SafetyNet 318, April 23, 2015
Edition 318 of the SafetyNet journal coincides with International Workers' Memorial Day events. Remember, if you have any comments or suggestions for items, please send them in to Renata email@example.com and thank you to those who have sent emails. We're still waiting to hit a critical number of "followers' so please follow us @OHSreps
NSW: Two people killed in industrial incident today
Earlier this morning, emergency services responded to reports a number of people were trapped by fallen timber in a shipping container at Wetherill Park, in Sydney's west. Police have confirmed that two people have died. UPDATE: it appears the men were crushed by falling truck parts including timber and fibreglass sheets. A third man was also hit, but managed to get out of the container. Ten men from nearby factories attempted to free the men, but were unable to do so. Rescue teams had to use hydraulic equipment to shore up the sheets: by the time they reached the trapped men, they had died.
Source: ABC News online
Australia Post worker seriously injured by own truck
An Australia Post worker was in a critical condition in hospital after being run over by his own truck last Wednesday night. It is believed the 63-year-old man had parked his truck at the Australia Post depot in North Geelong about 11pm. After the man stepped out of the vehicle, the truck rolled over him, crushing part of his body. Ambulance Victoria said the man "suffered serious pelvic injuries" and was taken to hospital in a critical condition. As the employer is Australia Post, Comcare would conduct an investigation into the incident.
Source: The Geelong Advertiser
NSW: Check on garbage trucks reveals problems
Last week a rubbish collection worker was killed in Footscray – this week it has been reported that dozens of defects have been found in inspections of Sydney's waste management trucks. A joint operation by NSW Police and Roads and Maritime Services officers targeted a range of safety and compliance issues. The sweep covered a fleet of waste management vehicles contracted to collect and dispose of garbage across the state. Officers issued 40 defect notices for the 120 trucks inspected. Defects included body/chassis issues, ancillary equipment and oil/fuel leaks, as well as a number of infringements for insecure loads. The findings included one truck with loose wheel nuts and the tyre unsecured, while another had a bald tyre, and one leaked fluid on the roadway. Perhaps relevant authorities need to inspect Victoria's rubbish collection trucks too.
April: Mourn the Dead, Fight for the Living
These events will take place tomorrow and Tuesday next week: please take action – whether by attending or by doing something, like putting out work shoes, at your workplace.
1: Tomorrow April 24 – Rana Plaza Anniversary Vigil
April 24th will be the second anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh in which 1127 garment workers were killed and hundreds more injured – with hundreds still missing. Come to remember the workers who were killed in the name of greed. The event is being organised by the Australian Bangladesh Solidarity Network and supported by the VTHC and AAWL and the following unions: TCFUA, NTEU, CFMEU, and the MUA. Bangladeshi unions will be mobilising for a week of events which include meetings on compensation and rehabilitation and a commemoration of the event.
Where: the 8 Hour Monument opposite the Trades Hall
When: 4.30pm, Friday April 24 Facebook Event page
ITUC Media Release Unions do not forget Rana Plaza and fight for new rights in Bangladesh
Garment workers in Bangladesh face poor working conditions and anti-union tactics by employers including assaults on union organizers, Human Rights Watch said in a report released this week. A short HRW video highlights the ongoing need for unions in the country. While efforts are underway to make Bangladesh factories safer, the government and Western retailers can and should do more to enforce international labor standards to protect workers' rights, including their right to form unions and advocate for better conditions.
The 78-page report, "Whoever Raises Their Head, Suffers the Most': Workers' Rights in Bangladesh's Garment Factories" is based on interviews with more than 160 workers from 44 factories, most of them making garments for retail companies in North America, Europe, and Australia. Workers report violations including physical assault, verbal abuse – sometimes of a sexual nature – forced overtime, denial of paid maternity leave, and failure to pay wages and bonuses on time or in full. Despite recent labor law reforms, many workers who try to form unions to address such abuses face threats, intimidation, dismissal, and sometimes physical assault at the hands of factory management or hired third parties. Further, the families of the workers who were killed, and the many injured are still waiting for full compensation, with many international brands not having paid up. (This Working Life: Rana Plaza compo fund falls short)
The ILO however, is trying to promote more 'positive' news: a 'good news' story on two survivors of the collapse who have been given help to set up their own businesses, and a factory inspector's account of her work - which is just too rosy to believe! Most factories look nothing like the one she's inspecting!
2: April 28 – International Workers' Memorial Day
Why have International Workers' Memorial Day? Globally, the International Labour Organisation estimates that 2.34 million people die each year from work-related incidents and diseases. From these fatalities, the majority or 2.02 million are from occupational and work-related diseases. Hazardous substances kill 440,000 workers annually – asbestos claims 100,000 lives. And remember – these figures are likely to be underestimates. As a sign of solidarity and commitment to OHS, we are asking workers to put out a pair of work shoes on 28 April. Please take a photo of the empty shoes and tweet with the tag #standforsafety as well as an international one #iwmd15.
If you're able to, please come to the VTHC event at the Trades Hall to commemorate workers killed at work and to fight for the living by organising safe and healthy workplaces. Speakers will include the Honourable Robin Scott, Minister responsible for WorkCover, and Luke Hilakari, VTHC Secretary.
Where: Trades Hall, Lygon St, Carlton South
When: 10.30am, Tuesday April 28
To RSVP go to this event page.
Remember too, the event in Gippsland, being organised by the Asbestos Council of Victoria (formerly GARDS). More information on Victorian, ACTU for events around Australia, and the International site for international events. The international site also includes resources and a world map of events. Safe Work Australia also has information on its website 28 April - Work Health and Safety. Remember. Prevention including some resources to download.
Broken Hill Miners' Memorial vandalised
Just as unions and workers around the country prepare to remember the dead, news came this week that Broken Hill's Miner's Memorial - a glass plaque with the names of three men killed on the local mines in 1992 - was found smashed late last week.
Read more: ABC News online
We currently have a position for a deputy HSR with our DWG and I have discovered that our employer might be going to send one of the casual employees off to do the course yet there hasn't been an election for him to proceed with training. What would be the appropriate course of action to rectify this issue?
Your employer should not be proceeding in this course of action. You – that is the members of the DWG – need to organise your own election for the position of deputy. Send a formal note to your employer notifying him that this is going to happen (and when). Also ask that until the election takes place no-one be sent to training.
The OHS Act (Sections 54 & 55) gives the DWG the right to conduct an election (or decide how to conduct it). The DWG members may, for example, ask the union to assist with the election or to run it on their behalf. If the DWG cannot agree on how the election should be conducted, then any member of the DWG may contact the Authority to arrange for an inspector to either conduct the election or appoint someone to conduct it.
Of course, once someone has been elected deputy HSR by the members of the DWG, that person has the right to attend the training course of their choice, not one organised by the employer.
Read more: Health and Safety Representatives and OHS Reps' Right to Training
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.
Alphington Victoria homes covered in dust
In another case of the public potentially being affected by abandoned industrial sites, Alphington residents whose homes and gardens were "coated" with construction dust from an Alphington building site have only just found out about the discovery of asbestos there months ago.
The former Amcor Paper Mill on the Chandler Highway is being redeveloped and thousands of houses being built for almost 5000 residents. On Monday, Yarra Council's manager of city strategy emailed a resident working group to say that the demolition of a large chimney had been halted last October after asbestos was discovered. Though the council says there was no risk to workers or the community, the residents are angry they were not informed earlier.
Yarra Councillor Stephen Jolly works in construction and was a health and safety representative for a construction union. He said the regularity with which asbestos was found on former industrial sites meant residents who lived nearby needed to be kept informed. Read more: The Age
The Project: The ongoing dangers of asbestos
Last week the popular TV program The Project ran a story on asbestos: "Aussies love a bit of DIY but sometimes there's dangerous asbestos lurking in our homes. We meet a few of the families coping with the fall out of asbestos." At the end of the segment, panellist Chrissie Swan, whose partner is a builder, commented that he often came across asbestos and that it was everywhere. The problem, she said, is that because it looks so 'innocuous', people who do renovations are tempted to try to get rid of it themselves – also because it's expensive to get professionals in to do it.
Watch The Project segment
Unions NSW Asbestos petition
It may shock you to know that in Russia, April 16 every year is Chrysotile (asbestos) Protection Day, where the government allows companies to promote the exportation of dangerous asbestos products to poorer countries. This campaign has asbestos workers showing their support for the so called "safe use of asbestos" on various forms of social media. is calling on the Australian Government to ensure that any Free Trade Agreement, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, specifically ban the trade in all asbestos and require the listing of all asbestos on the Rotterdam Convention.
Sign the petition now to add your voice to the call to end asbestos trade.
The tragedy of Wittenoom continues
A feature article by Cortlan Bennett is WA Today begins "Blue death permeates the Pilbara." But the problem is that blue asbestos that was mined around Wittenoom for more than 30 years continues to kill those who worked with it. Bennett says that mountains of blue asbestos tailings remain in the Pilbara – open to the elements, spreading across the landscape – because those who mined it left it where it was dumped, while successive governments have failed to tackle the problem over 80 years.
Read more: The blue ghosts of Wittenoom WA Today
WA: Asbestos inspections not done regularly by government agencies
A report released this week by Western Australia's Auditor General, Colin Murphy, has found that of seven government agencies audited, two were failing to conduct asbestos inspections on their properties in the state with the regularity required. Another concern raised in the report was that the lack of a single agency responsible for coordinating asbestos management had led to "inconsistent practices" and agencies "not being clear on their responsibilities". Mr Murphy said, "I was disappointed to find that no single body had responsibility to coordinate the management. I have recommended Government consider this matter." Read more: ABC News online
Countdown to the Rotterdam Convention is on - three weeks to go
At the Rotterdam Convention a 'message from the world' will be broadcast from international group AsbestosFreeFuture to delegates encouraging them to vote to Ban Chrysotile Asbestos. To do this, they need your help. They need to hear your voice. Send a message in support of banning asbestos around the world – in words, pictures or short video. All you need to do is post your message on their Facebook page or tweet it to them if you use twitter. These will be collated by AsbestosFreeFuture and sent to delegates at the Rotterdam Convention, urging them to ban chrysotile asbestos.
Send your message to this Facebook page or Twitter to @AsbestosFreeNow
Asia: Warning about asbestos disease 'tsunami'
Researchers have warned that due to the increasing use of asbestos in Asia the continent could face an asbestos disease 'tsunami' as a result, researchers have warned. In Respirology, experts from Australia, Indonesia and the UK note: "Although some countries such as Japan, Korea and Singapore have curtailed the use of this mineral, there are numerous countries in Asia that continue to mine, import and use this fibre, particularly China, which is one of the largest consumers in the world." The paper adds: "Numerous factors ranging from political and economic to the lack of understanding of asbestos and the management of asbestos-related lung disease are keys to this observed trend. Awareness of these factors combined with early intervention may prevent the predicted Asian 'tsunami' of asbestos diseases." The paper spells out the measures necessary to achieve this. "Asbestos is widely used in Asia with little occupational protection and thus will produce many thousands of cases of asbestos related disease in the next decades. Reducing the risks of such diseases will require reduction in the use of asbestos, careful surveillance for asbestos related diseases and improved levels of training in the recognition and diagnosis of these disease, and cooperation among government and non-government groups in the prevention of these diseases."
A related editorial notes: "How can we solve this asbestos time bomb that Asia is facing? Should we continue with the mining and export of asbestos? Should we go for short-term profit and accept the occupational hazards?" It concludes: "Short-sightedness is not acceptable anymore. Asbestos is a major health threat; it has already ruined too many lives. Therefore, we must help the developing world by finding suitable alternatives for asbestos as soon as possible or we will face an immense loss of quality of life and working potential in these countries."
Australia has a very important role in the battle to have asbestos listed on the Rotterdam Convention and in the fight to ban asbestos in our near neighbours.
Source: Risks 698 Read more: Su Lyn Leong, Rizka Zainudin, Laurie Kazan-Allen and Bruce W Robinson. Asbestos in Asia Respirology, 29 MAR 2015, DOI: 10.1111/resp.12517 and
Paul Baas and Sjaak Burgers. ASIA: Asbestos stop in Asia, Editorial, Respirology, 31 MAR 2015, DOI: 10.1111/resp.12533.
Want to know about Asbestos laws and more? – go to the Asbestos section on the site.
April 21 1856: a day for Australian workers to celebrate
"Eight hours labour, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest"
Under this slogan, the building workers of Melbourne fought a successful campaign to shorten their working week from 60 to 48 hours. The building unions worked hard to convince employers of the benefits of an eight hour day. On April 21, 1856 stonemasons working at the University of Melbourne marched to Parliament House to press their claims for an eight hour working day. They reached agreement with their employers for a 48 hour week – marking the beginning of this right for all workers, and leading the world. On May 12 the workers held a celebratory march – which they then held every year after that.
And yet, Australia, once recognised as the 'working man's paradise' for its Eight Hour Day achievement, now has amongst the highest working hours in the developed world. Many people feel stressed and 'time poor'. Workers now encounter an increasingly complex and fragmented workforce. They face over-employment; under-employment; part-time, casual and unpaid work; flexible shift and roster arrangements.
Read more: The Eight Hour Day: where has it gone?
Contractor pleads not guilty in Swanston St wall collapse
The owner of sign installation business this week pleaded not guilty to a charge that he illegally constructed an advertising hoarding that was attached to a brick wall that collapsed and killed three pedestrians at the vacant Carlton and United Breweries site in Swanston Street Carlton in March 2013. Owner of Paramount Signs, Jonathon Westmoreland, pleaded not guilty to a charge of doing building work without a permit over several days in October, 2011. In April, 2013 Mr Westmoreland admitted he did not obtain any planning or building permits for the work because he did not deem it his responsibility. The owner of the site, construction giant Grocon, was last year fined $250,000 after pleading guilty to failing to ensure a safe workplace (see SafetyNet 303).
Read more: The Age
70 per cent of nurses/midwives subject to violence
A recent survey has found that a disturbingly high almost 70 per cent of Victorian nurses and midwives were subjected to violence or aggression in the workplace. Common examples cited by healthcare workers included being punched, strangled and kicked. The new survey of almost 5000 nurses and midwives found patients and their relatives were the most common perpetrators but, in some cases, colleagues and supervisors were blamed.
Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation Victorian branch state secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said the Monash University study confirmed the almost weekly reports they received of nurses being physically or verbally attacked in the workplace. She added that it wasn't just the frequency of incidents that was alarming. "We have to keep in mind that the severity of attacks is also increasing," Ms Fitzpatrick said. "We cannot have nurses going to work, quite rightly, in fear for their lives and being frightened of being strangled, which has happened on a number of occasions already in 2015."
Lead researcher Professor Helen De Cieri said approximately 60 per cent surveyed had experienced some kind of workplace injury or illness in the past 12 months. A quarter were subjected to regular episodes of violence and aggression with personal carers and enrolled nurses more likely to be victims. Overall, 10 per cent of workers were subjected to regular bullying in the past 12 months.
Read more: Nurses speak out about violence in the workplace; ANMF News release Nurses punched, kicked and strangled at work as violence escalates in Victorian hospitals The Herald Sun.
Download the report: Helen De Cieri Leading indicators of occupational health and safety: A report on a survey of Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Victorian Branch) members [pdf]
Protection – what protection?
Despite the facts: that workers on short-stay work and 457 skilled worker visas were paid nothing more than a $15-a-day "food allowance" for six months by a Taiwanese company, the Fair Work the Fair Work Ombudsman opted to seek an enforceable undertaking from the company, rather than prosecuting it through the courts. Chia Tung Development underpaid 13 Chinese and 30 Filipino workers more than $873,000 for work over six months to February this year. The company employs more than 4000 staff globally and has associated entities registered within Australia. The workers, who installed animal feed mills at sites in Narrabri, Manildra and Bomaderry, were employed as welders, metal fabricators and electricians and generally worked between nine and 11 hours a day, six days a week.
According to acting Fair Work Ombudsman Michael Campbell, Chia Tung employed the Filipino men on 457 skilled worker visas and the Chinese, who spoke no English, on temporary short-stay work visas. The Chinese employees were promised about $10 an hour but were not paid anything for three months' work. The Filipino workers were promised about $27 an hour, but the company illegally deducted thousands of dollars in 'fees' from their wages – meaning they received about $9 an hour. Almost 30 workers lived in a five-bedroom house with one toilet at Nowra (nine slept in the living room). At Narrabri, six workers lived in a worksite office, and four lived in an onsite demountable. Chia Tung unlawfully deducted fees for visa processing, flights, insurance, food and transport from the wages of the Filipino workers.
The CFMEU says the company should have been prosecuted. National secretary Michael O'Connor said, "More needs to be done to bring the company to account and achieve justice for the workers. Given the extent of the abuses the company perpetrated against these vulnerable workers, the mere recovery of wages was not enough."
Source: Watchdog should have prosecuted company for worker abuse The Financial Review
WA: proposal to ban live electrical work
Western Australia's EnergySafety has issued a discussion paper to industry to ban live electrical work. The discussion paper follows and incident where two men were killed and another two were severely injured in an explosion while doing electrical work in February this year. In the discussion paper, EnergySafety says a Code of Practice issued in April 2008, which allowed for industry to self-regulate over work on or near live equipment and installations, had failed to improve worker safety.
Electrical Trades Union WA secretary Les McLaughlan said the ETUWA would back the ban, because it had called for the measure before the 2008 Code of Practice was issued. "We've been calling for a long time for a ban on works on live equipment," he said. Mr McLaughlan said there current code created confusion about when live works can and cannot be done, and a mandatory ban would end that.
Read more: View or download the discussion paper [pdf] View the media report on the incident. Perth Now
International Union News
New Zealand: worker bullied and harassed by Prime Minister
Hospitality workers, and others who must deal with 'paying clients' often have to put up with bad behaviour including abuse and bullying. But in the case of a New Zealand café worker, the bully was none other than the Prime Minister John Key, who has now publicly apologised to her after she finally accused him of acting like a "schoolyard bully" by repeatedly pulling her ponytail on visits to her workplace. On an anonymous blog she said Mr Key persisted in tugging her hair on at least half a dozen separate occasions, even though she had clearly signalled her displeasure and even warned his security detail she would punch him if he continued.
Tanja Bristow, a member of the New Zealand Working Woman's Resource Centre told SafetyNet, "We are very disappointed at the behaviour of our Prime Minister in repeatedly pulling the hair of a woman working in a café. The National government is currently revising the Health and Safety legislation in New Zealand, to ensure that all workers are safe at work. Worksafe has also recently released best practice guidelines on 'Preventing and Responding to Workplace Bullying'. These guidelines define what constitutes bullying behaviour." She added: "Clearly the unwanted behaviour of the Prime Minister, which was repeated, is bullying behaviour and this is unacceptable. All workers have a right to be treated with respect and dignity in their workplace."
Read more: New Zealand PM John Key apologises over ponytail bullying claim ABC News online
UK: Most paramedics are stressed out
Long hours, staff shortages and the mental demands of the job are placing an enormous burden on ambulance workers in the UK, with nine in ten (91 per cent) saying they are suffering with stress, according to new research from the union (UNISON). The survey of 2,977 ambulance workers found that three-quarters (74 per cent) are suffering with sleep problems, 72 per cent said they felt irritable as a result and experienced mood swings, and more than half (56 per cent) suffer with anxiety. More than a third (38 per cent) said they had to take time off sick because of work-related stress and a quarter (26 per cent) admitted they were close to doing so. Almost three in five (58 per cent) admitted they did not tell their employer the reason they were off sick was stress. Only six per cent said they would talk to a manager or a supervisor about it. As a result of pressures on the service and workers, a 'huge' four in five (82 per cent) admitted they had thought about leaving the job.
UNISON head of health Christina McAnea said: "Working in emergency services is stressful but the pressure on ambulance staff is reaching dangerously high levels. It is unacceptable that the current system doesn't allow for proper breaks between shifts. Workers have told us they often work 14-hour shifts without a decent break." She added: "The pressure on workers is mounting and the apparent lack of support from their employers means they are suffering in silence. Year after year the levels of stress remain unacceptably high and yet neither employers nor the government have done anything to address this. It is no wonder areas such as London are now having to go to the other side of the world to recruit paramedics."
Source: Risks 698; UNISON news release.
UK: Union calls for public inquiry into aeroplane cabin air
The leader of the Unite union has said he wants a public inquiry to address concerns about the safety of aeroplane cabin air. Mr Len McCluskey believes "aerotoxic syndrome" is a serious health issue and he is concerned that the 20,000 cabin crew his union represents may be exposed to contaminated air during flights. "Literally all of our cabin crew members will have experienced a 'fume event' at some time. It occurs not regularly, but it occurs sufficiently often for people to be concerned about," he told a news service. "Our intention is to make certain that aerotoxic syndrome doesn't become a silent killer."
In most modern aircraft compressed air from the engine is used to supply the cabin during flight. The air, which is hot, provides both a source of oxygen and a means of maintaining a comfortable temperature onboard. According to the UK's Department of Transport, in normal conditions, the average aircraft cabin is less polluted than the average office, but occasionally leaks happen and oil fumes from the engine can end up in the cabin.
More, including some video footage: ITV News
Building workers and exposure to crystalline silica
Australian researchers from Edith Cowan University undertook a pilot program of air monitoring at three Sydney construction sites to better understand the health risk to workers potentially exposed to dust containing respirable crystalline silica while cutting autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC). Tests were carried out in different areas of the sites over a six-day period. An analysis showed that the mean occupational exposure levels (OELs) were below the exposure standard of 0.1 mg/m³ for respirable crystalline silica. However, the researchers observed exceedances of the 50% action limit, and in some instances respirable dust exposures exceeded the adopted OEL of 3.0 mg/m³. They noted considerable variation between the sites in terms of hazard controls, general working conditions and work environment. They noted that wearing of respiratory protective equipment varied between AAC crew members and was not worn by workers in the vicinity of the work.
They concluded: 'strict control measures such as isolating cutting areas, tool maintenance, careful training and supervision, and attention to housekeeping must be adopted to prevent workers' exposure to respirable quartz and dust.'
Source: Peggy Trompf, et al Crystalline silica exposure of workers using autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC) products. J Health Saf Environ 2015, (31(1): 499-512 Read more on Silica
Monsanto seeks retraction for report linking herbicide to cancer
Monsanto Co, maker of the world's most widely used herbicide, Roundup, wants the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), to retract a report linking the chief ingredient in Roundup to cancer. According to Monsanto the report is biased and contradicts regulatory findings that the ingredient, glyphosate, is safe when used as labelled. An IARC working group said that after reviewing scientific literature it was classifying glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic to humans." Monsanto queries the science, wants to meet with WHO and IARC members, and wants a retraction. Monsanto claims it provided scientific data to the IARC showing the safety of glyphosate, but that the agency largely ignored it. Farmers have been using glyphosate in increasing quantities since Monsanto in the mid-1990s introduced crops genetically engineered to withstand being sprayed with Roundup herbicide. "Roundup Ready" corn, soybeans and other crops are popular because of the ease with which farmers have been able to kill weeds.
But weeds have developed resistance to glyphosate, leading farmers to use more herbicide. The U.S. Geological Survey estimated agricultural use of glyphosate in 2012, the most recent year available, at more than 283 million pounds, up from 110 million pounds in 2002. The United States and other international regulatory bodies have backed the safety of glyphosate when used as directed, but the IARC report cited studies that raised concerns about glyphosate and impacts on health. Monsanto says such studies are invalid. But critics say they merit attention. "There are a number of independent, published manuscripts that clearly indicate that glyphosate … can promote cancer and tumour growth," said Dave Schubert, head of the cellular neurobiology laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California. "It should be banned."
Source: Reuters Health, 24 March 2015
Report: Cancer deceit of the petrochemical giants exposed
The petroleum industry has known for decades that benzene, one of its most important products, is a potent cause of cancer in humans but has spent millions on a cover-up, a newly published evidence database has revealed. Internal memorandums, emails, letters and meeting minutes obtained by the US Center for Public Integrity (CPI) in a year-long investigation suggest that America's oil and chemical titans, coordinated by their trade association, the American Petroleum Institute, spent at least $36 million (A$46.5 million) on research "designed to protect member company interests," as one 2000 API summary put it.
CPI's review of around 20,000 pages of internal records reveals the petrochemical industry went to great lengths to rebut studies showing harmful effects of benzene in low doses. This included touting how the expected results of a proposed study in China could be used to reduce liability and combat stricter regulation. Critics say such documents expose this Shanghai study for what it is: An industry attempt to buy scientific evidence.
Source: ITUC news release.
More changes at WorkSafe Victoria
News came through yesterday afternoon that WorkSafe has confirmed that Len Neist, the regulator's Executive Director, has resigned and will leave at the end of May 2015. At this stage there is no further news yet regarding the appointment of a new Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer, following the resignations of David Krasnostein and Denise Cosgrove in early March. (see SafetyNet 312)
Safe Work Australia
The Safe Work Australia Work-related fatalities page has not been updated since 14 April 2015 - at which time a total of 44 Australian workers had been killed in traumatic work related incidents. However, with the two fatalities in Sydney this morning, this means that at least 46 Australians have been killed at work. The latest monthly fatality report is also that for December 2014, during which a total of 20 work-related fatalities were reported. The December report can be downloaded from the Safe Work Australia Monthly Fatalities Reports page.
Model Codes of Practice – More new ones released
Over the past month Safe Work Australia has issued a number of new or revised model Codes of Practice:
- Spray Painting and Powder Coating
- Demolition Work
- First Aid in the Workplace
- Managing Electrical Risks in the Workplace
- Excavation Work
- Managing the Risk of Falls at Workplaces and
- Labelling of Workplace Hazardous Chemicals
Many of these follow the review initiated last year. While these are not Codes under the Victorian system, they may provide more recent information and advice useful for Victorian workplaces. These and other Codes can be downloaded from this page on the SWA website.
From WorkSafe Queensland: an interesting and informative 12 minute film The right start: Building safe work for young workers "As a supervisor or manager of a young worker, you have the greatest influence on their attitude to work safety. This means ensuring an appropriate level of supervision relevant to the tasks that they are performing. Watch the film to see two young workers going about their work day and how the interactions with their supervisors and their experiences can differ." Although the workers are building workers, the film offers good advice on appropriate supervision and mentoring of young workers
The OHS and Workers Compensation regulator from Canada's British Columbia has released an web workbook for both employers and workers: How to prevent violence in the workplace [pdf]. Of course, any reference to legislation is to Canadian legislation.
Victorian Prosecutions and updates
1 - Fine increased by $200,000 over death at recycling depot
An appeal by the Director of Public Prosecutions over the inadequacy of a fine handed out to City Circle Recycling Pty Ltd following the death of an employee at its Brooklyn depot in 2012 has been upheld in the County Court. The worker was run over by a front end loader and killed. The original conviction and fine of $225,000 (plus costs of $14,233) in Melbourne Magistrates' Court in September 2014 followed a guilty plea to breaching the OHS Act in failing to provide a safe system of work and failing to provide appropriate information, instruction, training or supervision. The County court increased the fine to $425,000 – an increase of $200,000.
Read more: WorkSafe Media Release
2 – Two prosecutions for roofing company
MSMJ Pty Ltd ('MSMJ'), trustee for the K Roofing Investment Trust, an industrial roofing business had charges issued for offences against the OHS Act in relation to two separate incidents. On 28 January 2014 an employee was injured when the boom lift he was driving drove over the 30 centimetre drop in the slab; he was thrown out the bucket of the boom lift, and landed on the ground. In the second incident, on 19 March 2014, an employee was seen walking along the edge of a roof without fall protection.
On 10 April 2015 as a result of a consolidated plea at Werribee Magistrate Court, MSMJ was for the first incident fined and convicted: $12,500.00 for failing to provide information and training (S21) and $1,250 for failing to notify WorkSafe(S38). For the second incident the company was fined $2,000.00 without conviction for failing to ensure the workplace was safe and without risks to health. The company also had to pay costs of $3,317.00.
Source: WorkSafe Prosecution Result Summaries & Enforceable Undertakings webpage
UK: Director gets suspended prison sentence after worker burned alive in oven
Kayak and canoe manufacturer Pyranha Mouldings and its director had two opportunities to make safe an oven in which an employee died but missed them both. Pyranha was fined £200,000 (A$ 384800) after being convicted of corporate manslaughter and two health and safety offences; director Peter Mackereth, who was also found guilty of safety breaches, was sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for two years, and fined £25,000 (A$48,100). The charges were brought by the Crown Prosecution Service after a supervisor at the company, died in December 2010 when he became trapped in a hot oven used to create kayak moulds.
A fault had developed in the oven, which meant it was taken out of use for about an hour. When the fault was fixed, an operator turned the machine back on without realising the supervisor was still working inside. The oven's design was such that as soon as it was switched on, its powered doors automatically shut and locked with outside metal bolts. The man was trapped inside with no way to escape and no alarm. Because the oven was insulated and the factory floor was noisy, there was no chance of anyone hearing his cries for help. He suffered severe burns and died from shock.
Source: Health and Safety At Work
EU proposed ship breaking legislation will not protect workers
Workers in the ship breaking industry in South Asia face extremely hazardous and inhumane conditions: they have extremely low wages, very long working days, and almost non-existent health and safety laws which means they and their families are exposed to all kinds of toxic materials. Injuries and deaths are commonplace. Ships from the European Union make up a majority of the ships which these workers are dismantling. The European Union is proposing new legislation that is intended to clean up this industry. Unfortunately, the current version does nothing to address the flag of convenience issue which is the way that companies evade regulations by outsourcing their ships to third parties outside of these laws jurisdiction.
Source: AAWL Mini news. Read more: Grim fate for workers in Alang ship-breaking yard Why ship owners' responsibility to ensure sustainable ship recycling needs to go beyond flag state jurisdiction" NGO Shipbreaking Platform