7 March, 2013
Welcome to the 256th edition of the fortnightly OHS bulletin SafetyNet – please feel free to distribute to contacts, and send though any comments on any of the items.
Queensland: worker fatally crushed in elevating work platform incident
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland is investigating a fatal incident that occurred on Tuesday 26 February 2013 at an industrial workplace in Toowoomba. A man died when he was trapped between a 24m truck mounted elevating work platform and a stationary 34m knuckle boom elevating work platform. He was working on the knuckle boom EWP when the truck with the mounted EWP reversed, trapping and crushing him.
Another worker was killed in Queensland following an incident in Mackay on the following day, Wednesday 27 February. A worker was struck by a large suspended industrial panel door when it failed and the door fell shut abruptly. He died in hospital on Saturday 2 March. WHS Queensland is urging employers to review their safety systems to ensure a similar incident couldn't occur.
Sources: WHS Queensland Incidents Alerts: February 26 and February 27
NSW WorkCover urges action after fatality
NSW WorkCover is urging employers to develop safe work method statements for tasks that require pedestrians to work near vehicular traffic, after four NSW workers were fatally struck by mobile plant in just over six months. On 19 February, a worker was sweeping at a grain storage facility when he was fatally struck by a reversing front-end loader. Since June 2012, three other workers have been killed by moving vehicles - at a service station, an industrial estate and a paper recycling plant.
WorkCover health and safety general manager John Watson said, 'Over the last five years 10 workers have been killed [in such incidents] and 2089 workers injured at a cost of approximately $39 million to the NSW workers' compensation system. Work involving mobile plant is high risk and can be catastrophic if safe work systems are not in place to ensure the safety of everyone in close proximity.'
Source: NSW WorkCover Media Release
Greens Senator Milne motion on asbestos
Senator Christine Milne last week moved a motion in the Senate noting the high level of mesothelioma in Australia and urging the government to move on the recommendations of the Asbestos Management Review. Senator Milne's requested that the Senate:
- notes that Australia has the highest number of asbestos victims per capita in the world, which is not expected to decline until after 2020;
- notes that many Australians are still vulnerable to mesothelioma when they renovate older houses and also through inadvertent exposure as a result of natural disasters destroying property;
- supports the Asbestos Free Australia campaign of the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union; and
- encourages the government to establish a National Asbestos Authority to implement the National Strategic Plan in line with the recommendations of the Asbestos Management Review.
Have you signed up to the campaign yet?
Go to the Make Australia Asbestos Free by 2030 website now.
NSW Asbestos victim wins $1.3m damages
A diesel mechanic who contracted mesotheliomia from asbestos exposure during over 10 years work at an Urban Transit Authority (NSW) bus depot has been compensated for his lost capacity to care for his grandchildren and wife. The NSW Dust Diseases Tribunal awarded the worker $1.32m, including over $742,500 for the past and future care of his two granddaughters, and over $186,100 for the past and future care of two grandsons. The total damages award is believed to be the largest damages verdict under the Civil Liability Act 2002, which relates to loss of capacity to provide domestic services.
UK Union welcomes schools asbestos probe
UK union GMB has welcomed a call for evidence by the UK's House of Commons Education Select Committee on the issues around asbestos in schools. The parliamentary committee will hear evidence on 13 March. GMB says it is representing an increasing number of schools support staff potentially at risk from deadly asbestos fibres in schools. It adds that over 75 per cent of state schools contain asbestos, much of it in a dangerous condition. The union is concerned that an ongoing Department for Education (DfE) audit on the condition of schools to establish refurbishment priorities expressly excludes asbestos. John McClean, GMB national safety officer, said: 'GMB welcomes the call for evidence on asbestos in schools. Last year's report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Health and Safety made it clear that a cohesive and clear strategy to deal with this serious matter needed to take place. Hopefully the Education Select Committee which holds it hearing on Wednesday 13 March will reach similar conclusions that enable the DfE to begin dealing comprehensively with this problem'.
Source: Risks 592
Pakistan: Asbestos lobby guilty of 'deadly' deception
The front organisation for the global asbestos industry has been accused of using 'deadly, deceptive' methods to try and derail moves to ban chrysotile asbestos in Pakistan. Human rights campaign group RightOnCanada says a letter from Jean-Marc Leblond, chair of the International Chrysotile Association (ICA), to Pakistan's influential Sustainable Development Policy Institute 'cites scientists, such as David Bernstein, whose research has been financed by the asbestos industry and has zero credibility in the reputable scientific community.' The Canadian group quotes a Center for Public Integrity research that concluded: 'Bernstein is the most active of a dozen or so industry-backed scientists who have helped fuel the asbestos trade by producing papers, lecturing, and testifying on the relative safety of chrysotile.' The ICA letter concludes 'we are persuaded the scientific evidence is overwhelming which supports the safe and responsible use of chrysotile and that there is no basis for prohibiting its use in today's high density products.' According to RightOnCanada: 'It is because of the deceptive misinformation, financed by the asbestos industry, from scientists like David Bernstein, whose research was previously financed by the tobacco industry, that the use of asbestos in the world has not declined over the past two decades and that thousands will continue to die tragic deaths.' The ICA letter's 'deadly misinformation' has been condemned by scientists, unions and public health advocates around the world, said RightOnCanada's Kathleen Ruff.
RightOnCancer.ca report and ICA letter. Source: Risks 592
News from US advocacy group ADAO
In their latest newsletter US asbestos advocacy group ADAO has a number of interesting items, including DIY: Asbestos does not discriminate: a comment on the plethora of renovating TV shows; Propaganda and Lies from the Asbestos Industry: which reveals a new article, Health Risk of Chrysotile Revisited, was funded by the asbestos industry; and details of ADAO's third annual 'global' asbestos week, April 1-7: Asbestos Kills - One Word. One Week, One World
I understood that an employer has a
legal duty under the OHS Act and regulations to consult with employees
and their representatives. In what circumstances is the employer
supposed to consult with me as the HSR? What do I do if my employer has a
'habit' of not consulting?
You are correct: Sections 35 and 36 of the Act place a duty on the employer to consult with affected employees and their HSRs (or the employer can choose to consult just with the HSR/s) in a wide range of circumstances. These include (but are not limited to): when identifying or assessing hazards or risks; when making decisions about controlling these hazards or risks; when deciding on facilities; and when proposing changes (that is, before implementing these changes) to the workplace, the plant, substances or other things used at the workplace, and the conduct of the work at the workplace. Further, the OHS Regulations set out the employer duties in relation to how to involve the HSR/s in consultation.
If consultation is not happening, then the first thing you need to do is to formally draw your employer's attention to the duties under these sections of the Act and Regs and request that you be consulted in each of the circumstances listed in the Act. Make sure you keep a record of your request. If your employer still does not consult, then I recommend issuing a PIN on the basis that the employer is in breach of Sections 35 & 36 of the OHS Act. Contact your union, or the VTHC for assistance.
Duty to consult is covered by Sections 35 & 36 of the Act, and the Regulations mandate how HSRs must be involved in consultation.
And another thing:
In the last edition of SafetyNet, a lab manager in a secondary school asked about the risks of wearing head gear. A SafetyNet subscriber, who is a fire-fighter, added to our response with a suggestion that consideration could be given to purchasing light-weight protective hoods – similar to those worn by workers in our emergency services. The hoods, which are manufactured in the US, are fire proof and offer a high level of protection. Thank you, Brad.
ACTU launches 'Time to Care' Campaign
Tomorrow, March 8, is International Women's Day, and the ACTU will be launching the 'Time to Care Campaign: Australian families have changed and work needs to change too.' As reported in recent editions of SafetyNet, while the government is expanding the right to flexible work, the reality is that it is either not requested or not granted. Unions will campaign to ensure the right to request family friendly arrangements is enforceable, including:
- all employees with caring responsibilities, older workers and workers experiencing domestic violence to have the right to request a change in work arrangements;
- an obligation on employers to genuinely consider the request (which can be refused on reasonable business grounds); and
- the right for an employee to appeal an unreasonable refusal of their request.
Workers are invited to share their stories and views about their own experiences at the workplace.
Read more: Working Life website The Cost of Caring
Diesel Fumes: Australian Industry on notice?
SafetyNet subscribers will
know that the WHO's IARC in June last year declared diesel fumes to be a
Group 1 carcinogen – that is, that it definitely causes cancer, in this
case, lung cancer, in humans. It would be logical to assume that
Australia's diesel-reliant industries are on notice following the WHO's
emphatic conclusion. But, according to this week's
Background Briefing, the WA
Department of Mines has just discontinued a program that monitored the
long-term health of miners – workers whose exposure to diesel fumes is
Lin Fritschi, a well-known epidemiologist from the WA Institute of Medical Research at the University of Western Australia, has expressed grave concerns that this data, which is crucial to determining the long term health implications of working in WA's mining industry, is no longer being collected – a decision made without public consultation. Furthermore, she said that accessing the data that has been collected over the past 15 years has proved extremely difficult, and so it has yet to be subjected to independent analysis.
According to the Department of Mines, the program was stopped because its own analysis of the data found the program neither prevented nor detected ill health at an early stage and therefore wasn't helpful. However, Professor Fritschi says when directed by the department to find the information on its website, she's only able to view a one page sheet of data. 'Every time we ask for the data they just point us to a one sheet poster, which are very superficial analysis of some of the data,' she said. 'They certainly haven't given any evidence the data has been used to their full capability.'
ABC Background Briefing Dangerous diesel March 3, 2013 ABC NewsOnline Concern at end of mine worker health research March 4.
Ombudsman's report: ACTU calls for more action on growth of unpaid work
The ACTU has welcomed the new report commissioned by the Fair Work Ombudsman on Internships,
Work Experience and Unpaid Work,
but said that the issue is part of a broader problem faced by 40 per
cent of the workforce in insecure work and had been overlooked for too
'The evidence shows that the number of people who are exploited by unpaid work is growing, in areas such as internships, unpaid work trials, non-payment for higher duties, unpaid overtime, and non-payment for essential work tasks such as setting up before shifts or attending meetings,' ACTU President Ged Kearney said at the launch of the report in Melbourne last week. 'This practice undermines the pay and conditions that Australian workers have fought for and is a major contributor to insecure work. … there is a clear need for more enforcement, as well as a cultural change by employers. The union movement wants to work with the FWO and employer groups to ensure that interns and other young workers are not exploited by employers requiring them to do unpaid work.'
ACTU Media Release ACTU President Ged Kearney Launch Speech
AWU calls for more research on nanotechnology
At their National Conference last week, the Australian Workers
Union (AWU) discussed the emerging issue of nanotechnology and passed a
resolution on nanotechnology and occupational health and safety. The
union has called for more research into the potential effects of
nanomaterials. AWU Secretary, Paul Howes said, 'I don't want to make the
mistake that my predecessors made by not worrying about asbestos.'
Despite assurances from industry and some scientists, there is good reason to take a 'precautionary approach' to nanomaterials. In October of last year, Safe Work Australia concluded that carbon nanotubes should be classified as hazardous chemicals, precisely because, due to their shape and size, they have shown to cause mesothelioma in mice. Also, there is no requirement for nano forms of 'existing chemicals', that is those currently in use in Australia, to have new risk assessments done. This is despite the fact that these nano forms have different properties and can therefore pose different risks.
A useful Fact Sheet issued in January by the US's OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) Working Safely with Nanomaterials [pdf] provides straightforward advice on how to control exposure using the hierarchy of control, information including recommended exposure standards, and several links to further information.
Read more: The Sydney Morning Herald Union raises fears over nanotechnology Safe Work Australia Fact Sheet Classification of Carbon Nanotubes as Hazardous Chemicals
Friends of the Earth warning on sunscreens
Following more testing of sunscreens, Friends of the Earth (FoE) is
asking 'What if your sunscreen increased the level of UV damage a
hundred times?' According to the latest release from the Non-government
organisation, new testing from the National Measurement Institute (NMI)
has revealed that many Australian sunscreen and cosmetic products still
contain anatase titanium dioxide, despite years of warnings of its
extreme potential to generate free radicals - which could damage DNA and
protein. Some scientists have questioned its use in sunscreens. In
2008 it was revealed that these nano-particles in sunscreens were
leading to serious problems with Bluescope steel Colorbond roofing.
Anatase titanium dioxide was found to be one of the main factors which
caused the premature weathering of the coating on the pre-painted steel
roof sheets after they had been handled by workers with sunscreen on
This week manufacturing company Antaria admitted its sunscreen ingredients in fact contained nano-materials, despite strenuously denying it for months to the media, its customers and the Australian Stock Exchange.
FoE says the product they are most concerned about is a children's sunscreen, which was found to contain these particular nanoparticles. The organisation asks Australians to take action to raise concerns with government.
Read more: FoE Media Release and Testing reveals potentially dangerous ingredients in sunscreen and cosmetics ABC News Online Fresh concern over nano-particles hidden in sunscreen
Dark side of the mining boom: FIFO workers
The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) says the
House of Representatives enquiry into the impacts of fly-in-fly-out
(FIFO) and drive-in-drive-out (DIDO) workforces in regional Australia
has exposed the serious downsides of the mining industry's new preferred
employment model. The report found the pressures of FIFO work lead to
these workers suffered greater injuries, higher levels of sexually
transmitted infections, higher levels of consumption of drugs and
alcohol. The report makes a series of recommendations including better
resourcing communities under pressure from large FIFO or DIDO workforces
and removing tax benefits for companies using transient workforces.
CFMEU National President Tony Maher said mining companies should have to prove there is no reasonable alternative before being allowed to fly in transient workforces for projects. The impacts of FIFO and DIDO work arrangements on individuals, families, communities and the broader economy are so great that decisions should not only rest on mining companies' bottom lines.
CFMEU Media Release Dark side of the mining boom: Time to hold mining companies to account on FIFO Read/download the full report: Cancer of the bush or salvation for our cities? Fly-in, fly-out and drive-in, drive-out workforce practices in Regional Australia.
International Union News
NZ: Unions welcome new health and safety agency
The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions has welcomed last week's announcement by NZ's Minister of Labour, Simon Bridges, of a new Health and Safety Crown Agency, in line with a key recommendation of the Royal Commission on the Pike River Coal Mine tragedy. Twenty-nine underground workers, including two Australians, were killed in the mine on New Zealand's South Island when a 'substantial' volume of methane gas exploded in November 2010.
Helen Kelly, CTU President, said, 'The union movement is committed to working with the Government to improve the health and safety of our workforce. Unions stand for decent jobs that are secure and safe.'
The CTU had supported the establishment an independent agency in its submissions to the Royal Commission. Helen Kelly said that during the time it takes to set up this new agency, the CTU wanted to see more work done to improve the safety of workers. 'This agency is only part of the answer to our terrible record on death and injuries in the workforce,' she said. 'New Zealand has an accident rate at work that is twice that of Australia and seven times worse than the United Kingdom. This must change and we look forward to the recommendations of the Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety which are due at the end of April. All workers in New Zealand, and their families and communities are counting on that report to make a difference so we can address this huge problem.'
Source: NZ CTU Media Release
Japan: Decontamination workers protest against their conditions
Following the Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011, it is becoming
increasingly clear that the Japanese government is putting workers'
lives at risk by trying to cut costs for the clean up operation. It has
emerged that the clean up is being handled by a series of
sub-contracting firms, each of which try to make a profit by minimising
Read more: Decontamination Workers Disclose Reduced Wages and Terrible Working Environments Source: AAWL Mini News
Pakistan: Protest over brick kiln bonded labourers
It is estimated that approximately 3.2 million labourers work at
27, 000 kilns in Pakistan and that 1.1 million of these workers are
children. The conditions at work are often highly dangerous with wages
less than two thirds of the legal minimum wage. This forces many workers
into debt, a debt that is passed from one generation to the next,
effectively creating slavery like conditions. The Insan Dost Association
(IDA) has held a series of protests, continuing into 2013, calling for
better wages, social security and an end to bondage for workers in the
kiln brick sector.
Read more on the Protests Source: AAWL Mini News
USA Union calls for breast cancer action
The USW, a union representing workers across the USA and Canada,
has issued an action call to its union reps on occupational breast
cancer risk. The union issued the hazards alert after a paper published
in November 2012 warned a 'toxic soup' of chemical exposures in
agriculture, plastics, food packaging, metal manufacture and the bar and
gambling industry was placing women at an increased risk of breast
cancer (SafetyNet 251).
Women employed for 10 years in some of these sectors had more than
twice the normal chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer. For
younger pre-menopausal women, working in factories producing plastic
components for cars or tin cans increased the risk five-fold. All these
occupations involve exposure to potential carcinogens or 'endocrine
disrupter' chemicals that interfere with the body's natural hormone
systems. The USW hazard alert calls on union reps to 'educate our
members about the health hazards of chemicals; use our collective voice
to win health and safety improvements in our workplaces, such as
substituting less hazardous chemicals or using engineering and design
controls to prevent worker exposures to harmful chemicals; and tell our
elected representatives that we support reforming outdated chemical
USW Hazard Alert [pdf] . Source: Risks 594
Bangladesh: Families of fire victims get compensation
On 24 February 2013 Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina
handed out compensation to the families of fire victims at Smart Fashion
factory of 26 January 2013. The agreement was negotiated by the
IndustriALL Regional Office, IndustriALL Bangladesh Council of trade
unions (IBC) and brands Inditex and New Look.
Families of the deceased female workers Nasima (28), Josna (19), Laiju (18), Fatema (17) and Nasima (17) gathered in the Prime Minister Office in Dhaka where disbursement ceremony took place. According to the agreement, each family receives 1,049,000 BDT (13,300 USD), and one family with two minor children gets an additional 10 per cent to meet educational costs for minor children. The injured workers as well as those who lost their employment will also receive compensation. The workers earned an average monthly wage of 4,000 BDT (50 USD).
At the ceremony IndustriALL General Secretary Jyrki Raina pledged to pursue a similar compensation package with the brands and buyers that sourced from Tazreen Fashion, where another fire killed 112 workers on 26 November last year.
Read more: IndustriALL Media Release
Stress can affect future generations
Researchers in the US have for the first time shown that genes
chemically silenced as a result of stress stay switched off in eggs and
sperm, so passing down the effect to the next generation. The finding is
based on DNA scans of developing mouse eggs and sperm. The finding
supports increasing, but indirect, evidence from multigenerational
studies that the genetic impacts of environmental factors such as
smoking, diet, famine and childhood stress can be passed on through a
process called epigenetic inheritance. Many mainstream geneticists had
considered this to be an impossibility. Genes can be switched off by
altering DNA through a chemical process called methylation, in which
enzymes respond to environmental factors by marking genes with methyl
groups that prevent them from working. Previous studies had shown that
as sperm and eggs develop, any markings added to genes during life are
erased to provide a genetic "blank slate" from which the next generation
develops. Any remaining marks were also thought to be erased when an
egg is fertilised. A team led by Jamie Hackett at the University of
Cambridge has challenged this view through their work.
Read more: New Scientist
Mother's pesticide exposure raises risk of infant leukaemia
A new study by researchers in Brazil has found that a woman's
exposure to pesticides before, during and after pregnancy may increase
the risk of infant leukaemia diagnosed before the age of two. Children
were twice as likely to develop the rare cancers if their mothers were
exposed three months before conception when compared to mothers who
reported no exposures. The children whose mothers were exposed at home
or at work were two to seven times more likely to have one of the two
cancers studied than those whose mothers reported no pesticide exposure.
Infants younger than 11 months old were up to seven times more likely
to have leukaemia if their mothers used the insecticide permethrin.
The results suggest that women of reproductive age should minimise their pesticide exposure before and during pregnancy and while nursing. This study is important because it focused on children younger than 2 years old and included both work and home exposures. The short time needed for cancers to develop in the infants suggests pre-birth exposures are important for the leukaemia's studied, the authors note. The findings support earlier studies suggesting a link between maternal pesticide exposure and childhood leukaemia.
Ferreira, JD, et al and the Brazilian Collaborative Study Group of Infant Acute Leukemia. In utero pesticide exposure and leukemia in Brazilian children less than 2 years of age. Environmental Health Perspective. Read More: Environmental Health News, 30 January 2013
Return to Work important, but what about prevention?
WorkSafe Victoria this week launched a new return-to-work campaign 'to help injured workers get back on their feet and back to work.' The campaign is using Paralympian Jack Swift as the 'face' of the campaign. Assistant Treasurer Gordon Rich-Phillips said the move follows the release of new statistics which shows the longer injured workers are off work, the more likely they are to require psychiatric and psychological help. Part of the launch has been a special installation at Southern Cross Station of an actor playing 'Pete' an injured worker, 'replicating the actions injured workers can take over a six-week period to recover and prepare to return to work…. (and) visited by the people that play an important role in helping an injured worker back to work – his family, his doctor, his physio, his colleagues and employer.' The campaign also includes advertisements, videos and a competition to 'help Pete'. A short video, Talking about the Health Benefits of Safe Work - A Guide for GP's provides good advice to doctors. WorkSafe Media Release
However, while doing everything possible to get workers back to work (when ready) is extremely important, the VTHC and other OHS activists are concerned that the emphasis should be on prevention – providing a safe and healthy workplace in the first place. Kevin Jones, in his SafetyAtWorkBlog, says 'the increasing focus of safety regulators on return-to-work (RTW) may illustrate a growing trend where rehabilitation policy strategies are gaining priority over injury prevention. Yet innovative approaches to injury prevention provide the greatest potential for personal, economic and social savings.'
As a 21 yr-old in 2006, Mr Swift, was working as a plumber's labourer on an inner Melbourne construction site when a 14-tonne excavator ran over his right leg, crushing it below the knee. The leg was amputated and he spent 13 months off work. While the incident did not result in a prosecution, WorkSafe issued a Safety Alert: Powered Mobile Plant On Construction Sites. When contacted by SafetyAtWorkBlog, a WorkSafe spokesperson advised that 'all safety procedures were in place at the time of his accident'. Mr Jones asks, 'How could this be the case if a worker's leg was crushed to the extent requiring amputation? Was the worksite "safe"?'
Regulator blitz on Warrnambool businesses
Last week WorkSafe inspectors blitzed Warrnambool businesses as
part of the 'Safe Towns' campaign, focussing on a range of workplace
procedures, including dangerous manual handling and unsafe machines.
WorkSafe statistics show there were more than 220 injury claims in the
Warrnambool region last year. Almost half of all the reported injuries
during this period involved a musculoskeletal injury such as back
injuries, sprains and strains, fractures and dislocations.
WorkSafe Media Release
New edition of WorkSafe's Safety Soapbox newsletter
In a welcome return, WorkSafe's
Safety Soapbox e-newsletter
was sent out to subscribers last week. The newsletter contains the
latest news, including the launch of WorkSafe's Top Tradie contest in
April. Of particular interest is a link to a summary of all the
incidents in construction, utilities, mining and quarrying industries
reported to WorkSafe over February this year. There were 87 incidents
reported – many of which could potentially has resulted in much more
serious injury or even death – such as falls, gas explosions and falling
objects. One of the reported incidents was the fatality on February 18,
when a crane driver fell to his death on a CBD site.
Safety Soapbox newsletter
WorkCover Queensland: manual handling in hotels
Manual Handling still represents the biggest compensable injury in Victoria – but many more people suffer these injuries and never make a claim. Manual handling in residential hotels is a real problem, particularly in the housekeeping area. A new film released by WorkCover Queensland, Bedding down a safety Mantra looks at injury prevention and management for accommodation industry workers at a high risk of manual tasks related musculoskeletal injuries, featuring the Mantra Group. WorkCover Queensland Customer Services Manager Melissa Steadman said, 'Accommodation provider Mantra Group was being affected by [injuries, low morale…] but, thanks to a new approach to injury prevention and management, there have been many positive changes. In the bad old days, injured workers remained off work for long periods of time and there wasn't a holistic approach to workplace safety and injury management. But by looking at its injury history, identifying how injuries were being caused, the company is now setting a benchmark for best practice injury management.'
SafeWork Australia news
Hospitalisation Report released
Safe Work Australia last week released the Work-related injuries resulting in hospitalisation - July 2006 to June 2009 report which examines workers known to have sustained an injury of such severity that they were admitted to a hospital for medical treatment. The report is based on data supplied by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) from the National Hospital Morbidity Database (NHMD). The report points out that hospitalisation data provides a valuable alternative insight into the types and causes of work-related injury to that provided by other information sources, such as workers' compensation data.
Over the three year period, the AIHW's hospitalisation database recorded approximately 73,400 hospitalisations across Australia where the patient was aged 15 years or over and their activity when injured was recorded as while 'Working for income'. Some of the finding are:
- Of those hospitalised, 86% were male, with only 14% female
- Young male workers aged 15–24 years were the most likely to have sustained a work-related injury resulting in hospitalisation since they represented 9% of all workers but 18% of work-related hospitalisations.
- The most common cause of work-related injury resulting in hospitalisation was Exposure to inanimate mechanical forces, accounting for 46% of hospitalisations
- The second most common cause, accounting for 16% of hospitalisations, was Falls.
Safe Work Media Release Work-related injuries resulting in hospitalisation report released
Safe Work Australia Worker Fatalities Webpage
Safe Work Australia has reported that as at 27 February 2013, 25 Australian workers had been killed while at work. SWA has now placed information of 'year-to-date' fatalities on a separate webpage.
With the occurrence of each work-related fatality, Safe Work Australia records information, updates statistics and prepares various reports. The number of worker deaths listed on this page is based on initial media reports and is only a preliminary estimate for the number of people killed. It states that the work-related status cannot be confirmed until the death has been investigated by the appropriate authority. Only once this has occurred, it is reported in Safe Work Australia's Monthly Notifiable Fatality reports and Work-related Traumatic Injury Fatalities reports.
Worker fatalities website
Also available: Key Work Health Statistics Booklet Australia 2013 which is a pocket-sized summary of the main statistics on work-related injury, disease and death produced by Safe Work Australia. Information shown includes the main types of injuries for which compensation was paid, the cost of injury and incidence rates by industry.
- From Transport Safety Victoria: a Guide which outlines a rail safety worker's responsibilities for managing fatigue.
- From NSW WorkCover: a fact sheet Electrical Practices: construction and demolition sites [pdf] outlining what the requirements of the Australian Standard for electrical installations are at such sites.
- Last edition it was Queensland reporting flood and mould problems – now it's Western Australia: WorkSafe WA has released a bulletin [pdf] addressing indoor mould growth. The bulletin provides information on potential health effects for workers, what causes mould, preventing mould, and how to clean it up.
- From the Queensland Department of Education, Training and Employment, an information sheet Safety at Work outlines the employer duties under the WHS Act to apprentices and trainees
- More 'straightforward advice' from the UK's regulator, the HSE, this time on Gas Safety
Vic: Another worker jailed for compensation fraud
In unfortunate news, an injured worker who fraudulently obtained
more than $50,000 in compensation payments for an injury, yet continued
to work for other companies in Western Australia, has been jailed for
three months. The 53 year old man pleaded guilty at the Ballarat
Magistrates' Court to one count of fraudulently obtaining weekly
compensation payments. He was working at Ballarat Goldfields Pty Ltd in
2009 when he suffered a shoulder injury and began submitting
certificates of capacity that stated he was unable to work. However, a
WorkSafe investigation found the man had worked in Western Australia for
various mining companies between June 2010 and July 2011. The court
was told he would regularly travel from WA to his medical practitioners
in Victoria so he could continue receiving certificates that stated he
couldn't work. The Magistrate convicted and sentenced the man to nine
months in jail, with six months to be suspended for two years. He was
also ordered to repay $54,000.
WorkSafe Media Release
Yahoo CEO bans teleworking
According to various media sources, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer last
week instituted a HR plan to require Yahoo employees who work remotely
to relocate to company facilities. The change will apparently affect
several hundred employees, who must either comply without exception or
presumably leave the company. It impacts workers such as customer
service reps, who may work from home or an office in another city where
Yahoo does not have one. Journalists have reported being contacted by
such staff who are angry, because they felt they were initially hired
with the assumption that they could work more flexibly. A Yahoo
spokesperson said the company does not comment on internal matters. The
decision has sparked debate on whether the move is positive or negative
for the company, and what is 'more efficient' – but not much has been
said about the effect on the health and safety of these workers.
Read more: At Yahoo, Working from Home Doesn't Work The Wall Street Journal; Yahoo's telework ban signals a return to 'command and control' management and Marissa Mayer is right: your company needs you (in the office) The Conversation
Zambian government seizes Collum Mine over poor working conditions
Earlier this month, the Zambian government revoked the licence of the Collum Mine, emphasising the decision was due to non compliance with labour laws, safety and environmental standards and non payment of royalties at the previously state-owned coal mine. IndustriALL reports frequent industrial unrest at the Chinese-owned mine. As early as 2005, government received submissions on poor working conditions and it considered closing the mine in 2006 after a delegation reported the poor working conditions endured by workers. In October 2010, 13 mineworkers were injured when two managers of the mine opened fire on striking workers. Workers went on strike when they were not paid and to protest poor pay and working conditions. Charges against the two managers were later dropped by the state. Tensions continued to rise in 2012. A number of trade unions and civil society organizations in Zambia have welcomed the seizure of Collum mine, hoping that this action is a strong signal that the government will not tolerate investors that flout the law and abuse workers' rights. Read more: IndustriALL Media Release