SafetyNet 327, June 25, 2015
We would like to welcome all our subscribers to the latest edition of our weekly journal. It's exciting times at the VTHC, with government funding providing us with the opportunity to expand the work we already do in health and safety. In addition, there's all the news from around Australia and the world for you to enjoy. Please distribute the journal, use it for your own purposes, and let us know if you find it useful. If you have any comments, please send them in to Renata firstname.lastname@example.org – questions welcomed too. Our usual reminder to please follow us on Twitter: @OHSreps
Trades Hall is hiring!
The Victorian Trades Hall Council has this week advertised for a number of positions (12 in total), many of which have an emphasis on OHS. There are also positions for admin and women's rights. If you are passionate, committed to achieving the best for working people, then take a look and apply. But hurry: the closing date for applications is July 3rd.
Ethical Jobs VTHC positions
Our DWG needs to elect a new health and safety representative. What do you think makes a really 'good' health and safety representative?
- A 'good' health and safety representative is someone who is prepared to take up issues on behalf of their fellow Designated Work Group members.
- A 'good' rep will represent the concerns of these workers and seek to make the employer take action to address these concerns – to implement actions which will eliminate (if practicable), or at the very least minimise, risks to the health and safety of the workers.
- A 'good' rep is the 'go to' person for their DWG, and their DWG trusts them and talks to them.
- A 'good' rep is someone who is persistent, who does not give up in the face of employers who find excuses to do nothing.
- A 'good' rep often puts in hours and hours of their own time (even though they shouldn't be required to) in chasing information, talking to workers, raising issues and attending meetings.
- A 'good' rep, unfortunately, often finds him or herself under attack – just for trying to make the workplace a safer and healthier place.
- A 'good' rep, may have to issue a PIN (or ten); or call WorkSafe.
- A 'good' rep won't know all the answers, but is prepared to ask the questions, and challenge – both management and at times WorkSafe.
- A 'good' rep may find him or herself under attack by management…
Dedicated to all the wonderful and very committed reps that I have known and to the many, many more who are out there battling away every single day. I salute you. WorkSafe: take note.
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.
Increasing inequality = extra stress for workers
On Monday this week, the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) released a report revealing that income and wealth has become more concentrated in the hands of fewer people over the past two decades. Releasing its analysis, 'Inequality in Australia: A nation divided' [pdf], ACOSS says that while inequality is not extreme in Australia by international comparison, we are trending in the wrong direction.
While there has been wages growth in Australia, it has been far from equal. Over the 25 years to 2010, real wages increased by 50% on average – but only by 14% for those earning in the bottom 10% of incomes and by a whopping 72% for those in the top 10%. The same is true for wealth, with the bottom and middle losing ground to those at the top. The wealth of the top 20% wealth group increased by 28% over the period from 2004 to 2012, while by comparison the wealth of the bottom increased by just 3%. Yet employer groups and the Federal conservative government are increasingly attacking penalty rates, including for the lowest paid workers in industries such as cleaning and hospitality. Potential OHS implications are increased stress, increasingly long hours to make enough to support family, and more.
Read more: Media Release A nation splintering amid growing inequality
June 25: International Day of the Seafarer, but jobs/conditions at risk
The International Day of the Seafarer is an official day of observance by the United Nations, marked annually on 25 June. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) aims to increase public awareness of the world's 1.5 million seafarers and the difficult work they do, often in treacherous conditions.
But rather than celebrate with Australian seafarers, Transport Minister Warren Truss instead formally today introduced the Government's plans to throw out the Coastal Trading Act and replace it with cheap foreign shipping. MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said that if the Parliament passes Minister Truss' repeal bills, it will sound the death knell for the Australian shipping industry. "These changes could directly impact around 2000 direct jobs and up to 8000 associated jobs – so that's 10,000 Aussie jobs on the chopping block," Mr Crumlin said. "It takes a special kind of Government to spend nearly two years in power and then pick the International Day of the Seafarer to try to obliterate an entire industry in a proud shipping nation."
Read more: MUA Media Release
Fiskville report: Chemicals used at CFA training base 'undeniably toxic'
An interim parliamentary report has found that at least some of the chemicals used in training exercises at the Country Fire Authority's Fiskville base are undeniably carcinogenic and toxic. Not all the chemicals and materials used are known however. The Victorian parliamentary committee has been examining claims dozens of firefighters who worked or trained at Fiskville suffered cancers linked to dangerous firefighting chemicals over several decades.
The committee has not completed its study into the health effects of contaminants at the site but has already made a number of recommendations, including the thorough testing of soil and water at the site.
The report also found a high level of concern among witnesses about cancer and possible health impacts, and said many people believed they had not been adequately addressed by the CFA. "Health and safety practices at Fiskville were poor and there was minimal OH&S training until the 1990s," the report said. The Firefighters Union has fought tirelessly to have this tragedy addressed. By reopening the enquiry the Andrews Government has opened the way for appropriate action to be taken.
Read more: Fiskville report: Chemicals used at CFA training base 'undeniably toxic', parliamentary committee finds ABC News online
Unions welcome announcement of more inspectors in Latrobe Valley
Over the past five years, more than 2100 workers have been seriously injured in the Latrobe Valley, which is more than one worker every day. These injuries have cost more than $135 million in compensation and medical treatment – not to mention the incalculable cost to the workers' lives and families. During a visit last Friday to the Latrobe Valley, Minister for Finance, Robin Scott, urged local businesses to increase their focus on workplace safety, particularly in high risk industries such as manufacturing and health. He also announced that the number of WorkSafe inspectors in the Gippsland region will increase from 6 to 8 in 2015, with two new inspectors being added to WorkSafe's Traralgon office. One has just joined the team and another will join the office later this year.
Read more: Premier of Victoria Media Release One Worker Injured Every Day In Latrobe Valley
More on exploited young foreign workers
Despite a Government crackdown after a 4 Corners exposé, young working holiday visa workers in Australia are being exploited, getting paid illegal rates and facing illegal conditions, and the Meatworkers Union says local workers are now being asked to accept the same terms. On Monday this week, respected journalist Matt Peacock found that little has changed for many of these workers, brought in by unscrupulous labour hire contractors who then place them with sometimes equally unscrupulous employers. Employers are putting these workers' health and safety at risk – the meat industry is one with high injury levels where workers need proper training. In a 'new' scam, some Asian workers claim they are being told to lodge bogus refugee visas at Baiada poultry. While the company continues to deny any wrong-doing, it is refusing interviews. Some of the young workers interviewed for the program were employed after the government inquiry began.
Watch the 7.30 story or read the transcript: Worker Rort
Baiada ban on union officials carrying phones/tablets upheld
The Fair Work Commission has accepted the legitimacy of a Baiada policy that bans NUW officials, when exercising their entry rights to hold discussions with employees, from carrying mobiles and tablets that are capable of taking photos or video on its sites, but has re-listed the matter to consider "alternative solutions". The company, which last week was the subject of a damning Fair Work Ombudsman report, has a policy which prevents visitors from using mobiles and tablets that have cameras. In its submission, the union argued that the objects of the Fair Work Act prevented Baiada from requiring NUW officials to comply with the policy. The union also argued mobile devices were crucial to the officials: to provide translations for the largely non-English-speaking workforce, to access awards and agreements, to check whether employees are members, to sign members up, to check on whether members are financial, to update member information, and to contact other NUW officials.
Source: Workplace Express
Coalition of union/asbestos groups meet pollies
On Tuesday this week unions and asbestos support groups met Government and Opposition MPs in Canberra to call for bi-partisan support for more resources and better enforcement of Australia's ban on asbestos imports. Despite being banned, asbestos has been found in car parts, boilers, construction materials, trains, tugboats and children's toys imported into Australia. Many of these products are making their way to Australia via internet sites, such as eBay, from Russia and China where there is no ban on asbestos.
The group is calling for tougher enforcement of Australia's ban on asbestos including:
- An investigation into incidences of asbestos importation into Australia;
- tougher laws to ensure prosecution of breaches of the importation ban;
- more money and staff for Australian Customs and Border Protection Service to crack down on illegal asbestos imports;
- the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton, to make stopping the importation of products containing asbestos a priority for Australian Customs and Border Protection Service.
ACTU Assistant Secretary Michael Borowick, said, "If nothing is done to crack down on the importation of products containing asbestos, the lives of more Australians will be placed at risk." Read more: ACTU Media Release
Master Builders welcome national strategy
Master Builders chief executive Wilhelm Harnisch has welcomed the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency's (ASEA) decision to take into account barriers to the safe removal of asbestos-containing materials in the revised version of its four-year asbestos-management plan. For unions and workers though, the revised plan delays action to eliminate this killer from our workplaces and public buildings. The MBA had been opposed to the previous version of the strategy which had an 'aspirational' goal to remove all asbestos from all government and commercial buildings by 2030. The organisation warned this would create unnecessary risks to workers and the public involved in the process.
The 2014-18 National Strategic Plan for Asbestos Management and Awareness now prioritises identifying asbestos-containing materials that could "present a risk due to deterioration", and investigating "the barriers to the safe removal of ACMs from government, commercial and residential properties". "Master Builders strongly supports the amendments to the plan that consider the practicality of removing all asbestos-containing material from the built environment," Harnisch said. "The revised removal strategy instead seeks to identify priority areas where ACMs may present as a risk."
Read more: Master Builders Media Release
Have you donated to the Asbestoswise Annual Appeal
Asbsestoswise would like to thank everyone who has already made a tax deductible donation to its Annual Appeal – and those who haven't yet got around to it but intend to. Please donate – every donation over $2 is a tax deduction to a good cause. Help this support and advocacy group to continue its good work in both assisting victims of asbestos and their families, and in lobbying government to remove this scourge from our society. This is really your last chance before the end of the financial year!
Go to this page to donate
Law firm Slater and Gordon has sent out a call for help via Twitter: they would like to speak to if anyone either worked at or knows someone who worked at Classic Cubicles in Moorabbin between 1971 and 1984. The family of a former worker needs their help. Please contact Cassandra Reid on (03) 9602 8629, or 1800 555 615. Slater and Gordon website
Asbestos dumped on Cairns Esplanade
In another example of blatant disregard for the law and the safety of the community, the iconic Esplanade in Cairns was used 30 years ago as an asbestos dump. Several schools were demolished and the material used as landfill. Now, however, due to coastal erosion, the contaminated material is a potential risk to the public.
Read more: Cairns Esplanade used as asbestos dump Cairns Post
New Upworthy story on Steve McQueen – the 'king of cool' who died of mesothelioma
The Upworthy website has posted an item on American actor Steve McQueen, often referred to as 'The King of Cool'. McQueen died in 1980 at the age of 50 of malignant mesothelioma. It is believed that while he was probably exposed to asbestos on film sets and from protective racing gear, his illness was caused by the earlier massive exposure when he was in the marines and had to scrape asbestos off ship pipes. The U.S. has not yet banned the use of asbestos – despite the related diseases killing up to 15,000 Americans each year. 30 million pounds (13.6 million kg) of asbestos are still used in the U.S. each year. As Upworthy says: "Steve McQueen? Super cool. Asbestos? Definitely not."
Check it out here: Steve McQueen - the King of Cool
USA: Three years jail for illegal asbestos removal
A New Jersey man has been sentenced to three years in prison for using people from a halfway house to illegally remove asbestos from a former South Jersey hospital, causing the release of toxic dust and debris. Frank Rizzo, 57, who ran South Street Fillit Recycling, last year admitted using day labourers, including inmates from Clinton House in Trenton, to remove asbestos from the former Zurbrugg Memorial Hospital without a permit. State authorities said Rizzo and Michael Kouvaras, 62, directed their unlicensed workers to remove the asbestos, bury bags of it and dump other bags on a boiler room floor to make it appear as if vandals had removed the asbestos while stealing metal. The workers did not wear protective equipment, except for totally ineffective paper masks, and they removed their masks because they made it difficult to breathe, authorities said. Rizzo pleaded guilty to conspiracy, and Kouvaras pleaded guilty to violating the Asbestos Control and Licensing Act. Kouvaras was sentenced last year to about a year in county jail as a condition of probation. Both men were indicted in 2012. The investigation began in early 2011 after a tip-off that inmates were being used for illegally asbestos removal at the site.
Read more: NJ Attorney General's Office news release. Source: Risks 707
WorkSafeBC – new video
Just like Australia, Canada used asbestos in construction and elsewhere. It was used throughout British Columbia until the late 1980s. It remains a threat to workers' safety today. This video, produced for the B.C. Labour Heritage Centre, tells the story of asbestos use and the price workers and their families have paid in disease and death. Experts calculate that there are approximately 500 deaths related to asbestos cancers in British Columbia alone. The video also looks at the work unions have done in having asbestos regulated.
History of Asbestos in B.C.
Want to know about Asbestos laws and more? Go to the Asbestos section on the site.
WA: Truck driver killed by falling ramp
On Friday last week a 35-year-old man was crushed by a low loader ramp in a workplace incident in Perth's south. The truck driver, an employee of Lee's Transport, was making a delivery to a workshop when the incident happened, shortly before 8:00am. It is understood he was crushed by a loader ramp at the back of his truck. Worksafe WA will investigate the incident, a spokeswoman said, and report to the coroner.
Source: ABC News online
International Union News
ILO adopts historic labour standard to tackle informal economy
The International Labour Organization (ILO) has adopted a new international labour standard that is expected to help hundreds of millions of workers and economic units move out of informality and into the formal economy.
More than half of the world's workforce is estimated to be trapped in the informal economy, which is marked by the denial of rights at work, the absence of sufficient opportunities for quality employment, inadequate social protection, a lack of social dialogue and low productivity, all of which constitutes a significant obstacle to the development of sustainable enterprises. The new Recommendation acknowledges that most people enter the informal economy not by choice but due to a lack of opportunities in the formal economy and an absence of any other means of livelihood.
Read more: ILO adopts historic labour standard to tackle the informal economy ILO Media Release; The New Labour Standard
Global union campaign on shipbreaking hazards
The global union IndustriALL has stepped up its campaign to improve safety standards in shipbreaking, the world's most dangerous job. It says the workers in this industry suffer precarious working conditions, lack training, and face serious hazards. IndustriALL says the industry "has a responsibility to provide, and workers have a right to expect, safe, healthy, clean and sustainable jobs." In a posting on a new shipbreaking campaign webpage, IndustriALL "demands that all member states of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) ratify the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships now!"
Read more: IndustriALL shipbreaking campaign. Source: Risks 707
FIFO update – Code of Practice/changes to WHS law recommended
Research from the Edith Cowan University, which found that fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workers suffer from depression at more than the broader population was reported on in SafetyNet 326. Just after we posted, the media reported that although the West Australian parliamentary committee investigating the mental health impact FIFO work has been unable to corroborate reports of suicides, it has determined that FIFO operations can lead to a "heightened risk of mental health issues".
In a final report in WA Parliament, the committee found it could not identify the nine publicised suicide cases that triggered the inquiry last year. Committee chairman Graham Jacobs said a lack of accurate, accessible data made it impossible to establish suicide levels among any specific working group. The committee recommended the coroner establish a single, searchable database of suicides for specific occupations, including FIFO workers.
The committee has called for a code of practice on FIFO operations to directly address the risks to mental health. "A code of practice is needed because some of the practices of FIFO work arrangements may pose a risk to worker's mental health," the report said. The committee said the code should address rosters, fatigue, workplace culture, the impact of FIFO on relationships, communication and accommodation facilities - many of these issues clearly covered by the duty of care in WHS/OHS law. The report recommended changes to legislation to ensure workplace health and safety requirements apply to workers while in FIFO accommodation, not just while working on shift.
Read more: FIFO work can increase risk of mental health issues, WA parliamentary committee finds ABC News online
IARC: low doses of radiation increase risk of dying from leukaemia in nuclear workers
A study coordinated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization, shows that protracted exposure to low doses of ionizing radiation can cause leukaemia. The study, published this week in The Lancet Haematology, shows that the risk of death from leukaemia increases with the radiation dose. Low-dose exposures are typical of environmental or occupational exposures, (eg nuclear workers), but also of medical exposures, such as patients undergoing multiple computed tomography (CT) scans through medical diagnostic procedures.
IARC researcher Dr Ausrele Kesminiene, a study co-author said, "(The study) shows that the nuclear workers we studied have a small increase in the risk of dying from leukaemia as their exposure to radiation increases."
The International Nuclear Workers Study (INWORKS) evaluated the exposures of more than 300,000 nuclear workers in France, the UK, and the USA between 1943 and 2005. It assessed the risk of developing certain cancers, such as leukaemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma. The study results highlight strong evidence for a positive association between exposure to ionizing radiation and risk of death from leukaemia and show that the risk of leukaemia increases linearly with radiation dose. The risk associated with the exposure varies with the type of leukaemia; the risk was highest for chronic myeloid leukaemia, but there was no increased risk for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. There was also little evidence of associations between exposure to ionizing radiation and risk of death from multiple myeloma or lymphoma.
"Current standards used for radiation protection remain primarily based on acute high-dose exposures, derived from studies based on atomic bomb survivors in Japan," says IARC Director Dr Christopher Wild. "This assessment of the carcinogenic impact of low-dose exposures strengthens the evidence on which to base radiation protection measures. These new findings are important when considering radiation exposure in different settings, including use in medical diagnosis."
Read more: IARC Media Release [pdf] Klervi Leuraud, et al: Ionising radiation and risk of death from leukaemia and lymphoma in radiation-monitored workers (INWORKS): an international cohort study [Abstract] The Lancet Haematology DOI:
WHO: Pesticides linked to cancer
The insecticide lindane, once widely used in agriculture and to treat human lice and scabies, causes cancer and has been specifically linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday. The WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) also said that DDT, or dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, probably causes cancer, with scientific evidence linking it to non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), testicular cancer and liver cancer.
In a review of various agricultural chemicals, IARC's specialist panel said it had decided to classify lindane as "carcinogenic to humans" in its Group 1 category, DDT as "probably carcinogenic to humans" in its Group 2A class, and the widely used herbicide 2,4-D as "possibly carcinogenic to humans" in its Group 2B. A summary of the final evaluations is available in The Lancet Oncology.
Read more: Dana Loomis, et al Carcinogenicity of lindane, DDT, and 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid The Lancet Oncology, DOI: [abstract] WHO agency says insecticides lindane and DDT linked to cancer Reuters
Longer hours leads to poorer mental health
Another piece of "D'Oh!" research: a group of Australian researchers has found that when people worked 49–59 hours per week, and 60 hours or more per week, they had worse mental health than when they were working 35–40 hours/week. The study, published online on June 22 in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, was a longitudinal cohort with 12 annual waves of data collection over the period 2001–2012. The study yielded a sample of almost 91,000 observations from 18,420 people. Working hours over the preceding year was measured in five categories with standard full-time hours (35–40 hrs/week) as the reference.
The researchers said the results suggest the need for employers and governments to regulate working hours to reduce the burden of mental ill health in the working population.
Source: A Milner, P Smith, A D LaMontagne: Working hours and mental health in Australia: evidence from an Australian population-based cohort, 2001–2012 [abstract] Occup Environ Med doi:10.1136/oemed-2014-102791 Work-Life Balance
WorkSafe urges retailers not to discount safety
Our health and safety regulator has urged workers and employers in Victoria's retail sector to focus more closely on workplace safety during the busy end of financial year sales period. WorkSafe inspectors are visiting retail stores across the state, paying particular attention to poor manual handling practices, which account for around half of the injuries in the retail sector. Of special interest to inspectors are the distribution centres and warehouses that store and deliver whitegoods, furniture and electrical goods to retail outlets.
WorkSafe's Acting Head of Operations and Hazardous Industries, Phil Grimson, said the message to retailers was to make employee safety a top priority during the end of financial year sales period. "For many employees, handling large boxes and heavy, unwieldy goods is a normal part of their day," Mr Grimson said. "But movement of stock accounts for many injuries, such as bad backs, tendon, ligament, and soft tissue tears and even bone fractures. The risk of falls created by using the wrong access equipment can also cause serious injury. During a peak period such as this, these risks increase."
Read more: VWA Media Release Retailers urged not to discount safety during sales rush
Safe Work Australia
As at June 19th, 73 fatalities had been reported to Safe Work – tragically, six more people lost their lives in work-related incidents since the previous update on June 11. The fatalities have been in the following industries:
- 23 in the Transport, postal and warehouse sector;
- 15 in Agriculture, forestry and fishing;
- eight in Construction;
- eight in Mining;
- three each in Manufacturing; Administrative & support services; Electricity, gas, water & waste services; and in 'other services'
- two each in Arts & Recreation services; the Retail trade; and in Accommodation
- one in Education and Training
More information on which industries the fatalities occurred in is accessible on the Safe Work Australia Work-related fatalities page.
Safe Work Australia has now released the monthly fatality report for March of this year. Fifteen work-related deaths were reported to state and territory OHS regulators in March, thirteen of which were workers, with nine resulting from vehicle incidents. The report can be downloaded from the Safe Work Australia Monthly Fatalities Reports page
- From WorkCover NSW
o for unloading pallets with a forklift a very brief video as a refresher on how to do it safely
o a video safety alert on avoiding burns, shocks and other serious injuries while working on or near electricity.
- From WorkCoverBC: the Canadian regulator points to growing evidence that workplace bullying and harassment has serious outcomes for employers and workers. As a result, it has developed tool kit resources to help employers and workers understand their legal duties, and prevent and address bullying and harassment. Bullying and harassment prevention tool kit.
- From EU-OSHA: Resources on Work-related stress, its nature and management.
1 – Company pleads guilty to failing to notify WorkSafe – not fined
On 18 June, Zacem Investments Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to for failing to notify WorkSafe of a notifiable incident as required under the OHS Act, 2004. On 30 March 2014, a Zacem employee injured his wrist when he was emptying a bin at work and a piece of glass sticking out sliced from his thumb down to his wrist. The incident was not reported to WorkSafe either immediately or in writing within 48 hours. The worker was admitted to Bendigo Hospital and underwent surgery to repair muscle and tendon damage to his hand. He was discharged the following day. Zacem Investment was placed on an adjourned undertaking, without conviction for a period of 12 months with a condition that they pay $5000 to the Court Fund (plus costs of $1,000)
Source: WorkSafe Prosecution Result Summaries & Enforceable Undertakings webpage
SA: Truck company boss found guilty of manslaughter
Last week's SafetyNet 326, reported that Peter Francis Colbert, the owner of a trucking company, was being tried for the manslaughter of a driver killed in one of the firm's trucks. He was found guilty of the charge and of endangering a person's life. Following the conviction, the Road Transport Association said it was looking forward to a toughening of roadworthiness laws for heavy vehicles. The Association's executive director Steve Shearer said the industry had been discussing the issues raised in the case since charges were first laid against the operator of Colbert Transport. Mr Shearer said his organisation remained keen to toughen the roadworthiness checks done on trucks. "Something we've been complaining about for many years as an industry is that the chain of responsibility in laws [which do cover breaches for such things as driver fatigue, excessive speed or overladen trucks] have not applied, and still don't apply today, to the roadworthiness of the truck," he said.
Read more: Tougher laws on truck roadworthiness set to follow Colbert Transport driver's death ABC News Online
NSW: Tragic lack of training and policies lead cause death in freezer
The NSW Coroner this week that a young worker who died after being left to operate a forklift alone in an industrial freezer had not received OHS or forklift training and did not hold a forklift license. Coroner Carmel Forbes found the employer, Laurent D Pty Ltd, had not freezer safety policy nor a policy that prohibited employees from working on their own.
In April 2013, the 23-year-old worker died from complications of hypothermia that developed while he was trapped for about an hour in a large freezer warehouse in one of the company's Sydney units. The freezer was maintained at minus 20 degrees. He had working at the unit with three colleagues, who helped him move his forklift after it became stuck on ice in an alcove in the freezer, and then took a break. About an hour later, they found him in the same area "wedged" between the forklift control panel and shelving and boxes. Although eventually freed by police and paramedics, and admitted to hospital he experienced multiple organ failure and died a few hours later.
WorkCover NSW last year charged Laurent with breaching the State's WHS Act 2011. It pleaded guilty and was fined $150,000 in the District Court. After the fatality, the company required all forklift operators to provide evidence of their forklift licence, ensured no one worked in a freezer alone, and ensured managers undertook formal OHS training. The employer also issued or revised a number of policies, including those relating to safe systems of work, forklifts, emergency plans for freezers and OHS employee consultation.
NZ: Charges over hook in worker's head
Worksafe New Zealand is prosecuting meat processor Affco after a worker was impaled in the head by a meat hook and dragged at its Rangiuru meat processing plant. In August last year the worker was part of a two-man night-shift team cleaning spreader hooks - which hold cow carcasses' legs apart on a chain conveyor - when a hook hit him from behind. The 10cm hook impaled the man behind his ear and came out by his eye. It became lodged between cheek muscle and skull bone.
Last week Worksafe New Zealand brought a charge against the meat processing plant under the Health and Safety Employment Act. A Worksafe New Zealand spokesman said Affco pleaded not guilty to one charge of being an employer that failed to take all the practical steps to ensure its employee was not exposed to the hazards of the moving chain. Affco faced a maximum fine of up to $250,000, the spokesman said.
Read more: The Bay of Plenty Times
UK: report recommends moratorium on fracking
A major new scientific study released earlier this week has concluded that fracking, the gas extraction technique, poses a "significant" risk to human health and British wildlife, and that an EU-wide moratorium should be implemented until widespread regulatory reform is in place. The damning report by the CHEM Trust, the British charity that investigates the harm chemicals cause humans and wildlife, highlights serious shortcomings in the UK's regulatory regime, which it says will only get worse as the Government makes further budget cuts.
The report focuses on the potential health effects of the hundreds of chemicals, along with sand and water, fracking companies use to prise open rocks. It warns of "significant" pollution to air, groundwater and surface waters and threats to wildlife. Some of these toxic chemicals have been linked to breast, prostate and testicular cancer in humans as well as coronary heart disease, the report says. It outlines how 38 fracking chemicals are "acutely toxic for humans" and a further 20 are mutagenic, or known or possible carcinogens.
Read more: Fracking poses 'significant' risk to humans and should be temporarily banned across EU, says new report The Independent