Issue 185 - SafetyNet Journal 185Welcome to the 185th edition of SafetyNet. Due to the Easter holiday break, the next edition will be sent out a day early, that is, Thursday 1 April.
Vale Jack May - Treasurer of IDSAIt is with great sadness that the VTHC has learned that Jack May,Treasurer of the Industrial Deaths Support and Advocacy Inc, passed away yesterday, March 18, after a short illness. We express our sympathy to his wife Deanne and his family as well as everyone as IDSA. Jack and Deanne's son Gary died three weeks after an explosion at Simsmetal in 1986. Following this preventable tragedy, Jack dedicated the last decade of his life to fighting for the rights of workers to healthy and safe workplaces, so they could return home at the end of the day. A passionate advocate for families who had been touched by workplace tragedies, Jack will be sorely missed.
The funeral will be held on next Tuesday, March 23, at 2pm [Joseph Allison Chapel, 11-13 Greaves Street, Werribee]. No flowers by request. Donations may be made in memory of Jack to Royal Melbourne Hospital (Burns Unit) or Industrial Deaths Support and Advocacy.
People in OHS: Jack and Deanne May
Activities for repsCompensation bill passed unamended
Despite efforts from unions, lobby groups and readers of SafetyNet (thank you to those who sent in emails), the Accident Compensation Amendment Bill 2009 was passed – unamended - by the Legislative Council late on 11 March. The bill has amended s.82 (2A) to add additional preclusions described as "contemporary management practices" to make it harder for workers suffering from psychological injuries caused by their employment to be successful with a WorkCover claim. CPSU State Secretary Karen Batt said, "The recast legislative provision provide(s) exclusion for the employee from WorkCover benefits if (the stress is) due to: transfer, demotion, discipline, redeployment, retrenchment, dismissal, appraisal, counselling, suspension or standing down, training, investigation, not to award promotion, leave of absence, or any benefit in connection with the employment, to the worker." We acknowledge, however, that the other amendments do provide extra benefits to injured workers, such as increased benefits, superannuation contributions for eligible injured workers, a first in Australia.
Victorian workplace death toll increases to ten
Worker killed in country pub
WorkSafe is investigating the death of a 54-year-old man at the Royal Mail Hotel in Birregurra last Thursday morning (March 11). The worker was delivering beer kegs to the hotel's cellar. It appears that there was a carbon dioxide leak in the cellar. Another delivery worker who discovered the worker in the cellar put a jumper over his head in a bid to rescue him but was also affected by the gas leak and couldn't do so. WorkSafe Victoria has directed the hotel to install a cellar alarm system to warn workers of carbon dioxide leaks before they enter.
Acting Executive Director, Stan Krpan, said the death was a tragic reminder of the risks of working in confined spaces with little ventilation. "With or without a gas leak or chemical exposure, limited means of entry and exit, poor air circulation, and working in confined spaces, is risky. Employers need to understand these risks and develop appropriate controls. This is an issue across industry, not just hotels. For example, storerooms in the retail industry; silos and water tanks for agriculture workers; warehousing in manufacturing; and even construction sites and drains."
As noted by Mr Krpan, the issue of working in confined spaces is one in many industries, and employers have clear duties under Victoria's occupational health and safety laws. Part 3.4 of the OHS Regulations sets out the specific requirements employers must comply with to eliminate or minimise the risks to workers who may be entering what is in effect a 'confined space'. If you think your workplace has confined spaces, then contact your union for advice.
WorkSafe Media Release WorkSafe Solution: Preventing cellar beverage gas leaks
A father and son were killed after a 25-foot windmill they were installing struck a 12,500 volt overhead power line. The incident occurred at about 11.45am on Tuesday on a farm near Rainbow in western Victoria (north-west of Horsham). A WorkSafe Victoria team of four inspectors went to the scene to investigate, but early reports suggested the tragedy occurred when a windmill which was being installed on a farm struck power lines. Three further people were taken to hospital with injuries – another father and son who suffered burns; and the property owner who sustained an electric shock.
WorkSafe Media Release
'Restorative justice' for families of workers killed at work
The Legal Services Board of Victoria is funding the Uniting Care's Creative Ministries Network to conduct research on a 'restorative justice' scheme. Such a scheme would give the families of people who have died as a result of bullying or an accident at work the opportunity to meet the employers or offenders to help the healing process. If the results of the research are positive, the Legal Services Board will approach the state government for funding to start a pilot program next year.
How long can an employee be left alone on a store floor without a toilet break?
All workers have the right to go to the toilet when they need to, they have the right not to be penalised for it, and they have the right to hygienic and properly stocked facilities. Not being able to go when you need to can cause a range of health problems, including digestive and urinary tract problems and kidney infections, which can develop into more serious health conditions. The employer has duties under Section 21 of the OHS Act to provide and maintain a safe and healthy workplace and systems of work and to provide 'adequate facilities' for the welfare of employees. The Compliance Code for Workplaces and Amenities sets out what the employer should be providing in terms of toilet facilities. Work schedules that must take into account of toilet breaks, particularly where a worker is on his or her own.
Renata receives queries like this one on a disturbingly regular basis, and perhaps not surprisingly, it's a problem for workers not only in Australia, but also in other countries. Just last week, the UK's Trade Union Congress release guidance following evidence that six years after launching its Gotta Go campaign British workers were battling with their employers over this issue
More information on Breaks and Toilet facilities
New TUC guidance Give Us a (Loo) Break is available to download from the TUC website.
Ask Renata – if you have any ohs related questions, why don't you send me an email? Click on the Ask Renata and send it in. Please note: If you've sent in a query recently but have not received a reply please email us directly at email@example.com with your original question.
Injured worker awarded more than $1million
According to a report in this week's Age, a 31 yr-old Keysborough man has been awarded more than $1 million due to a lower-back injury at work that means he will never work again. The worker hurt his back from continuously lifting steel beams for steel manufacturer Stramit. It was the only job the young man, the son of Vietnamese boat migrants, had held after leaving midway through high school.
Lawyers for the worker, from Slater & Gordon, said the payout was one of the largest they had heard of. He was awarded $250,000 for pain and suffering and $817,395 for economic loss after a 12-day case before a jury in the Supreme Court. The worker had complained of back pain to his employer for eighteen months, but had been ignored. Unfortunately, he kept working. Had his employer complied with legal duties under the OHS Act and Part 3.1 of the OHS Regulations (Manual Handling), it would have been unlikely that the worker would have sustained such a serious injury.
The Age. Strains and Sprains. Manual Handling Regulations
Global Labour Video of the Year
Last week it was the Oscars, this week the international union website LabourStart is pleased to announce that voting has begun to choose the first-ever global Labour Video of the Year. A distinguished panel of judges has selected a shortlist of six films out of more than 200 submitted. It was a difficult choice, but they've found six extraordinary films. Watching these very short videos will make you laugh and they will make you think. And they will remind many of us why we are in unions. One of them is Australian, so click on this link to view the films and to make your choice. Voting ends on 31 March.
AsbestosHigh Court asbestos ruling worsens smokers' chances of suing
The executor of the estate of a worker who died of lung cancer sued the State of South Australia, Amaca and Millennium (his employers) for negligence. The worker had smoked for more than 26 years, but was also exposed to asbestos pipes manufactured by Amaca while working for the South Australian Engineering and Water Supply Department from 1975 to 1978. He was again exposed to asbestos at Millennium Inorganic Chemicals Ltd, from 1990 until his death in 2002. The High Court rejected the claim, even though there was evidence that the chances of the worker contracting this type of lung cancer were significantly increased due to his asbestos exposure. A lawyer in the area, Sparke Helmore Lawyers partner Robyn Brewster said, "the decision has confirmed that in asbestos claims involving lung cancer, a plaintiff must demonstrate that asbestos exposure has, on the balance of probabilities, caused the disease, not that it may have."
The lesson in this? Employers must be made to comply with duties under the Act and the asbestos regulations to ensure that workers, and others, are not exposed to this lethal fibre. The objective of the union movement is to eventually see the elimination of all asbestos from our workplaces.
Source: OHS Alert
Body repeats call for an asbestos ban
Over 10 years after a global society of occupational medicine experts called for a worldwide asbestos ban, it has reiterated its call and said any further delay will carry a high cost in human lives. The Collegium Ramazzini, an international academic society that examines critical issues in occupational and environmental medicine, first called for a ban in 1999. It notes that while asbestos is now banned in 52 countries, with safer products replacing many materials that once were made with asbestos, 'Nonetheless, a large number of countries still use, import, and export asbestos and asbestos-containing products. And in many countries that have banned other forms of asbestos, the so-called 'controlled use' of chrysotile asbestos is exempted from the ban, an exemption that has no basis in medical science but rather reflects the political and economic influence of the asbestos mining and manufacturing industry.' It adds: 'All countries of the world have an obligation to their citizens to join in the international endeavour to ban all forms of asbestos. An international ban on asbestos is urgently needed.' The Collegium statement concludes: 'The profound tragedy of the asbestos pandemic is that virtually all illnesses and deaths related to asbestos are preventable,' adding: 'If global use of asbestos were to cease today, a decrease in the incidence of asbestos-related diseases would become evident only two or more decades from now. The asbestos cancer pandemic may take as many as 10 million lives before asbestos is banned worldwide and all exposure is brought to an end.'
International Ban Asbestos Secretariat Media Release
Conference: Stop the ViolenceThursday 20 May 2010, ANF Conference Centre, 540 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne - reminder. Workplace violence is one of today's most serious occupational hazards, which can have dire effects on the productivity of organisations and on the physical and psychological well-being of employees. This conference, run by the Australian Nursing Federation, aims to provide an insight into the differences and commonalities found within healthcare settings dealing with violence and aggression, and the actions being implemented to address this unacceptable situation.
Themes explored in this year's program will include:
* Aggression in Aged Care;
* Managing the Violent Patient in ED
* Partnerships between Victoria Police and Healthcare facilities
* Preventing Occupational Violence through environmental design
The keynote speaker at the conference will be Professor Gerry Farrell of Latrobe University. The conference is not limited to ANF members, and is of interest to nurses, midwives, care workers, OHS Managers, HSRs and Human Resource Managers.
Education union calls for better resources in schools
The Herald Sun reports that stressed-out and injured teachers are claiming millions of dollars a year in compensation payments as schools deal with unruly students, aggressive parents and bullying bosses. Over $9million has been claimed in workers' compensation, mainly due to stress and musculoskeletal injuries. Australian Education Union state president Mary Bluett told the paper that the costs were significant. 'People just keeping going until they hit a brick wall,' Ms Bluett said. Victorian State Secondary Principals Association president Brian Burgess said teachers in disadvantaged areas were under further pressure from the results published on Julia Gillard's new MySchool website. 'The Government's response to this is 'Let's blame the school, the teachers, the principal, they're not doing a good enough job,' he said. 'Well, the reality is the Government is not doing a good enough job to put resources in to help the schools and to help those kids.'
Public Service Union invites Premier to 'step in' on bullying
In a response to the WorkSafe bullying advertising campaign urging readers to 'Step in', the Public Services Union, the CPSU/SPSF, has launched its own campaign urging Premier John Brumby to 'step in' and do something about bullying in State government departments. The union says that the latest statistics show that bullying is affecting one third of staff in the public service, yet little is being done to address this. The union ran its own ad in the Herald Sun as a counterpoint to the WorkSafe ad.
Read more CPSU SPSF website [pdf document]
RMIT gets $US500,000 for research into construction's "alarming" fatality rate
RMIT University has been awarded a $US500,000 ($A556,000) research grant from the US National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to tackle the construction industry's 'alarming' injury and fatality rate. The NIOSH grant will help fund RMIT's partnership with the Virginia Tech Centre for Innovation in Construction Safety Research on the project From finger-pointing to lifesaving: A "supply chain" approach to construction occupational health and safety. Construction is a high-risk industry, with a rate of 7.8 compensated fatalities per 100,000 employees, compared with 2.5 in other industries. The head of RMIT's School of Property Construction and Project Management, Professor Ron Wakefield said the project will investigate 'how organisations are managing safety on site and how they are involving clients across the board in the actual safety of the project', Wakefield says. 'Our research aims to identify, examine and evaluate ways to better integrate OHS into project decision-making, throughout the project lifecycle.'
Union News - InternationalThe lifesaving union effect
UK magazine Hazards has updated its webpages on the extremely positive 'union effect' on workplace health and safety. A new guide notes that 'union workplaces are safer workplaces' and urges workers 'to get organised - or you might not live to regret it.' The pin-up-at-work guide provides reps four pointers to giving a workplace a 'union health check'. It urges reps to check their union organisation on health and safety, get active at workplace level, audit systems to make sure they are working properly and to take advantage of union safety training. It says: 'Health and safety is negotiable - it's just when it comes to our lives and our health, unions won't take no for an answer.' It adds: 'Sometimes just identifying problems and asking for improvements is enough. Other times it takes more - from hard negotiations to hard-nosed trade union action.' The guide is accompanied by a UK Workers' Memorial Day poster repeating the union effect message - 'unions make work safer' is the theme for the 28 April event this year.
Hazards 'union effect' webpage and 28 April poster . The new issue of Hazards magazine is now available - subscribe now.
Race is on for an ethical London Olympics
Playfair 2012 has launched a campaign for an ethical London Olympic Games. The coalition, co-ordinated by the TUC and Labour Behind the Label (LBL) and which involves unions and other campaigning organisations, wants the organisers of the London Olympics to ensure that workers making sportswear for the 2012 Games won't be working in appalling and degrading conditions. A new campaign website sets out the standards the coalition expects from the London 2012 organisers, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and sportswear brands. Millions of people are employed in the global supply chains that produce kits for Olympic teams, and the sportswear and souvenirs available in Britain. Playfair has unearthed evidence showing that the sportswear industry and Olympic movement have a poor track record on workers' rights. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: 'Delivering a legacy for London was at the heart of the government's successful Olympic bid. And what better legacy than a commitment to end the exploitation and abuse involved in the sportswear and athletic footwear industries? We want London 2012 to raise the bar on worker's rights throughout Olympic supply chains.' Playfair 2012 is part of the global Playfair 2008 campaign involving three international federations, the International Textile Garment and Leather Workers Federation (ITGLWF), International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and Clean Clothes Campaign.
TUC news release. Playfair 2012.
Mexican miners striking for safety need support
1,200 members of Mexico's National Miners' and Metalworkers' Union, or Los Mineros, have been on strike since July 2007 at the Cananea mine over health and safety and other contract violations. Grupo Mexico – the mining giant which operates Cananea – and the Mexican government have continuously tried to end the strike and crush the union. Union assets have been illegally seized, activists jailed, leaders assassinated, and now, after all the strikers were fired, the Government of Mexico has threatened to use armed force to end the strike. Los Mineros are asking for our support. Send a message to the miners and to the Mexican government: the world is watching. 30 seconds is all it takes.
Flexible Working Arrangements: Health benefitsA new study has suggested that flexible working might be beneficial for employees' health if they are allowed to have input into their own working patterns. The study may throw some light on potential health benefits associated with current trends towards more flexible working in the UK, Europe and Australia. Flexible working arrangements for employees with families are commonplace in Scandinavian countries. In Australia, new EEO legislation gives parents the right to request more flexible working arrangements, and the employer duties to attempt to satisfy these requests.
The Cochrane Systematic Review included ten studies involving a total of 16,603 people. It focused on various different forms of flexible working. Self-scheduling of working hours was found to have positive impacts on a number of health outcomes including blood pressure, sleep and mental health. In one study, for instance, police officers who were able to change their starting times at work showed significant improvements in psychological wellbeing compared to police officers who started work at a fixed hour. 'Flexible working seems to be more beneficial for health and wellbeing where the individuals control their own work patterns, rather than where employers are in control,' said the review lead, Clare Bambra of the Wolfson Research Institute, Durham University in the UK. Co-author Kerry Joyce added: 'We need to know more about how the health effects of flexible working are experienced by different types of workers, for instance, comparing women to men, old to young and skilled to unskilled. This is important as some forms of flexible working might only be available to employees with higher status occupations and this may serve to increase existing differences in health between social groups.'
Science Daily, 20 February 2010
Chemicals of high concern
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) last week published proposals to identify eight chemicals as Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) and possible candidates for authorisation. It is calling for public submissions by the end of April. The eight substances have been suggested by the three EU Member States Denmark, France and Germany. All eight substances are proposed because of their potentially serious effects on human health. They are carcinogenic, mutagenic and/or toxic for reproduction. The eight commonly used substances are:
- Boric acid
- Disodium tetraborate, anhydrous
- Tetraboron disodium heptaoxide, hydrate
- Sodium chromate
- Potassium chromate
- Ammonium dichromate
- Potassium dichromate
Occupation key factor in men's lung cancer riskA new study by Italian researchers has provided further evidence that men who work in certain occupations continue to be at increased risk of lung cancer. Dario Consonni of the IRCCS Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico in Milan and associates found that about 5 percent of lung cancers in men are job-related, and while cigarettes are the most important cause of lung cancer, chemicals and other on-the-job hazards "play a remarkable role" in lung cancer risk.
The researchers looked at the association between lung cancer and jobs either known or suspected to increase the risk of the disease in 2,100 people diagnosed with lung cancer and 2,120 healthy individuals matched by age, gender and residence. For men, about 12 percent had worked in occupations listed as known lung cancer risks, compared to 6 percent of controls; these occupations included mining, metalworking, and certain types of construction work. Men in the known to be risky occupations were 74 percent more likely to have been diagnosed with lung cancer. The strongest associations were for ceramic and pottery jobs and brick manufacturing, and for those working in manufacturing of non-iron metals. No overall increased risk was found in jobs suspected of causing lung cancer. However, they did find a 'marked elevated risk' for gas station attendants, and for people working in leather tanneries, glass workers, and welders, although these were based on a small number of people. Too few women participated in the study, and so no firm conclusions could be reached. 'The findings of this study confirm the need for continuous monitoring and improved control of work-related exposures,' the researchers conclude, 'both for prevention and workers' compensation purposes.'
Reuters Health, 15 February 2010
New high-risk StandardWorkSafe Victoria will adopt the National Standard for licensing Persons Performing High Risk Work in July this year. The standard requires trainees to complete a recognised course of work before being assessed for a high-risk licence. The new Standard may mean that instead of trainees needing to complete a short course of between one and three days, they may need to complete longer courses or between three and 10 days, depending on the structure and type of high-risk licence.
WorkSafe Media Release
Results from Safety Blitz in Seaford
WorkSafe has announced that its inspectors will be going back to Seaford businesses to check compliance with 79 safety improvement notices issued during a safety campaign in February. WorkSafe said it was pleased with the overall safety performance of businesses in the area, but pointed out that a number of serious issues identified at the 112 workplaces visited. Frayed or damaged electrical cords were one of the major concerns, along with damaged racking systems, inappropriate storage of dangerous goods and insufficient railing on mezzanine floors. Poor machinery and equipment maintenance was also a common issue, with inspectors finding forklifts, lifting equipment and air receivers with poor service records.
WorkSafe Media Release
National OHS harmonisation - Senate supports Greens' motion on OHS
The Senate has backed an Australian Greens motion calling on the Government to ensure there is no reduction in occupational health and safety standards anywhere in the nation in implementing their new laws. 'Workers, unions and the community are concerned that the Government's OHS harmonisation agenda will mean lower safety standards rather than the highest possible we should be pursuing', said Senator Rachael Siewert. 'The Government must guarantee no reduction in standards in any workplace. With over 150 work-related fatalities last year, an increase of around 14%, there is no excuse for lowering the bar.' Senator Siewert noted that the active involvement of employees and their representatives in workplace safety is 'essential to establishing high standards of health and safety in workplaces'.
Greens' Media Release
Critical dates for harmonisation31 March 2010 - technical amendments to the model Work Health Act to be completed
29 April 2010 - Safe Work Australia members approve the amended Act
1 May 2010 - Sign-off by SIG (Strategic Issues Group) for policy proposals on all matters to be included in the Regulations
15 October 2010 - Exposure draft of Regs/RIS and Issues paper signed off by SWAC & WRMC (Workplace Relations Ministers Council)
1 November 2010 - 28 February 2011 - Public comment period on Regs package
21 May 2011 - SWAC sign-off on Regs package
11 June 2011 - WRMC sign-off on Regs package
1 July 2011 - Regs provided to jurisdictions for giving effect and operationalising locally
1 January 2012 - Commencement of Act and Regulations
Federal Government to target workers' health
In 2008 the Federal Government and COAG signed a National Partnership Agreement on Preventative Health and under it a National Preventive Health Strategy. It has committed over $870m seeking to address the rising prevalence of what it terms 'lifestyle related chronic disease'. It will be targeting three areas: Healthy Workers ($296m); Healthy Children (0-16 years) ($325m) and Healthy Community ($72m). The workplace is a particular target for preventive health measures because there are an estimated 11 million Australians in workplaces and 70 per cent in full-time employment. The initiative will be done through the Department of Health and Ageing. The VTHC, together with some affiliates and the ACTU, has already provided comment and input into the development of an overall 'charter' which will set out basic principles covering any such programs. While we support health promotion activities in principle, it is important that such activities and programs do not displace occupational health and safety duties of the employer and do not shift emphasis from workplace hazards to individual worker behaviour. Sometimes so-called 'lifestyle choices' are heavily influenced by work factors such as fatigue, shiftwork and so on.
Read more COAG National Partnership Agreement on Preventive Health [pdf]
Safe Work Australia Workers' Compensation Comparison report
Safe Work Australia has released a comprehensive report comparing workers' compensation arrangements in all Australian jurisdictions and New Zealand. It includes a history of workers' compensation arrangements in each jurisdiction, and examines how the schemes deal with key aspects such as coverage, benefits, return to work provisions, self-insurance, common law, dispute resolution and cross-border arrangements.
Download from the Safe Work website
Useful MaterialsFrom WorkSafe Victoria
- Health and safety solution for loading waste into waste skips. The solution addresses the risk of sustaining musculoskeletal injuries from lifting, stretching and tipping in awkward postures.
- Children's services - occupational health and safety compliance kit This kit provides practical advice about the main hazardous tasks that cause workplace injuries in the children's services sector. It was developed in consultation with The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, AEU and Kindergarten Parents Victoria. It includes six Health and Safety Solutions.
Director, company prosecutedThe sole director and shareholder of Fabbris Smallgoods, Dino Fabbris, and his company were convicted and fined $25,000 and $50,000 respectively following an incident in January 2008 when a worker's hand got caught in shredder. A worker was directed to operate a meat slicing machine by a senior factory worker. The worker had never previously operated this machine, though had operated a similar once elsewhere in the factory. This machine did not have an interlocking guard or a guard of any kind protecting the shredding blades. After approximately an hour, the shredder hopper became blocked by slices of meat. When he placed his hand into the opening to clear access, it was dragged into the blades of the shredder. The worker was unable to extricate himself and was taken to hospital with the shredder still attached to his hand. The three middle fingers of his left hand had to be amputated to the knuckles, and he suffered nerve damage to his left thumb rendering it difficult to move. Fitting an appropriate guard would have cost the company only $5000. Further, WorkSafe found that systems of instruction and training relied on verbal instruction alone and no written records of training and employee competency on factory machinery were maintained by the company.
WorkSafe Victoria's Acting Health and Safety Director Stan Krpan said company directors had to take responsibility for the health and safety of their workers. "In this case, we have a director who was aware that the unguarded shredder was a hazard, and did nothing about it. This has resulted in prosecution for the company, and the loss of livelihood for a worker. This is a reminder to directors – especially those assuming a hands-on role in their company – that it's their responsibility to step up to the mark and make decisions on health and safety for their company."
WorkSafe Media Release
Linfox fined $170k
Major transport company Linfox Australia Pty Ltd was on Tuesday convicted and fined $170,000, after a driver suffered serious and preventable injuries when an adjustable mezzanine floor in a truck's trailer collapsed on him in 2006. The company was also ordered to pay WorkSafe Victoria costs of $41,270.
The prosecution was under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 – despite the company having left the Victorian workers compensation scheme after the incident took place. The incident occurred in Lemnos, near Shepparton, after the driver asked a forklift operator for help lifting an adjustable mezzanine floor in the truck's trailer into place. The driver climbed into the trailer and engaged the corner supports for the floor, and the forklift operator started to lift the floor into place. During the lifting process, one of the support posts became detached, causing the rear floor of the trailer to collapse onto the driver. He was treated in hospital for 12 days for injuries including a broken arm and leg, a fractured shoulder, broken ribs, and a torn knee ligament.
The WorkSafe investigation revealed a lack of training, instruction and equipment for drivers and other employees who needed to adjust trailer floors.
WorkSafe Media Release
Patricks Stevedoring committed to stand trial
Patrick Stevedoring Pty Ltd provides port-related services and associated warehouses at Hastings, Western Port to importers, exporters and shipping lines. It provides services to BlueScope Steel Limited from the Western Port warehouse facility, managing rolls of flat steel plate which is rolled into coils for transportation. The coils are between 750mm - 1800mm wide, approx 2000mm in diameter, and weigh between 20 and 25 tonnes. They are stored so that their centre bores are horizontal in rows adjacent to one another and are stacked two high.
To prevent the stacked coils from rolling they are chocked with wooden chocks on the outside edge of the end coils and on both sides of various other coils in the row. This method of stacking coils is inherently unsafe because it relies solely upon friction which is both relatively difficult to maintain in the less than ideal circumstances of a warehouse and relatively easy to overcome.
On 16 March 2007 two employees from Patrick were working in the warehouse, stacking coils when one of the coils on the top row fell to the ground between two coils on the bottom row causing the end coil on the bottom row to ride over its chock. One of the employees was fatally crushed in the incident.
Patrick has pleaded not guilty to breaches of Sections 21(1) & 21(2)(a) and 21(4) and 23(1), but was committed to stand trial on all charges.