Recently New Zealand stole some of Australia’s thunder on quad bike safety when, according to one media report, one of the country’s state-owned enterprises, Landcorp Farming Limited decided it:
“…will not be using quad bikes on its new farms, and is limiting use of the vehicles elsewhere, as it looks for a safer and more suitable alternative.”
The differing positions on quad bike safety mirror the Australian debate. Landcorp will remove or limit the use of quad bikes just as did the New South Wales’ National Parks & Wildlife Service. The Motor Industry Association argues against crush protection devices just as has the FCAI in Australia. Charley Lamb of Lincoln University echoes Australian academic researchers and believes:
“The argument that rollover protection killed riders was “rubbish”. More…
Just over a week after Australia’s national safety authority, Safe Work Australia, slammed the quad bike and all terrain vehicle manufacturers over shortsightedness on safety, Honda MPE has sent legal correspondence to an Australian manufacturer of crush protection devices (CPD), Quadbar Industries, over the wording of a sticker.
In the letter Peter Cash of Norton Rose Australia says that his client HondaMPE believes that a sticker on each Quadbar identified as a “compliance plate” may misled or deceive ”members of the public and, in particular, prospective purchasers of your device”, and potential purchasers of Honda quad bikes.
The wording of the sticker is:
Certification/ fitment contact
Manufacturer 118 Industries
7 Margaret St Clifton, Qld Aust. More…
On the 28 April edition of the ABC TV show, Insiders, Gerard Henderson displayed a common misunderstanding about the role and existence of regulations. In discussing the childcare industry Henderson, Executive Director of the Sydney Institute, said that regulations always increase business costs, as if regulations are the start of a process when regulations are almost always a reaction to a hazard, an abuse, an exploitation or a risk.
Business leaders seem to be incapable of understanding that they have the power to reduce what they see as OHS red tape by changing their behaviours, perhaps by embracing and implementing safety leadership.
Many politicians and commentators have linked recent factory explosions and collapses around the World Day for Safety and Health at Work on 28 April. More…
Below is a guest post from long time SafetyAtWorkBlog reader, Marian Macdonald.
“If you need to use that, you’ll almost certainly die,” says fall prevention expert Carl Sachs, pointing to a guardrail on the rooftop of a multi-storey Melbourne office block.
Fixed to flimsy aluminium flashing, the guardrail flies in the face of several mandatory and voluntary standards but Sachs says non-compliances are more the norm than the exception on Australia’s rooftops. The problem, he says, is that height safety equipment installers need no training or qualifications and nobody is checking that their work really is capable of saving lives.
“Australians wouldn’t accept unqualified electricians wiring our houses but, as it stands, all you need is a ute, a credit card and a cordless drill to install the safety gear that stops us falling off skyscrapers,” he says.
It’s a concern echoed by, plumbers, building surveyors, facility managers and builders.
Paul Naylor of the Master Plumbers Association of NSW, says plumbers risk deadly falls daily.
“Whilst due diligence principles can be applied and all care taken to ensure that height safety systems are adequate, without some form of regulation or certification, workers are placed at risk of serious injury everyday due to a lack of knowledge and regulation specific to fall prevention,” Mr Naylor says.
Writing recent articles on workplace bullying and harmonisation reminded me of an interview I conducted in 2003 with the then head of the National OHS Commission, Robin Stewart-Compton. NOHSC was a predecessor to Safe Work Australia.
The extract below reminds us that National Uniformity, a cousin to harmonisation, started over twenty years ago.
SAW: In the early 1990s there was a strong push for National Uniformity of OHS laws and a recent conference of the Royal Commission into the Building and Construction industry discussed this issue at length. Will the National Strategy achieve the aims of National Uniformity over 10 years ago?
RSC: The language has changed and you are more likely to hear of National Consistency than Uniformity but although this change has occurred there exists a paradox. Ten years ago we spoke commonly of the objective of National Uniformity and made very little progress toward achieving it. More…
Politicians are sufficiently media-savvy to release policies and information to gain the maximum exposure in the media cycle. For some reason, Australia’s Workplace Relations Minister, Bill Shorten, missed the opportunity to have his changes on workplace bullying in the newspapers for 12 February 2013. The news cycle is also being dominated by the resignation of Pope Benedict. However Shorten’s response to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Workplace Bullying deserves detailed analysis.
Shorten is bringing the investigation of workplace bullying cases under the Fair Work Commission. There are likely to be complex consequences of this decision, a decision that is clearly the Minister’s as the Parliamentary Inquiry made no clear recommendation on the location of the “new national service”.
“The Committee did not receive evidence on where such a service ["a single, national service to provide advice to employers and workers alike on how to prevent, and respond to workplace bullying" 5.51, page 136] should be located. It might be best situated within an existing government agency or department such as Safe Work Australia, the Fair Work Ombudsman or the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. It may also be considered appropriate for the service to be an independent body that is funded by the Commonwealth. Consequently, the Committee does not have a clear recommendation as to where the new national service may sit.” (Section 5.58, page 138)
Clearly Shorten’s announcement could easily have been “Minister rejects independent body on workplace bullying”. The Minister should be asked about his reasons for not establishing an independent body into this important issue. More…
Ten years ago, Randy DeVaul wrote several articles for the Safety At Work magazine, a precursor to this blog. His US perspectives were enlightening and he has agreed to contribute occasionally to the SafetyAtWorkBlog. Below is an article he originally wrote in 2004.
As safety professionals, we have all worked at “selling” safety to upper management through budget and fiscal expenditures, worker compensation costs, and other financial approaches. Meanwhile, our “sell” to production managers has been based on compliance issues with OSHA/MSHA standards. We have set ourselves up for an uphill battle between production and safety.
Though we missed the boat earlier to integrate safety and production together, the timing now could not be better. Helping our managers see the integrated picture between safety and production should be our focus with less emphasis on compliance. Think about it – getting people to do something “because OSHA (or MSHA) says so” is not very motivating. Helping to see how safe performance also impacts production numbers, employee morale, absenteeism, and productivity schedules in addition to personal quality of life has a much greater effect. More…
Occupational health and safety (OHS) regulatory agencies have existed for decades, originally with an enforcement role but increasingly aimed to prevention and education. It is fair to say the “2nd generation” of OHS regulators in Australia appeared in the 1980s. It is also fair to expect to be able to readily access the corporate memory and prosecutorial activity of the regulators, particularly since the growth in the Internet. Very recently WorkSafe Victoria reviewed its online database of OHS prosecutions excising prosecution summaries prior to 2012. This decision is a major weakening of the “state of knowledge” about workplace safety in this State, a decision that some have described as outrageous. How can one learn from mistakes if those mistakes are not made available?
Across the street from an office in Melbourne, a pub is installing a roof area for entertaining. The work has gone smoothly as far as one can see but the position of the platform ladder in the corner of the roof was curious. If someone was working from the ladder and wobbled, it would be possible to not only fall a couple of metres to the roof but perhaps over the roof’s edge to the pavement two storeys below.
The worker in the front of this picture was moving to erect another platform ladder towards the front of the roof.
The second picture shows the worker on that platform ladder. Similar risks of wobbling and falling over the roof’s edge.
How safe is unsafe? There is the potential for the worker to fall from the ladder to the street some distance below but he didn’t. So was his positioning of the ladder and work undertaken safe?
Such are the warning signs
It stopped at 2.32 pm of an ordinary day. One string of events ended abruptly at the pinch point of a groaning conveyor belt when his arm was ripped off. Do you think of Swiss cheese models of risk alignment? Of complexity or failure to learn? Of the Moura coal mine disaster, the Longford oil and gas plant disaster, the Baker report and the BP Texas City refinery fatalities, of 29 miners killed in the desolate and terrorising Pike River coal mine, NZ, 2010? Do you think of precariousness lurking at work, of leadership, of productivity?
For me this was the 5th arm I was personally aware of disappearing violently at work, generating years of withdrawal and solitude unrecorded in any OHS statistics. In that time I had also observed hundreds of missing or useless machine guards. Such a well known and easy hazard to fix. What exactly is the problem, what does it indicate about OHS generally, and what may go some way towards practical improvements? More…