SafetyNet 390, January 25, 2017
Welcome to the first edition of SafetyNet for 2017. The staff of the VTHC OHS Unit hopes that all our subscribers were able to have a safe and restful break.
If you haven't yet joined the the hundreds of people who follow our We Are Union: OHS Matters Facebook page, please do so now. 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.
Tell us your story - be an inspiration to other HSRs
Here's a call out to all Victorian HSRs out there with a great 'win' story. The VTHC will be publishing a book for HSRs and by HSRs. In it you will be able to tell about your experience - how you achieved a great outcome in having an issue addressed, a risk or hazard eliminated, a consultation actually happen, and more. We ask you to share your tips, tools and yes, even strategies and tricks you might have used to get there. We aim to collect 200 stories over the next few weeks - so if you've got something worth sharing, go to this page to submit your story online. Be part of our Health and Safety Hero Handbook!
Come work with us at the VTHC OHS Unit!
The VTHC is seeking a vibrant person who is just beginning their union journey to come to work with us as a full-time OHS Online Organiser. The position is within the OHS Unit in our Carlton Sth (Melbourne) office. Duties include: Educating workers and Health and Safety Representatives about OHS and their rights using eLearning and webinars as well as social and digital media; promote the OHS unit and its activities; organise an online community of HSR's and workers able to highlight OHS, bullying and workplace rights concerns via social and digital media; providing referral services to workers experiencing workplace OHS issues. Applications close February 10. More information, including how to apply: Ethical Jobs
Does a backpacker employee or volunteer's 'duty of care' include calling an ambulance for a customer who is found unconscious?
Volunteers have no duties under the OHS Act as volunteers. However, s32 of the Act places a duty on anyone to 'not recklessly endanger persons at workplaces' - but this most often applies to acts (intentional or gross negligence) which would place someone in danger of a serious injury or death.
A backpacker employee has the duties of an employee under s25 the OHS Act – but these are quite limited:
- take reasonable care for his or her own health and safety; and
- take reasonable care for the health and safety of persons who may be affected by his/her acts or omissions at a workplace; and
- co-operate with his or her employer with respect to any action taken by the employer to comply with a requirement imposed by or under the Act or the regulations.
So, if the employer has a policy, on which the employee has been trained, that includes how employees must respond in emergencies such as what you're asking about, then the employee has a duty to cooperate with this… but the final duty remains with the employer.. (see Duties of employers, including duties to 'others'; and s32 Duty to not recklessly endanger)
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.
Actor killed by firearm on Brisbane film set
An actor was killed on Monday afternoon after being shot in the chest on the set of a music video being filmed in Brisbane. Stuntman Johann Ofner, 28, was on set for the filming of Australian band Bliss n Eso's music video when he was fatally injured. The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) - the union for actors, stunt professionals and film crew - has extended its deepest condolences to the family and friends of the victim as well as all those affected on set.
The incident is now the subject of investigations by the Queensland police and workplace health and safety regulator.
The director of MEAA Equity, Zoe Angus, said: "This tragedy is a stark reminder that the screen industry is inherently dangerous and of the need for total vigilance about workplace safety at all times on set." MEAA Media Release
Granville Train disaster anniversary - need for safe infrastructure
It was the worst rail disaster in Australian history: 83 people killed, more than 210 injured, and 1,300 were affected. On January 18, 1977 a crowded commuter train derailed at Granville in Western Sydney, running into the supports of a road bridge that collapsed onto two of the train's passenger carriages.
At the time, then-New South Wales premier, the late Neville Wran, described the state of the railway system as "ramshackle". Investigations and inquiries revealed an alarming lack of investment in maintenance and ageing infrastructure, and following the disaster, the State Government borrowed heavily to modernise the railway.
40 years after the disaster, the NSW Government finally apologises to victims' families. Investing in maintenance and infrastructure is as much an issue now as it was then. As we remember the dead, we ask what can we do to fight for the living?
Read more: ABC News online
NSW: Child killed in quad bike tragedy
A seven-year-old boy was killed in a quad bike crash on a property near Griffith, on Sunday January 15. The boy was riding a quad bike with a nine-year-old male pillion passenger on a Barellan property. According to police, the pair were turning the bike when they fell off, causing the bike to fall onto the younger boy.
Minister appoints members to Victorian Asbestos Eradication Agency
A former Fair Work Commissioner and a member of the Victorian WorkSafe Board have been appointed to the Victorian Asbestos Eradication Agency, established late last year.
On December 23, the Minister for Finance Robin Scott announced the three-person board which will oversee the removal of asbestos from Victorian schools and other government buildings.
The panel will be chaired by former Commissioner of Fair Work Australia Dianne Foggo AM. The other appointees are Simone Stevenson, who was previously Chief of Staff to the Victorian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs as well as a Policy Adviser to the Federal Government on asbestos management and Ross McCann, a WorkSafe Victoria and Deputy Chairman of Sustainability Victoria. Read more: Minister for Finance Media Release
ASEA: Changes at the top
On December 14 last year, Minister for Employment, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, announced the appointment of a new Chair of the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Council as well as the appointment of seven new members and the reappointment of two current members to the council. The VTHC recognises the efforts and thanks in particular amongst those who have not been re-appointed: Mr Geoff Fary, the first Chair, and two members, Mr Barry Robson (President of the Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia) and Ms Tanya Segolov (Partner at Turner Freeman Lawyers and an expert in asbestos and legal issues).
(With sincere apologies: Mr Peter Tighe continues in his role as ASEA CEO)
Read more: Minister for Employment Media Release
Victorian asbestos diseases support and advocacy group Asbestoswise has the following events in the next few weeks:
- Monday January 30, 4.30 - 5.30pm, Annual General Meeting
Fourth floor, Ross House, 247 - 251 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Inquiries to Asbestoswise on 03 9655 9555 or email
- Wednesday February 15, 11am - 2pm, Mesothelioma Support Group meeting
South Melbourne Community Centre, Cnr Park St and Ferrars Place, Sth Melbourne
The group provides support to those diagnosed with mesothelioma, their carers, families and close friends. It meets the third Wednesday of every month.
Asbestoswise also holds a Bereaved Group which meets monthly
Contact: Shirley Bare by phone 0412 537 819 or by email.
Ratepayers up for clean up bill
The Leader newspaper has reported that Kingston ratepayers will be forced to pay out at least $850,000 following a council mistake which led to asbestos-contaminated soil being dumped in a public park.
As an independent investigation gets underway, it appears that a council employee gave permission to move the soil from a Glenola Rd, Chelsea site to the town's Bicentennial Park despite being told by a sub contractor he thought it was contaminated by asbestos. Read more: Leader Community News
Summer and skin cancer
There's lots more hot weather to come: so check that your employer has taken steps to protect workers from the dangers of UV radiation. According to Cancer Council Victoria (CCV), workplace sun-related injuries and disease not only kill workers, but have cost Australian workplaces $63 million in compensation payments over the last ten years. Outdoor workers receive up to ten times more exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation - putting them at significantly higher risk of skin damage and skin cancer. Each year 200 melanomas and 34,000 other skin cancer diagnoses in Australia can be attributed to UV exposure in the workplace.
CCV has many useful resources for workplaces, including the FREE SunSmart App which can tell users when sun protection is recommended for their location using forecast information from the Bureau of Meteorology website and live UV data from ARPANSA.
Also, CCV's SunSmart program offers workplace training sessions to help educate organisations and their workers about the harmful effects of UV radiation. Delivered by trained educators, these include an overview of skin cancer and UV-related injuries, practical solutions to reduce UV risk in the workplace,
a guide to skin checks, and the optional inclusion of a Skin Damage Viewer that reveals hidden UV damage.
To book, or for more information, contact SunSmart on (03) 9514 6419, email, or visit the SunSmart website. Read more on Sunlight: UV Radiation.
BE TRADES HALL TRAINED: VTHC OHS Training Centre
Don't settle for any training other than that provided by your union or the VTHC. HSRs are elected by their fellow workers to represent them. We understand what HSRs need and have been training effective HSRs for many years. Remember that under Section 67 of the OHS Act, both HSRs and deputies have the right to attend the training course of their choice (in consultation with their employer). Below are the dates for the next few courses at the VTHC OHS Training Centre - if you haven't yet booked in your course for this year, do it now. The full set of dates until June, including Comcare courses, is on the Training program page where you can download a registration form or register online. Contact Lisa Mott on (03) 9663 5460 for any training related queries.
|HSR Initial OHS training course||HSR Refresher OHS Training Courses*|
* HSRs are entitled to attend this course every
International Union News
UK: School support staff are exhausted and stressed
Support staff in Scotland's schools are exhausted, undervalued and stressed, according to their union. Announcing the findings of what it said was probably the 'largest ever' survey of school support staff, UNISON said 1,841 jobs supporting teachers in schools had disappeared since 2010. These included classroom assistants, technicians, cleaners and librarians. The union said the cuts were impacting on the workload of the support staff who remained - with teachers and pupils also affected. The union survey confirmed that a lack of time, resources and heavy workloads mean support staff are struggling to maintain standards for pupils in Scotland. Responses to the survey revealed a pattern of heavier workloads, jobs cuts, lack of educational supplies, and dirtier schools. The union says that there while there are now 6,707 more pupils in Scottish schools than in 2010, there are 1,841 fewer support staff and 1,389 fewer teachers. UNISON said its survey confirms the enormous stress this puts on support staff. It found 40 per cent carry out unpaid work because of high workloads and 80 per cent say workloads have increased. Six out of ten (60 per cent) say morale is 'low'.
Read more: UNISON Scotland news release and report Hard Lessons: UNISON survey of school support staff Jan 2017. Source: Risks 784
Pakistan: Five workers burn to death at Gadani yard
At least five workers died in a fire onboard an LPG container ship at the Gadani shipbreaking yard in Pakistan on 9 January. Yet despite scores of fatalities at Gadani in the last few months, global union IndustriALL says no measures have been taken to improve safety. An estimated 100 workers were dismantling the ship at plot no. 60 when the blaze started. Those on the vessel had to be rescued by lifeboat. There was a fire on the same ship two weeks ago: but there were no casualties then. The ship's owner, Dewan Rizwan, a former chair of the Gadani Shipbreaking Owners Association, fled from the shipyard when the fire broke out. He was later detained by police in the nearby city of Hub. Nasir Mansoor, from IndustriALL affiliate the National Trade Union Federation of Pakistan (NTUF), said: "There has been no respite from accidents, injuries and deaths despite the claims of improvement in occupational health and safety measures at the Gadani shipbreaking yards. Safety is one of the most neglected areas in shipbreaking." On 1 November 2016, the Gadani yard witnessed one of its worst industrial tragedies when at least 26 workers lost their lives and 40 were injured in an oil tanker fire. IndustriALL's director for shipbreaking, Kan Matsuzaki, said: "Workers cannot wait a moment longer for health and safety reforms. The government and employers must act now. The same deadly mistakes are being repeated time and again while workers are being sent to slaughter at the shipbreaking yards." NTUF has been successful in securing compensation for the injured and families bereaved in the 1 November tragedy. However, promises from the government to improve health and safety at the Gadani yard have not come to fruition. Read more: IndustriALL news release. Labour Watch Pakistan. Source: Risks 784
Workplace mental health in Australia: SWA research reports
Late last year, Safe Work Australia published two research reports that presented the latest findings on the prevalence of workplace bullying and harassment; and the impact of management commitment to psychological health and safety and poor mental health in the workplace on organisational productivity.
- The Psychosocial Safety Climate and Better Productivity in Australian Workplaces: Cost, Productivity, Presenteeism, Absenteesim report presented an estimate that productivity losses associated with low levels of management commitment to psychological health and safety in the workplace comes at a cost to employers of $6 billion per annum.
- The Bullying & Harassment in Australian Workplaces: Results from the Australian Workplace Barometer project 2014/2015 report provided information on the prevalence of bullying and harassment in Australian workplaces. It reports an increase in the estimated prevalence of bullying in Australian workplaces, from 7 per cent in 2009-10 to 9.7 per cent in 2014-15.
SWA says it is not clear why there has been an increase in the estimated prevalence of bullying, but said it should be noted that findings are based on self-reported bullying and so growing awareness and recognition of mental health in the workplace (including bullying) may have contributed to the increase.
The two reports use data collected from the Australia Workplace Barometer (AWB) project, a longitudinal study operating since 2009 that observes workplace trends in psychological health. "This information is important to the development of national policy and guidance to promote improved psychological health in Australian workplaces" said Safe Work Australia Director of Research and Evaluation, Dr Fleur de Crespigny. "This research is also important because it represents the first ever national collection of information on bullying and harassment in Australian workplaces."
Poor job quality affects mental health among young workers
Based on data from the Household Income and Labor Dynamics in Australia (HILDA), researchers from Melbourne and Deakin Universities undertook a longitudinal study of a sample of over 10,500 young people to investigate changes in mental health in jobs of varying psychosocial quality. Research has shown that adolescence and early adulthood is the peak age of onset for many mental disorders; and these impair participation in employment. While not participating in work contributes to mental health problems, there is evidence emerging that poor quality employment is worse for for mental health than having no job at all. Young people often have less job control; higher prevalence of job strain, casual and temporary employment, bullying, inequity, unwanted s*xual advances; and so on.
The researchers hypothesized that young persons in jobs with high psychosocial job quality have an improvement in mental health compared to when they are not in employment, while those in work with poor psychosocial job quality experience a decline in mental health compared to when they are not in employment.Their
analysis of the data supported this hypothesis.
Source: Milner, A, Krnjacki, L, and LaMontagne, A Psychosocial job quality and mental health among young workers: a fixed-effects regression analysis using 13 waves of annual data [abstract] Scand J Work Environ Health 2017;43(1):50-58 doi:10.5271/sjweh.3608
Study linking Roundup to serious disease fuels debate
According to UK scientists, a first-ever long-term study shows popular weed-killer Roundup caused severe liver damage in rats. British scientists say they have conducted an unprecedented, long-term study showing a link between Roundup - one of the most widely used herbicides in the world - and severe liver damage in test rats. The scientists, whose research finding were published in the journal, Nature, earlier this month, said their tests used cutting-edge technology to demonstrate that "extremely low doses" of the herbicide administered to rats through their drinking water had caused "non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)" over a two-year period.
The research has sparked further debate in the international scientific community over the potential health hazards to people caused by exposure to the well-known weed killer.
Read more: Aljazeera
OHS Regulator News
WorkSafe Victoria News
Warning at the start of the year
WorkSafe Victoria has issued a media release warning Victorian workplaces they must do more in 2017 to prioritise safety following a horror year in which 26 people lost their lives at work - this was the worst year for fatalities since 2009. Of the 26 fatalities last year:
- The youngest was 21 and the oldest was 94
- 23 were men
- Eight occurred in Melbourne and 18 were in regional Victoria
- Eight were in agriculture and seven were in construction
- Five involved tractors, four were caused by falling from height and three were electrocutions
WorkSafe's Executive Director of Health and Safety, Marnie Williams, said this was "horrific". She said occupational health and safety laws were clear that keeping workers safe was the responsibility of every Victorian employer. "While workers have a role to
play in keeping themselves and others safe, the responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of employers," Ms Williams said. "The consequences of failing to prioritise safety can be catastrophic. As well as the devastation suffered by families and friends, a workplace fatality has an enormous impact
on colleagues and, ultimately, the business itself as it is the employer who will face the courts should there be a serious incident."
Read more: WorkSafe Media Release
Department charged over Ravenhall riot
On December 22 last year, WorkSafe announced that following a comprehensive investigation into the riot at the Ravenhall Metropolitan Remand Centre in June 2015, it had charged the Department of Justice and Regulation with four breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004. The charges are:
- One charge contrary to section 21(1) and (2)(a) in that it failed to provide and maintain safe systems of work.
- One charge contrary to section 21(1) and (2)(e) in that it failed to ensure the workplace was safe and without risks to health.
- Two charges contrary to section 23(1) in that it failed to ensure persons other than employees were not exposed to risks to health and safety.
While acknowledging the significant public interest in the details surrounding this matter, as it was before the Court, WorkSafe announced it would be inappropriate to make any further comment.
Companies and directors charged over Mt Waverley excavation
On December 12, following a comprehensive investigation, WorkSafe announced it had charged three businesses and their directors with a number of breaches of the OHS Act in relation to the collapse of an excavation at a development site at Highbury Rd, Mt Waverley in July 2015.
- Action Master Builders Pty Ltd was charged with with breaching section 26(1) for failing to ensure the workplace was safe and without risks to health. Its director Dimitrios Nicolaou was also charged with breaching section 144 for failing to ensure the workplace was safe and without risks to health.
- AM Design & Construction Pty Ltd was charged with breaching section 23(1), or in that it failing to ensure persons other than employees were not exposed to risks to health and safety. Its director Aldo DiTonto was also charged with breaching section 144 for failing to ensure persons other than employees were not exposed to risks to health and safety.
- Ranjan Fernando Consulting Engineers Pty Ltd was also charged with breaching section 23(1) and its director Thewarathanthrige Ranjan Fernando was charged with breaching section 144.
Again WorkSafe said it would be inappropriate to make any further comment at the time. A WorkSafe spokesman said construction was a high-risk industry and safety had to be a priority for every business involved in the sector.
Safety Soapbox December
On December 9 WorkSafe issued its final Safety Soapbox for 2016. In this edition readers can access evaluation reports for two of the Construction Division's programs, as well as a variety of other items. In the period November 18 - December 2, there were 73 Reported Incidents (attached to Safety Soapbox) in the construction, utility, quarrying and mining industries, including: 20 near misses, 32 lacerations, six fractures, eight electric shocks, and one amputation. This period appears to have been much worse than the one before. As always, several of the near misses could have been fatal - not only to workers but also the general public. For example, falling scaffolding, a 40kg component falling four floors, power lines struck and gas pipes severed, and more. Access the December 9 Safety Soapbox edition online, including the link to the list of reported incidents.
Safe Work Australia news
Managing risks associated with lead in the workplace - reduction of blood lead levels
After considering Safe Work Australia's Decision Regulation Impact Statement (DRIS) on Managing risks associated with lead in the workplace: blood lead removal levels and workplace exposure standard a majority of state, territory and Commonwealth Ministers responsible for work health and safety supported the preferred options to reduce the current permissible blood lead levels and workplace exposure standard, to protect workers.
The DRIS is the result of Safe Work Australia's review of the current toxicological information and overseas trends in the regulation of lead in the workplace, and it examined options to reduce the adverse health outcomes caused by exposure to lead in the workplace. The DRIS can be downloaded from this page of the SWA website
By the end of 2016, 178 fatalities reported to Safe Work Australia - this is 21 more notifications since the last update in SafetyNet on November 30 - a truly shocking number. By far the majority were in the Transport, postal and warehouse sector, with 64 fatalities. And so we begin again: as at 13 January (when the page was last updated) there had been seven fatalities reported:
- 4 in the Transport, postal and warehouse sector;
- 1 in Agriculture, forestry and fishing;
- 1 in Construction;
- 1 Arts and recreation services
The numbers and industries may vary as Safe Work receives more detailed information (to check for updates and full figures for 2016, go to the Safe Work Australia Work-related fatalities page).
The latest monthly fatality report was for June 2016, during which there were 19 work-related notifiable fatalities:13 male workers, one female worker, three male bystanders and two female bystanders. Of the 19 fatalities, six fatalities involved a vehicle accident -public road crash, four fatalities resulted from drowning and three from falls from a height. The remaining six fatalities were all different types of incidents.
To download the report, go to the Notifiable Fatalities Monthly Report webpage.
New return to work reports released
Safe Work Australia has published two national Return to Work Survey reports that present the latest return to work outcomes for injured workers receiving workers' compensation.
- The Return to Work Summary Report provides a comprehensive summary of the National Return to Work survey responses from 2016.
- The Return to Work Headlines Measure Report provides a simple overview which includes two key measures taken from the 2016 survey responses.
The survey is undertaken on a biannual basis and compares the return to work experiences and outcomes of injured workers against a number of variables, including returning to work, workplace rehabilitation and employer support. The reports outline the experiences of injured workers and the factors that may have an effect on their return to work. Download the reports and the survey from this page of the SWA website.
Because it has been some time since the last SafetyNet was posted, there have been quite a few successful prosecutions, including a couple with relatively big fines.
Labour hire company convicted after backpacker scalped
On January 12, a labour hire company specialising in providing backpacker workers to the fruit packing industry was convicted and fined $60,000 (plus $8091 costs) over an incident in which a worker was scalped by a conveyer belt.
T&R Contracting Shepparton Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in the Shepparton Magistrates Court to breaching the OHS Act 2004 for failing to provide a safe working environment by failing to provide instruction and training. The incident occurred in a packing shed in Shepparton run by Kalafatis Packing Pty Ltd which used two conveyers to deliver pears for distribution.
The court heard that workers were required to clean the conveyors while they were energised and moving. On 7 November 2015, an Irish backpacker was assessing the underside of the second conveyor in order to scrub its surfaces when her hair became entangled in a rotating drive shaft and her scalp was torn from her head. She also had one of her ears torn off in the incident.
"[The] labour hire business engaged workers for this packing shed and left them exposed to risk of serious injury and death," WorkSafe's Executive Director of Health and Safety, Marnie Williams, said. "They should have ensured the workers were provided with a safe working environment and appropriate training at the workplace and not just left it to chance."
Kalafatis Packing Pty Ltd and Dimitrios Vagelatos, the manager of the packing shed, are both facing charges over the incident.
Read more: WorkSafe Media Release
Company charged for breaching Dangerous Goods and OHS Acts
On December 21, Pacific Metal Group Pty Ltd was convicted and fined $84,000, plus almost $4000 costs, after pleading guilty to breaching Victoria's OHS and Dangerous Goods Acts.
The Sunshine Magistrates Court heard that in February 2015, a welder who had been employed at Pacific Metal Group for less than two weeks was working on plant and structures when a nearby unsealed drum of thinners exploded. He sustained serious burns and required skin grafting surgery.
The Court found the employer failed to take reasonable steps to prevent a fire or explosion, such as ensuring welding work was only conducted in areas isolated from the flammable substance.
Breaches under the Dangerous Goods Act included failing to comply with seven improvement notices; storing oxygen and acetylene cylinders in the same storage cage, and failing to instruct or train workers on working safely in the vicinity of hazardous substances.
Toll company fined a record $1 million over stevedore's death
On December 14, shipping operator Toll Transport Pty Ltd was convicted and fined a record $1 million over the death of an employee who was crushed to death while helping load the Tasmanian Achiever at Webb Dock in 2014. The company pleaded guilty in the Melbourne County Court to one charge under section 21 of the 2004 OHS Act in that it failed to maintain a safe system of work.
The court heard that the company operated a shipping service between Webb Dock in Port Melbourne and Burnie in Tasmania using two ships, the Tasmanian Achiever and the Victorian Alliance. The loading and unloading of the ships used a roll on, roll off procedure (is all cargo is rolled on and then rolled off at its destination). This process involves shipping containers being placed onto MAFIs (low flat trailers capable of carrying up to 4 x 20 foot shipping containers). When fully loaded, a MAFI can weigh up to 90 tonnes. The MAFIs are pulled on to the ship by trucks referred to as prime movers.
On 20 May 2014, a 42-year-old stevedore was working on the deck of the Tasmanian Achiever placing rubber mats for the MAFIs to rest on during transit. He was wearing a hi-vis vest and using earplugs. As he worked, a MAFI was pushed up the ramp by a prime mover. The driver stopped at the top of the ramp and then began moving the MAFI into position. The driver did not see the stevedore and ran over him, crushing him under the wheels.
Although Toll had a number of procedures in place to ensure the safety of employees during the moving of MAFIs on to the ships, WorkSafe's investigation found that these were inadequate. Critically, a key component of the safety procedures – that a fellow stevedore be positioned on the deck to assist with moving mats, directing the prime movers and watching for pedestrians – did not occur. There was no stevedore in position at the time of the incident. .
The injured worker had his left leg amputated by the MAFI and suffered other severe injuries. Colleagues used a forklift to lift the MAFI off him but he died at the scene.
WorkSafe's Executive Director of Health and Safety, Marnie Williams, said the record fine reflected the horrifying failure of the company to look after the safety of its employees."It was a catastrophic failure that led to a worker dying in the most horrible of circumstances, and traumatising all the
people who tried so hard to save him. The court's decision reflects this, and is a stark reminder to all employers that the safety of their employees must be paramount at all times."
Read more: MUA Media Release May 2014; WorkSafe Media Release
Construction company fined $25k after worker falls off faulty scaffolding
On January 12, construction company Purity Developments Pty Ltd pleaded guilty and was convicted and fined $25,000 plus costs, when scaffolding at a Boronia site collapsed on 3 September 2015. A sub-contracted carpenter was installing box gutters, fascia, guttering capping and flat roofs at the development when he fell approximately five metres. WorkSafe found the scaffolding, had not been completed by other sub-contractors; nor was it correctly assembled. Purity Developments failed to ensure the scaffolding at the workplace was safe before allowing persons to use it; specifically, it did not require handover certificates from scaffolding contractors as recommended by the relevant Australian Standards.
Young worker prosecuted for misuse of nail gun
On 25 May last year, a 17 year-old 2016 employee of a cabinet making business in Truganina discharged a nail gun into another employee's back. He was charged with breaching section 32 of the OHS Act 2004. On 9 December 2016 the offender acknowledged responsibility for the offence, being that he recklessly engaged in conduct that placed a person in danger of serious injury. After agreeing to a number of conditions (including completing his 'white card' training, and speaking with a Youth Diversion Worker about his offending behaviour and completing an outcome and goals plan for 2017), he was placed on a diversion program.
Worker loses three toes: Importer/wholesaler fined $40k without conviction
On December 8, Dixie Cummings Enterprises Pty Ltd, an importer and wholesaler of furniture to major retailers, was without conviction fined $40,000 (plus $3,386 in costs) following a severe foot injury to a worker at its Bayswater site. On 23 February 2015, three employees used a forklift and a pallet trolley to move a shipping container full of furniture, weighing 7.4 tonnes. The load substantially exceeded the safe load limits of the two pieces of plant. One of the workers tripped and his foot became entangled in the wheels of the pallet trolley. The forklift driver could not hear that employee screaming to stop and continued to push the load, with the weight of the load bearing down on the trolley. The trapped worker was eventually freed but suffered serious foot injuries, resulting in the amputation of three toes. The offender pleaded guilty to breaching section 21(1) and (2)(a) of the OHS Act.
Packing company convicted after worker maimed
On December 7 Geelong packing and supply business J.T.Dixon Pty Ltd was convicted and fined $26,000 (plus costs of $3386) in the Geelong Magistrates Court following an incident in which a worker had all of the skin from his right hand ripped off by a machine. The worker also lost his little finger and the top of his middle finger.
On 1 February 2016, a worker, alongside a manager, was operating a machine that printed on, glued, cut and folded cardboard boxes. The machine required three people to operate and could run about 100 boxes through the process in one minute. They noticed an issue with the print quality on the boxes
and while it was still in operation both climbed onto the machine to identify the reason. The manager then climbed off the machine to speak with a colleague. The worker then reached down to touch the ink to see whether it was wet or dry, catching his right hand in a nip point of rollers on the machine.
His hand was de-gloved as he pulled it free.
Read more: WorkSafe Media Release
Electrical company convicted and fined after worker burnt
Southern Generators & Electrical Pty Lt, a company specialising in electrical generator rentals including the supply, installation and maintenance of portable electrical generators, was on December 5 convicted and fined $20,000 (plus $3,500 in costs) for failing to provide safe systems of work. On 28 August 2015, employees of Southern Generators were disconnecting a generator at a workplace in Kooyong when an one of the workers employee was injured by an arc flash when the generator was accidentally started.
Construction firm convicted and fined $30k for traffic management failures
Mainline Developments Pty Ltd, is a company involved in the construction of small and large scale projects which engages contractors to carry out work, including one contract plumber, who regularly placed orders for supplies with a plumbing supplies company. On 1 October 2015 an employee of the plumbing supplies company was delivering supplies to the contract plumber. A truck was parked and blocking the entrance gate to the workplace. While unloading further supplies, the contract plumber and the employee of the plumbing supplies company walked past the parked truck, which then moved, striking the employee of the plumbing supplies company. He in turn struck the contract plumber. Both men escaped serious injury. The court heard there was no formal traffic management plan in place. Mainline pleaded guilty to breaching s21(1) & (2)(a) and s23(1) of the OHS Act, and was convicted and fines $30,000 (plus $3,975 costs) .
Enforceable Undertaking following amputation
On 5 June 2015, an employee of Bowen & Pomeroy, a company specialising in supplying timber and building products to the building trade and do-it-yourself retail market, was using a 'docking saw' at the company's North Melbourne store when suffered amputation injuries to his ring finger and little finger on his left hand and a crush injury to his middle finger and index finger. On 28 November 2016, Bowen & Pomeroy entered into an Enforceable Undertaking with WorkSafe Victoria in which it undertook to to take a number of measures, in addition to those it implemented immediately following the incident. The EU can be downloaded on the WorkSafe Prosecution Result Summaries & Enforceable Undertakings webpage.
Also since our last journal, a number of companies were prosecuted for breaches such as non-compliance with a WorkSafe notice (Spotlight Stores Pty Ltd; Aurora Construction Materials Pty Ltd; Epping Transport Pty Ltd). The highest fine was $25,000, the lowest was a $5000 payment into the Court Fund. There were also two prosecutions under the Workers Compensation Act - one of an employer and one of a worker.
Source: WorkSafe Prosecution Result Summaries & Enforceable Undertakings webpage
UK: Crisp firm fined for chopped fingers
Compare the fines for amputations in Victoria (see above) with this recent UK case:
A crisp and snacks manufacturer has been fined £330,000 (AUD$498,540) after an agency worker lost part of three fingers. Northampton Crown Court heard how the worker, working at Tayto Group Limited, was clearing a blockage of material from a machine on the production line. The worker's hand came into contact with shears and three fingers on his right hand were severed below the first knuckle. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the August 2015 incident found that the guard on the machine was not secured at the time of the incident. The company had not implemented a formal monitoring system on this machine, to ensure that all guards were in place and secure before the machine was started. Tayto Group Limited pleaded guilty to a criminal breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER), was fined and ordered to pay costs of £11,752.23 (AUD$19,529).
Read more: HSE news release. Source: Risks 784
UK: Trio of firms fined £2million after worker's leg is broken in trench collapse
In the UK on December 19 last year, three companies were sentenced today after a worker's leg was broken in six places when a trench which he was working in collapsed on him
The 47 year-old suffered serious leg injuries when his leg was crushed in the incident in Lincolnshire on 9 March 2012. He was trapped in the trench for 15 minutes before being extracted by the fire and rescue service and then airlifted to hospital. His right ankle has been left permanently damaged, pointing 10 degrees off line. He was off work for more than a year and vows never to work in a trench again.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found insufficient measures were taken to protect those working in trench, and a series of safety errors had led to the collapse. Principal contractor, Kier MG Ltd, was appointed by Lincolnshire County Council to install new storm drains. Kier
MG Ltd sub-contracted the installation work to John Henry & Sons (Civil Engineers) Ltd, who subsequently further sub-contracted the work to Lawless Civils Ltd. All three were prosecuted.
Read more: HSE Press Release
February 8: Dangerous Goods Advisory Group Meeting
This will be the first meeting in 2017 of the Dangerous Goods Advisory Group. Many issues will be discussed, under the broad headings of:
- Hazardous Chemicals / Dangerous Goods Incidents
- The ADG Transport Code & Changes in the UN Model Regs, IMDG Code & IATA Regs, etc
- Dangerous Goods (Storage & Handling) Issues
- Update on the GHS Hazardous Chemicals Regs, Codes, Classification and Training
When: 5.30pm for 6pm - 8.30pm meeting, Wednesday, 8 February
Where: Sandridge Centre - Trugo Club Rooms, 1 Tucker Avenue, Port Melbourne (Garden City part)
More information and to RSVP
February 14 Central Safety Group: Demystifying psychosocial risk
The emphasis on psychosocial risk in the workplace is fairly new in the area of health, safety and wellbeing. Although there has been a huge amount of research on it globally and locally, there is limited understanding on how to assess and manage it.
The subject will be discussed by occupational health specialist Dr Natasha Lazareski, who specialises in this area, on Tuesday, 14 February 2017 at the Central Safety Group lunch.
When: 12 noon-1pm, Tuesday, 14 February 2017
Where: Level 1, 333 Queen Street Melbourne (AMS Consulting Group)-
Read more and book.