UPDATED GUIDE TO REACH REGISTRATION
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has updated its guidance on the highly involved process of registering existing substances under the REACH Regulation. The Guidance, which was first published in 2007, is now said to provide a "clearer, simpler and more user-friendly document for registrants" of all sizes. The ECHA says that its update explains and clarifies registration requirements, with practical instructions to registrants on how to successfully provide a REACH dossier. The update also provides registration examples, based on experience gathered since the REACH Regulation came into force.
The guidance is available at: http://echa.europa.eu/web/guest/guidance-documents/guidance-on-reach
GUIDANCE ON NANOMATERIAL INFORMATION AND SAFETY ASSESSMENT
The ECHA has also updated its ‘Guidance on Information Requirements and Chemical Safety Assessment', covering the registration of nanomaterials. The updated guidance is at: http://echa.europa.eu/web/guest/view-article/-/journal_content/3df5b7b9-a36d-4e74-811b-3aeee23366f8
STRESS EFFECT ON INFLAMMATORY RESPONSE
Chronic psychological stress is associated with the body losing its ability to regulate the inflammatory response, according to research published in the ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences'.
The effects of psychological stress on the body's ability to regulate inflammation can promote the development and progression of disease. "Inflammation is partly regulated by the hormone cortisol and when cortisol is not allowed to serve this function, inflammation can get out of control," according to the leader of the research Sheldon Cohen from Carnegie Mellon University.
Cohen argues that prolonged stress alters the effectiveness of cortisol to regulate the inflammatory response because it decreases tissue sensitivity to the hormone. Specifically, immune cells become insensitive to cortisol's regulatory effect. In turn, runaway inflammation is thought to promote the development and progression of many diseases such as cardiovascular, asthma and autoimmune disorders.
OH GOES OLYMPIC
An HSE Research Report examines the occupational health provision on the Olympic Park and Athletes' Village. This includes a comprehensive occupational health service offering free support and advice to all contractors from a multi-disciplinary occupational health team that was set up by the Olympic Delivery Authority.
The aim of the research was to identify the impact of the occupational health interventions on the attitudes, behaviours and exposures to health risks of people on site and the influence on future behaviours of contractors and workers on the project.
Copies of RR921 - ‘Occupational comHealth Provision on the Olympic Park and Athletes' Village: Final report' can be obtained from: www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrhtm/rr921.htm?eban=rss-research
SHIFT WORKERS DIABETES RISK
Shift workers who suffer ‘body-clock' disruption, as a result of not getting enough sleep and at the wrong time of the day, could be at greater risk of developing diabetes and associated weight problems, researchers have found.
The US study, published in ‘Science Translational Medicine', involved 21 people, whose lives, including meals and sleep periods, were controlled under laboratory conditions.
At the start of the trial, the test subjects were allowed 10 hours' sleep at night. This was followed by three weeks of disruption to their sleep patterns and body-clock rhythms. Dim light conditions also became the norm to prevent their body clocks from re-adjusting.
Under these conditions, blood sugar levels among the test subjects significantly increased immediately after they had food and between meals. Researchers found that lower levels of insulin - the hormone that normally controls blood sugar - were produced. The reduced metabolic rate among participants translated into a significant increase in weight, assuming that they had been exposed to the same sleep-disruption conditions for a year.
MHOR APPEAL SUCCEEDS
The Court of Appeal has upheld a decision that a defendant was in breach of the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (MHOR), in failing to provide continuous refresher training. However, as this was not the cause of the claimant's injuries the claim failed (Costa v Imperial London Hotels Ltd  All ER (D) 12 (May)).
Since 2004, the claimant had been employed as a chambermaid for the defendant. When she had started work with the defendant she had attended a manual handling training course, but had received no refresher training. She claimed that she had sustained injuries when moving a bed. At first instance the judge rejected some claims but did find that the defendant had been in breach of regulation 4(1)(b)(i) of MHOR by failing to provide continuous refresher training on lifting practices. If trained, the judge held, the claimant would not have injured herself.
The Court of Appeal held that the judge had been entitled to find that the failure of the defendant to provide continuous refresher training breached the MHOR and that with such training the claimant would have changed her lifting practices. However, as this was not the cause of the injury the claim failed.
NI ASBESTOS CHANGES
Regulations to address the concerns of the European Commission over implementation of Directive 2003/18/EC amending Council Directive 83/477/EEC were due to come into operation in Northern Ireland on 28 May 2012.
The Control of Asbestos Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 mean that fewer types of lower risk asbestos work will be exempt from the requirements to notify work; medical examinations; and record keeping (see above for HSE guidance).
The Regulations will be included in the list of subordinate legislation on the HSENI website: www.hseni.gov.uk
CALL CENTRE RESEARCH
One in four call centre agents suffer voice problems because managers are failing to properly protect their health, according to research published by IOSH.
The study found that call handlers had suffered one or more of a range of ill-effects because of their work, including voice loss, sore throats and breathlessness. Around one in 10 were diagnosed with a voice problem, while a tenth said their work was suffering because of the stress placed on their vocal cords. Of the call agents surveyed, 60 per cent reported having difficulty making themselves heard against background noise and 41 per cent said they had failed to be heard by the customer on the other end of the line.
The research says:
A World Health Organisation report uses information gathered in 2011 to update key indicators on alcohol consumption, health outcomes and action to reduce harm across the European Union. It also gives an overview of the latest research on effective alcohol policies, and includes data from the EU, Norway and Switzerland on alcohol consumption, harm and policy approaches.
‘Alcohol in the European Union. Consumption, harm and policy approaches' (ISBN 978 92 890 0264 6) edited by Peter Anderson, Lars Møller and Gauden Galea is available from www.euro.who.int/en