Issue 241 - SafetyNet 241
Welcome to Edition 241 of the VTHC fortnightly OHS bulletin SafetyNet. The winner of our Western Bulldogs Breakfast Competition was Stuart Moore. We hope he enjoyed the experience. As usual, this edition of the journal is full of items HSRs should find interesting and useful. If you’d like to comment on any of the items or have any queries, please contact us at email@example.com.
What is the requirement for displaying/archiving Health and Safety Committee meeting minutes? Should they be able to be publicly viewable? Or should they be only viewable by password on the company intranet?
Neither the Act nor the Regulations say anything specific about what happens to minutes of the Health and Safety Committee, nor what status they have (legally or otherwise). However, note the following:
- It is up to the committee itself (AT LEAST HALF of whose membership must be employees, and, where possible, these should be the elected HSRs/deputy HSRs) to determine its own procedures (section 72). This would include any matters relating to the minutes, etc.
- The employee members of the committee are there to represent the employees more generally (whether or not they are formally HSRs) and part of what is expected is that there will be consultation. For this reason, it would be normal to expect that the minutes of the committee would be seen as generally 'open' and available for any employee to see. However, how this is done would depend on what the committee decides. It may also be that there may be matters from time to time, which are discussed and are 'in confidence' - normally this too is agreed by the members of the committee, and these matters are not recorded in the minutes if the minutes are to be generally available.
- The minutes must be agreed by the members of the committee before they are distributed/displayed.
If you have any OHS - related queries or questions, then why not send them in to Renata? Use the Ask Renata function on the website, and we promise you a quick and easy to understand response within a couple of working days at the latest. And it’s free!
Man seriously injured in fall dies
In the last edition of SafetyNet we reported that a Kilmore man had been seriously injured after falling 2.4m at a housing estate in Doreen on June 28. Tragically, the worker died of his injuries on Friday July 6. According to WorkSafe, three of Victoria’s eight work-related deaths this year have been as a result of falls from height. On 13 June a man died at Oakleigh South after falling from a factory roof and on 3 February a man fell 2m through the ceiling of a business at Highett. Working at height is a major source of serious workplace injuries and deaths, particularly in the construction sector. Source: WorkSafe Media Release
Reported Fatalities increase
Twenty-six fatalities were notified to Australia’s work health and safety authorities during March 2012, this is ten more than February and sixteen more than March 2011. According to Safe Work Australia’s (SWA’s) latest Notified Fatalities Report, 23 male workers and three female bystanders died as a result of work incidents during March. The monthly report provides an estimate of the number of work-related deaths; details of the types of incident involved; the industry of the workplace at which the fatalities occurred; and the industry of the decedent’s employer. SWA notes that by agreement with jurisdictions, the reporting of incidents on public roads will be more comprehensive, and so cautions that comparison with 2011 reports should be made with caution. This is particularly the case with the current report, as the most common cause of death was vehicle incident–public road crash (nine, including three bystanders).
At my workplace apart from the front entrance, we have only one other entrance which exits into the car park. Cars are parked within a metre of this exit, in effect almost blocking it and potentially causing a problem in an emergency situation. What is the minimum distance at which cars can be parked?
There is nothing specifically mandated in OHS legislation - the OHS legislation does not address many issues to this level of detail. However, there is a general duty of care on various duty holders:
S 21 - the employer has a duty to provide and maintain a safe and healthy working environment (so far as reasonably practicable), with some specific things targeted, such as the workplace, the systems of work, etc
S 26 - persons who control workplaces (including employer and manager of building, for example) has a duty to ensure that workplace and the means of entering it or leaving it are safe and without risks to health (so far as reasonably practicable).
So, both parties have a duty in terms of what needs to be done regarding emergency evacuations, and this clearly includes matters such as ensuring that potential emergency exits are kept clear. There is more advice in the Compliance Code on emergency evacuation plans, as well as advice on fire escapes – see this page on the site for more information.
If you have any OHS - related queries or questions, then why not send them in to Renata? Use the Ask Renata function on the website, and we promise you a quick and easy to understand response within a couple of working days at the latest. And it’s free!
Workplace bullying review
The House Standing Committee conducting the federal government inquiry into workplace bullying has travelled around Australia hearing from organisations, including the ACTU, a number of unions and employer organisations and also hearing individual impact statements. ACTU Assistant Secretary Michael Borowick, who gave evidence to the inquiry in Melbourne, said workplace bullying was a health and safety issue that had been neglected for too long. ‘Although we need tougher penalties, it is more important that we change workplace culture to ensure bullying does not happen in the first place,’ Mr Borowick said. ‘Everyone is entitled to respect at work. The effects of bullying are serious, many people who are bullied report depression or other mental health issues and have difficulty returning to work…. Every workplace should have policies and procedures to deal with bullying and harassment, and employers should acknowledge their responsibility to provide a safe and harassment-free environment for all their workers. Bullying needs to be explicitly defined in workplace health and safety laws and the penalties of serious incidents of workplace bullying should match those for other major breaches of health and safety. This should include the potential of imprisonment.’
While the employer organisations may have a different ‘take’ on the issue, both the Ai Group and ACCI representatives said the problem of bullying was a serious one. However, according to Kevin Jones (SafetyAtWork Blog) the view put by the ACCI representative in Melbourne was that workplace bullying is a broad social issue that needs broad social control measures. According to the blog, “it’s not our problem” is a rough translation.
ACTU Media Release: Tougher penalties needed to make employers take responsibility for stopping workplace bullying Submissions will be available from the Inquiry’s website soon.
France: Telecom and executives targeted for bullying
France Telecom was placed under formal judicial investigation two weeks ago over the company's alleged role in a wave of staff suicides, two days after its former chief executive was similarly targeted. The telecommunications company, ex-CEO Didier Lombard and two senior executives will all be investigated. Lombard stepped down in 2010 amid criticism of his handling of the crisis – about 35 workers killed themselves in 2008 and 2009. Blamed on workplace stress and bullying, the suicides continued in 2010, taking the lives of five workers in 10 days in one particularly difficult period.
Harrowing details have emerged of staff anguish: one set himself alight in from of his office; another stabbed himself in the stomach during a staff meeting; and a woman who threw herself out of a window. Some workers left notes blaming unbearable work pressure, bullying and ‘management by terror’. Apparently many others were saved while attempting to kill themselves – for example, a woman was found unconscious at her desk after taking an overdose. Unions have blamed a culture of bullying and that managers did not take staff mental issues seriously. The company, in which the French government holds a minority stake, denied it had acted illegally. ‘France Telecom again denies having put into place a deliberate strategy aimed at causing suffering at work to create conditions that would lead to the departure of employees,’ it said in a statement.
The case is a first for France as Lombard is not being investigated for personally targeting individual workers, but for presiding over a managerial bullying approach that pervaded the company. It is also the first time that a French CEO has been judicially investigated for workplace bullying.
Fiskville report reveals tragedy for firefighters and community
In front page news last week, the Country Fire Authority (CFA) has released a report following a six-month inquiry into the Fiskville firefighting training facility triggered by a suspected cancer cluster. The independent report,
Fiskville: Understanding the Past to Inform the Future was produced by Prof Robert Joy, who interviewed over 300 people and reviewed 8000 documents about the storage and use of chemicals at the site in the years 1971-99. The report found that the CFA ignored warnings about using dangerous chemicals for decades, criticised the ‘paramilitary culture’ which disregarded firefighters’ health and safety, and concludes that the truth about what happened will never be fully known. 87,000 people, including firefighters, local residents and their families, have been exposed to unknown levels of multiple toxic substances over the past three decades.
The scandal first came to light in December 2011 following an investigation by the Herald Sun (see SafetyNet 226 ). The United Firefighters Union has said in a bulletin to members that the report ‘condemns previous practice and confirms that firefighters were subject to horrendous exposures of carcinogens and toxins over a long period of time.’ It adds, ‘the report vindicates CFA Chief Fire Officer Brian Potter’s brave and tireless campaign to have the atrocities of the past acknowledged and the subsequent occupational cancer and diseases recognized.’ The UFUA is fighting to have all Australian states and territories legislate to ensure that any firefighter who contracts certain cancers automatically receives workers compensation – legislation recently introduced by Australia’s federal parliament. Mr Potter, who was a training instructor at Fiskville and has autoimmune disease and multiple cancers, recently had his compensation claim rejected (SafetyNet 239)
Latest Asbestoswise Snippets
Asbestoswise has issued two editions of its ‘Monday Snippets’ since the last SafetyNet: Monday July 16 Snippets with a number of items, including a very interesting one on asbestos in cigarette filters!
Dumping a problem in SA
The ABC has reported that the SA Asbestos Victims Association is calling for urgent action to stop people illegally dumping asbestos. According to the association, large amounts of asbestos are being left on roadsides or in parks, some amounts more than a trailer load. Association president Terry Miller has blamed high removal costs and a limited number of dumps willing to take asbestos for the problem, and has urged councils to make asbestos removal a cheaper process. ‘After it's dumped obviously someone's got to go and clean it up so there's another risk involved there as well.’ Source: ABC News online
Canadian government goes ahead with loan to asbestos mine
Despite both national and international pressure on the Canadian government to not go ahead with a C$58million loan to enable the re-opening of the Jeffrey asbestos mine, news has come through that the loan has been made. Social commentators in Canada have been left stunned. The Canadian Premier took action which will see the country again mining and exporting asbestos - despite being provided with ‘indisputable evidence that asbestos, even the chrysotile variety from the Jeffrey Mine, maims and kills those who come near it’ by the huge anti-asbestos lobby in the country. Read more: The Globe and Mail
Nominate yourself or your HSR for a WorkSafe award
A reminder that nominations for WorkSafe’s eleven award categories close on July 27 – that’s next Friday! The VTHC encourages workers and SafetyNet subscribers to nominate their own HSR and/or their OHS Committees if they think they are deserving of an award for their efforts and (very often) dedication. Your workplace may also be in the running for one of the other categories. HSRs can nominate themselves – so if you think you’ve made a difference in your workplace, go ahead, nominate! Find out more, and nominate (it’s easy). Go to the WorkSafe Awards Homepage.
New on the site
There have been a number of new items placed on the website:
- Following the recent declaration of diesel exhaust fumes as a Class 1 carcinogen, we have place a new page on our website providing more information and advice on what can be done to eliminate/minimise exposure. Go to Diesel – declared carcinogen on the website.
- The 2012 flu appears to be worse than last year’s, with most states reporting higher numbers. A story in last weekend’s
Sunday Age Hospital flu risk to patients noted that ‘most doctors and nurses in Victorian hospitals are not vaccinated against the flu, leading health experts including the Australian Medical Association to support mandatory immunisation.’
Read more: The 2012 Flu Season
- With more people coming down with the flu, what effect might this have on ‘presenteeism’ in workplaces? What is ‘presenteeism’ and why is it a problem? Read more
Migrant workers rights campaign
The Victorian Immigrant and Refugee Women’ Coalition (VIRWC) launched a campaign to encourage the Federal Government to ratify the Migrant Workers Convention. The launch was held at and is supported by the Victorian Trades Hall Council. Speakers at the launch were Jeanette Hourani, and Melba Marginson, President and Executive Director of VIRWC respectively, Jill Hennessey, ALP State MP for Altona, and Ged Kearney, ACTU President, who is also a patron of VIRWC. Each of the guests spoke passionately about the importance to all workers – not only migrant workers or female migrant workers – of Australia signing the Convention. Australia has relied on migrant workers to contribute to our development and our on-going prosperity. If migrant workers are exploited, then this can have negative consequences for all workers. 45 countries have so far signed the convention – the government says we don’t need to sign as our laws already protect migrant workers. However, signed conventions ensure governments are accountable – so why not sign it? Add your voice to the campaign: sign an electronic postcard to our government.
International Union News
NZ New Zealand to label nano-ingredients in cosmetics
In a critical first step to regulating nanomaterials, New Zealand’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made it compulsory to label for nanoscale ingredients in cosmetics. This brings it in line with requirements in the European Union. This is not a legal requirement in Australia, a shortcoming which raises issues for outdoor workers, many of whom may be using sunscreens containing nanomaterials. Read more on this and other items: Friends of the Earth July Nano News
EU issues guidance on safety assessment of nanomaterials (NM) in cosmetics
The European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) has published guidance on the safety assessment of NM in cosmetics, such as UV filters in sunscreens. It outlines concerns that some NM can penetrate biological membrane barriers and insoluble or partially-soluble NM may be able to reach organs that are naturally protected from larger particles. The SCCS stresses the importance of detailed characterisation and identification of NM for risk assessment. Data on potential exposure to nanoparticles is critical and will “enable the first crucial decision in the overall risk assessment,” states the guidance. Such exposure assessment includes looking at the likelihood of NM crossing skin, lung, or gastrointestinal barriers.
Guidance on the Safety Assessment of Nanomaterials in Cosmetics [pdf ]
Cambodia: Garment workers strike for better conditions
More than 1,600 garment workers from the Yung Wah Industrial Co Ltd factory in Kandal province’s Takhmao district went on strike on 27 June 2012, demanding better working conditions. This is the third time workers have stopped work to try to secure a US$15 transportation and housing allowance, a 3,000 riel daily lunch stipend and a 4,000 riel good performance bonus, as well as improved wages. The factory supplies American retailer Gap.
Source: AAWL Mini News Read more: Workers strike for third time
More research on sedentary work
There has been increasing evidence that spending long periods sitting down is bad for your health – a big concern for millions of office workers. Now, in what is being hailed as a world-first study, Melbourne workers will be given height adjustable desks which will enable them to alternate between sitting and standing while they work. Associate Professor David Dunstan, head of physical activity research at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute is undertaking the trial involving 320 Department of Human Services workers. This follows a University of Sydney study finding that workers who sat for eight to 11 hours a day had a 15 per cent increased risk of dying within three years. The research, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, tracked more than 222,000 people above the age of 45 in New South Wales over a three year period. Further, the increased risk was independent of peoples’ physical activity during leisure time.
AP Dunstan said there were many studies pointing to links between long periods of sitting and serious illness, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer. However, studies had also shown that breaking up sitting time every 20 minutes with two minutes of light to moderate movement might effectively counteract the risks by stimulating the body's metabolism. Read more: The Age , Sedentary work
Shift Work research
We report on three more studies on the effects of shift work:
Association between shift work and sick leave
While shift work is associated with a number of negative health outcomes, it is not known whether it is associated with sick leave. A recent review of relevant literature in six databases on observational studies was conducted to determine whether an association exists between shift work and sick leave. The reviewers found two high quality longitudinal studies which found strong evidence of a positive association between fixed evening shifts and longer sick leave for female healthcare workers. The evidence was inconclusive for rotating shifts, shift work including nights, for fixed night work, and for 8-hour and 12-hour shifts. This association between evening work and sick leave in female healthcare workers implies that the association between shift work and sick leave might be schedule and population specific. The reviewers concluded that to study the association further, more high quality studies are necessary that assess and adjust for detailed shift work exposure. Suzanne L Merkus, et al. The association between shift work and sick leave: a systematic review (Full article ) Occup Environ Med doi:10.1136/oemed-2011-100488
Lack of sleep may raise risk of diabetes
In more bad news for shift workers, a recent 39-day experiment with healthy volunteers, shortened sleep time and varying bedtimes, designed to mimic shift work, found impaired glucose regulation and metabolism. Over time, the observed changes could increase the risk of obesity and diabetes, Orfeu Buxton, PhD, of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and colleagues reported online in Science Translational Medicine. The findings support epidemiological studies linking disrupted sleep with an increased risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes, the researchers noted, especially in workers on the night shift. ‘Since night workers often have a hard time sleeping during the day, they can face both circadian disruption working at night and insufficient sleep during the day,’ Buxton said in a statement. ‘The evidence is clear that getting enough sleep is important for health, and that sleep should be at night for best effect.’
Source: MedPage Today Buxton OM, et al: Adverse metabolic consequences in humans of prolonged sleep restriction combined with circadian disruption [abstract] Sci Transl Med 2012; (4)129ra43.
Sleep deficiency linked to work pain
In a study of 1572 hospital patient care workers, a group of US researchers, also led by Buxton (see item above), sought to determine whether sleep deficiency was significantly associated with pain, functional limitation and physical limitations that interfere with work (workplace interference). 57 per cent of the participants reported sleep deficiency, 73 per cent reported pain (in a three-month period), 33 per cent reported work interference and 18 per cent reported functional limitation. The researchers confirmed that sleep deficiency was associated with pain, functional limitation and workplace interference or, alternatively, that pain and functional limitation increased the likelihood of sleep deficiency. They recommended that employers should consider offering flexible shift lengths to combat sleep deficiency and to develop educational programs to inform workers of the associations between sleep, musculoskeletal disorders, and pain, in order to assist them to improve their ‘sleep hygiene practices’. Orfeu Buxton, et al, US; Relationship of Sleep Deficiency to Perceived Pain and Functional Limitations in Hospital Patient Care Workers. [abstract] Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Volume 54, Number 7, July 2012.
Piece work increases the work injury rate
According to new to research from Lancaster University Management School, almost twice as many piece rate workers suffer from workplace injuries as those on standard contracts. While employers may gain increased productivity from piece rate work, this is lost through increased absence and the cost of compensation, the authors note. The researchers looked at 33,000 employees across Europe and the UK, and found 14.4 per cent of piece rate workers had suffered from a workplace injury - most commonly back and other musculoskeletal problems - compared with 7.5 per cent of non-piece rate employees. After taking into account the greater levels of hazard and strain involved in particular jobs, workers are 5 per cent more likely to suffer an injury when on a piece rate contract. The paper notes: 'Manual workers on piece rates have an incidence of injury of nearly 7 percentage points higher than workers without performance related pay. The estimate easily clears all standard tests of statistical significance. The corresponding figure for non-manual workers is only 1.4 percentage points, although this is still statistically significant at the 5 per cent level. Interestingly, there is weak evidence that group bonuses may be associated with higher rates of injury for manual workers.' Group incentives have been linked to 'blood-in-pocket' syndrome in the US, where workers hide injuries so not to jeopardise bonuses for their workmates. The practice, which has been criticised in June evidence to a government committee by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), could mean the real level of injuries in workers on group bonuses could be significantly higher.
Source: Risks 563 Keith A Bender, Colin P Green and John S Heywood. Piece rates and workplace injury: Does survey evidence support Adam Smith?, Journal of Population Economics, volume 25, number 2, 2012 [abstract].
Paternal occupation and birth defects
Using data from the US National Birth Defects Prevention Study, a group of researchers investigated the association between paternal occupation and birth defects in a case–control study of cases comprising over 60 different types of birth defects with dates of delivery between 1997 and 2004. The control group comprised of non-malformed deliveries. Using paternal occupational histories reported by mothers via telephone interview, jobs were systematically classified into 63 groups based on shared exposure profiles within occupation and industry. The authors found that several occupations were associated with an increased prevalence of various birth defect categories, including mathematical, physical and computer scientists; artists; photographers and photo processors; food service workers; landscapers and groundskeepers; hairdressers and cosmetologists; office and administrative support workers; sawmill workers; petroleum and gas workers; chemical workers; printers; material moving equipment operators; and motor vehicle operators. They suggested that findings from this study could be used to identify specific occupations for further investigation and to generate hypotheses about chemical or physical exposures common to such occupations.
Tania A Desrosiers, et al, T he National Birth Defects Prevention Study: Paternal occupation and birth defects: findings from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study (abstract ) Occup Environ Med doi:10.1136/oemed-2011-100372
Safety campaign to target farms
This week (16-21 July) has been National Farm Safety Week 2012, organised by industry association Farmsafe Australia, aimed at raising awareness of farm safety issues across Australia. The agricultural sector has a very high level of fatalities and injuries. The theme this year is ‘Farm Safety: Fix It for Everyone’. Farmsafe has released a Farm Safety Week Package, which includes several fact sheets and media releases on farm safety. It can be downloaded from the Farm Safety Week Media Release
WorkSafe Victoria has taken the opportunity of Farm Safety Week to announce a year long safety campaign to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities occurring on farms. The campaign comes after eight of the 25 work-related fatalities in Victoria last year were on farms. WorkSafe’s Ross Pilkington said with three of those deaths involving animal handling, inspectors would focus on dairy, beef and sheep cattle farms. Dangerous machinery and unsafe manual handling will also be targeted.
‘More than half of the 478 claims WorkSafe received in the agriculture industry last financial year came from livestock farming, particularly dairy, sheep and beef cattle farming. We know a number of injuries are not picked up in these figures as many farmers are self-employed and not on the workers’ compensation system,’ he said. ‘When an incident occurs in a country area, the impact it has on all involved is devastating, profound and long lasting.’
Mr Pilkington said common safety issues identified on farms included machinery without guarding, forklifts without seatbelts, pallet racking being overloaded, poorly stored chemicals, quad bike operators without helmets and tractors without rollover protection. Read more: WorkSafe Media Release
Construction guidance released
The Victorian A guide to managing safety Civil Construction Industry Standard has been published and is now available on the WorkSafe website.
Development of this new industry standard was initiated after the construction industry’s peak safety forum, Foundations for Safety Victoria (FFSV), identified there was a need for specific guidance for the civil construction industry. Concerns were raised that the existing guidance focused too generally on housing or general construction sector requirements and was not applicable to the civil construction environment.
All Certificates of Competency have expired
From 1 July 2012 all Certificates of Competency issued by WorkSafe Victoria are expired and employers must not allow people to perform high risk work without a valid licence to perform high risk work. These new licences must have a photo. Visit the WorkSafe website to read more and see how you can transfer your Certificate of Competency to a licence. Read more
WorkSafe Victoria Newsletters
The Safety Express Newsletter which is the fortnightly OHS newsletter for the manufacturing, logistics, agriculture and retails industries, is now available. As well as a summary of the latest prosecutions, there are items on incidents in these sectors from around Australia. Also available, the construction, utilities, mining and quarrying newsletter Safety Soapbox
Safe Work Australia
The 8th edition of the Safe Work Australian newsletter is now available with lots of information on what’s been happening at Safe Work Australia in 2012.
The edition includes a feature on the 7th annual Safe Work Australia Awards, photos from the Awards ceremony and gala dinner at Parliament House, and information on this year’s winners. There’s also information on progress on the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022, national work and publications on nanotechnology, national competencies for working with asbestos, and more.
Safe Work Australian Newsletter 8
Waterfront safety: public comment
Last week, Safe Work Australia released an Issues Paper for the review of the national guidance material - Working Safely on the Waterfront for public comment.
The national guidance material was published by Safe Work Australia in October 2009. It is based on the Victorian Waterfront Project Guidance that was released in May 2008 and comprises three booklets: Working Safely on the Waterfront, Working Safely with General Cargo – Steel Products, Working Safely with Containers
Safe Work Australia is undertaking a review of the national guidance material to identify content that should be adapted for inclusion in a model code of practice for stevedoring. The code of practice is currently under development in support of the harmonised WHS laws. It is intended that the code of practice will eventually replace the national guidance material. Public comment closes Friday August 10 at 5pm. The Issues Paper can be accessed on the Safe Work Australia website
Government works with farming organisations and community groups to establish “QuadWatch”
In a week when another young teenager was killed in a quad bike incident on her family’s property in NSW, the federal government’s Quad bike roundtable has announced it is establishing QuadWatch - an initiative bringing together industry, manufacturers, quad bike users and government to improve quad bike safety. QuadWatch aims to raise awareness of safe quad bike practices by establishing a network to promote information exchange.
Read more: Minister Shorten’s Media Release Safe Work Australia Quad Watch website
Restrictions on the use of copper chrome arsenate
As of July 1 this year, the Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicine Authority (APVMA) has placed new restrictions on the use of copper chrome arsenate (CCA) for treating timber. CCA has been used to preserve wood in telegraph poles, decking and fencing and was also used for children’s playground equipment. The APVMA began a review of CCA timber treatments in July 2003, following concerns that arsenic could be absorbed through the skin or after swallowing, or inhaled if the treated timber was burnt. In March 2005, the APVMA advised that CCA could not be used in timber for playground equipment or other high-contact structures.
‘CCA has now been declared a restricted chemical product’, APVMA Pesticides Program Manager, Dr Raj Bhula, said. ‘This means CCA products can only be supplied to, and used by, suitably trained persons authorised under a relevant state or territory law from that date. The APVMA does not have regulatory powers to control the use of CCA-treated end-products - our powers extend only to the point of sale of the chemical itself - and this step tightens up the requirements for industry and retailers to ensure users of such products are well-informed of the risks and permitted uses. CCA can continue to be used on timber intended for outdoor uses such as telegraph poles, fencing and landscaping. It cannot be used on high-contact timber structures: this includes garden furniture, picnic tables, exterior seating, children’s play equipment, patio and domestic decking, and handrails.‘
These restrictions will not necessarily reduce the use of CCA in commercial applications and that, unfortunately, workers in various industries are still likely to be exposed to arsenic in the course of their jobs.
Read more: APVMA Media Release 29 June 2012
From NSW WorkCover, a Fact Sheet on Working in heat [pdf] which provides advice on how to prevent heat illness from working outdoors in hot weather or where heat is generated as part of work.
NSW: Employer fined $80k for not providing PPE
NSW employer, Tegra Australia Pty Ltd, has been fined $80,000 for failing to provide PPE, leading a worker to suffer permanent lung injuries and a heart attack after inhaling cement powder.
The incident occurred In November 2009, as the worker was attempting to stop the flow of cement powder into a weigh hopper. Different components failed, causing a large amount of cement powder and dust to enter the control room. In attempting to address the problem, the worker was forced to use his shirt as a mask because there were no proper masks or other breathing apparatus in the control room. As a result, he suffered breathing difficulties and dizziness and was taken to hospital. He was diagnosed with chronic obstruction pulmonary disease and was told he only had 35 per cent lung capacity. In March 2010, the 29-year-old suffered a heart attack as a result of the stress put on his heart by the incapacity of his lungs.
The employer was charged and pleaded guilty to failing to have a procedure manual in place to deal with such circumstances; failing to provide personal safety equipment within the control room; failing to have an emergency evacuation procedure; and failing to ensure that a risk assessment was undertaken.
WorkCover NSW issued a safety alert [pdf ] after the incident, advising employers to have emergency procedures in place to deal with the unexpected release of such substances. Source: OHSAlert
Queensland: Coroner recommends mandatory PPE
And following the tragic death of teenage worker's motorcycle death, after he crashed his motorbike on a pothole on his family's cattle station while mustering in December 2007, the Queensland Coroner has called for proposed PPE rules to be introduced into law. The 15 year old was not wearing a helmet.
The coroner noted that after the incident, the company, MPH was directed under a Workplace Health and Safety prohibition notice to ensure all of its employees wore approved helmets while performing high-speed motorbike work. However, MPH successfully appealed against the notice on the grounds that wearing helmets while mustering was too dangerous because they impaired peripheral vision and hearing, trapped dust and heat, contributed to neck and shoulder fatigue, and made radio communication impossible. The coroner said, ‘This [issue] reminds me about the debate that occurred decades ago about the introduction of mandatory wearing of safety belts in cars.’ He found the hat the Workplace Health and Safety regional manager who rescinded the prohibition notice had not been aware of the Queensland Children and Young Workers Code of Practice 2006, which required the riders of farm bikes to wear appropriate PPE, including helmets.
Inquest into the death of Jack Wallace MacNicol - Findings [pdf ]
Europe: New substance list added to SUBSPORT Restricted and Priority Substances Database
The report "Substances classified as carcinogenic, mutagenic and toxic for reproduction (CMR) and other substances of concern in consumer products" was published in 2011 by the German Federal Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt, UBA). It includes a Master List with substances considered of concern by the agency, which has now been added to the SUBSPORT database. Go to: Restricted and Priority Substances Database which contains 29 lists of substances that are legally or voluntarily restricted or are recommended for restriction due to their hazards.