Union News

Two Victorian Workers Killed at Work In One Day

We are incredibly sad to report that on the day of writing, two Victorian workers have been killed while at work.

Early in the morning, a crash took the life of a bus driver as he made his way, with 45 other passengers, from Adelaide to Melbourne.

The bus rolled along the Western Highway when the trailers of a B-double truck in front of it detached and blocked the highway in both directions about 2:00am.
Many of the other passengers were injured, but none have been reported to have died.

Additionally, a 59-year-old farm hand was killed while felling a tree in Buxton. The man was found unresponsive near a tree that had been pushed over by a tractor at about 11am yesterday.
He was airlifted to the Alfred Hospital with head injuries but died soon after.

Two deaths so close to each other remind us all that we still desperately need Industrial Manslaughter laws and we will always have work to do in the OHS space, to help ensure all workers make it home safely at the end of the day. One worker death is too much.

The death tally for 2019 is currently at 20.

You can get news on Industrial Manslaughter laws and updates on worker deaths as they happen through our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ohsreps/

Explosion from non-compliant storage leads to death

Details have been revealed concerning a death during August of last year, where a 51-year-old man was killed in an explosion caused by non-compliant storage of dangerous gasses in the ACT.
The explosion was caused by the man triggering his car's remote electronic central locking system igniting the gas in the back of the vehicle, which had been leaking for some time beforehand.
An examination also showed an insulated wire in the compartment, which formed part of the central locking system, had rubbed over time against the compartment's painted frame, causing the wire and the frame to become exposed to bare metal.

The chief corner said "I find that Mr Senini inadvertently neglected to fully close the valve on an acetylene cylinder when packing his trade equipment into a sealed storage compartment on his work vehicle," the Chief Coroner said.

"During the afternoon, the acetylene cylinder continued to leak acetylene gas, causing a build-up of acetylene gas in the sealed storage compartment which formed an explosive mixture with air," she said.

The gases were not stored in accordance with the relevant Australian Standards, codes of practice or safety data sheets.

Ask Renata

Every week in SafetyNet we highlight a an interesting question we received through Ask Renata. This week we got an interesting question from Jen, who's consulting with management on sound proofing while her new ambulance station is under construction.

Jen's question on amenities:

Dear Renata, I am the HSR for a new ambulance station that is being built. I have spoken to property about moving the bedrooms to reduce the noise from the garage to reduce fatigue for the staff requiring to sleep at branch between shifts. They have sent me through the specification of sound proofing they are prepared to offer but I have nothing to compare it to. Is there somewhere I can access standard sound proof specifications from so that I can ensure that the best is being done for the staff? Regards, Jen


Our response: 

Hi Jennifer,

Thanks for getting in touch, and apologies for the delayed response as we have had some staff on leave.

The Building Code of Australia (BCA) sets out some guidelines with the objective of "safeguarding occupants in residential buildings from illness or loss of amenity resulting from excessive noise." Now, I understand that you're not dealing with a residential building in the strict sense of the term, but the goal of preventing "loss of amenity" (i.e. being able to sleep) still stands.

Have a read of this document: www.abcb.gov.au/Resources/Publications/Education-Training/Sound-Insulation and especially the Terms of Interest in section 2.5.

The relevant measurements of sound proofing ability are a product's D^nT,w and its Sound Transmission Class. A higher number for both of these measurements will mean the product is more effective at reducing sound. A product's STC is equal to the decibels it reduces noise by. For example, a product with an STC of 45 will reduce noise by 45dB.

Now, the Building Code of Australia lays out the acceptable decibel range for a bedroom as between 30 and 35. Essentially, for a person to get a decent sleep they should not be exposed to noises above that range, although ideally at the lower end at 30.

Your employer has a duty to provide the specifications of their proposed product with you, which it sounds like they already have. If this does not include the product's STC you must demand it before moving forward. From here, you should do some testing in the workplace to ascertain the noise levels, and deduct the product's STC from the decibel levels that are being produced.

Think of it like this: x – y = 30 where x is decibels of noise in your workplace and y is STC of the sound proofing product. If the STC is not high enough to reduce the noise to below 30dBs, it is not adequate.

I hope this makes sense!

Let me know if you need any further assistance or clarification.



If you have a question for the OHS team (while Renata is away enjoying some well earned time on vacation) head to www.ohsrep.org.au/ask_renata

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