A guest post by Carl Sachs
The 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 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 diagram of safe posture at modern workstations has become iconic but it has also become a symbol of ergonomic misunderstanding. There are assumptions behind the angular figure about the way modern workers work, the equipment used and the tasks undertaken.
Too often images, such as the one included here, are taken out of context. The image is used as a shortcut to what is considered the “correct” way to sit. The context, the risk assessments, the tasks undertaken, the location of the workstation – basically all of the OHS information included in the workplace safety guides is ignored. People think “the picture has a tick of approval, so why read when the picture says enough”?
This week Steelcase, a one hundred year old company that originally constructed waste paper baskets, launched its Gesture chair. The marketing of this chair is based on the discovery (?) of nine new postures in the workplace:
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…
There has been little movement on the assessment and management of manual handling risks in Australia during the period of OHS/WHS harmonisation. Just an hour or so ago, Work Health and Safety Queensland released a video that outlines its manual handling assessment program PErforM – Participative Ergonomics for Manual Tasks.
A PErforM manual for trainers seems to have been around since February 2012 but the new video should create fresh interest in the program that is supported by a new handbook.
Manual handling risk assessments are one of the most difficult tasks for business and safety people but they can also be a safety task that offers the greatest financial and worker rewards. This initiative is a relatively new look at an old OHS problem.
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…