SafetyNet 272, 5 December, 2013
We welcome all our subscribers to Edition 272 of SafetyNet - this will be the second last edition for 2013. If you find the journal useful, please tell others about it. Also, if you haven't yet 'followed' us on Twitter, please do so: @ohsreps
We need your help
We invite SafetyNet subscribers to send in comments (to firstname.lastname@example.org ) and their views about the usefulness of the e-journal and of the OHS Reps@Work website. The OHS unit is preparing our funding application to WorkSafe Victoria, which has generously funded this activity since its inception. We also plan to do a survey in the New Year (using Survey Monkey) but any preliminary comments would be very welcome. Any identifying details will be removed, so those providing comment will be anonymous!
Our employer recently organised the installation of a new dust extractor in the carpenters' workshop. There is no pre-start checklist or Safe Operating Procedures. Please advise…
Well, what should have
happened (if your employer had followed duties under the OHS Act) is
that prior to purchasing and installing the equipment, you, as the HSR,
should have been consulted. Clearly the dust extractor has been
installed as a control for the hazard of wood dust (which apart from
being a nuisance can also be an irritator and even a carcinogen
depending on the type of dust)… and under Sections 35 & 36 the
employer has a duty to consult when identifying hazards or risks, when
assessing these and when making decisions about what controls will be
implemented. The employer must also consult prior to making any changes
to the workplace (including when purchasing new plant)
See: Duty to consult
Further, the manufacturer and supplier has a duty to provide information to ensure that any plant (as well as substances) is able to be used correctly (in a manner that is safe and without risks to health) – see: Duties of others
What I suggest that you do is to go back to the employer and point this out and request information and also to be consulted regarding the 'what now'? What do we need to know? What training might be required? And so on. (See: Duties of employer under Section 21[e]). I would also use this opportunity to remind your employer of their duties under the OHS Act so that this doesn't happen again!!!
In the meantime, and in preparation, you could also contact the company directly and ask them for information.
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' Union calls for action following Auditor General's report into OHS in hospitals
The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Victorian Branch) has welcomed the Victorian Auditor-General's scathing report about the superficial and inadequate responses by the Napthine Government, WorkSafe and hospital managements to address hospital violence against nurses and midwives. The AG, John Doyle, found neither the Department of Health nor WorkSafe 'has a comprehensive understanding of sector-wide OHS risks or emerging trends in public hospitals'.
From 2007/08 to 2011/12, public hospital workers made 10,621 workers' compensation claims. Only manufacturing and construction industry workers made more claims in the same period, it notes. This is despite 18 WorkSafe projects in the sector in this time - the AG found WorkSafe's management of these projects was inadequate because:
- its approach to choosing hospital worksites for projects wasn't systematic or based on clear criteria;
- project objectives weren't clear;
- project contingencies weren't planned to ensure they were completed; and
- performance during projects wasn't measured regularly against stated indicators.
ANMF (Vic Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said: 'This report reveals
the Napthine Government's three years of neglect turning a blind eye to
nurses and midwives being punched, hit, kicked, bitten, choked,
threatened with weapons and knocked unconscious at work. This
embarrassing report demonstrates the Napthine Government has been
derelict in its duty to protect the health and safety of nurses and
midwives caring for patients in public hospitals.'
Read more: ANMF News Victorian Auditor General's Report Occupational Health and Safety Risk in Public Hospitals.
Swanston St wall collapse investigation update
Earlier this week, The Age reported that Grocon is facing serious criticism for obstructing the investigations into the collapse of a brick wall in Swanston Street that killed three young pedestrians in March. The article states the coroner was expected to raise the company's failure to provide information on key aspects of the inquiry at a public hearing, and that Grocon would be given a deadline to provide evidence sought by authorities, Victoria Police and WorkSafe. During the directions hearing in the Coroner's Court Wednesday morning, the company denied the media claims that it has been obstructing the investigations - not unexpectedly. In fact, due to their frustration at Grocon's 'reluctance' to give evidence, the Police asked the Coroner, Ian Gray, to direct the company to do so. For example, a number of employees have refused, in writing, to provide statements, and the company has not made available an engineering report detailing a bluestone wall on the site – but will now do so after a request by Judge Gray.
Judge Gray also
criticised WorkSafe for not yet having given police 10 folders of
material, including engineering and technical reports, that look at the
circumstances surrounding the collapse.
Read more: The Age Grocon facing criticism over Swanston Street wall collapse and Police seek wall-collapse evidence from Grocon, The Herald Sun Grocon deny obstructing investigation into fatal wall collapse
Ammonia overcomes workers at Victorian Dairy
Three men were left fighting for their lives after an incident at a dairy farm in Cloverlea, near Warragul, on Monday last week. A farmer was inside a storage tank on the property when he was overcome with ammonia gas. His two sons entered the tank to rescue him, and were also overcome. The three men were placed in induced comas at the Alfred and Royal Melbourne hospitals.
Seven others, including police officers
and paramedics who helped rescue the men, were also affected by the
fumes. The rescuers did not have access to breathing equipment. This
has led to questions regarding whether police, in particular, should
carry masks. Incidents in confined spaces, such as tanks, have resulted
Source: ABC News online Read more: Confined Spaces and Poorly Ventilated Areas
Asbestos Awareness Week Report
Last week was Victoria's long-standing Asbestos Awareness Week – a week when unions, asbestos diseases support groups, families of asbestos sufferers, and now WorkSafe join forces to get the message out to the community that the fibre is deadly, and that we must do something about it.
The Asbestoswise Annual Commemoration Service ended the week with a touching reminder of the many people lost to asbestos exposure. Held at The Edge at Federation Square, the event provided an opportunity for the many groups of activists and families to meet.
It was ironic that during the week it was discovered that once again, Asbestos is getting past customs:
it appears that large shipments of products containing asbestos are
entering Australia undetected by customs officials. The import, use and
sale of any products containing asbestos have been banned in Australia
since December 2003, however its use is still high in countries such as
China, Russia and Brazil. Asbestos was found in almost a dozen train
engines, and there are fears many more dangerous imports are slipping
through. The latest find follows the recall of more than 20,000 Great
Wall and Chery vehicles, manufactured in China, with asbestos gaskets
last year. In June, customs officials in Adelaide intercepted and
destroyed a shipment of motorcycles containing asbestos. This creates a
risk for workers, as mechanics for example, would not be expecting to
find asbestos in new products, and so would be unlikely to take
precautions. It also creates a risk to the general public.
Read more: 7News online and Asbestos
WorkSafe launches new Asbestos Website
An online information resource for dealing with asbestos in Victoria was launched last Thursday aimed at home owners, businesses, industry and other members of the community. The new website: www.asbestos.vic.gov.au answers frequently asked questions, including how to recognise asbestos containing material, and provides guidelines for its safe handling and removal. The new site also features interactive tools that guide home owners, builders and tradesmen on safely removing asbestos, and maps that locate landfills licensed to receive asbestos.
The website brings together information from the Victorian WorkCover Authority, the Department of Health and the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA). As stakeholders, the VTHC provided comment on the content of the site; while this is generally ok, we and other stakeholders wish to make it clear that there is NO safe level of exposure to asbestos fibres. WorkSafe Media Release
The ongoing global fight against Asbestos continues
Laos, a quiet, mostly rural South-East Asian country is growing quickly. The construction industry is booming with the economy growing over 8% annually. The workers in Laos' roof tile and concrete pipe factories, however, have no idea they are working with deadly asbestos. A relatively recent user of asbestos, consumption in Laos is rising rapidly and could reach 9000 tonnes/year. It is handled, stored and transported with little concern for exposure to its deadly fibres. The asbestos industry is promoting asbestos in developing countries such as Laos and Vietnam as a cheap and useful building material, just as it was once promoted in Australia.
Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA (APHEDA) is
working to change that. As the overseas humanitarian aid agency of the
ACTU, APHEDA has been working with both the Lao trade union and relevant
government ministries since 2010.
Read more: Working Life
Asbestos removal can be tax deductible
Our readers will be well aware of the dangers of asbestos, but many people who have investment properties may not be aware that asbestos removal costs can be claimed as a tax deduction. The following is from the Property Observer a real estate publication:
'In a situation where asbestos becomes hazardous, it may need to be removed. For a property owner, the cost of its removal can be a large burden. However, under Section 40-755 (Environmental Protection Act) of the Income Tax Assessment Act, a property owner is able to claim a deduction for the removal of asbestos from their income producing property if the asbestos poses a health risk.
The Australian Taxation Office allows the
property owner to deduct the expenditure incurred for the main purpose
of carrying out environmental protection activities. The removal of
damaged asbestos from a residential investment property or commercial
building is classified as an environmental protection activity as its
sole purpose is to prevent contamination or pollution of a property.'
Read more: Property Observer
Asbestoswise crowdfunding for scholarship – please participate
A reminder that Asbestoswise is running a crowdfunding exercise in order to be able to offer a scholarship for an Australian Masters or PhD student commencing research into mesothelioma in 2014. Applications for the scholarship 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
ACTU: Queensland changes will weaken protection for workers
The ACTU has called on the Queensland Government to put the safety of workers first, not the money-making interests of their business mates. The Work Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 (QLD) – being considered by Safe Work Australia Friday – calls for national laws that require unions to give 24 hours' notice before entering a site and to remove the right of health and safety reps to call a cease work due to safety concerns. If this were to be accepted it would change what has already been in place in Victoria since 2004, that is that union officials holding an 'entry permit' can enter a workplace once they have issued the appropriate paperwork, without any prior notice. This has not been a problem for anyone.
Assistant Secretary Michael Borowick said, 'What the Queensland
Government seeks to do by removing the rights of trained workplace
representatives is put all the onus on workers to identify, negotiate
and resolve safety issues on their own. Not only is this unfair for
workers but it's dismantling a system that protects millions of people.
The Government will certainly make life easier for any business who
wants to cut corners at the expense of workplace safety. All this will
do is put workers at risk.' He said the proposed changes were a
Read more: ACTU Media Release
Outdoor workers: Protect yourself from the sun
Australia has some of the highest levels of ultraviolet radiation (UV) in the world and it is exposure to UV radiation from the sun that is the major cause of skin cancer. Outdoor workers receive five to 10 times more UV exposure than indoor workers each year so those working outdoors for all or part of the day are at a higher than average risk of skin cancer.
Sunscreen is one way workers can be protected from the harmful effects of the sun. But it is important to ensure the sunscreen is applied properly. Research shows most Australians don't apply enough sunscreen, sometimes halving the level of sun protection stated on the label.
Workers can find out how much sunscreen to apply by using the sunscreen calculator on the free SunSmart app. The calculator provides customised feedback on the amount of sunscreen a worker needs per application, based on their size and clothing cover.
Top 'Slop!' tips:
- choose SPF 30+ or higher broad spectrum and water resistant sunscreen
- apply generously to clean, dry skin 20 minutes before going out into the sun
- re-apply every 2 hours, or more often after sweating
- check the 'use by' date and store below 30°C
- the average-sized adult should apply more than half a teaspoon of sunscreen to each arm and the face/neck (including ears), and just over one teaspoon to each leg, the front of the body and the back of the body
- Keep a sunscreen pump pack in the break out room so it is easily accessible for all workers.
best protection, workers should use sunscreen along with a hat,
sunnies, protective clothing and shade. SunSmart offers a range of
information, resources, guidelines and support on working safely in the
sun. Remember, the employer has a duty of care under the OHS Act towards
employees – so in normal circumstances, it would be reasonable to
expect that appropriate protective clothing and sunscreen be provided by
More information: Sunsmart www.sunsmart.com.au; Information for Workplaces or call (03) 9635 5148. Information on Sunlight - UV Radiation
Nanomaterials greatly increase
The updated Nanotechnology Consumer Products Inventory now contains 1,628 consumer products that have been introduced to the market since 2005, a 24 percent increase since the last update in 2010. As well as finding new products introduced to the market, the inventory seeks to address scientific uncertainty with contributions from those involved with nanomaterials production, use, and analysis.
This is the first major overhaul of the inventory, which was launched by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies
at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in 2005. The
inventory tracks consumer products claiming to contain nanomaterials and
has become one of the most frequently cited resources showcasing the
widespread applications of nanotechnology. The re-launched inventory
seeks to "crowdsource" expertise in an effort to create an inventory
with more accurate information on consumer products. Registered users
are encouraged to submit relevant data pertaining to nanoparticle
function, location, and properties; potential exposure pathways;
toxicity; and lifecycle assessment, as well as add product data and
information on new products.
Read more: The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies and Information on Nanotechnology.
International Union News
International union delegation to Qatar finds grim conditions
In 2022 the small Middle East nation of Qatar will host the soccer World Cup. Construction has begun and is already claiming scores of lives, as workers are forced to endure unsafe sites and 50° heat. An eleven person delegation to Qatar this week, organised through the ITUC, has found that despite ongoing international pressure, there has been no improvement in the living and working conditions of the thousands of migrant workers, many of them from Asia. The delegation, which included Australian representatives, held worker hearings during the four day visit, and was shocked by the increasing numbers of women and children in detention centres and rising discontent and unrest of workers in the squalid labour camps.
A representative of Doha's main hospital
said earlier this year that more than 1000 people were admitted to the
trauma unit in 2012 having fallen from height at work. Ten per cent were
disabled as a result and the mortality rate was 'significant'. The
ITUC estimates 4000 more workers will die before a ball is kicked in the
World Cup, unless Qatar introduces reforms and meets international
Read more: ITUC Delegation visit Working Life: This is what forced labour looks like Take Action: Sign Amnesty's Petition
Burmese workers facing slave-like working conditions
A recently released report, 'Modern Slavery: A Study of Labour Conditions in Yangon's Industrial Zones 2012-2013' , on the conditions of workers at industrial zones in and around Yangon, Myanmar's biggest city, has highlighted the hardships that workers endure. The report highlighted that with the typical base wage of only around $US 1 per day, workers routinely work eleven hours a day, six days a week, with many reluctant to take any sick or holiday leave. In addition, workplaces are often unsanitary and many workers live in overcrowded factory supplied dormitories. While current laws do not give much protection to workers and unions, workers have nevertheless increased their activism over the last couple of years.
Read more: Burma Partnership Source: AAWL Mini-news
USA: Company owner sentenced to jail for death of two workers
Company owners and executives who violate workplace safety standards that result in serious worker injuries or death rarely face criminal charges and are even more infrequently convicted. But last week, the owner of a New Hampshire gunpowder plant, where two workers were killed in a May 2010 explosion, was sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison on manslaughter charges.
Craig Sanborn was convicted in October for
the deaths of workers Jesse Kennett and Don Kendall, who had been on the
job for less than a month. The Occupational Safety and Health
Administration's (OSHA's) investigation of the explosion at Sanborn's
Black Mag gunpowder plant in Colebrook, N.H., resulted in the issuance
of 16 willful and more than 30 serious safety violation citations, along
with a $1.2 million penalty to Black Mag. OSHA Director Dr. David
Michaels said in a statement, 'The disregard for safety cost two workers
their lives, and this jury agreed that Craig Sanborn's actions were
According to the AFL-CIO's 2013 edition of Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect, only 84 criminal cases since 1970 have been prosecuted by the federal government against employers for willfully and seriously violating OSHA safety and health laws, with defendants serving only a total of 89 months. In that same time frame, there were 390,000 worker deaths.
Read more: AFL-CIO
US: high percentage of workers exposed to crystalline silica
At least 1.7 million US workers are exposed to respirable crystalline silica each year, this according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). These exposures occur in a variety of industries, among them construction, sandblasting, mining, masonry, stone and quarry work, and in the rapidly expanding method of oil and gas extraction known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking. This exposure can lead to silicosis, an irreversible, and sometimes fatal, lung disease that is only caused by inhaling respirable silica dust. Silica exposure also puts exposed workers at risk of lung cancer, pulmonary tuberculosis and other respiratory diseases. It is also associated with autoimmune disorders, chronic kidney disease and other adverse health effects. NIOSH says, however, the 'true extent of the problem is probably greater than indicated by available data.' The CDC agency has also written, there 'are no surveillance data in the US that permit us to estimate accurately the number of individuals with silicosis.'
As a result, the US Occupational Safety and Health
Administration (OSHA) has proposed a regulation to address the hazard,
which includes updating the permissible exposure limits for respirable
crystalline silica for the first time in forty years.
Read more: Silica exposures in fracking: Over 60 percent of workers may be excessively exposed and More information on Silica Source: The Pump Handle Blog
Firefighters at increased risk of cancer
It has been confirmed that firefighters have higher rates of several types of cancers, and of all cancers combined, than the US population as a whole, according to a new study from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Researchers found that cancers of the respiratory, digestive, and urinary systems accounted mostly for the higher rates of cancer seen in the study population. The population of firefighters also had a rate of mesothelioma twice as great as that of the US population.
The study considered the potential exposures, but did not address other factors that can influence risk for cancer, such as smoking, diet, and alcohol consumption. The study analyzed cancers and cancer deaths among 29,993 firefighters from the Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Francisco fire departments who were employed since 1950. The study was led by NIOSH in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute and the Department of Public Health Sciences in the University of California at Davis.
Read more: Robert Daniels, et al. Mortality and cancer incidence in a pooled cohort of US firefighters from San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia (1950–2009) [Abstract],14 October Occup Environ Med doi:10.1136/oemed-2013-101662.
Women work more than men
The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions released a gender analysis report on the findings of its Fifth (2010) Working Conditions Survey on 24 October. Done in 34 European countries, the survey confirmed the impact on health and well-being of women's "double shift". Combining paid working time with commuting time and unpaid work hours gave a total 64 hours per week for women against 53 hours for men. The difference: women spend an average 26 hours a week on caring activities compared to men's 9 hours. The analysis also supported a number of other widely known things: the "glass ceiling" effect of women's under-representation in managerial posts, the concentration of women among short-hour jobs, a higher risk of workplace harassment linked to their more frequent contact with customers and patients in female-dominated occupations (retail sales, health care, etc...).
Source: ETUI Read more Eurofound: Women, men and working conditions in Europe 24 October 2013
Diesel responsible for 6 percent of lung cancer deaths
An estimated 6 percent of lung cancer deaths in the United States and the United Kingdom – 11,000 deaths per year – may be due to diesel exhaust, according to a new study. Truckers and miners exposed over their careers to diesel exhaust face a risk of deadly lung cancer that is almost 70 times higher than the risk considered acceptable under U.S. occupational standards. According to the authors, while emission standards for diesel engines have become more stringent in recent years, their exhaust still plays a significant role in lung cancer deaths among truckers, miners and railroad workers. Further, diesel exhaust poses a major cancer threat for people living in dense cities or near highways, they said.
Read more: Roel Vermuelen, et al Exposure-Response Estimates for Diesel Engine Exhaust and Lung Cancer Mortality Based on Data from Three Occupational Cohorts, Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/ehp.1306880 and Environmental Health News More information: Diesel – declared carcinogen
Chief Judge criticises WorkSafe as 'habitual litigant'
The County Court's chief judge, Michael Rozenes, last week warned WorkSafe Victoria to be more realistic about its legal battles against workers applying for compensation, which he says are putting pressure on the court. Workers claiming compensation from their employers for an injury sustained in the workplace must first apply to WorkSafe to determine that it is serious. Chief judge Rozenes criticised the number of challenges it mounts. He said WorkSafe had challenged 228 of the 302 serious injury applications concluded in the court in 2012-13. Claimants won most of these contests. 'The VWA is a litigant which consistently loses at least 80 per cent of the applications it contests,' he said.
Read more: The Age
Latest edition of WorkSafe Safety Soapbox
The latest edition of WorkSafe's newsletter Safety Soapbox was sent out this week. This edition includes Inspector Tony Cockerall discussing the high risk pre-Christmas period and asking the construction industry to be extra vigilant during this time, descriptions of a couple of serious incidents, and more. Since the last edition (November 19), there have been 65 incidents serious enough to be reported to WorkSafe Victoria from the construction, utility, quarrying and mining industries, including 19 lacerations, nine fractures and seven electric shocks. Potentially fatal 'near misses' included shards of glass falling four metres to the ground, and other objects such as steel beams and lifts falling from cranes. The list can be downloaded from the Safety Soapbox for more information.
Federal Government ends Comcare moratorium
Under changes made by the Howard Government, private corporations were able to 'self-insure' under Comcare, thus allowing them to also be covered by the Comcare health and safety legislation. Several State Governments challenged this in the courts, but lost. The previous Labour Government then introduced a moratorium, preventing more companies from shifting across. Federal Employment Minister Eric Abetz this week announced he is lifting what he called Labour's 'ideologically motivated' moratorium because the Coalition Government is 'committed to creating more jobs by cutting red tape for employers to boost productivity and creating a stronger economy and more jobs'. In fact, the moratorium was introduced to attempt to maintain the protection of workers: Comcare, for example, has far fewer inspectors than the State/Territory regulators.
Read more: Senator Abetz's Media Release
Safe Work Australia releases new code and guidance
1 - Revised model Code of Practice on construction work
The model Code of Practice: Construction Work is a revised version of the Code of Practice previously published by Safe Work Australia in July 2012, amended to provide additional guidance for the housing construction sector. The model Code is intended to be the first point of reference for a person carrying out any type of construction work. It covers information on the requirements relating to construction work under the model Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations (such as work health and safety management plans and induction training) as well as guidance on the main hazards and risks in the construction industry. [For ease of reference amendments made to the original model Code of Practice: Construction Work are set out in a table at the end of the Code.]
2 - Workplace Bullying Guides and FAQs
Originally developed as a Code, following extensive consultation and review, Safe Work Australia converted the draft Code into a Guide for Preventing and Responding to Workplace Bullying. It has been released together with Dealing with Workplace Bullying – A Worker's Guide and a set of Frequently asked questions (FAQs) on workplace bullying. The guides on workplace bullying focus on the duty to manage risks under work health and safety laws and provide advice to businesses and workers on how to prevent workplace bullying and how to respond if it does occur.
The guides and FAQs will be reviewed to account for developments in relation to workplace bullying, including any significant decisions of the Fair Work Commission.
3 - Managing the Risk of Fatigue at Work guidance
The new Guide: Managing the Risk of Fatigue at Work provides advice and guidance for persons conducting a business or undertaking and other duty holders on how to manage fatigue in the workplace. Also released: Fatigue Management – A Worker's Guide
4 - More codes to be approved
Safe Work Australia has also provided five more of its third- and fourth-set model Codes of Practice to the Select Council on Workplace Relations for approval. They are:
- Scaffolds and Scaffolding Work;
- Working in the Vicinity of Overhead and Underground Electric Lines;
- Industrial Lift Trucks;
- Amusement Devices; and
- Formwork and Falsework.
Once approved by the Ministerial Council, these draft Codes will become model WHS Codes of Practice.
As at 4 December, jurisdictions reported that 158 Australian workers have been killed this year while at work. Of these, 38 occurred in Transport, postal & warehousing, 42 in Agriculture, forestry & fishing, 18 in Construction, 14 in Manufacturing, and nine in Arts & recreation services.
Safe Work Australia Work-related fatalities
SWA has released the July monthly fatality report during which there were 23 work-related notifiable fatalities reported – fourteen of these were workers, and nine were by-standers. Ten of the deaths involved vehicle crashes on public roads, two people died after being trapped in machinery, and two were fatally struck by falling objects. For further details see the Notified Fatalities Monthly Report July 2013, which can be downloaded here.
Comcare prosecutes John Holland for fatality and injury
Comcare has filed two separate sets of legal proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia against John Holland Pty Ltd relating to breaches of federal OHS laws. The first, relating to a December 2011 incident where a JH employee suffered a head injury after an unsecured metal bridge struck him while working on the Brisbane Airport Link Project. The second relates to a September 2011 incident when a JH employee suffered serious head injuries and later died after part of a steel structure struck him in the head, while working on the same project. In both matters Comcare alleges that John Holland failed to take all reasonably practicable steps to protect the health and safety of its employees at work.
The company has previously had civil penalties imposed by the Federal Court of Australia for breaching Commonwealth work health and safety laws, and it was recently revealed that John Holland had been warned by a senior executive about serious safety concerns on the project 17 months before the September 2011 fatality, but had failed to address these concerns. According to The Australian, the executive said: 'In my seven years with John Holland, I have never seen any project or management team that was so cavalier about the company's OHS system, principles and values and I have grave doubts about the management's team's capability in safety.'
The CFMEU has not only called for a
full investigation into whether the company should hold a Comcare
licence, but also an investigation into safety on every John Holland
site. National Construction Secretary Dave Noonan said safety standards
on the project were 'deplorable'. He said, 'It's a disgrace that senior
management of a company like Holland can behave in this way and it's in
poor taste for them to say that safety is a priority for them in light
of the tragic events on that job.'
Read more: The Australian: Tunnel Vision on Safety (subscription required) and Union calls for probe after safety doubts on Brisbane airport link safety CFMEU Media Release SafetyAtWorkBlog: Safety in the C Suite doesn't always run smoothly