SafetyNet 336, August 26, 2015
Here's the latest SafetyNet, providing our subscribers with OHS news and research from around the world. Use the journal to promote health and safety in your workplaces, distribute it to your networks, and please send me your views and any questions you might have to email@example.com. And please follow us on Twitter: @OHSreps
Thank you! Renata
VTHC Health and Safety Reps Conference
The VTHC OHS Reps Conference is just two months away - Tuesday October 27. By next edition we will provide you with a flyer to stick up in your workplace, but in the meantime, save the date. As it will have approval under Section 69 of the OHS Act, HSRs will have the right to attend on paid leave. Deputies are welcome to register, but will need to get their employer's permission to attend on paid leave. 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.
As a non-HSR for our work area (however, I have completed all the required training), am I able to issue a PIN?
That's an easy one: No, you cannot.
Only elected HSRs have the right to issue a PIN. (see Section 60 of the OHS Act).
If you were to issue a PIN, it is possible that the employer will challenge it (for whatever reason). The first thing an inspector will do when he/she comes to the workplace to look into a disputed PIN will be to make sure the person who issued it is an elected HSR (including ensuring their term of office has not expired). If he/she finds that the PIN was not issued by an HSR, then the PIN will be cancelled. The inspector may then inquire into the issue - but may not...
If there is an OHS issue which the employer is not addressing, and you do not have an elected HSR, then it is possible for the members of the DWG to raise this issue directly with the employer, under Section 73 of the Act. The employer must seek to resolve the issue, according to either agreed or prescribed procedures. If the issue is not resolved within a reasonable time, then, under Section 75, either the employer or the workers can request the attendance of an inspector, who must attend and enquire into the issue as soon as possible. See Resolution of Issues for more information.
Of course what the DWG should be doing as soon as possible, is electing someone as an HSR to represent them - the Act gives HSRs a wide range of powers and all workers should be encouraged to be represented.
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.
Australian unionists in support of Ansell Workers
For Australian manufacturing company Ansell, business is booming - it made $US187 million last financial year. Among its high selling products are gloves and c*ndoms – and obviously safe s*x sells. But Ansell is not quite as interested in protecting its workers as it is in protecting its customers and its large bottom line. Ansell is fighting a war of attrition in the courts against 300 poor, mainly female, Sri Lankan workers the company terminated for going on strike at one of its factories. These workers are paid less than 80c an hour to work in appalling conditions – for example, they must relieve themselves at their workstations in order to try to meet impossible production targets. They are also forced to work every day of the week, including weekends, without additional pay. On top of this, Ansell tried to cut their pay, and so they tried to exercise their right to collectively negotiate through their union. The company's response was swift and harsh – it sacked them.
Rallies were held in Melbourne and elsewhere yesterday in support of these workers, and to start a campaign to highlight to Australian consumers the shocking treatment of these workers by their employer.
Read more: The Daily Telegraph and Seven reasons activists blew up c*ndoms in Melbourne Working Life
Asbestoswise is hiring
AsbestosWise is looking for a part-time administration and information officer to work at its offices in Ross House, in Flinders Lane, Melbourne. Asbestoswise is a not for profit advocacy and support organisation with an active Committee of Management.
Read more: Ethical jobs
NSW: Loose-fill asbestos update
The latest update from the NSW Government on the Loose-Fill Asbestos Insulation project states that there have now been 58 homes identified as containing loose-fill asbestos through historical records. The latest identification brings the total number of NSW properties confirmed to contain loose-fill asbestos insulation to 73. Fifteen other NSW properties have tested positive for loose-fill asbestos as part of the NSW Government's free ceiling insulation testing program.
Read more: Update August 25
ASEA 2nd International Asbestos Conference
Check out the program for ASEA's second International Conference on Asbestos Awareness and Management, 22 - 24 November at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre in South Brisbane. And a reminder that 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!
UK: Feature on mesothelioma
Via Twitter, Laurie Kazan-Allen, of the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat, has reminded us of a feature she wrote in 2013: Mesothelioma the British Disease. The article begins: By the end of this year (2013), more than 60,000 Britons will have died from asbestos-related diseases this century. Government data reveal an inexorable rise of mesothelioma mortality since 2000, with 2,347 deaths reported in 2010, the most recent year for which figures were available.1 Worse is to come according to Lord Freud, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions, who told the House of Lords on May 20, 2013 that: "We expect there to be roughly 28,000 deaths from mesothelioma between July 2012 and March 2024"
Cambodia: Minister Commits to Asbestos Ban
At an asbestos symposium in Phnom Penh on August 19, Cambodia's Minister of Labour Sam Heng confirmed the government was examining the country's continued use of asbestos. Hundreds of delegates joined government officials and Cambodian and international experts to consider the occupational and public health hazards posed by the continuing use of asbestos. The event, which was organized by the Cambodian Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and Union Aid Abroad (APEHDA), the ACTU's international aid and development agency, provided the opportunity to progress discussions on the formation of a national asbestos profile as recommended by the World Health Organization. Since 2009, the value of asbestos imports has grown from US$1.3 to $4 million/year. Government speakers joined experts from Australia, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Laos and the World Health Organization to consider the implications for public and occupational health of asbestos consumption, with Minister Heng telling delegates: "We are in the process of conducting a study, after which we will ask the government to stop the import and use of asbestos in order to ensure health security in the work place."
At the same time as the workshop, many Cambodian construction companies and workers were reportedly unaware of the toxic substance and its potential health hazards. Sok Kin, president of the Building and Wood Worker Trade Union Federation of Cambodia, said that up to 80 per cent of the Kingdom's construction workers could be exposed to asbestos given the range of materials being imported into the country containing the toxic substance.
"We don't have enough experience to work on that, because it seems to be a new thing in Cambodia, I just learn about it two months ago" he said, adding though that his union has been working in collaboration with APHEDA on educating construction workers and getting them to wear masks in the workplace.
Read more: Gov't eyes ban on asbestos and Construction sector unaware of asbestos risks Phnom Penh Post
Italy: Confronting Salerno's Asbestos Legacy
The city of Salerno, capital of the southern Italian Province of Salerno, has the dubious distinction of being one of Italy's most asbestos-polluted regions, with large areas contaminated by Eternit asbestos-cement roofing material. Due to the legacy of local asbestos manufacturing and the residual environmental pollution, ten cases of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma are diagnosed every year. Municipal representatives and local activists are calling on officials from the Campania Region to provide funding to decontaminate derelict industrial sites.
See: Tumori da amianto: in un anno dieci casi finiscono al Ruggi [Ten cases of asbestos cancer a year in Ruggi]. Source: IBAS
Italy: Municipality Addresses Asbestos Hazard
In the northern Italian town of Vigevano the removal of asbestos-cement roofs from private residences is a public health priority – and has decided to take action to ensure owners remove the roofs. Last week Mayor Andrea Sala ordered the removal of toxic roofing from a property whose owners had not complied with a 2014 municipal edict to report and/or remediate contamination. Failure to do comply can result in large fines. The town's Environmental Protection Department is dealing with about a dozen similar cases. Steps are also being taken by the town to deal with illegally dumped asbestos debris.
See: "I privati tolgano l'amianto dai tetti" ["Individuals must remediate asbestos roofs"]. Source: IBAS
Want to know about Asbestos laws and more? Go to the Asbestos section on the site.
WA: Work fatalities at 7 year high as WorkSafe cut
On the release of the worst work fatality figures in seven years, Meredith Hammat, Secretary of UnionsWA said, "The best way to honour the lives of the twenty-two West Australians who died at work over the past year is to commit ourselves to preventing, as far as possible, any further fatalities." She said the Barnett Government's record on work health and safety reform was 'pathetic', with the government introducing cuts to the regulator. "It beggars belief that Minister Mischin thinks that a cut of ten percent in the number of WorkSafe inspectors will not be a factor in the years ahead," said Ms Hammat.
Ms Hammat also said that the penalties in WA for breaches to health and safety laws were grossly inadequate. This is borne out by a recent prosecution, in which a Western Australian business owner, who decided not to fit a guard on a table saw because he believed it inhibited work, was fined just $5000 after a labour-hire apprentice was seriously injured on the machine. (See Prosecutions)
Read more: UnionsWA Media Release
WA: FIFO workers vote to take action over rosters
Fly in fly out (FIFO) workers at Chevron's Gorgon project off Western Australia's north-west coast have voted to take industrial action over roster concerns. They are employed by contractor Chicago Bridge and Iron and want to change the current rosters from 26 days on and with nine off, to a more family-friendly 20 days on, with 10 off. Ninety-four per cent of votes cast were in favour of protected industrial action.
Australian Manufacturing Workers Union state secretary Steve McCartney told the ABC the workers were prepared to accept less pay in order to spend more time with their families. "What the guys and ladies have been saying on the island for quite some time now is that they want one third of their time with their families and they'll give two thirds of their time to the company, they think that's fair and equitable," he said.
Read more: ABC News online
TWU Bus trips to protest over road safety
Transport Workers' Union activists from Queensland and South Australia are staging protests around the country before converging on the TWU New South Wales delegates' conference this Thursday morning. Both bus trips left their states on Tuesday August 25th and arrive as 700 TWU delegates gather for their NSW and ACT annual conference on Thursday August 27th.
The activists have been stopping off in towns along the way to protest at the high death toll in trucking and the need for accountability at the top of the supply chain. On the Queensland trip a joint rally will be held with the Health Services Union paramedics to highlight similar problems with pressures and fatigue among drivers. "Major retailers like Coles are squeezing transport companies and drivers by continually driving down transport costs. This leads to around 330 deaths a year in truck related crashes and thousands of injuries. It is the reason why trucking is Australia's deadliest profession with truck drivers 15 times more likely to die than any other profession," said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.
According to the union, Coles is campaigning against road safety watchdog, the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, which has heard cases of the retailer pressuring truck drivers. Coles – which it was announced yesterday has revenues of $38 billion - has donated $2.1 million to the Liberal Party, which has signalled its plan to scrap the tribunal.
Read more: TWU Media Release
International Union News
Almost 1 in 5 UK workers witness bullying
Britain's peak union council the TUC has called for action to prevent workplace bullying after new research found most workers have experience of bullying at work. Personal injury law firm Slater and Gordon found almost six in 10 people have witnessed or suffered bullying in the workplace. Over a third (37 per cent) said they had been bullied themselves. The poll of 2,000 workers found that while most people had witnessed or believed they had faced bullying in the workplace, less than half (48 per cent) did anything about it. Claire Dawson, an employment lawyer at Slater and Gordon, said: "They are concerned for their own positions and aren't willing to put their necks on the line, especially when they don't know how an employer will respond to the issue."
Commenting on the findings, TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Office bullies must be banished from the workplace. The stress and anxiety felt by victims can make them physically ill, lose all self-confidence and mean that they dread coming into work. No-one should be put in this position." She added: "Employers who fail to tackle bullying will pay a price too. Staff who are bullied are more likely to take more time off because of the stress caused by their harassment and will be less productive at work. Every organisation needs to have an anti-bullying policy, and every manager should ensure that there is zero-tolerance of bullying either by line managers or workmates. This research shows why people should join a union to ensure they are treated fairly at work."
Read more: Slater and Gordon Media Release and TUC Media Release Bullying section on the website
China: Cyanide levels in water 277 times acceptable level
As reported in last week's SafetyNet, investigations following the huge chemical explosions which killed over a hundred people revealed that the amount of sodium cyanide being stored could have been 70 times the permitted level. Chinese authorities have now warned that cyanide levels in the waters around the Tianjin Port explosion site had risen to as much as 277 times acceptable levels – however, they also declared that the city's drinking water was safe(!)
The Tianjin government announced that after days of investigations, they had determined the Ruihai owned warehouses contained 2,500 tonnes of 40 types of dangerous goods, classified into three categories, according to the official Xinhua news agency. There were 1,300 tonnes of potentially explosive oxidizing chemicals, including ammonium nitrate and potassium nitrate, 500 tonnes of flammables, including sodium and magnesium, and 700 tonnes of deadly poisons, mainly sodium cyanide.
Read more: Reuters Cyanide in waters near China blast site 277 times acceptable level: government report
Thailand: harassment of workers' rights advocates must stop
The British-born worker and migrant rights defender Andy Hall, who also visited Australia, was due back in court this week, facing criminal defamation charges for exposing the truth about exploitation of migrant Burmese workers in Thailand's Natural Fruit pineapple factory.
Forty-four international and national organisations have written to the Thai Prime Minister, demanding that the Government take action to prevent the harassment of human rights defenders like Andy. The UK peak union council, the TUC will lead a delegation of British NGOs to the Thai Embassy on Friday to hand in the letter and raise Andy's case with diplomats. Global unions like the International Trade Union Confederation, and six sectoral union federations with member unions in Thailand, have joined the action. The International Federation of Journalists has also signed up, because their members in Thailand are increasingly facing harassment using criminal defamation cases.
Read more: Thailand needs to stop the harassment of workers' rights advocates TUC's Stronger Unions Blog
Breastfeeding exposes babies to industrial chemicals
According to a new study released last week, breastfeeding appears to expose infants to a group of industrial chemicals linked to immune system problems. The study is the first to estimate the transfer of water- and stain-proofing chemicals from mother to baby during breastfeeding and suggests that the mother's milk - which provides healthy antibodies, vitamins and nutrients - is also a major source of these harmful compounds for the developing children. "It's a very unwelcome surprise that these compounds that we're just beginning to understand to be toxic actually transfer through human milk to the most vulnerable population group," said Philippe Grandjean, a professor of environmental health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and co-author of the study published today in Environmental Science and Technology.
Grandjean and researchers from Denmark and the Faroe Islands looked at five types of perfluorinated alkylate substances, or PFASs, in the blood of 81 children who were born in the Faroe Islands between 1997 and 2000. They checked the children's blood at ages 11 months, 18 months and 5 years old, and checked their mother's blood at week 32 of pregnancy. They found that children who were exclusively breastfed had levels of the chemicals increase about 20 to 30 percent each month. Children who were only partially breastfed had smaller increases.
Read more: Breastfeeding exposes babies to water- and stain-proofing chemicals Environmental Health News; Morgensen, U, et al Breastfeeding as an Exposure Pathway for Perfluorinated Alkylates [Abstract] Environ. Sci. Technol
Long working hours increase risk of stroke
Working 55 hours or more can significantly increase the risk of having a stroke, according to a new study. The study, published in The Lancet, analysed data from 25 studies that tracked the health of over 600,000 men and women from Europe, the US and Australia for up to eight and a half years. The study's lead author Professor Mika Kivimäki of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, said that pooling all available studies allowed them to investigate the association between working hours and cardiovascular disease risk with much greater precision than previously possible.
The researchers found that people working 55 hours per week had a 33 per cent greater risk of having a stroke than people who worked a standard 35 - 40 hour week. In addition, the more hours people worked beyond standard hours, the higher their chance of having a stroke - even after accounting for other factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity, blood pressure and cholesterol. Long working hours was also linked to a 13 per cent increased risk of developing coronary heart disease.
The researchers say a number of factors such as stress, physical inactivity, and high alcohol consumption may contribute to the higher risk of stroke seen in people who work longer hours. Professor Dino Pisaniello of the University of Adelaide says physical inactivity for extended periods is an underlying risk factor for both stroke and coronary heart disease .
Read more: Long work hours linked to higher risk of stroke ABC Science; Kivimäki, M, et al: Long working hours and risk of coronary heart disease and stroke: a systematic review and meta-analysis of published and unpublished data for 603 838 individuals [Abstract] [Full Text] The Lancet
UK regulator investigates control of nanomaterials
The UK's Health and Safety Executive has released a nanotechnology review: Summary of work undertaken to assess workplace exposure and control measures during the manufacture and handling of engineered nanomaterials. Its premise is that nanotechnology is moving from the focused research environment to wider application in the workplace. Across Great Britain (GB) there are companies, small and large, manufacturing or using nanomaterials. It points out however, "As yet the scientific community does not have a good understanding of whether working with nanomaterials poses a risk to the health of workers as is suggested by some stakeholders." One of its important findings is "Existing good hygiene control practices can be used to reduce exposure to airborne nanomaterials. It is therefore important that in any work with nanomaterials, a thorough assessment is made of all control methods to be used." The full report can be downloaded from this page of the HSE website.
Advice for small business
Last week WorkSafe tweeted a link to 12 ways to make small business safer which provides good advice not only for small businesses, but any sized business. Each of the points is linked to further information.
Read more: 12 ways to make small business safer WorkSafe
WorkSafe launches new media campaign
Last weekend, WorkSafe Victoria launched a media campaign which seeks to encourage a positive and supportive environment within workplaces, where safety is openly discussed, promoted and celebrated and aims to contribute to a reduction in workplace injuries and claims. The state-wide campaign runs until mid - September and includes TV, press, radio and online advertising as well as advertising at tram and bus stops and in office lifts. It will also include targeted communications to organisations within the healthcare, manufacturing and construction industries.
The campaign encourages people to reflect on the safety of their own workplace. Every piece of communication directs people to a specific web page where they are able to complete a self-assessment survey on the safety of their workplace. They will then receive practical advice and guidance to support improvements.
Read more: WorkSafe Media Release and check out the ads here: 30 second; 15 second v1; 15 second v2; 15 second v3
The latest edition of WorkSafe's Safety Soapbox, posted on August 20, again featured Tony Cockerell from the WorkSafe Construction Practices Unit writing about the importance of bracing masonry walls during construction. Last year a worker died after an unsupported brick wall collapsed onto him, whilst working on a housing construction site – and since then there have been several other incidents. The newsletter has other items from both Victoria and around the other states – including links to news items on the Southbank crane collapse.
The list of Reported Incidents in the construction, utility, quarrying and mining industries from 29 July – 12 August is attached to the bulletin. In this period a total of 61 incidents were reported, including: 17 near misses, 12 lacerations, 10 unknowns, seven each of fractures and electric shocks, three eye injuries, two crushes, and one each of a concussion and puncture. Several of the 'near misses' could have killed workers and others – for example, a wall collapse; a load falling 30 metres onto a car; and several falls from heights.
Access the August 20 Safety Soapbox edition online, including link to the list of reported incidents.
Safe Work Australia
There has been no update on reported fatalities since August 12. At that date 97 fatalities had been reported to Safe Work. The latest monthly fatality report remains for April – in which there were nine work-related deaths reported.
From WorkSafe Victoria:
- A new Alert Panel axis is critical for single crane rotation A rigger recently sustained serious injuries when struck by shards of concrete that shattered from a precast panel which fell after being lifted from a semi-trailer. The semi-trailer was also extensively damaged. This Alert highlights the dangers associated with 'side-loading' boom assemblies during single crane operations involving precast concrete panel rotation.
- 'Injury Hotspot' tool In case you missed it, WorkSafe Victoria's Injury Hotspots tool has been updated. Check it out here.
1. $15,000 fine for injury in unsafe workplace
A & A Seremetis Pty Ltd, operator of concrete pumping truck, pleaded guilty and was fined $15,000 without conviction (plus $3,317 costs) in the Broadmeadows Magistrates Court for failing to properly guard and maintain safe plant. A concrete pump operator was dragged into the hopper when his clothes were caught on rotating paddles. A co-worker had to hit the emergency stop. The pump operator suffered head and chest injuries. An investigation revealed the interlock on the grate to be faulty: when the grate was lifted, the paddles continued to rotate.
2. Retailer prosecuted for illegal sale of fireworks
In an evening news story on Channel 9 on 29 December 2014 on the sale of illegal fireworks, a cameraman purchased $100 worth of fireworks from the St Albans Gift Store. Following the story, the TV station put in a formal complaint to WorkSafe. The next day, WorkSafe attended the store with Victoria Police and seized approximately 130kg of fireworks. Charlie Mach, presumably the owner, pleaded guilty to breaching the Dangerous Goods Act 1985 for possessing explosives without the Victorian WorkCover Authority's approval, authority or licence. He was convicted and fined $1,000.00 plus costs of $1,000.00 in the Sunshine Magistrates Court.
Source: WorkSafe Prosecution Result Summaries & Enforceable Undertakings webpage.
SA: truck company boss jailed for 12 years
Adelaide trucking company boss Peter Francis Colbert has been found guilty and jailed for 12 and a half years over a driver's death caused by faulty brakes. The man had been charged with manslaughter over the death of a driver in March last year (See SafetyNet 326) who took action to avoid heavy traffic just before his truck slammed into a pole. A jury also convicted him of endangering the life of another driver, Shane Bonham, two days before the fatal crash. The Supreme Court heard Colbert was repeatedly warned about the truck's faulty brakes.
Read more: ABC News online
Comcare: ADF fined $220,000 after soldier's death during training
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has been fined $220,000 for failing to maintain a safe work environment and provide workers with supervision after a special forces soldier was fatally shot in the head during a training exercise in South Australia in October 2009. This was 91% of the maximum penalty under the now repealed Commonwealth OHS Act.
The Federal Court in Canberra heard the soldier suffered a fatal gunshot wound during a night exercise at the Cultana Training Area near Wyhalla. A second soldier was wounded when he was hit by three rounds, two striking his helmet and causing no injury, and the third deflecting off his rifle and into his left arm.
Although at the time the ADF addressed known OHS risks through documented procedures, procedures, instructions and training, Comcare and the ADF agreed that these were inadequate and not sufficient to protect the health and safety of employees. There was no system in place to evaluate their effectiveness, and safety personnel were not properly briefed.
Sources: Sydney Morning Herald; ABC News online; OHS Alert
WA: Fine over apprentice injury
A flooring installer was last week fined $5000 in the Perth Magistrates Court after a labour hire apprentice suffered serious cuts to his hand while using an unguarded saw. James Dodds – trading as Jaws Flooring – pleaded to guilty to failing to provide a safe work environment for a labour hire worker. WorkSafe Director Chris Kirwin said the case should serve as a warning to ensure hazardous machines were guarded and to provide proper training to young workers, especially those employed under labour hire arrangements. "Allowing a worker to be exposed to an open unguarded blade like this is simply a disaster waiting to happen," Mr Kirwin said.
Read more: WA WorkSafe Media release
ACT: Fine after worker electrocuted at hospital site
A Canberra worker was clinically dead for several minutes before he could be revived by medical staff after he received an electric shock at the Canberra Hospital redevelopment.
ACT's WorkCover sought to prosecute two companies Igon and Nexus Electrical, over the almost fatal incident. The Industrial Court was able to fine Igon, the Canberra project $15,000 for failing to comply with a safety duty, but could not, however, sentence Nexus Electrical, as it had gone into liquidation since the July 2011 incident. The Magistrate, Lorraine Walker entered a plea of not guilty on the behalf of the company, which must now be committed to the ACT Supreme Court as no there are no longer company representatives available to elect to have the matter discharged in the lower court.
Read more: Canberra Times
USA: Food firm to pay $6 million after horror death
A California food firm is to pay a US$6 million fine after a 62-year-old worker was cooked to death in an industrial pressure cooker. In October 2012, the Bumble Bee Foods employee, needing to make a quick repair to the cooker, stepped into massive industrial vessel used to sterilise thousands of cans of tuna at a time. Not realising the worker was inside, fellow employees shut the machine door behind him and turned the oven on. With temperatures reaching about 270 degrees, the man was cooked to death. Hoon Chun, assistant head deputy district attorney for the office's Consumer Protection Division, who helped prosecute the case, said, "I cannot imagine a worse result of violating safety rules than something like this." The worker's death will force the company to change the way things are done at the plant. The company will pay US$3 million to replace its outdated tuna ovens with new ovens that will not require workers to set foot inside. Bumble Bee will also pay US$1.5 million in restitution to the man's family. The district attorney's Environmental Enforcement Fund will receive $750,000 from Bumble Bee, and the company will pay an additional $750,000 in combined fines, penalties and court costs. Two plant managers were also fined and ordered to undertake community service. "I hope it sends a message that safety rules are not a recommendation, they are a legal requirement," Chun said. "I'm hoping people will... realise shortcutting safety rules to make a few extra bucks and improve the bottom line is not a tolerable equation."
Read more: Los Angeles County District Attorney's office News release. Source: Risks 715
USA: Honeywell $300,000 penalty and agrees $13 million improvements for spills
Virginia environmental officials and Honeywell have reached an agreement in which the company will make more than $13 million in improvements at its Hopewell chemical plant and pay a $300,000 penalty following several spills there. Honeywell's Hopewell plant is one of the world's largest producers of caprolactam, the main ingredient in making nylon. It also is one of the largest producers of ammonium sulfate fertilizer, a co-product of making caprolactam.
The public can make comment up to September 23. The spills were of materials such as nitric acid, methyl ethyl ketone, caprolactam, oil and gasoline from mid-2013 to early this year, state Department of Environmental Quality officials said. One of the more recent spills, in November 2014, killed more than 2,000 fish in Gravelly Run, a tributary of the James River. Under the order, Honeywell agrees to pay the $300,000 civil penalty and upgrade sewer pipes that had deteriorated, resulting in the spills. Fixing those pipes and related structures is expected to cost more than $13 million.
Read more: Richmond Times Dispatch
Japan: Huge blaze at steel plant
A huge blaze broke out on Monday at a steel plant near Tokyo's Haneda Airport, causing plumes of thick black smoke and flames to shoot into the air. This came hours after a blast ripped through a warehouse at a US military post near Tokyo, which triggering a fire that burned through the night, although there were no reports of injuries.
The site, near the busy international airport, is owned by a unit of giant steelmaker Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal, which declined to make an immediate comment. Apparently the fire also spread to a next door cosmetics factory. It was reported that 600 of the cosmetics factory's employees had been evacuated from the site. There was no immediate word about employees working at the Nippon Steel factory or if anyone at either site was injured.
Read more: Huge blaze breaks out at steel plant near Tokyo's Haneda Airport ABC News online
ACTU Health and Safety Training
The ACTU provides a number of courses in OHS and related areas. These courses include:
- Certificate IV in OHS Course, six days face to face (offered in two parts of 3 consecutive days each).
- Certificate IV in WHS (BSB41412) Upgrade (a one day face to face course). Attendance at this course will ensure graduates of the current Certificate IV in OHS will be compliant with the recent updated Certificate. This is also a prerequisite to the Diploma Course in WHS (BSB51312).
- Organising for Safer Workplaces (two days) and
- Workplace Bullying and Harassment (one day).
- OHS for Union Delegates – choice between a One or Two day course
For information on these and other courses, download the ACTU's course guide and go to the Upcoming courses page on the ACTU website or contact Anna Pupillo or Chris Hughes for more details (ph ACTU: 9664 7334).