SafetyNet 269,24 October, 2013
We apologise to
those subscribers who were unable to access the last edition due to
'potentially offensive language' – female doctors being harassed is certainly
offensive! Hopefully we won't have the same problem this edition.
We're battling to get a good number 'following' us on Twitter (@OHSreps) – so please do consider this…
WorkSafe Victoria Awards
SafetyNet was at the WorkSafe Week Awards ceremony yesterday, at The Peninsula at Docklands. It was a 'gala' event with awards handed out under a range of categories. Winners in those categories which mostly closely affect HSRs:
Excellence in health and safety management (recognising individuals who have made an exceptional difference to workplace health and safety): Phyllip Bix - Grampians Region Prisons. Phyllip was a 'boner' in the meat industry, and an active member of the AMIEU as well as being an HSR when was seriously injured and was unable to continue his work. With the assistance of the union in pursuing his workers' compensation claim, Phyllip was able to retrain and now works as a professional in OHS.
Health and safety committee of the year: Zoos Victoria – Healesville. The team at Healesville Sanctuary plays a central role in ensuring 'safety first' at their workplace.
Health and safety representative of the year: JeddaMcGlinchey – Ambulance Victoria (Melbourne). Jedda is an active member of the AEAV (Victoria's Ambulance Union) and has had a hard, though ultimately successful, year or so in which she fought for and achieved a great outcome for her DWG. There were a multitude of problems with their Ambulance station such as insufficient sleeping quarters and issues to do with safety.
And finally: a surprise Awards – our own Cathy Butcher was announced as the 2013 recipient of the Award for Outstanding Leadership and Contribution to Health and Safety. WorkSafe decided some time ago that they would not give this Award out every year – only when it was felt that there was someone who truly deserved it – and Cathy certainly does!
Read more about the winners, the finalists and check out the pics
worst workplace tragedy: West
The ceremony organised by the West Gate Memorial Committee on the 43rdanniversary of Victoria's most serious workplace tragedywas held at 11.30am, October 15 at the West Gate Memorial Park Monument, under the Bridge at Hyde St, Spotswood.At 11.50 everyone stopped to remember those who died with a minute's silence. Renata spoke to some of those present: survivors, the family of someone who was killed, and someone who lived locally and remembers it vividly.
Read more: West Gate Bridge Collapse Anniversary 2013
OHS Right of Entry conditions changes – politically motivated?
As reported(SafetyNet 268), the ACTU is concerned that the changes mooted by Queensland's Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie to force union officials to give 24 hours' notice prior to entering a workplace on suspected OHS breaches will put workers' lives at risk. The debate over whether unions use OHS issues as an excuse for industrial relations action is an old one: in the report following his review of the 1985 Victorian OHS Act Chris Maxwell while noting 'widespread perception amongst employers that unions misuse the provisions of OHSA to achieve other industrial objectives', concluded: 'Occupational health and safety is, by definition, an industrial issue, since it is necessarily concerned with the conditions of work.' He then quoted an employer who said, 'A safe workplace is the first industrial relations issue you'd like to get right.'(para869). Once again, Kevin Jones, in his SafetyAtWork blog, has an interesting article which considers in more detail the reasons and the politics behind Bleijie's arguments.
The Maxwell Report can be downloaded here. SafetyAtWork Blog: OHS as an industrial relations tool
Last week the Queensland government
also announced changes to its workers compensation scheme, including the
introduction of a new threshold for common law claims. While the changes appear
to be in line with what business wanted, media reports are that more than 80
per cent of Queenslanders do not want to see their system tampered with.
The Brisbane Times: Most Queenslanders against WorkCover changes and Queensland WorkCover changes will limit claims
Documentary: The Making of DUST
The notion of a musical theatre show about asbestos seems highly unlikely - but the genius of the "Dust" project is that it adopts a playful andcounter-intuitive approach to tell engaging stories about this pervasive and persistent poison. The result is an unconventional show with a whole lot of different elements: songs, sideshow performances, real-life testimonies, films, sculpture, and even some hairdressing. There are stories of suffering and stories of righteous outrage, but there arealso plenty of surprising comic moments. And, accompanied by a large community choir, Mark Seymour performs a suite of powerful songs that are at the heart of the show.
Don't miss this
half-hour documentary film which presents its own artful, constructed, and
playful interpretation of the "Dust" show, stepping in and out of the
theatricalaction and providing critical context for the parts of the show we
see on screen. Ultimately, like the theatre show around which it's based,
"Making Dust" is an acknowledgement of suffering, a plea for justice and a
tribute to human dignity and resilience.
ABC1 Tuesday 26 November @ 10pm
You have one more day to support the Meso
Busters team – October 26 & 27
Please consider sponsoring the 'Meso Busters'cycling team in this weekend's Ride to Conquer Cancerevent which raises money for research at the Peter Mac and promotes the awareness of safe asbestos handling in the community. Go to www.conquercancer.org.au, choose'Melbourne', click on 'donate', and then search for either the team or Shelley Mathews, who is the team captain - then follow the prompts. All donations are tax deductible (receipt sent via email).
ACT flags mandatory asbestos training,
suspends high-risk licence
Under proposed changes to the ACT's mirror WHS Act, all Territory construction workers, as well as some workers in related industries, will be required to undergo asbestos-awareness training. At the moment, 'PCBUs' (equivalent to 'the employer' under the Victorian Act) are required to provide adequate information and training to workers to enable them to identify asbestos, be aware of where it is likely to be located, know what to do when it is found, and understand its dangers, saysWorkSafe ACT. The regulator is proposing that the new course, Asbestos Awareness 10314 NAT, will be mandatory for all construction workers from early 2014.
Read more: WorkSafe's January 2013 guidance note [pdf].Source: OHSAlert
A-BAN: Asbestos use increasing in Asia
The Asian Ban Asbestos Network, or A-BAN, says governments in Asia are ignoring the dangers of asbestos, and allowing the ongoing use of this deadly building material.SugioFuruya, coordinator of A-BAN, told Radio Australia's Asia Pacificthat consumption in many Asian countries is still on the rise, though countries like Japan, South Korea and Australia have banned its use. 'Asbestos consumption in Asia is accounting for 70 per cent of global asbestos consumption,' Mr Furuya said. 'More than 90 per cent of asbestos is used for construction materials and the people touching asbestos are not informed about [its] hazard.'
Mr Furuya says
the material is being used in the construction of houses due to its low cost.He
says countries like India are intentionally ignoring the dangers of asbestos: 'There's
almost no regulation against asbestos in such countries and asbestos victims
are still invisible in many developing countries. [The Indian government] takes
no action to prevent people from asbestos exposure.' Mr Furuya said Australia could help Asian
countries stop using asbestos. 'Australia
has much experience and expertise to deal with asbestos...and can contribute...
to avoid an asbestos epidemic in the future.'
Asia Pacific Audio
Facing lawsuits over asbestos, paper
giant launched secretive research program.
According to court records obtained by the Center for Public Integrity, when faced with more than 60,000 legal claims, the Atlanta-based Georgia-Pacific company launched a secret research program hoping to exonerate its product as a carcinogen. Under its research program, Georgia-Pacific paid 18 scientists a collective US$6 million. These experts were directed by the company's longtime head of toxicology, who was "specially employed" by in-house counsel to work on asbestos litigation and was under orders to hold "in the strictest confidence" all information generated.
This framework, similar
to the tobacco industry's tactics, allowed Georgia-Pacific to control the
science and claim all communications as privileged — not subject to discovery
in litigation. A New York
appeals court held recently that the communications "could have been in
furtherance of a fraud," an allegation the company has denied.
Read more: Center for Public Integrity
Thousands stage 'die-in' over asbestos risks
Thousands of people staged a "die-in" in Paris on Saturday 12 October over the failure by authorities to clear workplaces of asbestos. The protesters from all over France lay down in the street outside Sorbonne University in Paris' Latin Quarter to illustrate dramatically how asbestos exposure claims 3,000 lives per year in the country. They had kicked off the march at the Tour Montparnasse, one of the city's few tall buildings, where inspectors have repeatedly found levels of asbestos contamination exceeding allowable levels. Ten deaths each day, with no one held responsible or found guilty, one poster read; For criminal proceedings on asbestosread another in the march that ended at Paris's main courthouse. The National Association of Victims of Asbestos (ANDEVA) called the march, which was headed by relatives of victims of asbestos exposure, mainly widows holding pictures of their husbands. The protest aims to 'show the public and political officials that the victims of asbestos are still waiting for criminal proceedings,' ANDEVA said in a statement. 'It has been 17 years since we submitted the first complaints, and there has still not been a criminal trial,' ANDEVA vice president Francois Desriaux told AFP. 'The asbestos risk is not ancient history, it still exists today,' he said.
Source: Risks 627 Read more: Google News Raw Story
My DWG covers the administration and office staff. I am concerned that we spend most of our day seated at the computer. Some of my members are beginning to show signs of overuse injuries, such as sore arms and shoulders. Do you have any suggestions?
You are right to be concerned. Apart from overuse injuries (or RSI), there is also increasing evidence that sitting all day negatively affects the health of workers: increased risk of obesity, diabetes and more. The ACTU's Working Life website recently published an interesting article An Exercise in Office Improvisation which provides seven 'helpful hints' to exercise while at work.
Pertinent to your question is Hint 7, for those workers who may be at risk of developing an overuse injury due to excessive keyboard work: Nose Typing. According to the article: 'Your hands are just two of the many appendages you have at your disposal for typing. Strap a stylus to your nose or the middle of your face with sticky-tape and tack, so you can type out a memo while giving your RSI (repetitive strain injury) time to recover. As an added bonus, you'll be strengthening the trapezius muscles in your neck and shoulders, and improving flexibility in your spine. You might think this is a bit of a nonsense suggestion, but remember that the nose-stylus has been around since 2011. Originally invented to help you use your smartphone in the bath, why not use it for some face exercise?'
serious) information on overuse injuries, see Strains and Sprains
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.
Nurses and Midwives: at risk from sharps
Nurses and midwives suffer the highest rate of needlestick and sharps injuries among Australian healthcare workers each year, according to the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF – previously the ANF). These remain the most common and potentially most dangerous injuries facing nurses and midwives. ANMF Federal Secretary Lee Thomas said while there are an estimated 180,000 reports of needlestick and sharps injuries to nurses, midwives and other healthcare workers occurring each year across the nation, the figure could actually be much higher. 'With approximately half of all injuries not reported, this means the actual number of injuries to nurses and other healthcare workers could be as high as 36,000 cases a year,' she said. 'We're obviously very concerned about the potential harm to nurses, exposing them to the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B or C.'
As part of
National Safe Work Australia month, the ANMF and the Alliance for Sharps Safety
and Needlestick Prevention in Healthcare have renewed calls for state and
federal jurisdictions to mandate the use of safety engineered devices
(SEMDs).The ANMF estimates it would cost $50 million to equip Australia's
public hospitals with safe needle use education and safety equipment but only a
small number of hospitals have introduced the safety devices.
Read more: ANMF Media Release
refused Australian visa because 'too poor'
The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) had sought to bring out to Australia Monruzziman Masum, to speak at several events during Anti-poverty Week about the plight of workers and the labour movement in Bangladesh. Masum was involved in the rescue operation at the Rana Plaza factory collapse where over 1100 workers were killed, and in supporting workers after the Gazipur factory fire (see below). He was due to report on these terrible events and the appalling conditions under which many Bangladeshi garment workers toil. However, Australian immigration officials have refused two consecutive visa applications on the basis that he is 'too poor'.
The second visa application included a number of documents with endorsements and guarantees of financial support for the visit from Australian unions. But the Australian Government noted that Masum, with only $46 in his bank account, was just too poor to be granted entry to Australia - as apparently he may not have enough incentive to go back home (despite his wife, his daughter, his work and his union being in Dhaka).
secretary of the NTEU, Dr Colin Long, said that it is bitterly ironic that
Masum's attendance at Anti-poverty Week events had been prevented because he is
too poor. 'Perhaps Masum's ability to speak first-hand about the exploitation
of workers was what the Australian government was most concerned about.
Australian citizens benefit from the cheap goods made in Asian countries, so we
think they should know more about the conditions under which those goods are
made,' Dr Long said.
Read more: NTEU Media Release
Bangladesh: another tragic fire underlines importance of Accord
On 8 October, at least 9 people were killed in a factory fire at Aswad Composite Mills of the Palmal Group in the Gazipur district near Dhaka. IndustriALL Global Union and UNI Global Union confirm their commitment to the comprehensive 5-year plan of the Accord for Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.The IndustriALL Bangladesh Council of trade union affiliates is working to assist the humanitarian relief effort following the fire that also injured a reported 50. The joint IBC team is working with both the families of the victims and the injured workers. This effort will coordinate with the labour ministry and the employer associations BGMEA and BKMEA.
Read more: IndustriALL Media Release
ILO launches programme to improve garment factory safety in Bangladesh
The International Labour
Organization (ILO) and the Government of Bangladesh launched a new programme to
improve working conditions in the ready-made garment (RMG) sector in Bangladesh this week (22 October) in Dhaka. The three-and-a-half year initiative, developed in
collaboration with government, employers' and workers' representatives, in
response to a number of industrial accidents in the sector, will focus on
improving RMG factory building safety and workers' rights and conditions in
Bangladesh.It will build on work already underway in the country since the
Tazreen factory fire in 2012 and Rana Plaza building collapse almost six months
ago in which over 1,100 workers lost their lives.
Read more: ILO Media Release
Transport Workers Union
calls on Coles to 'Stop squeeze on safety'
The TWU is asking supporters what the pricetag should be on a safe workplace? The union says Coles made $1.53 billion in profit in the 2012-13 financial year. $1.53 billion; and Managing Director Ian McLeod took home an unbelievable $10.74 million in the same period.
But according to the union, the workers who help the company achieve these enormous profits are left dangling at the end of the supply chain, with Coles' cost-cutting leading to unfair and unsafe working conditions. It says Coles has refused to improve safety in its supply chain:
- Truck drivers on Australian roads are forced to push the limits by speeding, skipping breaks and essential truck maintenance due to Coles' deadly demands on transport operators.
- Coles has been a vocal opponent of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, a forum dedicated to the road transport industry that will make binding rulings to protect the safety of all drivers across Australia.
- It doesn't stop on our home turf either. Bengali workers have spoken out about the intense pressure to cut costs put on them by huge Australian retailers like Coles following the horrific collapse of the Rana Plaza Factory in Bangladesh in April, when over 1,100 people lost their lives.
TWU is asking the public to tell Coles to stop the squeeze on Safety by sending a message to the person who calls the
shots on the company's operations: Managing Director Ian McLeod.
Source: TWU Safe Rates Coles campaign
Workers protest over bullying
More than 200 workers at the Linfox Coles Truganina site have protested against a culture of bullying at their work. The workers held the protest outside their work. The protest received a high level of media coverage. Workers spoke about their experiences of being sworn at and verbally abused by managers.One worker, Penny Palmer, told journalists she had been sacked by Linfox after she was s**ually bullied. She said she had received similar treatment from another worker but was too frightened to report the abuse for fear of losing her casual job.A witness reported the bullying to management, but managers decided to sack both the bully and Penny. Workers are asking for Penny to be reinstated and for all bullying to be properly investigated and dealt with.
protest came after workers filed many official complaints of bullying against a
manager and more than 300 workers signed a petition asking for Linfox to
properly address bullying at the site. The National Union of Workers says that two workers - health and safety
representative, Ken, and fellow delegate, Michael – have been stood down for
speaking to the media about the bullying.
Read more: NUW news website; The Age
Prison assault rates increasing
Confirming fears expressed by the prison officers union, the CPSU as reported in SafetyNet 266 self-harm and assaults in Victoria's prisons are is at the highest rate in five years. Asked whether increased incarceration rates had contributed to the high rates of prison assaults, Corrections Minister Edward O'Donohue said the Coalition had 'made no secret of the fact Victoria's prison system is coming under pressure in several different ways, not least capacity pressures'. He blamed such pressures 'and whatever problems may be resulting from them' on the opposition.
corrections Minister Jill Hennessy said that overpopulated prisons had created
a 'fertile environment' for violence. She said the Coalition's failure to
invest in crime prevention and in prison health services had also contributed
to high assault rates.
Read more: The Age
Hundreds plead with government to save
lives; those to blame beg for scrutiny
When a plumber perched on the rooftop of a skyscraper clips a safety harness onto the point that anchors him to the building, there's a one-in-three chance the anchor itself is unsafe.
The Working At Heights Association (WAHA), which represents fall prevention equipment installers, sent a call to action submission to the Heads Of Workplace Safety Authorities (HWSA). It follows an industry crisis summit held last month where hundreds demanded urgent action from governments. The summit was facilitated by OHS lawyer, Michael Tooma, and speakers included OHS commentator and author of the SafetyAtWork Blog, Kevin Jones
Australians who maintain roof-top plant like air-conditioners routinely hook their safety harness systems onto roof anchors embedded in a building's structure. The anchors are designed to prevent, or arrest, falls but of the 3245 roof safety anchors audited by WAHA members over the previous three months, one in three (31 per cent) was deemed unusable. No formal qualifications are required of installers, who are able to certify and fit compliance plates to their own work.
At the end of the summit there was overwhelming support for WAHA put the following to policy makers:
- The safety of Australia's fall prevention equipment installations must be improved;
- Compliance with Australian Standards for fall prevention equipment should be compulsory;
- Formal training for fall prevention equipment installers should be mandatory;
- Fall prevention equipment installers should be licensed; and
- Regulators should inspect fall prevention equipment
Read more: Working at Heights video and session SafetyAtWork blog
Near miss incidents linked to controllers' workload
According to a report released this week by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), high workload, inexperience and fatigue in air-traffic controllers were contributing factors in two serious near misses involving planes operating from Perth Airport.Factors that contributed to the controllers' high workload included having to communicate with flight crews and other controllers for a 'significant proportion' of their shift, and having to manage a trainee controller, who asked questions and made frequent observations.
The first incident, on November 8, 2011, occurred over Ceduna in South Australia between a Virgin Blue 737 flying from Perth to Brisbane and a Qantas 737 going from Port Hedland to Melbourne.The planes were on converging tracks at 39,000ft when the longitudinal separation standard of 37km was infringed.
In the other incident, on January 18 last year, there was a near miss north-west of Karratha between an Airbus A320, of Tiger Airways operating from Singapore to Perth and an Etihad Airways Airbus A340-600 flying from Sydney to Abu Dhabi.It was estimated that the planes missed each other by two minutes.
ATSB report said employers can improve safety either by reducing heavy
workloads, or ensuring workers with high job demands have the right experience
and skills to manage them. In response to the incidents, AirservicesAustralia has
changed the configuration, training and rostering arrangements of controllers
for the sectors involved. Further, it is claimed a new radar in northern WA has
alleviated controller workload and enhanced surveillance.
Sources:OHSAlert; The West Australian
40 per cent of homeless people in Australia are
The Working Life website reports on a recent National Union of Workers interview with Lisa Heap (from the Australian Institute of Employment Rights) about her chapter on insecure work in the new book Pushing Our Luck.
One of Lisa's most shocking findings is that 40 per
cent of homeless people in Australia
are working.Many of our working homeless are at the pointy end of Australia's
insecure work crisis. They are working without guaranteed hours or income,
without any paid leave or security of ongoing employment.It's not fair that in
a wealthy country, such as Australia,
a person can have a job and still not be able to secure proper housing.
Read more: The fightback for jobs we can count on starts now
International Union News
Qatar: German journalists detained
In the last edition of SafetyNet we reported on warnings from the ITUC about the shocking conditions of migrant workers in Qatar in the lead up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Recently, two German broadcasters were detained by Qatari police as they attempted to investigate the plight of migrant labourers building infrastructure for the games. Peter Giesel, a film-maker and the head of a Munich-based production company, and his cameraman Robin Ahne were detained for 27 hours after filming the working conditions of labourers from the balcony of the Mercure Grand hotel in Doha.The pair were following up on the Guardian's investigation into the conditions of many of the 1.2 million migrant workers who have flooded into the country to work in the £100bn (AUD$167bn)-plus construction boom before the football tournament.
Read more: The Guardian
Survey released by EU-OSHA
The 2010 results of the SUMER Survey were recently released. The study, which was introduced about 20 years ago, reports on workplace safety and health. The 2010 survey focused on trends over the last 20 years, some of which include psychosocial and organisational risk, exposure to carcinogens and more, according to the European Agency for Health and Safety at Work (EU-OSHA).
The survey found there has been an increase
in noise exposure, an increase in people driving to work, an increase in women
being exposed to biological agents, and an increase in hostility between
workers. The study also reported that more workers are engaged in manual
handling and more workers are experiencing constrained and repetitive postures.
On the health issues, the 2010 SUMER
reported that young people and workers in the service sector are exposed to
physically demanding conditions, there are high exposures to physical and
chemical risks in the public service, and there are high exposures to chemicals
in small and medium enterprises; often, organisational measures are not taken
in these companies. According to the EU-OSHA news release, committees, worker
representation, risk assessment, and prevention plans are in place at the
enterprise level, but work organisations are not affected by these.
Read more: EU-OSHA News release
New Dangerous Goods code released Mr Gordon Rich-Phillips, the Assistant Treasurer has approved the new Code of Practice for the Storage and Handling of Dangerous Goods 2013. This came into effect Friday, October 11, 2013. It replaces the old version of this Code (published December 8, 2000). The new Code provides practical guidance on how to comply with the Dangerous Goods (Storage and Handling) Regulations 2012 (DG (S&H) Regulations 2012) for manufacturers, suppliers and occupiers. It should be read in conjunction with the Dangerous Goods Act 1985 and the DG (S&H) Regulations 2012.
More information on Dangerous Goods this page
Warning from regulator at harvest time
WorkSafe Victoria last week issued a warning as the busy harvest season draws closer. WorkSafe Health and Safety General Manager, Lisa Sturzenegger urged farmers and grain growers to make safety the most important part of their planning. 'As the warmer months are fast approaching, the hay season is about to get under way and farmers are getting busier and preparing for the season ahead,' Ms Sturzenegger said. 'But we know from past experience that it only takes a moment for a rushed decision to turn into a tragic one.'
Sturzenegger said three recent tragic farm deaths since June, and the fact that
nine of the 18 fatalities this year occurred in regional Victoria, were a sad
reminder that farming was a high-risk occupation. In the release, WorkSafe
provides important 'safety tips' for surviving harvest time.
WorkSafe media release
edition of WorkSafe Safety Soapbox
The latest edition of WorkSafe's newsletter came out this week. The newsletter has items on WorkSafe Week finalists, particularly those in the construction industry; alerts; the new DG code, and more.
Since the last edition (October 8), there were 22 incidents serious
enough to be reported to WorkSafe Victoria from the construction, utility, quarrying
and mining industries, including three workers who had at least one finger
amputated. There were also several lacerations, and incidents of materials
falling from height – which are a leading cause of serious injury. In one 'near
miss' incidenta metal stud (approximately three metres long) fell 29 storeys,
landed in a tree opposite the site and then fell further to the ground. Had
this landed on a worker or passer-by, this would have resulted in a fatality.
The list [pdf] can
be downloaded for more information. Safety
back to top
Safe Work Australia News
SWA warns on musculoskeletal injuries
In a media release at the end Safe Work Australia Month, Chief Executive Officer Rex Hoy urged all Australian workers to take care and avoid the nation's most common work-related injury - musculoskeletal disorders.
'Every day over 200 people injure their joints, muscles or tendons at work seriously enough to require at least one week off work,' said Mr Hoy. 'The impact on business is also significant – typically these workers need five weeks off work. This results in lost productivity for the organisation. While there may be costs associated in providing healthy and safe workplaces, the costs of not doing so are even greater.'
Injuries to the
back are the most common incidents with knee and shoulder injuries closely following.
These claims are most often associated with lifting or handling crates,
cartons, boxes, cases, drums, kegs, barrels, cans or handling people mainly in
a medical setting.Based on their severity and frequency of these injuries the
Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022 (Australian Strategy) has
identified musculoskeletal disorders as a priority for improvement. The
Australian Strategy provides a 10 year national framework to drive improvements
in workplace health and safety in Australia.
Read more: Don't let injury be a strain in your workplace Manual Handling on OHS Reps@Work
As at 21 October 2013, 132 Australian workers have been killed while at work. Of these, 30 occurred in Transport, postal & warehousing, 37 in Agriculture, forestry & fishing, and 17 in Construction. Safe Work Australia Work related fatalities
The August monthly fatality report has not yet been released; the most recent is May during which there were 13 work-related notifiable fatalities reported. For further details see the Notified Fatalities Monthly Report May 2013, which can be downloaded here.
SA: WorkCover to be 'scrapped'
South Australia's Attorney-General and Industrial Relations Minister John Rau has told the mediathe state's workers' compensation scheme will be scrapped and replaced by a new model. He is reported to have said WorkCover was 'buggered', and the government plans to decommission the scheme and start again: 'It's been amended, patched over and fiddled with for years and in the process has become so disliked, the only thing to do is to rub it out and start again.'
for the minister confirmed the quotes were accurate, and said more information
would be provided soon. The comments
followed the release last week of WorkCover's annual report, which showed its
unfunded liability still exceeded $1.36 billion.
Sources: OHSAlert; ABC News Online
- From Comcare: Stability of buildings and structures a safety alert to 'advise of the importance of ensuring wall stability of buildings and structures, including during construction, demolition or refurbishment works'. This alert is the result of arecent incident involving the spontaneous collapse of a wall at a federal workplace has highlighted the need for duty holders to monitor the integrity of the structures under their management in order to ensure healthy and safe workplaces. Readers will remember the tragic wall collapse in Melbourne, which killed three pedestrians.
- From Safework South Australia: Managing hazards in small businesses - three step guide [pdf]. The publication assists small business owners and operators with identifying, assessing and controlling workplace hazards.
- From EU-OSHA – 'Lessons in Life from Napo'. These wonderful animations cover a range of topics, and are now available in 18 languages. While they are aimed at children, they can be shown to adults who will find them amusing. A good resource, for example is Napo for Teachers . Read more
Farmer ordered to pay $290k compo to quad
A young British backpacker who was left a quadraplegic after an accident on a Tasmanian farm has been paid $290,000 in compensation by her employer. The young worker suffered a catastrophic brain injury when the bike rolled on her while she was working on a King Island farm in 2011. Then 21years old, she is now in a vegetative state with little prospect of improvement.She spent several months in a coma before being flown home to Lancashire in March 2012.
Farmers David and Jocelyn Bowden were ordered by the Tasmanian Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Tribunal to pay the compensation, the maximum amount allowable, earlier this month.Her family is also receiving compensation payments to cover her salary and medical costs.
Last month, the Magistrates
Court fined Bowden $3,000, and farm manager Jason
Andrew Haines $1,200, after they pleaded guilty to failing to ensure their
employee wore a helmet while using the quad bike to herd cows.
Source:ABC News online
USA:Outdated lead levels being examined
Even tiny amounts of the lead can cause high blood pressure and heart disease in adults, according to a new analysis released by the United States EnvironmentalProtection Agency (EPA) in June. Yet the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has not updated its general workplace standards for lead exposure since their establishment 35 years ago. As a consequence, thousands of Americans working in industries such aslead-battery manufacturing, renovation and automobile repair inhale or ingest lead dust at levels that public health experts now consider unsafe. The current workplace regulations generally prohibit exposures that result in employees accumulating more than 40 micrograms of lead in every decilitre of blood (mcg/dl) (this is equivalent to 1.93 µmol/L – how we measure the levels in Australia). If levels exceed 50 or 60 mcg/dl (2.42 or 2.90 µmol/L), the rules require "medical removal":temporarily pulling a worker from job duties, with full pay and benefits, until levels recede. [In Australia the levels are 1.45 µmol/L, or 0.8 µmol/L for female employees of reproductive capacity and removal from the job at 2. 41 µmol/Lfor females not of reproductive capacity and males; and much lower for females of reproductive capacity, and even lower if they are pregnant or breast-feeding.]
It appears that California is not waiting for the federal government to make a move; its Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) is working toward tightening up its similarly outdated regulations on lead exposure.If California succeeds and demonstrates that its lead-related businesses can survive tougher regulations, it could set an influential precedent.
Scientific American: Outdated lead exposure regulations threaten thousands of American workers
Unsafe coal mines will be closed
The Chinese government has said it will close more unqualified and dangerous coal mines by 2015 as the country tries to improve the sector's shocking safety record - 1,384 people were killed in coal mine incidents in 2012.
At least 2,000 small coal mines will be closed by the end of 2015, the
State Council, China's cabinet, said in a statement last week.The closures will
target coal mines with annual output of less than 90,000 tons that fail to meet
the safety rules, and mines based on substandard coal resources that are prone
to 'accidents', according to the statement.The government will also tighten the
development threshold by ending approval of construction on coal mines with
annual capacity of less than 300,000 tons.
China Daily: China to shut coalmines in safety overhaul
offered to six regions to fight air pollution
China announced last week it would give rewards amounting to 5 billion yuan (AUSD $858 million) for curbing air pollution in six regions where the problem is serious, underscoring government concern about a source of public anger. The Finance Ministry said the regions eligible for the rewards were Beijing and its neighboring city of Tianjin, the provinces of Hebei, Shanxi and Shandong, as well as the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
Smog over northern cities in January generated widespread anger as did
the discovery of thousands of dead pigs in March in a river that supplies water
to the city of Shanghai. Protests over pollution in China are becoming common,
to the government's alarm. Authorities have invested in various projects to
fight pollution and even empowered courts to mete out the death penalty in
serious pollution cases.