SafetyNet 271, 21 November, 2013
We welcome all our subscribers to Edition 271 of SafetyNet. If you find the journal useful, please tell others about it. And please consider 'following' us on Twitter @ohsreps
Did you 'Go Home on Time' yesterday?
November 20 is GHOTD - an initiative of The Australia Institute in partnership with beyondblue, in response to the increasing hours many Australians are working. How did you go? Were you able to get away from work on time? The Australia Institute released a new research report yesterday: Hard to Get a Break? [pdf] The research examines the experiences of the 'overworked'(those who would like to work fewer hours) and the 'underworked' (those struggling to enter the workforce or those who want to work more hours). Some of the interesting findings include:
- Around 250,000 Australians are not working due to caring responsibilities, with four times as many women as men providing the care
- One in four employees checks work emails and answers work calls outside of work hours
- 3.8 million Australians routinely don't take a lunch break
- One in two Australian workers didn't take their full annual leave entitlements last year
- Unpaid overtime equates to $110 billion or 7.4 per cent of GDP
- The amount of unpaid overtime done by casual workers has increased fivefold since 2009
For more information on the issue (and if you haven't see them yet), check out the 'fun infographics':
Asbestos diseases support group Asbestoswise has developed a short ten-question online survey, which takes approximately 5-10 minutes to complete aimed at young people between the ages of 18 and 30. Please fill it out, or distribute the link to anyone you know who fits the profile. The closing date to submit survey is Sunday November 24. The survey can be viewed and completed here.
Asbestos Week Activities – beginning November 25
Next week is the official Asbestos Awareness Week – a week that Victorian unions initiated many years ago. While various government and other organisations have in recent years joined in, the VTHC reminds readers that it is through union campaigns going back decades that we have strong asbestos regulation, and we are making progress towards achieving an Asbestos Free Australia
Documentary: The Making of DUST
Remember to check out the documentary based on the making of the show Dust – which will be on ABC1 Tuesday 26 November at 10pm during Asbestos Awareness Week.
Annual Asbestoswise commemoration service – Federation Square
The asbestos support and advocacy group Asbestoswise invites all those interested to its annual service to commemorate the lives of those touched by an asbestos-related disease. The non-denominational service begins at 11am at the Deakin Edge Theatre at Federation Square. Following the one hour service, Asbestoswise invites everyone to join them on the banks of the Yarra for the now-traditional barbeque.
Enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org or 03 954 9555
Education union Asbestos Forum, 4.30 – 6.30pm, Tuesday 3 December, 2013
In conjunction with National Asbestos Awareness week the Australian Education Union (AEU) is holding an Asbestos Forum (for members only) to provide the latest information and strategies to AEU workplaces to manage this hazard in situ whilst aiming to achieve asbestos free workplaces. For AEU principal class members and OH&S managers, Health & Safety Representatives, AEU members and all other interested persons to attend either in person or via online forum. Up-to-date information will be provided by the AEU, WorkSafe and the Victorian Trades Hall Council representatives.
AEU head office 112 Trenerry Crescent, Abbotsford 3067 (Melways Ref 44 E3)
Tel: 03 9417 2822 Fax: 1300 658 078 Web: www.aeuvic.asn.au
You must register your attendance, please elect whether you will attend in person or online. Register online by clicking here
1 - Morning Tea: 10am, Thursday November 28th
Function Room - Moe RSL - Albert Street, Moe
Gold coin donation to ACV/GARDS for morning tea
- Asbestos Information from ACV/GARDS & Cancer Council Vic - booklets on health
- Slater & Gordon Law Firm & Maurice Blackburn Law Firm will be on site to answer any questions from the general public about litigation,
- Mairin OHS&E Consulting will answer questions on sample testing & have examples of asbestos containing products on display for your viewing
All Welcome! ACV/GARDS is also having a raffle on the day
2 - Asbestos Awareness Day Ceremony 2013: 11.00am, Friday November 29th
Centenary Rose Garden, Commercial Road, Morwell
The event highlights and raises the awareness of asbestos and its effects on families and the community.
There will be an ecumenical service to remember those who are suffering and those who have succumb to asbestos disease, Beryl Stevens - Celebrant will officiate.
The ceremony will provide time for families to lay flowers and pay tribute to their loved ones. There will be a number of guest speakers, the Coal Valley Male Choir and the Newborough Primary School choir, as well as the ACV/GARDS bagpipers David Duncan & Bill Dunbar.
At the conclusion of the ceremony there will be a free BBQ lunch – all welcome. For further information on either event, please contact Vicki Hamilton 0407274173 or the ACV/GARDS office: 5127 7744g
New wave mesothelioma sufferer speaks out
In the run-up to Asbestos Awareness Week, The Telegraph has told the story of 44 yr old and mother of four, Ms Serafina Salucci, who was an eight year old when her father built a fibro garage for his new Kingswood. At the time, she and her brother played with the off-cuts – about 35 years later, she was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Ms Salucci, who has had one lung removed and is still fighting the cancer, stressed the home renovator must be aware of the children in the house as well. 'I'm a classic example,' she said. 'I've never renovated, but I was around it, I was around fibro.Be very careful - don't just think of fibro.It can be carpet underlay, piping so find out what you are dealing with and call a professional.'
The Telegraph: The next wave of asbestos sufferers speak out on the dangers Read more: Asbestos in the Home
Cancer Researcher Bruce Robinson WA's Australian of the Year
Cancer researcher Professor Bruce Robinson was last week named WA Australian of the year for 2014at a ceremony at Government House. Professor Robinson leads a large research team at the University of WA's School of Medicine and Pharmacology which is studying cancer immunology and asbestos diseases. They have been responsible for many world-first breakthroughs, including the first blood test for mesothelioma. He said he is humbled by the honour, and hopes the award draws recognition to the causes.
Source: ABC News online; The West Australian
Asbestoswise crowdfunding for scholarship
Asbestoswise is looking to offer a scholarship for an Australian Masters or PhD student commencing research into mesothelioma in 2014. The organisation, which does great work, is seeking donations to complete the fund in preparation for the 2014 academic year. Applications will be accepted from students in the first half of 2014, with an expert panel awarding the scholarship for 1, 2 or 3 years of full-time study.
Donate via RocketHub here
US organisation ADAO newsletter
ADAO has issued its November e-newsletterhttp://tinyurl.com/ADAOnov The newsletter contains an item alerting readers that ADAO's 2013 Asbestos Awareness Conference video has been released. The link takes you to the ADAO website, where the speakers at the conference, including Geoff Fary from Australia, are listed, and their address can be accessed. Each can be viewed on YouTube.
I am an HSR and completed my initial training last year, so I was entitled to do the Refresher training several months ago. I printed out a training form from the VTHC website and filled in the appropriate details. This form was left on the desk of my boss with a handwritten note asking for him to follow it up.
The next day I received a curt email from the office manager berating me for not following an appropriate procedure and for unacceptable behaviour in requesting the training. They have agreed to the training request, but are incredibly "unhappy" at the way I requested it.
I note the legislation or associated fact sheets make no mention of the "right" way to request training. It simply says "request". The reason I made the request in this was simply because of I was on a late shift and so had not been able to see my boss.
You are right: the Act simply states that an HSR must make a request to attend training at least 14 days before the course is due to commence. Given that the employer has a duty to allow an HSR to attend an approved training course, there should be no issue about this. It might be worthwhile asking your employer whether there are any procedures in place regarding requesting training – and if so, as long as they are not inconsistent with what is in the Act, then there would be no issue complying. For example, they may like a request to be made using a specific form, or via email, or to the HR, or whatever.
In my view, the office manager's reaction was not appropriate, and I would suggest showing the manager the Act and the information in WorkSafe's Guide Employee Representation.
Read more: OHS Reps Right to Training – where you'll find a link to the above publication.
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.
Australian workers suffering increasing levels of stress
The Australian Psychological Society (APS) released its third annual Stress and Wellbeing Survey [pdf] which has found that Australian workers are showing increasingly higher levels of stress and distress, and more depressive symptoms and anxiety than in the previous two years. Work stress negatively affects organisations through absenteeism, high turnover and reduced productivity. Low levels of employee well-being have also been linked to increased turnover. Employers should provide more supportive leadership and address factors influencing workers' psychological health.
In this year's survey, 47% of the respondents cited workplace issues as a source of stress. Three quarters of working Australians (75%) reported it was having at least some impact on their physical health; 16% said it was having a strong to very strong effect. More than two-thirds (68%) reported that current stress was having at least some impact on mental health; 19% rated it as having a strong to very strong impact.In Australia, stress is the second most common cause of workers compensation claims after manual handling and is a risk to both employees and employers.
Research has shown there is a strong link between workers feeling positive and good about the workplace, well-being and organisational performance. However, as well as reporting lower levels of workplace well-being and job satisfaction than in the previous two years, those participating in the survey said they had significantly lower levels of interest in their job than respondents in 2012. Almost one in seven working Australians reported depressive symptoms in the severe to extremely severe range.
The elements in the survey linked with enhanced wellbeing and reduced stress and distress included supportive leadership, recognition and feedback, feeling valued and cared for by employers, clear role definition, the prioritisation of health and safety, and support for family issues. But only 52% of people in the survey reported their employer valued their contribution and cared about their well-being, while less than half (46%) said they received regular feedback. And less than half felt they worked in environments with employers who supported staff with mental health issues.
Read more: The Conversation Australian workplaces failing to create a healthy environment
Bullying and the Fair Work Commission
The President of the Fair Work Commission, Justice Iain Ross, yesterday announced the appointment of Commissioner Peter Hampton as the anti-bullying Panel Head. 'This is not a compensation jurisdiction,' Justice Ross said. 'The new anti-bullying jurisdiction is not an avenue to provide compensation to those who have been subjected to bullying; and nor is it about penalizing employers. It is directed at preventing workers from being bullied at work.
'All parties will be treated fairly and relevant parties will be given an opportunity to be heard,' he said.'Where mediation or conciliation is undertaken there will be an emphasis on resolving the issues to ensure constructive and cooperative workplace relationships can resume. Monetary settlements will not be promoted or recommended by the Commission.'
Justice Ross also released the draft anti-bullying Case Management Model [pdf] which outlines the procedures and functions of the anti-bullying jurisdiction and the draft Anti-Bullying Benchbook [pdf] designed to assist parties to lodge or respond to anti-bullying applications, for public comment.
Read more: FWC Media Release
ACTU: Employers must do more to protect workers from violence
The ACTU has called on employers to take action as figures show that up to one in four people will suffer violence in their workplace during the course of their working life, with the direct costs of millions of dollars a year in Australia. ACTU figures reveal more than 2000 serious workers' compensation claims were lodged as a result of being assaulted at work in 2010-11, costing an average of $6400 each and requiring three weeks off work.
More than 4500 claims for mental stress as a result of exposure to occupational violence were successful in Australia between 2008-09 and 2010-11, with almost 60 per cent of these female. ACTU president Ged Kearney said employers need to be aware of their duty of care.'The onus is on employers to take the time to ensure their staff are safe; they must stand back and seriously assess the workplace risk factors,' she said.
Violence experts agree employers are not doing enough to prevent violent incidents in the workplace. International threat assessment specialist Kelly Watt, who was in Australia last week to talk to employers, said that many were unaware of their duty of care, particularly smaller businesses. Reporting of workplace violence is increasing, says Stephen Hart, a colleague of Dr Watt's from global conflict prevention group ProActive ReSolutions.'Violence in the workplace is under-reported in the same manner as domestic violence,' Professor Hart said. 'People assume it's an internal matter. But that is beginning to change as we're getting much better statistics.'
Groups most vulnerable to experiencing violence include those who work alone at night handling cash - such as retail workers, takeaway food delivery drivers and taxi drivers - emergency workers, security guards, prison officers, health professionals and teachers.
Read more: The Age and information on Violence
Reminder: Speak up on pregnancy discrimination
Workers who have experienced discrimination while pregnant or when returning to work after having a baby should contribute their stories to a national inquiry being conducted by the Sex Discrimination Commissioner. While the ACTU and affiliated unions are preparing submissions to the inquiry, the ACTU is urging individual workers to tell their stories. Ged Kearney, President of the ACTU, said the hotline and simple online service should make this process easier.
Australian Unions pregnancy hotline: 1300 364 024 or make your submission online
Read more: ACTU Media Release
Annual Work-Related Grief Support Remembrance Service
The Creative Ministries Network invites participation in their annual Work-Related Grief Support Remembrance Service. The theme this year is 'Justice and Dignity for Widows'. This reflects a growing awareness at Creative Ministries Network that the workers' compensation system for families bereaved by a work-related death may cause harm as well as provide financial support.
Date and time: Saturday, 23 November 2013 from 2pm to 4pm;
Venue: Creative Ministries Network, 15 Cromwell Rd, South Yarra, (Victoria)
Please RSVP through the Eventbrite page
Research into effects on families of workplace deaths
A group of researchers based at the University of Sydney is undertaking a study: 'Workplace Death: Improving Support for Families', which is investigating the consequences of workplace death for surviving families. It will also consider how well official responses, such as workers' compensation and the provision of information and support, meet families' needs. The aim is to identify improvements that will help to better manage the consequences of work place death for surviving families. The first step is the completion of an online (or hard copy survey) after which participants will have the opportunity to continue involvement through an interview (done either in person or via telephone). The study is being conducted by Professor Philip Bohle and Dr Lynda Matthews from the Work and Health Research Team at the Faculty of Health Sciences and Professor Michael Quinlan from the School of Management at The University of New South Wales
Read more: Study website, including a more detailed Participants information sheet, and a link to the online survey.
Transport union vows to fight against Safe Rates repeal
After a very long campaign, the Transport Workers Union (TWU) successfully achieved the establishment in July of last year, by the former Labour federal government, of the 'Safe Rates' Tribunal. The Tribunal has the power to make remuneration orders, where necessary, to ensure truck drivers in the road transport industry didn't have a financial incentive to speed, overload trucks, skip maintenance and rest breaks, or work excessive hours. In May, the Federal Coalition, then in Opposition, announced in its IR policy that it would review the necessity of the Tribunal if it won the September election, which it did. Yesterday, Federal Employment Minister Eric Abetz announced a review into whether the Tribunal imposes 'onerous and unnecessary compliance burdens' on employers.
Tony Sheldon, TWU national secretary, has said Abetz had made it clear that he planned to close the Tribunal, regardless of the evidence set before the review. 'In a sneering press release, Minister Abetz dismisses the safety Tribunal as a burden on business,' Sheldon said. 'The Minister needs to understand, safer roads are not a burden. They're an obligation on Government. Road deaths, unfair pay and unsafe working conditions are not just red tape. The Road Safety Tribunal is there to crack down on those industry clients who set lunatic deadlines and force drivers to speed or drive too long.'
Read more: Minister Abetz Media Release: Review of road safety remuneration system TWU Media Release: Abetz 'Review' shows contempt for road safety.
Free Nanotechnology Lecture
There is a free public lecture being delivered on Friday November 22, on the topic 'Big Challenges Surrounding the Tiny: Fate, Transport, Bioavailability& Toxicity of Engineered Nanomaterials in Soil & Terrestrial Ecosystems'. The event is the 22nd Prof G.W. Leeper Memorial Lecture and will be delivered by Professor Paul M. Bertsch, Chief, Division of Land & Water, CSIRO. The abstract to the lecture states: 'The nanotechnology revolution offers great promise for major advances in numerous areas, including medicine, manufacturing, electronics, sensor development, energy production, pollution control, and environmental remediation. Despite the benefits that will result from advances in nanotechnology, concerns surrounding potential negative impacts have emerged. The environmental risk posed by the accumulation of manufactured nanomaterials (MNMs) is not well understood.' The lecture will take place at Melbourne University, 5pm – 6.15pm, Lower Lecture Theatre, Melbourne School of Land and Environment Building (No 142), Parkville
To register: Is Nanotechnology Toxic to our Soil?
International Union News
USA: Two miners dead in Colorado, 20 others injured after blast
The two miners who were killed last Sunday in Ouray died from carbon monoxide poisoning, authorities said. An explosion was ruled out as the immediate cause of the incident that sent 20 other miners to Western Slope hospitals. There have been 36 fatalities at U.S. mines this year, according to the federal Department of Labor. There have been 15 mining deaths in Colorado in the past decade, according to the Mine Safety and Health Administration.According to the Colorado Mining Association, the industry employs 12,000 people and ranks sixth nationally in mineral royalties; in 2008, the state received $178.4 million of coal, other mineral, oil and gas production royalties, half of which was used to fund public schools. Mineral severance taxes support local governments and important state programs, such as geologic hazard detection and avalanche prediction and prevention.
Read more: The Denver Post, Colorado.
EU: new online source of information on safe use of chemicals
To coincide with the EU-OSHA Healthy Workplaces Summit, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has launched a new section of its website dedicated to workers and their safety representatives. It is developed in co-operation with the European Trade Unions' Confederation and other stakeholder organisations accredited at ECHA.
The new web section explains how REACH, CLP and the Biocidal Products regulations can enhance safety at work, reduce exposure to hazardous chemicals and help prevent illnesses, injuries and accidents. It provides examples, practical information, tips and useful links to help workers benefit from the novelties introduced by the chemicals legislation. The web pages are available in 23 EU languages as part of the "Chemicals in Our Life Section" of ECHA's website.
Read more: ETUI Media Release
back to top
Printing industry workers at higher liver cancer risk
European researchers have reviewed data from an occupational cancer study across Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden from 1945 to 1994, in order to explore the risk of liver cancer, specifically cholangiocarcinoma (CC), in the printing industry where workers including typographers, printers, lithographers and bookbinders are exposed to ink, cleaning agents and solvents.The researchers wanted clarification of whether an earlier finding of excess liver cancer risk among workers in a small Japanese printing firm, where there was a cluster of 11 CC cases, was indicative of an elevated risk of liver cancer among workers in the printing industry generally. That study had suggested that one of two solvents (dichloromethane or propylene dichloride) or both might have been responsible for the liver cancer.
The team found an excess risk of CC among workers in the Nordic printing industry, which supported their hypothesis that there is a causal relationship between printing occupations and CC occurrence. Furthermore, the risks were higher for printers compared with other printing occupations. However, the risk was somewhat lower than that found in the Japanese study, perhaps due to lower use of cleaning products in the Nordic countries [abstract]. Nevertheless, in a response to the paper, Australian cancer researcher Professor Tim Driscoll from the University of Sydney in New South Wales, said because the paper on the Japanese printing firm was disturbing in terms of the high exposures apparently involved and the very high incidence of CC in exposed workers, it 'certainly deserves further investigation, and one of the useful approaches can be to look at the risk of CC in other cohorts with similar exposures.'
JelleVlaanderen, et al: Cholangiocarcinoma among workers in the printing industry: using the NOCCA database to elucidate the generalisability of a cluster report from Japan [abstract].Occup Environ Med 2013;70:12 828-830.
Mining fatality research reveals shift work higher fatality risk
A recent analysis of surveillance data collected by the US Mine Safety and Health Administration on 157,410 employees and contractors who worked at underground or surface mines between 1998 and 2007 has revealed that the likelihood of an incident resulting in a death, instead of an injury or near miss, increased after eight hours into shifts beginning at 11pm.
699 workers were killed on the job during the survey period, a rate of 0.02 deaths per 100 full-time-equivalent (FTE) employees of mine operators, and 0.04 deaths per 100 FTE contractors.At the time of the fatal incident, contractors were most commonly maintaining or repairing machines (19.3%), operating haulage trucks (7.1%) and handling materials (6.5%), with energised equipment (31%) and slips or falls (23.9%) causing the most deaths.Among employees, repairing equipment (16%) and operating continuous-miner machines (6.1%) were the activities most likely to cause death. The researchers also found the odds of an incident resulting in a fatality increased after eight hours into a shift, and contractors were more likely than employees to experience such an incident during this period, and mostly when their shift began at 11pm.
The researchers said, 'Possible interventions based on our findings include work-hour restrictions, particularly for those working night shift.'
SaeherMuzaffar, et al. Factors Associated With Fatal Mining Injuries Among Contractors and Operators [abstract]. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Volume 55, Issue 11, November 2013.
back to top
Inspectors target border construction safety
Last week in Echuca and Moama WorkSafe ran a week-long project to raise the awareness with local construction businesses of the similarities and ease of working on either side of the border. Inspectors from WorkSafe Victoria and WorkCover NSW visited construction sites from November 11-15 to help businesses understand their work health and safety obligations when operating in a border town.
WorkSafe construction manager, Allan Beacom said a key focus of the project was to ease any confusion about work health and safety obligations. 'We know many local construction businesses are based in one state but operate in another state. Our inspectors will help these businesses understand the safety requirements of each state and highlight the many similarities between NSW and Victorian laws,' he said.
Read more: WorkSafe Media Release
WorkSafe week presentations available online
WorkSafe has made all the presentations from WorkSafe week available online to allow those who attended to review the information and, where appropriate, implement changes at their workplaces.
WorkSafe warns danger period approaching
November and December are the most dangerous times of year in workplaces. Last week Assistant Treasurer Gordon Rich-Phillips reminded every Victorian employer and employee to take particular care in the final weeks leading up to Christmas. 'The festive season is about to begin and Victorians are starting to think about Christmas with their families and friends and relaxing over the summer holidays,' Mr Rich-Phillips said. 'But we know from harsh experience that when people take their minds off safety, they risk a tragedy. And we want everyone to get home safely for Christmas.'
In 2012, seven people were killed at work in November-December, more than double the number of fatalities of any of the other two-month period last year. In 2011, nine people were killed in November-December – all in just a six-week period.
While WorkSafe chief executive Denise Cosgrove said safety may become less of a priority, as 'people's minds naturally turn to things other than work as the end of year approaches', the VTHC reminds employers that it is their duty to provide safe and healthy working environments and train and supervise employees.
WorkSafe Media Release
Latest edition of WorkSafe Safety Soapbox
The latest edition of WorkSafe's newsletter Safety Soapbox was sent out this week. This edition includes an inspector discussing the use of carpets on scaffolds, and more.
Since the last edition of the newsletter (November 7), there have been 31 incidents serious enough to be reported to WorkSafe Victoria from the construction, utility, quarrying and mining industries, including13 lacerations, four fractures and three electric shocks. In one incident, a worker fell 10m out of tree, and was extremely lucky to have only received head and leg injuries, and not been killed. In another potentially fatal 'near miss', a concrete screening tool leaning against a handrail fell eight levels into an exclusion zone. The list can be downloaded from the Safety Soapbox for more information.
WorkSafe investigates Princes Hill powerlines incident
WorkSafe is investigating an incident which occurred on Friday last week, where two men working on a crane suffered serious burns from electric shock in Melbourne.The men, in their 20s, were on a cherry picker installing lights, when they made contact with powerlines just after 11.30am. Both men received burns from an electric shock and were taken to hospital with serious injuries.For more information on working near powerlines see WorkSafe's 'No Go Zone' advice.
SA government 'suspends' three building codes
In an unbelievable decision, the SA Minister for Industrial Relations, John Rau, has announced that three Work Health and Safety codes of practice were being suspended and reviewed following consultation with the building industry 'regarding [their] impact'. 'We have been told by the housing industry that the prescriptive requirements of these Code sof Practice have placed financial burdens on business that may be resulting additional costs to home buyers,' Mr Rau said. 'I have had discussions with builders in recent weeks who have told me as much.'
It is clear the SA government has little understanding that Codes of Practice are not mandatory and are designed to provide guidance which employers should follow to ensure compliance with duties under the Act or Regulations – 'so far as is reasonably practicable'. As some jurisdictions (eg the ACT) are seeking ways to increase safety in the very hazardous construction industry, the SA government decision seems to be letting the industry off the hook based on 'cost'.
Read more: Media Release [pdf] Safetyatwork Blog Politics before safety in South Australia
As at 20 November 2013, 149 Australian workers have been killed while at work. Of these, 35 occurred in Transport, postal & warehousing, 40 in Agriculture, forestry & fishing, 17 in Construction, 13 in Manufacturing, and nine in Arts and recreation services. Safe Work Australia Work-related fatalities
SWA has not released another monthly fatality report since June, during which there were 16 work-related notifiable fatalities reported – thirteen of these were workers, and three were by-standers. For further details see the Notified Fatalities Monthly Report June 2013, which can be downloaded here.
- From Worksafe Victoria
- Safety Alert: Preventing Floor Collapse following a number of incidents involving the collapse of existing or partially built floors during construction, refurbishment or demolition works. Some of these have resulted in death or serious injury.
- Guidance Note: Safe handling of glass façade panels following an incident where a heat-strengthened glass panel being installed on a high-rise building shattered into glass shards after it hit the building while being lifted by a crane. One large shard landed outside the site's exclusion zone and it had the potential to cause serious or fatal injuries if it had struck a person below.
- Health and Safety Solution: Unloading stone slabs from containers
- From the Canadian regulator WorkSafe BC, a Hazard Alert: Preventing worker exposure to bedbugs. While this might seem like a strange item to publicise, there have been reports of infestations of bedbugs in Melbourne low-cost accommodation, and as these can be transferred easily when someone comes in contact with infested items such as bedding, there is a risk to hospitality workers. They can also be an issue for workers whose accommodation is provided by the employer. The Alert gives advice to employers on what actions can be taken.
back to top
NSW support services provider fined after worker murdered
On Track Community Programs Ltd has been fined $115,000 for OHS breaches in failing to assess whether a mentally ill client was violent, resulting in the murder of a worker by the client during a home visit. Even though it had been the worker who re-admitted the client after he had been discharged from hospital without asking for or receiving a discharge summary, and had visited the client without specific authorization, the employer was charged and pleaded guilty to breaches of the OHS Act in failing to prohibit workers from dealing with the client without obtaining the discharge summary, and failing to recognise an adequate risk assessment of the client couldn't be undertaken without the summary.
Read more: Inspector Walker v On Track Community Programs Limited  NSWIRComm 87 (27 September 2013) Source: OHSAlert
back to top
US issues safety guidance on nano work
The US government's workplace safety research arm has issued new recommendations on controlling worker exposures to engineered nanomaterials during their manufacture and industrial use. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommendations are based on technologies now applied in the industries using nanomaterials, and on control methods it says have been shown to be effective in reducing occupational exposures in other industries. NIOSH favours engineering controls over administrative controls and personal protective equipment for lowering worker exposures, because they are designed to remove the hazard at the source, before it comes into contact with the worker. The consumer products market currently has more than 1,000 nanomaterial-containing products including makeup, sunscreen, food storage products, appliances, clothing, electronics, computers, sporting goods, and coatings. The NIOSH guide says as more nanomaterials are introduced into the workplace and nano-enabled products enter the market, it is essential that producers and users of engineered nanomaterials ensure a safe and healthy work environment.
NIOSH news release and Current Strategies for Engineering Controls in Nanomaterial Production and Downstream Handling Processes, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2014-102, November 2013. Nanotech information on the website. Source: Risks 632