21 February, 2013
Welcome to the 255th edition of the fortnightly OHS bulletin SafetyNet – please feel free to distribute to contacts, and send though any comments on any of the items.
Two firefighters killed in VictoriaTwo Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) firefighters, 34-year old Steven Kadar and 19-year old Katie Peters, were killed last Wednesday while battling a ferocious blaze near Harrietville, in Victoria's high country. They were killed when a falling tree hit their vehicle. The fire has been raging for several weeks. The AWU Victorian Branch is grieving the loss of the two workers. AWU Victorian Secretary Cesar Melhem said the loss was a shattering one for the families of those who perished, for their workmates, for their communities, for the union, and for all Victorians. He added the union was investigating the incident and looking at ways to ensure it didn't happen again.
They are the third and fourth Victorian firefighters to die this
season. Peter Cramer, a DSE firefighter and CFA volunteer from Tyers in
Gippsland, died on January 13 while working on the Tasmanian bushfires.
The 61-year-old was working on foot to identify potential containment
lines on the southern boundary of a fire near Forcett. Peter Harry, 48,
died at the scene of a housefire in Gisborne on December 30. Colleagues
found the CFA volunteer and member of almost 30 years unconscious
outside the house.
Source: The Age
Construction worker killed at Melbourne CBD site
A worker was killed on Monday at a Grocon building site in central Melbourne that was last year the site of a huge union protest over safety issues. Early reports are that the crane driver, 59, fell 10 storeys (35m) from scaffolding at the Myer Emporium site at the corner of Elizabeth and Lonsdale Streets early on Monday. Paramedics, who were called to the site just before 7am, were unable to save the man, who died at the scene. Workers at the scene of the accident and at other Grocon sites across Melbourne stopped work as a sign of respect for the dead man. WorkSafe will investigate the incident and police will prepare a report for the coroner.
Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) members had rallied at the site last August and September during a 16-day protest, fighting for the right to appoint safety representatives at Grocon construction sites, but the company argued that was not the real motive for the industrial dispute. At the time, the Baillieu state government and Grocon took the union to court, calling the protest an unlawful blockade. About 1000 police officers were sent to 'monitor' the protest.
Sources: The Age ABC News
WA Authorities are investigating the death of a teenager working in the roof of a home in East Bunbury on Friday 8 February. The young man, believed to be 18-years-old, was working alongside an electrician when the incident occurred. An ambulance was called and fire crews had to pull the young man, who was unconscious, from inside the roof of the home. Attempts to resuscitate him failed and he was pronounced dead at Bunbury Regional Hospital. It is believed the young man was in training but had not yet officially become an apprentice. Police and officers from Worksafe, Energy Safety and Western Power are investigating the fatality.
Another man was killed in WA's Swan Valley on Monday after he crashed his tractor. Emergency services were called to the Orange Avenue. Paramedics attempted to save him, with the RAC rescue helicopter being called to airlift him to Perth, but he died at the scene.
Source: ABC News online
Unions welcome preliminary response to Bullying Inquiry
The ACTU has welcomed the Federal Government's initial response to
the Bullying Inquiry. Las week, Workplace Relations Minister Bill
Shorten announced Labor's intention to implement a speedy resolution
mechanism within the Fair Work Commission. 'We want to address
individual instances of bullying in a practical quick way,' he said. 'We
want to prevent bullying re-occurring and we want to help people in
workplaces resume normal working relationships.' The government is
planning to give the Commission the power to refer bullying complaints
to relevant state and territory authorities for formal investigation and
prosecution if required.
ACTU president Ged Kearney said intimidation, harassment and oppressive behaviours in the work place were unacceptable and Government changes that make bullying policy part of the federal workplace system will go a long way towards shifting negative culture. Ms Kearney said, 'We welcome any laws that lead to further protections for workers. There have been horrendous stories in the past about bullying and the impacts, especially on young workers.' She said the Productivity Commission had costed losses in productivity stemming from bullying in the billions of dollars.
Senator Shorten's announcement ABC News and Media Release ACTU Media Release Analysis and opinion: SafetyAtWorkBlog Australian Government shifts workplace bullying into the industrial relations system
Workers not requesting flexible work arrangements
Researchers from the University of South Australia believe there is
a need for publicity campaigns to raise awareness of the Fair Work
Act's right to request flexible work, after surveys showed little change
in the volume of requests since the provision was introduced three
The results of surveys of Australian workers in 2009 and 2012 revealed there had been no increase in requests in the period since the NES right was introduced in January 2010. The Australian Work and Life Index (AWALI) survey conducted by the researchers in 2009 showed that 22.4% of the 2500 employees surveyed had requested more flexible work arrangements (prior to the RTR being introduced), with this number falling to 20.6% in the 2012 AWALI, carried out 26 months after provision was introduced.
The researchers, Natalie Skinner, Claire Hutchinson and Barbara Pocock from the Centre for Work + Life concluded that along with a lack of awareness, greater economic uncertainty in the period leading to the 2012 survey might have also have influenced workers in not having made requests to change working arrangements. They said it was troubling that the March 2012 survey showed that only 30% of workers were aware of the right to request, with this figure dropping to 25% of mothers with children aged under 16.
Flexibility request-making in the Post-Right to Request (RTR) environment, Natalie Skinner, Claire Hutchinson and Barbara Pocock, Centre for Work + Life, University of South Australia, presented to AIRAANZ conference, Fremantle, February 2013
In an announcement made by Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten last week, the Federal Government says it is going to extend the rights of Australian workers to request part-time work. The intention is to extend this right to workers:
- with caring responsibilities;
- who are parents, or who have responsibility for the care of a child of school age;
- with a disability;
- mature-age employees; and
- experiencing family violence themselves, or providing personal care, support and assistance to a member of their immediate family or member of their household because they are experiencing family violence.
While this has been welcomed, there have been numerous concerns
raised that there is nothing in the proposed legislation which compels
employers to grant such requests.
Senator Shorten's Media Release
Genuine consultation to be required on roster changes
In more good news, under a new duty to be incorporated in award and
agreement model consultation clauses, employers will need to genuinely
consult employees before changing rosters or working hours. Workplace
Relations Minister Bill Shorten announced the change in a statement last
week which summarised further amendments to the
Fair Work Act. The clauses
would require the consultation about the impact of the changes on their
family life to occur before making any decision to change rosters or
Senator Shorten's Media Release summarising the proposed changes
Unpaid work on the increase
A new report by University of Adelaide Law School professors Andrew Stewart and Rosemary Owens,
'Experience or Exploitation? The
Nature, Prevalence and Regulation of Unpaid Work Experience, Internships
and Trial Periods in Australia' was released earlier this month.
Commissioned by the Fair Work Ombudsman, the report examined three
categories of unpaid work: unpaid trial work, unpaid internships and
other forms of unpaid work experience. It found a growing number of
businesses were using unpaid work schemes as an alternative to hiring
paid staff. Young people and migrant workers were particularly
The report recommended that FWO: better define unpaid work experience; expand guidance and education activities; conduct targeted campaigns in key industries identified in the report; pursue test legal cases; and initiate comprehensive engagement with unions, employers, vulnerable workers and educational institutions.
Fair Work Ombudsman Nick Wilson has said the hair and beauty and hospitality sectors will be the first targets in the campaign against such exploitative work practices.
Read more: FWO releases report FWO Media Release Download a copy of the report [pdf] or a Summary [pdf]
Working towards an Asbestos-free Australia
Subscribers will be aware of the work done by unions and asbestos disease support and advocacy groups over the past few years to rid Australia of asbestos. Through these efforts the Federal Labor government last year commissioned Geoff Fary to undertake the Asbestos Management Review. Mr Fary has made the recommendations on what needs to be done, and these are being considered by the newly established Office of Asbestos Safety. Last week, two of Australia's largest unions, most active in this campaign, the AMWU and the CFMEU launched a campaign to calling on the Federal government to address our country's asbestos problem. In Australia, which has the highest per capita rate of asbestos-related disease, two thirds of houses built between World War II and 1983 still contain asbestos, the unions said in a joint statement.
'It's time for the Australian government to implement a strategy to effectively tackle the threat of asbestos,' AMWU National Secretary Paul Bastian said. 'That means the recommendations from the Asbestos Management Review Committee need to be implemented and fully funded to eradicate asbestos from our environment by 2030.'
Add your voice and join in the campaign - visit the new campaign website Make Australia Asbestos Free by 2030 The West Australian
Comcare Asbestos Summit, 2012
The video presentations and transcripts from last year's Asbestos Forum held in Melbourne on 26 November are now available to view from the Comcare website The presentations available include Paul O'Connor, Comcare; Geoff Fary, Asbestos Management Review; Steve Kibble, Office of Asbestos Safety; David McNab, Finity Actuarial and Insurance Consultants; Bruce Watson, Comcare; Dr Malcolm Feigen, Austin Health, as well as the opening video address by the Hon Bill Shorten MP, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation.
Does iron make asbestos toxic?
While the toxicity of asbestos is well documented, the reasons for that toxicity are still unclear. Some scientists believe that iron, which is toxic in the body in large amounts, may be partially to blame: iron can alter the production of cancer-preventing enzymes by changing DNA; ridding the body of excess iron may be one way to combat mesothelioma. A recent Italian study seems to confirm the theory, but also suggests that asbestos toxicity may also involve the interaction of other minerals once the material is inside the body. Writing on their findings in the journal Scientific Reports, the mesothelioma researchers explain, 'The results show that the processes responsible for the unusual distribution of iron at different stages of interaction with the fibers also involve calcium, phosphorus and magnesium.'
Pascolo, L, et al, The interaction of asbestos and iron in lung tissue revealed by synchrotron-based scanning X-ray microscopy, January 24, 2012, Scientific Reports
Toyokuni, S Mysterious link between iron overload and CDKN2A/2B, January 2011, Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition
Read more: Surviving Mesothelioma website Mesothelioma Study Suggests Iron Makes Asbestos Toxic
Bangladesh: The Most Dangerous Job on the Planet
Last Sunday Channel 7 broadcast a documentary following the lives of Bangladesh's shipbreakers, who do the most dangerous job in the world. Hundreds of huge decommissioned cargo and tanker ships are taken to the beaches of the Bay of Bengal, where shipbreakers — many just teenagers and boys — use blowtorches, sledge hammers and their bare hands to tear the great ships apart. Every day, the shipbreakers handle dangerous toxic waste and asbestos, while earning at most 30 to 47 cents an hour. Workers are regularly killed, maimed and seriously injured. Most will have their lives cut short by diseases such as mesolthelioma.
The Institute for Labour and Human Rights travelled to Bangladesh to collaborate with the Australian TV crew on the making of the 14 minute documentary.
Read more and watch the documentary: The Institute for Labour and Human Rights Media Release
I am a laboratory manager in a
secondary school and have a question about a potential safety issue
regarding the wearing of a Hijab and naked flames. I am assuming that
the teacher would have to Risk Assess on an individual basis. Is a Safe
Procedure required in writing?
Given the multicultural nature of Australian society, this is a topical issue not only for schools but potentially other workplaces. I suggest that a general and non-specific policy on safety in the laboratory needs to be developed, identifying all potential hazards and setting out policy/procedure for all of them.
For example: 'Working with Bunsen burners'. The policy could identify that a naked flame is a hazard and poses a risk of fire, and require all students and staff to ensure that hair is tied back, that any head coverings be of non-flammable natural materials (as opposed to more flammable synthetic fibres), and that no jewellery is worn. Implementation of the policy is a school's responsibility, with individual staff member/s in charge of the class to also assess whether any situations arise where work with burners must cease (etc).
- and so on for each identified hazard.
The policy must be developed in consultation with the relevant staff and the health and safety representatives. When agreed/approved, the employer (in the case of a school, the employer rep, ie the Principal) needs to ensure that all staff is aware of the policy and that all relevant students (and their parents) are also aware of it and the need for them to comply.
All such policies must be based on health and safety, and be non-discriminatory (on the basis of race, religion or gender).
Other areas of the school might also have to consider developing similar policies (for example the cooking/metals/woodwork/etc subjects, maybe even PE, etc).
Victorian firefighters face increasing psychological trauma
A report by the University of Newcastle's Centre of Full Employment
and Equity has found that Victorian firefighters are suffering
psychological trauma which may be leading to suicide, alcohol abuse and
depression. The report also reveals firefighters' biggest stress is
their role as a 'first responder' to medical emergencies and inadequate
The report, commissioned by the United Firefighters Union, was released on Monday, some days before an Auditor-General's report expected to show high rates of unplanned leave by professional firefighters. UFU secretary Peter Marshall said the report - including figures from one study showing 68 per cent of firefighters recorded moderate symptoms of PTSD - revealed firefighters were sitting on a 'ticking psychological time bomb'. He said existing support programs, which include a peer-to-peer service, were inadequate and budget cuts to the metropolitan and country fires services had exacerbated the problem. 'The government is drawing on the physical and mental reserves of firefighters like never before but not giving them the support.' The union is seeking a meeting with the Premier of Victoria, Mr Ted Baillieu and the Deputy Premier, Mr Peter Ryan, to discuss not just the findings of the report, but to plan a way forward.
Read more: The Age Report reveals personal toll on firefighters UFU Bulletin [pdf]
The UFU has also announced that it will be hosting an international forum in Melbourne which will look at occupational cancer and other OHS issues affecting firefighters. The UFU, together with the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg (UFFW) and the Edmonton Fire Fighters Union (EFFU) is facilitating the global forum on March 14 & 15. The UFU says, 'In 2011 Australia was the third nation to acknowledge the link between firefighting and the contraction of specific cancers through the enactment of the presumptive legislation. The successful UFUA "Fair Protection for Firefighters" campaign resulted in the legislation which ensures federal fighters can access medical assistance and their entitlements for occupational cancer. UFU Bulletin [pdf]
Meanwhile, reports in the media suggest that WorkSafe's probe into the contamination concerns at the CFA's Fiskville training college has been 'indefinitely' delayed. Secretary of the UFU, Mr Peter Marshall, told the Herald Sun that WorkSafe had not been in contact with him or any members to consider evidence of contamination.
Floods create mould problem
Floods are becoming an increasingly common occurrence – the latest again affecting Queensland. But apart from the heartbreak for home and property owners, the devastation and months, if not years, of clean-up and rebuilding, they leave a 'legacy' problem: the hidden risk to their health from water-damaged, damp and mouldy buildings, including workplaces. There is clear evidence of an association between damp environments and respiratory problems including asthma, coughs, respiratory infections and upper airway problems. Moulds are complex organisms that are difficult to quantify reliably. Mould is associated with two broad categories of human illness: infectious diseases and non-infectious illness, usually allergy-related conditions.
Read more: The Conversation Queenslanders at risk from mould as flood clean-up continues
International Union News
India: Five cement workers killed in accident
The cement contract workers trade union PCSS in India has reported a deadly accident on 31 January that killed five workers in Bhatapara, Chhattisgarh India. The union reported that the accident took place sometime between 10.30 and 11am. It appears the fly ash hopper situated on the 5th floor collapsed, crashing through four floors. The air was thick with dust for hours. Reports suggest that the capacity of the hopper was 170 tonnes but it was overloaded, possibly to about 300 tonnes. The hopper was in a dilapidated condition and may have been sealed by the authorities during a raid a number of months ago.
A team from the union visited the accident site on 2 February and initiated a criminal case against the management, leading initially to the arrest of a security officer, and then to three other arrests under laws governing negligence with machinery, endangering life or personal safety and causing death by negligence, those arrested included Ambuja's Vice-President. However all detainees were able to post bail and leave custody within a single day.
Read more: IndustriALL media release
UK Union news
TUC's 'Safety Manifesto'
Regular safety inspections, a maximum temperature in the workplace and far greater control of carcinogens are just some of the improvements that Britain's peak union council, the TUC, is calling for in a new 10 point safety manifesto. 'Time for change' features 10 key recommendations which the TUC believes, if implemented by a future government, could help turn around the UK's poor health safety record, and prevent many of the 20,000 workplace-related deaths which occur in the UK every year. The TUC manifesto makes the case for good health and safety practice, in a climate where safety laws are increasingly seen by ministers as unnecessary burdens on business, and where spending cuts and changes in regulations are making it increasingly difficult to police employers who play fast and loose with their employees' safety.
TUC Media Release Time for Change: A trade union manifesto for reclaiming health and safety at work or [pdf]
New Resource: Work and Wellbeing
According to the TUC, 'Well-being' has become one of the most over-used phrases in the English language. It is used to sell and promote 'anything from yogurt to holidays, pillows to pills.' The UK government has developed started a well-being index intended to gauge the quality of life of people in the UK, as well as environmental and sustainability issues and even the country's economic performance. Our experience in Australia has also been that government confuses health and wellbeing with occupational health and safety.
This union guide gives advice on the wide range of attempts being made to promote 'well-being'. It will help reps tackle management when work and work practices are likely to be the cause of workforce ill health.
Download: Work and Well-being [pdf ]
Reminder: March 1 Work Your Proper Hours Day
Australian workers might pause on March 1 to remember that this is the TUC's Work Your Proper Hours Day. Now in its ninth year, Work Your Proper Hours Day is a light-hearted campaign that celebrates the unsung - and unrewarded - hours that staff put in to help their employer and boost the UK economy. Several studies have shown many Australian workers also work unpaid overtime and spend too long at work.
Read more: TUC media release and Work Your Proper Hours Day website More information Work-Life Balance
New European Green Guide
The ETUC publication: Green Workplaces - a guide for union representatives [pdf], provides advice on good practice from trade union activists across the European Union on how to get going on greening their workplaces. It includes excellent examples on energy use, using fewer resources, recycling and green travel, plus a walk-around checklist. Our workplaces burn more energy, consume more resources, and generate more waste and travel than our home lives do, and so the workplace is an excellent place to start.
Guidance on carcinogens and work-related cancer
Papers from a 'Carcinogens and work-related cancer' workshop,
organised last year by EU-OSHA, have been made available online. The
event reached wide-ranging conclusions, including: 'There is an
increasing need to identify vulnerable, and 'hidden', groups whose
occupational exposure to cancer risks and carcinogenic processes is
underrepresented in exposure data and intervention strategies... Typical
groups are amongst migrants and part time workers, and those employed
as sub-contracted staff. Women and young workers, typically in service
occupations where awareness of chemical risks is low, may also be at
risk. These 'hidden' groups are typically exposed to multiple
carcinogens, and because of the socio-economic context are at greater
risk of developing cancer.' It also highlighted an official French
campaign on dangerous substances that found 'enterprises improved their
policies after a labour inspection visit or when they get expert
support. Companies preparing a risk assessment document compliant with
OSH are more successful in achieving substitution of hazardous
substances than those neglecting their duties.'
Source: Risks 592 'Carcinogens and Work-related Cancer' workshop: summary, conclusions and associated materials.
USA union news
Action needed on deadly silicaUS Unions and safety advocates are demanding urgent action on silica, linked to hundreds of occupational disease deaths each year and thousands of cases of devastating ill-health. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the US safety regulator, drafted a proposal over two years ago that would reduce occupational exposure to silica – stalled by the White House under a protracted review by the Office of Management and Budget. Richard Trumka, president of the national union federation AFL-CIO, urging people to sign a petition calling on Obama administration to implement the silica standard, has said: 'I can't stress how important this issue is for hundreds of thousands of construction workers and their families. This OSHA proposal has been delayed for too long.' About 1.7 million workers in the US are estimated to be at risk from silica dust, with an estimated 280 workers dying each year from silicosis, and thousands more developing the lung-scarring condition as a result of workplace exposures. Exposure to silica can also cause health problems including lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and autoimmune disease. The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health says this is the latest delay in 'a 15-year saga of trying to protect workers, even though the dangers of exposure to silica dust and the crippling and fatal lung disease it causes have been known for decades.'
Workers expose dirty secrets of recycling industry
On February 2, hundreds of recycling workers and community supporters gathered in Oakland, California, at the Recycling Workers Convention to discuss a wide range of serious problems plaguing Alameda County's recycling industry with an audience of elected officials and policy makers who oversee this supposedly 'green' industry. They discussed the alarming number of injuries to recycling workers, who are mainly immigrant and female workers, who do the dangerous and dirty job of sorting the waste, and are exposed to a host of dangers, including contaminated hypodermic syringes, animal carcasses and faeces, heavy dust and a host of sharp objects that cause injuries. Workers at some facilities reported infestations of rats, ignored by management until the workers themselves took action. Those attending the Recycling Workers Convention adopted a platform calling for uniform standards to improving working conditions in the industry.
Read more: AFL-CIO Now blog
Stronger chemicals laws protect health and drive innovation
A new report released by The Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) illustrates how stronger laws to regulate hazardous chemicals spur innovation, with potential benefits for national economies, as well as human health and the environment. Driving Innovation: How stronger laws help bring safer chemicals to market [pdf] finds that tougher rules to manage chemicals at the global, regional and national levels have sparked the continuous invention of safer chemicals, accelerating the pace at which safer alternatives are developed, and pulled them into the market.
'Our study finds that stronger laws governing hazardous chemicals can not only drive innovation, but also create a safer marketplace,' said Baskut Tuncak, staff attorney at CIEL and author of the report. 'Well-designed laws spark the invention of alternatives and further help level the playing field to enable safer chemicals to overcome barriers to entry, such as economies of scale enjoyed by chemicals already on the market and the externalized costs of hazardous chemicals on human health.'
Center for International Environmental Law Media Release
Low blood lead levels linked to lower IQ in Italian kids
There is growing evidence to suggest that even low amounts of lead
can harm developing brains. An Italian study of junior high students in
has linked exposure to lead at very low levels to lower IQ. The effect
of higher levels of lead on IQ is well known. This study is important
because it is the first to show a connection between such low blood lead
levels and reduced IQ. The lead levels in the Italian youths ranged
from 0.4 to 10.2 micrograms of lead per decilitre of blood (µg/dL). When
their levels doubled, IQ dropped by about 2.4 points. The results
support the concern that even very low levels of lead exposure cause
lower IQ. Even small drops in IQ may have significant public and
occupational health implications.
Read more: Low blood lead levels linked to lower IQ in Italian kids Environmental Health News, 16 January 2013
Joint WorkSafe Vic Police operation nets illegal fireworks
Arson and Explosives Squad detectives last week seized illegal
fireworks after raiding a property in Pakenham as part of a joint
operation with WorkSafe. Police executed a search warrant at the
property and allegedly located fireworks in a vehicle on the property. A
36-year-old Pakenham man is currently assisting police with their
enquiries. He is expected to be charged on summons with possessing an
explosive substance. The joint operation relates to the alleged
on-selling of commercial grade fireworks to unlicensed people.
WorkSafe's general manager of health and safety, Lisa Sturzenegger, said
WorkSafe would continue to work with police to uncover and remove
illegal fireworks from the community.
WorkSafe Media Release
New Victorian research grants announced
Twelve new research projects focusing on improving outcomes for TAC
and WorkSafe Victoria clients have been funded through the Institute
for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research (ISCRR) 2013 Development
Grants Program. Total funding of almost $530,000 has been allocated to
projects seeking to deliver tangible benefits in the short term to
ISCRR's partner organisations including $340,000 toward neurotrauma
ISCRR's CEO Professor Niki Ellis said, 'The successful research projects cover a wide range of important topics, including the use of tablet computers for people living with quadriplegia, seating modification for occupational car drivers with lower back pain, achieving successful employment outcomes following traumatic spinal cord injury, successful return to work practices in Victoria, and the support needs of children with traumatic brain injury.'
Read more, including details of the funded projects: ISCRR Media Release
SafeWork Australia news
New Chair announced
Employment and Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten last week announced that Ms Ann Sherry AO has been appointed as the new Chair of Safe Work Australia. Ms Sherry, who replaces outgoing Safe Work Australia Chair, Mr Tom Phillips AM, has been appointed to this part-time position for three years.
September Notifiable Fatalities Report available
This monthly Safe Work Australia report provides a national summary of work-related traumatic fatalities that were notifiable to Australian work health and safety jurisdictions. Besides providing an estimate of the number of work-related deaths, the report also includes details of the types of incident involved; the industry of the workplace at which the fatalities occurred; and the industry of the decedent's employer. Although only the most recent report is usually presented, the December 2011 report is also accessible on this page, as it includes monthly counts from July to December 2011. There were 15 work-related notifiable fatalities reported during September 2012 — 10 male workers and 1 female worker, and 2 male bystander and 2 female bystander. This is seven fewer than the same time the previous year. The report reveals a total of 151 fatalities (124 workers, 27 bystanders) between 1 January and 30 September 2012.
Safe Work Website
Guidance on Health monitoring
Safe Work Australia has released two pieces of guidance on Health Monitoring for Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals. The first is a Guide for persons conducting a business or undertaking intended for persons conducting a business or undertaking who are required under the Work Health and Safety Regulations to provide health monitoring for workers. The regs have specific duties on a PCBU to provide health monitoring to workers who use hazardous chemicals, including workers who are exposed to lead and asbestos. The second is a Guide for Workers which explains that health monitoring - monitoring of a person to identify changes in the person's health status because of exposure to certain substances - may include:
- consultation, for example, answering questions regarding previous occupational and medical history or lifestyle, for example dietary, smoking and drinking habits and discussing with the worker how this may affect their health;
- a physical examination, for example skin checks or a spirometry (lung function) test;
- clinical tests, for example, urine or blood samples;
From the UK's HSE: straightforward Toolbox advice for employers on noise.
Vic: Boat company fined $275,000 after worker death
A Gippsland meat processing company was last week fined $380,000 in
the Melbourne County Court over two serious safety incidents in two
weeks in which one worker was crushed to death and another had his
The Court fined Tabro Meat Pty Ltd $350,000 over the death of Abraham Yak, who was crushed to death in a hydraulic knocking box in 2010. It was also fined $30,000 over an incident two weeks later in which an employee had his middle finger severed while operating a bandsaw (it was originally fined $65,000 over this incident, but an appeal reduced the fine).
Tabro was found guilty at Morwell County Court last November on two charges in relation to the death of Mr Yak. On 12 November 2010, Mr Yak was asked to clean a rotating knocking box, a machine which uses hydraulic panels to securely hold cattle before they are stunned and killed. He was later found crushed between the top lid and side of the machine.
WorkSafe Media Release
Vic: Company fined $30,000 for crushing injury
Earlier this month, Profast Precast Panels Pty Ltd was convicted
and fined $30,000 with costs of over $4,000 in the Ballarat Magistrates'
Court for an incident in October 2011, where an employee was injured as
a result of being trapped between the rear of a trailer and concrete
panels. The company pleaded guilty to breaches of the OHS Act 2004 for
failing to provide a safe system of work and lack of a traffic
Lack of traffic management may be responsible for the death of a worker in NSW this week: WorkCover NSW is investigating the death of the male worker at a grain storage facility near Wee Waa yesterday. It was believed the worker was sweeping grain when he was struck by a reversing front-end loader. He was taken to hospital where he died of his injuries.
NSW: $480k fine for two incidents
Two NSW employers, cereal grain wholesalers Vinsente Pty Ltd and
Desiya Pty Ltd (trading in a partnership as Agrigrain), were last week
fined $150,000 and $330,000 on the same day for two separate incidents.
The first fine was for failing to introduce clear safety steps for
working near powerlines. In November 2008, a labourer was moving a
self-propelled grain auger to another location, with the boom extended
because he was unable to lower it, despite being shown how. The machine
struck high-voltage overhead powerlines. When the worker put his right
foot on the ground, he suffered electrical burns to his lower leg and
Six months later, in March 2009, a worker was killed when he walked in front of a tipper truck and was struck by it, after receiving a lift from the driver. The court heard there was no training provided to workers relating to pedestrians and moving vehicles prior to the incident, and the only traffic management process the employers had at their site was a 10km/h speed limit. The companies were found guilty and fined $330,000 for failing to provide a safe system of work that included designated drop off and pick up areas and walkways for pedestrians; failing to provide information, instruction, training and supervision; and failing to conduct an adequate risk assessment.
Source: OHS Alert
UAE: Latest deaths highlight migrants' plight
The death of at least 22 Asian workers in a road accident has again
highlighted the plight of the United Arab Emirates' largely migrant
workforce. A further 24 workers were injured in the 4 February rush hour
incident, when a bus transporting workers collided with a truck
carrying construction materials in the Zakhir district of the oasis city
of al-Ain. According to local media reports, most of the workers were
cleaners of Indian, Bangladeshi or Pakistani origin. Millions of foreign
workers, mostly from South Asia, live in the UAE. The truck, which
ended up on top of the bus, had overturned when its brakes failed and
that there had not been a safe distance between the two vehicles. The
per-capita death toll on UAE roads is among the highest in the world,
according to the World Health Organisation. The exploitative and
hazardous working conditions facing UAE's migrant workforce has been the
subject of repeated criticism.
A Human Rights Watch report
published on 31 January accused UAE of 'backsliding' on human rights,
adding the authorities had 'failed to reform a labour system that
facilitates the trafficking and forced labour of its migrant workers.'
Source: Risks 592
EU: Health and safety in supply chains
Around the world, including in Australia, businesses are
outsourcing their activities and processes. The growing importance of
supply chains has implications for working conditions. A new report from
the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) sheds light
on occupational safety and health (OSH) within these complex networks
of suppliers and service providers. The report,
Promoting occupational safety and health through the supply chain,
analyses existing literature on the subject, as well as European
government policies and case studies, to provide an overview of how OSH
can be managed and promoted through the supply chain, and which
incentives and instruments exist for companies to encourage good OSH
practices among their suppliers and contractors.
EU-OSHA Media Release
China: industrialisation boom has its dark side
Pneumoconiosis is an occupational lung disease caused by the
inhalation of dust. Official Chinese statistics put the number of
workers suffering from pneumoconiosis at 650,000, though independent
health experts say that the real figure is much higher – estimating it
affects six million workers. While the Chinese government has passed
laws in regard to the care of workers that have diseases like
pneumoconiosis, the reality is that the system is not well integrated
and many workers miss out on appropriate health care.
Source: AAWL News Read more: China Labour Bulletin Workers' hero hobbled by petty officials and What happens when the money runs out for victims of pneumoconiosis?