Most unions that have websites have sections that are devoted to health and safety issues. But frequently those are among the more static parts of a website. Once set up, they are rarely updated. To keep up with all the breaking developments in the field of health and safety was beyond the capacity of most union websites — until now.
The Sheffield-based health and safety magazine Hazards announced last month that it was teaming up with LabourStart, the online news and campaigning website, to create a global health and safety newswire that could be used by any union website, completely free of charge.
That newswire is automatically updated every 15 minutes throughout the day, and shows the latest 10 health and safety related news stories from LabourStart’s news database. It is available to unions from http://www.labourstart.org/hswireand to install it, union webmasters simply have to copy and paste a single line of code.
A glance at today’s top 10 stories shows the newswire’s global scope — and the common problems faced by unions everywhere. From Russia, it reports on 10 dead in a mine explosion. A report from the USA focusses on the worker safety training grants that have been eliminated by the Bush administration. And from Egypt, there’s a report on a protest by asbestos workers. News stories from Britain frequently appear on the page as well.
Within two weeks of the launch of the new service, some three dozen union websites in the UK, USA, Canada and Australia were using it, and nearly all of the largest unions in the UK had already made commitments to adopt the service as well. Among the earliest adopters have been union branches and workplace organisations, which are often the first to innovate with their websites.
For those with a somewhat more technical bent, there is alternative version of the newswire in the RSS (Really Simple Syndication) format, which allows the display of up to 15 news stories.