SafetyNet 506

Welcome to the October 2 edition of the VTHC's OHS Unit's weekly journal SafetyNet.

Victorian HSRs: Have you registered for the HSR Conference? Do so now and notify your employer immediately in order to ensure you can attend on paid leave. Deputies and others interested in OHS are welcome as well. (See below)

We ask you to send your feedback as it helps us make SafetyNet as useful for our subscribers as possible. Please send your comments through to Renata at [email protected], but don't hit 'reply', start a fresh email! Love it or hate it, we want to know about it. So don't hesitate to send in your emails.

To keep up to date and informed between editions of the journal, go to our We Are Union: OHS Reps Facebook page. Also, if you're an HSR or deputy, you should join the OHS Network Facebook


Injury rates surge as temperature increases

Italian researchers from a major workplace health and safety agency and two universities analysed all occupational injuries sustained by some 20,000 construction workers between 2000 to 2013, and found the average injury rate of about 2.8 injuries per 10,000 workers per day increased to 3.2 on "summer days", where temperatures rose above 25 degrees.

During the first two days of "heat wave" events – where the temperature rose above 35 degrees on three or more consecutive days – the injury rate jumped to 3.57 injuries per 10,000 workers per day, before falling slightly to 3.43 on the third day. The researchers said that high temperatures can affect cognition, hamper concentration, reduce vigilance and increase fatigue. Working during warm weather would ultimately increase the risk of mistakes, accidents and injuries.

The researchers said, "Our data confirm previous reports from the construction industries that extreme weather may be associated with increased risk of occupational injuries, particularly at the beginning of heat wave events." They suggest workers might initially unsafely overlook uncomfortable weather conditions, particularly during summer, until persistent exposure to high temperatures leads to "more cautious conduct".

The findings highlight the importance of organisations actively implementing appropriate weather procedures and guidelines, and ensuring heat stress countermeasures like warning systems and suspending activities at work sites are enacted promptly, the researchers say.  In Australia we are expecting our summers to get increasingly hotter - and so the necessity of employers taking measures to reduce the risks of working in heat is becoming increasingly important.
Read more: Matteo Riccò, et al, Air temperatures and occupational injuries in the construction industries: a report from Northern Italy (2000–2013). [Abstract - PDF of full article can be downloaded here] Industrial Health, online first September 2019, doi:10.2486/indhealth.2018-0268. Source: OHS Alert. Read more on Heat.

Truck driver research - Calling all drivers!

Researchers from Melbourne's Monash University have begun the second stage of the Driving Health research project, a major study into truck driver health aimed to making the industry safer. In this second stage the research team is calling on professional drivers of all kinds of trucks — from light rigids up to road trains — to participate in a survey about their health.

The survey is being administered by Monash in partnership with the Centre for Work Health and Safety, Linfox Logistics and the Transport Workers’ Union, with the support of the National Health and Medical Research Council.

“Driving is a tough job,” said Michael Kaine, TWU National Secretary. “We must do more to ensure our drivers are healthy and safe at work. This survey will give us a baseline of information that will allow us to put in better strategies for the future.” Watch a video of Michael Kaine explaining the project.

The survey opened this month and can be completed on any device with internet access. It has three phases, with involvement in each phase being voluntary:

  1. Online survey: This 10-minute online survey includes questions around the general health of drivers and aims to provide an overview of driver health and associated factors.
  2. Follow-up survey: Those who complete phase one are given the option to participate further in the study via a 25-minute telephone interview that will offer the researchers further insight into the factors that influence driver health. More information on this phase of the survey. 
  3. Final phase: Participants are given the option to provide the research team with access to their Medicare and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme information, which will yield further insights. The Driving Health Explanatory Statement [pdf] has further information.

“This survey will provide new insights into factors in the workplace, at home and in the community that affect health in positive and negative ways,” Dr Ross Iles from the Monash University School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine said. “Driving for a living poses many health challenges, both mental and physical, and yet there is little research or documentation that can drive change to help drivers be healthy and stay healthy at work.”

As a result of Stage 1, the team found that professional truck drivers are 13 times more likely than any other workers to die on the job.  In their earlier research, the researchers analysed 12 years of data during which more than 120,000 injury and fatality claims were made. They also found that the driving workforce is getting older and that truck drivers are more than three times more likely to break bones at work compared with other workers.

Occupational health and safety-related risks that professional truck drivers face include: long hours, chronic fatigue and isolation. Tight delivery deadlines also contribute to elevated stress in an already challenging workplace. Mental health is a persistent issue faced by professional truck drivers, with research showing that truck drivers take, on average, more than 10 weeks’ leave when work-related mental health factors result in a driver being unfit for work. Mental health risks are also associated with transport workers in other sectors.
More information on the study. Stage 1 findings. Source: Safety Solutions

Barriers to return to work: New Study

Monash University's School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine is undertaking new study on the barriers and enablers to return to work, as judged by Australian return to work experts.  The research team is seeking the views of people with professional experience with an Australian workers' compensation scheme to complete a 15 to 20 minure online survey. They are seeking a diverse range of views including from:

  • Insurance Case Managers
  • Healthcare practitioners
  • Lawyers
  • Return to Work Coordinators
  • Government employees
  • Worker advocates
  • Rehabilitation coordinators
  • Consultants
  • and so on.

The study is part of an Australian Research Council funded project being led by the Insurance Work and Health Group at Monash University. It is also seeking to identify the major changes to workers' compensation policy and practice in Australia over the past decade. The survey can be accessed via this link or via the study website


Union News

Victorian HSRs and deputies: October 29 HSR Conference

Registrations to the conference have now exceeded 850. The Conference for Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) is the biggest Health and Safety Month event in Victoria (if not Australia) and has approval under s69 of the Victorian OHS Act meaning employers must allow elected HSRs to attend on paid leave. So if you haven't done so already, register now! The conference is being held on Tuesday October 29, with the theme of "Emerging Issues - Safe and Inclusive Workplaces".

This year we will be running the conference in more non-metropolitan Melbourne locations, so it will be easier for HSRs in country Victoria to attend:

  1. Melbourne: Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre
  2. Bendigo: Trades Hall Council, Bendigo
  3. Gippsland: Federation University, Gippsland Campus, Churchill
  4. Portland: South West TAFE campus, Portland
  5. Wodonga: Wodonga TAFE Space, Lawrence Street Campus

The conference is free and is sponsored by WorkSafe - but registration is essential. Elected HSRs are entitled to attend the conference on paid leave as per s69 of the Act, but they must give their employer at least 14 days' notice. Employers must grant HSRs the paid leave to attend as long as they have received the 14 days' notice - so this means you must do this by October 15th at the very latest to guarantee you will get paid leave to attend. So get on to this as soon as possible to ensure you've got the leave and you're registered.

We also welcome Deputy HSRs - and many employers are happy to grant them paid leave to do so. So ask!

Go to the Registration website page now to register - it's super easy. Once you've registered you'll be able to download a letter for your employer and proof of the s69 approval from WorkSafe Victoria.

FREE posters for the conference are available now - we have lots of these available and if you'd like some, contact [email protected] You can check out the poster here.  Feel free to copy it and post it on your noticeboard if you can't get hard copies.

Ask Renata

Hi Renata

I understand that Section 69 provides HSRs with protection to attend the HSR Conference. Would it also give HSRs the same to attend Worksafe's Health and Safety Month event on the 30th of October?

No, only the VTHC HSR Conference has WorkSafe Approval as a course under s69 which gives HSRs an entitlement to attend on paid leave. This is the only event during OHS Month that has this approval. Any other events, including any organised by WorkSafe, do not have a s69 approval. So if an HSR or other worker wishes to attend any of these events, then they should go to their employer to seek time off.  Of course, it would be great if employers organised for managers, supervisors and HSRs to attend this event as joint exercise: such an event provides a great opportunity for workplaces.

If you have any OHS related queries, then send them in via our Ask Renata facility on the website.

Industrial manslaughter: Update

The VTHC is expecting the Andrews Labour government to have the Industrial Manslaughter Bill in parliament soon. If all goes to plan, Victoria should have Industrial Manslaughter legislation in place by the end of the year.

Bereaved families, unions who have lost members on the job and health and safety reps will be meeting with both cross-benchers and government ministers to press home the need to have such legislation in Victoria, and to encourage them to support the Bill.

AEU: Principal target of violent threats gets million dollar payout

In its latest journal, the Victorian branch of the Australian Education Union (AEU) reports that Adviceline Injury Lawyers has recently resolved a claim alleging negligence against the Department of Education and Training (DET) for failing to provide a safe workplace for a principal.  The principal was subjected to serious threats of violence over months from the parents of two students, leading to an intervention order being taken out against them

According to Adviceline partner Lisa Paul, the parents' behaviour was reported to department representatives, but it failed to implement adequate security measures. She said, "As a result, the principal developed a significant psychiatric injury and has been unable to work for some time. A claim was brought on behalf of the principal against DET, which was recently resolved for an amount equivalent to a jury verdict of over $1 million. Although DET cannot control the behaviour of third parties, it must take all reasonable measures to provide a safe workplace."  Source: Workplace Express. AEU News [pdf]

ASU "Work Shouldn’t Hurt: Bullying and Intimidation in the Workplace" webinars

The ASU is running two webinars next week on bullying and intimidation for its members week - with VTHC OHS Unit staff going through:

  • How common Bullying and Intimidation is in the workplace
  • How to identify bullying behaviour
  • What to do if bullying is happening at the workplace
  • Practical tools, resources and next steps to address bullying in the workplace

1pm – 2pm Tuesday 8 October– day course 
7pm – 8pm Wednesday 9 October – evening course 

These live webinars are part of the ASU Career Launchpad professional development program, designed to help support their members throughout their career. There will be an opportunity to ask questions of the presenters and interact with other workers facing similar issues. For ASU members only: Register here. (Those who have not yet activated their ASU Career Launchpad account yet need to do so first: they need to click here and then enter their email address. Any questions or issues accessing the member portal, please contact the ASU at [email protected] or on 03 9342 3300).

Asbestos news

SA: Regulator suspends Class A removalist's licence
Earlier this year, SafeWork SA temporarily shut down Old Red Brick Co’s demolition of the historic Port Adelaide sawtooth shed after asbestos roof sheeting was found onsite, and after the construction union warned that workers, protesters and children at a nearby school might have been exposed to the dangerous material during the early stages of demolition. It now appears that the regulator has temporarily suspended the company's Class A asbestos removal licence for a period of three months due to "failure to ensure that the work and other activities were carried out safely and competently".

The CFMEU had produced photographs of suspected asbestos at the Shed 26 site, littered on various surfaces inside the building and apparently moved around, and video showing workers making plumes of dust potentially containing asbestos fibres airborne, by sweeping the floor. The union undertook an audit of the site which identified dozens of health and safety law breaches at the site, including unprotected workers disturbing broken suspected asbestos, no first aid equipment or emergency plans, unprotected gaps in the floor and railings that could allow falls from a height. Read more: Demolition firm stripped of asbestos licence InDaily

Vietnam: Toxic thermos flasks
Recently new tests results were released in Vietnam documenting asbestos contamination of thermos flasks made in China. According to the Research and Quality Accreditation Institute in Jiangsu Province, China, the thermoses tested contained asbestos. Commenting on these results, Vietnamese asbestos expert Dr. Tran Tuan said: “Asbestos-related diseases are preventable, and the most effective way to prevent them is to stop using all forms of asbestos to prevent exposure.” The Chinese government issued a warning to consumers about the toxic products.
See: Amiăng trong bình giữ nhiệt xuất xứ từ Trung Quốc có thể gây ung thư và phá hủy nội tạng [Asbestos in Chinese-made thermos can cause cancer and organ damage]. Source: IBAS

Spain: Asbestos action too little, too late?
People living within meters of asbestos-contaminated debris dumped by the defunct Ibertubo (asbestos) cement company have become increasingly frustrated and angry. After more than a decade of high-profile campaigning by residents, authorities in Toledo, Spain agreed in 2016 to remediate the public site on which 60,000 tons of toxic waste had been disposed. Unfortunately, the situation is still unresolved with piles of asbestos debris remaining in place. Campaigners had hoped the opening of the new Toledo Hospital sited nearby might have proved an incentive for the land to be completely cleared; this has not been their experience.
See: El barrio construido en medio del Amianto [The neighborhood built in the middle of asbestos]. Source: IBAS

ASEA Conference: Perth 11 - 13 November
Don't forget the 2019 Asbestos Safety Conference, at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre.  All members of the asbestos management system have the opportunity to come together, exchange information and share ideas with over 300 domestic and international professionals from a range of sectors including workers’ health and safety, public health, the role of the non-government sector, and international campaign work. There will also be sessions focused on the work of asbestos support groups, the latest research into asbestos awareness communications and the latest from medical researchers. Check out the conference program here. For more information and to register, click here

More information on Asbestos: In the workplace and In the Home.

International union news

UN calls for stronger protections for workers exposed to toxic substances
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has welcomed the adoption by the United Nations Human Rights Council of a resolution backing stronger protections for workers exposed to toxic substances. Every 11 seconds a person loses their life because of lethal working conditions, and many of the deaths and serious non-fatal diseases are caused by chemicals.

“Every worker must be protected from toxic chemicals. Yet for firefighters, hairdressers, manufacturing workers and people working in many other occupations, the risk of cancer and other work-related diseases caused by toxic products is real, and it is costing lives. We salute the work done by UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Toxics, Baskut Tuncak, and welcome this important UN decision,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow, a former president of the ACTU.

According to Tuncak, “global instruments only ban or restrict the use or emission of less than 0.1% of toxic industrial chemicals and pesticides of global concern to which workers and communities are exposed”.

The ILO Centenary Declaration, adopted last June, sets out a labour protection floor which guarantees all workers respect for fundamental rights, adequate minimum wages, maximum limits on working hours and safety and health at work. The Declaration also calls upon the ILO to elevate occupational health and safety into the ILO’s framework of fundamental principles and rights at work. The labour movement is fully committed to achieving this goal urgently and welcomes the echoing of a previous call by UN experts for the ILO to move forward with this.

“We know what is needed for safe working environments to ensure that people can lead a healthy life. We need the institutions whose role it is to protect people to recognise just how fundamental this is. The time has come to drive forward solutions for a world of work with zero cancer, and that means proper regulation including of the corporations which make so much profit from products that result in human misery. The right to health does not stop at the factory gate or the office door,” said Burrow. Read more: ITUC News

UK: workers deserve a break, says peak union council
The TUC is calling on the UK government to cut Britain’s overworked workforce a break, by creating four new public holidays. The peak union body says workers in England and Wales get just eight bank holidays a year, fewer than any other EU country and lagging far behind the EU average of 12 days. Workers in Victoria get 13 public holidays each year.

Workers in Germany and France get three additional public holidays a year, while workers in Sweden get 13 days – equivalent to an extra week off. Slovakia, Slovenia, Finland and Cyprus top the table with 15 days each, enjoying nearly twice as many public holidays as their British counterparts. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said “work is becoming more intense.” She added: “Workers in Britain put in millions of hours of unpaid overtime every year but get fewer public holidays than their counterparts across Europe. Working people deserve a break. And as the days start to get shorter we could all do with something to look forward to. The government should create a new public holiday between now and Christmas.” Overwork is linked to increased risk of work-related accidents, injury and ill-health, and to more road traffic accidents involving fatigued professional drivers (Risks 914) or over-tired workers on their daily commute. Read more: TUC news release

Zimbabwe: Unions condemn rights violations
Union leaders in Zimbabwe are subjected to abduction, torture and death threats, which are gross violations of workers’ and human rights, say the country's unions. The violations take place against the backdrop of misery brought by austerity economic policies and annual hyperinflation of over 900 per cent, which has eroded wages.

Police are banning demonstrations, and protestors have been beaten in a clear violation of international workers’ and human rights standards. The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions president, Peter Mutasa, and secretary general, Japhet Moyo, face treason charges that carry a death penalty.

When the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association acting president, Peter Magombeyi, was abducted by armed men from his home in Harare on 15 September, doctors and nurses in major hospitals went on strike demanding his immediate release. Human rights groups and trade unions joined in the campaign. Read more: IndustriALL media release



Sorrento Hotel fined after forklift incident

In September 2018 the Hotel Sorrento, a hotel, bar and restaurant in Sorrento, had approximately 80 to 90 employees. There was a Toyota forklift which was used to move palletised foodstuffs.

On 2 September the two maintenance attendants were clearing the workplace’s cool-room of empty kegs and decided to use the forklift to move a pallet of chips in front of the kegs. The usual operator of the forklift, the head chef was not at work that day. It's unclear from the WorkSafe summary as to who exactly was injured - whether it was one of the maintenance attendants or a non-employee - but as one attendant drove out of the cool-room’s driveway and onto a public road to turn, he ran over the injured person's left foot. The man sustained two fractured metatarsals, was taken to hospital and had to take three weeks off work. The hotel was fined $17,500 plus $3,592 costs - it is unclear whether they were also convicted.

Stevedoring company enters into Enforceable Undertaking

DP World Melbourne Limited is a stevedoring company operating 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, from West Swanson Dock Terminal, Mackenzie Road, West Melbourne and employs, amongst others, machinery maintenance workers. DP World has about 60 Straddle Carriers on site which lift and move 20 and 40 foot shipping containers around the dock.

On 22 February 2017 maintenance personnel were working on a Straddle Carrier to change a hydraulic steering cylinder, which weighs approximately 100 kgs. The first worker was attempting to position the eye of the hydraulic cylinder into the bracket - the cylinder slipped out and under great force, hit him in the forehead and nose. A second worker was injured requiring knee surgery after the first worker fell on him.

WorkSafe found that DP World did not have any procedures in place as the task was a common job - an Improvement Notice was issued regarding carrying out the task of replacing the hydraulic steering cylinders on straddle cranes. Compliance was achieved. A new procedure was developed by DP World for replacing of cylinders on straddle carriers and steps to undertake this task have now been documented. The Straddle Carrier is no longer required to control the hydraulics of the steering cylinder. This new process was communicated to staff at a tool box talk.

An Enforceable Undertaking was accepted in lieu of prosecution with an operational period of 14 months. The total cost of the research undertaking is $312,000 (inclusive of GST).

To keep up to date with prosecutions, go to the WorkSafe Prosecution Result Summaries and Enforceable Undertakings webpage.

Regulator news

WorkSafe Victoria news

Health and Safety Month - events and competition
WorkSafe's Health and Safety Month has begun, with events starting this week - check out the page for events you and your employer might be interested in attending (of course in addition to the VTHC's HSR Conference!). There are a number of interesting events, both in Melbourne and in other parts of the state.

On October 30, for example, Catherine McGregor, freelance broadcaster, cricket commentator and author, will be speaking on diversity, honesty, courage.
Sharing her own inspirational experiences, Catherine will discuss the rising challenge of mental health issues in the workforce, the importance of being able to adapt and overcome adversity and the impact of technology on workplaces and workplace safety. Read more and register here.

WorkSafe says: "Can't make it to a WorkSafe Health and Safety Month event? There are still plenty of ways to get involved! Host a Health and Safety Month event at your workplace and go in the draw to win $3000 for your workplace." For more information and details on how to enter, click here.

Safety Alert after slurry tank injury
WorkSafe Victoria has issued an alert after a filter tank ruptured during commissioning of a paste plant and released about 400 tonnes of slurry.

A 200,000 litre filter tank failed at a newly commissioned paste plant. The tank was being filled with thickened tailings (slurry) for the first time. The wall in the tank’s lower section ruptured and a section of the tank wall came away, causing significant damage to the structural components of the surrounding building. Workers in the immediate vicinity were impacted by the slurry mass which was released. One suffered an eye injury from contact with the slurry.
Read more: Employee injured from slurry tank failure at paste plant

Silica news

National Taskforce update
The National Dust Diseases taskforce, which is required to produce a final report by December 31, 2020, chaired by Australian Chief Health Officer Prof Brendan Murphy, has been established under a $5 million plan by the Morrison government to address the worsening occupational lung disease crisis. Earlier this month the ABC's 7.30 reported that there were now 260 cases across Australia, with 166 in Queensland, 61 in Victoria, 23 in NSW, 5 in Tasmania, 3 in WA, and 1 each in the ACT and SA. In SA there are also 66 cases where workers need specialist follow-up. The terms of reference for the new taskforce include considering a national dust disease register.

Ex Labor senator Claire Moore chaired a Senate inquiry that made 14 recommendations in 2006 - most of which were ignored. Ms Moore believes deaths from silicosis might have been prevented had the recommendations been fully implemented.   Read more: ABC online

NSW: Greens call for ban of manufactured stone
Last week the NSW upper house passed a motion, with government support, to immediately consider banning manufactured stone in a move which will put Premier Gladys Berejiklian under pressure to act on the fatal disease silicosis.

Silicosis cases in NSW, caused by cutting manufactured stone, have increased from eight to 40 this year. Queensland and Victoria have taken regulatory steps to limit use of manufactured stone, which is made up of crushed stone bound together by adhesive.

Greens MP David Shoebridge’s motion, which also calls on the government to ban dry-cutting of manufactured stone, was passed by the upper house last Thursday night, potentially paving the way for legislation. However Better Regulation Minister Kevin Anderson’s office failed to commit to legislation on Friday, saying: “Clearly, more needs to be done to educate people about silica dust and silicosis. All 246 manufactured stone fabrication sites in NSW have ­received a visit from SafeWork NSW inspectors and they will continue to see a strong presence from SafeWork into the future to ensure compliance with rules and regulations such as those which prohibit dry-cutting of manufactured stone.’’

Meanwhile, in the UK...
The UK safety regulator the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is being urged to halve the workplace exposure limit for silica dust, a move it says will save 4,000 lives a year. The call, which is backed by unions and the national Hazards Campaign, comes in a  new ‘Choked’ report from Hazards magazine.

The report presents evidence for cutting the current UK legal limit of 0.1 mg/m3 for respirable crystalline silica to no more than 0.05 mg/m3, a move the report says would dramatically reduce the incidence of the lung scarring occupational disease silicosis, lung cancer, autoimmune diseases and other silica-related conditions. Hazards reviewed the international scientific literature and internal HSE documents to calculate the annual excess silica-related death toll resulting from HSE’s repeat refusal to switch to and enforce the tighter standard, instead sticking with a level it admits comes with “significant risks”. Australia's current exposure standard is also 0.1 mg/m3 .
Read more: UK campaign for urgent cut to silica dust limit

NSW: Mobile scaffold warning issued after fatality

In an 'Incident overview', SafeWork NSW has urged PCBUs to consider all reasonably practicable control measures to manage the risk of falling from mobile scaffolds, after a worker sustained fatal head injuries in a 5.7-metre fall.  The 48-year-old man was dismantling a mobile scaffold at a residential site in Sydney earlier this month when he fell from the top deck.  Read more: Fall from scaffold

NT: warning on heat

NT WorkSafe warns workers around the Territory to get ready for the heat as the Bureau of Meteorology forecasts warmer than average temperatures for the next three months. The Bureau also says there is also an increased risk of heatwaves. Exposure to high temperatures and humidity can cause heat stress and other heat-related issues at work.
More information on heat.

Safe Work Australia news

SWA launches the National Return to Work Strategy 2020-2030
According to the national body, the Strategy sets an ambitious 10-year action plan to improve return to work outcomes for workers across Australia.

It was developed in partnership with governments, business, industry and unions, and endorsed by work health and safety ministers. Consultation was also undertaken with academics, peak bodies, organisations and representatives from the insurance, legal and health sectors to help identify national policy issues and action areas to address them.

The return to work process can be complex and involves a range of stakeholders. The Strategy aims to better support workers through this process, and help stakeholders to do the same. Improving national return to work outcomes can be achieved through the commitment and participation of all stakeholders who participate in the return to work process. More information on the strategy. Download a copy from this page of the SWA website.

New draft workplace exposure standards released
Safe Work Australia is reviewing workplace exposure standards (WES) for airborne contaminants, to ensure standards are based on up to date, high quality evidence supported by a rigorous scientific basis. After commissioning research, SWA has released its draft evaluation reports and recommendations for two lists of chemicals (Release 3 & Release 4), on which it is seeking feedback. While it proposes 'no change' for some, for others, the proposed new WES is well below the current one.  Examples include:

  • n-Butyl alcohol:  Current TWA 50 ppm; 152 mg/m3 Recommended TWA 20 ppm; 61 mg/m3
  • Carbon monoxide:  Current TWA 30 ppm; 34 mg/m3 Recommended TWA 20 ppm; 23 mg/m3
  • Chloroform: Current TWA 2 ppm; 10 mg/m3 Recommended TWA 0.5 ppm; 2.5 mg/m3
  • beta-Chloroprene: Current TWA 10 ppm; 36 mg/m3 Recommended TWA 0.00007 ppm; 0.27 µg/m3

SWA has also recommended that some chemicals which previously had no WES now have them. These include Bisphenol-A and Bisphenol A diglycidyl ether.  Feedback is requested via the SWA Engage platform by 11 October 2019 for Release 3 chemicals, and by 25 October 2019 for Release 4 chemicals.

Fatality Statistics
Safe Work Australia has not updated its fatality statistics since the last edition of SafetyNet: as of September 12, there had been 111 fatalities notified to the national body. The workers killed came from the following industries: 

  • 37 in Transport, postal & warehousing
  • 25 in Agriculture, forestry & fishing
  • 16 in Construction
  • 7 in Mining
  • 6 in Public Administration & safety
  • 6 in Electricity, gas, water & waste services
  • 4 in Manufacturing
  • 2 in Professional, scientific & technical services
  • 2 in Wholesale trade
  • 2 in 'Other services'
  • 2 in Administration & support services
  • 2 in Arts & recreation services

To check for updates, and for more details on fatalities since 2003, go to the Safe Work Australia Work-related fatalities webpage and in particular, here.

International news

Resources from Canada

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety produces a regular "Health and Safety Report" newsletter - which is free to subscribe to. The September edition has interesting and informative articles on:

  • Farmers' mental health
  • Harassment and Violence Prevention
  • a Podcast on Artificial Intelligence: Managing the positive and negative implications for workers.

CCOHS produces free monthly podcasts on a wide variety of topics designed to provide listeners with current information, tips, and insights into the health, safety, and well-being of working Canadians - useful for Australians too! See the complete list of podcast topics. 


If you have an OHS related event you would like us to advertise, please email Renata at [email protected] with details, including location, cost (if any), and where to RSVP.


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 a number of new locations to cater for HSRs in the outer suburbs of Melbourne. This is in addition to courses in our usual locations. If you have any questions on the registration process or the courses themselves, send an email to Lisa Mott (or call her on 03 9659 3511). Below are the dates for the next few courses run by the VTHC OHS Training Centre. You can now register and pay directly from the site here.

HSR Initial OHS training course  

October 7 – 11: Frankston
October 14 – 18: Carlton
November 11 – 15: Carlton AND Bendigo
November 18 – 22: Werribee
November 25 – 29 (Education Sector ONLY): AEU Abbotsford
December 9 – 13: Carlton

HSR Refresher OHS Training Courses*

October 23, Carlton
December 12 (Education Sector ONLY): AEU Abbotsford
December 16, Carlton

* HSRs are entitled to attend this course every year subsequent to attending the Initial OHS training course.

OHS Training at the ACTU

The ACTU (Australian Council of Trade unions) runs training courses in occupational/workplace health and safety. These are the upcoming courses in Melbourn

Part 1 14th – 16th October 2019  
Part 2 12th – 15th November 2019

The course will be delivered at the ACTU (VIC). 

For more information, phone Chris Hughes (03 9664 7389 Mon-Fri) or Anna Pupillo (03 9664 7334 Mon-Wed & Fri). ACTU health and safety training 

October 9 : Dangerous Goods Advisory Group Meeting
The DGAG bimonthly meeting is a general networking / update meeting, open to all, to discuss issues that are going on for Dangerous Goods and Chemical Regulation . The next meeting of the GDAG  will be on Wednesday October 9. The Agenda covers a range of issues:

  • Hazardous Chemicals / Dangerous Goods Incidents
  • The ADG Transport Code & Changes in the UN Model Regs, IMDG Code, IATA Regs, NZ Regs etc
  • Dangerous Goods (Storage & Handling) & Related Issues
  • Classification and training matters
  • Labelling and SDS issues
  • Chemical Hazard Communication and Regulatory Matters
  • Other matters

More information and details on matters to be covered.

When: 6-8.15pm, October 9 (with a meal afterwards for those who are interested)
Where: at the Sandridge Centre - Trugo Club Rooms
1 Tucker Avenue, Port Melbourne (Garden City part)
Enter along Clark St which turns into Tucker Av, from Graham St. Melways reference is Map 56 K2 (or 2J A4). Please park in Clark St.
Cost: a donation of $3-$5 to cover costs. Tea, coffee and snacks provided

Please RSVP via email to  Jeff Simpson: [email protected]

October 10: Central Safety Group

Safety clutter – and what to do about it
Does OHS in your workplace feel weighed down by paperwork, rules and procedures? Dr David Provan says this can be due to ‘safety clutter’, described in a study he co-authored as "the accumulation of safety procedures, documents, roles and activities that are performed in the name of safety, but do not contribute to the safety of operational work." Worse, this can create negative beliefs and attitudes to safety, according to the research. David will talk about how to identify ‘safety clutter’, what to do about it and how to remove it in a lunchtime presentation to Central Safety Group on Thursday, 10 October.

Cutter can take the form of too many rules and procedures, duplication and ‘tick the box’ safety activities. This can include meetings, audits, observations and investigation processes that are not actually reducing the risk of safety incidents. David will explain how to ‘de-clutter’ without affecting legal compliance and certification. He says, “You then decide whether to remove, improve or re-engineer things in the ‘clutter’ category. Much of it involves cutting down on paperwork and time-consuming routines that are not adding value.”

When: 12:00-1:00pm, Thursday, 10 October, 2019
Where: DXC Technology, Level 19 (Board Room 1), 360 Collins Street, Melbourne (between Queen & Elizabeth Streets)
Cost: attendance members free, non-members $10
          Lunch (optional): sandwich and juice lunch $15
          [Individual membership fee for 2019: $70]

Book online. RSVP by close of business Friday 4 October, 2019

Nov 19 - 21 International Symposium on the system of radiological protestion
Mines - Medicine - Mars

ICRP 2019 is a combined event that offers the opportunity for more than 400 professionals, experts and researchers worldwide to discuss their respective concerns and the current challenges faced in all areas of radiological protection, as well as the ways forward through new research, updating doctrines, or better interactions with stakeholders. The program looks at a range of issues associated with radiological protection in mining including the latest science on radon risk, waste management practices, and best practice in the protection of the environment.

When: 19-21 November 2019 
Where: Adelaide Convention Centre, South Australia.
Website: ICRP 2019
Registration Link: Registration


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