HSE International

European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Elected

Lithuania’s former health minister Vytenis Andriukaitis has been elected as the new European Commissioner for health and food safety and will take up his new post next month.

The appointment was part of the European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker’s unveiling of his new European Commission who will aim to tackle the big political changes Europe is facing, including unemployment, investment and security.

Juncker said: “In the new European Commission, form follows function. We have to be open to change. We have to show that the Commission can change. What I present to you today is a political, dynamic and effective European Commission, geared to give Europe its new start.

Andriukaitis will work alongside the College of Commissioners to promote health and well being in all EU policy areas, curb harmful use of alcohol, create initiatives to address discrimination, upgrade defence of child health and withstand a strong, qualified pharma policy based on the public interest.

He will also be expected to stand up to corporate lobbies to ensure transparency when working with stakeholders and encouraged to speak out about the risks that the prospective EU and US trade and investment deal could pose to people’s health.

Speaking at the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) 2014 annual conference recently Andriukaitis said: “Health is not a consequence of growth but also a condition for growth. Investments in public health increase productivity and boost job creation. Health should not only be seen as product of growth: health encourages growth.”

Original Source: http://bit.ly/1tXlnyV

Bosnian Mine Accident: 29 Rescued, 5 Miners Buried

Exhausted, dusty but happy to be alive, 29 miners were pulled out one by one Friday from a trouble-plagued coal mine that collapsed a day earlier in central Bosnia. They left behind five men, presumed dead under rubble deep underground and beyond the reach of rescuers.

Emergency workers had dug through more than 100 meters (330 feet) of collapsed mine tunnels 500 meters below the surface to reach the trapped men.

Families of those who were left behind broke down in tears as authorities closed the pit entrance.

“We could not reach that group of people,” said rescue worker Amir Arnaut. “We could only reach the first group.”

Officials said that an investigation will be launched to determine the cause of the accident, but they suggested it was linked to a 3.5 magnitude earthquake which hit the town of Zenica on Thursday afternoon, according to Bosnia’s seismologists. The tremor caused a pressure burst and a gas blast which collapsed the mine, officials said.

It was the third incident at the Zenica pits this year, underscoring the vulnerability of the mines in Bosnia and elsewhere in the Balkans, which are generally poorly secured and where miners work with outdated equipment and little protection.

Once communist Yugoslavia’s pride, mines likes the ones in Zenica have been badly maintained, and have seen almost no investment and modernization as the region was engulfed in an ethnic conflict in 1990s.

The rescued men, blinking as they faced daylight, emerged from the mine to cries of joy from their families.

“He is alive!” cried Admira Durakovic, whose husband Amir was among the miners. She then broke down, sobbing and shaking.

Twenty-six miners were taken to a hospital, six of them badly hurt, but none suffered life-threatening injuries, doctors said.

Alija Celebic, a retired miner, waited for his son Bego, one of the survivors. Celebic said his son was hurt in the same pit only few weeks ago, but recently returned to work.

“All is good as long as he is alive!” he exclaimed.

The families and union leaders accused the management of responding poorly to the latest collapse, particularly in first claiming that only eight workers were trapped. Union leaders said it was seven hours after the blast before authorities brought in rescue machinery.

Sixteen miners — a total of 430 work in the pit — were hurt in two previous gas explosions, the most recent less than four weeks ago. The mine was the site of one of the greatest mining tragedies in Bosnia’s history, when 39 miners died in a gas explosion in 1982.

Mine manager Esad Civic conceded that the Zenica mine — once among the most modern in Europe — is now far from the world standard, following Bosnia’s 1992-95 war that impoverished the country. But he insisted that accidents are unavoidable when mining deep underground.

Nuraga Duranovic, a mining inspector, said the deaths cannot be officially confirmed until the bodies are found. Officials said efforts to recover the bodies will continue on Saturday.

He said 22 other miners managed to get out of the pit Thursday, two of whom were injured.

Muris Tutnjic, one of those who got out Thursday, returned to the site Friday to show his support. He said the underground blast “just blew us away.”

“I was alone. … Thank God I managed to pull myself out,” Tutnjic told The Associated Press. “My colleagues … they were some 200, 300, maybe 400 meters (yards) away from me, they got covered.”

———

Jovana Gec contributed from Belgrade, Serbia.

Original Source: http://abcn.ws/1pRbEwg

Turkish police fire gas at protests over worker lift deaths

Turkish riot police on Sunday fired tear gas and water cannon at protesters in Istanbul, a day after 10 workers were killed when a lift crashed to the ground from the 32nd storey of a building.

Police stepped in when more than 1,000 people gathered near the construction site in Istanbul’s upscale Mecidiyekoy district to express their anger at Turkey’s lax workplace safety measures, an AFP photographer at the scene reported.

“This is not an accident, this is not a destiny, this is murder!” the crowd shouted, at the first major confrontation between demonstrators and the authorities since Recep Tayyip Erdogan was inaugurated as president last month.

Authorities said an investigation had been launched into the incident at the Torunlar Centre, which is being built on the former site of Galatasaray football club’s Ali Sami Yen stadium.

The exact cause of the accident remains unclear. There have been claims that the elevator broke down two weeks ago and that workers were awaiting funds to repair it.

“I lost my two sons,” said father-of-six Mithat Kara, as he sat in tears at the side of the construction site.

Among the dead was also 21-year old student Hidir Ali Genc, who used to work at construction sites to fund his university expenses.

The incident created a storm on social media, with users criticising the government’s handling of the protest.

“State, answer to industrial accidents. Workers respond by making barricades,” one Twitter user wrote.

Engineers were inspecting the site on Sunday. Thirty-six of the tower’s 42 floors have already been completed, local media reported.

Police on Sunday released eight people detained in connection with the incident, including the safety director of the site, after hearing their testimonies.

-‘Work murders’-

Labour and Social Security Minister Faruk Celik said the accident happened after a freight elevator used to carry construction materials slipped off its rails, with workers and building materials crashing to the ground.

“We will go after (the guilty people) if there is any negligence or shortcoming,” he was quoted as saying by Turkish media.

But the opposition ratcheted up pressure on the government, pledging to improve work safety conditions.

“Work accidents have turned into work murders,” said Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).

“The CHP will settle account at every platform. We will take initiative so that inspections will not be merely on paper.”

The building’s owner Aziz Torun denied any responsibility, as well as the possibility of a technical problem with the elevator.

“Authorities and the prosecutor will decide” what caused the accident, he told a press conference.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called the workers’ deaths “very painful and very saddening”.

“The investigation will be carried out in detail,” he told reporters on Sunday.

The incident, which is due to top the agenda of the weekly cabinet meeting on Monday, has put Turkey’s poor record on workplace safety under further scrutiny.

In May, 301 miners died in the western town of Soma in Turkey’s worst-ever industrial accident. Most of the dead were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Turkey has the world’s third-highest rate of deadly workplace accidents, according to the International Labour Organisation.

Original Source:http://yhoo.it/1lLeOk4 

Falling gargoyle kills mother-of-two outside church in Chicago

A woman has been killed by a falling stone gargoyle as she walked along the street in a freak accident in the US.

Sarah Bean, 34, died almost instantly when she was hit on the head as she walked past the Second Presbyterian Church in Chicago on Thursday.

A piece of metal is thought to have come loose from the building, which is more than 100 years old, and knocked a chunk of stone from the statue.

Ms Bean had been on the way to lunch with her fiancé, Lance Johnson, around noon before starting work at a local children’s hospital.

Her family told the Chicago Tribune the couple had been together for years and after having their two children, recently decided to marry.

“She was a beautiful person,” her older brother, Michael Willis, said.

“This is not good. This is not something you expect, at all.”

The church, built in 1874, reportedly failed a string of health and safety inspections between 2007 and 2011, when inspectors had noted fractures and holes in stonework, but passed tests in the last two years.

Police and city officials were continuing their investigation on Saturday after construction workers were seen securing parts of the structure and protective scaffolding was installed around the building.

Reverend David Neff, pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church, sent his “heartfelt sympathy and continual prayers” for Ms Bean’s family and friends.

Original Source: http://ind.pn/1oVk6Ez

Germany breaks 3 solar power records in 2 weeks

Over the first week of June 2014, German solar power systems generated 1.26 TWh of electricity, another new record for the country…