SafetyNet 265, August 29th, 2013
Edition of the VTHC's OHS Unit's SafetyNet Journal – we welcome our readers, and encourage you to send in comments. Remember, OHS Reps @ Work is now on Twitter – sign in for updates by following @OHSreps on Twitter and tweet us about OHS issues that might interest you! We are still learning, but please sign up now.
Two fatalities in seven hours
One worker was killed and another was injured after a two-storey building collapsed at a construction site in Melbourne's south-east last Thursday morning. WorkSafe confirmed the incident occurred at a site in Hawthorn Road in Caulfield.
Initial reports were that the worker killed was an electrician aged 21. The other worker, a 48-yr old subcontractor, was freed from the collapsed building in a joint effort by paramedics and the Metropolitan Fire Brigade and was taken to the Alfred hospital suffering fractures and multiple cuts. Police
believe building materials fell through the top floor and onto the middle level, which then collapsed onto the workers. Construction at the site began in late April. The site has a narrow shop front and is between a pizzeria and a beauty salon. WorkSafe inspectors and an investigator, as well as
CFMEU officials were at the site.
Just seven hours after the construction fatality, a 25-year-old electrician died while working on a house renovation in the Gippsland town of Yallourn North. The man was working in the kitchen of a private residence when he was electrocuted at about 4.30pm. WorkSafe investigators attended the scene that night and are investigating the circumstances around the incident.
WorkSafe Chief Executive, Denise Cosgrove, said the deaths of the two young workers were a terrible tragedy. 'Our thoughts are with the families, friends and colleagues of the two young men who passed away yesterday,' Ms Cosgrove said on Friday. 'This tragic news highlights the importance of keeping
safety a top priority in all workplaces at all times.' Thursday's incidents take the number of workplace fatalities in Victoria this year to 12.
The Age WorkSafe Media Releases: Man dies at Caulfield South construction site and Second young tradesman dies in less than seven hours
The VTHC OHS Training unit course program from the end of September 2013 to the end of March 2014 has been finalised and can be accessed from the website. The VTHC delivers WorkSafe approved initial and refresher courses for OHS reps and deputies, Comcare approved courses under the WHS Act and training for committees, managers and supervisors. The experienced training officers can discuss specific workplace needs, and it is possible to arrange on-site delivery.
While it is not mandatory for elected HSRs to attend training, it is highly recommended that once elected, the HSR/Deputy organises with their employer to attend the approved course he/she wishes to attend. Remember that the HSR/Deputy has the right to choose the course – and, unless there are very good reasons to the contrary – the employer has a duty to agree. Remember too that the employer must pay the cost of the course, any reasonable associated costs, and pay the HSR as if he/she were at work.
Under the Victorian Act, the HSR/Deputy must notify their employer at least 14 days prior to the commencement of the course. Under the WHS legislation, the timeframe is different.
Read more: VTHC training program and OHS reps right to training.
Huge response at Herald Sun Home Show
The Asbestoswise stand at Melbourne's Herald Sun Home Show was extremely busy with hundreds of people stopping by to get further information on asbestos in their homes. Many had come to the Home Show looking for renovating ideas, and found the information and advice provided by the volunteers on the stand invaluable. Because of the popularity of asbestos as an addition to many building products in the post-war period, there is a very high percentage of Australian homes with the deadly product – in eaves, rooves, or lurking behind tiles and walls.
Read more on Asbestos in Homes
Meso Busters ride again in fundraising
effort – October 26 & 27
Cycling team 'Meso Busters' are once again riding in the Ride to Conquer Cancer event in an effort to raise money for research at the Peter Mac, Australia's only public hospital dedicated to cancer treatment, research and education, and promote the awareness of safe asbestos handling in the community. Last year the team raised almost $24,900 with five riders. This year there are six riders in the team and hope to better their fundraising amount with your help. Each rider must raise at least $2500 to be able to ride.
Please make donations by going to www.conquercancer.org.au– go to this website, then choose 'Melbourne', click on 'donate', then search for either a team or an individual participant. Shelley Mathews is the team captain, so search for Shelley, then follow the prompts. All donations are tax deductible (receipt sent via email).
My office is purchasing new office equipment – are there any guidelines about suitable equipment?
While there is no regulation that specifically addresses workstations and seating, the employer still has legal responsibilities. Under s21 of the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Act, the employer has a duty of care to employees to provide and maintain for employees a working environment that is safe and without risks to health (so far as is reasonably practicable). Section 21(2) of the Act is then more specific with relation to plant (equipment), substances, systems of work, facilities and so on.
So what should an employer be looking at? There is a lot of advice around, including in a very useful publication, Officewise, and much much more. Make sure too that any HSRs are consulted prior to any equipment being purchased. Because individual workers may have special needs, this is one case where all the affected workers need to be involved in discussions around their own work stations.
For more information and links to guidance, go to this FAQ: Workstations and seating.
Please send any OHS related queries in to 'Ask Renata'- your query will be responded to as quickly as we can, within a couple of days at the latest.
What is the Anna Stewart Memorial Project?
The aim of the Anna Stewart Memorial Project is to increase women's involvement in the union movement through on the job training. The project has been in existence since May 1984 and so far over 800 women unionists have participated in the Victorian arm of the project. There are two ASMP intakes per
year in Victoria one in May and October.
During the two week project women trade union members from diverse workplaces and occupations are placed with their own, and sometimes with another union. They experience the full range of union work, including mass meetings, enterprise bargaining negotiations and hearings at Fair Work Australia. All participants meet for group training for three full days and one half day during the project to discuss women, work and union issues. They are generally sponsored by unions and there is no charge for attending the course.
The call is out for registrations for the next Anna Stewart Memorial Project which is being run from Monday 7 October to Friday 18 October. This is only 7 weeks away! 2013 marks the 29th year of the ASMP for more information and how to register please contact Jennifer O'Donnell-Pirisi, VTHC Women's Officer. firstname.lastname@example.org or 0412 228 247.
Most if not all of our subscribers will at least be aware of the ongoing saga of AFL club Essendon's performance-enhancing supplements program which has at times eclipsed all other news. Late last week, after the AFL released details of the charges against the coach and other officials, at least one player's mother, spoke out about her concerns that her son had been treated like a guinea pig. Calling a radio program, she said, "My child is in his early 20s, he'll be 21 shortly, and for him to be used and to be injected with substances that may not be illegal but could be banned, for substances to be labelled not for human consumption, or not for human use and for the club to completely disregard it, to disregard those warnings, and to inject my son I find appalling."
The woman would not give her name – the reason perhaps voiced by 'one player manager of some lesser lights at Essendon' who said: "If those [unsigned or irregular senior] players didn't toe the party line they were frightened they would lose their position or not get another contract. The players' parents are still too scared to stand up and say: "This is unacceptable'. They fear for their sons. What if he goes to work and feels isolated by the group because of what his parents said? What if no one talks to him? They've all been told to say nothing."
In all of this, one wonders what WorkSafe is doing to protect these young footballers from the actions of their employer?
Eric Windholz, now Lecturer and Associate with the Centre for Regulatory Studies in the Faculty of Law at Monash University, but previously General Counsel and General Manager, Strategic Programs and Support, WorkSafe, asks this question in an article in The Conversation. As he points out, 'Every employer in Victoria (and the rest of Australia) owes a duty of care to provide employees with a working environment that is safe and without risk to health (so far as is reasonably practicable). This includes professional football clubs. And every
employee in the state should be confident in WorkSafe Victoria's ability and willingness to fulfil its statutory obligation to monitor and enforce compliance with the state's workplace health and safety laws. This includes players in the employ of the clubs.' Unfortunately, this is another occasion where
WorkSafe is not 'stepping up'.
Read more: The Age Players' welfare forgotten: Mother and Tim Watson's conflicted role in Essendon saga The Conversation: Time for OHS regulators to get off the bench and into the game
The firefighters union (UFU) has been lobbying for the introduction of 'presumptive' legislation to give firefighters easier access to compensation for certain cancers. International studies have found firefighters have a higher rate of cancer due to the chemicals they are exposed to. South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia and the Commonwealth safety jurisdiction have introduced (or are in the process of introducing) similar legislation.
Last week the union and the Greens condemned the Napthine government's announcement it would establish the Firefighters Assessment Panel, to be managed by WorkSafe and the CFA to 'assist in the management and assessment of professional and volunteer firefighter cancer related claims', as insulting and a cynical attempt to kill off the legislation. Victorian Greens MP Colleen Hartland proposed laws in Victoria that would also cover the state's 60,000 volunteer firefighters. While these have received in-principle support from the opposition, the government has been reluctant to support the bill with some MPs fearing it is too expensive.
Assistant Treasurer Gordon Rich-Phillips, in announcing the panel, said, 'This is a complex issue. [WorkCover] relies on the evidence of expert and respected clinicians to interpret existing research. Each firefighter's claim is considered individually on its merits, having regard to the existing scientific
evidence.' Emergency Services Minister Kim Wells provoked further outrage when he said, 'We are not convinced that there is a direct link between cancer and the firefighters.' A WorkSafe information
sheetfor firefighters wishing to make a claim repeats this claim. This flies in the face of international research and the outcome of a Senate inquiry.
United Firefighters Union spokesman Mick Tisbury said, 'Instead of allowing firefighters with work-related cancer to access WorkCover - like any other injured worker in this state - they now propose new hurdles such as this vague panel with unspecified accountability.' Instead of passing the legislation on Wednesday, the government employed delaying tactics in the Lower House, despite over a 100 firefighters who were present in the gallery.
Sources: The Age New caner panel condemned by firefighters union and Greens and MP inflames firefighters on cancer link.
NSW: Construction union wants better protection after teenager impaled
After a 19-year-old teenager ended up with a steel rod embedded in his head in an incident at a NSW building site, which the CFMEU NSW State Secretary Brian Parker said 'highlights the inherent danger construction workers face every day they enter a site.' The young man had been operating a 21-tonne excavator with the front window of the cab open. 'The excavator was breaking up concrete which was reinforced by the steel rods and it appears that in the process the rod has broken away from the concrete and flung into the boy's head,' according to Parker. WorkCover is investigating the incident.
The young man was still conscious and coherent when he was taken to hospital, after most of the rod had been removed – but at least six centimetres had been left in place as it needed to be surgically removed.
'Governments should be working harder to improve safety and protect ordinary workers and their families from the kind of heartbreak and injury these type of accidents result in,' said Parker, with more attention paid to safe work methods and engineering solutions. 'Instead in NSW the Liberal O'Farrell Government is sacking WorkCover inspectors and giving developers a free ride to cut safety standards,' he added. The CFMEU will be calling for steel mesh cages to be placed over the front of machinery during demolitions involving any heavy material such as concrete, to prevent any material entering the cab.
Read more: CFMEU Media Release
Australia's peak union council, the ACTU has called for the nation's offshore safety regulator, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA), to cut the use of dispersant chemicals following a report on the August 18 edition of 60 Minutes of their toxicity. ACTU assistant secretary Michael Borowick cautioned that NOPSEMA 'must fully investigate the use of potentially deadly dispersants to clean up oil spills in Australia'.
ACTU Media Release 60 Minutes: Crude Solution
MUA hails new
international law protecting seafarers' conditions
The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) says the international Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) 2006 which comes into force on August 20 is a 'significant leap forward in the global trade union campaign to improve the labour rights and labour standards of seafarers'.
More than 40 countries, including Australia, have signed up for the MLC which sets out seafarers' rights to decent conditions of work 'on almost every aspect of their working and living conditions'. The MLC includes, among other conditions, rules on minimum age, employment agreements, hours of work or rest, payment of wages, paid annual leave, repatriation at the end of contract, on-board medical care, use of licensed private recruitment and placement services, accommodation, food and catering, health and safety protection and accident prevention and seafarers' complaint handling. 'This Convention is a milestone in maritime history,' said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder. 'The product of tripartite dialogue and international cooperation, it enables decent working and living conditions for seafarers to be advanced, along with fair competition for shipowners in this, the most globalized of industries.'
MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin, who is also president of the International Transport Workers Federation, said the MLC represented a 'new day for seafarers' rights'. He said, 'The convention consolidates the rights of seafarers to a safe and secure workplace, to fair terms of employment,
to decent living and working conditions, to appropriate medical care, health protection and welfare, along with their right to freedom of association.'
Read more: ILO Media Release Global shipping industry sets sail under new standard MUA Media Release
Results of CSIRO bullying
The nation's peak scientific organisation, CSIRO, has been facing allegations of bullying for the past several years – allegations broad and serious enough that the establishment of an anonymous website Victims of CSIRO in 2012, a Comcare improvement notice and an independent inquiry which received 110 submissions on 130 discrete allegations.
The inquiry's report Workplace Conduct in CSIRO was recently published and concluded that, based on the evidence, there was: 'no major problem of workplace bullying or other unreasonable behaviour in CSIRO and it is definitely not possible to describe the work culture at CSIRO as 'toxic'. However, 'There are pockets of concern and these need to be dealt with.' It also found there were 'shortcomings in CSIRO's policies and procedures for responding to complaints about workplace bullying and other unreasonable behaviour; and the application of the procedures for dealing with workplace bullying and other unreasonable behaviour has not been satisfactory.' They also noted that there needed to be a shift from focussing on the individual ('blame the victim') to considering it an organisational issue.
In its initial response to the report, the Victims of CSIRO group has said 'The point has been missed entirely': 'The investigation report, if nothing else, has substantiated the existence of a significant number of bullying allegations within the CSIRO,' it says. 'For years, Senior Officers of the CSIRO have wilfully misled the public, our federal politicians and even judicial bodies about misconduct within the organisation and have attempted, and continue in their attempts, to vilify and discredit those who have dared to contest the validity of these public statements.'
The always perceptive Kevin Jones, in his Safetyatwork blog, discusses the ramifications of the CSIRO inquiry – the complexity of bullying in the workplace, the difficulties in applying the definition, and more – making interesting reading.
Read more: The report Safetyatwork blog
Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. At least two in every three Australians will develop skin cancer before the age of 70. Outdoor workers have a higher risk of skin cancer due to the long periods of time they spend outside in the sun year round.
To help workplaces protect their workers, SunSmart has a face-to-face Workplace Education Program. The program is designed to assist workers and employers fulfil their responsibilities in line with current Occupational Health & Safety legislation, as well as increasing their capacity to create a SunSmart workplace. The program comprises a 1 hour or 1.5 hour face-to-face group session with an experienced facilitator, who will visit your organisation.
Reminder: SunSmart recently launched guidelines on how to develop a workplace UV protection program and sun protection policy. Skin cancer and outdoor work: a guide for employersprovides information about control measures, how to address sun protection in workplaces and evaluate compliance. SunSmart's sample sun protection policy for workplaces can be used as a basis for organisations that are developing policies.
International Union News
New Zealand: Unions expose minister's sly strategy
New Zealand's peak union council has had to 'correct' the labour minister who attempted to misrepresent the recommendations of a Taskforce into a deadly mine explosion, in a bid to undermine the accountability of a new workplace health and safety regulator. The Taskforce into the November 2010 Pike River mine disaster in which 29 workers died said a new workplace health and safety regulator should be supported by a tripartite board, involving representatives of government, employers and employees. But a 40-page paper to the Cabinet from labour minister Simon Bridges instead claimed the Taskforce recommended that the board be supported by a more arms-length tripartite advisory group, an idea expressly dismissed in the Taskforce report. The Taskforce instead said 'the new agency should be constituted on a tripartite basis'. Exposing the discrepancies between the minister's report and the real Taskforce recommendations, Helen Kelly, president of the New Zealand Council of Trades Unions (NZCTU), said: 'We hope this helps the minister understand the Taskforce recommendations more clearly,' adding 'Tripartism is an essential element that should be evident throughout the system to ensure adequate worker voice in health and safety.' NZCTU news release. Proposal from the Office of the Minister of Labour Source: Risks 618.
Joint global action in October against
Reminder: World Day for Decent Work –October 7. Major global union federation IndustriALL is encouraging all affiliates and unions to take a stand on this day to put a stop to precarious work. In the last decade, companies and governments all over the world have used flexible and insecure employment contracts to undermine workers' wages, conditions and ability to organise collectively. The federation says this needs to stop – but in Australia, we are in danger of this problem becoming much worse, if an Abbott-led government wins the upcoming election.
More information and campaign materials are on the IndustriALL website Source: AAWL Mini news
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Cancer in Regions near Benzene-releasing refineries and plants
Researchers have found the incidence of a particular type of blood cancer is significantly higher in regions near facilities releasing benzene into the environment. This study, published online in the journal Cancer, and others like it will be critical to identifying and enacting public health policies to decrease or prevent cancer. The incidence of non-Hodgkin lymphoma has been increasing over the past few decades as industrial production in the United States has expanded. Benzene is one chemical carcinogen linked to blood cancers.
Researchers in the Lymphoma Program at Emory University in Atlanta used publicly available data from the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Census Bureau to analyse the geographic patterns of non-Hodgkin lymphoma cases in Georgia between 1999 and 2008. They examined the associations between new cases of lymphoma and the locations of facilities, such as petroleum refineries and manufacturing plants, releasing benzene into the surrounding air or water. They discovered the incidence of non-Hodgkin lymphoma was significantly greater than expected surrounding benzene release sites located in the metro-Atlanta area and surrounding one benzene release site in Savannah. For every mile the average distance to benzene release sites increased, there was a 0.31 percent decrease in the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. This was the first study to examine the relationship between passive benzene exposure and the incidence of non-Hodgkin lymphoma at the state population level. Catherine Bulka, one of the research team said, 'Our findings are limited without similar studies to corroborate our results, but we hope that our research will inform readers of the potential risks of living near facilities that release carcinogens into the air, groundwater, or soil.'
Christopher R. Flowers, Barbara Pro. Racial differences in chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Cancer, 2013; DOI: Read more: Science Daily
Flu shot may halve heart attack risk
For those workers who regularly come in contact with members of the public, employer provided flu shots at the beginning of the flu season are a must. For employers too, the benefits are great, reducing potentially very costly absences due to flu. Australian researchers have now provided even more incentive to line up for shots: receiving the flu vaccine may almost halve the chance of a heart attack for middle-aged people with narrow arteries.
Heart disease kills and disables more Australians than any other disease. The authors of the research suggest policy makers should consider this new evidence in any decisions around extending the age cut-off for vaccination, as people aged between 50 and 64 are not always included in routine vaccination
programs in Australia and the UK.
C Raina MacIntyre, et alI Schaemic heart disease, influenza and influenza vaccination: a prospective case control study Heart doi:10.1136/heartjnl-2013-304320 Source: The Conversation
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Latest edition of WorkSafe Safety Soapbox The latest edition of WorkSafe's newsletter came out this week. Since the last edition there have been 34 incidents from the construction, utility and quarrying industries reported to WorkSafe. The incidents included 12 lacerations, seven fractures and four electric shocks. This list [pdf] covers the period August 9 – 22 and does not include last week's two fatal incidents.Read the Safety Soapbox newsletter here
Reminder of WorkSafe's new webpage for small businessSmall business is reminded to check out WorkSafe's new information page which has targeted information and guidance. The page also has information on WorkSafe's OHS Essentials Program, which provides a free three hours consultancy session for small business. Read more
Wild weather prompts
warnings to construction sites
Wild winds in Melbourne the past few weeks, prompted WorkSafe to issue warnings to construction sites to make sure they are prepared. WorkSafe said it had received a number of calls in relation to structural collapse and other damage at worksites across the state during the first run of windy days. Chief executive Denise Cosgrove said everyone involved in the construction industry or other outdoor work needed to plan for (such days) and be on alert. 'Builders must ensure partially completed buildings and structures are well supported. Brick and block walls must be adequately braced until work is completed,' Ms Cosgrove said. She also warned of the dangers of flying debris: 'Roofing sheets, scaffold planks and other loose materials must be secured to prevent them being picked up by the wind and being blown around or out of the site.'
WorkSafe media release
Safe Work Australia
Safe Work Members meeting
At the meeting on August 15, Safe Work Australia Members 'noted the continuing delay in implementation' in Western Australia and Victoria, New Zealand had announced it would adopt the model WHS laws.
Also at the meeting, Members agreed by majority to release the revised draft Code of Practice: Managing Risk in Construction Work for public comment for six weeks. The revised draft code includes guidance on housing construction work to make the existing code more accessible to the housing construction industry. Members are due to consider out of session the specific issues to be highlighted for public comment prior to release of the draft code, which will be available on the Safe Work website.
Read more: Communiqué - Safe Work Australia Meeting 15
Notifiable fatalities and Year to date
As at 23 August 2013, 109 Australian workers have been killed while at work.
The number of worker deaths is based on initial media reports and is only a preliminary estimate for the number of people killed. Work-related status cannot be confirmed until the death is investigated by the appropriate authority. Once this has occurred, it is reported in Safe Work Australia's Monthly Notifiable Fatality reports (the latest is March 2013) and Work-related Traumatic Injury Fatalities reports.
Read more: Worker fatalities
Rail safety - new video on Construction
and Maintenance Dangers
During Rail Safety Week, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) released a video featuring an animated version of a fatal accident in which a passenger train collided with an excavator in Newbridge, NSW. The video describes how even as an intercity train was travelling through the countryside, workers down the line commenced track work unaware that site protection measures such as detonators and flags were not in place. Meanwhile, a breakdown in communication between the site protection officer and the train controller with regard to work site location meant both had thought the train had passed the site.
View video and full article here Source: Work Health Safety (OHS) Leadership for all.
- From WorkSafe Victoria: a safety alert Patient Handling – Portable Ceiling hoists after several incidents where ceiling hoists used to transfer patients in hospitals and other facilities failed, causing serious injuries.
- From the UK's HSE – a brief guide for employers: Managing upper limb disorders in the workplace [pdf] which is free to download. The guide provides advice on how to identify contributing factors and control measures.
Adventure company convicted and fined for teacher death
On 3 March 2011 a school teacher died while taking part in a snorkelling activity conducted by WCA (Vic) Pty Ltd) for a group of students and teachers at Jarosite Reef, near Torquay. The company, also known as West Coast Adventures, was charged with breaching section 23 of the OH&S Act 2004(failing to ensure that persons other than their employees were not exposed to risks to their health and safety arising from the conduct of WCA's undertaking). On 29 July 2013 the company pleaded guilty to the charge and on 12 August 2013 the company was convicted and fined $180,000 in the Geelong County Court.
Director charged over house collapse
In May 2012 a house that was being removed by a company involved in domestic house removal works collapsed, trapping a worker underneath. On 7 August 2013 the sole director of the company, Fred Robert Shoobert, pleaded guilty and was convicted in the Dandenong Magistrates' Court. He was released on an adjourned undertaking to be of good behaviour for 12 months over an incident that occurred As sole director, Shoobert had been charged with breaching section 144 of the OH&S Act 2004 (Liability of officers of bodies corporate) with respect to failing to provide a safe system of work and provide adequate training in relation to the house removal works.
Company fined for non-compliance with inspector notices
On 3 November 2011, a WorkSafe Inspector attended the premises of Boomerang Tapes, a wholesaler for carton-sealing adhesive tapes, as a result of a fire, and issued one prohibition notice and seven improvement notices with a compliance date of 23 December 2011. When the Inspector visited the workplace in early February 2012 he observed non-compliance with all seven of the improvement notices. He again attended the workplace on 7 March, and observed that three of the notices were still not complied with. As at 13 August, one notice still remained non-complied and it was not until 5 October 2012 that compliance was achieved – almost 11 months after original issue! The accused pleaded guilty to two offences of the OHS Act 2004, and on 7 August 2013 was fined $3,000 without conviction, and ordered to pay $2,000 costs.
firm convicted for breaching designer duty
On 8 December 2011, a warehouse was still under construction when a 90 metre section of canopy collapsed. At the time, two workers were in an Elevating Work Platform (EWP) at a height of 7 metres, working on the guttering. As the canopy fell to the ground, it struck their EWP, including the top rail of their work basket. Two other workers were also working in the vicinity of the canopy at putting up guard rails and mesh around the canopy but were not injured.
Consulting firm L.Monitto Consulting Engineers Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court to breaching Sections 28(1) & 28(2) (Duties of designers of buildings or structures) of the OHS Act 2004 for failing to ensure that the canopy of a building under construction was designed
to be safe and without risks to health. On 16 August 2013, the accused was convicted and fined $40,000, with costs of $3,885.
Also pleading guilty to the same charge and for the same incident, J&T International Trade Pty Ltd, was convicted and fined $30,000 with costs of $3,885 – also on 16 August.
Source: WorkSafe Prosecution Result Summaries
NSW: Sixth and seventh parties fined over workplace fall
NSW employer Multiplus Group Pty Ltd and its director, Gao Geng He, have become the sixth and seventh parties to be fined over a workplace fall, in which an inexperienced construction worker suffered severe head injuries. The IRC found neither had any expertise in managing a major construction project.
Multiplus and He were fined $110,000 and $11,000 respectively, for failing to ensure an unsecured penetration was covered. The injured worker, who had limited experience on construction sites, was engaged by Aleksic Carpentry Pty Ltd through a vocational rehabilitation program after being on long-term unemployment benefits. In August 2009, he was moving compressed fibro sheeting at an Austar Constructions Pty Ltd townhouse development when he fell 3.7 meters through the open penetration.
Multiplus, which controlled the site under an agreement with Austar, and He, who controlled payments and regularly visited the site to discuss safety issues with the project and site managers, pleaded guilty to breaching the State OHS Act. Their failures were many - they failed to: implement site-specific inductions, conduct toolbox talks, introduce a safe work method statement for working near an unsecured penetration, ensure non-employees were supervised, undertake a risk assessment, or conduct an inspection of the site.
The development's self-employed project manager Jackson Cai was fined $12,500 over the incident in March 2013, while his co-manager, Yu Peng Shang, was fined $12,000 in August last year. Aleksic ($120,000), its director ($15,000) and Austar ($50,000) were also fined over the incident.
Inspector Spence v Multiplus Group Pty Ltd (ACN 132 085 824)  NSWIRComm 69 (16 August 2013) Source: OHSAlert
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I nternational New s
USA: OSHA and NIOSH issue hazard alert and urge
safeguarding workers from exposure to toxic chemical
The United States Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health last months issued a hazard alert to urge employers using 1-bromopropane (1-BP) to take appropriate steps to protect workers from exposure. It warned that the use of 1-BP had increased in workplaces over the last 20 years, and exposure could lead to serious health effects, even long after exposure has ended. Exposure to 1-BP has been associated with damage to the nervous system among workers, and causes reproductive harm in animal studies. The chemical is used in degreasing operations, furniture manufacturing, and dry cleaning.
The hazard alert was issued in response to information on the increased use of 1-BP as a substitute for other solvents as well as recent reports of overexposure in furniture manufacturing. Workers can be exposed to 1-BP by breathing in vapours or spray mists and by absorption through the skin. The most effective way to protect workers from exposure is to eliminate the use of 1-BP, substituting the chemical with a less toxic substance or less hazardous material. Replacement chemicals also may have associated hazards that need to be considered and controlled. Engineering controls to reduce worker exposure to 1-BP include isolation of workplace operations and the installation of proper ventilation systems. Other controls, such as a reduction in the time a worker is exposed to the chemical, should also be considered. 1-BP Hazard Alert [pdf]
Source: Chemwatch Bulletin
US: Data on chemical accidents wrongA Dallas Morning News analysis of more than 750,000 US federal records found pervasive inaccuracies and holes in data on chemical accidents, such as April incident in West that killed 15 people and injured more than 300. It appears that no
one at any level of government knows how often serious chemical accidents occur each year in the United States, and there is no plan in place for federal agencies to gather more accurate information. The newspaper says that as a result, the kind of data sharing ordered by President Barack Obama
in response to West is unlikely to improve the government's ability to answer even the most basic questions about chemical safety.
'We can track Gross National Product to the second and third decimal, but there is no reliable way of tracking even simple things like how many [chemical] accidents happen,' said Sam Mannan, a nationally recognized expert on chemical safety who recently testified before a congressional hearing on West. 'This is just scandalous.'
US government reports citing serious problems with chemical safety data go back to at least the 1980s - when an accidental release of methyl isocyanate from a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, killed more than 5,000 people. The 1984 disaster spurred the Environmental Protection Agency to attempt
to create a chemical accident database. The effort began in 1985. But researchers quickly found that many serious chemical accidents never came to the attention of any federal agency. By 1989, funding for the project had ended.
Read more: Dallas News After West disaster, News study finds U.S. chemical safety data wrong about 90 percent