SafetyNet 400, April 26, 2017
Welcome to our first edition of SafetyNet after the Easter break. This edition is quite long - but cannot hope to cover all the important incidents and news in the OHS world over the past four weeks.
It has been a tragic time: another Victorian worker killed on a farm; a five year old boy killed when he fell from an amusement ride; and we lost long time anti-asbestos campaigner Louise Williams.
Again and again we will repeat: get active in OHS at your workplace. You can help save lives: every death is preventable. 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.
Another worker killed in Victoria
It is with great sadness that we report that in the time since our last edition, another worker was killed in Victoria. On the afternoon of Wednesday March 29 farmer was killed after the tipper trailer he was operating collapsed and crushed the cabin of his prime mover. The incident occurred on the man's property at The Cove, 20km southeast of Warrnambool. The trailer had been backed across a road at right angles to the prime mover and then raised to release a load of crushed rock when it is believed the wheels on the driver's side of the trailer slipped off the road's edge. This caused the raised trailer to tilt sideways and collapse into the driver's side of the cabin.
WorkSafe is also investigating the circumstances surrounding an incident in which a five-year-old boy suffered serious injuries after falling from the 'Cha Cha' carnival ride in Rye on the afternoon of April 17. Initial inquiries indicate that the ride may have been used by carnival workers and their families after the carnival had closed. WorkSafe inspectors attended the scene and said that inquiries would be focussing on a number of issues, in particular the height requirements for riders, to determine if all safety procedures had been followed. Unfortunately the young boy died of his injuries on the weekend. His death has been classified as a workplace fatality.
April 28, 2017 International Workers' Memorial Day
Friday is International Workers' Memorial Day - the day we remember the dead and fight like hell for the living. As workers keep losing their lives, suffering terrible injuries and contracting work-related disease, the importance of such a day cannot be overstated. Make sure that if you cannot attend a formal event, you organise something at your workplace to mark the day.
On IWMD, we remember the 2.3 million workers who die, the 1.2 million who are injured and the 160 million who fall ill each year from unsafe, unhealthy or unsustainable work and workplaces. And in Australia: Workers bear the cost of hazardous work It is workers, not employers, who overwhelmingly bear the costs of workplace injuries and diseases, an official Australian report has shown. The report by Safe Work Australia revealed three quarters of the costs of workplace injuries and diseases is borne by the injured workers themselves, with just 5 per cent borne by employers. (see Safe Work Australia Report).
This year's international theme 'Good health and safety for all workers whoever they are' focuses on inequalities in occupational health and unions' role in narrowing the inequalities gap. HSRs can and do make a huge difference in workplaces - so go to the the VTHC IWMD page on the We Are OHS website where you can get tips and download the IWMD poster. Remember to use social media to let everyone know what you're doing: use the hashtags #BootsOut and #IWMD Find out about events around the world and access international resources on the TUC website here.
April 28 Events:
VTHC: Corner Lygon and Victoria Streets, Carlton South
Everyone is invited to attend the annual commemoration service at the Trades Hall. It will commence at 10.30am. There will be a short ceremony where workers killed in Victoria will be remembered, followed by a minute's silence at 11am. All welcome.
Morewell: Centenary Rose Garden, Commercial Road
Organised jointly by the Asbestos Council of Victoria (GARDS) and the Gippsland Trades and Labour Council, the International Workers Memorial Day Annual Wreath Laying Ceremony will honour those who have lost their lives through workplace accidents and illness. Beginning at 11.00am, the event will feature guest speakers, music, an ecumenical service and will be followed by a free community BBQ provided by the GTLC.
Ballarat: Trades Hall, 24 Camp Street, Ballarat VIC 3350
The Ballarat Trade Hall will be holding a morning tea at 10.30am. For more information and to RSVP, contact the BTLC on 03 5332 3666 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Memorial Service and BBQ
Friday 28th April from 5 PM
Sumsion Gardens (off Church St) Wodonga
RSVP & spread the word on Facebook.
April 24: Out of the ashes of Rana Plaza
This week was the fourth anniversary of the shocking tragedy in Bangladesh, where 1,134 workers were killed and thousands were seriously injured when the Rana Plaza building collapsed. Chaumtoli Huq a lawyer and founder of Law@theMargins, a law and media organisation focused on social justice, and an adjunct professor at Brooklyn Law School, is calling for a Workers' Memorial and National Labour Research Institute to remember these workers. She fears that just four years after 'the horrific and tragic deaths of garment workers when the Rana Plaza building collapsed, and it seems that the workers are fading from our collective memory.'
She compares the Rana Plaza with the March 25, 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist garment factory fire in New York City - the deadliest industrial accident in the history of the city, and one of the deadliest in US history. 146 garment workers were killed – 123 women and 23 men. Most of the victims were immigrant women aged 16 to 23. In 2008, the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition (RTFC) was formed to educate the public about the fire.
But, she says, 'A little over a century later, Rana Plaza witnessed deaths tenfold. We have not progressed, but we have moved backwards.' While both tragedies led to labour movement activism, and even in Bangladesh, some 'positive developments for workers', there is much more to be done.
Chaumtoli Hug produced the first documentary - Sramik Awaaz: Workers Voices - to fully explore the lives, work, and organising efforts of Bangladesh's garment workers.
Read more: Out of the ashes of Rana Plaza, The Daily Star Weekend.
May 3 Film screening - Sramik Awaaz: Workers Voices
APHEDA, the trade union international aid and education organisation, is running a screening of Sramik Awaaz: Workers Voices at the Kino Cinema on Wednesday May 3 at 6.30pm. After the film there will be a panel discussion featuring Michele O'Neil (National Secretary, Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia), Dr Samia Khatun (Research Fellow, University of Melbourne) and Nayeem Emran (Labour Rights Advocacy Lead, Oxfam Australia). The film was crowd-funded and this event forms part of the worker-to-worker community based dialogues proposed by Law@theMargins. The cost of tickets is $25 (includes a drink) and can be purchased through Try Booking. For more information, go to the Facebook event page.
I represent a worker who works in a noisy environment. He is chasing up on his historical hearing test records and workplace medicals with his current and past employers, to monitor his trends. Our current employer has provided some records, but has thus far refused to release his pre-employment test results. Where does the law sit on this matter? Should he have full access to these?
Under regulation 2.1.4 an employer is required to provide a copy of any results of health surveillance or medical examinations to the employee:
An employer must provide a copy of a report or summary referred to in subregulation (1) to—
- an employee to whom the report or summary relates as soon as is reasonably possible after the employer receives the report or summary;
- if an employee to whom the report or summary relates authorises in writing a third party to have access to the report or summary, that third party;
- if the Authority requests a copy of the report or summary, or if the employer is otherwise required by these Regulations to give the Authority a copy of the report or summary, the Authority
So, I would say, YES the worker has a right to have a copy of all the medical/hearing test reports/results. If you can't get them, then I would contact WorkSafe or the union. The same right applies to other medical test/surveillance results.
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.
VALE 'Mesothelioma Warrior' Louise (Lou) Williams
It is with great sadness that we report that Ms Louise Williams, who was a tireless fighter in the battle to have asbestos banned around the world, passed away on April 18. Diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma in 2003 at the age of 48, Lou was active both in Australia and internationally. She spoke at many conferences, kept a very up to date blog and was an active Facebook campaigner on numbers of issues, such as making Keytruda available to mesothelioma sufferers. Lou was also deeply involved with the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency from the very beginning, participating wherever she could and attending the agency's conferences in Melbourne in 2014 and Brisbane 2015 - unfortunately her health didn't allow her to travel to Adelaide in 2016, sending a video of support instead. The VTHC, Renata in particular, sends our deepest condolences to her family and many friends.
ASEA Media Release
NSW: Ombudsman's Report on Asbestos
Last week, the Acting NSW Ombudsman Professor John McMillan tabled his special report to Parliament 'Asbestos: How NSW government agencies deal with the problem'. This is a follow-up to a special report made in November 2010. That report drew attention to serious gaps in the NSW Government's response to asbestos and how it can be handled safely. The Government accepted the majority of recommendations in the 2010 report and introduced important changes to the way asbestos is managed in NSW. In his special report, Prof McMillan called for the NSW Government to implement seven-year-old recommendations to introduce a stand-alone Asbestos Act and vendor-disclosure laws. He also called for the Government to prioritise implementing the 2010 recommendation to make it compulsory for vendors and landlords of properties (constructed prior to 1988) to provide reports on the presence (or otherwise) of asbestos-containing materials to purchasers or tenants.
Safety alert on imported vehicles - electric scooters and Vespa scooters with side-cars
The Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities Imported Materials with Asbestos Working Group has issued two safety alerts relating to chrysotile asbestos being found in brake components on Vespa scooters with side cars and imported electric scooters.
- Vespa scooter and side car with asbestos-containing brake pads
- Asbestos in brakes of imported electrical scooters
Unions, campaigners urge listing asbestos on 'Rotterdam convention'
The eighth conference on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade – the formal name for the Rotterdam Convention – is about to take place in Geneva in April-May 2017. Australia and many other countries have urged participants to vote to include all forms of asbestos on the PIC list. In previous years there has been opposition from countries which produce and use asbestos - and those they can influence. This has included Russia, South Africa, and until very recently, Canada. With a change of government there has been a change in policy, however, and the Trudeau government has pledged to vote to list asbestos. Meanwhile, pro-asbestos groups are fighting its listing and Russian mine workers fight to keep their asbestos mines open.
Read more: Unions applaud Canada's international advocacy against asbestos Yahoo Finance; Russian Workers Are Ready to Defend Chrysotile Industry Yahoo Finance; Asbestos lobby launches attack to undermine upcoming UN Conference on trade in hazardous substances RightOn Canada
A short reminder that ASEA will this year be holding an 'Asbestos Summit' at Old Parliament House 26-28 November 2017. This year's focus will be on delegate engagement and discussion around what is the next step for the agency to eradicate asbestos and be the champion of change for the wider international community.
Asbestoswise support groups
Victorian asbestos diseases support and advocacy group Asbestoswise has many years of experience providing support to workers and families. The organisation holds regular Support Group meetings. These are usually held in the morning on the third Wednesday of every month at the 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 . Asbestoswise also holds a Bereaved Group which meets monthly. More information, contact: Shirley Bare by phone 0412 537 819 or by email.
VTHC Migrant workers survey: Were you born overseas?
Are you an International Student? How safe is your workplace?
Migrant workers get injured more than other workers. If we work together, we can reduce the
number of people getting injured at work.
The Victorian Trades Hall Council is the main organisation representing unions in Victoria. We have been
fighting for workers' rights for over 150 years. We want to help all workers in Victoria feel safe at work, so it's important that we hear about your experiences. If you were born overseas, and are working in Victoria, please complete our short survey by clicking HERE.
Friday May 12: International Nurses Day and unmissable ANMF Conference
This is a full-day conference presented by the ANMF (Vic Branch) on International Nurses Day, Friday 12 May 2017: The proven, the practical and the personal; work impacts on psychological health.
Open to workers in the health sector (not limited to nurses or ANMF members). The work that you do can have an impact on your mental and/or emotional wellbeing with outcomes such as stress, post-traumatic stress, fatigue (physical and emotional), and other physical symptoms.
The conference is aimed at all levels of nursing, midwifery and personal carers and it will feature expert speakers who will:
- provide you with the skills and knowledge to recognise and put in place strategies to improve your working life
- provide both organisational and individual strategies to prevent and manage issues such as fatigue, PTSD, stress, poor communication and bullying
- outline relevant laws
- inspire and provoke conversation.
The proven, the practical and the personal; work impacts on psychological health conference attracts up to six hours of CPD required by the NMBA for registration renewal, by 31 May 2017 Read more. Register to attend.
Have you sent in your workplace win story?
This is almost your last chance to tell us your workplace win story, so do it now! We will keep taking stories and tips on how HSRs have been able to get things done, and 'encouraged' their employer make the workplace healthier and safer for as long as we can, but the cut-off date is approaching. Your story could feature in our HSR Hero Handbook, which will provide inspiration to other HSRs. The more examples and tips we get, the more varied the industries the HSRs are from, the better our HSR Handbook will be! The OHS team has been following up those HSRs who have sent in stories. So please share. If you have a story, or if you think your HSR deserves to be recognised, participate in this project. Click here to submit your story online. Nothing will be published (either online or in hard copy) without prior permission - and yes, it's possible to remain anonymous. Check out how Gav, an HSR in the meat processing industry, how he used the OHS Act and one of the Compliance Codes to deal with a serious issue in his workplace, here.
WA: Union calls for a national inquiry into police suicide
The WA Police Union has called for a national inquiry into the rate of suicides involving police officers across Australia. According to the local press, this has been prompted by a number of suicides among police officers. Several police officers across the country have taken their lives in past weeks and months, including one WA officer who took her own life in February.
"I fear that unless we all address this issue openly in the public space, we could see more," said WA Police Union president George Tilbury. "I strongly believe the issue of police suicide is peaking and a national inquiry is needed because these tragedies are occurring right across Australia," he said.
Source: SafetyCulture OHS News
BE TRADES HALL TRAINED: VTHC OHS Training Centre
Make sure you attend training provided either 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).
The VTHC OHS Unit is now running courses in Epping, to cater for HSRs in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. This is in addition to courses in our usual locations. 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
APHEDA Annual Raffle
Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA is the global justice organisation of the Australian Union movement. It has over 40 training projects, working through 30 separate project partners in 15 countries, assisting many different communities in Southeast Asia, the Pacific, the Middle East, Southern Africa and the Caribbean. It is also running an international campaign on Asbestos: Not Here, Not Anywhere. One of its main fundraising activities is its annual raffle.
- 1st Prize: $8,000 Travel Voucher
- 2nd Prize: $2499 Bike
- 3rd Prize: $500 Book Voucher
(Tickets $5 Each)
What can you do?
Order books to sell APHEDA raffle tickets at your workplace or approach your workplace or union to order multiple books. The raffle will be drawn on Thursday June 8 Find out more: APHEDA 2017 Raffle.
UK: Health concerns hitting stressed-out teachers
Almost half of young teachers in the UK say mental health concerns could force them to quit the profession, research by the UK union NUT has found, with thousands citing heavy workloads and lack of support as a problem. The union's survey of more than 3,000 teachers under the age of 36 suggests more than four in 10 (45 per cent) may choose to leave within five years. Almost three quarters said they were working 51 hours or more per week, and nearly a quarter said they were doing more than 61 hours. Responding to the survey, led by the NUT's Young Teachers Working Party, more than three quarters (77 per cent) said their morale had declined since starting teaching, and a third (32 per cent) of newly qualified teachers specifically said they felt they had not received adequate support in their first years in the profession.
Kevin Courtney, NUT general secretary, said it was unacceptable that so many teachers were being forced to work 50-hour weeks. "Mental well-being is a key issue for young teachers and a decent work-life balance is therefore essential to facilitating good mental health," he said. "The government needs to accept its responsibility in this crisis and take positive steps to resolve the issues behind the problems of teacher workload that are clearly blighting the profession." Commenting in a stress debate at the union's annual conference, the union leader said government policies were linked to rising mental health problems in the profession. "Even more disturbingly, data on occupational suicides published by the Office for National Statistics in March 2017 shows that female primary and nursery school teachers have a heightened risk of suicide – they are 42 per cent more likely to commit suicide than the average woman," he said. "Although it may not always be possible to demonstrate a direct causal link between the stresses of teaching and such tragedies, possible links with excessive workload and stress must be taken seriously." Delegates at the conference in Cardiff voted to support action short of strike, as they emphasised that teacher stress was leading to poor learning conditions.
Read more: NUT news release. The Independent. Morning Star. Source: Risks 796
OHS Regulator News
New OHS regulations made today
the Victorian Government has today made the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 (OHS Regulations 2017) and the Equipment (Public Safety) Regulations 2017 (EPS Regulations 2017). These new Regulations will take effect on 18 June 2017.
While the new OHS Regulations 2017 are mainly the same, there are some impacts duty holders need to be aware of. The majority of changes affect workplaces:
- where asbestos is present
- that deal with the manufacture, import and labelling of hazardous substances and agricultural and veterinary chemicals
- in the construction industry
- that are mines or major hazard facilities.
According to WorkSafe, the changes maintain Victoria's already high safety standards. In some high risk areas, like asbestos removal work, they improve standards.
WorkSafe has developed a range of supporting information to provide a clear overview of the changes to the OHS and EPS Regulations. These resources are now available to support duty holders, employees and members of the public to understand the regulatory changes and their impact, and to support preparation for when the Regulations come into effect. Information and resources including a summary of the changes to both the OHS and EPS regulations, reconciliation tables providing a comparison between the regulation numbers in the 2007 and 2017 regulations. A link to the Regulations themselves can be found on this page of the WorkSafe Victoria website. The Regulations section of the OHSReps@work website will be updated over the coming weeks.
The latest edition of WorkSafe's Safety Soapbox was sent on April 21. In this edition Mark Johnson, Executive Director, Piling and Foundation Specialist Federation, provided an industry update on the delivery of the piling rig annual inspection program.
This edition of Safety Soapbox also announces that in May WorkSafe will be focusing on safety around, and the safe operation of, powered mobile plant. Inspectors will be visiting construction sites across Victoria to ensure employers (and self-employed persons) are identifying hazards and controlling risks associated with the operation of powered mobile plant. Find out more about what inspectors will be focusing on by viewing the latest Construction Safety Focus - Powered Mobile Plant information sheet [pdf].
In the period March 31 - April 13, there were 69 Reported Incidents including several incidents with nail guns; falls from heights; electric shocks; lacerations; an amputation and a worker's finger being degloved; and 'near misses'. This edition also has news from other states and territories, and also international news. Read the April 21 Safety Soapbox here, it also includes the link to the list of reported incidents.
New animation on electrical safety
WorkSafe has released a short animation to remind electricians and construction workers about electrical safety. Watch it here. And for more information, read Construction Safety Focus - Electrical Safety [pdf]
Nominations for the 2017 WorkSafe Awards have opened!
The WorkSafe Awards honour businesses and individuals who have shown excellence in health and safety, or helping injured workers get back to safe work sooner. There are nine award categories - but the most important one for us is the HSR of the Year Award, which recognises HSRs who have represented their DWGs in an outstanding manner. Nominate yourself, or your HSR now.
Country Victorians asked to prioritise safety
Last week WorkSafe called on all regional businesses and workers to prioritise safety to help drive down the number of workplace deaths and injuries across Victoria.
According to new WorkSafe data, almost 7000 workers in regional Victoria were injured seriously enough last year to make a claim, this is more than 18 injuries every day. Health care and social assistance (1267 claims), manufacturing (1039) and construction (837) were the industry sectors with the highest number of claims.
The main types of injury were musculoskeletal (2136 claims), muscle or tendon injuries (1336) and lacerations or amputations (959), while the main causes of injury were poor manual handling (2386), slips, trips and falls (1547) and being hit by a moving object (1128).
WorkSafe Chief Executive Clare Amies said that, despite the fact that Victorian workplaces had never been safer, the number of Victorians killed or injured at work remained "totally unacceptable." Ms Amies said, "Last year, 26 people lost their lives at work, and the youngest was just 21. Eighteen of these fatalities were in regional Victoria. No worker should ever lose their life simply because they were doing their job."
Ms Amies said more workplaces were making a real commitment to safety, but there was always more that could be done. "It is a tragic fact that every workplace death and injury can be avoided so we need to ensure that safety is a priority," Ms Amies said.
Read more: WorkSafe media release
Reminder: WorkSafe Victoria updating website
Victoria's regulator is gradually updating its website, section by section. This means that many links on the OHS Reps@Work website may be broken. If you come across any broken links, please please send Renata an email! Thank you!!
New Guide from SafeWorkNSW
SafeWork NSW has released a new guide on the workplace management of respiratory conditions like asthma, which outlines: types of respiratory diseases and causative agents; PCBU duties; what to put in emergency respiratory management kits; and what at-risk workers should do. The information and advice is useful for Victoria too.
Read more: Workplace management of respiratory conditions including asthma
Safe Work Australia News
New report: Comparative Performance Monitoring Report 18th Edition
Safe Work Australia has released the Comparative Performance Monitoring (CPM) Report 18th Edition.
The CPM report analyses the trends in Australian and New Zealand work health and safety and workers' compensation schemes. Information in the main report and in all its supplementary material enables comparison across jurisdictions and the identification of best practice to support policy making. The report is designed to provide information to improve work health and safety, workers' compensation and related service outcomes in Australian and New Zealand schemes through accessible reporting that monitors the comparative performance of jurisdictions over time.
In releasing the report, Safe Work Australia Chair Diane Smith-Gander recognised the importance of remaining vigilant to ensure workplaces understand and comply with their work health and safety obligations. "Australia's regulators are proactively addressing work health and safety issues. The culture
of safety within workplaces improves when there is open workplace engagement. Safe Work Australia Members are working together to minimise injuries and time off work" said Ms Smith-Gander.
Download the report from this page of the SWA website
As of 26 April, 51 fatalities had been reported to SWA - this is eight more than the previous update on 24 March. The notified fatalities to date are:
- 19 in the Transport, postal and warehouse sector;
- 11 in Agriculture, forestry and fishing;
- 9 in Construction;
- 3 Arts and recreation services
- 3 in Electricity, gas, water and waste services
- 2 in Mining
- 1 in Manufacturing
- 1 in Accommodation and food services
- 1 in Public administration and safety
- 1 in Retail Trade
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 remains that for October 2016, during which there were were 27 work-related notifiable fatalities: 18 male workers, three female workers, four male bystanders and two female bystanders. To download the report, go to the Notifiable Fatalities Monthly Report webpage.
There have been a number of prosecution result summaries uploaded to the WorkSafe website since the last edition of SafetyNet, which was posted on March 28. A selection of these are reported below.
Apprentice falls - luckily just bruises ribs
Taronga Arch, a housing construction company, was lucky an apprentice suffered minor injuries when he fell about three metres on 23 March 2016 while helping to install roofing materials at a community hall.The first year apprentice stepped back onto a skylight and fell into a lounge room occupied by a number of elderly people. He was taken by ambulance to hospital suffering bruised ribs. The company pleaded guilty to failing to identify the risks, and was without conviction fined $3,000 plus costs of $3,000.
Worker falls from crane - company fined just $25,000
Geotech Group Services Pty Ltd a company operating a mechanical engineering workshop where employees service cranes and piling rigs, etc. On 11 May 2015 a worker was de-rigging a 50 tonne Zoomlion crawler crane, which included removing a counterweight. This required him to stand on the crane deck, about 2.3 m above the ground. Guardrails providing passive fall protection on the deck of the crane were incomplete and not fixed in place before the work commencing, creating a risk of death or serious injury if a worker were to fall - which he did. He suffered significant injuries including a fractured eye socket, fracture of the temporal bone, a brain bleed, fractured left shoulder, fractured occipital condyle and a bulging cervical disc. Geotech Group Services pleaded guilty and was without conviction fined $25,000 plus $7,398 costs.
Trench risks leads to fine
R.S Connell & Sons Pty Ltd was subcontracted to carry out the sewer works for a new housing estate development in Cranbourne East. The sewer works involved the digging of trenches at a depth of about 3 metres. On 4 March 2015, WorkSafe attended the workplace and observed fall from height risks to employees and members of the public that were not controlled so far as was reasonably practicable. The offender failed to reduce the risk of injury to an employee or other person as a result of falling into a trench so far as was reasonably practicable, in that: (1) the trench shields only extended 500 mm above ground, and did not have guard rails attached; and (2) there was no barricading, or any other form of exclusion zone, erected around the trenches. The company pleaded guilty and was without conviction fined $25,000 plus $8,000 in costs.
Company fined just $7,500 for worker losing part of finger
MIG Australia Pty Ltd a textile manufacturer in Moorabbin, has been fined $7,500 without conviction (plus costs of $4,027) over an incident in which a worker lost part of his finger. The cutting blade of an elastic cutting machine ('ECM'), which cut ribbons of elastic into strips, was guarded by a metallic plate placed over the danger area. That plate was partially fixed and operators were capable of reaching around it to access the danger area, as the guarding used on the ECM was not interlocked. On 3 February 2016, the company reported an incident where a worker who was using the ECM reached behind the guard to unjam the elastic - the blade fell and cut off the tip of his left middle finger. WorkSafe inspectors attending the scene noted the risk to workers as the guarding did not prevent access to the danger area when the ECM was operating. Following the incident, the company de-commissioned the ECM.
Home building company fined after roof collapse
Metricon Homes Pty Ltd, a home building company, was on March 30 convicted and fined after an employee of a subcontractor was injured in a roof collapse. Metricon was the principal contractor in the construction of a Bannockburn home. Metricon engaged a roofing contractor to supply and lay tiles, who then engaged a tiling subcontractor to tile the roof. On 6 July 2015, the house frame failed a mandatory inspection conducted by a qualified building inspector who identified ten issues, including that load bearing trusses (PT braces) in the alfresco area had not been installed. As a result, the inspector stated that work on the roof should not commence until the frame had been approved. On 7 July 2015, the required PT braces had not arrived for the carpenters to install them. The roofing contractors were not aware of the failed inspection report and commenced tiling works on the roof. An employee of the tiling subcontractor was injured when the alfresco area of the roof collapsed. He suffered a whiplash injury, concussion and abrasions when tiles landed on top of him which had to be removed before he was transported to hospital. Metricon was charged with breaching s21, was found guilty following a contested hearing and sentenced to pay a fine of $15,000, without conviction, and ordered to pay $30,000 costs.
All Saints winery prosecuted and fined after worker injured in fall
All Saints Estate Pty Ltd is the owner and operator of two vineyards, including All Saints Estate. The "Chook Shed", one of the buildings associated with the enterprise, was being demolished and replaced with a new storage facility. On Monday 16th November 2015, a casually employed gardener was approached by another casual labourer to assist in the Chook Shed demolition. Access to the roof, which at its highest point was 5-6 metres high, was via a fixed ladder. There was no fall protection in place to protect employees from a fall from height.
While walking on the roof, and carrying a roof sheet, one of the workers fell through when a fragile beam snapped and fell about 4.5 metres. He suffered a torn pelvis and hamstring, a damaged hip flexor and groin and sore ankle on his right side. The company pleaded guilty to not providing adequate information and training, and was without conviction fined $20,000 plus costs of $3,975.
Two enforceable undertakings over same incident
Brendan Foster Roofing and Plumbing Pty Ltd
On 17 August 2015 WorkSafe Inspectors observed four persons working on the roof of a pre-cast tilt slab building under construction in Warrnambool. The work was being carried out about six metres above the ground. The persons were directed to come down off the roof and the inspectors established that the principal contractor for the site was a local construction business which had engaged Welsh's Pty Ltd which had in turn sub-contracted Brendan Foster Roofing and Plumbing Pty Ltd ('the offender') to carry out the bulk of the installation of the roof sheeting as well as the laying of safety mesh. The four persons observed on the roof were the brother of Brendan Foster and three apprentices employed by the offender. The inspectors observed that Welsh's had previously installed the box gutter and one run of safety mesh under the box gutter, which had been installed in the wrong direction. The Inspector issued an improvement notice to Welsh's in relation to failing to properly install and secure roof safety mesh in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. The inspector also issued a prohibition notice to the offender, preventing any further works being conducted on the roof pending development of an appropriate SWMS to ensure the safety mesh was properly installed. The offender was charged with two offences under s 21 of the OHS Act. One charge incorporated regulation 5.1.9 of the OHS Regulations relating to the failure to have a SWMS for high risk construction work and the other charge relating to the failure to provide and maintain a passive fall protection device to control the risks of a fall from heights. The offender entered into an Enforceable Undertaking with the Authority.
Welsh's Pty Ltd
As the company contracting the work to Fosters, and also having incorrectly installed the roof safety mesh, Welsh's Pty Ltd was charged with one offence under s 21(1) and one offence under s 23(1) of the OHS Act. Both charges related to the failure to provide and maintain a passive fall protection device to control the risks of a fall from heights. The offender entered into an Enforceable Undertaking with the Authority.
Enforceable Undertaking: Mornington Peninsula Shire Council
On 13 April 2015, an eight week old infant attended the Waterfall Gully Maternal Child Health Centre with her mother for her routine health assessment. During the consultation, the infant was placed her on the floor in the middle of the consultation room. Suddenly, the heater guard fell, striking the infant on the forehead. The infant sustained a head injury with a left frontal laceration, requiring plastic surgery, left frontal bone depression fracture and small subdural haematoma. She was treated at the Monash Health Centre where she remained an inpatient for two days. An issue with the heater guard had been identified on 11 March 2011, over four years prior to the incident occurring, when a risk assessment report was provided to the Council (the 'Offender'). Since the incident, all processes in regards to occupational health and safety issues have been reviewed. The Offender was charged with one charge under section 23(1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 for failing to ensure that persons other than employees were not exposed to risks and two charges under sections 38(1) and 38(3) for failing to notify WorkSafe and provide a written record of the incident. The Offender entered into an Enforceable Undertaking with WorkSafe and on 13 April 2017, all charges were withdrawn
For updates, check the: WorkSafe Prosecution Result Summaries & Enforceable Undertakings webpage.
The ACTU runs training courses in occupational/workplace health and safety. These are the upcoming courses in Melbourne:
- CERTIFICATE IV WHS COURSE - $2250
Melbourne 6 – 8 June 11 – 14 July
- ORGANISING FOR SAFER WORKPLACES –$ 400
Melbourne 9th - 10th May
- PREVENTING WORKPLACE BULLYING AND HARRASSMENT - $ 200
Melbourne 3 May
Course information and applications can be found on the ACTU Website.
For more information please contact Chris Hughes (Mon-Fri) Email: email@example.com phone: 03 9 6647389 or Anna Pupillo (Mon-Wed & Friday) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
phone: 03 9 6647334
May 1: Southern Safety Group
The next meeting of the Southern Safety Group will be held at 3pm on Monday May 1. Tristan Beranger (from Ansell) will discuss changes in the European standards focussing on the Australian/New Zealand standard. The new EN388 standard represents the most sweeping revisions to this fundamental mechanical hand protection benchmark over 20 years ago.
3.00pm - 5.00pm (Check in at 2.30pm)
Surdex Steel: 46 Brooks Drive, Dandenong South
Cost: Members are free; Non-members $5.00. Annual Membership $25.00; Corporate $ 50.00