SafetyNet 416

SafetyNet 416

SafetyNet 416, August 23, 2017

There are two great 'events' happening at the VTHC over the next week: the Migrant Workers Health and Safety Forum, and our next webinar, this time on asbestos.

To keep up to date and informed, go to our We Are Union: OHS Matters Facebook page, and for those who are HSRs and/or passionate about health and safety, join the Network page, a safe place to raise and discuss issues: check it out and ask to join.


Union News
OHS Regulator News
OHS Prosecutions
International News

Union News

This Saturday August 26: Free Migrant Workers Health and Safety Forum
Let's talk about Workplace Health & Safety
It's this week! Come along to the free forum for migrant workers, this Saturday August 26, and meet the team! The VTHC has been fighting for workers' rights for over 150 years. Migrant workers get injured more than other workers, and to assist all workers. We have organised this free event to hear about the experiences of migrant workers and their communities. Guest speaker will be the Honourable Robin Scott, Minister for Multicultural Affairs. The forum will be followed by a light lunch.

When: Saturday August 26, 10am - 1pm
Where: New Council Chambers, Trades Hall, 54 Victoria St, Carlton South
Contact: email Sam Hatfield or Paul Sutton for more information. Find out more on the Facebook Event page, and register here

Monday August 28: Asbestos Webinar
Australia has one of the world's highest rates of asbestos-related diseases and a legacy of asbestos contaminated materials (ACMs) in our built environment. For decades, the trade union movement has fought to eliminate and ban exposure to asbestos in Australia. In 2013, after consistent efforts from the union movement, the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA) was established with the aim of preventing exposure to asbestos in order to eliminate asbestos-related diseases.

Victoria eventually followed the Federal government's lead with the announcement of the Victorian Asbestos Eradication Agency (VAEA) in 2016.

Join us on Monday 28th August, 7:00 pm to learn more about the ASEA and VAEA, the trade union movement's involvement in the eradication of asbestos in Australia, and why we need to move away from the management of asbestos and towards a program of asbestos elimination in our built environment.

Co-hosting this webinar will be Assistant Secretary of Victorian Trades Hall Council, David Cragg, to provide a union perspective on the issue.
More information: email Roxanne Chaitowitz or phone (03) 9659 3511. Register here.

Ask Renata
Hi Renata. We are currently putting together an emergency procedures list to display in the workplace and was wondering if there is a standard format for this and if so what this format might be? Is there a standard format that we can pursue ?

When you refer to 'emergency procedures' do you mean evacuation procedures or procedures in relation to something else?

I will assume you do mean evacuation procedures. I don't have any standard formats, but there is some guidance available from WorkSafe Victoria and other regulators. Go to this page on our site which has information and also links to a number of publications and guides which will be useful.

What you do and how much detail you need depends on the size of your workplace, number of workers/others and also the types of hazards (and therefore risks of emergencies arising). Many employers organise to have a specialist company come in to assist them in developing the emergency procedures, and this may well be what needs to happen in your workplace. Remember that it's the employer's legal duty to provide and maintain for employees a working environment that is safe and without risks to health (see Duties of Employers) and this means also employing someone with the expertise to provide advice. The employer also has duties to other persons (so the clients, visitors, etc) and the 'person' with management or control of the workplace has a duty with regards the safety of the workplace and the means of entering and exiting it.

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.

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Asbestos News
Continuing cases of workers and the public being exposed to asbestos on large sites highlights the failure of our current 'asbestos management' approach.

CFMEU: asbestos discovered in Chandler Hwy widening project
The construction union, the CFMEU, has said that workers and the local community have been put at risk from a large amount of asbestos exposed during works to widen the Chandler Highway, in Melbourne's inner east. Dr Gerry Ayers, OHS manager with the union, has said the union had stopped demolition work at the old Australian Paper Mill site at Fairfield after medical experts discovered that construction was happening on contaminated soil. Part of the road project has been shut down and construction of a nearby residential tower has also been halted.

The $110-million Chandler Highway widening project, which involves widening the highway to include six lanes and a new bridge, started in the middle of this year. The union said the company in charge, Seymour White, had not done enough to protect the community. "We have had a lot of windy days and the company concerned have done nothing to remove or decontaminate the soil, and made no efforts to have any dust suppression work process," Dr Ayers said. "They have created all sorts of dust, knowing there is asbestos in the soil."

On the other hand,VicRoads chief executive John Merritt reassured the public the area was safe and said work stopped as soon as the contaminated soil was uncovered on Tuesday. "The site is safe, the material has been isolated and managed … and we'll make sure the materials are handled in a way the public is protected," he said. "Prior to work starting, quite a deal of sampling of the soils had been taken, but none of that revealed any asbestos contamination. Unfortunately, once the excavations have taken place, concerns were raised." 

The CFMEU, WorkSafe and VicRoads are working together to clean up the site, which has since been closed. 
Read more: Asbestos contamination stops works on Chandler Highway widening project, ABC News online

ETU fears members exposed to asbestos at multiple sites 
The NSW branches of the Electrical Trades Union have been in the news this week over fears their members have been exposed to asbestos.The ETU says that Sunshine Sugar, which operates three sugar mills in northern NSW, was issued with a series of safety rectification notices after a union investigation found broken and badly degraded asbestos sheeting was potentially exposing workers and the public to asbestos. Union officials conducted safety inspections of the company's Condong, Broadwater and Harwood mills after workers raised concerns that management had failed to respond to their concerns in relation to the presence of dangerous, friable asbestos fibres. In response, the company has denied union allegations it put workers at risk of asbestos exposure, in response, labelling the union bullies.

The other site of concern for the union is the Sydney Metro Trains Facility at Tallawong Rd, Rouse Hill. The union is demanding assurances their workers will not be put at risk after asbestos was found there last week. It is demanding lung function testing for its members in the area, air quality testing for surrounding neighbourhoods, and asbestos awareness training for all workers on the $8.3 billion project. Transport for NSW, however, said the site is now safe and work resumed last Friday morning after being halted on the Monday, when material believed to be asbestos was found at two locations at the facility.
Read more: ETU media release: Safety issues at northern NSW sugar mills put workers and community at risk of asbestos exposure: union , and Stoush erupts over asbestos claims at sugar mills, The Daily Examiner; Union worried about worker safety after Sydney Metro asbestos find, Daily Telegraph

Yamaha quad bikes recalled
On August 4, the Australia Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) issued a nationwide recall of Yamaha youth quad bikes YFM90R 2016 and 2017 models due to possible asbestos in front and rear brake shoes and some spare parts imported. The ACCC has advised consumers not to perform any maintenance, repairs or modifications on these quad bikes that may contact or disturb the brake shoes.

Owners will be contacted about this recall. Parts are expected to be available for repairs from the end of this month. Starting September, owners of the affected vehicles should contact their Yamaha dealer to make an appointment to have the front and rear brake shoes replaced with parts free from asbestos. This will be conducted free of charge. For more information, call through 1300 593 600 or visit your nearest Yamaha dealer. Read more: ACCC Recall notice. We missed this one, so thank you SafetyCulture OHSNews.

ASEA 2017 News:
Summit - November 26 - 28, 2017
A reminder to register for the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency's 4th annual event, the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Summit 2017, which is being held at the Old Parliament House, Canberra between 26th-28th November 2017. If you haven't yet checked out ASEA's short promotional video for the Summit - watch it here. Book tickets here. Take advantage of the generous early bird discounts (book by September 22).

Read more on Asbestos in the home and Asbestos in the workplace

Union challenges 'hot-desking'
The Australian Services Union is taking the Australian Taxation Office to the Fair Work Commission to protest against a plan to extend a hot-desking trial in Melbourne to more of its employees. While the ATO claims that they have had positive feedback from staff, the union says the practice is 'dehumanising' and a 'brake to productivity'.

Jeff Lapidos, Secretary of the ASU's Taxation Officers' Branch, said his members do not want hot-desking and extending the trial is inconsistent with the ATO enterprise bargaining agreement. "There are many problems with hot-desking," Mr Lapidos said. "The first people in on the day get their choice of desk, and the people that come in later in the day don't get a choice so they have to pick up what's left."

There is mixed evidence of hot-desking and its effectiveness and effect on workers, with various workplace experts having different views.
Read more: Union to challenge ATO plans to expand hot-desking at Fair Work Commission, ABC News Online

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Volunteer male firefighters at higher risk of kidney cancers, heart disease
Australian researchers have investigated mortality and cancer incidence of Australian male volunteer firefighters and of subgroups of firefighters by duration of service, era of first service and the number and type of incidents attended.

Looking at data supplied by various fire agencies, they found that compared with the general population, there were significant decreases in overall cancer incidence and in most major cancer categories. Although there was an increased incidence of prostate cancer, it was not related to the number of incidents attended. Kidney cancer, however, was associated with increased attendance at fires, particularly structural fires. There was also evidence of an increased mortality from ischaemic heart disease, with increased attendance at fires.

The overall risk of mortality was significantly decreased, and all major causes of death were significantly reduced for volunteer firefighters. 
Read more: Glass, D, et al: Mortality and cancer incidence among male volunteer Australian firefighters [abstract] Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine online first

White collar female workers have higher levels of breast cancer
Previous studies have shown an increased risk of breast cancer in women in white-collar occupations and a reduced risk in manual and service occupations. It has been assumed that differences in reproductive pattern and lifestyle habits may explain this contrast in risk. A team of Swedish researchers studied over 14,000 women in Malmö, Sweden, to investigate this variation, and to investigate to what extent the differences were explained by risk factors related to reproduction and lifestyle.

A total of 897 women were diagnosed with breast cancer. Analyses adjusted for age showed an increased risk for white-collar workers compared with blue-collar workers and indicated higher risks in professionals, administrative and bookkeeping than among women in sales, transportation, production and service work. This difference was only marginally attenuated after adjustment for an extensive set of risk factors related to reproduction and lifestyle.

They concluded that reproductive and lifestyle factors explain only a minor part of the increased risk of breast cancer in white-collar workers, and said that further studies are needed to investigate the remaining factors for the difference in risk between occupational groups.
Read more: Kullberg, C, et al, Female white-collar workers remain at higher risk of breast cancer after adjustments for individual risk factors related to reproduction and lifestyle [Open Access article] Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine online first.

Being employed is better for older people
The authors of this paper say that negative associations between non-employment and health among older people are well established and are potentially important for successful ageing. They point out, however, that opportunities to improve health through re-employment or extending working lives are limited as such exits from employment are often unwanted and permanent. They hoped to establish increased understanding of the psychosocial mechanisms underlying non-employment and health associations in older people to identify modifiable pathways through which the negative impact of non-employment can be improved.

Using data from Scotland, they found that compared with those in employment, people who were retired, unemployed, sick/disabled and home makers were more likely to agree that this resulted in poor social engagement, low self-esteem and reduced mental engagement. The only possible exception were retirees. Associations were particularly marked among unemployed and sick/disabled respondents who also agreed that their status was a source of worry and prevented them from feeling in control
Read more: Elise Whitley, Frank Popham: Leaving the labour market later in life: how does it impact on mechanisms for health? [Open Access article] Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine online first

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OHS Regulator News

Queensland introduces industrial manslaughter
Queensland's Palaszczuk Government yesterday introduced legislative changes to create a new offence of industrial manslaughter.

Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said the creation of the new offence was one of 58 recommendations contained in Tim Lyons's Best Practice Review of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, which was released yesterday. The government commissioned the Best Practice Review, following two shocking workplace incidents at Eagle Farm racecourse and Dreamworld last year that cost six people their lives.

"We promised to get industrial manslaughter on the books in Queensland, and to send out a strong message that if you cost someone their life, you will pay," Ms Grace said. "Under our proposed laws, the maximum penalty for industrial manslaughter will be 20 years imprisonment for an individual, with a maximum fine of $10 million for a corporate offender. "Importantly, companies won't be able to hide behind elaborate corporate structures to evade their responsibilities."

Ms Grace said the Work Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Bill seeks to implement the 58 recommendations in the Best Practice Review. "Most of the recommendations relate to operational improvements for Workplace Health and Safety Queensland or the WHS Board," she said. "However, a number of these recommendations need legislative changes to the Work Health and Safety Act, the Electrical Safety Act and the Safety in Recreational Water Activities Act.
Read more: Queensland Government Media Release

WorkSafe Victoria News 
Inspectors to target structural collapse
WorkSafe Victoria this week announced that following a 'spate of incidents' its inspectors will be focussing on the risks of structural collapse during construction work as part of their latest safety blitz. During their site visits, WorkSafe inspectors will raise awareness of structural collapse risks and provide practical information and guidance to builders and contractors on the risks and safety measures required.

The incidents in the past month to be investigated by WorkSafe include: a 17-year old worker being struck by a timber-frame wall in Donvale, temporary hoarding falling down near pedestrians in a shopping area at Campbellfield and a scaffold collapsing onto a footpath in North Melbourne. Tragically, 16 workers and three members of the public have been killed since 2001 due to structural collapse at construction sites.

WorkSafe Executive Director Health and Safety, Marnie Williams, said, "We want to be very clear to builders and contractors that they have a responsibility to ensure walls, roof structures, floors, formwork and pre-cast panels are appropriately installed, supported or braced during construction work and if they fail to do so there could be deadly consequences."
Read more: WorkSafe Victoria Media Release 

Latest edition of Safety Soapbox
The latest edition was posted on August 18 - a week late due to 'technical issues'. The editorial is again by Steve Darnley from WorkSafe's Construction Program reminds industry of the danger of carbon monoxide (CO) during construction work. He refers to a recent incident occurred in Queensland, where a man had to have both legs amputated after being overcome by CO. While this incident did not occur during construction work it is a reminder to builders, contractors and construction workers of the dangers of CO.

As usual, there are a number of other items in the edition including a link to another EnergySafe Safety Alert after an uninsulated boom lift made contact with a live overhead power line. This damaged the boom lift and caused the live cable to fall to the ground. Fortunately the operator was not injured. Also attached to the electronic email is the list of reported incidents for the period from 24 July to 3 August 2017 with 36 incidents reported to WorkSafe. (Note: these dates have been recently amended!) There were numbers of potentially fatal falls, electric shocks and serious 'near misses'.  Access the August 18 edition of Safety Soapbox here - the list of reported incidents can be downloaded from the page. 

Reminder: Seminars around the state 
The last of WorkSafe's free seminars, run as part of the Small Business Festival Victoria, will be in Warrnambool on August 29. To register for this,  go to this page of the WorkSafe website.

NSW: Safety Alert on collapsing walls
Also targetting collapsing walls, SafeWork NSW has issued a safety alert Dangers from masonry walls on construction or demolition sites, following the recent death of one worker and serious injuries to another in separate brick wall collapses on Sydney construction sites, which are the latest in a series of serious incidents involving masonry walls collapsing on construction and demolition sites. Other incidents have also resulted in deaths or serious injuries. It begins: "Inadequately secured masonry brick or block walls expose workers and members of the public to a risk of death or serious injury."

Safe Work Australia News 
October is National Safe Work Month
Safe Work Australia has begun letting us all know that October is National Safety Month - when the national body, as well as the state and territory OHS/WHS regulators will run activities, seminars and more. SWA is urging people to "commit to improving health and safety in your workplace and share your knowledge and experience" this October.

Workers and employers can already visit the National Safe Work Month website, access the campaign kit, and run a safety initiative in their workplace.  SWA is asking everyone to:

  • Share their safety initiative on social using the hashtag #safeworkmonth,
  • Enter the Workplace Reward for a chance to win $5000
  • Subscribe on the website to keep up to date on all things National Safe Work Month.


Reminder: August is Tradie month
August is Tradies Health Month, with Safe Work Australia and the state/territory regulators calling on tradies to make their health – and the health of their co-workers – a priority. SWA will be publishing a collection of data, videos, resources and information on its website.It is probably no surprise that trades workers make the second highest number of serious claims related to musculoskeletal injuries compared with other occupations. Source: SWA media release and website; Tradies National Health Month website.

More useful seminars
1 - Safe use of ladders

This seminar, released by SWA as part of Tradies Health Month, provides a step-by-step guide on managing the risks associated with the use of ladders.

SWA says that while using a ladder can seem intuitive, there are some key points to remember prior to using it, not only to ensure one's safety, but in the event of a fall.  "Falling from a ladder is one of the most common causes of injury across the construction industry, and we, as roof tilers have to live with and manage this risk daily."

This seminar was produced by the Roof Tiling Association of Australia in consultation with Safe Work Australia, and is also available as a podcast.

2 - The risks of working at heights
Another seminar as part of Tradies Health Month, this video discusses the key considerations to take before working at height, including designing the work to be conducted as much as possible at ground-level, and conducting pre-job assessments.   Watch the video here, or listen to it on SoundCloud as a podcast.

This video was also produced as a part of a series of videos by the Roofing Tile Association of Australia. While they both features roof tilers, the advice on use of ladders and the risks of working at happlies across industries.  

SafeWork Australia Fatality statistics
There has been no update on the SWA webpage since last week - as at August 2, 110 workplace fatalities had been reported to the national body.  To check for updates and full figures for 2017, go to the Safe Work Australia Work-related fatalities webpage.

The latest monthly fatality report published remains that for April 2017, during which there were 13 work-related notifiable fatalities. To download the latest report, go to the Notifiable Fatalities Monthly Report webpage.

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International News

USA: Protecting what really makes America great
The recent activity by the Trump administration aimed at rolling back workplace safety protections is compromising worker safety, top experts Kathleen Rest and David Michaels have warned. They say if you work, or know someone who does, you need to pay attention, as people's lives are literally at stake. Rest, who heads the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Michaels, a university professor who was the head of the US safety regulator OSHA under Obama, note: "Since January, we've seen delays and rollbacks in workplace protections. For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed weakening protections for workers exposed to cancer-causing beryllium and delayed enforcement of its silica rule, increasing the likely incidence of lung disease. It has delayed the electronic submission of injury and illness data and stopped releasing public information about enforcement actions, inhibiting public and researchers' access to data that can inform prevention. And Congress has permanently terminated OSHA's ability to fine employers with a long-standing pattern of injury and illness record-keeping violations, a previously important signal to others in the industry." Rest and Michaels add: "Equally worrisome are proposed budget cuts for research, education and training designed to improve the health and safety of our nation's workplaces - research that enhances knowledge on existing and future hazards; that underpins government policies and workplace practices; and that spurs innovations in workplace safety." They conclude: "For the sake of our own loved ones - and the collective welfare of the nation's current and future workforce, it is a time for vigilance and voice on behalf worker health and safety research and enforcement. We need to raise our voices, speak out, and hold our elected leaders accountable for ensuring that our science-based worker protections remain strong." Read more: InsideSources. Source: Risks 813

USA: Ivanka Inc - An Investigation
A recent Washington Post investigation into Ivanka Trump's supply chain revealed that her apparel and footwear company relies exclusively on overseas factories in countries like Bangladesh, Indonesia and China, where wages are low and the rights of the primarily female workforce are often repressed. This is despite the fact that her father, President Trump, continues to push an "America First" agenda with an emphasis on bringing manufacturing back to the United States, and Ivanka herself recently wrote a book to support #WomenWhoWork. But, as ILRF's partner, Kalpona Akter, executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, told Post reporters, these women garment workers "are making you beautiful, but [they] are starving." 
Source: International Labor Rights Forum


Victoria: Company fined after crane topples
L Arthur Pty Ltd, a company providing transport services and integrated logistics services including: machinery relocation and heavy haulage services; quarantine services; container services; and warehouse and distribution services, was last week convicted and fined over an incident which occurred on 23 June 2015.

On that day an employee was operating a Linmac 14 tonne capacity, articulated telescopic-boom crane to move an empty 40 foot shipping container from one part of the site to another. The container to be moved was situated hard against the west wall of a warehouse. The ground sloped away to the west from the warehouse, and the crane was also slightly off-set to the west of the container. The container was then rigged for lifting. There was a risk of death or serious injury to employees in the event of the crane rolling or the container falling if, in performance of the task at that particular site, the crane exceeded its operational capacity. As the lift commenced, the container swung to the west, and as the crane was positioned on ground sloping in that direction, the momentum of the container slowly tipped the crane onto its side. The falling crane narrowly missed a person who had to move to avoid being struck. It was pure luck that one was injured in the incident. The company pleaded guilty and was with conviction fined $20,000 plus $5,818 costs.

To check the past prosecutions and for any updates before next week, go to WorkSafe's Prosecution Result Summaries & Enforceable Undertakings webpage.

Note: In last week's edition of SafetyNet, we ascribed the source of two prosecution items (the items on prosecutions in NSW and the NT) incorrectly. The correct source was the publication OHSAlert. This is a very informative and reputable publication. We sincerely apologise to the publishers of OHSAlert, Specialty News Pty Ltd, for any inconvenience caused.

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