Daily Market Update

Wildfire risk is being ‘mismanaged’ say scientists… Warnings of the danger of silica dust for construction workers… Wearable technology creates new workplace risk… And airline premiums set to soar after year of disasters.

Climate change adding to risk of wildfires
Climate change and construction in danger zones are increasing the risk from wildfires in Western US states. A new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists says that as climate change means hotter, drier conditions so the risk of fire rises and the location of homes and businesses near to or within danger zones exacerbates the situation. With greater risk (and incidents) comes greater cost; annually more than $1 billion is spent to fight fires and protect lives and property. This figure is four times higher than it was 30 years ago. The scientists behind the report say that the risk is being mismanaged; poor decisions being made on construction and too much focus on fighting fires rather than preventing them. The report concludes that measures needed include better construction zoning, robust prevention methods and affectively addressing the dangers of climate change and its causes. Read the full report.
The ‘new’ asbestos; construction workers facing potentially lethal risk
In many developed countries the use of asbestos is banned; its use in the US is restricted. Many thousands of people have become ill after exposure to dust particles and in those countries where bans are in place, its removal from heritage construction is heavily regulated. Now a team from Scotland’s Stirling University say there is another potentially lethal risk to construction workers. Respirable crystalline silica is created during work operations using rock, concrete, industrial sand and similar materials. The University is calling for the Health & Safety Executive in the UK to tighten its regulations on the monitoring of silica dust levels, suggesting that 1000 workers a year could die from exposure to it. In the US, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration wants the exposure standard halved. Many in the construction industry are opposed to stricter regulations due to cost in implementation, however the cost to lives could be far greater.
Workforce tech choices could threaten security
It’s going to be the next big boom in the technology market; wearable tech. Expert predictions are for a tenfold growth in shipments of the devices in the next few years, and as they inevitably enter the workplace there is a risk to businesses. Firstly there’s the issue of compromised IT systems. Many companies have a policy on workers using their own technology in the workplace, especially if they wish to connect it to the business’ wi-fi or network. Secondly there is a privacy issue. Wearable technology frequently includes recording functions and the devices are generally discreet enough to allow covert recording. In some jurisdictions recording of video and even audio, requires consent from all parties involved. There is also a potential for such recordings to be used for harassment or discrimination against colleagues. It is therefore essential that businesses assess and adapt their policies on internet usage, ‘Bring Your Own Devices’ and other relevant practices in line with changing technology. Read the full story.
Airlines set for large increase in premiums after year of disaster
After a series of tragic incidents the airline industry is set for hefty increases in insurance costs.  Experts are predicting that 2014 could become the most expensive year for the industry since the 9/11 attack in 2001. A report in the Financial Times says that premiums are in some cases three times higher this year for ‘all risks’ and war risk policies. Citing the recent Malaysia Airlines disasters, although they have a cap of $2.25 billion for each crash, there is no limit on search or rescue costs which the airline will seek to claim from insurers. The disappearance of flight MH370 has resulted in an unprecedented search set to run into hundreds of millions of dollars. Read the full story.

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