SafetyNet 334, August 12, 2015
Welcome to this edition of SafetyNet, with OHS news from Victoria, Australia and the world. Please send me your views and any questions you might have to firstname.lastname@example.org, and use the e-journal to promote safer and healthier workplaces. And please follow us on Twitter: @OHSreps
Thank you! Renata
Workers injured in Southbank crane collapse
A 50 metre crane collapsed just before 4pm last Friday at the Crema building site in Kavanagh St, Southbank. After initial reports were that six workers were injured, later reports confirmed that only two workers suffered minor injuries and the crane driver was in shock. Apparently the crane was 50 metres above the ground, being jacked up to a higher position when one of the hydraulic rams - a kind of automatic pump - failed. The crane then collapsed on itself and was left resting on the lift shaft inside the building, about 50 metres above the ground. The building site was evacuated and a large area surrounding the site cordoned off.
CityLink's Kings Way inbound exit and Burnley Tunnel entry ramps were both closed, causing traffic jams in peak hour. By Monday this continued to cause traffic chaos, as the inbound Kings Way off ramp from West Gate Freeway remained closed due to ongoing problems with the crane. VicRoads advised that works to dismantle the crane were "ongoing", requiring other scaffolding to be erected. VicRoads anticipated the on and off ramps would remain closed until late Tuesday afternoon. Work to dismantle the crane was due to start Monday morning, but the task was obviously more complex than initially thought.
On Tuesday WorkSafe Victoria, which is investigating the incident, issued a statement. Executive Director of Health and Safety, Marnie Williams said, "Work by the builder to remove the crane is due to begin on site tomorrow (Wednesday, 12 August). If preparatory work goes well, work to dismantle the crane will begin on Thursday. It is a complex and difficult operation, and the safety of workers and the public remains WorkSafe's number one priority. Given the complexity of the task, it is too early to determine when work might be completed and roads re-opened. Police and VicRoads will be kept informed of progress."
Sources: ABC news online; The Age; VicRoads; WorkSafe Victoria
CFMEU: Forklift driver involved in Barangaroo incident did not hold 'ticket'
The NSW Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union has claimed the forklift driver in the Barangaroo construction site incident last week in which another worker was seriously injured did not hold the appropriate licence. Rita Mallia, president of the NSW CFMEU construction division, said "[the injured man] was hit [by the forklift] while on the ground marking out the area," she said. "As far as we are aware the forklift driver wasn't a ticketed driver — a role that requires a high-risk licence. There are questions about how that came to be." Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Hospitality workers invited to tell their story
Kahlani, the young woman who stood up to her employer Grill'd for her rights, still has her 'super quick survey' about workers' experiences in the industry. If you haven't filled it out, then please do so now. If you are not a hospitality worker, but have friends or family in the hospitality industry, pass on the link. The survey is not very long, and will provide useful and up to date information on how much workers are really being paid and what their experiences are. Go to this page to complete the survey.
Teenager suffers horrific burns at Geelong KFC
A 16 year old worker suffered extensive third degree burns last Friday night at the Geelong KFC fast food outlet. According to his mother, who is shocked at the extent and severity of his injuries, scalding liquid splashed on his face, hands, arms, and stomach, as he apparently emptied/cleaned a pressure cooker. He had been working at the North Geelong store for about a year and was 'an experienced cook.' The family is demanding answers from KFC. The company said WorkSafe had been notified and was investigating the incident. Earlier this week, investigators inspected the outlet and questioned managers. The teenager remains in hospital, in a critical but stable condition after having had skin graft surgery.
Read more: Family demands answers after son suffers serious burns at KFC in North Geelong and KFC under investigation after teenage worker suffers serious burns. The Age
VTHC Health and Safety Reps Conference
Just a quick reminder to plan to attend the VTHC OHS Reps Conference which will be held on Tuesday October 27. HSRs will have priority and the right to attend on paid leave. Deputies should be speaking to their employer and requesting they be permitted to attend as well. The Conference is free and we can promise those attending a day with lots of great speakers, information and the opportunity to meet with reps across a wide range of industries. Keep checking SafetyNet for more details and when registrations open.
Do chemicals purchased from the supermarket or hardware store that have information on storage and first aid on the label (for example window cleaners) need a separate MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) in the MSDS folder?
There is no legal requirement for retailers selling domestic products to provide purchasers with an MSDS (or SDS as it is now called). The legislation applies to suppliers of hazardous chemical products to workplaces.
However, many companies which produce these products will provide users with an MSDS if requested.
It's a good idea to have as much information on chemicals being used in the workplace as possible. A product which is sold by retailers may still be hazardous, particularly if used incorrectly. The employer has a duty of care under the OHS Act [Section 21(2)(b) to ensure safety and absence of risk to health in connection with the use, handling, storage or transport of 'substances' and (e) to provide such information, instruction, training.. to employees. See: Duties of Employers on the site.
So, the employer has these duties in relation to all chemical products being used by workers in the workplace. These include:
- Ensuring there is adequate and up to date information (eg in an MSDS: more information on MSDSs)
- Ensuring that there are procedures in place for the use and storage of these products,
- Ensuring that all the workers who are using the products know what they are, know the potential hazards, are properly trained
Just because these products are sold by supermarkets and hardware stores, it does not mean they are not hazardous - many of these products potentially put workers at risk. Having the most up to date MSDSs also allows for the employer, in consultation with workers and their reps, to move to eliminate any product that is 'nasty' and substitute it for a safer one.
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.
Herald Sun Home Show, August 13 – 16
It's here! From tomorrow until Sunday there will be thousands of people attending the Herald Sun Home Show at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre. Our editor Renata will be one of the volunteers at the Asbestoswise stand to provide information and advice on asbestos and what to do/not to do. People will also be able to speak directly to a licensed asbestos removalist specifically on what removals involve. Young people will also be at the Asbestoswise stand and be asking for the public to complete a very short survey – all part of a grant received from the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency to look into the extent of knowledge potential DYI renovators may have. Come along, meet one of the volunteers and get some information
NT: Hidden legacy of Cyclone Tracy
The NT News has claimed that potentially millions of tonnes of asbestos lie buried or dumped around Darwin - a hidden legacy of Cyclone Tracy's devastation that continues to plague the city. This follows the discovery of mounds of asbestos-contaminated soil which have been illegally dumped at the Palmerston Regional Hospital site as well as at the Darwin RAAF Base. Cyclone Tracy hit Darwin in 1974 and destroyed most of the buildings – at the time almost all homes were constructed from asbestos 'fibro cement'; many other buildings would have contained asbestos. Workers undertaking the clean-up wore little if any protection. There were millions of tonnes of waste – mounds of asbestos contaminated soil are now being discovered all around the city.
In early 2013, the Northern Territory Government established a special taskforce to help manage the potentially huge asbestos deposits in the Territory. The Inter-Agency Asbestos Management Working Group's core functions are to provide a thorough examination of asbestos-related issues and to co-ordinate the Territory's position in respect of the Australian Government's National Strategic Plan.
Read more: NT News
NSW: Former Hardie factory to become apartments
The former site of the James Hardie factory in Western Sydney may be redeveloped into high-rise apartments. However before building can begin there would need to be a huge clean-up and removal of enough asbestos to fill more than two dozen Olympic-sized swimming pools. Hardie ran the manufacturing plant in Camellia, where activist Bernie Banton worked, between 1957 and 1983. The factory has been demolished, but an estimated 80,000 cubic metres of contaminated soil remains buried up to four metres deep and capped with concrete and asphalt paving. The soil is contaminated mainly by asbestos waste fill but also hydrocarbon, lead and arsenic.
This is just one of the many contaminated sites in the area slated for clean-up and redevelopment - but the full extent of the suburb's contamination is unknown due to bad record keeping and the suburb's long history of heavy industrial use
Read more: Plans to use former James Hardie asbestos factory site for apartments in Camellia Sydney Morning Herald
Updated Manual Registration Form
The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency has produced an updated manual registration form for the National Asbestos Exposure Register to reflect enhancements to the online version. People who choose to submit their registration manually are strongly encouraged to use the updated form. Previous versions which remain in circulation will continue to be accepted and registered manually by the agency. Although online registration remains the preferred method of registration, the printable and fillable PDF form is available on request via email@example.com or telephone 1300 363 079. The form may be returned to the agency via email, fax to (02) 6204-2029 or post to GPO Box 9880, Sydney NSW 2001
Whilst the agency has no regulatory role in managing asbestos (this is the domain of state and territory jurisdictions) it is the agency's role to work to liaise with jurisdictions and other stakeholders and to commission, monitor and promote research about asbestos safety. Information provided by respondents assists the agency to achieve and formulate the goals of the National Strategic Plan for Asbestos Management and Awareness.
2nd International Asbestos Conference registration now open
ASEA's second International Conference on Asbestos Awareness and Management will be held during National Asbestos Awareness Month, from the 22 to the 24 of November at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre in South Brisbane. Once again facilitated by Matt Peacock, senior journalist with the ABC, the speakers include Judith Hackitt – chair of the UK's Health and Safety Executive and Dr Barry Castleman, from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. While the conference fees are high for 'commercial' organisations, there is a reduced fee ($350 early bird) for community organisations. Please go to the ASEA Conference page for more information and to register. Remember early Bird registration closes September 15!
ACT: Cost of asbestos removal blows out demolition costs
An article in the Canberra Times this week highlights the costs of asbestos removal. Extensive asbestos finds at the Currong apartment block in Canberra meant that the cost of demolition doubled from an expected $3 million to $6 million. Asbestos must, by regulation, be removed prior to demolition. Hygienists have recommended access be prohibited to parts of the building, including the hall cupboards above the water cylinders in every apartment until the asbestos is removed. The investigation found asbestos contamination throughout the building, including friable asbestos used as spray insulation on pipes in utility cupboards and boiler rooms. Insulation packing around cables through the floor and ceiling slab also contains asbestos. Also present: asbestos sheets lining kitchen units, vinyl floor tiles, woven sheath on electrical cables throughout, and in window and door putty. The debris analysed in one hot-water cupboard was found to contain chrysotile, amosite and crocidolite asbestos. The Currong flats, built in 1959, are six L-shaped blocks, each eight stories. They were Canberra's first high-density public housing and its tallest buildings for some years
Read more: Asbestos blows out cost of Cooyong Street demolition Canberra Times.
Sweden: Ban Reduces Asbestos-Related Diseases
A paper just published in the Scandinavian Journal of Public Health by European authors provides evidence that steps taken in Sweden to address the asbestos hazard have succeeded. Men and women born between 1955 - 79, and who started their working lives after the 1982 ban, had a decreased risk of malignant pleural mesothelioma compared to men and women born between 1940 - 49. The authors concluded that: "the ban and other initiatives to decrease the occupational exposure to asbestos have had a measureable effect on health."
Read more: Järvholm B, Burdorf A: Emerging evidence that the ban on asbestos use is reducing the occurrence of pleural mesothelioma in Sweden. [Abstract] or Full article Scand J Public Health. 2015 Jul 20. pii: 1403494815596500. Source: IBAS
Italy: Are children safe in Italian schools?
More than half of Italy's school buildings are more than 39 years old, and built during a time when asbestos use was in its heyday. From August 10, parents have been able to go online to check the condition of particular Italian schools via a Ministry of Education website which has details (though reportedly not of asbestos hazards) relating to 33,825 school buildings. According to Education Minister Stefania Giannini, the census which has been "awaited for nearly two decades…[is] a huge step forward in terms of knowledge of school buildings, awareness and planning of a series of interventions."
See: In che stato è la scuola di tuo figlio? Da lunedì lo puoi sapere online [What state is your child's school in? Monday, you can find out online] 24Ore. Source: IBAS
Italy: Post-Tornado Asbestos Damage
Public warnings have been issued to the citizens of Florence following a storm on August 1 which wreaked widespread damage to buildings, such as the destruction of asbestos roofs. Wild weather, including a thunderstorm, hail and fierce winds, felled trees and ripped roofs off buildings as streets flooded and power pylons were brought down. Residents have been told to report the location of toxic asbestos debris to the City Council and the municipal police. See: Gli Effetti del Tornado. Firenze, nubifragio: è allarme amianto sui tetti scoperchiati [The effects of the tornado. Warning about storm-damaged asbestos roofs] FirenzePost. Source: IBAS
France: Major Victory for Victims
On August 7, Électricité de France S.A (EDF) was convicted by the Labour Court in Mont-de-Marsan in the cases of 95 former employees which it negligently exposed to asbestos at its Arjuzanx power station. Damages between €1000 (A$1497) and €14,000 (A$20,962) were awarded for anxiety over the hazardous exposures sustained. The charges were not proven in four cases; appeals will be launched for these plaintiffs by the CGT trade union. Given the size, scale and significance of this defeat, it is likely EDF will also appeal. See: Landes EDF condamné 95 fois pour "exposition fautive" à l'amiante [Landes EDF convicted 95 times for "negligent exposure" to asbestos]. Source: IBAS
Want to know about Asbestos laws and more? Go to the Asbestos section on the site.
The cost of bullying and violence in the Australian Public Service
The annual workers compensation bill for bullying, harassment and "occupational violence" in the federal public service is now almost $80 million. Trauma from workplace bullying or violence now make up the largest proportion of mental-stress compensation claims among public servants, according to the latest data from federal workplace insurer Comcare. While such claims cost $342,000 each on average, there have been about 500 mental-stress claims by public servants over the past five years that have cost $500,000 or more. While the article in The Canberra Times claims this is 'costing taxpayers', the cost to severely affected workers and their families is even higher. Government employers must take action to eliminate bullying and harassment from the public sector.
Read more: Revealed: the cost of bullying and violence in the Australian Public Service The Canberra Times; More information on Bullying and Violence
Bangladeshi photo exhibition in Sydney: 13 July - 28 August
Last chance: If you haven't yet seen the "Murder Not Tragedy" Exhibition of photos from the Drik Gallery (Dhaka, Bangladesh) at the UTS (Level 4 Breakout Space, City Campus Library), Sydney and you're in town, make sure you do. The exhibition features photographs following the collapse of the Rana Plaza clothing factory in Dhaka, in which over 1300 workers were killed. More details here.
International Union News
UK: Rights call for the 3 million night workers
The Trade Union Congress, the UK's peak union council, has released a new report: 'A Hard Day's Night', which shows that night working has grown since the recession, with now over three million employees who are regular night workers. The proportion of employees who are night workers has risen from 11.7 per cent of all employees in 2007, to 12.3 per cent in 2014. In 2014, 14.9 per cent of male employees were night workers, compared to 9.7 per cent of female employees.
The union body says: "The negative health impacts of night work are already well-documented, such as heightened risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression. However, less attention has been given to the impacts on home life and relationships." Major studies have also linked night shift work to breast and other cancers, highlighting the need for care over the use of night work and the design of shift work patterns. TUC recommends night working is only introduced where necessary, there should be no compulsion to move to shift work and that night work and shift patterns should be negotiated between unions and employers. TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "It's not right for employers to require night working without adequate consultation and negotiation. With night work increasing, employers must play fair and play safe, or public safety will be put at risk and the families of night workers will suffer."
Read more: TUC Media Release and full report A Hard Day's Night [pdf] Source: Risks 713 More information on Shiftwork on the site.
Women prefer warmer offices
A few weeks ago, in response to a question about the optimum temperatures for offices, one of our subscribers commented that a confounding factor was that men and women have different comfort levels.
Last week The Guardian ran a light-hearted article "The new cold war: why women are chilly at work". However, it made a serious point: Dutch researchers looking at energy consumption in buildings found that the previously used 'thermal comfort' model overestimated women's metabolic rate – and that women prefer an average office temperature about 3 degrees C warmer than men. This means considering the workers in each office, and possibly re-thinking what the best temperature in that office should be.
Read more: The new cold war: why women are chilly at work, The Guardian; Boris Kingma & Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt Energy consumption in buildings and female thermal demand [Abstract] Nature Climate Change (2015) doi:10.1038/nclimate2741
And for more information on what to do: Office temperatures and humidity: What are the 'rules'
Working Women and Breast Cancer: State of the Evidence
The Breast Cancer Fund, a "leading [US] organization working to prevent breast cancer by eliminating exposures to toxic chemicals and radiation linked to the disease" has released a new report entitled Working Women and Breast Cancer: State of the Evidence. A first of its kind review, the report uncovers more than 20 occupations associated with considerably increased risk of breast cancer compared to the risk for the general population, such as:
- Nurses – Up to 50% higher risk than for the general population
- Teachers - Up to double the risk
- Librarians, lawyers, journalists and other professionals - Up to 4 times higher risk
- First responders (police, firefighters, military personnel) - Up to 2.5 times higher risk
- Food and beverage production workers - Up to 5 times higher risk
- Hairdressers and cosmetologists- Up to 5 times higher risk
- Manufacturing and machinery workers - Up to 3 times higher risk
- Doctors, physicians and other medical workers excluding nurses – Up to 3.5 times greater risk
"Because workers are often exposed to carcinogenic or toxic substances at regular doses for long periods of time, they are the modern-day canaries in the coal mine," said Jeanne Rizzo, president and CEO of the Breast Cancer Fund. "We are confident that there is a better way forward, and that a cancer-free economy is within our grasp. It's time to put breast cancer out of work." The report offers recommendations for research and policies that prioritize workers' health over industry profit or political gains.
Read more: Media Release New report uncovers elevated breast cancer risk for working women; The full report, infographics and additional information can be found on this page
WorkSafe Small Business Events
A reminder of WorkSafe Victoria's Small Business Events, are aimed at assisting small businesses to improve their business with health and safety. Free advice is provided from WorkSafe on both OHS and Return to Work. As part of the Small Business Victoria Festival, businesses are invited to attend free WorkSafe seminars in Ballarat (August 21), Shepparton (August 24), and Traralgon (August 26).
More details on the events and to register, go to the Small Business Events webpage
WorkSafe updates 'Injury Hotspot' tool
The Injury Hotspots tool provides an industry-wide snapshot of how people get injured at work, and offers solutions to prevent the injuries occurring. The regulator has recently updated the tool with up-to-date statistics and solutions for more than 40 industries and occupations. As well as the updated content, there is keyword search function to quickly and easily find the most relevant industry and each Hotspot has links to best-practice guide materials for that industry. PDF posters of each Hotspot can be downloaded and printed, with an option to download a blank poster and create unique workplace body maps. The tool is now also accessible on smartphones, tablets, desktop and laptop computers. From September 2015 printed posters may be ordered.
Check out the Injury Hotspots tool here
The latest edition of WorkSafe's Safety Soapbox was posted on August 7. Tony Cockerell from the WorkSafe Construction Practices Unit talks about bulk excavations and ground collapse – very topical following the collapse of a huge section of vertical wall at an excavation site in Glen Waverley in July. The newsletter has other items from both Victoria and around the other states.
The list of Reported Incidents in the construction, utility, quarrying and mining industries from 16 July 2015 – 28 July 2015 is attached to the bulletin. There were at total of 57 incidents, including: 19 near misses, 13 lacerations, five fractures, four incidents where the outcome was unknown (how is this possible?), two electric shocks, three punctures, and two bruises. There was also one each of the following: concussion, gas leak, poisoning (carbon monoxide), burn, crush, collision, collapse and fire. As usual, several of the incidents could have resulted in fatalities: a falling concrete slab; the carbon monoxide poisoning; several falls from height; a piece of concrete falling, smashing through an atrium and landing in the foyer of a neighbouring business; vehicles tipping over; and more.
Access the August 7 Safety Soapbox edition online, including link to the list of reported incidents.
Safe Work Australia
The SWA Work-Related fatalities page has not been updated since the last SafetyNet - when as at July 31, 92 fatalities had been reported by the state/territory regulators. The latest monthly fatality report remains for April.
New Safe Work Australia publication: Principles of Good Work Design
SWA has produced a new handbook which outlines ten principles, gives information on them and how they can be successfully applied to any workplace, business or industry. The handbook complements a range of existing resources available to businesses and work health and safety professionals including the Guide for safe design of plant. The ten principles for good work design are structured into three sections:
- Why good work design is important
- What should be considered in good work design, and
- How good work is designed
While SWA says the Handbook should be used by "those with a role in designing work and work processes", PCBUs (or employers) must remember that under both the WHS model Act, and the various state/territory versions, there is a duty to consult with workers and their elected representatives on a range of matters, including 'the conduct of the work'. The Handbook replaces the Australian Safety and Compensation Council document 'Guidance on the principles of safe design for work'.
Download the publication on this page of the Safe Work Australia website
Office of the Federal Safety Commissioner: SWMS Fact Sheet
A Fact Sheet has been developed to provide information regarding the standards and expectations of the Office of the Federal Safety Commissioner (OFSC) when reviewing Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS) during an OFSC audit. The SWMS Fact Sheet explains in detail what the OFSC requires in relation to both the content of SWMS, and the process used to develop them. The fact sheet also details what is not required by the OFSC in relation to SWMS content, dispelling a number of common misconceptions.
According to the OFSC: "This fact sheet has been developed in consultation with key stakeholders including Master Builders Australia and Federal Safety Officers" and that it was "the result of an extensive consultation process between the OFSC and [our] industry partners". Unfortunately, and not surprisingly, the OFSC obviously does not consider the workers key stakeholders, as it did NOT consult with the unions in the development of the Fact Sheet!
Read more: OFSC announcement and Fact Sheet
WA: Live electrical work ban following three fatalities
Western Australia's State Commerce Minister Michael Mischin has announced that in response to three fatalities the state will be banning electrical work on energised installations. An 18-year-old electrical trades assistant was electrocuted when he touched a copper pipe while handling a damaged electrical cable in a house's roof space in February 2013. Earlier this year two workers were killed and two seriously injured in an explosion in a transformer room in Perth's Morley Galleria Shopping Centre. EnergySafety Western Australia subsequently imposed new safety rules for working on high-voltage switches.
The minister said the main contributing factor to both fatal incidents was energised electrical equipment and installations. After seeking advice from EnergySafety, WorkSafe WA and the Commission for Occupational Safety and Health on how to prevent such incidents re-occurring the decision was made to introduce a general prohibition of electrical work on energised electrical installations, including in roof spaces; and mandate that a building's main switch must be turned off whenever non-electrical work, such as installing insulation, is being undertaken in a roof space. Exceptions will be made where it is not possible to conduct work without an electrical installation being energised, such as during testing, but specific control measures will apply at these times. A preliminary impact assessment is being prepared, but it is expected that the new regulations will take effect next year.
From WorkCover NSW: Farm safety – there are too many fatalities and serious injuries in the agricultural sector - and not only in that state, but also in Victoria. The NSW regulator has developed a new "Farming self-assessment tool" which it says will help farmers identify where they are doing well and where they need to improve. The tool, as well as other information and resources for farming on topics such as agricultural chemicals, tractor and bike safety, occupational diseases and more, can be accessed from the Farming page of the NSW WorkCover website.
1. Plumbing company fined for breaches of S21
Ballarat Plumbing Pty Ltd, a company providing domestic plumbing services including installation of roofing, fascia and gutters to new homes, pleaded guilty to breaching sections 21(1) and 21(2)(a) of the OHS Act for failing to provide a safe system of work and it failed to ensure a safe work method statement for high risk construction work was completed in compliance with the OHS Regulations. In October 2014 a WorkSafe Inspector attended a single home construction site at Buninyong and observed two employees working on the roof at a height of approximately 3.2 metres, with no fall protection in place. A safe work method statement had not been done. The company was fined $3,000 (plus costs of $2,395) without conviction in the Ballarat Magistrates Court.
2. Local council convicted and fined after worker suffers crushing injuries
On 31 October 2014, Southern Grampians Shire Council (SGSC) employees were clearing roadside vegetation on the side of a road at Hamilton, using a backhoe to knock down a partially sawn tree. This fell onto an employee and caused injuries to his shoulder, ankle and leg. SGSC failed to provide and maintain an adequate exclusion zone at the workplace, and on 29 July 2015, pleaded guilty to breaching S21(1) and 21(2)(a) of the OHS Act for failing to provide a safe and healthy work environment by failing to provide a safe system of work for tree felling and failing to enforce exclusion zones around trees being felled involving use of mobile plant. The council was convicted and fined $7,500 (plus costs of $3,317) in the Magistrates' Court.
Source: WorkSafe Prosecution Result Summaries & Enforceable Undertakings webpage
1. Company and director prosecuted and fined for illegal dumping (including asbestos)
A NSW employer and its director have been ordered to pay more than $110,000 in fines and costs for illegally dumping asbestos and other waste. Alcobell Pty Ltd and its director were convicted and fined by the NSW Land and Environment Court for unlawfully transporting and dumping waste on three properties around Lithgow, and for providing false and misleading information to the Environment Protection Authority. Between 2010 and 2012, the employer transported about 6531 tonnes of waste from Sydney skip bin facilities to the Lithgow sites. Some of the waste contained asbestos. The company was fined $70,000 and the director $17,000, and ordered to pay a total of $23,406 in investigation costs, as well as well as the EPA's legal costs, which were yet to be determined.
2. Employer fined for exposing workers to toxic fumes
Also in the NSW Land and Environment Court, Hunter Valley Energy Coal Pty Ltd was convicted and ordered to pay a $58,500 penalty, plus $30,000 in costs, following a blasting breach at its Mt Arthur Coal Mine in February 2014. At the time of the blast, there was water in the blast holes and the employer failed to adequately measure the short-term wind direction. The blast generated harmful fumes that travelled over a nearby industrial estate resulting in several estate workers suffering temporary health problems, such as sore and dry throats and sore and watery eyes
1. Mining company fined for injury 'serious safety flaws'
Karara Mining Ltd was fined $40,000 for an incident in which a worker ended up with a fractured jaw and other facial injuries. In May 2013, the worker was replacing a broken spreader bar on a screen box at a processing plant when he was struck in the face by a scaffolding tube. An investigation by the Department of Mines and Petroleum found work was being conducted with inappropriate equipment; that workers didn't follow the manufacturer's instructions; that there was no safe work procedure and that the job hazard assessment did not comply with site requirements. All in all, adding up to 'serious safety flaws'.
2. Employer fined $180k after crane crash injures workers
HVLV Pty Ltd (now in liquidation) failed to prohibit the use of an overhead crane near a scissor lift and has been fined $180,000 after these collided in February 2013 and seriously injured two workers. The incident could have been prevented the operation of the crane been restricted while the scissor lift was being used, actively communicating the hazard to all staff, and isolating the area around the scissor lift with bunting or a ground spotter.
Two HVLV workers were dropping a test weight onto cladding samples from a 10-metre-high scissor lift platform when someone in another section of the factory used a wireless remote control to activate the overhead travelling crane, which struck the scissor lift and knocked it over. One worker grabbed the passing crane, and was left hanging for a few moments then fell and sustained multiple injuries, including a dislocated arm and leg, and fractures to his arm, leg, foot, pelvis and spine. The other worker rode the platform basket to the ground, and sustained numerous fractures and a punctured lung.
Source for above: OHSAlert
Japan: New law to require stress checks for workers
Japan's government plans to introduce stress checks for its workers, as the number of staff on leave due to mental illness remains high. A report in the Japan Times says under the system, the National Personnel Authority plans to conduct a stress survey every year, based on provisions in the Industrial Safety and Health Act, which was revised last year. The paper says the law will oblige private companies with 50 or more employees to introduce stress checks, will come into effect from December this year. Employee stress checks will also be phased in at government agencies from December, sources talking to the Japan Times said. According to the personnel authority, the number of government workers taking a month or more off due to mental illness rose from 1,050 in fiscal year 1996 to 2,218 in fiscal year 2001 and 3,376 in 2012. In 2013 it reached 3,450 workers. Japan recognises overwork-related suicide, karojisatsu, and sudden death, karoshi, as state compensated occupational diseases.
Read more: Japan Times. Source: Risks 714