Issue 188 - SafetyNet Journal 188Welcome to SafetyNet 188 - as usual full of all sorts of interesting OHS information. Let us know what you think AND if you have any OHS related queries.
Activities for repsUnions save lives: International Workers Memorial Day, April 28
Each and every day of the year, workplace accidents kill more than 1,000 workers. And diseases related to working conditions add more than 5,330 to this death toll every day. In other words more than 270 workers are killed every single hour. In addition, 906,000 workers suffer injuries every day because of accidents at the workplace. This 28 April was the largest workplace health and safety event in history, with events taking place in over 100 countries. The ITUC/Hazards global events map showed events happening throughout Africa, Asia, South America, North America, Australasia and Europe.
In Victoria, we held a moving commemoration ceremony at Argyle Square where the 28 fatalities reported to WorkSafe since April 28 last year were remembered. After hearing from the Trade Union Choir, the gathered group moved to the Trades Hall to join the thousands of construction industry workers who were protesting the interference of the ABCC into health and safety in the industry and calling for its abolition. The rate and number of fatalities in the sector has increased since its introduction by the Howard Government.
Senator Doug Cameron, ex AMWU National Secretary, announced on International Workers' Memorial Day that he will be chairing a Committee to guide the establishment of a National Workers' Memorial in Canberra. The Committee will include members from all the parties. Senator Cameron said, 'while International Workers' Memorial Day is observed on 28 April each year in Australia and overseas, there is no formal Australian national memorial to workers who have been killed at work. The Australian capital has memorials honouring the military, police officers and emergency services workers but no memorial to recognize the sacrifice of all workers who have lost their lives building this great nation.' Deputy PM Julia Gillard welcomed the Committee's establishment.
Julia Gillard Media Release
In the US, President Obama took the occasion to release the first Presidential Proclamation on Workers Memorial Day, remembering the workers killed in the recent mine explosion.
Worker killed in lathe incident
A 26 year-old Thomastown factory worker has died after being hit on the head by a steel rod being worked on in a lathe at a fabrication business last week. The incident left him in a critical condition, and he died in hospital two days later. WorkSafe has urged workplaces to check lathe safety. 'Because of the speed of the rotating parts, [lathes are] very dangerous pieces of machinery to operate. If things go wrong with a lathe, you're looking at very serious consequences occurring very quickly. Even the most experienced operators need to be incredibly aware of the risks and ensure precautions are taken," WorkSafe's acting exec director health and safety Stan Krpan said. This was the 11th fatality since the beginning of the year, the 28th since April 28th, the last International Workers Memorial Day
ILO identifies new and emerging risks
Just before International Workers Memorial Day and the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) identified "new and emerging" workplace health and safety risks, and outlined what employers and regulators can do to prevent them. While workplace injury and fatality rates in developed countries are declining, work-related cancers, musculoskeletal disorders, cardiovascular diseases and stress are "becoming an increased concern", according to the ILO in its publication Emerging risks and new patterns of prevention in a changing world of work [pdf]. Further, the ILO comments that new discoveries and their application in industry usually take place before there is a good understanding of their effects on safety and health. It notes that by 2020, about 20 per cent of all manufactured goods will incorporate nanotechnology, yet the risks associated with the manufacturing and use of nanomaterials are "largely unknown".
Other emerging risks include biotechnologies, the "enormous growth" over the last 20 years in the industrial use of allergenic, carcinogenic and mutagenic chemicals and stress.
ILO Media release
Nominate NOW for WorkSafe's annual OHS Awards
This is your last chance to nominate for WorkSafe Victoria's annual OHS Awards. Nominations close on May 7, so hurry up and nominate now.
Phyl Hilton, AMWU OHS Rep at Toyota and last year's Victorian OHS Rep of the Year, was highly commended (that is, just missed out!) in being nominated Australian OHS Rep of the Year at the Safe Work Australia awards at Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday night.
WorkSafe Awards Categories for 2010
1. Best OHS Management System
2. Best Solution to an Identified Workplace Health and Safety Issue
3. Best Health and Safety Initiative in a Small Business
4. Health and Safety Representative of the Year
5. Health and Safety Committee of the Year
WorkSafe has made it easier to enter with simpler forms and information pack – for more information, including entry forms, judging criteria, and examples of previous award finalists go to the Awards webpage or contact the WorkSafe Awards Coordinator on 8663 5033 or send an email
May 1: May Day around the world
The international theme this year is "Workers Will Win": Workers are organising: to demand a living wage; for the rights of migrant workers; against casualisation, contracting out & outsourcing. While we struggle our planet is being ruined. But industry can produce for peoples' need instead of profit.
From the Joint May Day Statement. Read it and endorse it
Events at Trades Hall Lygon St Carlton
Saturday May 1
Protest in support of refugees - from 12 noon
May Day Gig: 6pm till late – bands, drinks, solidarity. Entry $10/$5/$2
Sunday May 2
May Day Rally at 1pm.
Conference: Stop the Violence
Don't forget the ANF Stop the Violence Conference on 20 May (ANF Conference Centre, 540 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne). The conference is not limited to ANF members, and is of interest to nurses, midwives, care workers, OHS Managers, HSRs and Human Resource Managers.
Register for this Expo online or email or call Carole de Greenlaw on (03) 9275 9333.
Asbestos newsLaunch of new mesothelioma registry
Safe Work Australia has awarded the contract for the new Australian Mesothelioma Registry to a consortium led by the Cancer Institute of NSW which includes some leading experts in asbestos-related disease in Australia. The Australian Mesothelioma Registry replaces the current Australian Mesothelioma Register, which has been operating since 1985. It will collect all notifications of new cases of mesothelioma from the state and territory cancer registries. The registry will also collect detailed information on the past exposure to asbestos of mesothelioma patients. This will provide important information on the types and level of exposure that typically result in mesothelioma. It will be launched on 30 April at Concord Hospital's Bernie Banton Centre.
Punk shop asbestos 'killed McLaren'
The former S*x Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren may have been exposed to the asbestos that killed him while smashing up S*x, his punk design shop, according to his partner Young Kim. She told media the 64-year-old, who died on 8 April of the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma, was exposed to the deadly material when he shattered the ceiling of S*x, the shop he shared with his then partner, designer Vivienne Westwood. 'When Malcolm created S*x he broke open the ceiling to make it look like a bomb had hit it,' she said. 'I always suspected that shop because it was the only place Malcolm ever really spent any serious length of time in, and there was a lot of construction and changing things. Then Ben Westwood said his mother had mentioned that she'd seen asbestos there. It was board asbestos and it was in the early Seventies so there was a lot of it left, and I don't think anyone really did anything about it.' Kim also confided how angry McLaren was that British doctors had ignored the signs of asbestos-inflicted lung damage. After a routine chest scan in 2008 a doctor noticed 'benign' spots on McLaren's lungs which looked like pleural plaques from asbestos exposure. By January last year, the music impresario was convinced he had lung cancer, but doctors continued to insist nothing was wrong.
Source: Risks 452
Asbestos exposure as a child
A 40-year-old WA man is suing for James Hardie subsidiary Amaca for compensation after claiming his mesothelioma was due to his exposure to asbestos fibres as a child. Mr Simon Lowes inhaled the fibres when his parents took him to play at a popular miniature railway in Wilson in 1972, which was on the grounds of a Christian Brothers boys' home. The swamp around the area was filled with asbestos tailings from the James Hardie factory in the 1960s and 1970s. According to Mr Lowes exposure at this site was his only known exposure to asbestos.
Source: The West Australian
Fatigue: factor in Reef oil spillThe Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) releasing findings of a preliminary investigation, says fatigue may have played a part in the grounding of the Shen Neng 1 off the central Queensland coast almost three weeks ago. The bulk coal carrier hit Douglas Shoal, east of Rockhampton, rupturing a fuel tank and spilling more than two tonnes of oil into the water.
While the Chinese coal carrier took a 'reasonable short-cut' before the accident, it did not return to the original course which would have been safe. ATSB chief commissioner Martin Dolan says the first mate had been working long hours, but there is no evidence that he was asleep while on duty. However, he seemed to have had only about two-and-a-half hours of broken sleep in the previous 37 hours, and was navigating through this area for the first time. The ATSB is continuing its investigations, and will look into the activities on the ship's bridge, safety management throughout the ship, fatigue issues among the crew, systems in place to prevent vessels running aground, optional routes through the Great Barrier Reef, and how well the early response to the incident was handled.
Source: ABC News
Nanotechnology - what we don't get told
Safe Work Australia has released three new research reports on nanotechnology. These are:
- Engineered nanomaterials: Investigating substitution and modification options.
- Evaluation of MSDS and labels associated with the use of nanomaterials.
- Workplace detection and measurement of carbon nanotubes.
The reports can be downloaded from the SWA website.
Shiftwork affects young workers moreAccording to a new study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, working the nightshift interferes with sleep, particularly for workers in their 30s and 40s. Using a large database employment database, the Swansea University researchers looked at the relationship between shiftwork and sleep problems in workers of different ages and over time. As in previous studies, shiftworkers had a higher rate of sleep problems than dayworkers. Shiftwork was specifically related to waking up too early rather than other types of sleep problems. The effects were most apparent in the early to middle years of working life — workers in their 30s and 40s. Former shiftworkers had more sleep problems than those who had never done shiftwork. The researchers found that after giving up shiftwork, sleep problems can be reversed, though it may take some time for this to happen.
Danish study finds organisational restructure can be a hazard
A Danish study has found that organisational restructures can increase the likelihood of employee burnout, especially if staff are excluded from the process. More than 1000 public service workers from 18 workplaces were questioned over a six-year period to gauge the level of "physical and psychological fatigue and exhaustion" - or burnout - they were experiencing. The researchers noted that work-related burnout is often accompanied by feelings of cynicism and detachment from the job, as well as a sense of ineffectiveness and a lack of professional accomplishment.
Changing Job-Related Burnout After Intervention-A Quasi-Experimental Study in Six Human Service Organizations. [abstract] Ingelise Andersen, et al, Denmark, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Volume 52, Issue 3, March 2010.
Workplace exposure to carcinogens underestimatedA new Italian study has concluded that metal manufacturing and construction are the sectors where most exposure to carcinogens occurs, and that the prevalence of occupational cancers is widely underestimated. The identified 936 cases of malignant occupational cancer (excluding mesothelioma) reported to Italy's National Register of Occupational Cancers between 1995 and 2008, found that the fabricated metal industry accounted for 24.1 per cent of carcinogen-exposure cases, followed by construction at 10.3 per cent.
More than half (57.9%) of the cases involved lung cancer, followed by sinonasal cancer (16.9%) and bladder cancer (2.4%). The responsible carcinogens were silica (19.8%), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (or PAHs - 18.1%), asbestos (14.3%), radiation (11.1%) and metals and compounds (10.4%).
The researchers said the process of identifying and reporting occupational diseases is deficient in some countries and "chronic" in others, and that the underreporting of occupational diseases was a global issue, affecting all industrialised countries.
Italian National Register of Occupational Cancers: Data System and Findings [abstract] . Alberto Scarselli, et al, Italy, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Volume 52, Issue 3, March 2010.
Occupational road deaths ignored due to lack of data
In a presentation at the Safety In Action Conference last week, OHS researcher Ruth Stuckey said road deaths are the number one cause of traumatic work fatalities, but are ignored because they cannot be measured. As part of her PhD studies, Stuckey used evidence from crash and fatality databases to build a picture of the causes of work-related crashes involving road vehicles under 4.5t. In figures from NSW, Stuckey found 37% of light vehicles were registered for work use by the self-employed or sole-traders. These users are not represented in compensation data. According to Stuckey, while road safety is usually consigned to the responsibility of traffic accident authorities, around 100 deaths in NSW are related to work-driving, making the problem a relevant OHS issue. At the conference, Stuckey recommended improved data capture and appealed for research into appropriate occupational light vehicle road safety interventions.
New Executive Director Health and SafetyWorkSafe Victoria's Chief Executive, Greg Tweedly, this week announced that Ms Cath Bowtell has been appointed as WorkSafe Victoria's Executive Director Health and Safety, filling the position vacated by John Merritt when he left to head up the EPA. He said Ms Bowtell would bring a wealth of experience to the task of keeping Victorian workplaces the safest in Australia. Ms Bowtell comes from the Australian Council for Trade Unions (ACTU) where she was responsible for the management of social, economic and industrial policies. Mr Stan Krpan, who has been acting in the role, will be leaving the organisation mid June. Stan previously headed the Legal Services and Investigations Division, and oversaw a number of important and ground-breaking prosecutions. The VTHC OHS Unit thanks Stan for his dedication and commitment to workers' health and safety, and wishes him success in the future.
WorkSafe bullying seminars
The seminar series is continuing, the remaining seminars are:
Ballarat (4 May), Traralgon (11 May), Shepparton (13 May), Mulgrave (18 May), and Mildura (26 May). Further information, including registration, is available online.
Footy community can make workplaces safer
WorkSafe is calling on businesses and workers associated with football in the Warracknabeal and Minyip–Murtoa areas to kick some goals with safety in the next few weeks. WorkSafe's Ross Pilkington who will be speaking at the WorkSafe –VCFL Game of the Month Match (Warracknabeal v Minyip-Murtoa at Warracknabeal) in Warracknabeal this Sunday May 2, said there had been 149 workers compensation claims over the past five years in the Yarriambiack Shire with treatment and rehabilitation costing the community $2.82m. "In state terms these are not big numbers but what we know is that these injuries are painful and can have serious long term effects. WorkSafe wants people in regional areas to get a better understanding of what they can do to prevent injuries or deaths at work." Football legend Ron Barassi will also be there along with WorkSafe inspectors who will be providing advice in an informal setting
WorkSafe Media Release
Useful MaterialsFrom WorkSafe Victoria:
- Dangerous goods transport requirements for licensed drivers - This information sheet includes an overview of key requirements for licensed dangerous goods vehicle drivers, as a result of some changes to dangerous goods laws that came into full effect on 1 January 2010.
- A toolkit for workplaces for the prevention and management of workplace aggression in the health sector.
- Tremolite decorative stack-stone wall tiles - This Alert has been issued following WorkSafe Victoria and WorkCover NSW becoming aware of the recent importation from China of decorative stack-stone wall tiles that contained asbestos in the form of fibrous tremolite, which is a prohibited hazardous substance.
- Gas pipes in stormwater drains and sewers - This Alert highlights the dangers of clearing stormwater drains and sewers without checking for intruding utility service pipes.
- Unmarked scaffold components - This Alert highlights the need for scaffold components to be marked in accordance with Australian Standards.
From WorkSafe WA: three new guides to managing the occupational health and safety needs of migrant workers. The guides address language barriers, cultural or religious differences and literacy difficulties. These would be of interest and relevant to Victorian workplaces also.
- Understanding the safety and health needs of your workplace Migrant workers: Guide for employers [pdf]
- A guide for community service providers to assist migrant workers: Understanding safety and health needs in workplaces [pdf]
- Understanding the safety and health needs of your workplace: A guide for migrant workers [pdf]
First reckless endangerment convictionIn December 2006, 21 year-old Bradley Alford was crushed to death when the Mack truck he was driving went out of control on a steep slope, overturned, and crushed him, killing him.
On the morning of International Workers' Memorial Day, this Wednesday April 28, his employer, Orbit Drilling Pty Ltd, became the first company in Victoria to be convicted for recklessly endangering a worker. Orbit was convicted and fined $750,000 under section 32 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004. The Melbourne County Court found the company failed to ensure Bradley was properly instructed and trained to operate the truck off-road on a steep slope; and failed to ensure the truck he was driving was in proper working order. Bradley had held a licence to drive a Mack truck for little more than two weeks when he died – which involved only eleven hours of driving lessons. He was instructed to drive the overweight Mack truck in off-road conditions on a slope exceeding 10 degrees, at Clobnane in Victoria. As an inexperienced and recently qualified driver, Bradley not trained to understand gear selection for this terrain. He hadn't undergone an induction or safety training, nor had he had the chance to build up his heavy vehicle skills under supervision. WorkSafe's investigation also established the truck's primary brake and the emergency hand brake wasn't working, and the secondary brake had been disconnected. In addition, the truck hadn't been serviced for over six months.
Martin John Smith, the director of Orbit Drilling Pty Ltd was convicted and fined $120,000 under sections 144 and 21(1)&(2)(a) of the OH&S Act 2004 for failing to provide or maintain for employees plant or systems of work that were, so far as was reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health.
WorkSafe Media Release - from this WorkSafe page
Graincorp Committed to Stand Trial
Graincorp Operations Limited was last week committed to stand trial in the County Court for failings under the 2004 OHS Act which resulted in the death of an employee who became stuck in a silo once grain was poured in at grain handling facilities at Hamilton. According to WorkSafe's investigation, Graincorp did not have a safe system of work in respect of the issuing of confined space entry permits, in that the procedures and permit in circulation for use at the time of the incident did not identify any or any properly trained issuing authority for confined space entry permits and allowed an unqualified or unauthorised person and/or the person proposing to make the confined space entry to issue a permit. In addition, the company also failed to provide safe plant.
Source: WorkSafe Victoria
Korea: Samsung worker dies - activists arrestedOn 31 March, Park Ji-yeon, a young woman of 23, died of leukaemia. She contracted the blood cancer at the age of 20 after working at the Samsung semiconductor factory in Onyang, Korea. She is one of a cluster of workers at the Korean microelectronics giant. Campaigners have so far collated evidence suggesting 23 Samsung workers in Korea have suffered from haematopoietic cancer like leukaemia or lymphoma, and at least nine workers have died. Samsung workers are also known to be suffering from skin disorders, neuropathy, fertility problems including miscarriages, and chronic nosebleeds. On 2 April, following a funeral ceremony for Park Ji-yeon, Health And Rights of People in the Semiconductor industry (SHARPS), a coalition of trade unions and campaign groups, organised a press conference at Samsung headquarters in Seoul, calling the company to account for semiconductor related cancer deaths. The police broke up the press conference and detained seven activists who had levelled a clear accusation at Samsung, shouting: 'You are responsible for the death of Ji-yeon Park.' They were detained until 5 April, when they were released without charge. SHARPS, Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC), Asian Network for the Rights Of Occupational Accident Victims (ANROAV), and the International Campaign for Responsible Technology (ICRT) are seeking support for a petition to the president of the Korean government Gee-sung Choi, the CEO of Samsung Electronics, the Korean minister of labour, the president of the Korea Workers' Compensation & Welfare Service and the CEO of the Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency. The campaign is also supported by the global union federation IMF, and was a focus for 28 April Workers' Memorial Day activities in Korea.
IMF news release Sign the SHARPS petition
US: Workers lost in Louisiana rig blastAn explosion and fire left an offshore drilling platform tilting in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana last Tuesday, and sparked a helicopter, ship and aircraft search for at least 11 missing rig workers. Most of the 126 people on the rig were believed to have escaped safely after the explosion. The rig was listing about 10 degrees, and still alight the day after the explosion. Seven workers were critically injured in the blast. Two were taken to the nearest trauma centre in Alabama. The search for the missing 11 crew members was called off on Tuesday, one week after the explosion. It seems likely that the workers were either killed by the explosion or unable to make it safely off the burning platform – but then their bodies will have sunk along with rig.
Sources: The Australian The Pump Handle
Regulations work but only if not repealed – D'Oh
In the US in 2000, an ergonomics rule that focused on the prevention of work-related musculo-skeletal disorders (WMSDs) was introduced after a preparatory period beginning in 1998. In 2003, under George Bush, the rule was repealed (removed) after an industry-funded voter initiative. Surveys of over 5,000 workplaces in 2001, 2003 and 2005 were compared with a baseline survey in 1998 before adoption of the rule. From 1998 to 2003, there was a reduction in reported exposures to WMSDs in the most hazardous industries. Surveys showed the most affected workplaces had taken effective action and achieved improvements in injury rates and absenteeism. However, in what seems to be a self-evident truth, after the 2003 repeal, hazard exposures again increased.
Foley M, Silverstein B, Polissar N, et al. Impact of implementing the Washington State Ergonomics Rule on employer reported risk factors and hazard reduction activity. American Journal of Industrial Medicine 2009; 52:1-16.