SafetyNet 314, March 26, 2015
Welcome to Edition 314 of the SafetyNet journal. We're back after a short break – and hope you find this edition interesting and informative. If you have any comments or suggestions for items, please send them in to Renata firstname.lastname@example.org and thank you to those who have sent emails. Also: please (please!) follow us on Twitter @OHSreps
Comcare: Abbott's changes will disadvantage workers
The ACTU has warned that injured workers will be worse off under the Abbott Government's plans to expand Comcare – the national OHS and worker's compensation scheme. The Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Bill will allow employers who operate in multiple states to exit state and territory workers compensation schemes and self-insure under Comcare. The ACTU says this will result in lower OHS standards and will disadvantage both workers and small businesses.
Under the government's proposed changes, workers will lose the legal rights they currently have under their state or territory schemes such as WorkSafe in Victoria or WorkCover in NSW. This includes lower OHS standards and the exclusion of a number of compensation claims. There are many Victorian workers currently under the Comcare system - and the number of these could increase substantially.
Smaller businesses will also have to pay higher premiums if big businesses move to Comcare because it will reduce the premium pool for state and territory schemes. The ACTU opposes the government's push to remove workers' rights to compensation and believes the Comcare scheme should operate at the same standard, or exceed current state and territory schemes.
These concerns have been confirmed by a new report, carried out by the McKell Institute, warning that both employers and workers would face greater risks under the proposed expansion of the Comcare scheme. The report, Designing a Best Practice National Workers' Compensation Scheme, cautioned the Bill would create a "regulatory vacuum" and be open to "abuse by unscrupulous employers". The report, commissioned by the Electrical Trades Union (ETU), estimated Comcare would "potentially be responsible for 67 times its current workload capacity". This was "despite already conducting far fewer workplace interventions than its state and territory counterparts, and its investigators issuing far fewer improvement and prohibition notices". The McKell Institute is a public policy institute dedicated to developing practical policy ideas and contributing to public debate.
Read more: ACTU Media Release and The Designing a Best Practice National Workers' Compensation Scheme report [pdf]
Murder not tragedy: Photo Exhibition
Come along to the Australia Bangladesh Solidarity Network's photo exhibition from the Drik Gallery, Dhaka, Bangladesh: "Murder, not tragedy" at the Steps Gallery, 62 Lygon St, Carlton, from March 18 - 29. Photographers, activists and other artists were invited to submit work and register their protest following the Rana Plaza collapse in which almost 1200 workers were killed. Their observations, recorded and imagined, form the basis of this exhibition "Tragedi Noi Hottakando". The photo exhibition is taking place just before the second anniversary of the tragedy, on 24 April. Three organisations negotiating victims' compensation have joined forces and are calling for brands to pay up. There is still a huge shortfall in the fund – with millions of dollars outstanding. Last week Italian giant Benetton was called on to make the donation it had promised it would pay into the Fund a month earlier, following over 1million people signed a petition. It has not yet done so, saying it had appointed an 'independent third party' to advise it on its payment – but will not say who this is. Other companies who have not yet paid, or paid too little, include Walmart, Mango, The Children's Place, Lee Cooper, and more.
Ironically, yesterday, 25 March, was the 104th anniversary of the historic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire - an incident which claimed the lives of 146 garment workers (mainly womend) at the New York City factory. A USAS, a US-based group of students, workers, and community members gathered at the original site to honor this tragic event, they will also be honoring those who have recently lost their lives in deadly factory disasters in Bangladesh. (Read more: United Students Against Sweatshops)
Please invite your friends, family and colleagues to come and voice their support. The Exhibition is free to attend and will be open 10am to 4pm, Saturday to Tuesday, and 10am to 8pm Wednesday to Friday.
Find out more on the Exhibition Facebook Event page; Rana Plaza fund call grows as anniversary nears Just-style
Unions welcome senate inquiry into visa rorts
Unions have welcomed the Senate Inquiry into the growing use and widely reported abuse of temporary work visas including 457, working holiday and student visas.
The inquiry comes after lobbying by the ACTU, resource, health and service sector unions, supported by migrant community organisations, to ensure Australia's temporary visa system is transparent, regulated and puts local jobs and training first. In addition to the effect of the approximately 1.1 million temporary work visa holders on employment opportunities for Australians, unions have concerns regarding the exploitation of these workers and the poor ohs conditions they often face. Ged Kearney, ACTU President, said: "The Senate Inquiry is a positive step towards ensuring foreign workers are not being exploited and that employers are genuinely trying to hire Australian workers first."
Read more: ACTU Media Release
NSW: Union wins back pay for exploited foreign construction workers
In an example of the sort of exploitation referred to above, the Construction Division of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) has successfully fought to claim back hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid wages after a group of 457 visa holders were drastically underpaid by their employer. The Filipino and Chinese nationals were employed in construction jobs in Narrabri in regional NSW by Taiwanese company Chia Tung. They were promised almost $30 an hour, but were paid as little as $4 an hour and forced to live in and pay for substandard accommodation. Dave Noonan, the national secretary of the CFMEU, said: "This is a situation where workers on 457 and other temporary visa workers have been grossly exploited by the contractor. I think lots of companies are getting away with ripping off workers on temporary visas. This is a growing phenomenon and sadly we will see more of it."
Read more: Foreign workers successfully claim back over $400,000 after being drastically underpaid by Chia Tung ABC AM program
I am an HSR and a member of the workplace health and safety committee. My problem is that I have not been able to attend a meeting for over a year. Each time a meeting is held, my manager will not let me attend, telling me I cannot be released for work reasons. However, the manager seems to get adequate notice of the meeting, and he is able to attend each time. Is this right?
No, it's not, and what is happening is totally unacceptable. While there is no specific section in the Act that says an employer must allow an HSR to attend the health and safety committee meetings, it is assumed that it will happen. The OHS Act requires that at LEAST half the members on the committee be employee reps, and that these reps must be 'so far as reasonably practicable' elected HSRs or deputy HSRs (see Health and Safety Committees). This is because the committee is one of the main ways in which consultation at the workplace between the employer and employees occurs – not on day to day DWG matters, but on the broader workplace wide issues, such as policies and procedures and so on (see OHS Committees: What is their role?).
So, being ON the committee and thus actually ATTENDING meetings is clearly part of the HSR's role and the HSR has a right to attend. Under Section 69 of the Act the employer has an obligation to the elected HSRs to provide time off with pay to enable the HSR to exercise his or her powers and rights (see Facilities and time off). Therefore, as an HSR and member of the committee you have the absolute right to attend the meetings – and on paid leave. If your manager keeps telling you that you cannot attend, then I would go higher to someone more senior (for example to the chair of the committee) and request that the manager be required to allow you to leave the floor to attend, or that the meetings be rescheduled for a time when you can be released. If you don't get anywhere, then I would either contact WorkSafe and ask an inspector to attend to assist you, or alternatively consider issuing a PIN. It appears that your manager is intentionally not allowing you to attend the committee meetings – point out that you have the right to be consulted and that under Section 35 & 36 – Duty to consult - if you're not allowed to attend the meetings, then they are in breach of the Act.
Please send any OHS related queries in to 'Ask Renata'- your query will be responded to as quickly as we can – usually within a couple of days.
Victoria: Asbestoswise Newsletter
Asbestos diseases support group, Asbestoswise, has released its March 2015 newsletter, which can be downloaded from its website. The newsletter has items on recent changes within the organisation, the annual commemoration service, an update on changes to Victoria's Wrongs Act, and more news.
NSW: Loose-fill asbestos weekly update
The NSW government has published the most recent update, in which it provides information and the latest figures: As of 19 March, 2015, 2,246 premises in the 26 council areas had registered for the free sampling service; and at that date 1,323 properties had been tested with 1,319 samples determined to not contain asbestos. Four samples for properties in Berrigan Shire, Yass Valley, Queanbeyan City and Greater Hume local government areas have returned positive results.
Read more: March 24 Update
Asbestos: cheap, very nasty and a danger for emergency responders
Tropical Cyclone Pam has left areas of the Vanuatu archipelago contaminated with asbestos. Australian responders have removed more than 100 kilograms of asbestos-contaminated debris from the Port Vila Central Hospital alone; most of the asbestos had been contained in sheeting and roofing products. According to Gary Bailey, from the Australia's Urban Search and Rescue, team members have "been going into various parts of the hospital and some primary schools today and rendering as much asbestos as safe as we can." The process used was to spray the asbestos materials with glue and then wrap them in plastic for disposal. Many buildings have been severely damaged and those containing asbestos now pose a serious health hazard for aid workers and the general population.
Source: Tropical Cyclone Pam: Rescue teams remove over 100kg of asbestos from Port Vila's central hospital. ABC News online and IBAS News Archive
UK: long awaited report on asbestos in schools released
A long-delayed report into the presence of asbestos in UK schools was finally published on 12 March, after "sustained pressure" from education unions. Hundreds of teachers and other education staff have died in the UK of asbestos related diseases since 2003, the Department for Education report found. Among the proposed responses outlined in the report, which stuck to the previous line that schools are a 'low risk' environment, was the development of more targeted guidance on asbestos management.
NUT general secretary Christine Blower said the report only emerged after "sustained pressure from the NUT and other education unions", adding it "is a step in the right direction, but no more. Better training and guidance is of course welcome, as is the focus on transparency and accountability of duty holders." But she said "the report comprehensively fails to set out a long-term strategy for phased removal of asbestos from our schools." GMB national health and safety officer John McClean said "while the review acknowledges the massive problem it lacks strategy to deal with the asbestos in schools over the long term." He added: "The next government should ensure that a proper, phased removal of all asbestos from schools is planned within a realistic timescale and on a proportionate basis decided by the asbestos damage and the potential for exposure in each school." Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum chair Doug Jewell said the report was "only one step on a long journey." He said: "The findings of this review need to be built on and most importantly we need long term strategic policies that will eradicate asbestos from our schools." The publication of the review came days after the Asbestos in Schools campaign revealed its freedom of information requests had established up to 86 per cent of UK schools contain asbestos. The group estimated that between 200 and 300 people could die each year as a consequence of their asbestos exposure as a child at school in the 1960s and 1970s.
Read more: Department for Education asbestos review [pdf] NUT news release Source: Risks 695
Italy: Asbestos containing Chinese exports affect other countries too
Asbestos was banned in Italy in 1992 – yet in the past five months, Italian authorities have seized thermos flasks imported from China which contained asbestos insulation. The most recent confiscations were made during the second week of March 2015. All the contraband articles were marketed under the "Theo" brand and were sold in shops and supermarkets. A sticker on the bottom of the flask says "Made in RPC" - China.
Read more: Thermos cinesi con pasticche di amianto: dieci sequestri dal mese di ottobre 2014 [Chinese thermos with asbestos insulation; ten seizures since October 2014]. Source: IBAS News Archive
Also in Italy: second Eternit trial, this time for murder
Earlier this month a delegation of regional union representatives from the three major union confederations (CGIL, CISL and UIL), together with the national president of the asbestos victims organisation Inail, met with the Turin Public Prosecutor Raffaele Guariniello, well-respected for the tenacity he has demonstrated in the past ten years in supporting the battle for justice for asbestos victims.
Public Prosecutor Guariniello has now announced that the preliminary hearing in a murder trial concerning the asbestos deaths of 258 Italians is due to start in May 2015.Swiss billionaire Stephen Schmidheiny stands accused of intentional homicide. This trial will deal with only some of the 500 asbestos deaths - the remainder are likely to be included in a further proceeding, "Eternit Ter. Earlier charges against Schmidheiny for causing a permanent environmental disaster as a result of which Italians died from asbestos disease were deemed to be statute barred by the Supreme Court in November 2014.
Read more: Eternit Bis, a maggio processo per omicidio all'imprenditore svizzero Stephan Schmidheiny [Eternit Again, May murder trial of Swiss entrepreneur Stephan Schmidheiny]. Source: IBAS News Archive
Research on the history of asbestos
A paper published earlier this year in Medicina del Lavoro (Industrial Medicine) provides a fascinating look at the historical uses of asbestos and the almost mythical symbolism it enjoyed in ancient and classical times. The Italian authors cite a multitude of interesting and formerly unknown facts, such as the use of asbestos in the armour of a samurai warrior. They speculate that one reason why asbestos has not been banned worldwide could be because "the fascination with the magic stone is not exhausted." The abstract states asbestos was used in making pottery in Eastern Finland from around 4000 B.C. In the ancient era and in the Middle Ages, magic properties were frequently attributed to this mineral. In the first century A.D., the Latin encyclopaedist Pliny the Elder reported in his Historia Naturalis that asbestos protects against all poisonings, particularly that of magicians.
Source: IBAS News Archive. See: Bianchi C, Bianchi T Asbestos between science and myth. A 6,000-year story.[Abstract] Med Lav. 2015 Jan 22;106(2):83-90.
Want to know about Asbestos laws and more – go to the Asbestos section on the site.
FWC and Bullying
Commissioner Peter Hampton, head of the Fair Work Commission's anti-bullying panel, recently highlighted the key cases in the new jurisdiction's first year, revealing that many employers fail to follow their own internal procedures when dealing with bullying complaints.
There were 701 anti-bullying applications made to the FWC in 2014: 593 dealt with behaviour that had been reported to the employer. In 442 of these, the employer said they had a policy on bullying or a dispute resolution procedure. But employers in only 132 of these cases indicated that they had followed their internal policies. The data largely reflects the quarterly reporting of the Commission's new anti-bullying jurisdiction, which has attracted far fewer complaints than originally feared by employers, or forecast by the FWC. In 2014, the Commission's website received 185,633 unique hits about bullying and 6995 telephone inquiries. But it has only made orders in two matters.
Source: Workplace Express
In a related story, the NSW Labor Opposition has said it will introduce new anti-bullying laws to complement, and possibly enhance, the federal scheme, if it wins Saturday's state election.
Shadow IR Minister Adam Searle released the new policy this week, adding to other OHS initiatives announced last week to provide more protection for pregnant workers, regulate employee surveillance and pare back the Coalition's public sector changes. Labor has also proposed expanding WorkCover's inspectorate and compliance powers and returning WHS matters to the IRC. "Under a Labor government, WorkCover will once again properly promote the highest standards of workplace safety and proactively support healthy workplaces, not just pick up the pieces afterwards," Searle said. "Labor will take the pressure off the District Court and restore the Industrial Court to its former responsibility as the state's chief arbitor on workplace safety disputes. A Labor govt will strengthen employer obligations and provide incentives for them to provide employment opportunities for injured workers."
Read more: Sydney Morning Herald More information on Bullying.
NSW: Anniversary of mine collapse at Bulli
March 23rd marked the anniversary of the massive explosion in 1887 at Bulli Colliery on the south coast of NSW, which killed 81 men and boys. The magnitude of the loss highlighted the hazards of a mineworker's life, as this was Australia's first large scale mining disaster. Bulli was known to be a "gassy" pit and therefore susceptible to "blowers". The source of the explosion was the No. 2 heading at Hill End, where the shot had been set. The blast which swept through the tunnel created an inferno, followed by the deadly "after damp" (carbon monoxide) which took the lives of all in the Hill End area.
The disaster occurred just one month after a prolonged strike where union leaders had been targeted. Miners who had raised safety issues at Bulli were among those victimised and blacklisted. Among those who were allowed to return to work were a number of inexperienced youths, at the expense of the more experienced, and safety conscious, union activists.
The investigation revealed a shocking story of negligence. It was established that:
- mine management had known for two years that there was gas in dangerous quantities
- naked lights were in common use
- shots were fired by lighting paper torches
- smoking underground was common practice
- workers were afraid of reporting dangerous conditions through a fear of victimisation
Read more: 23 March 1887: The day 81 men and boys perished at Bulli CFMEU Mining and Energy Division
kNOw Cancer Risks at Work Forum – 18 May, 2015
Remember the upcoming kNOw Cancer Risks at Work National Forum, organised by the Cancer Council Australia's Occupational & Environmental Cancer Committee, which is being held on Monday 18 May 2015, at Dockside, Cockle Bay Wharf, Sydney. The national forum will be highlighting prevention and elimination of occupational cancer risks in Australia, and is open to occupational health and safety professionals, industry representatives and unions, researchers, public health professionals and anyone with an interest in occupational cancers. The program will feature international, national and local speakers. The international keynote speaker will be Professor John Cherrie, Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM), Edinburgh. Abstract submissions are invited, and should be submitted via the forum website by 6 April.
For further information, submission of abstracts or to download a registration form, please visit the 'kNOw cancer risks at work' 2015 forum website or email the forum coordinator. Telephone: (08) 9388 4388
Detailed information regarding keynote speakers and guests will continue to be posted to the
'kNOw cancer risks at work' 2015 forum website - please check regularly for updates.
International Union News
Bangladesh: Roof collapse kills eight construction workers
Eight workers were killed and about 100 injured when the roof of a newly-constructed building of the Mongla Cement Factory collapsed in the port town of Mongla, 200km south-west of the capital Dhaka on 12 March. Many of those rescued required hospital treatment. The construction company building the roof was a local agent of China National Building Material Company Ltd, which won the contract in an international competitive bidding process. Most of the workforce was composed of migrant workers from surrounding areas. Fiona Murie, director of health and safety for the global construction union federation BWI, said: "The authorities in Bangladesh must investigate all the circumstances to establish what factors led to this catastrophe, and ensure that this will not happen again. Workers must not be left vulnerable to exploitation, death, injury and disease, due to dangerous and illegal working conditions. They are the ones who pay the price for the incompetence, negligence or corruption of the authorities, the clients and the contractors who are putting profits before people."
Read more: ABCNews
EU: Action on work cancers is decades overdue
A top safety researcher has warned that more protective laws, effective enforcement and unrelenting union action are needed to address Europe's 'immense' occupational cancer problem. Laurent Vogel from the Brussels-based trade union research body ETUI points to research showing that cancers induced by working conditions kill over 100,000 people in the European Union each year. Writing in the TUC's Stronger Unions blog, he said: "Cancers account for 53 per cent of work-related deaths compared to just 2 per cent for work accidents. Every one of these deaths can be prevented." The union safety expert added: "To do away with workplace cancers, there must be a stronger framework of laws, more checks by health and safety inspectors, and no let-up in union action to get human life valued more than company profits." Instead, Europe's safety policy development has ground to a halt, he said, despite the majority of EU Member States now wanting action to address the human toll and the related "rising costs to public health and social security budgets." On 4 March 2014, German, Austrian, Belgian and Dutch labour ministers sent a joint letter to the European Commission calling for an urgent review of the Directive on exposure to carcinogens and mutagens at work and making specific proposals to strengthen the law. According to Vogel: "The current legislation, based on scientific evidence dating back 40 years, has manifestly failed to deliver effective prevention. Its exposure limit values cover less than 20 per cent of real-life situations of exposure to workplace carcinogens. It does not cover crystalline silica, diesel fumes or dozens of other agents that cause cancers in workers." He concluded: "What the EU does about work cancers will be the main credibility test for its health and safety at work policies. The unions will not be standing idly by. Throughout the year, they will be organising action to demand appropriate legislation and to roll out workers' initiatives in support of prevention that works." Vogel added that the hazardous substances-themed Workers' Memorial Day on 28 April will provide a special focus for these activities.
Source: Risks 695
Europe: The Art of Preventive health and safety
If you missed the item in the last journal, the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) has published a book featuring 50 workplace safety and health posters, designed for or developed by agencies and advocates between 1925 and 2004. The book's author, Alfredo Menendez-Navarro, a professor of the history of science at the University of Granada and an expert in the history of occupational health, organized the selections into three time periods: the years between WWI and WWII, after WWII, and the post 1960's. It's a fabulous and interesting publication, and can be either purchased or downloaded free.
To access the publication: The art of preventive health and safety in Europe
Cambodia: Labour laws don't protect garment workers
A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report has found the Cambodian government is failing to protect the workers producing garments for international brands from serious labour rights abuses. Researchers discovered the mainly female workforce often experience forced overtime, pregnancy-based discrimination, and anti-union practices that neither the government nor major brands have adequately addressed. Its 140-page report, 'Work faster or get out', documents lax government enforcement of labour laws and brand actions that hinder monitoring and compliance. It is based on interviews with more than 340 people, including 270 workers from 73 factories in Phnom Penh and nearby provinces, union leaders, government representatives, labour rights advocates, the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia, and international apparel brand representatives. Of some 200 apparel brands that source from Cambodia, HRW said it was in contact with Adidas, Armani, Gap, H&M, Joe Fresh, and Marks and Spencer.
Many workers said factory managers pressured them to meet production targets in ways that undermined their ability to take rest breaks, use the washroom, drink water, or eat lunch. In some cases, the pressure to meet production targets increased after minimum wages increased in 2013 and 2014. "The Cambodian government should take swift measures to reverse its terrible record of enforcing its labour laws and protect workers from abuse," said Aruna Kashyap, senior women's rights researcher at HRW. "These global apparel brands are household names. They have a lot of leverage, and can and should do more to ensure their contracts with garment factories are not contributing to labour rights abuses." Jyrki Raina, general secretary of IndustriALL, the global union for the garment sector, commented: "The report is further evidence that so-called corporate social responsibility practices, which only serve to polish brands' reputations, are failing to prevent abuse of workers." He added: "New approaches are urgently needed and IndustriALL is working hard to make the global garment industry safe and sustainable. The HRW report shows we still have a long way to go."
HRW news release and report, Work Faster or Get Out': Labor Rights Abuses in Cambodia's Garment Industry. IndustriALL News Report Source: Risks 695
Glyphosate declared a 'probable human carcinogen'
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) recently assessed the carcinogenicity of four organophosphate pesticides: tetrachlorvinphos, parathion, malathion, diazinon and glyphosate. Tetrachlorvinphos and parathion were found to be 'possibly carcinogenic to humans' while malathion, diazinon and glyphosate were found to be 'probably carcinogenic to humans'.
IARC notes that glyphosate is currently the world's highest global production herbicide and its use is increasing with the use of genetically modified crops, engineered to be resistant to Roundup. Glyphosate is also used extensively in forestry, urban settings for weed management and home applications. Thousands of workers are potentially being exposed to these chemicals.
Source: National Toxics Network Article; Read more: K Guyton, et al: Carcinogenicity of tetrachlorvinphos, parathion, malathion, diazinon, and glyphosate [abstract] (The full article can be downloaded free after registration). The Lancet
Advice to HSRs: If pesticides are used in your workplace, then check the Material Safety Data Sheets and labels and raise the matter with your employer (for more information see: Hazardous Substances (Chemicals), Material Safety Data Sheets)
Ambulance officers and paramedics at extremely high risk of musculoskeletal injuries
Recent research undertaken chiefly by researchers from the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, compared the occupational risk of musculoskeletal (MSK) and mental injury among ambulance officers and paramedics, with that of nursing professionals, social and welfare professionals, and carers and aides in Victoria by comparing workers compensation (WC) statistics. The researchers found that ambulance officers and paramedics had an upward trend in WC claim rates for all injuries and the highest rates for MSK and mental injury, in comparison with other healthcare workers during the study period. In the 2009–2012 time period, ambulance officers and paramedics' risk of lower back MSK and mental injury was approximately 13 times higher than nurse professionals.
Read more: M.H Roberts, Occupational injury risk among ambulance officers and paramedics compared with other healthcare workers in Victoria, Australia: analysis of workers' compensation claims from 2003 to 2012 [Abstract], Occup Environ Med doi:10.1136/oemed-2014-102574
WorkSafe sent out the latest edition of WorkSafe's Safety Soapbox on March 18. The edition has a number of important and interesting items, including prosecutions update and news from other states.
The list of Reported Incidents from 26 February to 11 March is attached to the newsletter. There were a total of 70 incidents notified to WorkSafe, including the tragic death of the young worker in the trench collapse incident. There were 27 'near misses' – many of them potentially extremely serious; and 22 lacerations.
Access the March 18 Safety Soapbox edition online, including link to the list of reported incidents.
Safe Work Australia
As of March 20, the deaths of 37 Australian workers had been notified to Safe Work by the jurisdictions – this is ten more workers killed in the ten days since March 10. The fatalities so far this year have been in the following industries: eight in Transport, postal and warehousing; seven in Agriculture, forestry and fishing; five each in Mining and in Construction; three each in Manufacturing; Electricity, gas, water & waste services and in 'other services'; two in Arts & Recreation services; and one in Administrative & support services.
More information on which industries the fatalities occurred in is accessible on the Safe Work Australia Work-related fatalities page.
The latest monthly report remains that for November 2014 – this report can be downloaded from the Safe Work Australia Monthly Fatalities Reports page.
From WorkSafe Victoria: A Safety Alert - Battery powered circular saws This Alert highlights hazards associated with the use of battery powered circular saws (battery saws).
There have been no new prosecution summaries added to the WorkSafe webpage for some time. As it seems unlikely that there have been no prosecutions since the end of February, SafetyNet concludes that this must be because the site has not been updated.
UK: Company fined almost A$1m after horrific incident
A Cheshire-based transport company has been fined £500,000 (A$951,300) after an employee suffered horrific injuries when she was crushed between two lorries (trucks). The Court heard the woman was lucky to be alive after the incident at Tip Trailer Services' depot in April 2013. The 38-yr old broke 13 bones in her back, shoulders and ribs, and punctured a lung. The incident left her with severe head injuries, impaired vision and she required a tracheotomy. She suffered a cardiac arrest and was in intensive care for ten days. The worker needed to wear a body brace for four months, was confined to a wheelchair for some months although has since regained some mobility, and still requires weekly physiotherapy.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the employee was acting as a 'banksman', assisting a lorry driver to reverse park on a slope, at the time of the incident. The driver decoupled his trailer without engaging its parking brake, causing it to roll back and trap her between the two vehicles. The investigation found TIP Trailer Services regularly allowed vehicles to park on a slope without the provision of chocks or similar devices. The company had no monitoring system to check whether drivers were applying their handbrakes properly. The slope ended on a public road, so the risks were not just to pedestrians on site but also to passing pedestrians and drivers.
TIP Europe Ltd, trading as Tip Trailer Services, pleaded guilty to two breaches of Sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and was fined a total of £500,000 (A$951,300) and ordered to pay a further £56,938 (A$108,319) in costs.
Read more: HSE Press Release