SafetyNet 384, October 19, 2016
We welcome all our subscribers, new and old. For Victorian HSRs, registrations for the VTHC HSR Conference (details below) close on Friday October 21, so if you want to come and just haven't got around to it, then register now!
I have been elected as a HSR for my work group. I was working 5 days/week and representing my shift on all matters but have since been changed to 4 days per week hence I am unable to represent them on that day. Is it compulsory for the elected HSR to be on all shifts in order to fulfill their role?
Remember that an HSR has no 'duties' under the Act – the person's main role is to represent their DWG and be accessible to their DWG. There are no 'conditions' on how the elected HSR must be employed.. for example, you could imagine that in many workplaces (like hospitality, retail, and more), most workers are not full-time or permanent. Often in these workplaces, the only full-time permanent employees are at management level, and so not really appropriate to be the HSR for the other workers.
If you're keen to remain the HSR, and your DWG is happy with you, then I would recommend that you stay on. Most issues can wait until you're on shift and can go to management to raise and resolve. If the process of consultation does not lead to resolution, then you would be able to take further action, like issuing a PIN, or calling the union. The only time where there may be a problem if you are not there is where there is an immediate risk to health and safety and a Cease Work needs to be issued.
To ensure that there is a representative available at all times, you could seek a variation of the DWG so that rather than the default of one HSR per DWG, there is either a deputy HSR, or two HSRs. This is allowable under the Act. Both have the right to attend training, but the deputy would only be able to act in the role of HSR (and therefore be able to issue a Cease Work if necessary…) in the event the HSR is not available. The deputy HSR would be able to take on the role not only on the day you don't work, but also if you are on annual or any other type of leave.
Read more: Designated Work Groups; Renegotiating DWGs; HSRs and Deputies
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.
Workers fight for safety and win
A seven-day safety-related action at Viva Energy's Corio oil refinery ended last week in a victory for workers. The Australian Workers' Union (AWU) and Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union (AMWU) members maintained a day and night blockade at the site's four gates as part their fight for improved safety conditions.
The parties came to an agreement in a hearing mediated by the Fair Work Commission, the result of which was the scheduling of a site-wide safety audit, and the preservation of the 35 hour working week.
AWU Victorian Secretary Ben Davis said: "The key piece from the get-go in all of this was the OHS standards on site. It's been agreed that there will be an audit done of the turn around project (in coming days) and that will be undertaken jointly by the company, WorkSafe and the unions and any outcomes from that will be acted on immediately." He added: "I'm confident that the audit will finally get on top of the safety and cultural issues on site and start to address them."
Read more: Geelong Viva Energy refinery strike over as workers declare victory The Geelong Advertiser
Victoria: Parks used as illegal asbestos dumping grounds
In an article in this week's Saturday Age, reporter Farrah Tomazin writes: "Victoria's prized parks and forests are becoming illegal dumping grounds for asbestos, posing a risk to unsuspecting visitors and costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars every year." In fact, the problem of illegal dumping of asbestos not only in parks, but in school yards, in lanes, even in church grounds has been going on for a long time. Perhaps it's just getting worse. Dr Paul Sutton, the VTHC's lead OHS Organiser, said: "Asbestos is a huge and very serious danger to the health of Victorians – the general public, Council and Parks employees and contractors. The problem can only be solved by taking a whole of government approach, as numbers of departments and authorities, such as Environment, the EPA and WorkSafe, all have a role."
Read more: The Age
Save the Date: November 24 Asbestoswise Commemoration Service
The annual Commemoration Service held to remember those who have been taken by an asbestos-related disease, and for everyone whose lives have been touched by this terrible substance will take place at the Deakin Edge Theatre, at Federation Square, Melbourne. While the ceremony will begin at 11am, Asbestoswise asks that everyone arrive by 10.45am. Everyone is invited to the CFMEU BBQ on the banks of the Yarra afterwards. Email Asbestoswise for more information
Call to provide asbestos registers
Recent research by ASEA has revealed the shocking statistic found that 47 per cent of 150 surveyed tradespeople have never seen an asbestos register while working in non-residential buildings, showing that employers/PCBUs must do more than make their registers available. It also found that more than two in five (41 per cent) tradespeople don't even know what an asbestos register is.
"Our research underscores the difference between PCBUs providing access to the register to work teams/tradespeople, and PCBUs ensuring they access, understand and use it," the agency says in the 66-page discussion paper, A strategic review of the practice and use of asbestos registers in Australia.
"Staff or contractors who will conduct building or maintenance work on site should be provided with the asbestos register via the induction process, and guidance provided by their supervisor," the paper says. "Printed registers should be available at multiple points – at a minimum at an organisation's reception or point of entry, as well as the sign-on area for contractors," it says.
In fact, regulations around Australia require that asbestos registers be done, and kept up to date, for all workplaces built (in some jurisdictions, there is a 'cut off date', usually 2004 - but this is not the case in Victoria). Employers/PCBUs and those with management and control of workplaces should be providing these to anyone coming into the workplace to do repair or other work.
Read more: ASEA Media Release Almost half of tradespeople have never seen an asbestos register;The paper can be downloaded from this page.
ASEA Conference November
13 - 15
As announced in last week's SafetyNet, ASEA has extended Conference early bird registrations to October 21. So if you are interested in any aspect of asbestos - research, disease support, legislation, import and more, then register for conference. It will no doubt be a terrific event, and this year is being held in Adelaide. Read more.
New Zealand: Code released
A guide described as the first of its kind in New Zealand has been released in a bid to help halve asbestos-related deaths by 2040. Worksafe says it received the most responses for any guidance consultation in its history when compiling the Approved Code of Practice for the Management and Removal of Asbestos.
Read more: WorkSafe New Zealand Media Release
October 15 Anniversary of West Gate Bridge Collapse
This year the annual Memorial for the West Gate Bridge Collapse was on last Saturday morning, October 15. On that tragic day in 1970, 35 men were killed, 18 were seriously injured, and no doubt everyone else on site, as well as the rescuers, suffered from the traumatic experience for the rest of their lives. No charges were laid against the company...
Check out the CFMEU's video on Facebook. More information: The West Gate Bridge Memorial Committee website "dedicated to the 35 working men who went to work on the 15th October, 1970 and never came home, and those who were injured, and to their brave comrades and the rescue crews.."; and on the Public Record Office Victoria website Disaster at West Gate: The West Gate Bridge Collapse of 1970
Workers are still being killed on construction sites - yet the Federal Government is pushing to re-introduce the ABCC, and legislation designed to curb union influence. The CFMEU continues to fight for the safety of its members. This week, the union criticised the Fair Work Building Commission for its continued partisan behaviour following the tabling of its annual report in Parliament last week.
National CFMEU Construction Secretary Dave Noonan said the report - designed to inform the parliament about the FWBC's performance and activities - was notable for what it did not contain. "It is nothing but a piece of propaganda written specifically to serve the political purposes of the Turnbull Government. The report highlights the high number of legal proceedings but it does not say that none of them are against employers who break the law." said Mr Noonan. "It also does not mention the Commonwealth Ombudsman's criticisms of the methods deployed by the FWBC – in particular that the agency breached confidentiality and used questionable interviewing methods. "There is also no mention of the fact that the FWBC cut funding to the Ombudsman – the body that monitors its coercive powers."
Read more: CFMEU Media Release Stark bias of the Fair Work Building Commission laid bare in annual report
CFMEU slams condolence letter sent by Hanssen Managing Director
Last Monday, a 27 year old visiting worker from German fell to her death from the 13th floor of a construction site in Perth. The tragic incident is being investigated, but this did not prevent Hanssen's Managing Director, Gerry Hanssen from telling the family in a condolence email (sent from his iPhone!) that the cause of the fall was a '30 second lack of concentration' on her part. The CFMEU is rightly outraged.
CFMEU state secretary Mick Buchan, who also received a copy of the email, slammed Mr Hanssen for the letter. "An absolute insult and a disgrace that a letter like that got sent out to the family," he said.
The letter referred to a Buddhist monk who visited the construction site the day after the young woman's death, and "blessed her spirit". The letter goes on: "[The monk] said to all of us, if her spirit could talk what would she say to all of us, his answer was, Marianka would say I AM SORRY FOR LETTING YOU DOWN to my mum, dad, family, friends and workmates". Read more: ABC News online and CFMEU Facebook post
Black lung: Queensland amends legislation
In response to the re-emergence of black lung, the Queensland government has amended legislation. The Mining Safety and Health Legislation (Coal Workers' Pneumoconiosis and Other Matters) Amendment Regulation 2016 will make stricter rules around dust management, reporting and medical assessments for coal mine workers. Queensland Natural Resources and Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the regulation will now require coal mining companies to:
- report dust monitoring results every three months and advise inspectors whenever dust concentrations exceeded approved limits from the first trigger event;
- report all identified cases of black lung and certain work-related lung diseases to the Department of Natural Resources and Mines;
- carry out various health assessments of employees, including x-raysfor new underground and open-cut coal mine workers entering the industry;
- carry out respiratory function and chest x-ray examinations at least once every five years for underground miners, and at least once every 10 years for open-cut.
- keep results for comparison to past results where they are available.
New Zealand: Helen Kelly, former CTU leader, dies of cancer
Helen Kelly, the first female president of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions and one of the country's most high-profile, effective and respected trade union leaders, died last week of lung cancer. Kelly fought unrelentingly for workers' rights, OHS in particular, and drove down deaths in the forestry industry by 'naming and shaming until the industry listened'. She also fought for justice for the families of the 29 miners killed needlessly in the Pike River disaster
"Helen worked with the West Coast community for justice ever since 29 miners were needlessly killed at Pike River. She campaigned to stop the reckless abuses of safety laws and implement best practices," the CTU said in a statement. "Helen fought for a better working life for all, especially those who found it hard to make ends meet. Her principled stance empowered people in the film industry to speak up together with one clear voice for a fair return on their work."
ACTU President Ged Kearney said, "Not only was Helen a tireless voice for working people in her own country, she was also a close and valued friend to unions here in Australia and across the Pacific region. While her passing is terribly sad, she does leave an incredible legacy - both personally and professionally. Everyone who had the fortune to work with her will always remember her commitment and determination to improve the lives of working people." Read more: NZ Herald; NewsHub; CTU Statement
UK: Union breastfeeding victory for working women
A landmark victory for two easyJet cabin crew will have wide implications for UK working women wishing to continue breastfeeding after their maternity leave ends, Unite has said. The union argued that the budget airline had neglected health and safety procedures, despite claiming it was acting on safety grounds. Two Unite cabin crew members took the low-cost airline to an employment tribunal claiming that easyJet's failure to limit their duty days to eight hours to allow them to express milk or to offer them ground duties whilst they continued to breastfeed was discriminatory.
The tribunal ruled EasyJet had demonstrated indirect sex discrimination and breached the Employment Rights Act. It said the airline should have reduced the breastfeeding mothers' hours, found them alternative duties or suspended them on full pay. Unite said although in its training literature easyJet recognises breastfeeding as being a 'globally recognised human right' where passengers are concerned, this recognition did not extend to its cabin crew. The union added that the airline had disregarded the advice of four GPs, failed to carry out its own risk assessments despite having a dedicated health and safety team and failed to send the women to be assessed by occupational health. "Instead, managers admit to Googling 'breast feeding risks' on the internet before coming up with a series of unworkable 'solutions' each of which involved Sara and Cynthia suffering a significant detriment," Unite said. Unite legal officer Nicky Marcus said: "The days of 'I'm going back to work so I will have to give up breastfeeding' are over. Unite has tens of thousands of female cabin crew members across the major airlines and we will be working with those airlines to ensure that they adopt policies and practices that reflect this ruling."
Read more: Unite news release. Source: Risks 772
Europe: Unions renew action call on work strains
Europe's unions have repeated their call for urgent action to tackle the epidemic of work-related back, shoulder, neck, elbow, hand and knee pain that results in a severe loss of quality of life for workers and millions of days off work. The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) says this number one cause of occupational sickness in Europe comes at a cost to employers, workers and health services estimated at €163 billion (AUD$234bn) a year. "Back pain is crippling Europe," said Esther Lynch, confederal secretary of the ETUC. In 2013 the European Commission refused to support a directive on 'ergonomics in the workplace' proposed by employers and trade unions and instead issued a non-binding recommendation. ETUC said 'all the evidence' demonstrates that the intensification of the pace of work is obliging workers to operate in an atmosphere of constant urgency and reduces their operational leeway. It says workers in the food, metal, car, building, agriculture, transport and health sectors are most at risk. Prevention is key and this means designing work around the human being, adds ETUC. Workplace health and safety committees, effective regulations and enforcement as well as economic incentives to decrease work-related musculoskeletal disorders provide the best hope for improving the situation in EU workplaces.
Read more: ETUC news release. Source: Risks 772
Risk assessment practices
A recent study published in ScienceDirect examined workplace risk assessment practices. The study involved approximately 6500 businesses in Germany and found:
- over half conducted a risk assessment, but only 80 per cent documented the results
- only one in four followed essential procedures when carrying out a risk assessment
- less than half of the most recent assessments identified the need for improvement
- almost all businesses requiring improvement, implemented changes
- most businesses checked the effectiveness of the improvements they made
- most assessments considered workplace design, physical work environment and work equipment, while working-time arrangements, work organisation and workplace social relations were considered less often.
The authors said that although Workplace Risk Assessments (WRA) are legally required in all EU member states and widely considered to be a core element of occupational safety and health (OSH) management, the state of their implementation at company level is still viewed rather critically. They concluded that even if not directly connected to, or driven by, WRA concerns, reinforcement of worker representation structures at the company level and strengthening professional OSH expert utilisation would be clearly beneficial for WRA.
Read more: Lenhardt,U & Beck, D: Prevalence and quality of workplace risk assessments – Findings from a representative company survey in Germany, [Full] Science Direct doi.org/10.1016/j.ssci.2016.02.017
Rotating night shift work, sleep and skin cancer in nurses
Night shift work and sleep duration have been associated with breast and other cancers. Results from the few prior studies of night shift work and skin cancer risk have been mixed and not fully accounted for other potentially important health-related variables (eg, sleep characteristics). This US study evaluated the relationship between rotating night shift work and skin cancer risk and included additional skin cancer risk factors and sleep-related variables T
What this study concluded is that longer duration of rotating night shift work and shorter sleep duration were associated with lower risk of some skin cancers. The researchers recommended that further study is needed to confirm and identify the mechanisms underlying these associations.
Read more: Carolyn Heckman, et al: Associations among rotating night shift work, sleep and skin cancer in Nurses' Health Study II participants [Abstract] Occup Environ Med doi:10.1136/oemed-2016-103783
WorkSafe Victoria News
WorkSafe Health and Safety Month - October
Subscribers will be well aware of WorkSafe Health and Safety Month, running from 4 October to 27 October. With events as far and wide as Mildura, Shepparton, Bendigo, Echuca, Swan Hill, Melbourne, Suburban Melbourne and Geelong (and more) everyone should try to participate. Read more, check out the events and register.
Lowest injury rates on record
According to data released by WorkSafe Victoria in its 2015/16 annual report, the number of workplace injuries in Victoria has fallen to a record low. Despite strong employment growth across the state, the rate of workplace injuries per million hours fell to 6.95 claims – an improvement of 5.2 per cent on the previous record of 7.34 claims per million hours that was achieved in 2014/15. WorkSafe says that continued improvements in safety prevention have helped it achieve a performance from insurance operations (PFIO) of $280 million. The result would have been stronger if not for an actuarial increase of $135 million. Overall, the scheme posted a net deficit for the year of $475 million.
WorkSafe Chief Executive, Clare Amies said the record low rate of injury claims was a credit to all employers and employees, and had contributed to the solid PFIO result. "Despite fewer workers being injured, however, WorkSafe still paid out more than $1.8 billion in compensation, treatment and rehabilitation benefits to injured Victorian workers in 2015/16," she said. "We are committed to ensuring that injured workers receive the treatment they need to get back to work as soon as it is safe for them to do so. Injured workers who are supported and looked after during their treatment and rehabilitation get back to work sooner, and that's good for them, their families and the community."
Ms Amies said reducing fatalities and injuries in Victorian workplaces would remain a key priority for WorkSafe. "Tragically, 31 people lost their lives in a workplace incident over the past 12 months," Ms Amies said. "Each fatality is a terrible tragedy because of the enormous impact it has on families, workmates and the wider community. Every workplace death is preventable, which is why safety is vital. We will continue to work closely with employers, unions and workers to make safety the priority in every workplace." Read more: WorkSafe Media Release
Safety Soapbox - October 14
In the editorial in the latest edition of WorkSafe's Safety Soapbox, posted on October 14, Dermot Moody, Manager of the Construction Program, writes about the West Gate Bridge disaster. As noted above, thirty-five workers were killed, when at 11.50am on 15 October 1970, two years into its construction, the 365 ft. (112m) 2000-tonne span between piers 10 and 11 of the West Gate Bridge collapsed and fell 164 ft. (50m) onto the muddy edge of the Yarra River below.
There were 50 Reported Incidents (attached to Safety Soapbox) in the construction, utility, quarrying and mining industries from 23 September - 6 October 2, and include: 18 near misses, 12 lacerations, seven fractures, six unknowns, three punctures, three electric shocks and one crush These and any of the 18 near misses, could have been fatal. For example: a 1,200kg column falling over and striking a small crawler crane; or a concrete panel falling due to incorrect positioning of props
Access the October 14 Safety Soapbox edition online, including link to the list of reported incidents.
NSW: New test to prevent industrial asthma
Research from the UK indicates that spray painters can develop industrial asthma at a rate 80 times higher than the general public. In response to this alarming statistic, SafeWork NSW has been looking into spray painting in the motor vehicle repair industry. Over a two year period SafeWork NSW inspectors investigated risks to health and safety as well as how to improve harm prevention. They also launched an Australian first – a new urine test to monitor exposure to harmful urethanes.
It is believed that hardener, one of the components in two pack urethane paint, contains a known respiratory sensitising agent, isocyanate, or more correctly monomeric isocyanate. In recent years, paint manufacturers have reduced the quantity of free monomeric isocyanate in paint products, but with cases of industrial asthma persisting, additional testing and research is required to understand where exposure is occurring and how to combat it. Read more about the SafeWork NSW project here.
NSW: Rio Tinto could be fined $1.5m
The NSW Resources Regulator has charged Rio Tinto Coal (NSW) Pty Ltd with a category 2 Work Health Safety offence, for an October 2014 incident in which a worker suffered serious spinal injuries at the Mount Thorley Warkworth Mine after falling from a grader's hydraulic access ladder when the ladder unexpectedly moved and began to rise.
The Regulator said it would allege that Rio failed to take steps to prevent the unintended movement of the ladder system or other reasonably practicable measures to prevent falls from the ladder. The matter was set down for first mention in the District Court on 21 November. Rio faces a maximum fine of $1.5 million if convicted. Source: OHSAlert
Safe Work Australia news
National Safe Work Month
If you have not yet checked out Safe Work Australia's resources for National Safe Work Month take a look now: a resource kit, on hosting the workplace participation reward program and sharing stories and statistics about work health and safety. To find out more - how to get involved, to download the resource kit and more, visit the National Safe Work website. Safe Work is also be running its Virtual Health and Safety Seminar series in October, and invite anyone who is interested to subscribe. The seminars will remain on the Safe Work Australia website as a lasting and free resource . Read more.
Enter the Workplace Participation Reward as part of National Safe Work Month
National Safe Work Month is now underway and Safe Work Australia says it's time to start thinking about how your organisation can recognise work health and safety and win a reward worth $5,000.
They are asking
organisations to tell them how they have made their workplaces safer by
entering the National Safe Work Month Workplace Participation Reward.
The reward encourages organisations to think of new and creative ways to
build awareness of work health and safety and make the workplace safer.
Entries opened Monday 4 October and close Monday 7 November 2016.
For more information visit the Workplace Participation Reward web page.
2015 Work-related Traumatic Injury Fatalities Australia report
Safe Work Australia has released the latest Work-related Traumatic Injury Fatalities report. The report shows that in 2015, 195 workers died from injuries received at work. This continues the positive downward trend in the worker fatality rate with 1.6 fatalities per 100,000 workers recorded in 2015 - the lowest rate since the report series began in 2003. "The report provides statistics about people who die each year at work," said Safe Work Australia CEO Michelle Baxter. "This includes fatalities resulting from an injury at work, and as a bystander resulting from someone else's work."
The report can be downloaded from this page of the Safe Work Australia website.
The statistics on the Safe Work Australia site have not been updated since the last SafetyNet: as at October 11, there had been 132 fatalities reported to the national body. To check for updates, go to the Safe Work Australia Work-related fatalities page. Also, the latest monthly fatality report remains that for April 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 prosecutions under the OHS Act placed on the WorkSafe website since the last edition. To check for updates go to the Prosecution Result Summaries & Enforceable Undertakings webpage.
SA: Company director's prison sentence for manslaughter increased
A company director's knowledge of a truck's dilapidated brakes before he took over the company was relevant to his culpability in an employee's death, a SA judge has ruled in re-sentencing him to up to 10 more years in jail. Supreme Court Justice Malcolm Blue told Peter Francis Colbert that while he wasn't being punished for any conduct prior to the March 2014 manslaughter of one worker and the reckless endangerment of another, earlier events showed his offences were neither spontaneous or transient.
Colbert, the sole director of Colbert Transport Pty Ltd, was jailed for 12 years and six months (after a reduction for time already served), with a non-parole period of 10 years, for recklessly endangering life and manslaughter. In February this year, a full Supreme Court majority ordered a retrial, after finding Justice David Peek's "summing up lacked balance". A jury then found Colbert guilty of the charges, and Justice Blue last week sentenced him to 10 years and six months' imprisonment (after a reduction for time served), with a non-parole period of seven years and five months, starting on 13 September 2016. Justice Blue described Colbert's offending as "very serious", and said he had "not seen any evidence that [he] was truly remorseful".
The Court found that in 2013, Colbert was the principal driver of a 14-tonne truck owned by a Greenfields business, and was aware that no services or repairs were undertaken on the truck's braking system from mid-2013, when another driver complained about the brakes, until January 2014, when Colbert Transport took over the business. By this time three workers had complained about the brakes, and at least two others raised concerns in the next few weeks, but Colbert took no steps to check, service or repair the brakes, it found. On 5 March 2014, the truck's new principal driver Shane Bonham told Colbert that he had just narrowly avoided a crash when the brakes failed as he approached an intersection. Two days later, another employee, Robert Brimson, was driving the truck when the brakes failed and he collided with a pole, sustaining fatal injuries.
Source: OHS Alert (With apologies - note correction)
Wholesaler fined £500,000 for gate death
One of Britain's largest wholesale companies has been fined £500,000 ($797,775) after a delivery driver was killed by a faulty gate at a depot in Newport, south Wales. The man died in 2011 when he was pinned under a 300kg steel gate that collapsed at the Blakemore Wholesale store in the city. The driver was making early morning deliveries from a bakery. At Cardiff Crown Court, AF Blakemore and Son Limited admitted criminal health and safety breaches. As well as the £500,000 fine the firm was ordered to pay costs of £108,625.80 ($173,290) within a month. The delivery driver had been working for the Cynon Valley firm Garth Bakery when the incident happened on his first delivery job of the day. He arrived at the site at about 4am and unlocked the entrance gate. But as he was preparing to leave the gate broke when a metal-fatigued bolt failed, and landed on him. A resident raised the alarm after hearing screaming, and despite emergency services arriving swiftly on the scene, the driver died of traumatic asphyxia. The company admitted failing to ensure that the gates and gateposts were maintained and were in working order. Source: Risks 772
Harrison Ford's Star Wars injury results in $2m fine for British production firm
The makers of Star Wars: The Force Awakens have been sentenced after failing to protect the actors and workers while on set during filming at Pinewood Studio, Slough, Buckinghamshire. Harrison Ford suffered a broken leg and deep lacerations when he was knocked off his feet and pinned to the floor of the Millennium Falcon set, as a prop door closed on him. HSE's investigation found that there was no automatic emergency cut off to protect those on set, instead relying on the reactions of the prop operator(s) to bring the door to a stop. Foodles Production (UK), owned by Disney, was last week fined £1.6m ($2.07m) pleading guilty to two counts of breaching its health and safety duties.
HSE's Divisional Director Tim Galloway said: "This incident was foreseeable and preventable and could have resulted in more serious injury or even death. "The power and speed of the door was such that, had Mr Ford or anyone else had been struck on the head by the door as it closed, they might easily have been killed."
Read more: HSE Press Release
China: 22 migrant workers killed
Last week, 22 migrant workers were killed in the eastern Chinese city of Wenzhou, in Zhejiang province, when the four buildings they were sleeping in suddenly collapsed in the middle of the night. The buildings had already been condemned for demolition, but the owners were renting them out as sleeping quarters to migrant workers employed in the nearby factories. A tragedy like this once again highlights that the cost of China's industrial expansion has been borne by its workers who are forced to endure long hours, low pay, and face hazardous conditions both at their workplaces and in their living quarters. Read more: 22 dead as ramshackle migrant housing complex disintegrates in China Global Construction Review
Germany: Two killed in BASF chemical blast
Two people killed after an explosion and subsequent fire at German chemical giant BASF's main production complex at the southwestern German city of Ludwigshafen, on Monday were both members of BASF's own fire brigade. They were responding to a minor fire near the site's river harbor when a pipe exploded. One other person is still missing following the blast and six of the 25 people injured are still in intensive care.
The resulting fire took firefighters 10 hours to extinguish and forced BASF to shut down more than 20 facilities. It is still unclear what caused the initial fire, BASF said. Investigators have not yet been able to examine the blast site because there is still some gas leaking from broken pipes. BASF said there was no risk to the public from toxic fumes, and said it had been able to prevent chemicals from leaking into the Rhine river. Read more: News.com.au; Reuters