Multiple sources of OHS info are vital for safety lessons

Last week a 48-year-0ld glazier, Darin Johnson, died after he fell 18 metres from an aerial work platform (AWP) in Melbourne Australia.  Johnson’s death attracted more media attention than other workplace fatalities because of where he died.

The Australian newspaper has been running a political campaign against the Labour government over its stimulus package of school facilities construction.  Johnson died on a primary school construction site.

The Australian emphasised the location of the death and chose to emphasise union comments that builders in the school building program cut costs.  There is no indication that a reduction in costs, if that occurred at this work site, was relevant to Johnson’s death.  In fact the same newspaper article provides a better indication of a contribution to the incident.

Reports of falls from AWPs imply that the worker fell from the platform cage for a range of reasons but this article reports that

“it is understood the ground under the machine collapsed, causing the machine to tip over.”

This is the initial safety lesson from the newspaper report.

The Age newspaper is not participating in the political campaign and provided a “straight” report on the incident.

WorkSafe Victoria provides better detail of the incident by reporting:

“…the boom lift was being operated by the worker on a temporary track, when the ground gave way on one side of the machine, causing him to fall to the ground.”

There is still much more detail to come on this incident but the media reporting shows that it is essential that a range of public information sources should be read to provide a balanced report and one that has more practical safety applications.

Wikipedia link

A really interesting side issue to this article is that the WorkSafe media release includes a hyperlink for further information on AWPs – a Wikipedia link!!  I admit that SafetyAtWorkBlog also links through to Wikipedia occasionally but for a government authority to do so is odd, particularly when it has the opportunity to link through to its own AWP-related publications and information.  Perhaps it is WorkSafe’s way of linking to a “non-commercial” website.

If ever there was a case for an independently funded and managed SafetyWiki, this is it.

Kevin Jones

reservoir, victoria, australia
Categories communication, construction, death, guidance, height, media, OHS, politics, safety, UncategorizedTags , , , ,

5 thoughts on “Multiple sources of OHS info are vital for safety lessons”

  1. The following web site was found by searching Google: . To think that project managers and those responsible for site safety don\’t have the skill sets to ensure there sites and equipment are in safe order beggars belief.

    The operation of this equipment usually has an Australian Standard associated somewhere in the mix and when you look at how builders have to build to strict building compliance codes, then one has to wonder how they really fare in that area as well.

    Another sad indictment on those who obviously see safety as an impediment to project cost management.

    As late as last night Mon. 20/09/10 in South Australia there was a continuing expose by a local TV station exposing serious and willful disregard to site and worker safety, amongst other equally serious matters at the Major Desalination plant project. A recent death at the site has put it under the microscope and caused a significant number of senior people, who have been associated with the project, to publicly damn the inadequacies and management practices.

    This blog now reports another death on a work site and I leave it to others to judge if the collective \”we\” are shouting into a howling wind.

    Self regulation and compliance at the work place in the greater proportion of work places just doesn\’t seem to work. The numbers do not lie.

    My heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Darin Johnson.

  2. Every year on International Day of Mourning here in Adelaide Work Injured Resource Connection plants trees in the Deceased Workers Memorial Forest for the number of workers who have lost their life due to a South Australian workplace in the previous 12 months. We plant another tree in honour of the lives lost due to workplace illness and disease, another for suicide due to the workplace or to WorkCover and another tree for death as a result of a transport incident.

    Mayhaps it is time to add another tree as a mark of respect for interstate workers.

    It may not seem much to plant a tree, but as anyone who has spent time walking through the Deceased Workers Memorial Forest, and then released a balloon after a moments silence will tell you, it is a place of inspiration and a place of solace and a place that tell all that far too many have died for no reason other than unsafe workplace practice.

    The trees can never restore a loved one, but the trees do ensure that none are forgotten.

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