SafetyNet 359, April 20
There has been another fatality in Victoria, bringing the state's workplace death toll to eight. This occurred on the morning of Wednesday April 13, the day of the last journal, but news did not come through until after we had posted. We send sincerest condolences to the family. In another incident a worker was seriously burned, and a wall collapse narrowly missed a pedestrian and her child.
Please remember, to get updates between our weekly journals, join the hundreds of people who follow our We Are Union: OHS Matters Facebook page. If you're an OHS rep, and passionate about health and safety, then consider joining the Network page, a safe place to raise and discuss issues: check it out and ask to join.
Worker crushed to death by own cement truck
It is with great sadness that we report that last Wednesday morning April 13, another worker was killed in Victoria. The 48 year old concreter, was killed when his own cement truck rolled down a hill in Apollo Bay on Victoria's Great Ocean Road about 8.45am. He had been working on the truck - possibly checking the brakes - when it rolled over him, killing him instantly. The truck then continued rolling about 300 metres down a hill and into a house. It smashed through the front wall of the brick veneer house, before coming to a rest in the middle of the lounge room.
Detective Leading Senior Constable Mick
Palmer said"[It was] incredibly lucky that no one else was injured, that no one
else was standing nearby or that no one else was in the house at the
time the accident occurred."
Read more: Tributes flow for Bryan Noseda crushed to death by his own cement truck in Apollo Bay The Age
More fatalities around Australia
South Australia: stock handler killed by buffalo
A man was killed after he was gored by a buffalo at a property at Strathalbyn, about 60 kilometres south-east of Adelaide last week. Pastoral company Strath Pastoral was quick to defend their safety standards. They further added that the man, believed to be in his 70's, was not employed by the company but was a stock delivery handler. Reports state that the man was unloading the dairy buffalo from his truck when the fatal incident happened. SafeWork SA was investigating the scene of the incident.
WA: Young boy killed by tractor
In a particularly tragic incident, an 11-year-old boy was killed and his older brother was injured in by a tractor at a farm near Busselton, WA. It appears the boys were seen sitting in the metal bucket of the tractor being operated by their father when the bucket suddenly disengaged. Emergency responders rushed to the hobby farm, immediately taking the two youngsters to the Busselton Regional Hospital. The 14-year-old boy was treated there, but later airlifted to the Princess Margaret Hospital in Perth. It was unclear if his younger brother died at the scene.
Source: Safety Culture OHS News
Man burnt in explosion in serious condition
A man was burnt in an explosion at a construction site in South Melbourne yesterday afternoon. Firefighters were called to York Street around 12.30pm.
The Melbourne Fire Brigade said it appeared the worker had been
cutting through some sort of tank or building material, when it
exploded. He suffered burns to the chest and was taken to The Alfred in a serious condition. WorkSafe is investigating.
Read more: The Age
April 28: International Workers Memorial Day
International Workers Memorial Day is next week. After the past few horror weeks for Victorian workers, we are even more determined that we must continue to fight for better laws and better enforcement of these laws. Each one of the deaths in Victoria this year could have been prevented - we must not only remember these workers, but also fight for the living. We must continue our fight to ensure that workers' health and safety at work are protected.
If you are able to, come to the VTHC event on April 28 at the 'Rock' at the corner of Lygon and Victoria Streets, Carlton South, which starts 10.30am: everyone is welcome. There will also be an event organised by GARDS/Asbestos Council of Victoria and the Gippsland Trades and Labour Council at 11am in the Centenary Rose Garden, Commerical Road, Morwell.
For those who are unable to leave work and attend, the VTHC OHS Unit has prepared a kit to assist workers and unions organise their own event. We are asking workers to hold a very short meeting, put their tools down, and take a moment to think about workplace safety. We are also asking workers to take a photo and post on it on social media. The kit is now available - email Sam Hatfield for a copy. You can also access a PDF of the kit on the We Are Union website. Anyone on Twitter can already start using #IWMD2016 and #ToolsDownDay
April 24: Anniversary of Rana Plaza collapse
Three years ago, on April 24, 2013 the Rana Plaza factory building in Bangladesh collapsed in what is the worst ever industrial accident to hit the garment industry. When the building came crashing down, it killed 1,134 people and injured thousands more. This Sunday at 12.45 - 1.30pm there will be a commemoration of this tragic event in Bourke St, Melbourne. Join ABSN, TCFUA, AAWL, NTEU , Many Moons Productions and others as they commemmorate the thousands of workers killed and injured on that day in Savar, Dhaka, Bangladesh. There will be various activities including a silent vigil at 12:57pm - the time in Melbourne of the collapse (8:57am BDT). Mourn the Dead, Fight for the Living.
See the Facebook Event page. Clean Clothes Pay Up! Campaign
Tonight: Fashion Revolution event
It's #whomademyclothes Week run by Fashion Revolution to promote ethical fashion and clothing. Fashion Revolution Australia is running a great event tonight: A screening of 'The True Cost' at the Sun theatre in Yarraville. This is a feature length documentary film that explores the impact of fast fashion on people, particularly workers, and the planet - and will probably make you never want to buy new things again. It shows some of the tragic consequences on workers in developing countries such as Bangladesh, India and Haiti. Tickets are $20 and the event can be found on Facebook and tickets can be purchased here. Watch The True Cost official trailer
Have you told us what you think yet?
If you haven't yet taken the OHS Network's Justice in Health & Safety Survey, please do so now. Tell us about your OHS experience and what you think needs to change. It only takes a few minutes, so please give it to your fellow workers, and start the OHS conversation at work. You can take the survey online or download the PDF to print out and send back to us.
Labour Day VTHC Dinner
The 2016 VTHC Labour Day Dinner will be held in the Members Dining Room at the MCG on Friday 29 April 2016 from 7pm to midnight. Tickets for the event, which includes a three course meal and beverage package, cost $140 per head. To purchase tickets or for further details please email Kris McClelland or by contact her phone on 9659 3586 as early as possible to avoid missing out.
Hi Renata just a quick question:
We have recently purchased a new printer for the work site. It is on a bench sitting quite high up - management has suggested buying a non slip heavy duty step to be used to reach the top of the printer as due to logistics we are unable to purchase a new bench top. I can't find anything to say this wouldn't be allowed but wanted to check whether there would be any OH&S objections/legislation to say a step could not be used.
This question amused me a little...
It's clear that the best solution would have been to get a printer which suited the space, or ensured the work space was suitable for the preferred printer.
Oh well, now that the printer has been purchased and installed, if it's not possible to make adjustments to the bench, then a possible solution would be a solid step of some kind. However, a step may create other risks: management has thought of the slipping risks, but people could also fall off, trip, and so on. So agree to the step, there's nothing in the law preventing it, but make sure that the situation is monitored so that if people have problems, these are picked up before someone is injured.
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.
Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal - abolished
Earlier this week, both the House of Representatives and the Senate passed the bill to axe the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT). While the conservative government was maligning all parties: the RSRT, the Labor Party generally and Bill Shorten in particular, and of course the union, the reality is that guaranteeing reasonable pay rates for all truck drivers is indisputably linked to safety (see SafetyNet 258). The owner drivers were lied to by the government and big business and ended up fighting against their own safety - and the general commentary shows the disbelief in the community. In what can only be described as incredible haste, the Tribunal will officially cease operating tomorrow after Governor-General rapidly gave Royal Assent to legislation for its abolition.
Tony Sheldon, Secretary of the TWU says that when a truck driver is not paid a decent rate to cover the costs of running his truck or his labour, "He speeds, drives longer than he is permitted to, skips mandatory rest breaks, forgoes maintenance on his truck. He might even take drugs to keep himself awake to drive those extra hours."
NSW state secretary, Michael Aird, said in a media release yesterday, "Mr Turnbull deliberately ignored the link between pay rates for all truck drivers and safety on our roads that has been proven over decades of research by independent academics, coroners and parliamentary inquiries.
"It is transport workers and everyone who shares the roads with them who will suffer from this decision. Meanwhile, the big transport clients who happen to be major donors to the Liberal Party, like Coles, Westpac and BP, won't be held to account for their economic squeeze on transport workers that leads to devastation on our roads."
Find out more: First Dog on the Moon: Truckies and you - what every Australian should know; Senator Sam Dastyari's video: Making Our Roads Safer; and Truckies need a fair go or more lives will be lost Tony Sheldon; Truck drivers and road safety are the biggest losers as Turnbull axes RSRT Michael Aird, TWU
Wall collapse in North Melbourne this morning
Yesterday (Tuesday), the CFMEU health and safety team shut down a construction site on the corner of Queensberry and Howard Streets in North Melbourne for safety reasons - only to have WorkSafe reopen the site. This morning, sometime after nine, there was a collapse of one of the walls. According to John Setka, secretary of the CFMEU, there were problems with how the demolition was being done, including that there was no Part 6 audit (of whether the building contained asbestos). Luckily no-one was killed or hurt, but this was a 'near miss' which should not have happened - apparently it narrowly missed a woman with a pram. Check out the CFMEU's tweets here. and here; and Channel 9 news.
CFMEU welcomes defeat of ABCC Bill
The CFMEU this week welcomed the defeat of the ABCC bill in the Senate as a win for workers' and basic human rights and freedoms.
"The Turnbull Government has lied to the Australian people in their attempts to pass this bill. These laws take away important rights such as the right to silence and the right to a lawyer of your choice," CFMEU National Construction Secretary Dave Noonan commented. "On top of that, all the evidence they have presented regarding productivity and days lost to industrial action has been demolished by independent commentators and the Government's own Productivity Commission.
"Meanwhile, they have turned a blind eye to the real problems in our
industry including the high rate of insolvencies, underpayment and
non-payment of wages, sham contracting and breaches of safety laws which
lead to workers' deaths and injuries." Under the ABCC, the union could receive a greater fine for stopping a
job in the event of a fatality, than the employer would if convicted
over the death! The union is bitterly disappointed that Minister Michaelia Cash has refused to meet with grieving parents of young men who have died on construction sites.
Read more: CFMEU tweet and Media Release
Bernie Banton petition - please sign
As at 18 April, over 25,000 had signed the Bernie Banton Foundation's change.org petition to the Minister for Health, Sussan Ley, MP to fund trials of drugs with the potential to treat rare diseases, and to reform the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) application requirements that currently make it impractical for pharmaceutical companies to apply to have valid drugs listed on the PBS. Help them smash their goal of 35,000 signatures by signing and sharing the petition as widely as you can.
Almost 20,000 new mesothelioma cases by the end of the century
A new report that projects there will be approximately 19,400 new cases of mesothelioma in Australia before the end of the century also finds that non occupational exposure to asbestos will overtake exposure from mining, manufacturing and use of asbestos cement.
The report, commissioned by the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA), estimates that 58 per cent of future mesothelioma diagnoses will be attributed to industrial exposures, with the remaining 42 per cent coming from third wave exposures. By 2050, third-wave cases will have overtaken first and second waves of occupational exposure.
ASEA CEO Peter Tighe said the report looks to predict where future cases of mesothelioma would come from. He said, "We need to better understand current risks and exposure pathways to reduce the incidence of mesothelioma."
Read more: ASEA media release The changing picture of mesothelioma in Australia The Report: Future projections of the burden of mesothelioma in Australia
Almost 1000 panels containing asbestos installed in NSW substations
In yet another example of illegally imported asbestos products, it has been found that almost 1000 electrical panels containing asbestos have been installed in Sydney and surrounds, putting hundreds of Ausgrid workers at risk. The panels, manufactured in Malaysia, 'somehow eluded customs' - a depressingly common occurrence. Ausgrid's tests revealed the presence of not only white asbestos (chrysotile) but also the more toxic brown asbestos (amosite). By the time it was identified workers had been exposed for months, perhaps years as the panels had been installed at the 51 sites between 2007 and 2014. The ETU had raised concerns regarding asbestos in these panels years ago.
Reports are that it is planned to leave the panels in place. Deemed too expensive to remove, most sites have been cleaned and sealed. "Well I don't think it is good enough. I think if you find asbestos anywhere it should be removed," said David Mier, the ETU Assistant National Secretary. Sign the VTHC petition to stop asbestos importation now.
Read more: Hundreds of Ausgrid employees exposed to asbestos in substations around Sydney Yahoo7News; Electrical union raises Ausgrid asbestos fears ABC
Cost of treating asbestos diseases far outstrips the cost of producing asbestos materials
New data shows that for every dollar spent on the use of asbestos four times that is spent on the health costs to treat asbestos-related diseases. This has led researchers to call for a global ban on the mining, production and use of asbestos. The research was commissioned by the World Health Organization, and has been presented at a top level cancer conference held in Brisbane last week.
Read more: Cost of treating asbestos-related disease leads researchers to call for global ban on use and production The World Today, ABC
SA: Court imposes fine and three year ban for unsafe asbestos removal
On Monday, SA's Industrial Court convicted Mr Anthony Rosier from Eco Asbestos Removal Service of seven counts of unsafe asbestos removal work.
Pleading guilty, Rosier was convicted of undertaking Class A asbestos removal work without authorisation, failing to engage a suitably qualified person to carry out mandatory air monitoring and clearance inspection, providing false and misleading documentation to the regulator, and failing to provide the homeowner with a copy of the Asbestos Removal Control Plan before starting work.
The magistrate indicated an initial fine of $40 000 reduced to $24 000 plus court costs in recognition of his early guilty plea. In addition to the fine an Industrial Magistrate in November 2015 upheld the regulator's determination to cancel the removalist's licence and to disqualify him from applying for a new licence for three years, as well as requiring him to undertake training before re-applying.
Read more: SafeWork SA Media Release [pdf]
Police hurt on the job say insurance agent increases trauma
Several police officers who received serious injuries, including multiple bullet wounds, in the course of their work, are now finding Gallagher Bassett, the insurance agent used by WorkSafe for police compensation claims, is treating them 'appallingly'. Rather than assisting the police and former police officers, the company has taken action which has exacerbated their trauma.
Gallagher Bassett is one of several agents for WorkSafe Victoria currently under investigation by the Ombudsman's office over allegations of unfair and unscrupulous treatment of injured Victorian workers. Other insurance companies contracted by Worksafe include Allianz, CGU and QBE, which are also under scrutiny. The state Ombudsman is examining if the payment of financial bonuses by WorkSafe Victoria to its agents has contributed to an increase in the number of claims being rejected.
"The investigation will look at whether WorkSafe agents have unreasonably denied liability or terminated entitlements for people who have suffered injuries in the workplace, and whether agents did this for financial incentives offered by WorkSafe," a spokesman for the Ombudsman said.
Read more: Inured police accuse WorkSafe agents of appalling treatment The Age
International Union News
UK: Two employers jailed in separate cases of worker fatalities
This week's TUC Risks e-newsletter reports that three UK employers have received jail sentences following the deaths of workers.
In the first case, a construction boss was jailed for six years after being convicted of gross negligence manslaughter. Two of his employees fell through a roof they were repairing in separate incidents on the same day, with the man who died having also survived a near miss the previous day.
In 2014, C Smith and Sons had won a contract to demolish some buildings. The original plan was to remotely bring down the structure using machinery, which would have created minimum risk to the demolition workers. However, between winning the contract and the work being carried out, Smith decided the building should instead be dismantled piece by piece, meaning workmen would be required to work at height to remove the roof sheets prior to the structure being unbolted. C Smith and Sons then subcontracted the job of dismantling the roof to Building and Dismantling Contractors Ltd. On 20 January 2014, Scott Harrower, one of four employees undertaking this work, accidentally stepped through a skylight and narrowly missed falling 30 feet to the concrete floor below. At just after 9am on 21 January 2014, another worker did fall through a skylight to the concrete floor below, fracturing his spine, pelvis, right leg, heel and wrist. Ambulance and police attended.
Despite their colleague suffering horrific injuries, the men were ordered to return to the roof just hours later. At 4pm that day, 42-year-old Scott Harrower fell through a skylight to the concrete below. He suffered catastrophic head injuries and died as a result.
Allan Thomson, 49, was found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter and both he and his company Building and Dismantling Contractors Ltd were found guilty of criminal safety offences on 3 February 2016. Michael Smith, 52, and his company C Smith and Sons (Rochdale) Ltd, were also convicted of criminal safety breaches. On 8 April 2016, Allan Thompson was jailed was six years, fined £400,000 (AUD768,500) plus £55,000 (AUD105,700) court costs. Michael Smith was jailed for eight months, fined £90,000 (AUD173,000) plus £45,000 (AUD86,500) court costs.
In the second case, a self-employed contractor was jailed after an employee was killed
when the trench he was working in collapsed. William Ryan Evans was
contracted to construct a drainage field comprised of infiltration pipes
laid at the bottom of deep trenches. He employed two workers and a
subcontractor excavator to undertake the work. On 26 June 2012, Hywel Glyndwr Richards, 54, entered the trench to remove a
clump of soil that had fallen in. However the trench collapsed, burying
him. He died at the scene. An investigation by the Health and Safety
Executive (HSE) into the incident found
the work was not planned appropriately and the risk assessment was poor.
The workers were not appropriately trained and suitable equipment to a
prevent collapse was not provided. William Ryan was found guilty of a criminal safety breach and given a six month
Source: Risks 746
Pakistan: Unions hold action day for victims of Ali Enterprises fire
IndustriALL Global Union affiliates in Pakistan have been protesting in cities across Pakistan calling for compensation for victims of the country's worst-ever industrial accident.
254 people burnt to death and more than fifty seriously injured after being trapped in the Ali Enterprises garment factory fire in Baldia town, Karachi, on 11 September 2012. IndustriALL affiliate, the National Trade Union Federation of Pakistan, together with the Association of the Affectees of the Baldia Tragedy, organized several rallies as part of the 14 April nationwide action day in Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan, Hyderabad, Hub and Karachi itself. Other IndustriALL affiliates, including the Textile Powerlooms and Garment Workers Federation, as well as a number of civil society groups in Pakistan, also organized demonstrations around the action day.
Read more: IndustriALL Media Release
Study links many jobs to non-Hodgkin lymphoma
New research has identified certain occupations and industries that may contribute to the risk of workers developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), a group of related cancers affecting part of the body's immune system.
A recent study, conducted by more than 30 researchers from 13 countries, included an analysis of 10 international non-Hodgkin lymphoma studies consisting of about 10,000 cases and 12,000 controls. The data confirmed associations between development of the cancer and employment as field crop farm workers, women's hairdressers, textile workers, cleaners, spray-painters, printers, electrical workers, wood and metal workers.
The paper concluded: "The large numbers of participants and the application of standard NHL and occupational classification systems allowed us to make estimates of relative risk by NHL subtype, forming an important step towards improving our understanding of NHL etiology. The findings of the present study can be further refined at the next stage, after specific exposures are identified in detailed exposure studies." Two kinds of NHL were especially associated with employment as women's hairdressers and two types of NHL were especially associated with work in the textile industry.
The researchers speculated that exposure to solvents in many of these jobs
may play a role in the development of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Read more: Andrea 't Mannetje et al. Occupation and risk of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and Its subtypes: A pooled analysis from the InterLymph Consortium, Environmental Health Perspectives, April 2016. ETUI alert.Source: Risks 746
Vibration linked to abnormal cell growth
A study replicating the effects of occupational vibration on rats has found vibrations can activate or inhibit biological pathways associated with cell division and the development of cancer.
The researchers from the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health said "repeated bouts" of occupational exposure to hand-transmitted vibration (HTV) were already associated with a range of disorders, such as hand-arm vibration syndrome, increased sensitivity to cold and noise, hypersensitivity of the sympathetic nervous system, bone degeneration, arthritis and muscle wasting.
They said their study showed it could also damage DNA. The researchers said that further study on how vibration was transmitted through the body could provide information on reducing cancer risks and developing treatments.
Read more: Stacey M Waugh, et al, Transcriptional Pathways Altered in Response to Vibration in a Model of Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome. [Abstract] US, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Volume 58, Issue 4, April 2016; and on Vibration on the website. Source: OHSAlert
OHS Regulator News
The latest edition of VWA's Safety Soapbox was sent out last week (April 14). This edition's editorial is on "Panel Safety" and WorkSafe's recently published information sheet 'Precast and tilt-up concrete construction'. The newsletter has a number of items from Victoria and around the country. There were 54 Reported Incidents from 23 March – 7 April 2016; these included 19 near misses, 10 each of lacerations and "unknowns", six electric shocks, four fractures, two burns and punctures. Several of the near misses could have had tragic consequences: the collapse of a three by two metre concrete block twin wall; a five tonne excavator striking overhead power lines; another excavator lifting up live wires; damaged gas lines/pipes; and when a crane was lowering itself off the outrigger, the boom came down and squashed a bobcat beneath it.
Read more: April 14 Safety Soapbox edition online, including link to the list of reported incidents.
NSW: Young vox pop on bullying
SafeWorkNSW has released three minute YouTube video of young people discussing how they might deal with workplace bullying - including what they might do if it's their boss. Check it out here.
Just in: a recent survey has revealed that half of young people are bullied in the UK.
A major British survey has found that 50 per cent of young people have been bullied at some point in the past year, according to the anti-bullying charity Ditch the Label. The findings also suggest that more than twice as many boys as girls bully - 66 per cent of males compared to 31 per cent of females.The charity surveyed 8850 people aged between 12 and 20. While not work-related, the results have implications for all young workers.
Read more: Half of young people bullied: UK survey, SBS News; and read more about Bullying
Safe Work Australia fatality statistics
As of today, April 20, 2016, 41 fatalities had been reported to Safe Work Australia - this is ten more workers killed at work since the previously reported update on April 8 - each one preventable. The fatalities this year have been in the following industries:
- 13 in the Transport, postal and warehouse sector;
- 11 in Agriculture, forestry and fishing;
- 5 in Construction;
- 4 in Electricity, gas, water & waste services;
- 2 in Information media & telecommunications;
- 1 in Arts & recreation services;
- 1 in Public administration & safety;
- 2 in 'other services';
- 1 in health care & social assistance; and
- 1 in professional, scientific & technical services
More information on which industries the fatalities occurred in is accessible on the Safe Work Australia Work-related fatalities page.
Safe Work has now released the monthly fatality report for November 2105 during which there were 29 work-related notifiable fatalities - compared to 21 in October 2015. Those killed were 26 male workers, two male bystanders and one female bystander. Of these fatalities, four workers died as a result of an incident on a public road and one worker died in an air incident.
Of the 29 fatalities, six resulted from a fall from a height, five involved a vehicle accident - public road and three from being hit by falling object. Two fatalities each resulted from a vehicle accident - other, pedestrian hit by vehicle - other, crushing, electrocution and from being hit by moving object (unattended vehicle) - not on a public road. The remaining five fatalities were all different types of incidents.
Seven fatalities occurred in construction workplaces, six in agriculture, forestry & fishing workplaces, four in transport, postal & warehousing workplaces, three in mining workplaces and two each in arts & recreation services and manufacturing workplaces. The remaining five fatalities were in electricity, gas, water & waste services, health care & social assistance, wholesale trade, retail trade and other services workplaces.The report can be downloaded from the Notifiable Fatalities Monthly Report webpage.
Comcare says that it "continues to lead in advocating reductions in prolonged sitting in the workplace". The regulator is currently reviewing our sedentary work resources to encourage less sitting at work. Comcare is doing this in response to the recent literature review published by Safe Work Australia and the trial on ways to reduce extended occupational sitting conducted by VicHealth. This study found sitting time was reduced substantially at work, with an average reduction of 1.7 hours per eight hour work day after three months and one hour after 12 months. Sitting time was also reduced across the worker's overall day by an average of 1.2 hours demonstrating an overall beneficial change in behaviour even outside work.
Read more on Sedentary Work (including links to the SWA review and VicHealth trial)
Remember the nominations are open for the 2016 Comcare Work Health and Safety Awards. Many Victorian workers come under the Comcare system - particularly since the Howard Government allowed companies operating around Australia to apply for 'self-insurer' status (read more). The awards will be presented during the 2016 Comcare National Conference on 13 & 14 September in Canberra. The Awards recognise and reward excellence in workplace health and safety, rehabilitation and return to work achieved by individuals and organisations covered under the Comcare scheme. Comcare administers the awards with the assistance of the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission (SRCC). Nominations and all supporting material must be submitted by 5pm Friday 13 May 2016. Read more: 2016 Comcare Work Health and Safety Awards
Construction company fined $30,000 over 8m fall
Victorian construction company Caelli Constructions (Vic) Pty Ltd, was last week fined $30,000 in the Moorabbin Magistrates Court over a workplace incident in which an employee was seriously injured after falling eight metres through unsecured metal sheeting in July 2014.
The company pleaded guilty to two counts of breaching the OHS Act 2004 for failing to provide or maintain a safe working environment and failing to provide or maintain safe systems of work. The man was working on a formwork deck and scaffold construction that had been built over a road at the site. While walking across an area that was covered by metal sheeting, several unsecured sheets moved and he fell through the opening eight metres to the road below. He suffered serious injuries including a broken femur, broken pelvis and pubis and a broken wrist.
While a Safe
Work Method Statement (a requirement for high risk construction work)
had been prepared, the work had not been performed in accordance
with the statement.
Read more: WorkSafe Media Release
Brunswick pasta manufacturer fined $30k for numerous breaches
Triestina Nominees Pty Ltd, manufactures and distributes various types of pasta from its East Brunswick factory. On 4 June 2015, WorkSafe was notified of a workplace incident that had occurred on 26 May 2015, in which an employee suffered serious arm and hand injuries which required hospitalisation. The worker had been cleaning a cannelloni dough mixer when his arm became entangled in the feed hopper area of the mixer - the guarding did not prevent access to the danger area because the fitted interlock device did not isolate the power to the rotating paddle inside. At that time, there were no policies, procedures or instructions for the cannelloni dough mixer. The incident was not reported to WorkSafe immediately or in writing in 48 hours, and the incident scene was not preserved. The offender pleaded guilty to failing to notify WorkSafe, failing to preserve the site, guarding failures, failing to maintain plant, and failing to provide adequate information and training to workers. It was convicted and fined $30,000 plus $2,557 costs.
Employers fined for failing to comply with WorkSafe Notices
1 - Brumby's Smash Repairs - isocyanate risks
AMPD Group Pty Ltd, trading as Brumby's Smash Repairs in Heidelberg West, was visited by an Inspector on 3 October 2014, as part of WorkSafe's Isocyanates in Auto Shops Project. The Inspector met with an employee who advised that 2-pack paints, containing isocyanates, were used in the workplace.
The inspector advised the employee that on his next visit various aspects of the workplace would be assessed, including the Hazardous Substances register, respiratory protection, including breathing air quality filtration and any dangerous goods stored on site.
On the Inspector's return on 29 October, he was advised that employees using isocyanates were not using air-fed face masks (full face respirators). Due to the risk, he issued an improvement notice requiring the employer to take steps to eliminate risks to health when spraying isocyanate based paints. The inspector also observed that dangerous goods were used and stored at the workplace - but there was no Register of Dangerous Goods,or MSDS's. The inspector issued a second improvement notice requiring the establishment of a Dangerous Goods and/or Hazardous Substances Register, with the relevant MSDS's. When the Inspector returned on 3 March 2015 (on an unrelated matter) he saw no evidence that either of the notices had been complied with. The company pleaded guilty to two charges of failing to comply with the improvement notices. The company was, with conviction, fined $4,000 plus $1,366 costs.
This is getting off very lightly - for a period of four months, Brumby's knowingly continued to expose the five workers to the risks isocyanates. The main hazard associated with isocyanates is respiratory sensitisation. Once someone becomes sensitised, any exposure to isocyanates is likely to result in asthma-like symptoms, including chest tightness, breathlessness and wheezing. Such attacks have resulted in death. People with a history of asthma are particularly at risk.
2 - Melbourne Accident Repair Centre
On 25 August 2014 Melbourne Accident Repair Centre Pty Ltd, a car panel repair company, was issued with two improvement notices under the Dangerous Goods Act 1985 with regard to (a) an ignition source was located less than 2 metres from the paint mixing and decanting areas at the rear of the spray booth; and (b) failure to maintain an oxy/acetylene set, with perished hose and with no flashback arrestor on the hose. The company failed to comply with the notices by the compliance date of 9 October 2014, pleaded guilty and was without conviction fined $2,000 plus $577.50 costs.
Source: WorkSafe Victoria's Prosecution Result Summaries and Enforceable Undertakings page.
NSW: Employer fined $765k for fall fatality and asbestos breaches
NSW employer Romanous Contractors Pty Ltd, and its director have been fined more than $500,000 after a worker fell to his death through an unguarded penetration. A contract worker engaged to lay masonry blocks at Romanous' multi-storey Mortdale construction site sustained fatal head injuries after falling five metres through a hole in a concrete slab in September 2012.
The verdict came just weeks after the employer and a related company were fined $254,000 (with costs) for illegally dumping asbestos on the same site.
The company breached s32 of the WHS Act in failing to eliminate the obvious risk posed by the penetration. John Allen Romanous breached s27(1) in failing to exercise due diligence to ensure the employer complied with the Act. The court heard that there were multiple failings, including no safe work method statements, no proper procedures or control measures in place to prevent falls. It noted the parties had previously been issued prohibition and improvement notices relating to inadequate fall protection.
In March, the NSW Land and Environment Court fined Romanous Contractors and Romanous Construction Pty Ltd $42,000 each, plus $170,000 in costs, for breaching s142A of the State Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997.
Colombia: resumption of anti-coca spray dropped over cancer fears
Colombia will resume using weed killer to destroy illegal coca crops less than a year after suspending its use due to cancer concerns, the government said Monday. However, instead of dumping glyphosate from crop dusters, as it did for two decades, the herbicide will now be applied manually by eradication crews on the ground. President Juan Manuel Carlos had last year banned the use of glyphosate after the WHO classified it as a carcinogen.
Read more: The Tampa Tribune
EU: European Parliament votes to ban most uses of glyphosate
The EU Parliament has responded to the health concerns of millions by calling on the Commission to severely restrict permitted uses of the toxic herbicide glyphosate, including an effective ban on pre-harvest dessication of crops. (see SafetyNet 358). Last week the European Parliament adopted a resolution strongly opposing the Commission's proposal to reapprove the controversial weedkiller for use in Europe for 15 years. The resolution flags significant concerns with the Commission's proposal, notably calling for significantly restricting the uses for which glyphosate - best known in Monsanto's 'Roundup' formulation - could be approved.
Read more: The Ecologist