Welcome to the June 2, 2022 edition of SafetyNet.
Yesterday VTHC celebrated Injured Workers Day - a day to fight for the rights and dignity of injured workers.
Injured Workers Support Network members met with Bronwyn Halfpenny, Parliamentary Secretary for Workplace Safety then after lunch attended a seminar on issues relating to workers' compensation and OHS.
Congratulations to all injured workers who participated with goodwill in defiance of miserable weather
We hope you find this week's edition useful and interesting. Feel free to share it and please encourage others in your workplaces to subscribe.
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]
Company Fined After Inflatable Incident
Xtreme Party' provides entertainment equipment at events, including a 14m long and 3m wide obstacle course 'inflatable', through which participants race.
On 1 September 2018, a football club hired Xtreme Party to operate and supervise the inflatable for approximately 300 children aged between 7 and 13 celebrating the end of the football season.
The offender provided a single supervisor for the entire inflatable for the day.
Whilst children were using the inflatable, a 12 year old boy was sitting at the bottom of the slide waiting for other children to pass. A heavier child jumped from the top of the slide and landed next to the boy. This caused him to be bounced out of the slide, over the 66cm inflatable wall onto a sand bag anchor. The boy sustained a broken coccyx and cracked vertebra.
The offender failed so far as was reasonably practicable to ensure that persons other than employees were not exposed to risks to their health and safety by failing to ensure that the slide walls were the requisite height of 90cm and providing a sufficient number of supervisors to monitor participants using the inflatable.
The offender pleaded guilty and was fined $8,000 without conviction and ordered to pay costs of $3,161.
$250k Fine After Manslaughter Charge Downgraded
Initially charged with the industrial manslaughter, Queensland Organics, has been fined $250,000 under an alternative charge of 'breaching section 32 ("Failure to comply with health and safety duty–category 2") of the Queensland Work Health and Safety Act 2011, in failing to comply with its primary duty of care and exposing workers to the risk of death or serious injury.'
Queensland Organic’s Narangba factory had a bagging room where bags were filled with fertiliser, sealed, flattened and stacked by machinery, moving through each stage on a conveyor belt.
Workers were required to manually remove, reseal and return bags not properly sealed.
In March 2020, the worker was found unconscious with his head and torso drawn partly into the flattener.
He could not be revived, dying from a severe traumatic brain injury.
Queensland Organics was accused of industrial manslaughter in requiring the worker to operate unguarded plant only to have the charge downgraded.
A Workplace Health and Safety Queensland investigation found Queensland Organics’ system exposed personnel to risk of contacting a moving conveyor and sustaining serious or fatal injuries.
Queensland Organics had not conducted a risk assessment for the bagging room nor implemented any safe operating procedures for the conveyor belt.
Inexplicably the Magistrate declined to record a conviction against the company.
UK: Long COVID 'protocol' urgently needed
Civil service union PCS is calling on the Cabinet Office and the devolved administrations to put in place protocols so people affected by Long Covid are treated fairly. The union’s conference agreed to “press for the exclusion of all Long Covid absences from absence management triggers and to press for full pay to be paid for all Long Covid-related absences.” It is also calling for civil service sick pay schemes to be improved “to support long Covid and other long-term illnesses.” And PCS declared it will campaign with the TUC to get Long Covid classified an occupational disease.
PCS news releases on the protocol, & sick leave.
A 26-year-old man struggling with ‘extreme’ work-related stress 'self-medicated' with alcohol, which subsequently caused his death, an inquest has heard. The inquest heard Jamie Honey was very successful in his job at Universal Marine Medical Supply (UNIMED), a company that ships medical equipment to the maritime industry. However, he has suffered anxiety since childhood and this increased as he faced “increasing demands” at work, including being required to take home a company phone so he could be contacted at all times. Area coroner Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp gave a narrative conclusion and said that Jamie Honey's death was drink related.
US: 5 workers needlessly killed in trench collapses
'Over the past few weeks 5 workers have needlessly died in trench collapses. Others have died in falls, traffic incidents, fires, and machinery.
On average, almost 100 workers are killed every week in the United States due to traumatic injuries suffered at work. Over 20 times as many die from occupational diseases, many due to exposure to hazardous substances many years before they died, or from COVID-19 acquired at work. The few narratives gathered here from almost 100 Google News searches do not come close to capturing the full toll that work takes on the working people of this country.'
On OHS Innovation
‘Forward-thinking’ safety and well-being consultancy, Work Science, reckon Australia is a 'melting pot of creative and boundary-pushing entities driving radical WHS improvement.’
Dr Tristan Casey, an organisational psychologist and chief scientist at Work Science, has authored a research paper which articulates ‘new view’ work health and safety principles, as well as how to overcome barriers to innovation.
They’ll probably sound familiar to Union trained HSRs…
- People make mistakes. Accept that people are human, so errors and mistakes are inevitable. Build systems that are 'safe to fail', error-tolerant, and forgiving of mistakes.
- Blame fixes nothing. Don’t search for simple explanations and focus heavily on retribution, rather, repair and restore.
- Context drives behaviour. Identify the deeper story underpinning why things go wrong and emphasise the role of broader organisational and work system factors
- Learning is vital. Learn from both what goes wrong and what goes right. Examine everyday work to understand how things are really done at the frontline and how this may be different to plans and procedures
- Response matters. Be mindful of the response to error and failure. Reactive and simplistic responses are usually less effective
Dr Casey’s full report can be accessed here.
Work-Related Gendered Violence (including Sexual Harassment)
Refresher Training Course for HSRs
Elected HSRs and Deputy HSRs are entitled to a one day refresher course each year, and may choose which course, in consultation with their employer.
VTHC’s WorkSafe-approved Work-Related Gendered Violence course provides HSRs with skills and knowledge to raise and resolve issues arising from work-related gendered violence - a serious occupational health and safety issue.
Our course covers:
- Consultation, communication and representation
- Gendered violence, definitions, impacts and injury
- Identifying risks, risk assessment, prevention and the hierarchy of control
- Issue Resolution
Course hours are 9am to 5pm and cost $330 or $350 regionally. Please contact Natalie Wood at [email protected] for more information.
HSR Initial & Refresher Training
Trained HSRs are more effective HSRs - have you just been elected and haven't organised your training yet? Do it now! And if you completed your initial five day training then organise your annual refresher now. There are things happening in the OHS space you need to be aware of.
Remember: under Section 67 of the OHS Act 2004 all HSRs and DHSRs are entitled to attend a one-day refresher course every year, yet many just don't get around to it. If this is you, then check out the courses scheduled for next year, and enrol now, before they fill up. It's important to attend in order to keep up your knowledge of OHS law and practice up-to-date. In the past year we have had significant amendments to the OHS Act, new regulations (for crystalline silica) and new codes. Trained health and safety reps make a real difference in their workplaces, and it's great to meet with others and share experiences!
Initial Course Dates :
- 15, 16, 17 June & 29, 30 June - Online (Currently Full)
- 18 - 22 July - Narre Warren
- 26, 27, 28 July & 10, 11 August - Carlton
Course hours: 9am - 5pm
Course length: All initial OHS training courses are 5 days.
Course fee: $870.00 incl. GST Regional: $895.00 incl. GST
Refresher course Dates:
- 16 June - Online
- 1 July - Narre Warren
- 7 July - Carlton
- 14 July - Work Related Gendered Violence - Carlton
- 3 August - Work Related Gendered Violence (Education Sector) - AEU, Abbotsford
Go to this link to enrol in any of the five-day initial or refresher courses. Remember to then notify your employer at least 14 days before the course.