SafetyNet 602

This is the November 24th edition of SafetyNet.

It has been a tragic week, with two workers killed in Victoria. The VTHC urges employers and self-employed persons to identify all work hazards and risks and work together with HSRs and workers to make their workplaces as safe and without risks to health as practicable. No worker should die at work.

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

Two Victorian workers killed in the past week

Since the last edition of SafetyNet, two Victorian workers have lost their lives.

In the first incident, a weed-spraying contractor was killed when he was thrown from a side-by-side vehicle at a She Oaks farm, about 100kms from Melbourne. According to WorkSafe Victoria, the 55-year-old male driver and a passenger were ejected from the vehicle when it tipped backwards as they drove up a steep hill at about 3pm on Wednesday November 17.

The driver suffered fatal head injuries and the other worker was seriously injured. This is another example of the danger of working with vehicles such as quad bikes. 

In the second incident, a 49-year-old gardener died after losing control of a chainsaw he was using to prune branches at a Footscray property on the morning of Thursday November 18. It appears that he was working from a ladder when he lost his grip on the chainsaw and sustained serious lacerations to his arm and upper body. Unfortunately, he later died in hospital.

WorkSafe is investigating both fatalities. These fatalities bring the number of Victorians killed at, or due to, work in 2021 to 53. These fatalities have again prompted WorkSafe to launch a campaign urging employers and workers to slow down and put safety first. WorkSafe media release.

The VTHC sends our sincerest condolences to the family, friends and work colleagues of the two workers. No worker should die at work: every death is preventable. Mourn the dead - fight like hell for the living. 

Ask Renata

In response to last week's question (on what are the specific requirements are for the number of evacuation exits for a basement gym at a school - also used for assemblies and exams, catering for around 200 students) we received some helpful extra advice. 

From Steve, UFU member and Acting Station Officer in the Community Safety Department at Fire Services Victoria: 

"Expert advice on the question around required exits can be obtained from the Municipal Building Surveyor at the local council, a private building surveyor or the Building Inspection Unit at Fire Rescue Victoria. The main factors are: building use, size and number of occupants as determined by the National Construction codes. Hope this helps."

Thank you Steve! 

This week's question:

Hi Renata,

Can you tell me what the workplace stress laws are, specifically in relation to workload and lack of managerial guidance? 

There are no specific laws on stress (yet) but psychological health is covered by the OHS Act and the general employer duties under s21 - which include the duty to provide (so far as is reasonably practicable) systems of work that are safe and without risks to health. And to clarify what employers are meant to do: see The concept of ensuring health and safety.  

I have said 'yet' because we are in consultation with WorkSafe, the OHS Regulator, in the development of regulations specifically on psychological health, which will put duties on employers to identify and control hazards and risks to psychological health - known as psychosocial risk factors. These are all things which lead to workers being under stress.  

Check too, the section on Stress on the website, including 'Legal standards'.  We also have our own 'standard' on Psychosocial health until such time as we have regulations. 

If you have any OHS-related questions send them in via our Ask Renata facility on the website. Your questions will be answered by Renata or one of the other members of the VTHC's OHS Unit.  

ACTU: Mind Your Head campaign to improve workplace mental health

Work is a significant factor in people’s mental health. Meaningful, rewarding, good work can impact positively on our mental health. Equally, issues such as high workloads, customer and client aggression and poor workplace relationships can adversely impact on workers’ mental health.

The ACTU's Mind Your Head campaign is about recognising the impact that the workplace itself has on workers’ mental health.  It encourages action in workplaces to address mental health hazards – just like we would take action on a slip hazard. Read more about the campaign, which is being done jointly with the VTHC, here

The campaign aims to provide employers and workers with high quality resources that support them in their efforts to improve workplace mental health. Check them out here:

As the campaign progresses, further resources will be developed and added to the Mind Your Head website. 

Asbestos news - National Asbestos Awareness Week

This year, ASEA, OHS/WHS regulators, unions and asbestos awareness groups are asking Australians to Think Twice About Asbestos.

Asbestos is still found in many locations, including in homes, commercial buildings, and public buildings. In fact, asbestos is still found in 1 in 3 homes across Australia. So, whether you are doing maintenance, undertaking renovations or work for yourself or as a part of your job, it is essential that you think twice about asbestos.

New ASEA research

The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA) with SEC Newgate Australia has conducted an online survey with home improvers to evaluate asbestos knowledge, attitudes and behaviours.

ASEA commissioned this research to compare results and analyse change from the benchmark survey conducted in 2020. However, in comparison to the 2020 benchmark survey, the scope of this research was broadened to include all home improvers rather than those that engaged solely in DIY projects. This is anyone undertaking home improvement projects from small maintenance or improvements to large renovations – including those who outsource all or some of the project. 

Two in three adults do some level of home improvement – with or without professional help – underscoring the importance of improving the asbestos safety knowledge and capacity of these people.

Key findings include: 

  • 67 per cent of Australians are home improvers
  • 38 per cent has worked on a property with asbestos risk (built before 1990)
  • 46 per cent cited pandemic-related motivations for home improvement projects
  • Online videos, hardware shops and family/friends are the top sources of home improvement inspiration and information
  • Over 70 per cent agree that builders, governments hardware shops and home improvement shows should provide asbestos information 
  • Compared to other risks, asbestos is seen as less likely but more serious. Only 6% mention asbestos as a risk without being prompted. 
  • 22 per cent have contacted an asbestos specialist in the past, and 38% feel professional assistance is too expensive. However, 15% believe you don’t need training or specialist knowledge. 
  • 20 per cent of those who had found asbestos admitted to inappropriate (illegal) disposal – most commonly placing it in their household (red) bin.

Read more: ASEA media release and Research Report [pdf]

New HSR asbestos safety video

HSRs have a very important role in their workplaces to ensure that if there is any asbestos present it is either removed if necessary or managed if not practicable. Check out the VTHC's new video with HSR Cameron McCormick who successfully negotiated a safe outcome when asbestos was found in his school when renovations were due to begin. Cameron advises that where there's asbestos in the workplace, you can't just 'do nothing'. 

EVENTS:

Tomorrow, Thursday November 25: VTHC Asbestos Awareness Week Live Show

How much of a problem is asbestos in Victoria? Probably bigger than you think! Join experts Ms Simone Stevenson and Mr Peter Clark for our Live Show at 7pm tomorrow night. Simone is the CEO of the Victorian Asbestos Eradication Agency (VAEA) and Peter is an OHS Organiser with the CFMEU who specialises in asbestos-related issues in the construction industry. Tune in on our Facebook page We Are Union OHS Reps at 7 o'clock for an hour of interesting discussion - and get your questions ready.

Also Thursday November 25 - Sampling Asbestos

The Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists is hosting a free webinar from 4 - 5.30pm on sampling asbestos. This is a joint webinar with the AHCA, AIOH, ASEA, FAMANZ and NATA and primarily for practitioners involved in the characterization of asbestos containing materials to give them an update on issues as well as improve their knowledge and skills.

11am November 26: Asbestos Awareness Webinar – Think Twice About Asbestos

The Asbestos Council of Victoria/GARDS is this year holding an online webinar for Asbestos Awareness Week, with speakers:

  • Vicki Hamilton OAM, CEO/Secretary of Asbestos Council of Victoria/GARDS. 
  • Jane Anderson - Latrobe Health Advocate since in May 2018. 
  • Jo & Kevin Packham - Kevin has Peritoneal Mesothelioma. He and Jo will share their experiences of diagnosis (and misdiagnosis), surgery, treatment and what they are doing. 

The seminar is at 11am Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney.  Register in advance to receive a confirmation email containing information on how to join.  Check the organisation's latest newsletter on its website, and also on its Facebook page

Friday, 26 November - WA guidelines on contaminated sites

Western Australia Health is hosting a webinar from 1.30 - 4pm on its updated Guidelines for the assessment, remediation and management of asbestos contaminated site

New Asbestos Videos

The National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) has launched two videos on asbestos inspection, identification and testing.

Dumping increases across Australia

A Keep Victoria Beautiful report has found that councils' ratepayers, including those in the Alpine Shire, are increasingly having to foot hefty clean up bills for illegal dumping of waste.

According to KVB, councils in the state spent $89 million responding to illegal waste in 2019/20. While there has been a dramatic uptick in construction, household, clothing and green waste discarded in parklands, on nature strips and on council property, the biggest growth has been in the dumping of asbestos contaminated soil, the report found.

Typically, offenders are commercial operators (construction businesses, civil engineering operators or rogue rubbish removalists) looking to offload waste on the cheap or a member of the public who is transient by nature and constantly on the move. Read more: Keep Victoria Beautiful news

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

Updated materials on the OHS Reps site

We have now updated our FAQs based on the Compliance code on first aid:

And also, following the making of the new silica regulations:

Coronavirus Update - latest figures November 24

Victoria: The number of new infections daily remains stubbornly around the 1,000 mark, but the good news is the number of active infections, and hospitalisations are coming down.

  • Active cases on Wednesday November 24: 14,260
  • New cases reported:
  • Hospitalised: 284, in ICU: 52; on ventilators: 29
  • Total number of COVID-related deaths: 1,301  
  • Vaccination rate: 89.6 per cent (over 12)

Check the Victorian situation here

Australia: 

  • Total cases: 200,651 (191,623 on November 17).
  • Total COVID-19 related deaths: 1,968. 
  • Vaccination levels:  Check the ABC Vaccine tracker and The Age

Worldwide: 

  • Total cases: 258,912,113 (255,023,835 last week).
  • Total number of COVID-related deaths: 5,181,348  

(Note these figures are updated constantly - check the Worldometer website for latest figures and trends). Read more information on Coronavirus   

COVIDSafe training sessions coming up

Have you missed out on the VTHC's COVIDSafe training sessions? 

There are two more COVIDSafe training courses to be run at this stage. The sessions will be capped at 40 participants per course due to the interactive nature of the workshops. 

These sessions are geared towards Victorian HSRs and are highly popular so we encourage you to RSVP as quickly as you can to ensure that you have a space. Register by clicking on the date you'd like to attend. 

Do you have a specific question about Covid-Safety in your workplace? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with your union, or submit an inquiry through the Covid-Safe Workplaces website.

Did you miss our UV Safety Training Webinar?  

Our UV Safety Training Webinar was a big success but we know not everyone who wanted to attend, could attend. Don't fear, we have information on our website about UV, including an action plan for HSRs. Click here to visit our website and keep your workplace UV safe.  

An important part of staying UV safe is monitoring the UV you and your coworkers are exposed to every day. Download our UV safety poster to hang in your workplace.

International union news

UK ratifies prevention of violence at work treaty

The UK's peak union body, the TUC has welcomed the government's ratification of an international treaty on prevention of violence and harassment at work. The TUC was commenting after work and the government's Pensions Secretary said the UK was putting measures in train to ratify the International Labour Organisation’s Convention 190 on violence and harassment.

The statement from the minister added: “Following our response to the sexual harassment in the workplace consultation, published earlier this year, the government will also be introducing a new proactive duty requiring employers to take steps to prevent their employees from experiencing sexual harassment and introducing explicit protections for employees from harassment by third parties, for example customers or clients.” She said the move will also “motivate employers to make improvements to workplace practices and culture.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Ratifying the convention is a welcome statement of intent – it now comes down to the action and enforcement that follows. No matter who you are, or the job you do, you should be safe from violence and harassment at work. But each year thousands of UK workers are assaulted, abused and harassed while trying to do their job. And we have even seen a rise in violence and abuse towards key workers in the pandemic.” The TUC leader added: “Unions, government and industry must now work together on the laws and workplace policies needed to prevent abuse and punish those responsible. This should include recognising that not every worker faces the same risks. Insecure workers, frontline staff, women, Black workers and those with other protected characteristics face greater risks that must be addressed.” 
Read more: TUC news release. Statement by Thérèse Coffey, secretary of state for work and pensions, 15 November 2021. NUJ news releaseILO Convention 190, Violence and harassment convention 2019. Source: RIsks 1022

Portugal: Bosses banned from messaging staff after hours

Portugal has banned bosses from text messaging and emailing staff out of working hours as part of new laws dubbed the “right to rest.” The move is part of changes being introduced to improve work-life balance in response to an expansion of working from home in the country. Companies with more than 10 staff could face fines if they contact employees outside their contracted hours. There are also new rules on allowing staff with children to work remotely. Parents will be allowed to work at home indefinitely without seeking prior approval from their employers until their child turns eight.

In addition, companies may also have to contribute to higher household bills from being home-based, such as energy and internet costs. Measures to tackle the isolation remote workers can feel are also included, with companies expected to organise regular face-to-face meetings. However, some elements of the package were not approved by Portugal's parliament, including a “right to disconnect” allowing staff to turn off all work devices out of hours. Read more: BBC News Online. Source: Risks 1022

Asia: Shoe workers create international links

Over the past weeks, footwear workers from Cambodia, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Vietnam have established a trade union network as a means to increase their power against their common employer Pou Chen, a major global corporation. Pou Chen Corporation is a Taiwanese owned company that is the world's largest manufacturer of branded sports footwear employing over 250,000 workers globally. The representatives of workers from these countries met online in a meeting to discuss wages, allowances, workers’ benefits and workplace facilities. The meeting was facilitated by the global union federation IndustriALL. It is hoped that linkages like these will lead to greater cooperation and organising at an international level as a counter to the relentless Race to the Bottom that global companies force on workers.

India: mine incident claims four lives

On 9 November, four workers were killed when a roof collapsed in an underground mine at the state-owned Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL) in India’s Mancherial district. One of the workers had retired in July but had to go back to work after the state government increased the retirement age from 60 to 61.

SCCL management has agreed to pay all benefits to the bereaved families, as well as  to offer one permanent employment to an eligible member from each bereaved family.

Riaz Ahmed, general secretary, Singareni miners and engineering workers union (HMS) and member  of the joint bipartite committee for coal industry (JBCCI), said: “The accident exposes glaring safety lapses. From January to December 2020, around twelve workers died in nine accidents and so far in 2021, ten workers have lost their lives in four accidents at SCCL operations only. The unions are in dialogue with SCCL management and are demanding that the inspectorate system is reinforced and that an eligible and sufficient workforce is recruited for SCCL’s mines.”

According to the unions, in 2021, there has been a total of 32 mine incidents where 61 workers have been killed and seven seriously injured. Between May and December 2020, about 18 mine incidents occurred, killing 18 workers and seriously injuring 27. Source: IndustriALL


Regulator News

Victorian news

New materials on Psychosocial health 

WorkSafe has produced two new Fact Sheets:

  1. Employee psychosocial fact sheet: Work-related violence 
    (Note: at the time of posting, there was an error on WorkSafe’s landing page indicating that employees have duties to identify and control risks - this is being corrected. The fact sheet itself, however, has the correct duties assigned to the correct duty holders) 

  2. And a version for employers: Psychosocial Hazard Fact Sheet: Work-related violence.
    This guidance provides employers with information about their duties to identify, assess, and control hazards and risks associated with work-related violence. It also provides information on preventing and responding to incidents of work-related violence.

Campaign urging employers and workers to put safety first

In its latest media release, WorkSafe makes the point that it's been another tough year for Victorians, and many of us are eager to celebrate the end of it. The regulator warns, however, that the holiday excitement is never an excuse to rush work or neglect safety regulations, which too often leads to workplace tragedy.

The end of the year is a busy and potentially dangerous time at work: the construction industry seeking to finish jobs before the Christmas shutdown, the manufacturing sector swamped with last-minute orders, the retail sector coping with a hectic end-of-year shopping period following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, and an influx of new staff to help meet demand.

From 2018 to 2020, 24 people lost their lives in workplace incidents in the final two months of the year. Injuries and work-related stress caused by factors such as increased work pressure, fatigue, bullying, abusive customers or harassment can have serious psychological and physical impacts also need to be taken into account.

So WorkSafe has launched a campaign entitled 'Let's Put 2021 Safely Behind Us' to ensure health and safety is front-of-mind this holiday season. Featuring in print, online and radio advertising, the campaign encourages employers to think about what systems and procedures are in place to protect workers and ensure they enter the New Year safely. Read more: WorkSafe media release.

Reminders: 

1 - Major Hazard Facilities Forum presentations

Recordings of 11 presentations from the National Major Hazard Facilities forum in May 2021 are now publicly available via the WorkSafe Victoria website.

Check out the presentations from the event, which brought together people from across Australia to engage with Major Hazard Facility operators, Safety Practitioners and Regulators with modern safety theory. Forum presentations

2 - Communicating OHS across languages compliance code: public comment open

The draft compliance code Communicating OHS across languages is now available for public review and comment from until close of business Monday 6 December 2021.  The draft was developed by a reference group comprising of union and employer representatives and WorkSafe staff. 

A dedicated webpage has been created to facilitate public comment on each of the proposed code via the Victorian Government’s consultation platform, Engage Victoria. This enables employers, employees, other interested parties and members of the public to view the proposed code materials online and provide online submissions. Check the draft code and provide comment here: Communicating occupational health and safety across languages compliance code

3 - Webinars on horticultural safety

WorkSafe and Agriculture Victoria, the Labour Hire Authority, the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions and the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) are holding a series of webinars to assist growers in protecting themselves and their workers against OHS risks.

These will provide an opportunity for horticulture producers around Victoria to learn more about keeping farms safe, seasonal workforce support, COVID-19 employer obligations (including vaccination requirements), and the treatment of labour hire workers.

Attendees will also learn about WorkSafe's OHS Essentials program, which links small to medium businesses with independent consultants who offer free, confidential and tailored advice on how to improve health and safety in their workplace.

The remaining virtual sessions will run from 4-5pm on 8 December 2021 and 19 January 2022. Farmers are welcome to attend all three sessions to keep up with the latest information. Register for the webinars hereRead more: WorkSafe media release 

National news 

New Workers' Compensation report: 

Safe Work Australia has published the Australian workers’ compensation statistics (AWCS) report, which provides detailed statistics about workers’ compensation claims lodged in Australia between 2000-01 and 2019-20, including preliminary data for 2019-20 and trend analysis to 2018-19. 

The statistics provide an indication of Australia’s work health and safety performance and include data broken down by gender, age, occupation, industry, nature of injury or disease, mechanism of injury or disease, and bodily location of the injury or disease. 

Key findings in 2019-20 include:

  • There were 120,355 serious workers’ compensation claims.
  • 31 per cent of serious claims were for illness and diseases. Of these, mental health conditions were the most common.

 The 3 occupations with the highest rate of serious claims were:

  • labourers
  • community and personal service workers
  • machinery operators and drivers.

 The 3 industries with the highest rate of serious claims were:

  • agriculture, forestry and fishing
  • manufacturing, and
  • transport, postal and warehousing.

Of concern is that while Australia's incidence rate of serious claims (a week or more off work) has fallen by 41 per cent since the start of the century, claims related to occupational violence have more than doubled.

The number of serious claims involving someone being assaulted increased by 128 per cent, from 1,104 in 2000-01 to 2,519 in 2018-19, according to the 63-page Safe Work Australia report. According to the preliminary data, there were about 2,900 assault-related serious claims in 2019-20. 

As with all injury and disease mechanisms and types, the median compensation paid for assault-related injuries increased significantly over the last two decades – in this case, from $6,000 in 2000-01 to $12,400 in 2018-19. 

This report complements and provides additional detail to the Key Work Health and Safety Statistics published on 25 October. The statistics should be considered in the broader context of the COVID-19 pandemic when comparing data over previous periods. The potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on this data is explored in the COVID-19 and Safe Work Australia data reportDownload a copy of the report from this page of the SWA website. SWA has also published an Infograph (in pdf format). 

ACTU: figures show health and safety is worse under the Morrison government

The ACTU is very unhappy with what the report has revealed: the peak union body says the previous downward trend of serious workplace injury or illness claims prior to 2014 has stagnated under the Coalition and has risen fast since Scott Morrison became PM. This is particularly the case in the sectors of healthcare, construction and manufacturing. 

“Health and safety is getting worse under Scott Morrison and the Liberals. After decades of progress at reducing injury and illness we are now seeing more workers seriously injured and killed since the Liberals came to power 8 years ago," said Liam O'Brien, the ACTU Assistant Secretary.

“The ACTU’s 2021 Work Shouldn’t Hurt Survey revealed that 80 per cent of workers who are injured or made ill at work do not even make a workers’ compensation claim, in the case of insecure workers this jumps to 95 per cent. This highlights that the 120,000 workers who made a claim last year is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to measuring health and safety at work. Read more: ACTU media release 

National Fatality Statistics 2021  

Safe Work Australia has not updated its statistics on fatalities since November 11, at which time it had been notified that 118 Australian workers had been killed at work this year. Fatalities have been in the following sectors:

  • 41 in Transport, postal & warehousing 
  • 20 in Agriculture, forestry & fishing
  • 17 in Construction
  • 12 in Manufacturing
  • 6 in Mining
  • 5 in Arts & recreation services
  • 5 in Public administration & safety
  • 3 in Electricity, gas, water & waste services
  • 2 in Other Services 
  • 2 in Retail trade
  • 1 in Wholesale trade
  • 1 in Accommodation & food services
  • 1 in Education & training
  • 1 in Administrative & support services
  • 1 in Healthcare & social assistance

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 database 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 Preliminary worker deaths webpage


Research

Research finds burnout prevention strategies

study focusing on the three dimensions of burnout, instead of total burnout scores, has found that time pressure is the most important predictor of emotional exhaustion - and that this can be addressed through supervision and skills development where job demands are not able to be reduced.

The study, based on a survey of more than 2,400 doctors in Finland, found "psychosocial factors in physicians' work are differently associated with the dimensions of burnout".

The World Health Organisation redefined burnout as a "syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed", and "characterised by three dimensions: 1) feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; 2) increased mental distance from one's job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job; and 3) reduced professional efficacy."

The researchers, from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and other bodies, say that the condition has serious consequences for doctors' health and quality of life, and can also compromise the quality of patient care by increasing the risk of medical errors, workplace violence and turnover.

They note that energy depletion or exhaustion is generally thought to represent the first stage of the development of burnout, and there is considerable evidence on exhaustion risks – high job demands, and low job resources – from previous studies.

The study found the most important predictors:

  • of emotional exhaustion were (in order of importance) time pressure, work-family conflict, patient-related stress and lack of support;

  • of depersonalisation were patient-related stress, time pressure and poor job control; and

  • of reduced personal accomplishment were patient-related stress, poor job control, poor team climate, time pressure, lack of support and organisational injustice.

 The authors concluded that workplace strategies focusing on exhaustion and depersonalisation are likely to be the most useful in tackling burnout.  While reducing job demands would protect physicians from burnout, these demands are often inherent to healthcare settings and difficult to change. However, job resources, on the other hand, "represent more alterable job characteristics."

This has implications for other settings, where job demands cannot be easily reduced. 

Read more: K Gluschkoff, et al, The relative importance of work-related psychosocial factors in physician burnout. [Full article] Occupational Medicine, published online November 2021, doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqab147. Source: OHSAlert


Prosecutions

Related companies commit identical breaches

Victorian employer Greenham Gippsland Pty Ltd was on November 11 fined $25,000 after a rise-and-fall platform (RFP) at its Tanjil South abattoir lowered onto and caused severe injuries to an 18-year-old worker, in April 2019.

The sentencing followed a Tasmanian Supreme Court ruling against associated company Greenham Tasmania Pty Ltd, which was charged with safety contraventions after a worker at its Smithton abattoir suffered crush injuries in an almost identical RFP incident in April 2016.

The Supreme Court upheld a magistrate's finding that Greenham breached the Tasmanian WHS Act in failing to clearly mark an exclusion zone below the relevant RFP, install signage warning of the dangers posed by the RFP, or create a standard operating procedure with a safe system for cleaning around and under the platform.

The Victorian case also involved Greenham's failure to implement exclusion zones around RFPs, provide warning signs, or prohibit cleaning around and under RFPs while they were being used.

Greenham pleaded guilty to breaching s21 of the Vic OHS Act, and acknowledged that it should have: installed a railing around the perimeter of the incident-causing RFP to prevent access to the area underneath it; installed plastic chains on the bottom of the RFP to act as a warning when the plant was being raised or lowered; and programmed the RFP to prevent it descending lower than 820mm above ground level.

The Latrobe Valley Magistrates Court heard employees who processed slaughtered cattle at the Tanjil South site used the RFPs to raise or lower their positions to enable them to access different parts of each carcass. The teenage worker was cleaning the area when an RFP lowered onto him and he was crushed between the fat tray at the base of the platform and the floor. He was airlifted to hospital with a broken leg, bruised liver and collapsed left lung.

The Court decided not to record a conviction against the employer, given it pleaded guilty to safety breaches at an early stage, was remorseful, and immediately responded to the Tanjil South incident by taking steps to reduce RFP risks. Source: OHSAlert

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


International news

India reels under blanket of toxic smog

The Indian government, fresh from its victory at the latest climate summit in succeeding to undermine efforts to curtail the use of fossil fuels, especially coal, is once again facing a pollution crisis in its northern heartlands. Last week, schools and many factories and offices were shut down in the capital New Delhi as pollution levels for the deadly PM 2.5 particles reached well above safe levels. While winter usually brings still weather in the northern plains, the last two decades has seen toxic smog fogs envelop tens of millions of Indians for weeks at a time. Not only is the pollution worse in working class areas, but workers often need to move around outside for their work and cannot afford to buy the expensive air purifiers that can clean some of the pollutants in the home. It is estimated that approximately 1.7 million Indians die every year due to the effects of air pollution. In neighbouring Pakistan, the government is also coming under increasing public pressure as the major city of Lahore, on the border with India, is now also experiencing a severe, ongoing smog event that has surpassed all air quality safety limits. Source: AAWL Mininews


RELATED

International news
India reels under blanket of toxic smog The Indian government, fresh from its victory at the latest climate summit in succeeding to undermine efforts to curtail the use of fossil fuels, especially...
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Prosecutions
Related companies commit identical breaches Victorian employer Greenham Gippsland Pty Ltd was on November 11 fined $25,000 after a rise-and-fall platform (RFP) at its Tanjil South abattoir lowered onto and caused severe...
Read More
Research
Research finds burnout prevention strategies A study focusing on the three dimensions of burnout, instead of total burnout scores, has found that time pressure is the most important predictor of emotional exhaustion -...
Read More