Regulator News

Not much time left: nominate now for the 2021 WorkSafe Awards 

It's now just over a week until the nominations close for this year's WorkSafe Awards. 

Awards are in the following categories:

  • Health and Safety Representative of the Year (the main event for HSRs!)
  • Commitment to Workplace Health and Safety on a Farm
  • Workplace Health and Safety Solution of the Year
  • Leading Return to Work Practice
  • and more..

Sally Collier-Clarke and Sara Jorgensen, ANMF members and HSRs at Bendigo Health were the joint winners of HSR of the year in 2019. They were also key note speakers at the VTHC OHS Reps Conference in 2020.  Find out more about the awards here and nominate your HSR. Entries close on 7 May 2021, so don't delay!

New Industry standard for Elevating Work Platforms

Andrew Taylor, Senior Engineer and Tony Cockerell, Manager Construction Program, yesterday announced WorkSafe Victoria's publication of the Industry Standard, Elevating Work Platforms – for the safe use of Elevating Work Platforms. 

The standard has been published on behalf of Foundations for Safety Victoria, the peak consultative body representing the Victorian construction industry. 
 
The new standard was developed with the assistance of representatives from industry associations, unions and WorkSafe Victoria. Representatives included:

  • CFMEU, Construction and General Division
  • Electrical Trade Union
  • Elevating Work Platform Association Australia (EWPA)
  • Energy Safe Victoria
  • Housing Industry Association
  • Master Builders Association of Victoria
  • Major Transport Infrastructure Authority
  • Plumbing and Pipe Trades Employees Union
  • Victorian Construction Safety Alliance

The industry standard is for operators of mobile elevated work platforms (EWPs) and persons, such as employers, who have responsibilities managing hazards and risks associated with the operation and use of EWPs.
 
It provides practical advice on the selection and safe use of EWPs; and incorporates the latest technologies and initiatives that assist industry to control the hazards and risks commonly associated with use of EWPs.
 
In the past ten years ten workers have lost their lives, and numerous others have been left life altering injuries, from incidents involving the use of mobile elevated work platforms, in Victoria. Many more, across the nation, have also been seriously or fatally injured from the use of EWPs.
 
The industry standard provides practical advice on common hazards including:

  • Electrical hazards
  • Crushing hazards
  • Overturning hazards
  • Water hazards
  • Falling objects
  • Collision hazards
  • Environmental hazards

It provides information on the training and competency of EWP operators, safety observers and spotters; the selection and use of harnesses; the safe systems of work for collection and delivery of EWPs and information on emergency procedures when using EWPs.   The standard can be downloaded from this page of the WorkSafe website.

New WorkSafe Safety Alerts

Pool chemicals: WorkSafe has issued a safety alert on the hazards and risks associated with automatic chemical dosing systems at swimming pools.

Employees and swimming pool patrons were injured when a toxic gas was released into the pool area at an Aquatic centre. The incident occurred after an earlier electrical fault caused the automatic dosing system, used to administer chemicals to the pool water, to inadvertently mix Sodium Hypochlorite (pool chlorine) and Hydrochloric acid (pool acid) together which resulted in a toxic chlorine gas.

The electrical fault caused the water filtering pump to shut down, resulting in no water flow within the pipeline.  The pool chlorine and pool acid were automatically added into the pipeline that would normally return filtered water back into the swimming pool.  Adequate water flow within the pipeline is necessary to prevent chlorine gas.

The Safety Alert goes through what the safety issues were, followed by advice on ways to control the risks. Read more: Swimming pool chemical mixing causes toxic gas  

Machine guarding: the regulator issued an alert in mid April on the risks associated with operating plant with inadequate guarding, following the recent death of a worker operating a hay bale pressing machine. 

The risk of entanglement or crush injuries are significantly increased when the guarding on plant is missing, broken, has been removed or is not adequately secured. This risk is increased if loose clothing, hair, personal protective equipment or other accessories such as tool belts become entangled and pull the person towards the moving parts of the plant. Read more: Fatality from working with unguarded plant

April edition of Safety Soapbox

The latest edition of WorkSafe's Safety Soapbox was posted today.  This month the main article is on WorkSafe’s new industry standard for Elevating Work Platforms. There is also an update on what's new in the Dangerous Goods area, reminders that today is International Workers' Memorial Day and to nominate for the WorkSafe Awards, an announcement that Steve Darnley, long-serving member of the Construction and Utilities Program for the past 20 years, is retiring, and news from around the country. 

The 'Absolute shocker' is also on working at heights and shows a worker standing on a projecting platform, manipulating a load - there is no fall protection at all. 

As always, the Safety Soapbox has the list of incidents reported to WorkSafe: In March the construction industry reported 202 incidents to WorkSafe. Of these, 70 per cent resulted in injury. Tragically, there were two fatalities during the period. Of the injuries, eight per cent were classified as 'serious' and 62 per cent 'significant'.  Access the April 2021 edition of Safety Soapbox here  - the summaries of reported incidents can be downloaded from there.

National News 

Review of the workplace exposure standards - public comment closes 30 July

In March 2020, Safe Work Australia paused the release and public consultation for the workplace exposure standards (WES) review until further notice. Public feedback resumed on 1 February 2021 with Release 15: paraffin wax to zirconium compounds. This release will be open on the SWA consultation platform, Engage  until 30 July 2021. Read more. 

National Fatality Statistics 

Safe Work Australia last updated its statistics on fatalities on April 15, at which time they had been notified that 29 Australian workers had been killed at work in 2021 - this is four  more than at April 1. The deaths this year have been in the following sectors:

  • 11 in Transport, postal & warehousing 
  • 4 in Construction
  • 3 in Agriculture, forestry & fishing
  • 3 in Arts & recreation services
  • 2 in Manufacturing 
  • 2 in Electricity, gas, water & waste services
  • 1 in Other Services 
  • 1 in Wholesale trade
  • 1 in Public administration & safety

These figures are based mainly on initial media reports and provide a preliminary estimate of the number of people killed while working. Once the appropriate authority has investigated the death, more accurate information becomes available from which Safe Work Australia updates details of the incident. Updated information is used to publish Safe Work Australia’s annual Work-related Traumatic Injury Fatalities report which includes finalised work-related fatalities from 2003 onwards. Note that the figures are based on preliminary reports, and so at times will change. To check for updates, and for more details on fatalities since 2003, go to the Safe Work Australia Work-related fatalities webpage

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