SafetyNet 429

SafetyNet 429

SafetyNet 429, November 29, 2017

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Ask Renata
Hello Renata
Recently at our workplace, there was an incident which was a crushing, which could have resulted in major injury or even death. Is this event notifiable to WorkSafe? Who is responsible in filling out a incident report form? Does the company need to consult with HSRs in the process of developing a incident report? If a supervisor receives notification of the incident via email, what is his responsibilities and must he report this to HSR and initiate the filling out of a incident report form?

Whether an incident must be notified to WorkSafe depends on the severity of the injury. If an incident results in a death or requires the person to get substantial medical treatment, then the employer must notify WorkSafe immediately.  Notification in writing is also required, within 48 hours of immediate notification, using only the form approved by the Authority - either faxing, emailing or completing the form online. The incidents are listed in sections 37 - 39 of the OHS Act -  see this page to check out what these are.

In your situation, if the person got immediate treatment as an in-patient or if there was any part amputated or if there was a separation of skin from underlying tissue - then this was a notifiable incident. .

In terms of your other questions:

  • Under s 58(1)(a)(ii) of the Act, an HSR has the right to inspect any part of a workplace immediately in the event of an incident or any situation involving an immediate risk to the health or safety of any person. So you (the HSR) should have been notified and have the right to participate in the investigation
  • EVEN if this incident is not strictly required to be notified to WorkSafe, because is was a near miss which could have resulted in death/serious injury, there should absolutely be an investigation and report done by the company. 
  • Under sections 35 & 36 of the Act the employer must consult with HSRs in a wide range of instances which include identifying hazards and risks and then when making decisions about what controls need to be implemented - the purpose of an investigation into the incident is to take all measures to ensure that the hazard or risks are eliminated or minimised.

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.

Don't forget: 7pm, TONIGHT. November 29, Webinar on PINs
PINs Get Things Done is the latest in the VTHC OHS Unit's webinar series and touches on some of the take-home messages from the 2017 HSR Conference on issue resolution. The webinar will cover common questions HSRs ask when it comes to issuing a PIN, such as when to use it, what to do if there is a health and safety problem at work, inspectors and PINs, and what to do if your PIN is challenged by your employer or canceled by an inspector. Register now.

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Fair Work rejects EA providing for split shifts
A Fair Work Commission full bench has upheld the rejection of an enterprise agreement providing for split shifts. The Transport Workers Union subsequently announced a national day of action against such shift arrangements, claiming they cause fatigue and high injury rates.

The full bench this week dismissed the first of three grounds of appeal against FW Commissioner Nick Wilson's refusal to approve Aerocare Flight Support Pty Ltd's 2017 enterprise agreement to replace its 2012 EA.

In August, Commissioner Wilson found that Aerocare workers had not "genuinely agreed" to the 2017 EA because hundreds of casual employees weren't permitted to vote, and the EA failed the better off overall test (BOOT), in providing limited access to overtime payments and requiring workers to work more than one short shift per day

The Transport Workers Union welcomed the decision, and reiterated claims from March this year that low wages forced some Aerocare employees to sleep in unsafe and unclean areas of airports between split shifts.  It said split shifts were causing high injury rates and safety risks at airports, and workers would hold protests against introducing them across the industry, at Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney airports. "Aerocare has failed in its attempt to legalise wage theft and have this substandard agreement pushed through. It has failed to win another four years of chaining its workforce to below poverty rates and split shifts, which means they are at work for up to 17 hours a day but paid just six hours pay," said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.

"The system is clearly broken since these employees are currently operating on even worse conditions, under the old agreement. It's time for airports and airlines, which benefit financially from the appalling conditions for Aerocare workers, to be held accountable," he added.

The impending Federal Court case would have implications for all aviation employees and other types of shift workers, like nurses, construction workers and shop employees, the union said.
Read more: Fair Work rejects an Aerocare attempt to legalise wage theft. TWU Media Release. Source: OHS Alert

Asbestos News
ASEA is under threat - again
Established following a national review into asbestos - established by the previous Labour Government and triggered by union and asbestos diseases support group pressure - the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency is once again under threat. The current conservative Coalition Government is reviewing its budget, and and there are well-founded fears the independent organisation will be wound back in favour of a smaller unit operating within the Department of Employment.
Read more: The Age

ASEA Progress Report released
The Chair for the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Council, Diane Smith-Gander officially launched the National Strategic Plan Progress Report 2016-17 [pdf] at the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Summit in Canberra on Monday 27 November 2017.

2016-17 was the second full year of the implementation of the National Strategic Plan for Asbestos Management and Awareness 2014-18.

Agency CEO, Peter Tighe said "I am pleased to report that significant work continues to be undertaken across Australia by all governments contributing to the deliverables and outcomes of the plan.
Read more: ASEA Media Release

The true burden of asbestos in Australia
One of the keynote speakers at this year's ASEA forum, Professor Tim Driscoll, from the University of Sydney School of Public Health said, "While mesothelioma accounts for over 700 deaths per year in Australia, the true burden of asbestos related disease is over 4000 Australian lives every year." The figures are:

  • 766    mesothelioma
  • 3107  asbestos-related lung cancer
  • 140    asbestos-related ovarian cancer
  • 48      laryngeal cancer
  • 77      asbestosis

See the ASEA Facebook page

Interim report released on illegal asbestos imports
The Federal Senate Economics References Committee has made 26 recommendations in its interim report [pdf] on the threat of asbestos imports, tabled last week, which forms part of its broad ongoing inquiry into non-conforming building products. It was established to inquire into non-conforming building products such as unsafe electrical lighting and structural plywood in mid-2015, before agreeing to extend its scope to illegally imported asbestos products and combustible cladding, after the UK's Grenfell Tower disaster.

The report said that WHS legislation "needs to be strengthened to specifically provide that where illegally imported asbestos is discovered, it is mandatory that it be removed and disposed of, providing it is safe to do so; and that the costs of any such removal and disposal will be borne by the importer of the illegal asbestos".

Other recommendations include that the Australian Government:

  • take steps to strengthen all relevant Federal and state legislation to address the illegal importation of asbestos, and ensure the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA) is adequately funded;
  • mandate and fund asbestos awareness training for a "wide range of occupations" in the construction industry, and implement a comprehensive asbestos education program for all importers; 
  • prioritise the prosecution of illegal asbestos importation cases, and review maximum penalties with a view to increasing them; and more

Further recommendations include that: 

  • the ASEA develop an online one-stop-shop for supply chain participants to access information on the illegal importation of asbestos; 
  • the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission conduct compulsory recalls of asbestos-containing consumer products, excepts where such a recall could create significant risks (and more)

It should be noted that the Coalition members of the committee issued a dissenting report. Source: OHS Alert

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

Tow truck drivers call for reduced speed limits
Following a recent incident where a man's arm was severed while working on the side of a freeway, picking up a broken-down car, a group of tow truck drivers is calling for a new road rule forcing drivers to slow down to 40km/h for emergency vehicles to be extended to them. There have been many 'near-misses' and tow truck drivers fear for their lives every time they are out in traffic. 
Read more: The Age

International Union News
France: Government forced to act on police suicides
The French government has been forced to act after eight police officers including a high-profile former police chief killed themselves in the same week. The latest suicides bring the number of French police officers to have taken their lives this year to 45. There have also been 16 suicides by members of France's military police, the gendarmerie nationale. The most high profile death was that of Antoine Boutonnet, France's former police chief in charge of fighting hooliganism, found dead in his office, and believed to have used his service weapon. France's interior minister Gérard Collomb has arranged to meet with police unions after the latest spate of suicides. He has also asked police chiefs to put together a list of recommendations aimed at cutting the number of suicides. The move comes after a January 2015 initiative aimed at cutting suicide numbers in the police forces. "Confronted on a daily basis by human misery, violence and the worst that you can find in humans, police can no longer put up with a lack of consideration towards them, which is a factor in these tragic acts," said the Unité-SGP police union. Source: Risks 827

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Fewer hours work improves sleep and reduces stress
According to new research published in BMJ's Occupational and Environmental Medicine, a reduction of working hours may be beneficial.

The researchers from Sweden and the Netherlands wanted to investigate how employees use their time if their working hours were reduced: does total workload (paid and non-paid work) decrease, and recovery time increase, when work hours are reduced?

Over 600 full-time public sector employees were randomised into intervention group and control group. The intervention group reduced worktime to 75 per cent with preserved salary for 18 months. Data were collected at baseline, after 9 months and 18 months. Time-use was reported every half-hour daily between 06:00 and 01:00 during one week at each data collection. Data were then analysed with multilevel mixed modelling.

They found that total workload decreases even though the amount of time spent on domestic tasks increases during workdays. Importantly, the amount of time spent on recovery activities also increases on workdays.

Unsurprisingly, the researchers concluded that a 25 per cent reduction of working hours for full-time workers resulted in decreased total workload and an increase of time spent in recovery activities, which is in line with the suggestion that worktime reduction improves sleep and may be beneficial for long-term health and stress.
Read more: Schiller, H, et al, Total workload and recovery in relation to worktime reduction: a randomised controlled intervention study with time-use data [Open Access article] OEM

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OHS Regulator News

WorkSafe Victoria news
Notice to improve safety at Melbourne Market upheld
An attempt by the Melbourne Market Authority (MMA) to overturn a WorkSafe improvement notice in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has been unsuccessful.

The improvement notice was issued after a MMA employee working at the Melbourne Market in Epping was struck from behind by a powered mobile buggy travelling in the wrong direction along Buyers Walk in May 2016. The employee was knocked to the ground and suffered bruising.

After the incident, a WorkSafe inspector visited the market and observed that there were no physical barriers in place to separate pedestrians from powered mobile plant along the pedestrian walkway. The inspector issued the MMA with an improvement notice requiring it to separate pedestrian traffic on the walkway from powered mobile machinery operating on Buyers Walk.

The MMA appealed the notice to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) arguing that the vehicles permitted on the walkway were either unlikely to cause significant injury or were not considered "powered mobile plant" under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. It also argued that the installation of bollards or barriers would impede the operation of the Buyers Walk area by restricting the ability of stall holders to use the space to display and move their produce.

The matter was scheduled to be heard last month but, one day prior to the hearing, the MMA agreed to withdraw the proceedings. Consequently, VCAT ordered that the inspector's improvement notice be upheld.
Read more: WorkSafe Media Release

Tasmania: Coroner remakes recommendations after another chainsaw death
Tasmania's Coroner has repeated five recommendations from his recent investigations into six chainsaw-related fatalities, after hearing that a man who was fatally struck by a branch probably would have lived if he had been wearing a helmet. Earlier this year, the Coroner found all six fatalities between July 2013 and March 2016 could have been prevented by complying with the applicable code and Australian Standard, or using PPE. The latest investigation into the November 2016 death found the worker was wearing protective chaps, work boots and earplugs while using a chainsaw to fell a tree when he was killed, but not a helmet.

The autopsy found that if had been wearing a helmet, the serious head injuries he sustained when struck by a falling branch probably would have been survivable.

The Coroner said it was vital to prevent people making the "same basic and deadly mistakes in future", and reiterated his earlier recommendations:

  • all chainsaw operators must undertake approved chainsaw training prior to purchasing or using a chainsaw; 
  • all persons selling chainsaws must be accredited chainsaw operators; 
  • all chainsaw operators must undergo regular practical reassessment, ideally every three years;
  • all land owners and managers be required to ensure that people permitted to use chainsaws on their land be appropriately qualified; and
  • no person under the age of 16 years be permitted to own or use a chainsaw in any circumstances.

Source: OHS Alert

Safe Work Australia News 
SafeWork Australia Fatality statistics
As at November 24, 153 workplace fatalities had been reported to the national body - this is two more than the last update on November 17. One was in the Agriculture, forestry and fishing industry, the other was in the Transport, postal and warehousing sector. The workers killed were in the following industries:

  • 57 Transport, postal & warehousing
  • 42 Agriculture, forestry & fishing
  • 28 Construction
  • 7 Arts & recreation services
  • 2 Mining
  • 3 Electricity, gas, water & waste services
  • 0 Other services
  • 0 Administrative & support services
  • 3 Public administration & safety
  • 5 Manufacturing
  • 0 Information media & telecommunications
  • 1 Retail trade
  • 0 Wholesale trade
  • 1 Health care & social assistance
  • 0 Professional, scientific & technical services
  • 2 Accommodation & food services
  • 0 Education & training
  • 0 Financial & insurance services
  • 1 Rental, hiring & real estate services

The numbers and industries vary as Safe Work receives more detailed information (to check for updates and full figures for 2017, go to the Safe Work Australia Work-related fatalities webpage).

Safe Work has now published monthly fatality report for July 2017. During this month there were 15 reported work-related fatalities, compared to 22 in June - seven male workers, four male bystanders, one female worker, and three female bystanders.

Of the 15 fatalities, four fatalities were pedestrian hit by vehicle - public road, three were as a result of a vehicle accident - public road crash, two were as a result of a vehicle accident - air crash and two were as a result of vehicle accident - other. The four remaining fatalities were due to other types of incidences.
Seven fatalities occurred in Transport, postal & warehousing workplaces, two in Agriculture, forestry & fishing workplaces, two in Construction workplaces, and two in Arts & recreation, one in Public administration & safety and one in Electricity, gas, water and waste services.
To download the latest report, go to the Notifiable Fatalities Monthly Report webpage.

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Victorian prosecutions
There has been no update to the WorkSafe prosecutions webpage since the last edition of SafetyNet.  
To check the past prosecutions and for any updates before next week, go to WorkSafe's Prosecution Result Summaries & Enforceable Undertakings webpage.

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