SafetyNet 385, October 26, 2016
Welcome to the latest SafetyNet - a short edition this week due to the VTHC Conference yesterday. 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.
Stop Press (5pm, October 26)
It is with great regret that we inform our subscribers that a 54 year old worker was killed today after a fatal crushing incident. The boilermaker is understood to have been operating a boom lift on the ProBuild Melbourne Convention Centre site at South Wharf when the tragedy occurred. He was a Stilcon employee and AMWU member. It appears that emergency services were called just before 3.35pm this afternoon. AMWU and CFMEU officials were on site. The CFMEU has said on its site: "The building industry is dangerous, but workplace fatalities are unacceptable." The fatality triggered the Industry Fatality Policy to be implemented by the CFMEU immediately on all sites:
- Step 1: Provide a report on the incident to workers on-site.
- Step 2: Observe 1 minute silence.
- Step 3: Full OHS audit of your site.
This latest tragedy brings the fatalities in Victoria this year to 24. This is why we fight for health and safety.
VTHC Conference "Nothing about us without us" a huge success
The conference, held yesterday at the MCEC, was a great success with HSRs coming from all over the state, and from many and diverse industries. It gave them the opportunity to hear from other HSRs about what works in their workplaces, to discuss their issues with reps from their own industries, and gave them inspiration and tools to go back to work and improve consultation. It was very much a conference by HSRs for HSRs. While those present heard from Minister Robin Scott, VTHC Secretary Luke Hilakari, and CEO of WorkSafe Clare Amies, the real stars were the HSRs who presented.
- Sean Matthews, 2015 HSR of the Year - told how through perseverance and good planning he was able to achieve huge changes'
- Vasalia Govender, keynote speaker - made a fabulous presentation, based on survey results from hundreds of HSRs, whose experiences of consultation varied hugely. Vasalia's wonderful research set the scene for the consultation theme and the following presentation from Paul Sutton, VTHC OHS Lead Organiser, was really useful for HSRs to take back to their workplaces and continue the conversation.
- Panel members:
- Krista Barnes, HSR at Sebastapol Primary School, on how consultation is leading to success in dealing with occupational violence
- Tarek Soueid, HSR at Woolworth's Distribution Centre, on the novel way they decided to tackle bullying and harassment
- Lauren Keillor, HSR at Boeing Aerostructures Australia, on how asking the right questions and getting more information has led to increased trust and better controls for hazardous substances
- Clayton Larking, WorkSafe inspector and HSR, and the inaugural HSR of the Year in 2002, on how increasing the number of HSRs and consultation leads to safer workplaces.
Janet Marshall, the AEU OHS Organiser, summed it up: "It was beautifully organised from registration and show bags through the programme and break-out sessions. The official speakers kept it brief and authentic (big tick)." Both for those who attended and those who were unable to attend, we will be loading up the presentations and pdfs of some of the handouts on this site and the We Are OHS site over the next couple of weeks.
I work in a gallery and have to climb ladders as part of my job. I use a small stepladder, a larger one of 1.8 meters high and another one which is 3 meters high. Do I need a working at heights certificate for use of ladders. Thank-you for your help
There is no such thing as a ladder license or 'certificate'. This is a common misconception. However there are duties on the employer to provide information, instruction, training and supervision to employees, and also to have safe systems of work and policies in place and this certainly applies where staff have to use ladders (see this page on the Duties of Employers).
In addition to this, for work at more than two meters, there are specific duties on the employer to undertake an assessment and put into place a specific hierarchy of control in order to eliminate or minimise the risk of a fall. See a summary of the Prevention of Falls regulations, on this page. If your employer is not aware of the duties under the regulations, then you need to raise this with management. I hope you have an elected health and safety representative, as this would be the best way for the issue to be addressed. Also check out these pages for information on using ladders and falls: Stepladders and Ladders.
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.
The Corkman Irish Pub: Illegal demolition; illegal disposal
The bad news regarding the illegal demolition of the heritage-listed former Corkman Irish Pub in Carlton, Melbourne, just kept coming this week. On Saturday October 15, local residents contacted Melbourne City Council to complain about demolition noise from the site, which the previous week had been partially burnt by fire (possibly suspicious). When council inspectors arrived, despite the building having been largely demolished, they issued a stop-work order to prevent further demolition. However, a crew returned on Sunday and finished off the job. There was no demolition permit allowing the pub's destruction, and no planning permit for a building to replace it.
Stefce Kutlesovski, who with Raman Shaqiri, whose company 160 Leicester Pty Ltd paid $4.76 million for the pub last August, also owns the de-registered company Shaq Demolition which tore the 159-year old building down. Then this week, despite being informed by the EPA that the rubble was contaminated with asbestos and warned not to dispose of it illegally, the asbestos waste from the site has been found at the owners' Cairnlea property in the western suburbs.
The owners have totally thumbed their noses at multiple laws and regulators: planning; EPA; WorkSafe and face multiple fines. However, the 'value' of the site has now doubled! Building unions, which have placed a green ban on the site, and the VTHC have said the company should be forced to surrender the land to Melbourne City Council.
Read more: The Age Call for 'hefty fines' after illegal wreckers flatten 159-year-old Carlton pub; Asbestos, waste from demolished Carlton pub found at developer's western suburbs property; Unions issue blanket ban on work at site of illegally demolished Melbourne pub The Guardian
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
ASEA Conference November
13 - 15
This is your last chance to register to attend Australia's leading conference on asbestos. If you haven't yet registered, you've missed out on the early bird discount, but it's still worthwhile. 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.
Manual handling injuries decrease after implementation of system
American researchers recently undertook an evaluation of a safe patient handling and mobilisation programme within the context of a hospital-wide patient care improvement initiative that used a systems approach and integrated safe patient equipment and practices into patient care plans. They did baseline and 12-month follow-up surveys of 1832 direct patient care workers assessed work practices and self-reported pain while an integrated employee payroll and injury database provided recordable injury rates collected concurrently at 2 hospitals: the study hospital with the programme and a comparison hospital.
Unsurprisingly, they found that safe and unsafe patient handling practice scales at the study hospital improved significantly, with no differences observed at the comparison hospital. They saw significant decreases in recordable neck and shoulder, lifting and exertion and pain and inflammation injury rates at the study hospital. Changes in rates at the comparison hospital were not statistically significant.
Read more: Dennerlein, J, et al, Lifting and exertion injuries decrease after implementation of an integrated hospital-wide safe patient handling and mobilisation programme [Abstract] Occup Environ Med doi:10.1136/oemed-2015-103507
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.
Safe Work Australia news
Workplace Participation Reward - closes soon
With October nearly over, Safe Work Australia says it's time to tell them how workplaces are safer by entering the National Safe Work Month Workplace Participation Reward.
The reward encourages employers and workers to think of new and creative ways to build awareness of work health and safety and make workplaces safer. The winner will receive a reward worth $5,000 and the opportunity to showcase their safety story nationally. Read more
As at October 20, there had been 139 fatalities reported to Safe Work Australia - this is seven more notifications since the last update on October 11.Four of these deaths were in the Transport, postal and warehouse sector; and another three were in construction. The fatalities this year:
- 46 in the Transport, postal and warehouse sector;
- 34 in Agriculture, forestry and fishing;
- 22 in Construction;
- 7 in Electricity, gas, water & waste services;
- 6 in Arts & recreation services;
- 5 in 'Other services';
- 4 in Mining;
- 2 each in Administrative & support services; Accommodation & Food services; Retail trade; Information media & telecommunications; Public administration & safety; and in professional, scientific & technical services; and
- 1 each in Manufacturing, Health care & social assistance; and Wholesale Trade.
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).
Safe Work Australia has now released the monthly fatality report for May 2016, during which there were 17 work-related notifiable fatalities - one fewer than in April. Of these, 14 were male workers, one was a female worker and two were male bystanders. To download the report, go to the Notifiable Fatalities Monthly Report webpage.
Apart from a couple of individuals being prosecuted for fraud, 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.
Note: In the last edition of SafetyNet we reported on the increased prison sentence of a SA company director's prison sentence for manslaughter. We incorrectly named the source of the story and apologise: the source was the online publication OHSAlert.