Issue 244 - SafetyNet 244
The VTHC OHS Unit welcomes our subscribers to Edition 244 of the fortnightly OHS bulletin SafetyNet. If you'd like to comment on any of the items or have any queries, please contact us at email@example.com.Union News
Fatalities on Victorian offshore drilling rig
Two workers were killed on Monday this week, in an incident involving a 'catastrophic' equipment failure on the Stena Clyde mobile drilling platform, about 50 kilometres off the coast of Port Campbell, in the Otway Basin in Bass Strait. The Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit, operated by Origin Energy, returned to land later that night. It appears that the workers, a 32-year-old from the Northern Territory and a 60-year-old from Scotland, were hit by a piece of the drill which became dislodged. One died at the scene and the other died on the way to the hospital. Police flew to the rig after the incident to prepare a report for the coroner, all work was been suspended and the well secured. The safety regulator, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environment Management Authority (NOPSEMA), is investigating the deaths.
Australian Workers Union state secretary Cesar Melhem said the union would conduct its own probe to prevent another tragedy. 'This industry is inherently dangerous and that's why we have always demanded that the highest possible safety standards are adhered to at all times,' he said.
Sources: ABC News online; The Herald Sun, The Age
The ACTU said the deaths of the two workers is a tragic reminder of the
dangers of the industry, and renewed calls for offshore petroleum
workers to be given the same workplace health and safety rights and
protections those on dry land. ACTU Assistant Secretary Michael
Borowick said it was not appropriate for the offshore petroleum industry
to have a different health and safety regime than the rest of the
workforce. 'We need to get to the bottom of this tragedy, but
unfortunately, unions have been warning for some time that the offshore
petroleum industry is an accident waiting to happen,' Mr Borowick said.
'The harmonised OHS laws should be extended to the offshore petroleum industry, so that workers in the industry can have the same standard of training and regulation as other workers,' he said, 'Occupational health and safety representatives in the offshore industry do not have the same rights to OHS training or access to OHS experts as on-shore representatives.'
ACTU Media Release Sources: ABC News online; The Herald Sun; The Age
Fatality in Epping
A worker was killed in Epping on Wednesday morning. The incident occurred on Cooper Street at about 10am. From early WorkSafe reports, it appears the 21-year-old worker was in the process of undertaking repair works to a truck when he sustained fatal crush injuries. He died at the site. Both the police and WorkSafe went to the scene to investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident.
Sources: WorkSafe; Victoria Police
Young butcher loses hand in mincer
A 21 year old young butcher had a hand partially amputated after it was caught in a mincer the morning of August 16 in Brighton. He had his left hand drawn into a meat mincer while he was cleaning it. The man lost parts of his four fingers and his hand was amputated on site. He was then taken to the Alfred Hospital. A WorkSafe investigator and inspector went to the business to determine the cause. WorkSafe's General Manager for Health and Safety Operations, Lisa Sturzenegger said while the investigation was at an early stage, this incident showed serious injuries could occur in an instant and last a lifetime. 'Incidents like this should trigger an instant review of safety procedures in all workplaces,' she said.
Source: WorkSafe Media Release
Can you tell me whether there are OHS regulations on playground equipment and what these are?
Our legislation does not go into any level of detail on matters that are specifically OHS, much less matters such as requirements for playgrounds in schools or elsewhere. However, employers have a 'general duty of care' to both employees and others. The Act requires employers to identify any hazards and then implement controls to either eliminate the risks caused by those hazards, or if it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate the risks, then minimise them as far as reasonably practicable. Then, under Section 23, the employer must ensure that the health and safety of others (not employees) is not put at risk from anything the employer, his business or his workers might do. See the summary of employer duties, including Section 23.
I assume what you're concerned about is the risk to children if/when they fall? There is some information on school playgrounds and equipment on this page of the Education Department's website. There are some documents which can be downloaded here.
Another thing to consider are the materials in the playground - eg wood chips, etc. With regard to this, I recommend the following:
- prior to purchasing any materials, ask for a copy of the product information, including an MSDS (material safety data sheet). This should then be checked to ensure the material does not contain any toxic substances (eg some wood chips may, etc)
- If you cannot secure an MSDS, then don't purchase the material
- Avoid material called 'EPDM' if you can (this is the rubber-like material used on the ground in playgrounds). A number of reputable organisations have raised concerns as some of this stuff contains carbon black, a known carcinogen.
You could also check the local council to see whether they have guidelines, etc.
If you have any OHS - related queries or questions, then why not send them in to Renata? Send in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we promise you a quick and easy to understand response within a couple of working days at the latest. And it's free!
Wanted: NSW health and safety reps
Phillip Ho, a researcher based at the University of Western Sydney, is looking for OHS Reps in NSW who have attended the appropriate training this year in order to interview them. He is interested in getting a perspective on the expected effectiveness of provisional improvement notices. The researcher also wants to understand what factors that may enhance or hinder the effectiveness of PINs. Please contact Phillip before the end of September by email if you are able to be interviewed or if you have any questions
Win for Posties
Following the wide coverage in the media of Melbourne postie Anthony Veal's appeal for support in his quest to keep posties dry, news quickly came through that Australia Post had reacted positively to the petition and the clear concern from the public. The latest from Anthony is that Australia Post has said they will address the problem with the posties' wet weather gear. At the moment there are 60 posties trialling motorcycle wet weather jackets, but as yet, nothing for the bicycle posties. So while Australia Post's new issue wet weather gear should be available before next winter, this could be nine months away. The petition garnered over 5,600 signatures with comments, and will be open to the 8th of September. The posties ask that people keep signing the petition so that pressure can be kept on Australia Post management to keep them to their word.
Anthony added that he didn't believe it right that they should have had to resort to a petition to get PPE that works. In his view, there must be contingencies put in place so correct PPE is implemented, such as committees, standards, and specifications.
Asbestos Management Review report now available
As announced in SafetyNet 243, the Asbestos Management Review Report is now available from the Department of Workplace Relations website. The union movement, as well as law firms and asbestos diseases support groups, has welcomed the report and its recommendations. ACTU President Ged Kearney said action must now be taken. 'We are pleased the panel has agreed with calls made by Australian unions during the review, including a plan to make Australia an asbestos-free nation and put an end to the tragic deaths that continue each year as a result of contact with the carcinogen,' Ms Kearney said. 'The panel, chaired by Geoff Fary, recommended the Government must investigate removing asbestos from Government and commercial buildings in the next 18 years, as well as set up an audit of its existence in residential properties built before production ended in 1987.
'The panel also agreed with unions' recommendation that a new national agency must be set up to oversee a strategic plan for asbestos awareness and management across Australia,' she said. 'Unions now call on the Government to implement the review panel's recommendations so that workers and families can feel safe in their workplaces and their homes.'
Senator Eric Abetz, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, welcomed the report, and committed the coalition to 'a bipartisan approach on this important issue'. In his response to Senator Shorten's statement, he said, '[The report] deals with an issue that has struck the consciousness of many Australians and, regrettably, has struck at many families and individuals in relation to issues of health.' He also noted, 'I commend the Australian trade union movement, which has taken a very proactive role in relation to dealing with the issues of the hazards of asbestos, and it would be fair to say that without their active campaigning in relation to this area things may not have progressed as far as they currently have with this review and now the government being willing to look at this review and report in due course.' Senator Abetz also noted the 'surprisingly large number of cases of mesothelioma and asbestos related cancer'.
Asbestos Management Review Overview including link to the report. ACTU Media Release: Report backs union calls to rid Australia of asbestos by 2030 Senator Abetz's statement
Latest GARDS Newsletter
The Gippsland Asbestos Related Diseases Support (Inc) August newsletter is now available to download as a pdf document. The regular newsletter has information on the group's activities, a large number of interesting 'asbestos snippets' items, and more.
Canadian asbestos mine suffers financial crisis
Less than two months after the Quebec government gave the Jeffrey asbestos mine a $58 million loan it is in financial crisis. The mine, in the Canadian town of Asbestos, was once the world's biggest asbestos mine and was given a rescue package by the Quebec government earlier this year, causing outrage among campaign groups. According to blogger Kathleen Ruffof on the 'RightOnCanada' website, the mine has is in severe financial crisis and has laid off about 80 of its one hundred workers. One of the directors of the company stated that the costs they are paying for carrying out the work to complete the underground mine were taking 'a dangerous escalation'. He said that the work stoppage was a strategic decision aimed at giving time to negotiate agreements for lower prices with the mining contractor firm, C Thysen MAC, and the main suppliers for the acquisition of materials. The workers have been laid off work apparently until mid-November. Ms Ruffof states 'This is just one more example of the irresponsibility of the Quebec Charest government in giving a $58 million loan to finance a deadly, dying industry that has no future. The people of Asbestos deserve better. Charest is playing with their lives and their hopes for sordid political reasons to win the riding in the present election. This is not political leadership. It harms the community and it brings shame on Quebec. The $58 million should be given to build sustainable and healthy economic development that will truly help the region.'
Read more: RightOnCanada Blog
Government cuts to education bites into OHS and schools duty of care
On Tuesday August 21 government schools in the Northern metropolitan region (and presumably all around the state) were notified that the Education Department (DEECD) employee health unit (EHU) will no longer provide money to support schools in the cost of HSR training, management rep OHS training, level 2 first aid training and the safe use of machinery for technology teaching (woodwork and metalwork). From the September 1 schools will be required to meet the cost by 'making provision in their budgets'. According to the department: '(the) cessation of reimbursements will enable the EHU to provide additional OHS services to assist schools to efficiently and effectively manage OHS in their workplaces'.
Under the banner of 'school autonomy' the Government appears to be abrogating their responsibility to ensure safe environments for their employees and students . Within the context of individual school budgets, schools will be forced to find cost savings across a plethora of areas and OHS falls into the same category as VCAL (cuts to administration of the program) as not a 'front line' provision. Further, schools will find it increasingly difficult to staff extra-curricular activities such as camps and some excursions which require at least one member of staff with level 2 first aid training.
This does not affect HSRs legislated right to access OHS training but will place significant pressure and possibly conflict at the local level to meet OHS obligations in a desperately under-resourced sector. The teachers' union, the AEU, as well as individual HSRs are already worried about the immediate effects these and other cuts will have.
ACTU condemns South African mine killings
The ACTU, on behalf of Australian unions, as said it joins the international condemnation of the massacre of striking mineworkers by South African police and welcome a commission of inquiry into the killings. ACTU President Ged Kearney said the shootings on August 16 at the Lonmin Marikana platinum mine which left 34 dead were appalling. They followed 10 deaths in the previous seven days. 'We send our deepest sympathy to our brothers and sisters who have lost family members and colleagues in these senseless and tragic events,' Ms Kearney said.
In terms of the miners' working conditions, ILO mining specialist Martin Hahn said, 'More efforts could be made to better implement existing mining regulations, especially when it comes to the health and safety of miners.' Hahn said that miners such as the ones from Marikana - an area with both opencast and underground operations - were often exposed to a variety of safety hazards: falling rocks, exposure to dust, intensive noise, fumes and high temperatures, among others. Many miners also suffer from diseases such as silicosis and tuberculosis (TB). HIV rates can also be high due to the fact that, in some cases, miners leave their families behind to find work and are more exposed to casual sex.
ACTU Media Release Statement from International Trade Union Confederation ILO Media Release
International Union News
Japan: Trade unions against nuclear power plants
On August 12th, Japanese trade unions, including the All Japan Dockworkers' Union, National Railway Workers' Union, Japan Construction and Transport Industry Workers Solidarity Union, National Union of General Workers and Tokyo Sanitation Workers' Union held a protest forum against the restarting of nuclear power plants in Japan. This is a significant step, building on the widespread public opposition to the nuclear industry in Japan.
Read More Source: AAWL
UK: Government policy is promoting suicides
A new study has found that the UK's recession has led to a sharp rise in suicides, a new study has found. The researchers warn that the government's austerity programme is not worth the human cost and efforts should instead centre on job creation. Their paper, published this week on the bmj.com website, says suicides began to rise in 2008 following 20 years of decline. It estimates 846 more male suicides and 155 more female suicides took place between 2008 to 2010 than would have been expected if previous trends had continued. Each annual 10 per cent increase in the number of unemployed was associated with a 1.4 per cent increase in the number of male suicides. There was a small reduction in suicides in 2010, following a slight recovery in male employment, although numbers were still above the 2007 figure. The researchers from Liverpool and Cambridge universities and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine took data on suicides from the National Clinical and Health Outcomes Database (NCHOD) covering the years 2000-2010, and unemployment statistics were taken from Office of National Statistics figures on the number of people claiming benefits. The researchers say 'although the initial economic shock of the recession does increase suicide risk, policies that promote re-employment may reverse this trend'. They warn 'the human cost of continued high levels of unemployment will outweigh the purported benefits of budget cuts'.
Read more: David Stuckler and others. Suicides associated with the 2008-2010 recession in England: time-trend analysis, 14 July 2012.
Colombia: former workers protest treatment
Outside the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Colombia, thirteen former General Motors Company (NYSE: GM) employees are staging a hunger strike protest charging worker mistreatment by the company, and seven of those men have sewn their mouths shut. T he protesting workers, part of the Association of Injured Workers and Ex-Workers of General Motors Colombia (Asotrecol), say they and as many as 200 other employees were fired by GM's Colombian subsidiary GM Colmotores following on-the-job injuries and that the company was responsible for 'systemic negligence of the workers' health and well-being.' Asotrecol began its protests a little over a year ago when 68 former GM workers banded together, saying they had suffered carpal tunnel, herniated disks, tendonitis, tinnitus, musculoskeletal problems and spinal injuries, injuries which they said inhibited their ability to work and ultimately led the company to fire them. Read more: International Business Times
Workers claim less for psychological illnesses
Recent research has found that Australian workers are significantly less likely to claim GP visits for psychological illnesses on workers' compensation than they are for physical work-related injuries like musculoskeletal disorders. Conducted by researchers at the Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research (ISCRR) and the University of Sydney, the research examined 486,400 general practitioner (GP) consultations around Australia recorded in the BEACH (Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health) research program between April 2004 and March 2009. The doctor recorded whether the patient's health problem was work-related and whether the visit was being claimed through workers' compensation.
ISCRR's Chief Research Officer, Dr Alex Collie, said that over 22 per cent of workers didn't make compensation claims even though their GP had determined that the illness was work-related. There could be several reasons: 'It could be that workers are less willing to claim for psychological conditions compared with physical conditions because of potential for stigma in the workplace. Workers' may also be unaware they can make a workers' compensation claim.'
ISCRR Media Release Alex Collie, Ying Pan, Helena Britt and Joan Henderson: Coverage of Work-related Problems by Workers' Compensation in General Practice; International Journal of Social Security and Workers Compensation Volume 3, No 1, 2011 [ pdf ]
Doctors suffer burnout at higher levels than others
According to recent US research, 'burnout' is significantly more common in physicians, particularly for those on the front line of care, than it is among the general work force. Approximately 38 per cent of physicians said they experienced burnout symptoms and 40 per cent said they were dissatisfied with their work-life balance, compared to 28 per cent of those in the general US work force experiencing burnout symptoms and 23 per cent who said they felt overworked, a significant difference, according to Tait Shanafelt, MD, of the Mayo Clinic, and colleagues. The study also found that healthcare professionals practicing in fields providing front-line care, such as emergency medicine, were at significantly greater risk than other fields for burnout.
Burnout symptoms were identified as emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and low sense of personal accomplishment, and measured through a 22-item questionnaire.
Shanafelt TD, et al Burnout and satisfaction with work-life balance among U.S. physicians relative to the general U.S. population Arch Intern Med 2012; 10.1001/archinternmed.2012.3199.
Source: MedPage Today Burnout a bigger problem for docs than others
Almost half of long-distance truck drivers suffer apnoea
According to recent South Australian research, almost half of long-distance truck drivers across the country suffer from sleep apnoea and are putting lives of other road users at risk. Further, only 12 per cent of those with the disorder are picked up because the medical tests used rely on self-assessment. Sleep apnoea can cause daytime sleepiness, which can more than double a driver's accident risk. Hundreds of drivers were surveyed about their fatigue levels at truck stops between Perth and Brisbane. Australasian Sleep Association Associate Professor Shantha Rajaratnam said fatigue was a significant factor contributing to the road toll. He said it was a big concern that there were so many heavy-vehicle drivers with the disorder.
Read more: Adelaide Now
Nanotech dangers outlined
It has been known for some time that inhaling tiny fibres made by the nanotechnology industry could cause similar health problems to asbestos – and in particular, carbon nanotubes. This is borne out by new research by the University of Edinburgh published in Toxicology Sciences. Research on mice, suggests the longer nanofibres are even more dangerous. Some of these fibres are similar in shape to asbestos fibres, which cause lung cancers such as mesothelioma. Nanofibres, which can be made from a range of materials of which carbon is just one, are about 80,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair and can reach the lung cavity when inhaled. The study found that lung cells were not affected by short fibres that were less than five-thousandths of a millimetre long but longer fibres could reach the lung cavity, where they become stuck and cause disease. Ken Donaldson, Professor of Respiratory Toxicology at the University of Edinburgh, said: 'Concern has been expressed that new kinds of nanofibres being made by nanotechnology industries might pose a risk because they have a similar shape to asbestos. We knew that long fibres, compared with shorter fibres, could cause tumours but until now we did not know the cut-off length at which this happened. Knowing the length beyond which the tiny fibres can cause disease is important in ensuring that safe fibres are made in the future as well as helping to understand the current risk from asbestos and other fibres.' This does not mean, however, that 'short' fibres are safe. The ACTU policy on nanomaterials is clear: employers must take a precautionary approach when using nanomaterials.
Research report [ abstract ] Source: Risks 570 More information on Nanotechnology
WorkSafe Shepparton Blitz and upcoming Swan Hill blitz
WorkSafe inspectors issued more than 85 improvement notices to Shepparton small businesses during their 'Safe Towns' workplace blitz. WorkSafe Group Leader for Shepparton, Simon Brown, said it was good to see quite a few businesses had prepared for the inspections, but there was still room for improvement in some workplaces. 'It was pleasing that a number of employers took a proactive approach to the inspections, however we still saw a significant number of safety issues in some workplaces,' he said. 'We'll be conducting follow up visits in the coming weeks to ensure businesses have fixed the identified safety breaches and are providing a safe working environment for their workers.'
Common safety issues identified during the visits included inappropriate storage of dangerous goods and failing to have up-to-date material safety data sheets - documents that provide important information about hazardous substances onsite. Other problems included electrical issues on construction sites, inadequate systems in place to ensure separation of pedestrians from mobile plant, forklift hazards, issues with pallet racking and slip/trip hazards.
And, ahead of the next Safe Towns blitz on Swan Hill small businesses from 17-21 September, WorkSafe and Swan Hill Inc are hosting a safety information session on Thursday, 6 September. The session will advise businesses on what to expect from WorkSafe inspectors and how to prepare in the lead up the campaign. WorkSafe's General Manager for Health and Safety Operations, Lisa Sturzenegger, said Swan Hill businesses were strongly encouraged to come along to the information session. 'Our statistics show that over the past five years, there have been more than 580 reported injuries in the Swan Hill region, costing over $15.5 million in medical costs, wages and other expenses,' she said. 'So we want to work with the Swan Hill business community to reduce the number of injuries in the region and equip employers with solid safety know-how and practical solutions to apply in their workplaces.'
The session will be held at the All Seasons Resort, 405 Campbell Street, Swan Hill from 7.30am – 9am. Tickets are $10 and include a cooked buffet breakfast.
Bookings are essential and can be made through Rebecca at Swan Hill Inc on 5032 3033.
WA seeks public comment on adoption of WHS model Act and regs
The WA Government last week announced it is seeking public comment on the costs and benefits of the proposed national Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations as they apply specifically to Western Australian workplaces. It has prepared an Information and Issues Paper with easy to understand details about the changes that would take place with the adoption of the model. The public comment period is for two months.
Media Release Public comment sought on national workplace safety laws
WorkSafe WA has produced a number of OSH podcasts available to download from its website. The latest two to go onto their website are: Investigations which examines the functions of safety and health representatives and Workplace blowups on the implications of bullying, stress and conflict. The Bullying podcast, which is about half an hour long, is part of a 4thought lunchtime information sessions, is delivered by Jane Arden, who was then Manager Community Education, WorkSafe WA. Ms Arden provides an informative and interesting discussion on what workplace bullying is, and what should happen in workplaces. These are well worth listening to.
SafeWork WA podcasts Read more: Information on Bullying on the website
Safe Work Australia
Factsheet on hazardous chemicals pictograms
Safe Work Australia has released a fact sheet on the new labelling system for hazardous chemicals under the model WHS Regulations. The new system is based on the United Nations' Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) which is going to be phased in over five years. It includes new pictograms for 'acute toxicity', 'corrosive', 'gases under pressure' and six other hazards. The WHS Regulations allow manufacturers and importers to continue to use [existing] dangerous goods class labels on containers for workplace hazardous chemicals for transport purposes. While Victoria has not implemented the model WHS regulations, it announced some time ago that it would accept GHS consistent labelling and SDSs as compliant.
Understanding Hazardous Chemical Labels
Comcare has released guidance, in the form of a 'toolkit' on the significant health risks posed by prolonged sitting in the workplace, which include chronic disease and early death for workers, and loss of productivity for organisations. The Sedentary work practices toolkit is a collection of information, guidance materials and templates that can help workplaces develop and apply an organisational strategy to reduce prolonged sitting in the workplace.
Toolkit Read more on the website
Company fined $42,000 for safety failings
On August 16 garbage collection company, Citywide Service Solutions, was fined $42,000 in the Heidelberg Magistrates' Court after pleading guilty over an incident where a 92kg bin lifting arm, fitted to a garbage truck, fell suddenly and struck a worker on the head, causing serious injuries to his scalp and requiring about 40 stitches. The man was unable to work for six weeks after the incident.
The company, which provides waste management services to councils, also pleaded guilty to failing to notify WorkSafe about the incident under section 38 of the Act. Despite the worker's serious lacerations, the company mistakenly believed that because the worker was discharged from hospital on the same day, there was no need to notify WorkSafe about the incident. WorkSafe first became aware of the incident five days later, when the injured worker contacted them directly, the court heard.
A WorkSafe investigation found that the company should have fitted a safety strap when conducting repairs to the bin lifter arm, as recommended in a safety bulletin released by the supplier. The investigation also found the company had not provided the worker with adequate instruction and training.
Source: WorkSafe Media Release
Company fined $90,000 after worker's arm crushed
Goodman Fielder Consumer Foods Pty Ltd was convicted and fined $90,000 last week over a September 2009 incident at its 'Pampas' factory in West Footscray which left a worker with serious and permanent injuries to his arm after it was crushed in a machine.
The injured worker was an employee of labour hire company Skilled Group Ltd and had been assigned to work at the Pampas factory for two years prior to the incident. Skilled Group Ltd had already been convicted and fined $50,000 in November last year in relation to the same incident.
The worker was cleaning a dough extruder when it suddenly activated, trapping the man's arm in the machine. An investigation found the machine was inadequately guarded - the plastic guard had a 10cm gap, big enough for the worker to put his arm through – and that the worker had not been adequately trained to operate the machine's controls – he failed to properly de-activate the machine before cleaning it. Only informal training was carried out "on the job" by other workers.
WorkSafe's General Manager for Health and Safety Operations, Lisa Sturzenegger, said the company's conviction and fine could have easily been avoided. 'Properly guarding machines is a fundamental safety requirement that employers must act on to avoid incidents like this from happening,' she said.
Source: WorkSafe Media Release
Rio Tinto found guilty of adverse action
In another example of unions seeking justice under other legislation for members raising OHS matters, the Federal Court last week penalised Rio Tinto subsidiary Pilbara Iron Company (Services) Pty Ltd $35,500 for taking adverse action against a Pilbara mining worker, finding the company had shown no contrition and there was a substantial risk it would re-offend.The company was fined under the Fair Work Act:
- $8,500 for refusing to employ the trainee rail car examiner when his fixed-term contract expired because he exercised a workplace right by making employment-related complaints and inquiries;
- $11,000 for changing the worker's mid-year performance appraisal (including by removing positive comments and lowering his mark from a "pass" in the draft to a "fail" in the final assessment), again because he made complaints and inquiries; and
- $16,000 for rejecting his nomination as a health and safety representative because he represented or advanced the views, claims or interests of the CFMEU (mining & energy division).
Justice Anna Katzmann ordered the money be paid to the union. She was critical of the company's rejection of the employee's bid to be an OHS representative, saying Rio Tinto had "no right to interfere with the election process" - "Not only did [Rio Tinto] deny [the employee] his right to nominate and, potentially, to contribute to the work of the committee, it also interfered with the rights of the employees who might have voted for him."
Source: Workplace Express. CFMEU v Pilbara Iron Company (Services) Pty Ltd (No. 4)  FCA 894 (August 22, 2012) [ pdf ]
Director fined $30k following death of apprentice
A NSW company director was last week fined $30,000 following the death of a 15-year-old apprentice labourer who suffered horrific injuries, and later died in hospital, when he became entangled in an unguarded machine. He pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare of his workers, breaching the NSW OHS Act.
In May 2010, the man directed the totally inexperienced apprentice to operate an unguarded automatic spinning, flow turning and necking-in machine, which was used to spin and form objects from flat discs of metal. He was attempting to remove a completed metal object by putting his hand inside the machine, as he was trained to do, when it started and his right arm was pulled into the machine. The teenager's hand was severed above the wrist and his arm was de-gloved up to the elbow. Emergency services had to amputate the lower part of his arm to disentangle him from the machine. He was taken to hospital but died two days later from "complications of traumatic amputation of the right arm and its treatment".
Inspector Estreich v Hadfield  NSWIRComm 88 (17 August 2012)
NSW: Director fined $27,000
The director of a NSW company, fined $600,000 in November 2011 following the second storage-related fatality in a decade at its warehouses, has also been fined $27,000, after the NSW Industrial Court found he failed to act on a known hazard. The fatality occurred in September 2007, when an experienced Ullrich Aluminium Pty Ltd storeman "picking and packing" cases of aluminium product, weighing up to 330kg each, was killed when an unstable stack of cases fell on top of him. In 1996, a worker at another Ullrich Aluminium site was fatally injured when a stack of unrestrained cases collapsed on him.
The Court found that although the employer had designed new storage racks after the earlier incident, these were "inadequate" because they didn't provide enough support for the cases.
SafetyNet 251, Thursday December 6, 2012...read more
SafetyNet 250, Thursday, 22nd November, 2012...read more
SafetyNet 249, Thursday 8th November 2012...read more
SafetyNet 248 Thursday, 25th October 2012...read more
SafetyNet 247, Thursday 11th October...read more
SafetyNet Issue 246 - Thursday September 27, 2012...read more
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SafetyNet 243, Thursday 16th August 2012...read more
SafetyNet Issue 242 Thursday 2 August 2012...read more
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