SafetyNet 445, May 2, 2018
Last Friday the VTHC held its annual commemoration service for International Workers Memorial Day - to remember the 27 workers killed at work over the past year, the many others who died as a result of work, and to fight to ensure that our workplaces are safe.
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International Workers Memorial Day
Remember the Dead; Fight for the Living
The VTHC held the annual International Workers Memorial Day ceremony last Friday to remember the 27 Victorian workers killed in the previous 12 months, the many others who lost their lives due to work, and to pledge to fight for the living.
Barry Naismith, on his OHSIntros FB page captured the feeling of the event: "It was one of the most impassioned and heartfelt remembrance ceremonies for many years because of the IR climate leading up to the state election in November and the recent death of construction workers Jack Browlee and Charlie Howkins in a trench collapse at a Delacombe worksite. Specials guests at the ceremony were the families of the two workers."
Speakers were VTHC secretary, Luke Hilakari, Minister Robin Scott, and Bette Phillips-Campbell (GriefWork program, Uniting) who read a statement from Lana Comrie, the wife of Charlie Howkins. After the event Minister Scott met with the families. Those attending the event were invited to a meeting to hear about the VTHC's campaign to introduce industrial manslaughter legislation in Victoria. Many of those in attendance committed themselves to the campaign. Will you? What you can do immediately is to sign the petition calling for Industrial Manslaughter.
The families support the VTHC campaign to introduce laws under which directors and managers would be held responsible and jailed for the death of workers and others on industrial worksites. "It was incredibly moving and tragic to see so many pairs of empty boots at the workers memorial service. There are far too many," Ms Cormie said of the number of workplace fatalities in Victoria. "Something needs to change and it should start with the laws being strengthened to include industrial manslaughter in Victoria."
Read more: Families of workplace accident victims back call for new industrial manslaughter offence with jail term, ABC News online; Families of Delacombe trench disaster victims join push for new laws, The Courier. Photo Album of IWMD event.
Watch the video of the meeting here
Update your FB profile pic with a commitment to the campaign.
We have a toilet and washbasin on the top floor of our retail shop which is allocated for staff. However it is never cleaned and I do not believe that anyone has ever come in to clean or take away sanitary bins. We are the only store that is not attached to a shopping centre and therefore don't have cleaners to clean the restroom. Is this allowed? If not what is the standard they have to provide?
This is not acceptable!
Under s21 of the OHS Act, your employer has duty of care to provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to health and this includes providing and maintaining adequate facilities for the health and welfare of employees. The Compliance Code for Workplace amenities and work environment, which sets out what employers need to do in order to comply with s21 of the Act states (In terms of maintaining amenities):
26.Workplace amenities need to be maintained so that they continue to meet the needs of employees. This means they need to be hygienic, safe, secure and in serviceable condition.
27. Consumable items, such as soap and toilet paper, need to be replenished regularly. Broken or damaged infrastructure and fittings (such as plumbing, airconditioning and lighting) needs to be repaired promptly. Equipment and furniture ... need to be maintained in good repair so that employees can use them safely.
28. Workplaces and amenities need to be cleaned regularly, usually daily. The cleaning schedule needs to take into account the requirement for hygienic maintenance of amenities such as dining areas, toilets, hand basins and showers. These amenities need to be cleaned more frequently, taking into account shift work, the type of work performed and the number of employees
The Compliance Code can be accessed and downloaded from the Victorian WorkSafe website. (Click here for more information and a link to the Code)
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.
World's largest stevedore targeted over dock safety failings
The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) is urging Hutchison Ports – the world's largest stevedore - to address a pattern of serious health and safety incidents across its global operations, as a dockworker was left in a critical condition following workplace collision at the company's Port Botany terminal in NSW. The 55-year-old dockworker, a member of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), fell seven metres from her cabin to the concrete below. She remains in an induced coma in hospital after undergoing emergency brain surgery at a Sydney hospital.
The ITF's executive board met in London last week and passed a resolution "strongly urging Hutchison Ports to address a pattern of serious health and safety incidents across their global operations." The resolution added: "Hutchison Ports [must] correct its safety record and mitigate any further risk to its workforce and ensure involvement of union representatives."
Paddy Crumlin, ITF president and MUA national secretary said: "We extend our thoughts to our member, her family, and say to them, and workers in Hutchison terminals globally, this only strengthens our resolve to make sure that every dock worker comes home safely to his or her family." He added: "This is the latest case in a pattern of serious health and safety incidents that have occurred recently in Hutchison terminals. In the past 18 months in the Asia Pacific region alone, there have been four fatal incidents at Hutchison's JICT terminal in Jakarta. Reports that MUA officials were not allowed on site, and that Hutchison has failed its obligations under local laws due to a lack of consultation with health and safety representatives in the lead-up to this tragic accident, are highly concerning." The union leader said: "Hutchison is the biggest stevedore in the world and has an obvious responsibility to its global workforce to meet occupational health and safety requirements."
Read more: ITF news release on MUA website.
Unions unhappy about Seyfarth role in safety review
Unions have criticised the Turnbull Government's engagement of employer-clientele law firm Seyfarth Shaw for a $90,000 review of fatalities in the construction sector. The Federal Government promised former Nick Xenophon Team Senator Nick Xenophon it would conduct the review during negotiations to win crossbench support in the Senate last year for legislation to re-establish the ABCC. The Department of Jobs commissioned Seyfarth Shaw to evaluate the regulatory framework relevant to the top three causes of fatalities in the building and construction industry.
The issues paper published as part of the review notes that despite the building and construction industry being a national priority under the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022, the rate of serious injury and fatality remains relatively high. The review will focus on the three most common causes of fatalities between 2007 and 2016 – falls from a height or being hit by a falling object (40 per cent) vehicle incidents (16 per cent), and contact with electricity (12 per cent).
ACTU assistant secretary Michael Borowick has said the Government's inquiry is an "empty gesture" with no scope to address the serious issues with health and safety standards in the construction industry. "Forty people have died at work so far this year, we need action now to make workplaces safer."
The CFMMEU construction and general division's national secretary, Dave Noonan, says the "so-called concessions" won by the crossbench senators showed that "they've been comprehensively conned by the Government."
Source: Workplace Express
Asbestos NewsE-Safe incident alert High pressure water spray on asbestos roof
This week Workplace Health and Safety Queensland issued an 'e-Safe' alert following an incident in April where a contractor used a high pressure water spray on a roof believed to be asbestos containing material (ACM) which he had been engaged to clean and repaint. ACM debris was distributed throughout part of the property and the neighbouring property.
The site was made safe and the contractor was issued an improvement notice to remediate the site through an A Class licensed asbestos removalist. The regulator will monitor the site until the work is complete and relevant clearances obtained. Unfortunately this is not an unheard of occurrence - we know of at least one similar incident, with similar consequences for the homeowner and neighbours, in Victoria.
Read more here.
Asbestos and the gig economy
Concerns with such jobs being badly done has been mounting with the increasing popularity of job 'apps' such as AirTasker which allows people to post or bid for jobs. The app has recently introduced new measures after backlash over "cowboy tradies" accepting jobs in breach of safety and licensing laws, potentially putting themselves and others at risk.
Unions NSW has called for a new body to regulate the gig economy because of safety concerns posed by unqualified workers doing plumbing, gas fitting, electrical work and even asbestos removal, and has focused on the number potentially harmful asbestos-removal jobs being posted on the platform. In response, AirTasker has now included its own asbestos-removal badge to denote those who are actually certified to do this work. Qualified tradies are supposed to display their requisite licence number for the industry they work in and AirTasker gives special badges to qualified workers who use its platform to give them an advantage when bidding for jobs
Read more: Concerns over 'cowboy tradies' pushes AirTasker to adapt news.com.au
ASEA: The next National Asbestos Plan
Just a reminder to note the dates of ASEA's 2018 conference: November 18 - 20, where the Agency will provide participants with information on the future of asbestos management in Australia and the proactive plans we need to prevent exposure to asbestos fibres and reduce asbestos-related diseases. More information on registration fees, sponsorship opportunities, the conference program and speakers will be announced soon.
WA: Two workers killed in one week
A man has died after he was crushed at a coal mine site in Western Australia's south. Emergency services were called to Griffin Coal's Ewington site in Collie about 11pm on April 26 after reports of a workplace injury. The mine worker, aged in his 40s, died at the scene.
UnionsWA secretary Meredith Hammat offered condolences to the man's family and co-workers on Friday. "Miners do a dangerous job and the investigations that must now follow should help make it safer," she said.
Premier Mark McGowan said the tragedy would hit the Collie community hard.
WorkSafe and the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety are investigating, and a report is being prepared for the coroner.
is the second workplace fatality in WA in the one week. A 60-year-old
construction contractor died while working on the Woodman Point
wastewater treatment plant upgrade in Perth's south after he became
trapped under a steel beam.
SA: worker killed on farm
SafeWork SA is investigating a fatal workplace incident that occurred last Friday at a farm in Tanunda. The man was reportedly crushed between a tractor and an attachment while attempting to hitch the attachment onto the rear of the tractor. It is believed that the man was working alone at the time of the incident.
The incident has prompted a reminder from SafeWork SA about the hazards and risks associated with working with machinery and on farms, and the importance of identifying what can go wrong and how to prevent or minimise harm before carrying out the work.
New evidence base to drive better health and work outcomes
New Australian research has revealed the scale of health-related work incapacity and considers a new approach to improving it.
The Cross Sector Project: Mapping Australian Systems of Income Support for People with Health Related Work Incapacity [pdf], released this week, is the first examination of all major compensation and benefit systems to identify the flow of people through them, how the systems interact, and where they can be improved to deliver better health and productivity outcomes.
The study by Monash University researchers, was commissioned by the Collaborative Partnership to Improve Work Participation – a public-private sector initiative founded by Comcare that aims to deliver sustainable benefits for Australia's working age population. It mapped 10 major systems of income support in Australia: employer provided entitlements; workers' compensation (short tail and long tail schemes); motor vehicle accident compensation (lump sum and statutory benefits); life insurance (income protection and total and permanent disability schemes); defence and veterans' compensation and pensions; superannuation; and social security.
Researchers estimated 786,000 Australians who were unable to work due to ill health, injury or disability received some form of income support from a commonwealth, state, territory or private source in 2015–16, totalling around $18 billion.
This offers a new evidence base to drive initiatives to improve health and work productivity outcomes by better aligning benefit systems through a national collaborative effort. Potential improvements identified through this report include better information and data sharing to provide greater understanding of the systems of income support. There are also opportunities for better aligning service models, particularly through reforming GP certification and work capacity assessment, to reduce overlap and improve service delivery. Read more: Comcare news
OHS Regulator News
Victorian newsLatest Safety Soapbox
With apologies - we missed this in last edition of SafetyNet. In this issue, Barry Dunn - WorkSafe's Construction Program Strategy Manager - writes about his experience with the underlying causes of falls; as WorkSafe's focus in May is fall prevention. Mr Dunn starts by reminding readers: "Falls are a leading cause of death and serious injury to construction workers. This includes falls from relatively low heights."
Read more on the common issues and how to control the risks in our safety focus sheet on falls prevention [pdf].
The edition has a number of other items, both from Victoria and interstate, of interest to those in the construction sector, as well as the incidents notified to WorkSafe. In the period March 29 - April 11, there were 68 incidents reported to the regulator.
Download the latest edition of Safety Soapbox, including the attached Reported Incidents, here.
QLD: Australian-first mandatory labour hire laws now in effect
Queensland's pioneering mandatory labour hire licensing laws, which set minimum standards for labour hire providers, began in April, launched by Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace at Rugby Farm in Gatton.
Ms Grace said labour hire workers in Queensland would now have increased protection in a regulated industry where employers will be held to account for doing the wrong thing. "Our Government is leading the way in the fight to ensure some of our most vulnerable workers are not subject to exploitation and mistreatment," Ms Grace said. "Labour hire has been an unregulated industry for far too long and, unfortunately, this has meant some rogue operators with scant regard for their obligations have been able to take advantage of employees. Labour hire providers are now required to be licensed in Queensland and businesses who need to hire labour must only use licensed providers."
Road Safety Week
Safe Work Australia is urging: Drive so others survive this Road Safety Week. The road transport industry ranks among those that consistently record the highest number of work-related fatalities.
30 April to 6 May is Road Safety Week, a time to raise awareness of road safety and to remember those who have lost their lives on Australian roads.
With road crashes representing the most common cause of work related fatality, driving for work purposes is a considerable risk to a worker's health and safety.
Workers' compensation claims caused by work-related vehicle incidents generally lead to more time off work when compared to most other workplace claims and vehicle crashes account for approximately 38 per cent (average from 2007-2016 in Australia) of all worker fatalities. Read more: SWA Media Release
Safe Work Australia Fatality statistics
There has not been an update to the Safe Work Australia webpage on reported fatalities since the last edition of SafetyNet when we reported that as of 20 April 2018, there had been 40 fatalities reported. To check for updates and more details on fatalities since 2003, go to the Safe Work Australia Work-related fatalities webpage).
Similarly, the latest monthly fatality report remains that for September 2017. During this month there were 12 reported work-related fatalities, eight workers and four bystanders - all male. To download the latest report, go to the Notifiable Fatalities Monthly Report webpage.
Victoria: Ricegrowers Ltd fined $260,000 following death
Agricultural processor Ricegrowers Ltd was last week convicted and fined $260,000 following the death of a maintenance worker at a stock feed plant in Tongala in 2014. The company pleaded guilty to one count of failing to provide or maintain plant that was, so far as reasonably practical, without risks to health and safety.
In September, 2014 the 53-year-old worker was performing maintenance on the inside of a surge bin when the wooden plank he was standing on snapped - he was killed when he then fell onto a sensor-activated screw conveyor at the bottom of the bin. The Melbourne County Court heard there was no emergency stop button within reach of the surge bin's access plate that would have allowed an observer to stop the screw conveyor in the event it started operating during maintenance.
WorkSafe Acting Executive Director Health and Safety Paul Fowler said employers must ensure protective devices such as override buttons and guards are in place to prevent workers being caught in moving plant during maintenance work. "It is absolutely unacceptable for workers to be exposed to horrific injuries or death because of improperly maintained or unsafe plant," he said.
Read more: WorkSafe Media Release
To check whether any are loaded before next week, go to the Prosecution Result Summaries & Enforceable Undertakings webpage.
Queensland: $400k enforceable undertaking after trench collapse
Workers and their communities in the Emerald area and across the Central Highlands will benefit from more than $400k of safety and injury prevention initiatives under an enforceable undertaking entered into by the local council.
The undertaking was agreed to in the wake of a trench collapse which left a worker with multiple injuries. Workers employed by a sub-contractor engaged by the Central Highlands Regional Council were operating an excavator to dig a trench for sewer pipes when the injured man was asked to pass a tool from a worker inside the trench to the excavator operator. As he was approaching the excavator and trench, the side of the trench collapsed, trapping him.
Read more: Trench collapse leads to $400k investment in worker safety and community benefits
NSW: Two PCBUs fined after translation failure
Two NSW employers have been convicted and fined for WHS offences, after a 417-visa worker who wasn't provided with translated work instructions sustained serious arm injuries.
In the NSW District Court, meat processing facility operator EC Throsby Pty Ltd (ECT) and labour-hire company Mondex Group Pty Ltd both pleaded guilty to breaching sections 19(1) and 32 of the NSW Work Health and Safety Act 2011, in exposing the 22-year-old student from Hong Kong to the risk of death or serious injury.
In November 2014, the worker, provided by Mondex to ECT as a night cleaner, was cleaning a meat mincer when his left arm came in contact with the rotating paddle. He sustained serious injuries including lacerations to his hand and forearm, a severed tendon and a compound fracture to his distal radius and ulna.
Two weeks before the incident, ECT disabled the mincer's proximity switch so the machine could keep operating with the lid open, to increase production, having determined that by-passing this safety feature would pose minimal risks to meat production workers who weren't required to access the top of the machine. However, it did not assess the risk this posed to cleaners.
The facility's cleaning supervisor verbally instructed the worker that the mincer operated while the lid was open, and that he needed to keep his arms clear of the paddle, or stop the paddle with the emergency stop button and use a stick with a scrubbing pad attachment to clean it. Judge Andrew Scotting found the worker was inadequately trained on how to clean the modified mincer and "the procedure relied on behavioural controls. There was no written procedure for the task and it had not been translated for the workers of a non-English speaking background." He found that although ECT translated its protocols and work instructions into the languages of all 417 working holiday visa workers who performed processing roles, and provided these to Mondex, due to an oversight, translated work instructions were not provided to cleaners.
Both companies were fined: ECT $90,000 plus $35,000 in costs, and Mondex
$15,000 plus $33,800 in costs, after 25 per cent discounts for their
early guilty pleas.
Source: OHS Alert
Global: Day of Action Against Samsung
An International Day of Action Against Samsung to protest health, labour and human rights violations by the electronics giant took place on May 1st in Asia, Europe and the United States.The actions, in solidarity with Samsung factory workers everywhere, included delivery of several petitions (for example the ITUC petition) with over 200,000 signatures calling on Samsung to protect their hundreds of thousands of electronics factory workers around the world. Demands for transparency come on the heels of a Samsung lawsuit against the South Korean government which seeks to prevent public disclosure of hazardous chemicals monitoring information.
Samsung is receiving increased international pressure to address labor, health, and human rights violations and its refusal to name the dangerous chemicals workers are exposed to in its factories. Samsung, say organizers, is the tip of the iceberg of an industry that must become transparent about chemical use and accountable to health, safety and human rights of workers. In March, three UN Human Rights Experts expressed concern about reports of threats against factory workers and civil society organizations who reported on unhealthy working conditions at Samsung Vietnam factories. "Hundreds of thousands around the world call on Samsung to protect its workers from toxic exposures and to stop harassing those who speak out."
The international actions and petition demand that Samsung publicly withdraw threats against workers and civil society groups, disclose all chemicals used in its factories, desist from efforts to suppress information, use safer alternatives, and guarantee workers' right to organise independent trade unions.
Coordinators of the day of action say electronics production is chemically intensive with many hazardous chemicals resulting in contamination that has sickened many workers. The South Korean occupational health advocacy group, SHARPS, has documented over 300 cases of cancer and other serious illnesses in electronics industry workers, many of them suffered by workers from Samsung factories. At least one hundred and eighteen Samsung factory workers in South Korea have died due to occupational illnesses since 2007. The South Korean government and courts have connected a growing number of cases of serious occupational illnesses to work in Samsung factories.
Read more: Global Day of Action Against Samung.