Are you ready for the revised AS1657 on walkways, ladders and platforms? Reply

A guest post by Carl Sachs

Walkwaywas0121-03141MBThe revised Australian Standard AS1657 for fixed ladders, platforms and walkways released in October 2013 plugs some serious holes. Guard rails made of rubber, for example, are now explicitly unacceptable.

While absurd, rubber guard rails technically complied with the 21-year-old AS1657 and the example shows just how sorely an update was needed.

Four big changes to AS1657

The biggest changes to AS1657 concern selection, labelling, guardrail testing and the design of fixed ladders. More…

The safety features of the new Polaris set a new benchmark 8

2014.5-SprtsmnAce4x4-White_f3qThe Weekly Times scored an exclusive this week about a new model of Polaris quad bike which incorporates a roll cage or rollover protection structure (ROPS) in its design.  The significance of the Sportsman Ace is, according to the newspaper and the manufacturer, a “game changer” because it seems to counter the arguments of the quad bike manufacturers against such design changes in submissions to government and in public campaigns.  They have stressed that more effective control of a quad bike comes from driver training and behaviour and that ROPs may itself contribute to driver injuries and deaths.  The Polaris Sportsman Ace, to be released in the United States this week and Australia next month, seems to prove that quad bikes can be redesigned to include safety features, an action that manufacturers have been extremely reluctant to do.

A major critic of ROPs on quad bikes in Australia has been the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI). SafetyAtWorkBlog spoke to a spokesman for the FCAI who explained that the Polaris Sportsman Ace is not an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) but a UTV (Utility Terrain Vehicle). More…

A bright new book on safety communications 2

Australian marketer and communicator, Marie-Claire Ross, has moved from video to print with a new book called “Transform Your Safety Communication“.  The book  approaches safety communications from the marketing perspective and provides a terrific primer in how to write about workplace safety effectively.

Marie-Claire Ross writes that

“Too often, safety professionals are taught about compliance, but not the right skills to influence and engage others.” (page 12)

This is not a deficiency of just the OHS academia.  Such a statement would equally apply to most professions.  Commercial communication skills, those required other than for essays, assignments and theses, are rarely included in any curriculum other than journalism and marketing.  As such, this book is likely to have benefits way beyond the safety profession. More…

Safety leadership and the red tape drag 3

Red Tape scribbleDuring a recent seminar I produced the doodle on the right, which depicts what I think the speaker was talking about.  Safety is a goal that can be best achieved through improving a company’s leadership qualities.  However all companies seem to be restricted by red tape, however one defines that. Can this journey be improved?

Decrease the baggage

It may be possible to reduce or minimise the red tape baggage.  Most Western governments are attempting this through inquiries and reviews but this is assuming that it is government bureaucracy that has created this baggage.  In Australia over the last fifty years Governments have allowed business great flexibility in how it achieves OHS compliance and safe workplaces (definitely not the same thing) by reducing the prescriptive basis of OHS laws.  It may have been reasonable to expect that the loss of prescriptive safety would decrease paperwork but over the same time there has been increasing calls for less red tape from government.   More…

New safety harness removes suspension trauma and may improve safety 8

It is rare to see any major innovation in in the area of working at heights, particularly in relation to fall protection harnesses.  Yet coming soon to the Australian and New Zealand markets, via the Galahad Group, is the ZT Safety Harness, a fall arrest harness without a groin strap.

The ZT Safety Harness has been designed to eliminate the potential for suspension trauma which can result from being suspended for some time in a traditional harnesses.  A video is perhaps the best way to understand this harness which, in the absence of the groin strap, is integrated into a pair of work trousers or coveralls with webbing extending down the leg of the trousers to gaiters on the lower calf.  This configuration provides for a suspended worker to be in a seated position with the shock from the fall being distributed more evenly along the body.

There are advantages other than the elimination of suspension trauma.  More…

Master Builders’ curious response on construction safety 3

In November 2012, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) government released “Getting Home Safely“, a damning report written by Lynette Briggs and Mark McCabe, into the safety culture and performance of that territory’s building and construction industry.  But the Master Builders Association of the ACT has rejected several recommendations and questioned many others, yet refuses to release the evidence that it is assumed would support their position.

Cover of February 2013, ACT’s Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations, Simon Corbell, accepted all 27 recommendations of the report, much to the surprise of some of us.  Corbell said in his media release that

“It is no longer acceptable for people in the construction industry to say there are safety issues in construction sites and then do nothing about them. This report compels unions, employers and government to stand up and actively promote a culture where everyone looks out for their mates, and everyone can go home safely every day…”

“As the report highlights, this is not simply an issue for Government. Safety is an issue for every person on a construction site with principal contractors, sub-contractors, workers, unions and the Regulator all working together.

“The Government expects employers and unions to demonstrate leadership on this issue.”

Safety Leadership or Conspiracy Theory

Today the Master Builders Association of the ACT released its response to “Getting Home Safely” (the Gower review).  That response indicates that not all Minister Corbell’s expectations are going to be met with the MBA.  In some ways this confirms many of the concerns in the report. More…

New campaign indicates old-school thinking 1

IPC Athletics World Championship, Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Today WorkSafe Victoria launches a new return-to-work campaign which will use Paralympian Jack Swift as the “face” of the campaign.  The campaign is sure to be successful but the increasing focus of safety regulators on return-to-work (RTW)  may illustrate a growing trend where rehabilitation policy strategies are gaining priority over injury prevention. Yet innovative approaches to injury prevention provide the greatest potential for personal, economic and social savings.

In 2001 WorkCover NSW began its Paralympian Sponsorship Program, a program that continues.  The advantage of the New South Wales program is that it features a range of incident scenarios and, most importantly, the paralympians speak about “workplace safety, injury prevention and management and their personal road to recovery, return to work.” (emphasis added)  This broad, multi-category approach seems to be missing from the new Victorian campaign. More…

One quad bike manufacturer seizes the day on safety 1

Since the quad bike safety roundtable a couple of months ago, the safety debate about quad bikes has been quiet however, the issue has lost little of its topicality.  On 5 December The Weekly Times again devoted its front page, and editorial, to quad bike safety.

The newsworthiness stems from quad bike manufacturer, CFMoto offering

“…the Quadbar device through its dealership across Australia, conceding crush protection for ATVs was “inevitable”.” (link added)

This is a noticeable break from the other motorcycle manufacturers represented in Australia by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI).  Contrary to the FCAI comments in the article, CFMoto is not a backyard manufacturer.  According to its website profile:

“CFMoto’s ATV and UTV range has been the second largest selling throughout much of Europe for the reporting period between the January ’08 and June ’10. And since arriving in Australia has become the fastest growing ATV brand in Australia!” More…

The safety role of the Construction Compliance Code Unit 6

Recently SafetyAtWorkBlog was able to spend some time with the Director of the Victorian Government’s Construction Compliance Code Unit (CCCU), Nigel Hadgkiss. The CCCU and Hadgkiss have been in the Victorian media recently in terms of the CCCU investigation of industrial relations matters in several Grocon construction projects and some discussions with LendLease but an often overlooked, yet significant, element of the Construction Compliance Code is the occupational health and safety obligations. The CCCU has been working on early drafts of a Health and Safety Management Plan (HSMP) with which all those operating under the Code will need to comply.

Many of the questions SafetyAtWorkBlog posed stemmed from a presentation Hadgkiss made at a breakfast seminar on which SafetyAtWorkBlog previously wrote. That article is recommended for background and context.

Nigel Hadgkiss advised that since 1 July 2012 71 companies and associated companies have “signed up” to the Compliance Code with a full awareness that OHS is a key element of compliance.

OHS obligations of unsuccessful tenderers

The Code requires companies tendering for Victorian Government construction work to follow specific OHS obligations, whether they are the successful tenderers or not. In some ways this seem unfair.

Hadgkiss believes that the tenderers to government contracts are well aware of the safety obligations from the outset. From that point they are contractually bound whether they are successful or not.


WorkSafe tries a new promotional approach 7

The increasing prevalence of pictorial social media has generated a surge in organisations generating “infographics” from workplace health and safety statistics Almost always these images are a technique for generating internet traffic through established websites, blogs and other online services. Fundamentally it is stealth advertising for the unwary online user. However, such images have much greater legitimacy when offered by OHS regulators.

In the week prior to its WorkSafe Week 2012, WorkSafe Victoria issued two online infographics as part of a media statement. Both are attractive by their simplicity but the simplicity can also be a problem.

The cost comparison infographic is super general but clearly illustrates that the cost to prevent harm is much less than any fine that may come from prosecution. However, the risk of being prosecuted in Victoria and receiving a monetary penalty seems to be declining as non-pecuniary penalties, such as enforceable undertakings and others, are made available to the Courts.

Fines are only one of the potential costs. An inescapable cost is the cost to the injured worker, the disruption to that worker’s family life, the disruption to the worker’s employer. More…