SafetyNet274, 23 January, 2014
We welcome all our subscribers to Edition 274 of SafetyNet – which comes to you from OHSReps@Work website We hope all our readers had a safe and enjoyable break (for those who did).
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Heat wave increases risks to workers
For many workers the recent heat wave over most of Australia caused an issue. While workers at well-organised construction sites in Melbourne with an agreed heat policy stop work once the mercury reaches 35(degrees)C - in recognition of the dangers of heat - many outdoor workers where no such agreements/policies are in place cop the double assault of heat and sun.
Another group of workers whose health is put at risk in these time are those in workplaces such as commercial kitchens, factories and shops. While newer, more modern workplaces are likely to be air-conditioned, many older and smaller workplaces may not even have any proper ventilation (much less air conditioning).
Take, for example, a kitchen in a small restaurant or pub: while the temperature outdoors soared to 43.5C outside, a worker called to say he was working in a kitchen where the temperature had reached 47C (and this wasn't even standing by the stove). Employers should remember that they have a duty of care to their workers, and plan ahead. This should include ensuring the best possible cooling/ventilation; providing plenty of cold water; implementing work/rest breaks; and specific measures, such as introducing a special 'extreme weather' menu of salads and lightly cooked food.
What did your employer do? Was your health put at risk? Raise the issue now, request the development of a heat policy if your workplace does not have one: there is no doubt more hot weather is on the way.
Read more: FAQ and Hazard information pages on heat; ACTU media release Outdoor workers urged to take care as temperatures soar WorkSafe Media release Work smart and stay safe in the heat
And what about The Australian Open?
World tennis fans following the Australian Open would have known about Melbourne's heat wave. In an article in The Conversation, Only mad dogs and tennis players go out in the midday sun, Lecturer in Law and Associate, Monash Centre for Regulatory Studies at Monash University, Eric Windholz, examines the issues from a legal OHS perspective. Windholz asks, as he did in relation to the 'supplements in sport' issue last year, 'Where was the OHS regulator?' Under the Victorian OHS Act, Tennis Australia, the organiser of the Australian Open, has a duty of care to its employees, to employees of contractors (under S21) and also to 'other persons' – the spectators, the volunteers as well as to the players themselves (under S23). In fact, the heat policy (which at best is vague) seems only to apply to the players. 'Is it possible,' Windholz asks, 'that OHS regulators, like many in the community, see professional sports differently to other industries - that professional sport somehow is not work and professional sportspersons not workers?'
More mine fatalities
Another fatality was reported at Tasmania's Mt Lyall underground mine last Friday – the third at the ageing site in 39 days. The mine, which has been facing decreasing profits, is owned by London-listed, Indian-owned Vedanta Resources. The fatality comes days after the WA Mines and Energy Department ordered Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) to tighten up safety at its Pilbara operations following deaths at the company's Christmas Creek operations in December and August. According to media reports, the WA resources safety regulator was investigating four incidents which occurred at FMG's Solomon Hub mine in early January. The company is being required to provide greater supervision and safety checks at each of its sites, and to have all isolation and lock out/tag out procedures verified by a supervisor and the elected Health and Safety Representative. The fatalities at the Fortescue mines and Friday's fatality in Tasmania all involved workers who were employees of contractors.
CFMEU WA Construction Division Secretary Mick Buchan, commenting on the death of a 23-year-old man on December 29 from injuries he received in an accident at the heavy vehicle workshop of the Fortescue iron ore mine, said the union had received a significant number of complaints about safety concerns. 'This young man's tragic death is the second fatality in just six months at this site,' Mr Buchan said. 'Two deaths on the same site in less than half a year should be immediately raising red flags under any circumstances, but in the context of massive cost-cutting measures it is a deeply, deeply disturbing situation.'
Read more: CFMEU Media Release Second death at Pilbara site in six months demands thorough and immediate investigation Sydney Morning Herald Doubts on safety as another miner dies.
Can you give me any advice regarding appropriate clothing during 'heat wave' conditions? Are there any health and safety considerations?
There can be OHS considerations when it comes to clothing – for example, outdoor workers should wear long sleeves and hats to provide protection from UV radiation. And those who work with machinery (whether indoors or outdoors) should never wear loose clothing which may become entangled and result in injury. This also applies to jewellery (chains, rings, etc). Appropriate footwear is also important – irrespective of the weather, some workers need to wear work boots, with or without reinforced toes; and others need to wear closed shoes with non-slip soles (for example health care workers).
Employers also have the right to implement dress policies (in consultation with their staff) to establish what is 'appropriate' for the workplace. The policy may specify, for example, that thongs and shorts are not acceptable. Any dress policy cannot be discriminatory, however (for example 'no trousers for women'!). Advice from the Victorian Equal Opportunity Commission is: If your employer sets a dress code, it should be:
- a reasonable requirement and directly relevant the job
- equally applicable to men and women
- compatible with cultural or religious beliefs
- fair to people with disabilities.
For links go to: The right to a workplace that is free from discrimination and harassment.
Please send any OHS related queries in to 'Ask Renata' - your query will be responded to as quickly as we can, within a couple of days at the latest!
Work group on community sector job stress
Dr Lorraine Harrison and educator Gai Mooney will be running a 10 week structured group work program on job stress for workers in the Community Services Sector. The program has been developed Lorraine who has over 25 years' experience as a social worker, largely in the community services sector.
The groups will allow participants to share their experiences, gain strength and learn techniques and tools to reduce work stress individually and collectively. When workers get stressed the individual is often blamed – but work stress starts with the structural and organizational. The program will also examine these underlying causes of work stress and suggest ways they can be tackled.
Where: ASU office, 116 Queensberry St, Carlton South.
When: Tuesday evenings, 6-8pm, beginning early March
Cost: General: $35/session (total $350); Union members: $25/session (total $250)
More information on the supporting research: Feeling the heat: workers' experiences of job stress in the Victorian Community Services sector
Enquiries: Lorraine: 043 830 7002 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Australian Mesothelioma cases reported
The Australian Mesothelioma Registry collects information on all mesothelioma cases diagnosed since 1 July 2010. By 30 June 2013, 619 new cases of mesothelioma were reported to the Registry, 83 per cent of which were males. The report also found that by April 2013, 290 (47%) of the people diagnosed in 2012 had died.
Australian locomotive importer to face fines
Australian rolling stock supplier Bradken could face a fine of up to $A850,000 for overseeing the import of two diesel locomotives from CSR Ziyang, China, that were then found to be contaminated with chrysotile asbestos in insulation around the exhaust and muffler system, around coolant pipes and in the brake exhaust section near the roof of the driver's cab.The Newcastle Herald reported that the two locomotives imported by Bradken, for lease to open-access operators, were quarantined as Australian Customs and Border Protection officials investigate the breach the ban on the import of products containing asbestos.
ACTU Assistant Secretary Michael Borowick, on the 10 year anniversary of the total asbestos ban, said the goal of making Australia asbestos free by 2030 was unlikely at this rate. 'Today is the tenth year anniversary of a ban on asbestos following clear and irrefutable evidence that the deadly dust particles cause cancer. The goal of an asbestos free Australia by 2030 cannot be reached if an ineffectual ban allows more asbestos containing material into the country.'
Read more: Australian importer faces fine after asbestos found in Chinese locos International Railway Journal; ACTU Media Release Asbestos inaction is a killer
Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency news
Presentations and video of 2013 National Asbestos Forum now available from the ASEA website. The Agency says the National Asbestos Forum, held in Sydney on 25th November, was a very successful event that examined the complex issues of asbestos awareness and removal, the treatment and recovery of asbestos related disease sufferers and advances in medical research.
Italy: former managers charged with manslaughter
Eight former managers of Franco Tosi, a now closed turbine factory in the outskirts of Milan, have been indicted on charges of manslaughter and bodily harm in connection with more than 30 cases of mesothelioma deaths or workers who became ill after working there between the 1970's early 1990's, where they were allegedly exposed asbestos without adequate safety measures. Among the defendants is Giampiero Pesenti, Italcementi Group's current president, who at the time was a member of the company's executive committee from March '73 to April '80. The first hearing will be on March 20 when the charges will be considered. A total of 33 workers died of mesothelioma and two workers are ill.
Source: La Repubblica Milano
UK: New Hazards Report 'Labrats: The anatomy of deadly product defence campaigns'
Rory O'Neill, editor of Hazards Magazine, has written an online report investigating how scientific 'hired guns' work – some try to hide their industry ties; others flaunt them. 'Either way', says Rory, 'cash-for-science can be very bad news for your health.' The report discusses the case of Dr David Bernstein, the asbestos industry's go-to scientist, who published a scientific paper to promote the 'academically ridiculed findings' of a 'deliberately under-cooked cancer experiment', went on a world tour to publicise its conclusions, and was rewarded with several million dollars.
USA: ADAO Applauds Senate Establishing National Asbestos Awareness Week
The US Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), which combines education, advocacy, and community to help ensure justice for asbestos victims, has applauded the Senate for having passed the tenth annual resolution establishing April 1-7 as "National Asbestos Awareness Week." Senate Resolution 336 passed on January 16, 2014, designating a week dedicated to raising public awareness about the prevalence of asbestos-related diseases and the dangers of asbestos exposure..
Read more: ADAO Media Release
IBAS: Is murder by Asbestos different to murder by gun? and Asbestos industry profiles
Laurie Kazan-Allan, of the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS) is inviting discussion on whether there is much difference between murder by asbestos or murder by gun... She writes in an article that just 20 days into the new year, 'European and Latin American asbestos victims' groups, which have consistently called for industry and government personnel to be prosecuted for asbestos crimes, have in 2014 ratcheted up efforts to prevent those linked to this deadly industry or perceived to have supported it, from enjoying prestigious awards or high-level positions.'
IBAS has also released a document profiling the international industries where asbestos was used/is still being used. These are: Ship building and ship breaking; Power generation; Construction; Railways; Asbestos mining; and Asbestos industry. The profiles are short, with links to more information on the site and elsewhere.
Read more: Profiles of some hazardous industries
Fair Work Commission receives first bullying claims
Confirmation came this week that the Fair Work Commission (FWC) has received a small number of bullying claims on January 1 (the first day of the new jurisdiction). However, it will only reveal further information in its standard quarterly data after the end of March. As yet none of the claims lodged have progressed to a formal hearing, but there is no information on whether any had been subject to mediation.
Commission President, Justice Iain Ross, has made it clear that the tribunal will not be promoting or recommending monetary settlement of claims. 'It is difficult to predict the number of anti-bullying applications that will be made, but we expect it will be significant. The fact that claims may relate to the conduct of individuals is likely to mean that the Commission will be dealing with multiple and sometimes complex legal and practical relationships. Many of the parties are likely to be unrepresented,' he said.
Read more: OHS Reps@Work and FWC Anti-bullying Information (including how to lodge a claim) released at the end of 2013.
NSW: Construction union criticises Lend Lease following death of scaffolder
A young worker has died after falling 30 metres from scaffolding at the Barangaroo construction site in Sydney on the morning of January 9. At the time, the union said that the tragedy was being investigated, but that it had concerns regarding the lack of supervision and mentoring for young workers on site. The worker had commenced only two weeks before and apparently was unsupervised and in an area he should not have been in. He was working on the site as part of the Koori Job Ready Program, under which young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders learn construction skills in an eight-week program with the aim of preparing graduates for employment on construction projects.
NSW State Secretary Brian Parker said, 'Another life lost at work is an absolute tragedy and something the (500) workers on site will never forget. The safe return home from work is something that all workers should expect and demand and something we will always fight for. Abbott and O'Farrell are constantly looking to restrict union official's right of entry to building sites and still looking to bring harsher penalties to union officials and workers that stop work due to serious injury or fatality at work rather than imposing harsher penalties on employers when their safety breaches and cost cutting result in the injury or even death of a worker. It's appalling.'
Read more: CFMEU Media Release and Sydney Morning Herald
International Union News
Bangladesh: Factory bosses charged over Tazreen fire deaths
Thirteen people, including the two factory owners, have been charged over the deadliest garment factory fire Bangladesh in November 2012 that killed more than 110 people. Police announced in December 2013 they had charged Delwar Hossain and his wife, Mahmuda Akther, as well as security guards and managers, over the Dhaka blaze. According to police they have all been charged with causing death due to negligence. On the night of the fire, more than 1,150 people were inside the eight-storey building, working overtime shifts to fill orders for international brands. Fire officials say the blaze broke out in the open-air ground floor, where large mounds of fabric and yarn were illegally stored. But on some floors, managers ordered the employees to ignore a fire alarm and continue to work. Many workers were trapped, unable to descend the smoke-filled staircases, and blocked from escape by iron grilles on many windows. Thousands of workers, claiming the building had been unsafe to work in, protested.
Then, in April 2013 the Rana Plaza building collapsed, killing 1,135 garment workers. Almost 200 workers are still missing from this latest major tragedy to strike the country's garment sector. Over 100 international retailers who use the factories have since signed up to legally binding measures to improve workers' safety conditions, in an accord brokered by international trade union bodies. The Bangladeshi government has also announced steps to improve conditions for its three million garment workers - most of whom are women. These measures, which have been criticised by unions as insufficient, raised the minimum wage and made it easier to form unions.
Source: Risks 637, Bangladesh Accord
Cambodia: International unions and brands seek probe into protest killings
The Cambodia Daily this week reported that thirty international union federations and global brands, including Walt Disney, Wal-Mart and Gap, wrote to Prime Minister Hun Sen expressing 'grave concern' over the fatal shooting of five garment workers this month and calling for an immediate investigation into the killings, as well as a meeting with the premier. In a joint letter they also urged the government to respect the rights of the 23 union leaders, garment workers and protesters arrested during protests demanding better conditions and a higher minimum wage in the country's garment sector.
Several days of nationwide strikes by garment workers ended violently when military police shot into crowds of stone-throwing protesters outside a Phnom Penh factory on January 3, killing five and wounding more than 40.
The letter also called on the government to respect freedom of association, which the Interior Ministry indefinitely suspended the day after the protest killings, and to immediately resume negotiations with the local unions and garment workers to settle their dispute.
Read more: The Cambodia Daily IndustriALL Media Release
High percentage of Australian workers exposed to carcinogens
Australian researchers have found that 40 per cent of workers (3.6 million) are exposed to cancer-causing agents in their current jobs, with men at higher risk than women. The researchers, in a collaboration of the University of Western Australia, the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and Sydney and Monash Universities, invited a random sample of 5023 men and women aged between 18 and 65, who were in paid employment (including small and medium enterprises), to participate in a telephone interview collecting information about their current job and various demographic factors.
They found the top four occupational cancer risks were: exposure to the sun, diesel engine exhaust, environmental tobacco smoke and the solvent benzene. Rural workers were most likely to be exposed to carcinogens and often included those working in farming, mining and transport. However nine per cent of office workers were also exposed to occupational carcinogens, with the most frequent exposure in this group being to diesel engine exhaust. Professor Lin Fritschi, from The University of Western Australia and the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research in Perth, said the results were shocking.
Read more: Renee Carey, et al Estimated prevalence of exposure to occupational carcinogens in Australia (2011–2012). [Full article] Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 2014;71:55–62, 24 October 2013.
Night work throws body into chaos
Shift work has already been linked to higher rates of type 2 diabetes, heart attacks and cancer. Reported by the BBC this week, a recent study has added to evidence of the serious effects of working night shift. Scientists at the Sleep Research Centre in Surrey have uncovered the disruption shift work causes at the deepest molecular level – and the scale, speed and severity of damage caused by being awake at night surprised them.
The researchers followed 22 people as their body was shifted from a normal pattern to that of a night-shift worker. Blood tests showed that normally 6% of were precisely timed to be more or less active at specific times of the day. However, once the volunteers were working through the night, that genetic fine-tuning was lost. They found that over 97% of rhythmic genes became 'out of sync' with mistimed sleep, which explains why jet lag or working irregular shifts causes such problems.
One of the researchers, Professor Derk-Jan Dijk said every tissue in the body had its own daily rhythm, but with shifts that was lost with the heart running to a different time to the kidneys running to a different time to the brain. 'It's chrono-chaos,' he said. It's like living in a house. There's a clock in every room in the house and in all of those rooms those clocks are now disrupted, which of course leads to chaos in the household.'
Source: BBC News: Health
Archer, S, et al, Mistimed sleep disrupts circadian regulation of the human transciptome [abstract] Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doi:10.1073/pnas.1316335111
Long work hours confirmed to have negative health effects
Many studies have investigated the association between long working hours and health but with sometimes inconclusive outcomes. By focusing on differences in the definition of long working hours and the influence of shift work, two Japanese researchers sought to explain why the results of these studies remain inconclusive. They explain their interest: 'In Japan, long working hours is an issue that needs to be addressed promptly for the sake of workers' health. Karoshi (sudden death caused by cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease due to overwork) and karojisatsu (suicide due to overwork) may also be related to working long hours.' They defined long working hours as working time greater than around 40 hours per week or 8 hours per day and minimised the influence of shift work in the studies.
The researchers identified a total of 17 articles and 19 studies (12 prospective cohort and 7 cross-sectional studies) and concluded that working long hours is associated with depressive state, anxiety, sleep condition, and coronary heart disease. However, they recommended that further studies appropriately dealing with the definition of long working hours and shift work are needed.
Bannai, A and Tamakoshi, A: The association between long working hours and health: A systematic review of epidemiological evidence [abstract - the full article can be downloaded free from this page] Scand J Work Environ Health 2014;40(1):5-18 doi:10.5271/sjweh.3388
Multi-walled Carbon Nanotubes: need for caution confirmed
US researchers, led by Linda Sargent from the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), have confirmed that extreme caution must be exercised when working engineered carbon nanoparticles. Engineered carbon nanotubes are currently used in many consumer and industrial products such as paints, sunscreens, cosmetics, toiletries, electronic processes and industrial lubricants. They are among the more widely used nanoparticles, in two major commercial forms, single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNT) and the more rigid, multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT). Due to their low density and extremely small size respiratory exposures in workers are likely.
The results demonstrated that some MWCNT exposures promote the growth and neoplastic progression of initiated lung cells in mice. The mouse MWCNT lung burden of 31.2 μg/mouse used in the study approximates feasible human occupational exposures, and therefore confirms that human exposures must be limited.
Read more: Sargent et al. Promotion of lung adenocarcinoma following inhalation exposure to multi-walled carbon nanotubes. Particle and Fibre Toxicology 2014, 11:3 doi:10.1186/1743-8977-11-3
Women and OHS – European report
From the European Agency for Safety and Health – a report: New risks and trends in the safety and health of women at work. This report presents an update to the Agency´s previous research on gender issues at work, which found that inequality both inside and outside the workplace can have an effect on the health and safety of women at work. It provides a policy perspective and is intended to contribute to the task outlined by the European strategy on health and safety at work for EU-OSHA's European Risk Observatory, 'examining the specific challenges in terms of health and safety posed by the more extensive integration of women in the labour market'.
The report provides a statistical overview of the trends in employment and working conditions, hazard exposure and work-related accidents and health problems for women at work. It explores selected issues (combined exposures, occupational cancer, access to rehabilitation, women and informal work, and "emerging" female professions such as home care and domestic work). The research highlights the type of work carried out by women, issues faced by younger and older women, the growth of the service sector, violence and harassment, and increasingly diversified working time patterns as major risk factors.
Safe Work Australia
Australia-wide reported fatalities
When we reported the number of Australians killed in the last edition of SafetyNet, as at December 12 the total was 170 – by the end of 2013 the number notified had increased to 184. While this number is 184 too many, it represents a 13% decrease from the previous year, when 212 fatalities were reported.
In the first week of 2014, three more fatalities were reported to Safe Work – one each in the sectors of Transport, postal and warehousing; Agriculture, forestry and fishing; and Health care/social assistance.
Read more: Safe Work Australia Work-related fatalities
SWA has now released the notifiable fatalities monthly report for September 2013 in which there were 14 work-related fatalities reported to the state and territory OHS regulators (up from 11 in the month before): eight were workers, and four were bystanders. All bar one bystander were males. Transport, postal & warehousing industry workplaces accounted for five fatalities, four occurred in the Agriculture, forestry & fishing industry and two occurred in the Electricity, gas, water & waste services industry. There was one fatality each in the Retail trade industry, Arts & recreation services industry and Health care & social assistance services industry.
For further details see the Notified Fatalities Monthly Report September 2013, which can be downloaded here.
Key statistics report released
At the end of last year, the Key Work Health and Safety Statistics Booklet Australia 2014 - a pocket-sized summary of the main statistics on work-related injury, disease and death was released by Safe Work Australia. The information includes the main types of injuries for which compensation was paid, the cost of injury and incidence rates by industry – to the end of 2012. While the incidence rate of fatalities has dropped markedly since 2008-09 and is below the target established in the National Strategy, the incidence rate of serious claims has remained above target and increased in the period.
The Agriculture, forestry and fishing; Manufacturing and Transport and storage industries have had the highest incidence of serious injury for many years, and in 2012-12 the rates were up to 80% higher than the 'all industries' rate of 12.2 serious claims per 1000 employees. The occupations with the highest incidence rates of serious injury are Labourers & related workers; Intermediate production & transport workers and Tradespersons & related workers. As has been the case for many years, the most common work-related compensated injuries were sprains and strains.
Of some concern is that the number of infringement notices issued by OHS regulators dropped by 37 per cent in the 12 months to June 2012, and the number of prohibition and improvement notices also decreased. Inspectors conducted 133,935 workplace interventions in 2011-12, down from more than 140,000 in 2010-11. In terms of notices: there were 612 infringement notices (down from 970 in 2010-11), 4613 prohibition notices (down from 5292) and 44,837 improvement notices (down from 51,349). The number of OHS-related legal proceedings finalised in 2011-12 was 362, down from 397 the previous year. The Booklet can be downloaded from this page of the SWA website.
New codes released
Safe Work Australia has finished drafting two WHS Codes of Practice, and provided them to the Select Council on Workplace Relations for agreement:
- From Worksafe Victoria
- Selling Dangerous Goods in Consumer Packages - a Guidance Note/information sheet to assist retailers who fall within the definition of 'occupier' and who sell dangerous goods in 'consumer packages'. The Dangerous Goods (Storage and Handling) Regulations 2012 (DG Regulations) have a number of occupier duties which will apply to these retailers. This information sheet provides an overview of these duties and should be read together with WorkSafe's Code of Practice for the Storage and Handling of Dangerous Goods (DG Code), the Dangerous Goods Act 1985 and the DG Regulations.
- New safety Alert Confined Spaces on Farms highlighting the danger of farmers and farm workers sustaining serious or fatal injuries from entering a potentially hazardous confined space such as a tank, vat, silo or container.
- A reminder of a publication from WorkCover NSW: Five steps to keeping workers safe in heat which provides guidance on ensuring the safety of workers in hot conditions.
Restaurant owner charged and fined
In March 2013 a teenage waitress slipped on a wet floor while carrying boiling water incident at a Yoshi restaurant in Frankston. Yoshi Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to three charges under s21 (duties of employers), two charges under s38 (duty to notify of incidents) and one charge under s39 (duty to preserve incident sites) and has been ordered to pay nearly $13,200 in fines and costs in the Frankston Magistrates Court.
Source: WorkSafe Victoria Prosecution summaries
NSW road authority fined $175,000
A court has found a Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) employee killed while undertaking roadside maintenance was working without key safety conditions in place. The worker died while he and four other RMS employees were working on the F3 Freeway at Warnervale in NSW. A B-double attempting to pass another truck hit an RMS vehicle on the shoulder of the road, which then collided with the worker, killing him and seriously injuring his colleagues.
The Industrial Court of NSW found no risk assessment was conducted prior to maintenance work commencing, there were no advance warning signals in place to inform motorists of road works, the speed limit was not reduced from 110km/h to 60km/h in line with RMS requirements and there was no team leader to supervise the workers. Justice Anna Backman convicted the RMS and fined it $175,000 for breaching the Occupational Health and Safety Act – it could have been fined up to $825,000.
Read more: Inspector Walker v The Roads and Traffic Authority of New South Wales  NSWIRComm 116
NSW Police convicted and fined $350k
The NSW Industrial Court has convicted and fined NSW Police a total of $350,000 in what was the organisation's ninth conviction under OHS legislation since 2002. After pleading guilty to two charges: the first of exposing three police officers to the hazardous substances methylamphetamine and safrole in a drug vault at the Sydney Police Centre in March 2009, and then second exposing two officers to cocaine in the vault one month later, it was fined $189,000 and $161,000 respectively.
In sentencing, Industrial Court President Justice Roger Boland found the employer failed to provide officers working in the drug vault with any appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), such as goggles, face masks or gloves, or provide supervision to ensure officers used PPE, and also failed to undertake a risk assessment to identify the need to wear PPE while working in the vault. He said that even a very basic assessment would have identified the need for appropriate PPE.
NSW Police Association president Scott Weber said the NSW Police Force, which was facing a tenth WorkCover prosecution relating to the shooting death of an officer, 'needs to finally step up, and do what's expected by all of us to protect police officers from preventable injury and illness'.
Read more: Inspector Cook v State of New South Wales (NSW Police Force)  NSWIRComm 114
Comcare prosecuting employer over road death
Comcare has begun legal action against Transpacific Industries Pty Ltd, after a member of the public was killed in in a car accident in Perth in February 2011 involving one of its garbage trucks. The truck crashed into the rear of a vehicle before crossing onto the wrong side of the road and colliding head-on with a car, killing the car's driver. Apparently the crash was due to the truck's brakes failing.
Comcare's case in the Federal Court is that Transpacific twice breached the (now repealed) Commonwealth OHS Act by failing to take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure the health and safety of its employees and others 'at or near its workplace'. Transpacific, which moved to Comcare under the Howard government, has a prior OHS conviction and could be fined a maximum of $242,000 for each breach.
Comcare has also lodged proceedings in the Federal Court against Linfox Australia Pty Ltd as result of an October 2011 incident, when a Linfox employee suffered serious facial injuries after a pallet fell off a forklift and struck him in the head while he was unloading a shipping container at a Linfox facility in NSW. Comcare claimed Linfox failed to take all reasonably practicable steps to protect the health and safety of its employees at work. The company has previously had penalties the Federal Court imposed; the maximum civil penalty for these alleged breaches is $242 000.