Welcome to the 9 June, 2022 edition of SafetyNet.
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.
WORKER DIED AFTER ALARM IGNORED - NZ
A PCBU that failed to act on a ringing hazardous-chemical alarm has been fined heavily over a worker's death from hydrogen sulphide gas, in a similar incident to one that killed two workers and attracted a record WHS penalty in NSW.
In August 2017, worker Jim Gideon was overcome by hydrogen sulphide gas from a treatment pit and died while mixing reactive chemicals to treat hazardous waste.
During the fatal shift, the facility's hydrogen sulphide alarm rang repeatedly, but work was allowed to continue, an investigation found.
Gideon collapsed mid-afternoon after being exposed to at least 500 parts per million of the toxic gas – 50 times greater than New Zealand's maximum workplace exposure limit of 10 parts per million over an eight-hour period, it found.
Waste Management NZ Ltd was fined NZ$450,000 (A$407,412) and ordered to pay a total of NZ$360,000 (A$325,930) reparations.
Wellington District Court found the PCBU, breached the country's Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 in exposing an individual to the risk of death or serious injury, from toxic gas, through its failure to comply with its duty to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers.
The regulator said in a statement it uncovered health and safety failings at "every level" of the operation, with breaches including the improper storage and identification of hazardous substances, a lack of personal protective equipment for workers, and inadequate risk assessments.
Source: OHS Alert 1 June 2022
NURSERY FINED $52,500 AFTER WORKER ENTANGLED IN MACHINE
A Hamilton nursery that provides seedlings to the forestry industry has been fined $52,500 after a worker was seriously injured while using a machine.
Hamilton Magistrates’ Court heard that in October 2020, the injured worker was tasked with putting seed trays through a seeding line machine, which places seed in the tray cells as they move along a conveyor belt.
The worker reached into the machine, which she believed was turned off, to clear the spilled seeds and her arm became entangled between a moving feeder bar and an axle, causing serious injury to her hand and wrist.
The court heard that the company had failed to install required guarding around the exit of the machine and that it had been reasonably practicable to do so to reduce or eliminate the risk of injury.
Source: WorkSafe News 07 June 2022
A fire and a huge explosion have killed at least 41 people and injured hundreds more at a storage depot near the city of Chittagong, Bangladesh. Hundreds of people had arrived to tackle the 4 June fire when several shipping containers exploded at the site in Sitakunda. Authorities said some highly dangerous chemicals stored in the containers were ‘mislabelled’. As firefighters, police and volunteers tried to extinguish the blaze a huge explosion rocked the site, engulfing many of the rescuers in flames and throwing debris and people into the air. At least five firefighters were among those killed and several more were injured.
Around 400 women workers at a giant garment factory in a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in India fell ill on 3 June after inhaling an unidentified hazardous gas. Some workers at the Brandix India Apparel factory in Atchutapuram fainted, others complained of headaches, stomach pain, vomiting, nausea, and burning eyes. The factory employs 22,000 people, 18,000 of which are women, and did not have healthcare facilities on site. Union access is restricted in the SEZs, making organising difficult, said the global union for the sector, IndustriALL. It added the low unionisation rate makes it difficult for workers to speak out against plant owners’ negligence.
Source: Risks Newsletter, IndustriALL news release.
WOMEN WORKERS ASSAULTED BY PATIENT WIN $2 MILLION JURY DECISION
US: Washington jurors recently awarded about $US2 million to a former Hospital nurse and three coworkers assaulted by a patient.
The women sued the state arguing that it knew the patient had a history of targeting women, failed to protect them and later retaliated against them.
Western State Hospital is Washington’s largest inpatient psychiatric facility and is overseen by the state Department of Social and Health Services. One worker suffered a traumatic brain injury and a fracture to her lower back after the patient jumped across the counter of the nurse’s station, threw her to the ground, and bit off part of her ear.
Unbelievably, the state’s attorneys noted in their trial brief that the women chose to work in a dangerous profession.
Workers compensation laws generally prohibit workers from suing their employer, but the women argued under Washington Law Against Discrimination that they suffered a hostile work environment, weren’t given reasonable accommodations after the attacks and were retaliated against.
Source: Confined Space and the Washington News Tribune, 27 May, 2022
'LARGEST EVER' 4 DAY WEEK TRIAL WILL ASSESS BENEFITS
Thousands of employees across 70 companies in Britain started the first day of a four-day week on Monday with no reduction in pay.
Juliet Schor, a sociology professor at Boston College and the lead researcher on the project, will be analysing “how employees respond to having an extra day off, in terms of stress and burnout, job and life satisfaction, health, sleep, energy use, travel and many other aspects of life.”
The program follows similar efforts in other countries, including Iceland, New Zealand, Scotland and the US. There, companies have embraced greater flexibility in work hours as more people worked remotely and adjusted their schedules during the pandemic.
The six-month trial was organised by non-profit groups 4 Day Week Global and 4 Day Week UK Campaign, and Autonomy, an organisation that studies the impact of labour on wellbeing.
Apparently it’s the largest such trial of its kind in the world with researchers at Cambridge University, Oxford University and Boston College assessing its effect on productivity and quality of life with results due to be announced next year.
HISTORICAL ASBESTOS USE AND THE ONGOING BURDEN OF CANCER AND DISEASE
The association between deaths from asbestos-related diseases – such as mesothelioma and asbestosis – and historical asbestos use, continues to be clear and unequivocable, according to a recent epidemiological study in the latest issue of Environmental Health Perspectives (https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/10.1289/EHP11148).
The study, carried out by researchers at Asbestos Diseases Research Institute (ADRI) and collaborators, uses the latest available deaths data from the World Health Organization (WHO) for the period 2010-2014 and historical asbestos consumption for the period 1970-1980. The authors updated the highly-referenced study of 2007 with data originating from the maximum range of countries worldwide – both developed and developing.
Ken Takahashi, Man Lee Yuen and Matthew Soeberg (ADRI) and collaborators investigated the ecological association between mortality rates in 71 countries from diseases associated with asbestos and historical asbestos consumption
Whilst some countries have implemented asbestos bans, many countries still have not. The authors conclude based on the new mortality and consumption data used in this study that asbestos bans are warranted in those countries continuing to use asbestos. We hope that the findings from this study will be used by policy makers to further reinforce the importance of asbestos bans.
The Asbestos Diseases Reserach Institute is recognised globally for its asbestos diseases research work. In 2021 it was designated by the World Health Organization as the Collaborating Centre for Elimination of Asbestos Related Disease across Developing Countries.
WORK-RELATED GENDERED VIOLENCE (INCLUDING SEXUAL HARASSMENT)
Refresher Training Course for HSRs
Elected HSRs and Deputy HSRs are entitled to at least one 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.