Union News

More workers killed this month in shocking start to 2020

It is with great sadness that we report that it has been confirmed that three more workers have been killed in Victoria this month - possibly four.

On the morning of Tuesday January 21st, a production manager was killed after a stack of 3.6-tonne panels being unloaded from a shipping container fell on top of him. It is believed the 56-year-old was inside the container at a Carrum Downs truck body manufacturer when the panels crushed him against the wall. WorkSafe is investigating.

The second fatality occurred on Dawson St in Brunswick on Sunday. A 37-year-old man was killed while painting inside a factory. It is believed the man, a contractor, was using an elevated work platform (a 'scissor lift') to reach windows near the factory's roof at about 1pm when he struck a steel truss. He died at the scene. WorkSafe is investigating the incident.

And in what is devastating news for the Ballarat community, a man in his sixties died on his way to hospital late yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon after what appears to have been an incident between two trucks at an Icon Drive business in Delacombe just after 3.30pm. This was the sixth workplace fatality in the Ballarat region in the past two years.  WorkSafe is investigating this incident also. (Read more: The Courier)

Further, there was news of another fatality in the media: A man died in hospital on Sunday after being thrown from a tractor in bushfire-hit East Gippsland.  The tractor is believed to have rolled down an embankment on the Tambo Upper Road in Bruthen some time after 8.15pm on Friday, and the man was unable to move. It appears he spent two nights alone seriously injured before he was found at about 11.30am Sunday morning and rushed to hospital. WorkSafe is inquiring into this incident to determine whether it was work-related. (Read more: The Age)

These deaths bring the number of confirmed workplace fatalities this year to five, possibly six if the Bruthen fatality is deemed work-related. The staff of the VTHC OHS Unit express our condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of the deceased workers. No worker should be killed at work.

Permanent memorial planned for Delacombe

The Ballarat Trades Hall is seeking expressions of interest from artists to work together with the families of Jack Brownlee and Charlie Howkins who were killed almost two years ago in a trench collapse at Delacombe, to create a lasting legacy to both men and others who have been killed at work.

The second anniversary of the Delacombe incident will be on March 21. While the WorkSafe court case against the employer Pipecon is yet to be heard,  the tireless efforts of the families, the union campaign and the public reaction to the tragedy were all extremely influential in the passing of Industrial Manslaughter laws in Victoria last November, which will come into force on July 1 this year, and in the allocation of funds to provide more support for bereaved families from 2020-21.

In addition, a new WorkSafe consultative committee on death and serious incidents, which will have legal powers under the law, will be established this year as part of the IM implementation package.  It is expected that the matters of "harm" and acceptable compensation for harm will be central to the committee's deliberation as will matters of compliance and prevention in the Victorian jurisdiction.
Read more: The Courier; 9News; OHSIntros FB page

Next Wednesday, February 5: You're invited to the 2020 VTHC OHS Unit launch

With the start of a new year and a new decade we want to take some time to look back on past achievements, and look ahead to the future. 2019 was the year we won the fight for Industrial Manslaughter legislation, and in 2020 we're keeping up the momentum for safer workplaces.

Join us in Trades Hall's historic Solidarity Hall for an evening of OHS, community, friends and refreshments.

WHEN: February 5, 2020 at 6pm - 8pm
WHERE: Solidarity Hall, Victorian Trades Hall
CONTACT: Luke Bowman · lbowman@vthc.org.au or RSVP here.

Asbestos News

Bernie Banton Foundation to wind up
Karen Banton, asbestos related disease campaigner and widow of Bernie Banton, is retiring from her role as CEO of the Bernie Banton Foundation, with the Foundation set to close its doors by 30 June 2020. The organisation states the decision was based on "a number of factors", but highlights that this will allow Ms Banton and her husband Rod Smith, to take a much needed break and focus on their health following twenty years of tireless asbestos related disease advocacy. Mr Smith has been Awareness and Support Coordinator at the Bernie Banton Foundation since 2012.

The Board decided the best way forward was to wind up the charity, particularly as the organisation bears the name of Karen’s late husband.

"I’m extremely proud of what the Bernie Banton Foundation has achieved in the last decade," said Ms Banton. “We encourage government, organisations and advocates to continue their support for asbestos awareness as a means to prevent future asbestos exposure and also for medical research into asbestos related diseases in an effort to discover new treatments toward ultimately finding a cure." Speaking of her later husband, Ms Banton said, “Bernie was a major force in the fight for justice and compensation for asbestos related disease sufferers. It has been an honour to continue Bernie’s legacy of supporting victims and their loved ones.”
Read more: Bernie Banton Foundation Media release

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

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