SafetyNet 593

Welcome to the September 15/16 edition of SafetyNet.

This week, while seeing a great increase in Australians getting vaccinated, we've also seen more and more employers saying they want to mandate vaccinations. Read about all the latest OHS news - from locked down Melbourne!

Visit our We Are Union: OHS Reps Facebook page for news, memes and more. If you have any questions or need any advice, we can be reached via the Ask Renata facility on the website or through the closed OHS Network Facebook page. If you have comments or want to send through any ideas, email us at [email protected]

Union News

OHS Live Show - Workplace bullying

If you're reading this on Wednesday September 15, then you have the opportunity of joining Bridget from Trades Hall and Dr Carlo Caponecchia tonight live at 7pm on the We Are Union: OHS Reps Facebook page for a discussion on workplace bullying and how HSRs can use their powers to address it. If you're seeing this on Thursday, then you can catch the show anytime on the Facebook page. 

Dr Caponecchia is a senior lecturer and researcher at UNSW with expertise in safety and human factors, particularly psychosocial hazards at work.  He is also the current president of the International Association on Workplace Bullying and Harassment. As always, we'll be taking questions LIVE so mark your calendars and bring your questions.

When: Wednesday September 15, 7pm sharp  
Where: We Are Union: OHS Reps FB page 
Duration: one hour

Coronavirus Update

Victoria: We are still battling high numbers of infections in Victoria, and until we get both the reproductive value down from the current 1.7 and increase the percentage of vaccinated people, numbers could keep increasing. However, in some good news, Premier Daniel Andrews has announced that a roadmap will be unveiled on Sunday, detailing a plan to ease restrictions over the next few months.

The number of new infections reported on Wednesday September 15 was 423.  The number of active cases: 4038 - more than double this time last week.

Of the active cases, 158 are in hospital, 45 in ICU - 23 on ventilators.  Of those in ICU, again none had been vaccinated! For those with any level of 'hesitancy', please note this: it is crucial to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Victoria has done well in its efforts to vaccinate as many Victorians as possible: as of September 14, 41.44 per cent of us are fully vaccinated, and 67.62 per cent partially vaccinated (38.3 per cent and 61.59 per cent last week). There have now been 828 COVID-related deaths in Victoria - five in the past week, including a man in his 20s. 

Once again there are more than 1050 exposure sites had been listed. It is crucial to keep up with these, and comply with the directions (eg to isolate and get tested). Go to this Victorian government page.

In news from around Australia:

  • NSW: the state has continued to have the highest numbers of new community infections since coronavirus first arrived in Australia, although it appears the curve may be 'flattening', probably due to the higher levels of vaccinations. Over the past week, the numbers have continued to be over 1000 daily. There were 1,259 new community infections in the state in the 24 hours before Wednesday morning, and unfortunately twelve deaths.   There have been a total of 198 deaths since the beginning of this outbreak - sixty in the past week. There are 1,241 COVID-19 cases admitted to hospital, with 234 people in intensive care, 108 of whom require ventilation. In good news, the state has hit the 80 per cent mark for first vaccinations.
  • ACT: On Tuesday there were 22 new cases recorded, leading the chief minister to announce that the lockdown would be extended for a further month, until at October 17.  

As at September 15, Australia has had a total of 76,292 cases of coronavirus diagnosed (66,317 last week). There have been 1102 COVID-19 related deaths. 

Worldwide: as at September 15, there had been 226,618,955 infections (last week it was 222,737,866). The total number of COVID-related deaths around the world is now 4,661,584. (Note these figures are updated constantly - check the Worldometer website for latest figures and trends). Read more information on Coronavirus   

Vaccinations update

According to the ABC Vaccine tracker as of September 14, 42.4 per cent of Australians have been fully vaccinated (68.48 per cent have received one dose). This is a great improvement - we are slowly creeping up the OECD ranking and according to The Guardian, we are now at 33/38, so there is still a long way to go. 

News in the past week:

  • the government has secured more Pfizer vaccines in deals involving getting almost out of date supplies from a number of countries and then paying them back
  • the TGA has approved a third vaccine: Moderna, which is an mRNA vaccine, as is Pfizer. 

It is increasingly important that everyone who is eligible be vaccinated as soon as possible. If HSRs are interested in working with their employer to organise vaccinations for a group of workers, the government has set up a system to register interest - click here.

Also on the rise are employers and companies who are announcing that they are considering/have decided to make vaccinations for their employees mandatory: this week in Victoria alone it was Crown, St Vincent's Health Australia (the largest not-for-profit health and aged care provider in the country) and Racing Victoria (ABC news). With one in eight cases of community infections in Victoria linked to construction, the state government is considering making vaccinations mandatory on construction sites, a move not supported by the CFMEU (The Age)

Meanwhile, the ACTU has launched a national ad campaign to encourage Australians to get vaccinated. The move supports essential workers and those who have lost their jobs because of the pandemic. The short ‘It’s time to get vaccinated’ advert will run on TV, YouTube and social media. ACTU secretary Sally McManus said, “The union movement is encouraging all eligible Australians to get vaccinated to support the working people of our country: essential workers who expose themselves every day to keep the country running, hospital workers who face being overwhelmed with unvaccinated people and workers who have lost their jobs because of lockdowns.”

She added: “We need our workplaces and communities to be as safe as possible and high rates of vaccination is the only way to achieve this. High vaccination rates are also the only way to avoid the crippling lockdowns which have cost working people big time… Vaccination is how we support each other and build a community with a strong shield that will keep us all safe. How strong our shield is depends on all of us making the choice to get vaccinated. We are calling on everyone to do their part so we can protect each other.” Read more: ACTU news release and It’s time to get vaccinated broadcast/online advert.

Check out the VTHC's guide to help you navigate challenging conversations about vaccines and help address some of your workmates' concerns. It's free! Get your copy of Talkin' 'bout My Vaccination  

Ask Renata  

Hello VTHC OHS Unit,

Several of my colleagues are concerned about the safety of the COVID vaccines. I have pulled up the Pfizser Safety Data Sheet but seems all relevant information is not listed or there is no data available. Would this be the completed SDS with so much information not available? Shouldn’t a full SDS be provided to the workplace? Would you please advise if this is correct or which would be the best platform to find all current and relevant information pertaining to this and other COVID vaccines.

The Pfizer vaccines Safety Data Sheet (SDS is the new term for MSDS), is available as a pdf here

But note that SDSs must be written and supplied for hazardous chemicals provided and used in workplaces under the WHS/OHS legislation. That is, the SDS is required provided to workers who use a substance in the workplace and so the advice is about storage and handling, PPE and so on.

Nevertheless, even though vaccines are not registered as 'hazardous substances' and are not covered by the OHS legislation - an SDS would be useful information for health workers, etc who use the vaccine.

The approval process for vaccines to be used in Australia is through the Therapeutic Drugs Administration (TGA). Each of the vaccines in our current program (the AstraZeneca, the Pfizer and the Moderna) vaccine was approved by the TGA after the organisation evaluated all the clinical trial data and information provided by the company.  These vaccines have been approved by many other countries and have been used in vaccination programs for many months. Each vaccine has been deemed safe to use by doctors and health professionals both in Australia and worldwide. More information on the safety of the vaccines can be found here. You can also check the information on the COVID vaccines on this section of the TGA website. The TGA provides information on the approval process, the safety monitoring and the outcomes, and more.  

For example, the Pfizer vaccine was tested widely before being used and research from the Department of Health shows that people with both doses of Pfizer were 95 per cent less likely to get symptomatic COVID-19. More information on this research can be found in this fact sheet [pdf].

The federal government then takes the advice of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) in terms of who should get the vaccine (eg age groups) after the TGA approves its use.

It is a stressful and unprecedented time for everyone, and it is understandable if your coworkers are concerned about the vaccines and their effects. Trades Hall has prepared a free guide about getting the vaccine that may assist in having those chats with coworkers who may be hesitant or curious about the vaccine. You can download it free here. 

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

Asbestos news

National: Asbestos Awareness Week

Every year in Australia, an estimated 4,000 people die from asbestos-related disease because of past exposure. This includes the incurable cancer mesothelioma. Across Australia, asbestos is in 1 in 3 homes.

One of the initiatives to prevent exposure to asbestos fibres and eliminate asbestos-related disease, National Asbestos Awareness Week is held every year in the last week of November, this year, November 22–28 with the theme “Think Twice About Asbestos.”

ASEA has produced a 'stakeholder campaign pack' and the VTHC is planning a number of activities, including a live show and more. 

International: WHO confirms concerns at asbestos lobbying push and its support for stopping asbestos use

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has expressed concern at “misinformation” used to lobby governments regarding the health risks of chrysotile asbestos, which WHO confirms is a known potent cause of cancer. The WHO clarification came in the wake of pro-asbestos comments by a Russian foreign minister, in an article also claiming erroneously: “The controlled use of chrysotile is approved by the World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization…”

WHO has now confirmed its unchanged position, namely “the most efficient way to eliminate asbestos-related diseases is to the stop the use of all types of asbestos.”

The World Health Organization’s policy is set out in this document and remains unchanged: 

  • Chrysotile asbestos causes cancer in humans, specifically, it causes mesothelioma and cancer of the lung, larynx and ovary.  The scientific evidence that it causes cancer is conclusive and overwhelming.
  • No threshold for adverse effects has been identified, and therefore it is not possible to establish safe levels of exposure.  Chrysotile is widely used in building materials and in vehicle parts, where it is not possible to prevent exposure of workers and the general public.
  • Information about chrysotile toxicity may not be well disseminated in developing countries and exposure prevention is difficult. Mesothelioma cases do occur in countries producing and using chrysotile, however in many countries there are not adequate systems in place to detect mesothelioma.
  • Safer alternatives are available, and have been used by the many countries that have stopped the use of chrysotile. 

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

International union news

Canada: Unions want a work deaths prosecutor 

There must be immediate action to protect workers after the collapse of a high-profile criminal trial related to a young worker's death, unions in the Canadian province of British Columbia (BC) have said. The BC Federation of Labour president, Laird Cronk, described the decision last week to stay criminal negligence charges against Peter Kiewit Sons and two former managers as a “profound failure” of the justice system.

“Justice delayed is justice denied, and the unconscionable delays, insufficient resources and organisational breakdowns in investigating Sam Fitzpatrick's death have compounded tragedy upon tragedy,” Cronk said, as the case was stayed just as it was scheduled to commence. “A system that can't effectively investigate and prosecute negligent employers endangers workers across the province.”

The BCFED leader said he wanted to see the provincial government immediately dedicate a prosecutor to deal with workplace injuries and deaths, train police on the law and make police investigations mandatory when a worker is killed or seriously injured. Sam Fitzpatrick was killed in 2009 aged 24 by a falling boulder on a Kiewit worksite. His younger brother was working next to him and saw it happen. Safety regulator WorkSafeBC found that Kiewit had been running the site with a “reckless disregard” for safety. The police opened a criminal investigation in 2014 in response to campaigning by Fitzpatrick's father and the United Steelworkers (USW) union, and charges of criminal negligence causing death were approved five years later. In 2011, WorkSafeBC levied a $250,000 (AUD$269,244) fine against Kiewit for violations of occupational health and safety regulations related to Fitzpatrick's death. The fine was later reduced on appeal to $100,000 (AUD$107,697). Read more: BCFED news releaseUSW news releaseCBC News. Source: Risks 1013


The first year of COVID-19 in Australia: direct and indirect health effects

A new report into the health effects of COVID-19 on Australians during 2020 and early 2021 includes analyses of the years of healthy life lost, international comparisons and impacts on population groups, mental health and the health system.

The first year of COVID-19 in Australia: direct and health effects was released late last week by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report includes data from a range of sources covering 2020 and some which cover up to June 2021. It does not include data from the latest wave of cases that began in June 2021, dominated by infections of the Delta variant.

‘As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve rapidly and we face challenges such as the emergence of new variants of the virus, it is important we look holistically at the direct and indirect health effects of the pandemic on Australians,’ said AIHW spokesperson Dr. Lynelle Moon.

As at 20 June 2021 there had been over 30,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 910 deaths from the disease.

During the first year of the pandemic, Australia avoided the level of health impacts seen in many other countries, where there were large numbers of severe cases and deaths. ‘We closely compared COVID-19 case and death rates in Australia with four other countries that have similar proportions of people over 65; similar life expectancy at birth; and similar health systems and expenditure on health care,’ Dr. Moon said. ‘If Australia had experienced the same crude case and death rates as Canada, Sweden or the United Kingdom, by early April 2021 there would have been between 680,000 and 2 million cases instead of the 29,000 that did occur, and between 16,000 and 48,000 deaths.'

The report uses burden of disease analysis to look at the number of healthy years of life Australians who contracted COVID-19 may have lost. ‘There were just over 8,400 disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) lost in 2020 from COVID-19 in Australia and 97 per cent of this disease burden was from fatal cases,’ Dr. Moon said.

Certain groups in the Australian population experienced higher rates of severe disease and death from COVID-19 during 2020. During 2020, 7 per cent of all COVID-19 cases in Australia and 75 per cent of all deaths were in people living in residential aged care facilities. And up to early July 2020, it is estimated that health care workers in Australia were 2.7 times as likely to contract COVID-19 as the general community. People in lower socioeconomic areas also suffered higher rates of death than those living in the highest socioeconomic areas (2.6 times).

The report also looked at the mental health impacts of COVID, concluding that the initial impacts appeared to have increased levels of psychological distress, particularly for adults aged 18–45.
Read more: Media release; The first year of COVID-19 in Australia: direct and health effect Summary and Full report [pdf

COVID-19 and patients with mesothelioma

Almost one in five patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) at a Barcelona hospital contracted COVID-19 during the pandemic. In addition, those patients suffered a 75 per cent mortality rate, according to research presented during MA04: Current Status and Future Prospects of Pleural Mesothelioma and Thymoma at the IASLC 2021 World Conference on Lung Cancer.

To study the effect of COVID-19 infection on patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma Dr. Susana Cedres of Vall d´Hebron University Hospital and the Institute of Oncology, Barcelona, Spain, analyzed the medical records of 38 patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. Dr. Cedres collected clinical data including demographics, comorbidities, oncological background, and COVID-19 illness status. “Of the 38 patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma at our institution in this pandemic era, seven were diagnosed with COVID-19 infection (18 per cent) by a positive RT-PCR,” she reported.

Patients with cancer or thoracic malignancies may be particularly affected by COVID-19. Malignant pleural mesothelioma is an aggressive pleural tumor associated with asbestos exposure and with limited survival despite systemic therapy. 

In a recent study of COVID-19 and mortality in the United States, malignant pleural mesothelioma was significantly associated with increased odds for worse outcomes.  Read more: Mirage news  

Regulator News

Victorian news

Increased scrutiny of construction sites

In response to the identified risks associated with COVID-19 compliance/transmission within the construction industry, WorkSafe has immediately commenced joint visits to construction sites in partnership with the COVID-19 Industry Engagement and Enforcement Operation (IEEO). The aim of this program is to support the IEEO through “joint” visits with IEEO Authorised Officers and WorkSafe Inspectors attending construction sites including multistorey residential apartment builds and large builds. The primary focus is on metropolitan Melbourne, however visits will also take place in regional locations.

The objectives of this intervention is to:

  • Build capability amongst IEEO Authorised Officers to enable them to undertake COVID compliance visits to construction sites
  • Improve compliance in the construction industry with the Chief Health Officer directions
  • Whilst supporting the above, continue to maintain WorkSafe’s strategic focus on OHS risks in construction including but not limited to falls from heights as part of the current Fall Focus Campaign

The IEEO Appointed Officers will be using their own powers under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act to enter and take enforcement action whilst the WorkSafe Inspectors will undertake OHS inquiries on site in line with the relevant proactive focus (e.g. Fall Focus Campaign). WorkSafe Inspectors undertaking visits outside of the “joint” program will continue to make inquiries into COVID-19 risk controls.

New resources

Safety alert: Safety when loading and unloading skip bins

Last week WorkSafe issued an Alert about the hazards and risks associated with lifting waste container skip loaders (skip bins) on and off trucks. Recently a  truck driver was fatally crushed by their truck while collecting a skip bin at a residential property. It is believed the truck rolled forward, crushing the driver against a brick wall.

In a separate incident, a worker was seriously injured while conducting work on hooklift equipment fitted to a truck.

The Alert goes through the safety issues, the recommended ways to control the risks, and other ways of controlling the risks of rolling. It also goes through how the legal duties under the Act and regulations apply to this task.  Read the alert: Safety when loading and unloading skip bins.

Short Videos on operating boom and scissor lifts

WorkSafe has released new short videos which show the potential overhead crush and electrocution hazards when operating boom and scissor lifts and the appropriate controls. The video shows different scenarios for operators to take note of before using a boom or scissor lift. Watch on YouTube

September Safety Soapbox

The latest edition of WorkSafe's Safety Soapbox was posted today with the title "When OHS standards fall, workers fall"  and focusses on the regulator's Prevention of Falls campaign. 

The editorial begins with “Falls are the leading cause of fatalities in the construction industry.” It then follows up with: “With this level of risk, it would be easy think safe work at height would be front-of-mind for all builders, employers, self-employed and workers. Unfortunately, all too often it’s not!”

The editorial reminds employers of the duty to apply the hierarchy of control which must be applied when eliminating or minimising the risks of falls. 

Also in this month's edition is a story featuring a small construction and maintenance company which used WorkSafe's OHS Essentials Program, which has been providing free, personalised, and confidential advice for more than 10 years to Victorian small and medium businesses. Other features include:

  • a reminder of WorkSafe's resource for HSRs and deputy HSRs: HSR Support Channel app (powered by CodeSafe). The app is free and can be downloaded onto phones
  • a summary of a recent prosecution of Gippsland civil construction company ACE 
  • news from interstate

As always, the Safety Soapbox has the list of incidents reported to WorkSafe: In August 2021, the construction industry reported 202 incidents to WorkSafe. Of these, 75 per cent resulted in injury. There was one fatality when a 23 year old apprentice carpenter fell from from height, sustained serious head injuries and later died in hospital. In addition, 51 per cent of the injuries were significant, and 3 per cent serious. Access this edition of Safety Soapbox here  - the summaries of reported incidents can be downloaded from the September Safety Soapbox.

OHS Month: WorkSafe Victoria events

The state's OHS regulator has scheduled a number of free events in late October as part of Health and Safety Month. Remember the VTHC will also be running our annual OHS Reps' Conference - details to come soon. Click on the webinar title for more details and to register for the event you are interested in. 

  • Learn more about the infringement notice scheme and what this means for you.
    A webinar with Natalie Wellard (Legislative Services and Reform Manager, WorkSafe) on the newly introduced infringement notices. When: Wednesday 20 Oct 2021 at 1.30pm to 2.15pm 
  • Work-related violence in community care.
    A webinar on occupational violence and aggression in the healthcare and social assistance industry, often considered to be ‘part of the job’. This session will look at the impact of occupational violence and aggression in workplaces such as hospitals, residential care and similar, the health and safety obligations of employers and what they can do to support their workers. When: Wednesday 20 Oct 2021 at 12.00pm to 12.45pm 
  • Why WorkSafe exists: Dan and Joanne's stories
    A webinar with Health and Safety Month 2021 ambassadors Joanne Woodward and Dan Casey. Both Joanne and Dan, who received return to work achievement awards in the past, will share their stories of recovery and return to work following work-related injuries. When: Wednesday 20 Oct 2021 at 9.00am to 9.45am 
  • Why WorkSafe exists: Case studies of prosecutions.
    A webinar with Mark Glenister - WorkSafe's Fatalities/COVID Investigations Manager who will look at what happens when employers fail to meet their OHS obligations. WorkSafe investigators will share case studies of successful prosecutions arising from serious incidents. When: Wednesday 20 Oct 2021 at 10.30am to 11.15am 
  • Workplace mental health 101: A business case study
    A webinar with Madelaine Barry (WorkSafe), Linda Hunt (Working Well in Wellington), Dr Alison Kennedy (NCFH) and Adrian Panozzo (CCF Victoria). When: Thursday 21 Oct 2021 at 11.30am to 12.30pm

National news

Comcare releases scheme performance data for 2020-21

Comcare's scheme performance data is now available from website, here. The regulator notes the 'highlights' at 30 June 2021 were:

  • The number of accepted claims continues to trend downwards, falling to 10.9 claims per 1,000 FTE compared with 11.3 in 2017-18.
  • Body stressing remains the top cause of claim, accounting for 42 per cent of all claims.
  • The top type of claims is injury (61 per cent), followed by disease (31 per cent) and psychological (nine per cent).
  • In its regulatory work over the year  Comcare responded to almost 1,500 reported incidents and concerns, 975 inspectorate compliance enforcement activities, issuing 368 statutory notices and commencing five prosecutions. 

Comcare: Free webinar series on Driver health and wellbeing

Key findings from Australia's largest national research project to improve the health and wellbeing of truck drivers will be shared as part of a new webinar series to be held throughout this month. Unfortunately, the series began on Monday, but there are webinars scheduled to the end of September.
The nationwide research supported by Comcare and led by Monash University revealed a health crisis facing the transport sector. Insights from approximately 1400 truck drivers indicated high levels of obesity, chronic pain and psychological distress. The research was co-funded by partners the NSW Centre for Work Health and Safety, Linfox, and the Transport Workers Union.
The series covers the following key themes from the research, including:
  • Driver fatigue
  • Mental health
  • Musculoskeletal conditions
  • Health and fitness
  • Pain management

For more information about the free webinar series, and to register, visit the Monash University events page.

New SWA guides

Safe Work Australia has published guidance for employers and persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) to identify and manage the work health and safety risks associated with construction. 

1 - Managing risks in concrete pumping

There have been a high number of injuries (including 2,100 workers’ compensation claims) and three fatalities associated with concrete pumping in the past five years. 

Risks that may arise from concrete pumping equipment include those related to the plant itself, its placement, concrete delivery, and by-products such as fumes and noise. PCBUs must do everything that is reasonably practicable to eliminate these risks.

Safe Work Australia’s latest guide provides information on how those risks can be identified and managed. Check out the guide, Managing risk in construction: Concrete pumping 

2 - Managing the Risks of Elevating Work Platforms

Known hazards and risks associated with using an Elevating Work Platform (EWP) include:

  • structural failure, overturning, or collapse of the machine
  • contact or collision of the EWP with people, plant and structures leading to crush injuries and entrapment
  • inadequate ventilation in the area the EWP is used
  • restricted working space, and
  • falling objects and falls from heights.

Incidents relating to EWPs have resulted in death and serious injury, with at least 9 fatalities and 355 workers’ compensation claims during the period 2015-2019.

The guide steps persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) through the process of identifying the hazards associated with EWPs in their workplace and how to do all that is reasonably practicable to manage the risks to health and safety. Download the guide to Managing the risks of elevating work platforms

'Have a safety chat'

Safe Work Australia is promoting October's National Safe Work Month, a time to make WHS a priority and think safe, work safe and be safe. 

The national body is appealing to all workers, whether in the office, on site or from home, to Have a safety chat over a cuppa and commit to a healthier and safer workplace. 

It advises people to follow these simple steps and play an active part in National Safe Work Month:

  1. Download Safe Work's simple Safety Chat checklist
  2. Promote your chat by downloading the editable poster and bunting 
  3. If your meeting is online, download the National Safe Work Month video background and share with your colleagues.
  4. Upload a picture of your ‘Safety chat over a cuppa’ on your socials using the hashtags:   #ThinkWorkBeSafe and #safeworkmonth

National Fatality Statistics  

Safe Work Australia has not updated its statistics on fatalities since September 2, at which time it had been notified that 81 Australian workers had been killed at work this year. The total numbers of fatalities have been in the following sectors:

  • 32 in Transport, postal & warehousing 
  • 11 in Construction
  • 9 in Agriculture, forestry & fishing
  • 8 in Manufacturing 
  • 5 in Arts & recreation services
  • 4 in Public administration & safety
  • 3 in Electricity, gas, water & waste services
  • 2 in Mining
  • 2 in Other Services 
  • 1 in Wholesale trade
  • 1 in Accommodation & food services
  • 1 in Education & training
  • 1 in Retail trade 
  • 1 in Administrative & support services

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, consequently sometimes the numbers of deaths in each sector change. 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


Victorian news

Abattoir fined for crush injury

Cedar Meats, the Victorian abattoir which saw a major coronavirus outbreak last year, was this week fined $15,000 in the Melbourne Magistrates Court over an incident in which one of their employees crushed her arm during a shift.

The 62-year-old worker was wiping down a conveyor belt in the Brooklyn meatworks at the start of her shift on January 30, 2019, when the paper towel she was holding got caught in the moving belt, dragging her arm into the belt. Her arm was fractured in multiple places and she also sustained injuries to her leg, which required plastic surgery.

She has not worked since, and told the court in her victim impact statement that she loved going to work, but the permanent injuries meant she could not return and she was struggling to complete re-training because she was still in pain. She was employed by Labour Solutions Australia, which provides workers to Cedar Meats, and said that because she was not a permanent Australian resident, she was even more worried about her financial security when her compensation payments ended.

The WorkSafe prosecutor told the court although there was a guard on the belt, it was not adequate. Cedar Meats installed mesh barriers the same day they were asked to and, soon after, also installed emergency stop buttons.

Magistrate Gregory McNamara said the worker’s injuries were serious and impacted her socially, mentally and physically. In issuing a $15,000 fine without conviction, the magistrate considered the company’s lack of prior history, guilty plea and the steps it took to remedy the failings. Source: The Age

To check for more Victorian prosecutions before the next edition, go to WorkSafe Victoria's Prosecution Result Summaries and Enforceable Undertakings webpage.  

International news

WHO launches free Yoga app

WHO has launched mYoga – a yoga app to help people stay active and healthy. The app is safe and secure and does not collect any data from users.

The app contains a collection of videos and audio files to teach and accompany yoga practice and is an easy-to-use and free tool for both people who are trying yoga for the first time or those who already practice yoga regularly. No special equipment is needed, and users can learn or practice for between 3 to 45 minutes, so even busy people can use it to get active. Consider taking a break from your computer, especially if you are working from home, and do a little yoga! 

It is available for free download on Android devices, and  Apple devices


Wednesday 22 September - Chemical Hazard Communication Network (CHCN) meeting

The CHCN, a six-monthly meeting, is a general networking / discussion update meeting, open to all, to discuss issues that are going on for Dangerous Goods and Chemical Regulation at the moment. The meeting is co-convened by Richard Greenwood (RG Chemical Safety - [email protected]) and Jeff Simpson (HazTech Environmental - [email protected]). If you have any queries, please contact Richard or Jeff. 

Like many meetings we are now participating in, the CHCN will be a Webinar Chat meeting. Join Zoom Meeting from 5.45pm for a 6-8pm meeting using this weblink in your browser. If you have a Zoom account you can also join with: Meeting ID: 876 9537 7734  Passcode: 508324

The topics to be discussed will be:

  1. Classification matters - both Australian and international

  2. Labelling and SDS issues

  3. Chemical Hazard Communication Regulatory Matters

  4. Australian, EU & USA Hazardous Chemical Management developments

  5. Hazardous Chemicals - Evaluation / Issues / Incidents

  6. Conferences, Workshops, Discussion Groups / Forums

For more information, contact Jeff Simpson (CHCN convenor and Webinar host), Haztech Environmental, Ph: 03-9885-1269 Mob: 0403-072-092, Email: [email protected]

Jeff can assist in setting up the Zoom meeting. Contact Jeff for instructions on how to join.  Note from the organisers: "For transparency, we require that everyone attends with video on. Casual dress is acceptable and encouraged, but we want to ensure that those attending adhere to our meeting standards on not making recordings, and for that we need to confirm who you are.  Attendees without their video being on, will not be permitted to remain in the meeting."

The following 5th DGAG meeting, will be on Wednesday 21 October 2020, also as a DGAG Webinar Discuss/Chat Meeting at 5.30-7.30 pm.

HSR Initial & Refresher training

With the lockdown still underway in Victoria, the VTHC training courses are still being delivered online. If you've enrolled in a course and are not sure what's happening, then please contact Natalie Wood at [email protected] at the VTHC Training Unit.

Remember: if you haven't got around to doing your annual refresher, then you should enrol now: it's a very important 'update' on all the new stuff going on. Most HSRs do their initial training, but many do not then enrol in the subsequent 'Refresher' courses. All HSRs are entitled to, and should, attend 'Refresher Training' each year subsequent to completing the five day initial training. 

Section 67 of the OHS Act 2004 entitles all OHS and Deputy Reps who have completed a 5 day initial training course to attend a one day refresher training course each year to keep their knowledge of OHS law and practice up-to-date.  It's important to take this right up, as the Refresher training provides an opportunity to catch up with new legislation and material, meet with other HSRs, and further hone skills. 

The refresher course covers:

  • Session 1 - covers legislative update on the Victorian OHS 2004 Act, OHS Regulations 2007, WorkSafe compliance codes and guides.
  • Session 2 - covers consultation, communication, problem solving.
  • Sessions 3 & 4 - covers hazard identification and control with either manual handling, work related stress, incident investigation or hazard mapping.


Course hours: 9am - 5pm
Course length: 1 day
Course fee: Metro: $330.00 incl. GST Regional: $350.00 incl. GST 

Upcoming 2021 dates and locations (some of these may be online):

  • 21 September  – HSR Refresher Training (Geelong)
  • 29 September - HSR Refresher Training (Carlton)
  • 26 October - HSR Refresher Training (Carlton)

Read more about the Work-related gendered violence course here: Knowledge is power in fight against gendered violence.  

Go to this link to enrol in a five-day initial or a refresher course. Remember to then notify your employer at least 14 days before the course. 


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