Issue 247 - SafetyNet 247
The VTHC OHS Unit welcomes our subscribers to Edition 247 of the fortnightly OHS bulletin SafetyNet. We have been having issues with our website and also the broadcast of the journal – we apologise for any inconvenience. If you have a comment on any of the items or have any queries, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
A reflection on safety and executive pay
On August 27 of this year a 'catastrophic' equipment failure on the Stena Clyde mobile drilling platform in Bass Strait killed two workers (see SafetyNet 244 ). While investigations are no doubt still proceeding,
Age business columnist Michael West has written an article which looks at bonuses and allowances tied to safety paid to Origin executives and non-executives, which in what he says is a 'bitter coincidence' had been allocated just weeks before the fatalities. For example, while non-executive directors are not paid bonuses, they get additional board fees for sitting on committees. According to Michael West, in the 2012 financial year, directors were paid $100,000 in additional fees for sitting on Origin's Health, Safety and Environment Committee: $40,000 for the chair of the committee and $20,000 each for the three other directors. Is this the same committee HSRs sit on? Or should sit on?
Read more: The Age Tragedy and executive bonuses in uneasy mix
Asbestos Awareness Week and related activities
The last week in November is traditionally Asbestos Awareness Week – and this year, coinciding with what has now become a national event, there will be a number of events around Australia with a visiting international delegation of asbestos activists. So far confirmed are Larry Stoffman who is an independent Labour Consultant in occupational and environmental health in Vancouver, Canada and a long time activist in the occupational cancer area, and also an Indian representative of the BWI, Anup Srivastava. Please keep your eyes on coming editions of SafetyNet for more details.
Asbestos takes toll years later
Researchers have discovered that women who spent their teenage years in the mining town of Wittenoom between about 1943 and 1966 have had a 20-47% greater risk of dying from any cause than the general population of Western Australia, while males have had a 50-83% increased risk. 'Wittenoom kids' who spent their childhoods exposed to asbestos in the north-west of Western Australia are now developing a range of cancers or dying at a rate well above the average population, according to a study by researchers from the University of Western Australia for the UWA-affiliated Western Australian Institute for Medical Research (WAIMR).
Mining blue asbestos at Wittenoom stopped in 1966 and the town was later closed after airborne fibres in dust from mining operations were found to cause malignant mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis and other serious diseases. While data has been collected previously looking at asbestos-related diseases caused by occupational asbestos exposure among men (either working in asbestos mining towns or using asbestos products), this study is the first to look at the long-term health of exposed children. The study, published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, shows that girls up to the age of 15 who lived in Wittenoom have been more likely to develop mesothelioma, ovarian and brain cancers and have had increased death rates.
Boys who spent their childhood and early teenage years in Wittenoom during the years that asbestos was mined (1943-1966) now have elevated rates of mesothelioma, leukaemia, prostate, brain and colorectal cancer, diseases of the circulatory and nervous system, and excessive death rates. 'The original township was only 1.6km from the mine,' said leading researcher on the paper, WAIMR's Associate Professor Alison Reid, 'Later in 1947, when the population grew, the township was moved 12km away from the mine site, but tailings from the mine were used throughout the town.' The tailings were used throughout the town (widespread paving, including school playgrounds, and in people's backyards). 'These "Wittenoom kids" are now reaching the age where chronic adult diseases are becoming more prevalent and many have died,' she said.
Read more: Science Alert Asbestos takes its toll years later 5 September 2012 Also,an article by Professor Reid, in online magazine 'The Conversation' : Asbestos still haunts those exposed as kids in mining towns
Devil's Dust - The James Hardie Story
How do you make a true life story about litigation against a big cement manufacturer appealing to general audiences? You make sure it's got a great cast. This is exactly what the makers of Devil's Dust, the story of the James Hardie asbestos scandal and court case have done, and the results look superb. Anthony Hayes (The Square) leads the cast as Bernie Banton, the campaigner who became the public face of the political and legal campaign to achieve compensation for the sufferers of asbestos-related conditions, which they contracted after working for the company James Hardie. No firm screening date has been announced by the ABC, but a fantastic trailer can be viewed here.
International Day for Victims of Asbestos October 12 has been declared the International Day for Victims of Asbestos - in France at least, where a conference is being organised by the French national association of asbestos victims (ANDEVA), on this topic will be held in Paris, palace of Luxembourg tomorrow. This conference will gather around 250 participants - scientists, executives, doctors, technicians, NGO activists, asbestos victims and their family - coming from more than twenty countries.
Read more: Conference website
US Asbestos Disease Awareness Organisation newsletter
The October edition of the ADAO newsletter is one that Australian readers will find interesting. As well as information on the group's activities, there is an item, and video of their 2012 conference's Key Note Speaker – Australian ABC journalist Matt Peacock, who is also Adjunct Professor of Journalism at Sydney's University of Technology (UTS). Matt has long had an interest in asbestos, and authored several books, including Killer Company, a history of Australia's largest asbestos manufacturer James Hardie. The book was dramatized in the TV series Devil's Dust. Matt Peacock's address is, according to his own introduction, on what he loosely refers to as 'the global asbestos conspiracy'. He speaks of the international asbestos lobby, and why asbestos is still not banned in the US. Since the ADAO conference, there is increasing hope that Canada's new government will mean a change in how that country deals with asbestos.
Read more: ADOA October Newsletter Matt Peacock's Key Note Address "India's Toxic Trade" on YouTube
NOTE: we continue to have technical problems with the Ask Renata function on the website. If you have sent in a query and not received a reply, we apologise – but please send it in again, email Renata directly at email@example.com
This week's question:
We've noticed the smell of vermin in the corridors of our workplace. There are also many pigeons up near the air conditioner towers which may be attracting the vermin. Several workers have been feeling ill and have developed respiratory problems, and we are concerned that they may be caused by these problems. Management tells us it's not a serious issue. What advice can you give us?
Vermin (for example rats and mice) can pose a risk to the health of employees, and it's not just an issue of an bad smell making the workplace unpleasant to work in. Vermin can carry infectious diseases, for example leptospirosis (read more: NSW Health department information sheet). As well as attracting other vermin, pigeons too carry an infectious disease (psittacosis). Under Section 21 of the (Vic) OHS Act the employer has a duty to provide and maintain a safe and healthy working environment, including monitoring the environment, monitoring the health of workers and more. Employers must identify hazards and then take action to eliminate the hazards or risks so far as reasonably practicable – or minimise them if they cannot be eliminated. Organising pest control, which is covered under the Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations 2009, would be an obvious first step! (more information on these regulations).
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!
FW Ombudsman: employers have no right to attend employee medical visits
Last week the ACTU, the VTHC and affiliates raised the growing problem of some employers insisting that they attend medical appointments with their employees. The Fair Work Ombudsman has responded by saying that employers have no reason to do so, unless invited by the employee. The Ombudsman says it 'does not condone or support this behaviour'.
'While an employer may request evidence that would substantiate the reason for an employee's entitlement to personal/carer leave, a medical certificate or statutory declaration is generally considered an acceptable form of evidence. The Fair Work Ombudsman does not consider that it is reasonable for an employer to seek to attend a medical appointment with the employee for this purpose and views this as a breach of the employee's privacy.' Further, in terms of 'evidence' the Ombudsman's site states: 'The employee only needs to provide evidence that they were not fit to work because they were sick or injured. The cause and nature of their absence is not necessary, except in unusual or exceptional circumstances.'
FWA Ombudsman Statement on Employee Medical Conferences.
FWA upholds termination for bullying
Fair Work Australia this week upheld the termination of Virgin Australia's safety specialist operations manager for workplace bullying. Commissioner Michael Gay found "on the balance of probability" the manager had bullied staff and had engaged in "loud, overly-demonstrative, rude and frequently domineering behaviour". He said there was "strong evidence of bad behaviour", including "huffing and puffing in frustration; groaning; banging her computer mouse on the desk; [and] using headphones rather than develop interpersonal relationships". The manager's past experience had been as a commercial pilot and as an air transport inspector with CASA.
Source: Workforce Daily
Brunswick food company abused workers
Almost half the mainly migrant staff at Glendal Foods, an Brunswick gourmet food manufacturer, have spoken in the press about alleged extreme bullying in their workplace. Eighteen staff out of 38 accused their employer of allowing bullying to go unchecked, despite numerous complaints and the involvement of the National Union of Workers.
The staff claim the bullying is so intense that one worker harmed herself two weeks ago. Doctors at the Western Hospital, where she was taken, contacted WorkSafe Victoria, which is now investigating. The workers said the bullying had been taking place for at least six years. Management had allowed a supervisor to regularly scream at them and make sexual and personal comments; tell workers they needed to give 48 hours' notice before taking sick leave; demand staff work overtime on any day, without any notice; ban any contact with the company's owner; keep the wages of some employees for up to eight weeks.
Only a few of the workers had had been members of the NUW until August, when a complaint was made to the union by one worker, who also contacted the federal government's Fair Work Ombudsman, which in turn referred her to WorkSafe. Organiser Monique Segan, who has met regularly with staff since then, said the bullying was among the most extreme the union had seen, and that raising it with company had just made the problems worse. The Fair Work Ombudsman said it had referred an investigation into Brunswick food manufacturer Glendal Foods to its serious non-compliance team for immediate attention. (see FWO Media Release)
Ironically, on its website the company states: 'We service our customers through flexibilty, reliability and quality at all times, by employing highly skilled and dedicated people to create (our) products.' Amongst its stated Values are: 'We are respectful and polite to each other, our clients and others with whom we interact' and 'We aim to provide a safe and happy work environment, continuously reviewing and improving our standards and supporting the growth of our team as a whole.'
Sources: The Age: Staff at food plant allege years of extreme bullying Sydney Morning Herald: Migrant work abuse 'rampant' More information on Bullying
Report: Casual workers experience higher financial stress, worry about future
New Australian research released on October 1 reveals that people in insecure work experience higher levels of financial stress, struggle to save, and are more likely to rent than be able to buy a house. The findings, contained in a national survey conducted for ME Bank's annual Household Financial Comfort Report, confirm the toll that casual work is having on people's lives, said ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver. Mr Oliver said the financial comfort rating of 5.07 (out of 10) for casual workers was below that of both full-time (5.65) and part-time (5.37) permanent workers, demonstrating that job insecurity was a factor in causing financial stress. 'About one in five Australian workers are employed casually, and are not only missing out on basic workplace rights but are suffering financially,' Mr Oliver said. 'At work, casuals do not have access to paid leave, have no job security, and can experience wide fluctuations in their rostering and income. This is bleeding into their lives outside of work. Insecure work is a house of cards that is stressing communities and increasing economic fragility.'
A recent U.S study (see below) has provided more evidence on the health effects of insecure work.
Read more: ACTU Media Release Casual workers experience higher financial stress, save less, worry about their future: report The report can be downloaded from the ME Bank website
Insecure work phenomenon rising across globe
The problem of the ever-increasing phenomenon of insecure work around the world has been highlighted in a new report which was released in time for World Day for Decent Work. Unions say there is disturbing evidence that employers around the world are joining forces to erode workers' rights and conditions through labour hire.
The report, The Triangular Trap, completed by IndustriALL, a new international organisation made up by unions representing 50 million workers in 140 countries across the mining, energy and manufacturing sectors, showed that between 1996 and 2009, the number of workers in labour hire and contract work had doubled. Labour hire agencies' revenue has increased from $105 billion to $257 billion in the same period. The Productivity Commission has estimated that a quarter of a million Australian workers are employed through labour hire.
ACTU Reps' Survey Reminder
Please remember the ACTU is conducting an online survey of workers' health and safety representatives (HSRs) including elected HSRs, deputies, and workers' representatives on health and safety committees. The survey will be open until Friday, 26 October 2012 and is seeking information on things like election of reps, consultation, reps' activities, training, and more. It should only take about ten minutes to complete. The ACTU intends to release a report based on the results of the survey. No individual results will be reported.
Tools for HSRs – SafetyAtWork Blog reviews workplace safety apps
Kevin Jones, of the SafetyAtWork blog, has had a look at some of the fairly new additions to smart technologies: Workplace safety apps. He concludes that the quality and application of these apps varies. This is an interesting article for reps who are interested in increasing their use of smart phones and iPads.
Read More: Workplace safety apps reviewed
International Union News
US: Warehouse workers walk 50 miles
At the end of last month, warehouse workers from California's Inland Empire concluded a six-day, 50-mile march from Ontario, CA to Los Angeles with a rally at the LA City Hall. The workers are employed by NFI and Warestaff, which are contractors for Walmart. According to a story in The Huffington Post', Raymond Castillo, a 23-year-old warehouse worker who marched with the group, said, 'The march, walking in the heat, was very easy compared to working in the warehouse.'
Castillo is one of about 30 warehouse workers who walked out of the large warehouse where they were employed, even though their jobs are not protected by a union. He and about 50 other warehouse workers began a six-day pilgrimage to draw attention to working conditions that they said they can no longer tolerate. The workers delivered a letter, with more than 37,000 signatures, to the Walmart office in downtown LA. The letter says that workers are forced to work in 120-degree (F) heat without a fan, that the heat and pollutants make the workers vomit and get bloody noses, and that workers are made to work without clean water or regular breaks and with faulty, dangerous equipment.
Source: The Pump Handle OHS News Roundup
India: Six workers killed in ship breaking yard
Six shipbreaking workers were killed and one worker was seriously injured on 6 October in a fatal incident at the Alang Ship Breaking Yard in the state of Gujarat in India. According to the records of the IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, Alang Sosiya Ship Recycling and General Workers' Association (ASSRGWA), since January 2009 more than 54 workers have died at work in the Alang shipbreaking yards. Most of the workers are migrants from poor areas of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and Gujarat and work for meagre wages in one of the most hazardous and toxic working conditions on earth. In most of the cases, fatal accidents occurred either by explosion or fire.
The tragedy occurred just a day before a rally against precarious work that ASSRGWA had scheduled on 7 October. As the union had to organise both the the funeral and meeting with the employer and the state authorities, the rally was postponed. The ASSRGWA is demanding a comprehensive inquiry into this industrial accident including constituting a Commission of Judicial Enquiry in to the cause and consequences of the industrial accident.
Read more: Again, workers are killed at shipbreaking yard in India
Global: UNI demands call centre action
The massive global call centre industry would benefit from a shake-up, with a global union is demanding these urgent reforms. A new UNI report, Making the right call - redesigning call centres from the bottom up [pdf], points to negative psychological and physical impacts on the world's call centre workers of poor management practices. The report adds the call centre companies would be more profitable if they took more account and care of workers. Counterproductive practices identified include intensive monitoring of calls and linking punishment or dismissal for failure to meet performance targets. UNI says as a result of these management techniques, workers suffer from repetitive strain injuries, musculoskeletal disorders, stress, anxiety and burnout. 'Call centre workers are part of the new communications workforce that represents millions of jobs in every region of the globe,' said Marcus Courtney, who is the head of ICTS, the UNI section that coordinates its call centre activities. 'This reports illustrates why we need to change the rules of the game by giving call centre workers a voice on the job so they can not only improve their physical and mental health, but also deliver improved customer service that is good for a company's bottom line.' The report was released on October 1 to mark the start of UNI's Centre Action Month (CCAM).
UNI News release and Call Centre Action blog. Source: Risks 575
China: New reports reveal harsh working conditions for Chinese workers
While much of the mainstream media portrays China's rapid industrialisation as an investment bonanza, the reality for workers is one of harsh working conditions with low pay. A new report, Betting against American Workers, by a US institute for human rights followed an investigation into an electronics factory. Also, a Chinese journalist enlisted as a trainee at the huge Foxconn factory to produce the new iPhones and then wrote about his experiences. The conditions suffered by Foxconn workers are terrible. These reports show once again the consequences of the unrelenting global 'Race to the Bottom' and the urgent need for workers to be able to organise independent trade unions as the only way to improve their conditions and pay.
Construction: work-related deaths and injuries continue to rise
It is well known that unemployment is bad for your health, but now there is evidence that even the threat of unemployment has negative health consequences. A recent study, published in the September Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, found that perceived job insecurity is also linked to poor health outcomes, even among those who had jobs during the recession. Researchers found that perceived job insecurity was linked with 'significantly higher odds' of fair or poor self-reported health as well as recent symptoms suggesting depression and anxiety attacks. The findings persisted even after researchers adjusted for sociodemographic characteristics, previous health problems, whether a person was a temporary worker and recent job loss.
According to Sarah Burgard, a professor at the University of Michigan and co-author of the study along with Lucie Kalousova and Kristin Seefeldt, workers who persistently and chronically experience job insecurity are sometimes, in fact, in worse health than the unemployed – 'even though it's really terrible to lose a job, it ends the serious gnawing and uncertainty about it.'
Read the article: The Pump Handle Science blog
Study: Burgard, S; Kalousova, L; Seefeldt, K Perceived Job Insecurity and Health: The Michigan Recession and Recovery Study Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine: September 2012 - Volume 54 - Issue 9 - p 1101–1106 doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3182677dad
Family GPs miss most work-related wheezes
Family doctors in the UK are missing the link between work and asthma in three quarters of their patients suffering from the serious breathing disorder caused by their job, a new study has found. The research published in the journal Occupational Medicine found occupation was only recorded in 14 per cent of the cases and in nearly all cases (98 per cent) GPs failed to record if they had asked simple screening questions about whether a patient's asthma symptoms improved at weekends and on holiday - an indicator the problem is work-related. Researchers at the University of Birmingham's Institute of Occupational and Environmental Medicine uncovered the problem of poor recognition by GPs in an audit of the electronic patient records of working age asthmatics. Dr Gareth Walters, the lead author, said: 'Most workers with new asthma symptoms present to their GPs first, so it is important for health care professionals working in primary care to recognise when these symptoms might be caused by or related to work. Currently occupational asthma is very costly to the NHS and to society - and an early diagnosis can prevent on-going debilitating symptoms, time off work and financial loss for the worker.'
GI Walters, EE McGrath and JG Ayres. Audit of the recording of occupational asthma in primary care, [pdf of full article or abstract ] Occupational Medicine, volume 62, issue 7, pages 570-573, 2012; SOM News release: Does your job make you wheeze? and Royal College of Physicians' guidance for GPs, Diagnosis, management and prevention of occupational asthma [pdf]
Source: Risks 575
Possible link between chemical and cardiovascular disease
In a recent study of 1,216 individuals, published online in the journal
Archives of Internal Medicine, exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), an artificial chemical used in the manufacture of some common household products, may be associated with cardiovascular disease and peripheral arterial disease. Surveys have suggested that PFOA (commonly used in the manufacture of products such as lubricants, polishes, paper and textile coatings, and food packaging) can be detected in the blood of more than 98 percent of the U.S population. Previous research suggests that an association between PFOA exposure and cardiovascular disease (CVD) is plausible, according to the study background. 'Cardiovascular disease is a major public health problem. Identifying novel risk factors for CVD, including widely prevalent environmental exposures, is therefore important,' according to Anoop Shankar, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues from the West Virginia University School of Public Health. The results of the study suggest that increasing serum PFOA levels were positively associated with the presence of CVD and PAD, and the association appeared to be independent of confounders such as age, sex, race/ethnicity, smoking status, body mass index, diabetes mellitus, hypertension and serum cholesterol level. 'Our results contribute to the emerging data on health effects of PFCs [perfluoroalkyl chemicals], suggesting for the first time that PFOA exposure is potentially related to CVD and PAD. However, owing to the cross-sectional nature of the present study, we cannot conclude that the association is causal,' the authors comment.
Read more: Science Daily: Possible Association Between Cardiovascular Disease, Chemical Exposure, Study Suggests
WorkSafe launches Health and Safety Reps site
Following a review of what support WorkSafe provides to HSRs and a general revamp of its website, the Victorian regulator has launched a new HSR portal. The site seeks to make it easier and less complex for HSRs to find the relevant WorkSafe publications, and find straightforward information – for example a number of FAQs have already been put up on the site. WorkSafe invites HSRs to 'register' - it is voluntary to register, and even when registering, the minimum information required is name, email address and some other basic info. Providing details such as phone number and home address is not necessary.
Remember too WorkSafe's News website which is, according to them, 'a new place to read, search and share all the latest news'. Readers can also subscribe to receive automatic updates direct to their inbox, based on topics and locations of particular interest.
WorkSafe Victoria appoints new Chief Executive
WorkSafe chairperson, David Krasnostein has announced that senior business executive Denise Cosgrove has been appointed chief executive of WorkSafe Victoria. 'Ms Cosgrove has significant experience in accident compensation scheme management, including claims management, people leadership and strategy development,' Mr Krasnostein said.
The Assistant Treasurer, Gordon Rich-Phillips MLC, welcomed the announcement which he said followed an extensive international search and recruitment process. 'Ms Cosgrove will bring valuable skills and knowledge to the business, which continues to deliver great outcomes for all Victorians, including the safest workplaces in the state's history and the lowest WorkCover premiums in Australia,' Mr Rich-Phillips said.
Ms Cosgrove is currently the general manager of the claims management area at the Accident Compensation Corporation in New Zealand, which operates the country's personal injury insurance scheme. Her three year appointment will take effect from 12 November.
WorkSafe Media Release
SWA: New report reveals reduction in compensated injury fatalities
The Chair of Safe Work Australia Mr Tom Phillips last week released the Fourteenth Edition of the Comparative Performance Monitoring (CPM) report on Australia's work health and safety and workers' compensation outcomes for 2010–11. The report continues to indicate a decreasing rate of compensated injury fatalities since the development of the National OHS Strategy 2002-2012. 'Although Australia continues to have a reduction in workplace fatalities, there were still 169 compensated fatalities in Australia in 2010-11,' said Mr Phillips. 'Furthermore in 2010-11, 11 out of every 1000 workers were injured seriously enough to require one week or more off work. One fatality is too many. To continue to reduce work-related death, injury and disease Australians must stay committed to improving work health and safety,' he said.
The report finds that since 2002 there has been a 28 percent improvement in the rate of serious injuries. However this is still below the target set in the National OHS Strategy 2002-2012 of a 40 percent reduction in the rate of injuries by 2012.
Read more: SWA Media Release
Comcare Asbestos Forum
Comcare is organising a FREE one-day forum on Monday November 26 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Melbourne. Comcare says the forum will explore asbestos management and the impact it has within Comcare workplaces, showcase case studies and look at the practicalities of implementing the recommendations of the Asbestos Management Review. The forum program will be relevant to support groups, medical professionals, legal representatives and those with an interest in the continued development of workplace health, safety and rehabilitation. Registrations opening soon.
From Safe Work Australia: a number of industry-related fact sheets which provide information on fatality and serious-claim rates.
- Agriculture Forestry and Fishing
- Health and community services
- Retail Trade which reveals that part-time workers in the retail trade industry recorded a frequency rate of injury nearly double that of full-time workers
- Transport and storage
Also from Safe Work Australia: a new 43-page Guide to the Model Work Health and Safety Act [pdf] to help people understand their duties and rights under the model WHS Act. The guide clarifies the different requirements imposed on the four types of upstream duty holders - designers, manufacturers, importers and suppliers. It also includes a list of nine safety issues that PCBUs must consult workers on; a definition of "reasonably practicable"; and information on incident notification, issue resolution, discriminatory conduct, entry permits and HSR powers.
NSW: Host, site manager and labour hire prosecuted for horrific triple amputation
In a case which demonstrates that employers have duties to labour hire workers, two NSW companies, SITA Australia Pty Ltd and Edmen Recruitment Pty Ltd, as well as SITA's site manager have been prosecuted under the NSW OHS Act after a horrific incident involving a labour hire worker. The companies were fined $130,000 and $117,500 respectively, and the site manager was entered into an 18-month good behaviour bond.
In June 2009, the Edmen labour-hire worker had been engaged to conduct welding work at one of SITA's sites, and was directed by SITA to help install new equipment, including a baling machine. Before working on the machine, the worker switched off a number of isolation switches using a 'trial and error' process, as he hadn't been shown how to isolate the machine. While working at the edge of the in-feeding conveyor and on the top of the opening to the hopper, the machine started and the worker slipped and fell into the hopper and chamber. The prepress arm crushed and severed the worker's legs and left hand. He also lost his testicles and suffered extensive de-gloving injuries to the b*ttock, pelvis and p*nis.
The incident was caused by a number of failures on the part of both companies, including lack of training, supervision, assistance and information on lockout procedures; failure to ensure the worker had obtained a permit; failure to undertake a risk assessment (and failure of the labour hire company to ensure one had been undertaken).
Source: OHSAlert. Read more: Inspector McGrath v Edmen Recruitment Pty Ltd  NSWIRComm 108 (3 October 2012)
SA: seed company fined after worker crushed
Tatiara Seeds Pty Ltd was this week fined more than $93,000 over an incident in which a worker was crushed by a robotic pallet stacker and left quadraplegic. The company pleaded guilty to failing to provide and maintain a safe workplace over the accident at Bordertown in February 2010.
The worker, employed to carry out maintenance and general labour work, was trapped and crushed by the robotic palletising system, leaving him confined to a wheelchair for life. The company admitted it was negligent in allowing a panel in the fence surrounding the compound so that employees could walk in and out without activating safety sensors that would prevent workers being struck, trapped or crushed by the moving parts of the machine. The penalty was reduced by 25 percent to $93,750 after the company's guilty plea and good prior safety record were taken into account.
Source: Adelaide Now
Denmark: Database of Products Containing Nanomaterials
Under a draft amendment to the Danish Chemicals Act, the Minister of the Environment would have the authority to write a detailed order establishing the rules for a national database of mixtures and articles containing or releasing nanomaterials. The order would also require producers and importers to report products containing or releasing nanomaterials.
The information in the database is intended to form the basis of an evaluation of whether the content of nanomaterials in products on the Danish market poses a risk for consumers and the environment. The Ministry plans for the first reports to be due in early 2014.
Read more: Nanotech law
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