Australian research has provided an important additional element to discussions on the safety of using quad bikes as work vehicles on Australian farms. According to a media release to be published on 3 April 2013 from the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety (ACAHS):
“This conservative estimate draws on deaths data from the National Coroners Information System and includes projected losses in future earnings, impacts on household contributions, insurance payments, investigation and hospital costs…. The average cost was $A2.3 million, with the highest average being in those aged 25-34 years at $A4.2 million”.
This estimation is shocking but refreshing. Shocking in that the cost is so high but refreshing because the data is not based, as so much OHS data is, only on workers compensation claims data More…
Yesterday Australia’s Fairfax Media reported on a “policy” supposedly being applied in the Western Australia resources sector by Chevron Australia that requires workers to stand, rather than sit, for the purposes of increasing productivity. The initiative has been roundly ridiculed by various political and social commentators, including the Minister for Workplace Relations, Bill Shorten. However few have mentioned that the actions by the “policy” may be in line with recent OHS guidance issued by an Australian government safety authority, Comcare, or that the Victorian Government has granted $A600,000 for research into the use of standing workstations.
SafetyAtWorkBlog has been informed that Chevron has had no role in the production of the “leaked memo” and that this memo is likely to be notes and verbal advice provided at a low-level on a worksite and even simply as part of a regular toolbox meeting. Fairfax Media is unfairly linking two disparate issues, dragging in Chevron who is not involved with the information and potential damaging valid safety information through unjustified ridicule. More…
For some time, restricted posture at workstations has been identified as being unhealthy. The Australian Financial Review on 15 May 2012 takes up the story but the author, Dierdre Macken, points to squatting as an option until “they wait for the occupational health and safety review of chairs to come in”. She misses the point. Chairs are not the problem. The type of work and the design of workplaces is a much more important problem.
We have come to understand that productivity is not always achieved through a restricted focus on a work task based on an eight-hour day and that includes between one and three formal breaks. A better productivity comes from engagement, interaction and a variety of tasks. Interestingly workplace safety is also improved through these same elements.
Workplace safety is rarely simple or easy. It has become a standard recommendation in Australia recently for quad bike riders to wear helmets. Quad bike manufacturers recommend the wearing of helmets and some OHS regulators are making it mandatory but this should not be the end of the safety discussion. The Weekly Times newspaper on 21 September 2011 describes the current arguments occurring over the type of helmet to be worn.
It is common for workplaces to experience disputes or discussions over personal protective equipment (PPE). These discussions are necessary to ensure that the best, the most suitable, PPE is used to control a hazard. Sometimes safety eyewear can be heat-resistant sunglasses, sometimes this should be goggles. Sometime head protection comes from a hard hat, sometime from a bump cap. PPE should never generate new hazards when trying to control another.
The current discussion indicates has arisen over the wearing of motorcycle-style helmets while following a herd of dairy cows during an Australian summer. Dairy farmers say that the wearing of helmets in these conditions is absurd and farmers will choose to ride quad bikes un-helmeted instead. More…
It is rare to visit the Bible when thinking about occupational health and safety but this week Australia’s Uniting Church, its Creative Ministries Network and the United Voices trade union released a report on the working condition of shopping centre cleaners. In the report “Cutting Corners” there are many references to the Bible’s and the Church’s thoughts and actions on labour issues.
For instance, according to the report:
“…God is ‘against those who oppress the hired workers in their wages, the widow and the orphan’ (Malachi 3:5).”
“…the Prophet Muhammad underlined the importance of the just wage by saying, ‘give the employee his wages before his sweat has had time to dry’.”
The Uniting Church has strong arguments to justify its involvement in social equity matters.
“Cutting Corners” was a broad report based on hundreds of telephone interviews with cleaners. The major safety-related findings of the survey were:
“The key violations borne by shopping centre cleaners constitute a litany of injustices, from low rates of pay, pay that is not commensurate with their More…
As a discipline for study, fatigue still seems to be in its early days and this presents a challenge for safety professionals and researchers. Everyone knows what fatigue is because at some time we all suffer it, but try to define it and it is different things to different people.
Transport Safety Victoria (TSV), a division of the Department of Transport, brought together three speakers on the issue of fatigue management in early August 2011. The public seminar provided a good indication of the complexity of the occupational issue of fatigue management.
The first revelation in the seminar came from Dr Paula Mitchell who stressed that fatigue cannot be self-assessed. Researchers are struggling to create a widely accepted indicator for fatigue. There is no blood alcohol reading device for fatigue and the Independent Transport Safety Regulator in July 2010 expressed caution on the application of the bio-mathematical fatigue model. More…
This post was written by Rigid Lifelines, a provider of fall protection and fall arrest systems. They provide fall safety solutions to a variety of different industries.
The terminology surrounding fall protection systems may seem complex, but it is important to understand the basic systems and terms to choose the fall protection solution best suited to a customer’s needs. For example, the terms “fall arrest” and “fall restraint” may at first glance seem indistinguishable. Both fall under the rubric of “fall protection,” but there are important distinctions.
The main difference between arrest and restraint is an “arrest” occurs after a person freefalls through space. In other words, the system stops a worker’s fall that has already occurred, preventing impact at a lower level. In a fall restraint system, however, the worker is restrained from reaching a fall hazard. In such cases, the fall restraint would typically be provided by a fixed-length lanyard and a body harness or body belt. The lanyard acts as a leash, preventing the worker from reaching the leading edge. More…
In 2009 Australian OHS regulators made the definitive statement on the use of back belts. The guidance stated that:
- Back belts don’t reduce the forces on the spine
- Back belts don’t reduce the strain on muscles,tendons and ligaments
- Back belts do nothing to reduce fatigue or to increase the ability to lift
- Back belts are like holding your breath when lifting
- Back belts can increase blood pressure and breathing rate
- Back belts don’t reduce the chance of injury or reduce back pain.
This was a terrific example of evidence-based safety. But this does not mean that the use of back belts should not be reconsidered if there is new evidence or new back belt designs.
One SafetyAtWorkBlog reader has drawn our attention to a new type of back support, The Tolai All Purpose Back Support. In no way does this blog support this particular device. In fact, there is a strong argument against the widespread use of such devices as these may advocate the reliance on PPE (personal protective equipment) rather than a higher order of control, such as task redesign, which would result in a more sustainable solution.
However, there is a counter argument of the need to support innovation and the position of continuous improvement. More…
It is common for companies to invest in expensive office furniture in the belief that the furniture will encourage the worker to undertake tasks more safely. In most circumstances, this is a waste of money and a major distraction from managing safety throughout workplaces.
The safety message is also being confused by some OHS regulators. It is well-established that injured backs and other musculoskeletal injuries improve with movement rather than the traditional bed-rest. However this encouragement to move is not reflected in most of the advice for configuring workstations. More…
Six months ago Pamela Cowan wrote about iPods and policies. Whilst driving this afternoon I turned down the volume on my car radio (Question Time in Parliament) and I wondered how much I had reduced the volume. I could not tell as the radio simply has a scale of numbers.
Such a measurement is common. We have heard of “cranking the amp up to eleven” but what does eleven mean in terms of decibels and, in the context of this blog, the risk of noise-induced hearing loss?
This is also particularly relevant in the discussion about earphones. The safety warnings that relate to the potential long term damage are all expressed in exposures in decibels. Yet the volume controls are shown as numbers, lines or a digital bar. There is no mention of decibels.