midlands Fire Service

Like other Fire and Rescue Services, WMFS has previously warned of the dangers of lithium-ion battery fires and has asked for people to exercise caution when charging e-bikes.

Scotland proposes disposable vape ban over environmental ‘threat’

The Scottish Government will consult on banning single-use vapes next year, due to concerns about their impact on public health and the environment as they become more popular.

The Scottish Government Programme sets out the nation’s policy priorities for the coming year, which include the environment as well as childcare, healthcare and economic growth.

Disposable vapes, are a threat to both public health and the environment. As they are hard to recycle as they contain multiple different kinds of plastics, plus an internal battery. Around 13 million disposable vapes were incorrectly disposed of within the past year, including 2.6 million that were littered.

The environment evidence is undeniable – from litter on the streets, to the risk of fires in waste facilities. A potential ban will start early 2024, after consultation with retailers, manufacturers and other stakeholders are contacted.

Workplace accidents go increasingly unpunished due to the HSE insufficient resources

Employers are increasingly likely to go unpunished after workplace accidents, according to research by Prospect Union that reveals the number of investigations dropped by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) due to insufficient resources has surged.

The research, using HSE’s own figures, shows that in 2016/17 just two mandatory investigations were cancelled because of insufficient resources compared to in 2021/22 the figure was 389.

Overall cash funding for HSE fell dramatically from £228m in 2010 to £126m in 2019. There has been a recovery since then to £185m in 2022. The long-term cash decline and overall significant real-terms funding decline (current funding is still 43% below 2010 once one-off ringfenced payments are taken into account) have left the HSE with a staffing and skills crisis that will be difficult to overcome.

The COVID-19 pandemic really highlighted that if you want safe workplaces then you need to have an effective regulator in place with sufficient skills and capacity to inspect workplaces and hold employers to account. If appropriate levels of inspections and mandatory investigations are not happening, half of them because of a lack of resources, then that should worry anyone who values safety at work. The bottom line is that if effective investigations cannot be carried out then those who are at fault for an accident may get away with it, depriving victims of justice and making workplaces less safe.

The evidence suggests that most businesses have the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to manage safety risk for themselves. The maturity of business and their increased level of understanding of safety risks means that the HSE can look to regulate in different ways.

Businesses will be left more and more to self-regulate.

They will not be routinely inspected to make sure they comply. Instead, they will be “engaged” through the likes of call centres, digital platforms and social media campaigns.

Although current available digital tools are more sophisticated, this approach has been criticised by previous select committee examinations of HSE.

Prosecution for property owner after failing to carry out building structural assessments.

A property owner has been prosecuted after they failed to carry out a structural assessment, leading to life-changing injuries to a builder.

A stone wall collapsed on builder, while he was converting some outbuildings into a holiday let accommodation in October 2021. He suffered several injuries including a fractured skull, bleed on the brain, and multiple broken bones.

As part of the planning for the project, the property owner had not carried out a structural assessment of the outbuildings. The investigation from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) confirmed that a structural assessment of the outbuildings had not been conducted before starting work, and there was no plan in place for dismantling the building safely.

The property owner, pleaded guilty to breaching the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations SI 2015/51, and was given a 12-month community order and told to complete 80 hours of unpaid work. He must pay costs of £4,097.94.

In Summary If this project had been planned effectively, engaging the right people at the right time to ensure a suitable safe system of work was implemented, the life-changing injuries sustained by the injured person could have been prevented.

Net Zero or Carbon Neutral? What’s the difference?

What is the difference in these two terms and what will be required in the new Greenhouse Gas Emissions standard ISO 14068?

PAS 2060, a Publicly Available Specification that has been used as a guideline for demonstrating carbon neutrality, makes it clear that carbon neutral should be used to mean all scopes not just scope 1 & 2 (fuels burned on site and in vehicles and electricity consumption). However there has been a growing habit over recent years to use “carbon neutral” to mean just operational emissions – ignoring the value chain (scope 3) even though for most companies between 70 and 95% of their emissions are from the value chain.

To be truly carbon neutral, a company needs to reduce emissions from all sources as much as possible and then offset or actively remove the remainder.

Net Zero uses the same concept but at a larger scale, aiming for emissions from all sources to be reduced as much as possible and the remainder mitigated through removals from the atmosphere. These could be through supporting natural systems which sequester carbon (forest, peat, wetlands, seagrass, etc) or through technology like carbon capture and storage and buried solid carbon sinks.

The implementation of new Greenhouse Gas Emissions standard ISO 14068 ensures that emissions from all scopes are considered.

In summary, a company that is carbon neutral is also net zero (calculated on a year-by-year basis), as in both cases the tracking of carbon emissions and removals need to match.

Employee theft soars as cost-of-living mounts

Employee theft has jumped by a fifth (19%) as the rising cost of living triggers a wave of workplace crime, new data suggests.  

National figures based on Freedom of Information data from 43 police forces in England and Wales.  Reveals almost 6,000 workers were caught stealing from their employer in 2022, up from 5,000 the year before. This amounts to nearly 500 incidents every month. 

The biggest increase in thefts occurred in Lincolnshire, up from 40 to 71 incidents – a rise of 44%.  By police force, the highest rate of employee theft was recorded in Northamptonshire, with 43 incidents per 100,000 people, while the lowest was found in Dorset. 

Ranges of employee theft

Employee theft ranges from petty pilfering of office supplies to the theft of data and embezzlement of company funds. 

Recent claims include a £150,000 theft by a ring of employees at a food manufacturer and a £50,000 claim from a double-glazing firm defrauded by its finance manager.

As cost-of-living pressures mount, employee theft has significantly increased, suggesting some workers could be turning to desperate measures to make ends meet. These consequences of employee theft can be devastating for companies, resulting in reduced profits, lower staff morale and in extreme cases, even bankruptcy. Consumers also lose out through higher prices.

No business is immune to theft in the workplace, which can go undetected for years, and occur at all levels. Unless firms have the right protection in place, they have little chance of recovering stolen cash and goods, and may face other expenses, such as regulatory fines.  

Reducing the risk

Firms can reduce the risk of employee theft by implementing robust payment controls, regular audits, and a positive work culture.

Fraudsters are using ever more sophisticated techniques to trick employees into divulging sensitive information. So making it crucial that employers have robust security measures in place, alongside effective cyber awareness training to help staff detect and avoid these scams.

Poll shows staff wellbeing falling down on list of employers priorities

A recent YouGov poll showed that staff well-being is falling down the list of priorities for employers, with statistics showing:

  • only a third of employers see improving staff morale as their responsibility;
  • one in four employers spend nothing on employee well-being or mental health;
  • 58% spend less than £100 per employee on well-being a year.

The survey of 1009 British companies and 2009 staff, was conducted last December and revealed that most employers saw attracting and retaining talent, and improving productivity, as their main priority.

Since the pandemic, most staff said they had returned to normal working practices, with fewer than half reporting that they still had the option of flexible working, including being able to work from home and to choose when they work.

Only 2% of employees said they felt confident about going to their boss if they had a problem in their personal life or with their finances, whilst only 1% would talk to a work colleague. More people said they would research their issue online before going to their line manager with an issue.

The survey followed a publication by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which showed worrying levels of in-work poverty. It said employers should be doing more to ease the pressure on staff facing financial difficulties, including offering flexible working and more secure shifts, creating a compassionate workplace culture, and signposting employees to specialist support. Employers who don’t invest in employee wellbeing may be missing out on the productivity benefits it can provide.

The survey showed that the size of businesses, where they are in the country, and what sector they are in, determined how much, if any, support employers provided. Age also played a part, with demand for support with the cost of living most marked among young employees.

While the demand for mental health and well-being services among staff was high, particularly for stress and anxiety and the cost-of-living crisis, a significant number of workers said they received little or no support from bosses, or the services that were provided were not always of value to them.

By listening to, and understanding what employees need, companies can start to build stronger, more empathetic and productive work environments. Access to well-being support should not be a lottery or a privilege.