SafetyNet 378, September 7, 2016
It with great sadness that we report another worker fatality in Victoria, the 22nd this year.
Victorian HSRs: an URGENT request for you to complete the online consultation survey asap. Also, last chance to register for the Injured Worker and OHS forum on September 10 (see more information on both items, below)
Just a reminder that to get news between editions, please follow our We Are Union: OHS Matters Facebook page. If you're an OHS rep, and passionate about health and safety, then join the We are Union Network page, a safe place to raise and discuss issues: check it out - and ask to join.
Victoria: Worker found dead on roof
Last Wednesday evening a worker in his twenties was found dead on the roof of a house in Camberwell after emergency services were called at about 7pm. Police and Worksafe are investigating how the young man died but police believe he was at the house to do electrical work. As yet there are no further details. This young man's death brings the toll to 22 this year - this is ten more fatalities than this time last year.
WA: Truck driver killed
A truck driver was killed in WA on Friday afternoon, after a trailer became unhitched from a caravan and hit his vehicle. The crash occurred when the Hino truck was being driven west on Brookton Highway in Kelmscott. Police say a Dodge ute, which was towing a caravan which, in turn, had a trailer hitched to it, was heading east at the same time. As the Dodge passed the Stony Brook Bridge, the trailer, which was carrying quad bikes, became unhitched from the caravan and crossed onto the other side of the road, crashing into the right hand side of the truck.
The 55-year-old truck driver was critically injured in the crash and was taken to Armadale Hospital where he later died.
VTHC HSR Conference: Save the Date!
Everyone's been asking - and yes! The VTHC will once again be running our world-famous HSR Conference during OHS Month - on October 25. The conference will have approval under s69 of the OHS Act, which means that as long as HSRs give their employers at least 14 days' notice, the employer must allow them to attend on paid leave. Deputy HSRs are also welcome, however there is no obligation for the employer to provide the paid leave. Registration will be done via a very easy and straightforward process online. Details soon. See Facebook and spread the word!
Consultation Research Project - Victorian HSRs we need your input!
Thanks to all of those who have filled out the online consultation survey being run by HSR and OHS Network member Vasalia as part of her Masters in OHS at La Trobe University. But we need MORE! Vasalia's research will improve occupational health and safety consultation for workers in Victoria.
Victorian HSRs please take this opportunity to participate in this research study because we all know that good and genuine consultation is what really delivers good outcomes. Participation in this study is voluntary and anonymous. The online questionnaire should only take 20 minutes to complete.
The consultation survey is on our website - please complete it now, and also share with other HSRs in your workplace.
Have you been Injured at work?
Last chance to register for our Injured Worker and OHS forum Sept 10
Together workers can change the world - including the world of workers' comp and return to work. This is your last chance to register for the VTHC INJURED WORKERS AND OHS FORUM. RSVP by clicking on this link or email Sam Hatfield to guarantee your seat or if you have any questions. Following the forum we will be holding a free lunch and you will have the chance to meet others and chat with our guest speakers.
When: 10am-12pm, Saturday 10th September
Where: Victorian Trades Hall Council, New Council Chambers. Corner of Lygon & Victoria St, Carlton
My workplace, an office building, has 14 floors and over one thousand employees. Most of our time is spent at the office. We are about to enter into negotiations for designated work groups. What would be a reasonable number?
It is difficult to give you a number. What is most important is that the number of DWGs (and the number of elected reps) satisfy two very important criteria, as articulated in the OHS Act:
- the interests of employees to be represented and safeguarded, and
- the need for a rep to be accessible to each member of the group.
In other words - the DWGs should not be too large. What's most important is for the HSR to know the members of their DWG and to be available to represent them.
The Act then lists a number of 'matters' which must be considered including: the number of employees, the grouping and the type of work they do; the nature of the work and hazards/risks; overtime or shift work arrangements; and more.
So.. it's up to you and the employer to work out the DWGs… Having just one DWG for a thousand people in is clearly not good – but maybe 14, one for each floor – is too many. There are a number of alternatives – and you need to work out which is better and satisfies the criteria:
- multiple DWGs – say two or three floors per DWG, with one rep per DWG
- multiple DWGs – but with two reps per DWG
- either of the above, with deputies
- and so on
Remember: the position of HSR is a voluntary and unpaid position, and while the employer is supposed to provide HSRs with enough (paid) time to exercise their powers, too often this is not enough. Check out this page for more information on DWGs.
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.
HSRs in the Morwell area: you're invited to an HSR Forum
The CFMEU, in conjunction with the AMWU, the ETU and the Gippsland Trades and Labour Council is organising a forum for HSRs and Deputies at Power Works, Ridge Rd, Morwell on Wednesday 21 September, 1pm - 3pm.
Many of the health and safety problems in your workplace are also being experienced across the wider workforce in the valley. Guest speakers include Dr Paul Sutton (Lead OHS Organiser, VTHC) and WorkSafe inspectors from the Valley.
Spaces are limited, so you must RSVP to Duncan MacGregor as soon as possible.
VTHC opposes proposed changes to Victoria's asbestos regulations
Subscribers will be aware that Victoria's current OHS Regulations 2007, will 'sunset' in 2017, and the proposed draft regulations have been released for public comment.
While the draft is much the same, there is one very concerning proposal. Currently, the duty to identify asbestos and prepare an asbestos register applies to all workplaces in Victoria, regardless of the age of the building. Because there has been a national prohibition on the use of all asbestos since 31 December 2003, it is now proposed to allow a person to assume asbestos is not present if the building, structure, ship or plant was built or made on or after 31 December 2003 and no asbestos has been identified and asbestos is not likely to be present.
In light of the many reported cases of building materials containing asbestos being illegally imported to Australia - and then used on construction sites, this change is totally unacceptable. Yuanda is simply the latest and the one currently being investigated - but there have been many more.
Yuanda: company caught trying to import more asbestos containing materials
It was reported today in The Australian, that Yuanda, the Chinese company recently found to have been importing asbestos-containing building materials subsequently used at construction sites in Brisbane and Perth has been caught trying to import another shipment of building products containing asbestos.
Australian Border Force found the materials in a container it had seized after discoveries in July that asbestos-tainted products were supplied to Brisbane's William Street skyscraper and the $1.2 billion Perth Children's Hospital. Since mid-July, ABF has ordered independent testing on a further 37 of Yuanda's shipping containers and two airfreight shipments - all of which were negative.
Source: The Australian
Tasmania: Review of compensation for asbestos victims
The Tasmanian Government has launched a review of the viability and effectiveness of the State Asbestos-Related Diseases (Occupational Exposure) Compensation Act 2011, which provides no-fault compensation (funded by employer premiums) to people with debilitating and life-threatening asbestos-related diseases resulting from Tasmanian workplace exposure to asbestos fibres.
The independent review (required every five years under s187 of the Act) will be overseen by WorkCover, and assess whether the laws provide:
- fair and appropriate compensation and expenses to people with employment-related asbestos diseases;
- prompt and effective resolution of applications; and
- "certain judgements and agreements about someone contracting asbestos-related diseases in the course of their employment".
The review will also examine the scheme's ongoing viability and sustainability, and performance relating to entitlements, premiums and coverage.
WA: Wittenoom's last three residents
The Western Australian government decided years ago that it would be safer, and cheaper, to abandon the town rather than attempt to clean it up. But for various reasons, three residents are still there and refuse to leave. Despite all services being cut, Lorraine, Mario and Peter have no intention of leaving.
Read more Wittenoom: the survivors of an erased town ABC
ASEA: International Asbestos Awareness and Management Conference
The program for the 3rd International Conference on Asbestos Awareness and Management, 13 - 15 November at the Adelaide Convention Centre (ACC) has now been released.
Some of the highlights include:
- An update from The World Health Organisation
- Results of the 2016 national asbestos awareness survey
- Updates on the latest ARD treatments
- A plenary on managing the importation of asbestos
- International approaches to asbestos management
View the full program here. There is a special price for community/non-profit organisations, as well as an early bird deal which closes September 30. Register here. Presentations and highlights from the 2015 ASEA Conference can be downloaded from the ASEA website.
Italy: Post-disaster measures
In the aftermath of the devastating earthquake which hit central Italy, news has been circulating of environmental asbestos contamination. One expert said: "Unfortunately, there is, as in all seismic events, a risk [from asbestos] … in homes and industrial buildings built in the second half of the twentieth century." To protect emergency responders, dust suppression methods must be used and appropriate breathing equipment provided to avoid inhalation of asbestos fibers.
See: Terremoto, dopo la morte e il dolore, l'incubo dell'amianto [Earthquake, after the death and pain, the asbestos nightmare]. Source: IBAS
India: report on prevalence of mesothelioma in North Gugarat is high
According to a paper presented at a USA conference by doctors from the Sparsh Chest Disease Centre, which specialises in pulmonary diseases, mesothelioma is as frequent in metro city patients as in northern Gujarat (12/40) where the prevalence is 30 per cent and in southern Rajasthan (19/58) where the prevalence is 32.75 per cent. However, its prevalence is very low (3/32) is 9.4 per cent in other parts of the state, the doctors said.
Read more: DNA India
Hopes High that Canada is About to Ban Asbestos
An article by Canadian ban asbestos campaigner and human rights activist Kathleen Ruff (who is a keynote speaker at this year's ASEA conference) puts into context ongoing consultations regarding a change in Canada's asbestos policy which could soon make the use, import and sale of asbestos-containing products illegal. According to an adviser to Health Minister Dr. Jane Philpott, members of the Trudeau Government are working on drafting a new asbestos policy for Canada, which it is expected will, after more than a 100 years, end the country's love affair with asbestos. Ruff hopes that measures to ban asbestos and protect Canadians from hazardous exposures will be announced when Parliament reconvenes in September 2016. Read the full article. Source: IBAS
Rio Tinto to pay $1.3m in compensation
In last week's SafetyNet, we reported that the Federal Court fined a subsidiary of mining giant Rio Tinto $50,000 adverse against a Coal Creek coal worker. The company stood down the Hail Creek Coal drill rig operator after he won $600,000 in damages for a serious workplace injury. The Court has ordered more than $1,272,109 in damages and compensation, and $24,600 more in interest payments, be paid to Mr Haylett.
The case, run by the CFMEU and Hall Payne Lawyers, was described by the unions Mining and Energy Division Queensland District President, Stephen Smyth, as a David and Goliath battle against a mining giant. "This has been a long and hard fought case. Michael Haylett is finally getting justice after three years of fighting one of the worlds biggest mining companies for his unfair sacking," Mr Smyth said.
Read more: Rio Tinto victim awarded million-dollar compensation CFMEU media release
Russia: Unions and Fifa sign Russia 2018 deal
The organisers of the 2018 football World Cup have signed an agreement with unions to ensure workers preparing facilities for the event in Russia have decent and safe working conditions. Signatories to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) are football's global governing body Fifa, the Local Organising Committee (LOC), the Russian Construction Workers Union (RBWU) and global construction union federation BWI. As part of the deal, organisers have agreed BWI and RBWU will participate in visits to 2018 Fifa World Cup stadium construction sites. The signatories will also facilitate the negotiations to address and resolve workers' complaints on serious violations of decent working conditions, the deal stipulates.
"As we are strengthening our approach towards safeguarding human and labour rights, the collaboration with independent stakeholders is of key importance," said Fifa's head of sustainability, Federico Addiechi. "The signature of this MoU marks a significant step towards bringing on board important partners
such as trade unions and working together to ensure decent and safe working conditions at Fifa World Cup stadium construction sites in Russia." BWI general secretary Ambet Yuson said: "The MoU is an important step forward to ensure decent work and safe working conditions for all construction workers
working at 2018 Fifa World Cup stadium construction sites. We hope it will lead to a fall in the incidents of worker rights violations that we have witnessed in recent months. The BWI will work closely with the RBWU, Fifa, and the LOC to implement the MoU so that the lives of workers on the ground can
Read more: BWI news release. Fifa news release. Source: Risks 766
WorkSafe Victoria News
Farmer 'death' spearheads new quad bike safety campaign
A confronting public awareness campaign that highlights the risks associated with quad bike use has been launched by WorkSafe Victoria. The centrepiece of the campaign is a graphic TV commercial which shows a farmer dying under a quad bike after a rollover.
This is the latest stage of an ongoing strategy by WorkSafe to reduce the number of fatalities and serious injuries associated with the use of quad bikes. In March, WorkSafe announced that rollover protection devices would be added to the list of safety measures employers would need to consider to ensure risks to quad bike operators were minimised. In July when the Victorian Government announced a $6 million rebate scheme that would provide farmers with either $600 to fit rollover protection on their quad bike or $1200 towards buying an alternative work vehicle.
Finance Minister Robin Scott said WorkSafe's new campaign would help raise awareness among farmers about the risks of quad bike rollovers and encourage them to make use of the rebate scheme. "Too many Victorians have been killed or injured while riding a quad bike, and the Government is determined to
do what it can to reduce this terrible toll," Mr Scott said.
Read more: WorkSafe media release and TV Commercial (on YouTube)
WorkSafe's latest Safety Soapbox was sent out September 2. In this edition's editorial, Barry Dunn WorkSafe's Acting Construction Program Manager writes about the need to ensure stability of mobile truck mounted concrete placing booms during operation.The edition also has a number of news items from around the state and Australia. Attached is the list of notifiable incidents from 11 - 24 August 2016: There were 79 reported (a big jump from the previous fortnight), and include 34 near misses, 15 lacerations, 5 electric shocks, 5 fractures, and 3 punctures. In one of the 'near misses', a steel beam was dislodged during demolition works next to an existing building. It fell through a window narrowly missing a worker at her desk! Read more: September 2 Safety Soapbox
GHS and Victoria
A reminder that as Australia approaches the date we will be adopting the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), our regulator has produced information and guidance for manufacturers, suppliers and users of chemicals in Victoria. WorkSafe will be holding a session on the GHS with SafeWork Australia as guest speakers as part of Health and Safety Month in October.
Read more: WorkSafe
Employer and two workers face jail in NSW's first category 1 case
A NSW employer and two workers have become the first parties in the State to be charged under section 31 of the harmonised WHS laws, after a non-worker was electrocuted.
The woman was found dead with burn marks on her hands in the bathroom of a house next to Cudal Lime Products Pty Ltd's limestone quarry near Orange in August 2014. The house's electricity was supplied by the quarry's allegedly defective electrical infrastructure.
The NSW Resources Regulator last week announced it had begun category 1 ("Reckless conduct") proceedings, under s31 of NSW's mirror Work Health and Safety Act 2011, against Cudal and two of its workers.
The regulator declined to comment on the workers' positions with the employer, but said they faced fines of up to $600,000 each - which suggests they were officers who made or participated in making decisions that affected the whole or a substantial part of Cudal's business or undertaking, rather than 'regular workers'. Cudal could be fined up to $3 million, while the two individuals could also be jailed for up to five years, if convicted.
Read more: NSW Resources Regulator Media release. Source: OHSAlert
Safety alert released
SafeWork NSW has issued a Safety Alert: Heavy vehicles or trailers hitting or crushing workers to highlight the risks of workers being hit or crushed when working on heavy vehicles and trailers. This follows an incident in April of this year when two workers working on a truck that was parked on an incline, with its front wheels on a set of portable vehicle ramps were injured. The rear wheels had not been chocked to prevent the truck from moving. The truck was in gear and the handbrake applied, but both were rendered inoperable when the tail-shaft was removed from the transfer case, which allowed the truck to roll off the ramps. One worker was trapped, while the other suffered facial injuries when hit by the tail-shaft.
Safe Work Australia news
Bullying Guides updated
Safe Work Australia has updated two publications on workplace bullying to provide greater guidance for managers and workers.
- The Guide for preventing and responding to workplace bullying provides employers and managers with information on how to manage the risks of workplace bullying, as part of meeting their duties under work health and safety laws.
- Dealing with workplace bullying - a worker's guide helps workers who may be experiencing or witnessing workplace bullying and also those who have had a bullying report made against them
As at September 2, there had been 114 fatalities reported to Safe Work Australia - this is two more workers killed since the last update. The fatalities this year:
- 34 in the Transport, postal and warehouse sector;
- 32 in Agriculture, forestry and fishing;
- 17 in Construction;
- 6 each in Arts & recreation services, and in Electricity, gas, water & waste services;
- 4 in Mining;
- 3 in 'other services';
- 2 each in Health care & social assistance; Information media & telecommunications; Retail trade; professional, scientific & technical services; and Accommodation & Food services; and
- 1 each in Public administration & safety, and Administrative & support services
The numbers and industries may vary as Safe Work receives more detailed information (to check for updates, go to the Safe Work Australia Work-related fatalities page).
The latest monthly fatality report remains that for March 2016, during which there were 18 work-related notifiable fatalities. To download the report, go to the Notifiable Fatalities Monthly Report webpage.
There have been no prosecution outcomes added to the WorkSafe website since last edition. To check for updates, go to the Prosecution Result Summaries & Enforceable Undertakings webpage.
NSW: Gravestone importer fined after worker run over by forklift
Dynasty Stone Art, an importer of gravestones has been fined $90,000 after a worker suffered multiple fractures to his foot when it was run over by an unlicensed forklift operator in December 2014.
SafeWork NSW's investigation found the injured worker was a sub-contractor employed to unpack boxes of gravestones at the business. The incident occurred when he was asked to assist the unlicensed forklift driver to steady a forklift load. The worker's foot became trapped under the forklift's front tyre, resulting in multiple fractures and de-gloving. Since the incident, the worker has required several operations in an attempt to repair the damage.
Executive Director of SafeWork NSW, Peter Dunphy said the incident highlighted the risks of working with forklifts and the need for businesses to have traffic management plans. "Forklifts are a major cause of death and injury in NSW workplaces," Mr Dunphy said. "Between July 2012 and July 2014, 1,360 workers were injured in forklift incidents, including five fatalities, at a cost of $15.8 million to the NSW workers compensation scheme." Source: SafeWork NSW media release. Read more on Forklift Safety.
USA: FDA bans antibacterial soaps containing triclosan
In a major victory for environmentalists and public health advocates, the US Food and Drug Administration has banned the use of triclosan as an ingredient in antibacterial soaps, saying that such cleaners were no better than regular soap, and could be harmful.
Despite a long and expensive lobbying campaign, the US$30 billion personal care products industry was unable to prove that the widely used antibacterial cleansers were safe and effective. "Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water," Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), said. "In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long term." Some animal studies have shown that triclosan can disrupt the way that hormones work, setting the stage for long-term problems such as poor sperm quality, infertility, and damages to the developing brain, leading to learning disabilities.
Unfortunately, the rule does not apply to other products that use triclosan, including hand sanitizers, cosmetics, and some brands of toothpaste.
Environmental group Friends of the Earth, has welcomed the ban, but says Australia should do the same. Louise Sales from FoE's Emerging Tech Project said, "The continued use of potent antimicrobials such as triclosan and nano-silver in consumer products is contributing to a crisis that the World Health Organisation has labelled one of the greatest threats to human health today." Read more: StatNews FOE Media Release