Issue 250 - SafetyNet 250
This is the 250th edition of the fortnightly OHS bulletin SafetyNet. In sad news, we begin the journal with news of three farming fatalities – all occurred just before the last edition was sent out. Please remember: if you have a comment on any of the items or have any OHS related queries, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
There were three fatalities in Victoria in the space of five days: the first was a farmer who died on Sunday November 3 after his ute rolled down an embankment at Noorat, in Victoria's South West. The second was a 71-year-old farmer who was crushed by a grain auger at a farm at Molka, north of Euroa, on November 7. It appears an electric winch used to support the machine collapsed while he was undertaking maintenance work on it.
In the third fatality a 36-year-old worker was struck and killed by a falling tree branch at a Warragul property on Thursday November 8. The worker had been removing trees from the property in Armours Rd at about 5 pm, when a branch broke off and fell crushed him.
WorkSafe Health and Safety Operations General Manager, Lisa Sturzenegger, said the incidents were a tragedy. 'The impact a fatality has on the family, friends and the communities around them is profound. Our condolences go out to the families and friends,' she said. 'These incidents highlight the dangers of working on farms and how things could go wrong for very experienced people.'
WorkSafe executive director of health and safety, Ian Forsyth, said, 'Organisations rushing to finish jobs before their summer break and peak periods for the farming sector can mean that corners are cut and safety becomes less of a priority. It can be a lethal combination and it only takes a moment's inattention for tragedy to strike. Fourteen deaths so far this year is 14 too many. Everyone should return home safe at the end of the day and when this doesn't happen, it's a tragedy for all involved - families, friends, workmates, employers and the wider community.'
WorkSafe Media Releases: Third worker dies in workplace incident in past week and Deadly time are here
Go Home on Time Day
Yesterday was 'Go Home On Time Day' – did you go home on time?? If you are like many Australian workers, then you probably didn't. 'Go Home On Time Day' is an initiative of The Australia Institute that is now in its fourth year, and the ACTU and affiliates have been supporters of the event since its inception.
According to research undertaken by the Australia Institute, Australians work more than 2 billion hours of unpaid overtime every year, 'gifting' approximately $72 billion to employers. This means that Australians are now working three times more hours of unpaid overtime than they volunteer to community organisations. More than 2.2 million workers go to work having little idea of what time they might be going home that night. ACTU President Ged Kearney said in her address to the National Press Club yesterday, 'These findings are mirrored by the results of last year's Working Australia Census by the ACTU, which had 42,000 participants. Three out of five respondents told us that they regularly worked more hours than set out in their employment agreement, and close to half of them received no extra compensation for that overtime. One in 10 were supposed to receive time off in lieu but were unable to take it because of workload pressures.'
VTHC Secretary Brian Boyd urged Victorian workers to support 'Go Home On Time Day' adding that more importantly, workers should not make it a one day effort: it's crucial that workers ensure the issues of unpaid overtime and irregular working hours are raised with employers through their unions.
A new Australia Institute report, An Unhealthy Obsession, released yesterday, revealed that a quarter of respondents described their hours of work as either somewhat uncertain or unpredictable. Workers without permanent work reported much higher levels of uncertainty than permanent employees, both day-to-day and weekly. Further, there was a close correlation between the unpredictability of hours and an insecure form of employment like casual, contract or labour hire jobs.
VTHC Media Release ACTU Media Release Ged Kearney's Address to the National Press Club Australia Institute Research Paper: An unhealthy obsession? The impact of work hours and workplace culture on Australia's health [ pdf ]
Hardie's Directors win disappoints asbestos campaigners
Last week a number of the former directors of James Hardie had a win in the New South Wales Court of Appeal, resulting in a reduction of the penalties imposed on them in May and also a substantial reduction their corporate disqualification from five years to two. The directors had been struck out for approving a false statement to the Stock Exchange, claiming the foundation set up to compensate victims was fully funded when in fact it was underfunded by more than $1 billion. The win was a bitter disappointment for asbestos campaigners like Karen Banton, wife of the late Bernie Banton, who died in 2007 of mesothelioma, and Lou Williams, whose story was covered by the Herald Sun a couple of weeks ago. It's also ironic that the win came on the same day as the ABC aired the final episode of 'Devil's Dust' based on the Matt Peacock book on James Hardie, 'Killer Company'.
Lou Williams has launched a community petition urging the Prime Minister to reinstate the original disqualification of five years or more for James Hardie company directors to be banned from being company directors on current boards. On the site, Lou writes: People who get diagnosed with an Asbestos Related Disease (ARD) do not get a slap on the wrist, their family and friends can never walk away from the horror that is asbestos. Being diagnosed with an ARD is forever life changing, the pain, the anguish, is forever heightened by the knowledge it didn't have to be. One can only ask, "Where is the justice in the James Hardie Industries (JHI) non-executive directors only receiving a 'slap on the wrist', token sentence of being banned from being a company director for two years?
Read more: ABC 7.30 ASIC Media Release
ETU welcomes NSW Audit
Following a meeting with the NSW Energy Minister and senior management from the state's electricity companies, NSW ETU Secretary Steve Butler announced that an industry wide asbestos audit will be established across the NSW power industry. The audit comes in the wake of the ETU raising deep concerns about the asbestos exposure risk posed to workers in NSW, especially by meter boards and substations. The Audit, to be headed by WorkCover NSW, was one of the requests made by the ETU at a high level meeting on November 8.
'Asbestos exposure for workers in our industry is a grave and pressing problem,' said Mr Butler. '49 former Ausgrid employees have been diagnosed with asbestosis or mesothelioma since 1990. Meaning an average of two people every year, from just one company, will suffer a debilitating disease, if not death. The industry asbestos audit announced today will cover the three electricity distribution companies Endeavour Energy, Ausgrid and Essential Energy, as well as TransGrid and the state's power generators Delta Electricity, Macquarie Generation and Eraring Energy.
'We welcome today's announcement but also acknowledge that the only way to guarantee safety is to totally remove this dangerous material,' Mr Butler said.
Read more: ETU NSW website
French Socialist leader charged over asbestos deaths
Martine Aubry, the former leader of France's governing Socialist Party, has been charged with manslaughter in a probe into whether state negligence contributed to thousands of deaths caused by asbestos exposure. The charges relate to her time as a senior official in the ministry of social affairs, prior to becoming a major figure in French politics.
As the ministry's director of industrial relations from 1984-87, Aubry is accused of having helped to delay the implementation in France of a 1983 European Union directive to strengthen the protection of workers dealing with asbestos. It is alleged she bowed to pressure from industrialists lobbying against a complete ban on the use of the material and that she ignored warnings from French health authorities of a mushrooming epidemic of cancers and terminal lung diseases. Aubry has strenuously denied all charges.
US EPA warns of asbestos in Hurricane Sandy cleanup
The US Asbestos Diseases Awareness Organisation (ADAO) writes in its November newsletter: 'As Americans work together to coordinate emergency response efforts, disaster relief, and clean-up following Hurricane Sandy, ADAO urges you to adhere to federal guidelines in order to protect public health. After the 2011 tornado in Joplin, Missouri, residents and respondents removed a variety of hazardous materials, including 2,600 tons of asbestos. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s online article "Natural Disasters and Weather Emergencies – Dealing with Debris and Damaged Buildings" contains excellent information about handling debris after a disaster.'
ADAO November Newsletter
Reminder: Asbestos Awareness Week and related activities
Coming up in November is Asbestos Awareness Week November 26 - 30. Please take note of annual services in Melbourne and Gippsland, organised by Asbestoswise and GARDS respectively, at 11am Friday 30 November. The Melbourne event is taking place at BMW Edge. More information on these are other events is on the website
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, directly to Renata at email@example.comThis week's question:
I have a question regarding resigning from the position of HSR? Am I able to resign at any time or do I need to serve a specified time as HSR? Is it done through writing? Any information would be fantastic.
An elected representative is able to resign at any time. Remember as an HSR you have never had any legal duties other than those of any other employee, and the position was a voluntary one. The Act clearly sets out when an HSR ceases to be an HSR under Section 55.
However, you must give written notice - either to the members of your DWG or to your employer (this is under Section 55[c]) of the Act. I recommend you do BOTH - this is because while the employer needs to know that you are resigning, it's more important for the members of the DWG you have been representing. It's up to them to then organise to elect someone else: it should not be the employer doing this.
If I can help you with any more information I can provide this – for example, I have some proformas to assist with running an election. If there is only one person who nominates for the position, then there is no need to have an election.
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!
ACTU Work Health Rights Summit
The ACTU held a Work Health Rights summit in Melbourne to examine the growing trend of employers interfering in their workers' medical treatment. ACTU Assistant Secretary Michael Borowick said the summit, with unions and the Australian Medical Association participation, discussed cases where employers had compromised workers' rights to privacy and proper medical treatment.
"(Doctors') invasions of privacy are becoming more and more common, and employees are often too intimidated to resist them," said Mr Borowick. 'There is a growing trend of employers insisting injured workers visit company-approved doctors rather than a worker's own doctor. This can lead to substandard care that is focussed on employers' needs, rather than the health of the patient.'
Participants considered changes needed to protect workers, including amendments to the Privacy Act to protect workers' privacy.
ACTU Media Release
New Return to Work initiative
A new resource has been developed and designed to help anyone involved in the process of returning to work after absence due to depression, an anxiety disorder or a related mental health problem. The site focuses on actions that employers, Return-to-work coordinators, supervisors, employees, colleagues (including HSRs) and family and friends can take to ensure that return to work is successful and that the risk of relapse is lower. The website has been funded by beyondblue under the Victorian Centre of Excellence in Depression and Anxiety scheme.
Check out the Return To Work website
Stena Clyde rig fatalities: investigationThe National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) is continuing its independent investigation into the major incident which resulted in two fatalities on the Stena Clyde mobile offshore drilling unit (MODU) facility in the Bass Strait on 27 August 2012. While the investigation is yet to be completed, NOPSEMA has sought to draw the attention of those working in the Australian offshore oil and gas industry a number of 'considerations' in support of providing a safe place of work: that
- An appropriate risk assessment system should be implemented for all stages of work. Workers involved should have an opportunity to contribute to this assessment, including consideration of factors such as: stored energy; equipment design limits; and, impact of external conditions.
- Communication is a key part of any work offshore. Supervisors should verify that all workers involved in any task understand their role and any associated risks.
- All equipment utilised in planned work should be fit for purpose and in good working order. If the equipment is not working correctly, a reassessment of the risks associated with the work or task should be conducted.
In relation to number 2, above, as part of the regulator's safety case guidance notes project, aimed at assisting operators with the planning and development of facility safety cases, NOPESMA has released a new draft guidance note,
Involving the workforce, for public comment. The guidance note addresses effective involvement of the workforce in the development of new and revised safety cases.
Comment should be sent to: email@example.com Comments can be provided electronically, via a marked up copy of the draft document, or preferably via the comment template available at nopsema.gov.au.
NOPSEMA also notes that it is continuing to look into a number of other contributing factors: Command and control; Equipment rigging arrangements (which on the day were different to the usual); Management of change (whether the changes were properly considered prior to them having been made); Risk assessment; and Equipment failure.
NOPSEMA Newsletter: The Regulator, Issue 5 [ pdf ]
Calls for better regulation of hazardous offshore industry
A report released last week at the ACTU/Offshore Unions Safety Conference in Perth has highlighted major safety problems in the offshore oil and gas industry, prompting calls for the Federal Government bring Australian standards in line with international competitors.
The report, commissioned by the ACTU, MUA and AWU, was written by the former head of the National Occupational Heath and Safety Commission, Tom Fisher. Michael Borowick said the Australian Government needs to move quickly to fix inconsistencies that leave offshore workers at risk.
"The offshore oil and gas sector is a hazardous industry and this is exactly why we need to be vigilant to improve safety. Only two months ago, two workers were tragically killed using heavy machinery on the Stena Clyde drilling rig off the Victorian coast," Mr Borowick said.
ACTU Media Release Australia's offshore oil and gas safety standards lag behind our competitors
The UK's regulator, the HSE has said in a report that the nation's offshore industry must improve its performance on worker involvement. The report, from the KP4 inspection programme on the management of ageing offshore installations warns 'more innovative work is required across the industry to involve the workforce in this issue which is vital to everyone's long-term future.' It warns the industry has more to do to tackle 'ageing and life-extension' (ALE) issues relating to installations working beyond their original design life, generally put at 25 years. The report notes 'the industry has still much to do to ensure that installation long-term plans anticipate and manage the effects of equipment and infrastructure degradation.' It adds: 'Workforce involvement is of key importance to health and safety matters, and it is encouraging that, as a result of KP4, duty holders have held specific ALE events to engage with the offshore workforce. However, more is required, possibly using innovative approaches to involve the workforce in the long-term management of ageing offshore assets as the UK's offshore industry grows in maturity...'
Source: Risks 582. Read more: KP4 interim report [ pdf ] ACTU Media Release Australia's offshore oil and gas safety standards lag behind our competitors, HSE, November 2012.
Assaults of nurses at Children's Hospital
The ANF (Vic Branch) last week advised the Royal Children's Hospital management that under the Fair Work Act mental health nurses would not be able to work at night in the child and adolescent mental health inpatient ward if any of four new beds planned for the 12-bed Banksia Ward were opened without an additional nurse because of an unacceptable and imminent risk to their health and safety. Management had refused to increase the number of mental health nurses rostered on all shifts to ensure the care and safety the 16 mental health patients and the safety of staff. While the number of nurses on the morning and afternoon shift would be adjusted from four to five, the number of nurses on night shift would remain at three.
ANF (Vic Branch) Acting Secretary Paul Gilbert said: 'We welcome the expansion of this much needed mental health service for children and teenagers, but extra patients require extra nurses, particularly in such a complex health environment. Staff assaults have increased in this unit since it relocated from Footscray to the new Royal Children's Hospital earlier this year. Asking three nurses to care for 16 acutely unwell mental health patients will needlessly increase the risk to nurses and patients and is contrary to the safe, therapeutic environment needed to help these children and teenagers recover from their illnesses,' Mr Gilbert said.
Read more: ANF Media Release and Update, The Age Nurses threaten walkout over assaults
Young people at risk from late night shifts
Parents have raised concerns about the safety of their children who are being pressured to work late night shifts – in this case at McDonald's. The
Herald Sun last week reported that staff aged under 18 were regularly working shifts between 10pm and 5am in stores without security guards or a male manager. This is despite a number of armed robberies having occurred in some of the company's late night venues over the past few months. While the story was specifically on McDonald's, it is not uncommon for young people to be put at risk while working in venues such as take away and convenience stores, video shops and so on. Employers have a duty of care under the OHS Act to identify hazards, including the risk of robberies and assault, and implement controls to eliminate or minimise these risks.
Source: The Herald Sun
Summer and skin cancer
This week is National Skin Cancer Action Week – and so it's a good time to start thinking about what the coming summer will mean for thousands of Victorian workers. The ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun will continue to rise over the next few months, placing workers at an increased risk of overexposure and potentially skin cancer.
Exposure to UV is a serious workplace hazard – as well as a hazard to workers when participating in recreational activities outside of work. Occupational Health & Safety legislation mandates that all Victorian employers should take proper steps to reduce the known health risks associated with occupational exposure to solar UV.
To assist workers and employers to fulfil these responsibilities, and educate workers about UV, SunSmart, a program of the Victorian Cancer Council, has developed a Workplace Education Program (WEP) as well as an online course for indoor workers (elearning.cancer.org.au). SunSmart provides resources, training and more. More information on Sunlight and UV Radiation
Tasmania: another quad bike fatality
A woman returning home from work on Saturday November 10 was killed when the quad bike (all terrain vehicle) she was riding overturned. She was not wearing a helmet. Workplace Standards Tasmania general manager Roy Ormerod said investigators from his office would be conducting an investigation into the latest crash. He said quad bike injuries were commonplace in Tasmania and most often arose from a lack of proper training, failure to wear helmets or rollover protection, and carrying loads the machines were not designed for. Meanwhile, the discussion around duties of employers, 'PCBUs' including farmers, and what the new WHS laws may mean in relation to quad bikes, continues. (see SafetyAtWork blog
PCBUs, farms, quad bikes and safety – a speculation)
Source: The Mercury
NSW: People Matter Survey
NSW has for the first time produced a report based on a 'People Matter' employee survey of that state's public service. The Victorian government State Services Authority has undertaken People Matter surveys for the past few years. The State of the NSW Public Sector Report is based in part on a survey of 60,000 NSW Government employees: 16 per cent of the State's public sector workforce.
The survey found that 29 per cent of employees had personally experienced workplace bullying in the last 12 months, and nearly half (48 per cent) had witnessed bullying at work. Approximately 10 per cent of those who responded were experiencing workplace bullying at the time of the survey.
The bullying typically involved a combination of behaviours, including intimidation (reported by 17% of respondents), exclusion or isolation in the workplace (13%), verbal abuse (12%), psychological harassment (11%) and deliberate withholding of important information (9%).
The report outlines eight measures that state's Ambulance Service introduced to help managers deal with workplace bullying and reduce its psychological injury claims costs by 72 per cent.
However, the survey also found that 74 percent of employees were satisfied with their job and 86 percent are proud to work for the NSW public sector, although only 51 percent felt their job was secure.
Victorian State Services People Matter survey webpage NSW State of the Public Sector Report
International Union News
USA: Hurricane Sandy cleanup
The cleanup and recovery from Hurricane Sandy's devastation is continuing, and is a daunting task presenting several hazards such as musculoskeletal injuries from lifting heavy water-soaked items, contaminated standing water, mould and mildew, electrical wires, demolition hazards and stress. OSHA developed a Hurricane Sandy Cleanup and Recovery page with detailed fact sheets and quick cards on these and other hazards, with most offered in both English and Spanish.
Media reports from the US indicate that labor (union) and business groups have different opinions about the appropriate role of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in hazardous environments where workers are engaged in cleanup. Business representatives have suggested that OSHA emphasize assistance over enforcement, while Peg Seminario the AFL-CIO health and safety director, said OSHA had to be 'very clear about what is needed to protect workers, that the expectations are there, and that employers will be taking those steps that are needed. If they don't, there will be consequences.'
Source: The Pump Handle Blog. Read more: Bloomberg BNA AFL-CIO Members hard at work during Hurricane Sandy
Low-level pesticide exposure: Subtle but serious
A new study has contributed to the growing body of literature reporting on the potential health effects of low-level exposure to widely used pesticides. In this Californian study, a pesticide (triflumizole, or TFZ) used on leafy greens, apples, cherries, strawberries, cucumbers, grapes, watermelons, and other food crops has been identified as an obesogen in mice. An obesogen is a chemical that promotes obesity by prompting the growth of more and larger fat cells, often doing so through prenatal exposure and setting the stage for metabolic disease later in life.
Since these effects were identified in the past ten years or so, pesticides and other synthetic chemicals have come under increasing scrutiny for the role they may play in promoting childhood and adult obesity and related health effects. According to Bruce Blumberg, University of California Irvine professor of developmental and cell biology who led this new study of the fungicide called triflumizole (TFZ), 'An alarming recent trend is the increasing rate of obesity in very young children, even infants. Since it is unlikely that infants are consuming more calories and exercising less than in the past, it is reasonable to hypothesize that the prenatal and/or early postnatal environment has recently changed.'
Blumberg and his colleagues decided to study TFZ, because although it is widely used and not thought to be carcinogenic or particularly toxic, little is known about its developmental effects. Previous in vitro testing indicated that TMZ could activate the genetic receptor that regulates fat cell development, so the researchers wanted to learn if it would also produce these effects in vivo.
Read more: The Pump Handle Health and Safety Blog Subtle but potentially serious health effects of low level pesticide exposure
Xia Li, Hang T. Pham, Amanda S. Janesick, and Bruce Blumberg. Triflumizole is an Obesogen in Mice that Acts through Peroxisome Proliferator Activated Receptor Gamma (PPAR?) [ pdf ] Environmental Health Perspectives (published online October 22, 2012)
Exposure to cleaning products and asthma in hospital workers
While cleaning products may cause work-related asthma, information regarding the specific exposures involved is scarce. French researchers conducted an analysis of 179 (136 women) hospital workers (against a reference group of 545 people) to determine the associations between asthma and occupational exposure to cleaning agents. The analysis found that 55% of male and 81% of female hospital workers were exposed to cleaning/disinfecting tasks weekly. They found no association between cleaning/disinfecting tasks and current asthma in men or in women whatever the assessment method used. In women, however, exposure to decalcifiers was associated with current asthma. Further, additional associations were observed for exposure to ammonia and to sprays with moderate/high intensity.
The researchers concluded that female hospital workers are often exposed to numerous cleaning products, some of which were markedly associated with current asthma. They noted, however, that low numbers prevented a meaningful analysis in men. They recommended that objective and more accurate estimates of occupational exposure to cleaning products are needed to better understand the adverse effects of cleaning products.
Dumas, O, et al, Occupational exposure to cleaning products and asthma in hospital workers [ abstract ], Occup Environ Med 2012;69:883-889 doi:10.1136/oemed-2012-100826
Bad jobs make you fat
According to a new study,
'Obesity/overweight and the role of working conditions', it's not our bad habits but our bad jobs that make us fat. The study concluded that hotel housekeepers, 'janitors' (cleaners) and other blue collar workers who rarely sit during the day have neither the time nor the energy to benefit from traditional healthy lifestyle recommendations. The study was undertaken jointly by the University of Massachusetts Lowell, safety organisation MassCOSH and the Boston Workers Alliance, an African-American community group. It found having a physically demanding job often resulted in illnesses, injuries or both, influencing workers' ability to participate in physical activity outside of the job. Detailed interviews with 87 low waged workers revealed high work demands and too little time to eat at work led some to feel stressed and consume more poor quality, high calorie foods. Associate professor Nicole Champagne of the UMass Lowell Department of Community Health and Sustainability, co-author of the study, commented: 'This report shows what an important impact the conditions of a person's workplace can have on their health. When we are only looking at individual behaviours, such as diet and exercise habits, as a way to improve health, we are missing a big piece of the puzzle.'
Source: Risks 582. Read more: MassCOSH news release and full report: Obesity/overweight and the role of working conditions [ pdf ]. UMass Lowell news release
WorkSafe dangerous machinery campaign
The Victorian regulator is continuing its broad media campaign on dangerous machinery, with billboards depicting a worker with his hand caught in a mincing machine going up around Melbourne last week, as well as 'dramatic scenarios' being broadcast on radio. Unbelievably, WorkSafe statistics show that in the past five years, almost 11,000 workers have suffered amputations, lacerations and other injuries caused by dangerous machines and common power tools.
WorkSafe Media Release Don't mince around with machines
WorkSafe staff in industrial action
Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) members at WorkSafe Victoria have been involved in negotiations for a new EBA and pay increases. The negotiations have been difficult and members have been taking various forms of industrial action. Last Friday, many of WorkSafe's staff, including many inspectors, took strike action from 7am for 12 hours. Karen Batt, CPSU Victoria Secretary, said '"Safety inspectors will deliver a request [to State Assistant Treasurer Gordon Rich-Phillips] for ministerial intervention in support of employees' demands for a fair deal at WorkSafe in line with other public sector pay outcomes.'
Workplace Health and Safety authorities investigating fatalities
Other jurisdictions have had recent worker fatalities. Queensland's regulator is investigating two fatal incidents that occurred on Sunday 11 and Monday 12 November 2012. It warns employers to examine the effectiveness of their safety management systems in preventing such incidents like these from occurring. The two fatalities:
- In Proserpine, a sugar mill worker entered a marked hazard area near moving cane bins and was struck and crushed by a moving bin.
- At a rural property in Lynford in the Lockyer Valley, a producer was using a pump spray when the spray unit cracked and herbicide splashed into his face and mouth. The producer was rushed to hospital but died the following day.
Read more: eSafe Newsletter
In Western Australia, WorkSafe WA has issued a safety alert [ pdf ] after a worker was killed when the jib supporting the bucket on an elevating work platform failed, causing the worker and the bucket to fall about 20 metres.
And in more WA news
that state's coroner this week released a report into the death of a truck driver who died after being stranded in the desert in January 2011. The driver was delivering goods to a mine site in Wiluna, when he missed the turnoff and his truck became bogged. The following day he was found dead 30km from his vehicle. The Coroner found the worker died from "exertional" heat stroke. It had been more than 40 degrees on the day of the incident and he had no water with him.The Coroner made five recommendations to the companies involved, but relevant to any similar companies:
- that (the) companies should ensure drivers are provided with an emergency supply of two to four litres of drinkable water;
- that drivers be provided with an "emergency breakdown card", which includes site-specific information such as instructions on what to do and who to call in an emergency, and what radio channels can be used;
- that systems be in place to provide all drivers with written directions and maps, which clearly explain how to get to the required destination, irrespective of whether requested by the driver;
- that procedures be audited to ensure each driver's expected tim e of arrival is recorded and emergency services are notified if a late driver cannot be contacted.
Queensland has announced that the commencement of 20 sections or so of its mirror Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 will now be delayed until 1 January 2014. This follows a recent roundtable discussion with industry groups and unions on the operation of the new laws. More information and detail can be found on the WHS Queensland webpage on the
WorkSafe prosecutes bullying boss
A former owner of a Mildura laundry, Kevin Andrews, is being prosecuted by WorkSafe Victoria for a number of alleged physical and verbal workplace bullying incidents between 2007 and 2009. The alleged incidents include intimidating staff with a stick, threatening to fine them for a range of contraventions such as 'forgetting', telling workers he hated women and some should have been killed at birth, and making lewd and suggestive comments.
Source: Herald Sun
Queensland: Cruise company fined $180k after trapped worker dies
Coral Princess Cruises has been fined $180,000 in the Cairns Magistrates Court, after a crewman was trapped and killed by a powered door on the Oceanic Discoverer in February 2009. The employer was found to be "non-compliant" with the Commonwealth Occupational Health and Safety (Maritime Industry) Act 1993, the Navigation Act 1912, and the Code of Safe Working Practice for Australian Seafarers.
The ship was at port in New Zealand when the crewman became trapped by the electronically-powered water-tight sliding door in the engine room. Although he was freed when the electricity in the vessel was shut down, he died from his injuries three weeks later. The Court found the door did not meet international standards and that the employer had failed to comply with the door manufacturer's requirements relating to maintenance, inspection or safety warnings, and failed to incorporate these requirements in its safety management system.
Source: OHS Alert
Vic: Company fined for $140k following deathMontmorency agricultural manufacturing company TCMH Holdings Pty Ltd was convicted, fined $140,000 and ordered to pay $10,000 in legal costs in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court over an April 2010 where a worker was killed by a metal rod. The incident occurred at the company's Thomastown factory. A worker had been using a lathe to machine a metal rod, which was protruding from the machine by more than a metre and spinning around 1050 times per minute, when it struck the head of a nearby worker, killing him.
There was no guard in place to cover the rod, and the co-worker had not received proper instruction, supervision or training.
WorkSafe Regional Director, Shane Gillard, said proper guarding was a simple, cheap and effective solution that went a long way. 'Machines are essential to businesses but the risks must be controlled,' he said. 'Prevention begins with understanding the risk and what can be done to prevent it. It's achieved by ensuring people are properly trained and supervised and that appropriate guards are in place at all times.'
Read more: WorkSafe Media Release
EU: Leadership and OHSA new European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) report looks at the corporate leadership factors on which success depends. It reviews the existing literature on OSH leadership and analyses the results of 16 case studies from companies across the EU identifying success factors and examples of good OSH leadership, such as innovative approaches and the role of stakeholders. The report, Leadership and Occupational Safety and Health: An Expert Analysis, recommends that to improve OHS, leaders should:
- take seriously their responsibility for safety and health;
- lead by example;
- seek to introduce a safety culture;
- secure the commitment of the board and senior management;
- ensure the visible involvement of senior management;
- ensure that policies are applied consistently;
- provide sufficient resources for OHS;
- learn from the good practice of others;
- implement measures which are appropriate to the specific circumstances;
- ensure regular risk assessments are carried out;
- ensure worker participation;
- ensure continual, open communication about OHS;
- promote collaboration;
- provide adequate training;
- ensure access to the expertise and skills the company requires;
- implement regular monitoring, analysis and review;
- incentivise, recognise and reward safe behaviour.
Report - Leadership and Occupational Health and Safety: An Expert Analysis [ pdf ].
USA: BP pleads guilty, pays US$4billion fine
On April 20, 2010, an explosion on the BP Deepwater Horizon rig killed 11 workers and sent millions of barrels of oil spewing into the sea. BP had to undertake a massive operation to try to stop the spill. Last week BP and the US government reached a settlement, with the company agreeing to pay a $4 billion fine - the biggest fine in American history – and pleading guilty to several criminal charges, including the manslaughter of 11 workers. Furthermore, two the two highest ranking BP supervisors on the oil rig on the day of the explosion have also been indicted, including 11 manslaughter charges. It is alleged they acted negligently in supervising key safety tests and failed to prevent this blowout.
Also, David Rainey who was BP's vice-president of exploration for the Gulf of Mexico, has also been charged with obstructing congress in giving false statements. It is alleged that he intentionally under-estimated the amount of oil leaked, that he cherry-picked from documents, that he withheld other documents, that he made it appear that this spill was less catastrophic than it was and he hid information from congress.
On top of the fine, BP has reached an agreed settlement of about $8 billion with fishermen and other business people who were affected by this disaster, awaiting approval from the judge. In addition, the US Government is still pursuing civil penalties against the company, which are likely to result in even higher penalties.
Source: ABC Online AM Program The Washington Post
USA: Young worker scalped, employer denies OHS violation
A 25 yr-old worker, nearly lost her life when she was pulled hair-first into a machine at JR Engineering in Barberton, Ohio. She lost her scalp and spent three weeks in the hospital. It was the young woman's first week on the job. Not only did she almost lose her life, but now she will find it hard to pay her medical bills – the job paid just $8 per hour and did not provide health insurance. The company employs 1,700 workers. The young woman had been cleaning a machine that cuts steel tubing when her long brown hair, which was pulled back, got caught and yanked her face first into the device. However, her employer does not believe it is responsible and is challenging OSHA's US$7,000 penalty.
Source: The Pump Handle Science Blog and The Huffington Post
SafetyNet 251, Thursday December 6, 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
SafetyNet 245 Thursday 13 September 2012...read more
SafetyNet Issue 244 Thursday 30 August 2012...read more
SafetyNet 243, Thursday 16th August 2012...read more
SafetyNet Issue 242 Thursday 2 August 2012...read more
SafetyNet 241 Thursday 19th July 2012...read more
SafetyNet 240, Thursday 5th July 2012...read more
SafetyNet 239, Thursday June 21, 2012...read more
SafetyNet 238, Thursday June 7 2012...read more
SafetyNet May 24th, 2012...read more
SafetyNet 236, Thursday 10th May 2012...read more
SafetyNet 235 April 26th 2012...read more
Thursday 12th April 2012...read more
Thursday 29 March 2012...read more
SafetyNet 232 15 March 2012...read more
Thursday March 1, 2012...read more
Thursday, February 16th 2012...read more
Thursday, February 2nd, 2012...read more
SafetyNet 228 19 January...read more