Several years ago, one of the major contributors to my Safety At Work magazine came to stay for a couple of weeks with my family in Melbourne. Melody Kemp is a passionate safety professional who works mostly in the Asian region. Melody has a fresh and blunt perspective on safety that keeps westerners and academics from becoming too pompous and isolated.
Melody wrote articles for me on women in the defence force, Indonesian fishing industry hazards and several other fascinating articles. She has written for Dissent magazine, was the author of Working For Life – an OHS sourcebook for women, which is now a free download, and now has a blog of her own. I highly recommend you spend some time reading her blog and reflecting on your own approach to OHS.
Further details have begun to emerge from the vat explosion at the Pioneer Sugar Mill at Burdekin in Queensland on 20 June 2008. According to media reports, the plant, owned by CSR, was one of four sugar mills that suffered equipment failures on almost a daily basis, according to Burdekin Limited district manager Jim Collins.
Three workers were treated for minor injuries and the 80 staff at the mill at the time were evacuated.
I have a confessions to make. I stick to the speed limit and in over 25 years of driving cars and riding motorcycles, I have never had a speeding ticket. That may make me sound like a grumpy old fart but I can’t see how it can be worth putting yourself and others at risk for little return….
According to Australian news reports, several explosions have occurred at the Pioneer sugar mill in Queensland. Two people have been seriously injured and 14 are currently trapped
According to firefighters there was a low pressure explosion in a 1,000 litre sugar vat at 9am on 20 June 2008.
“After the vat exploded it fell over and pushed over another 1,000 litre sugar vat. The ‘mud’ that spilt from the vats ran into an adjoining lab facility and nine staff members were evacuated.”
For fixed periods over the last two years I have been working morning or night shift for a multi-national business information company. I know shiftwork fairly well although I have never worked rotating shifts and the longest shift worked is around nine hours. That may well categorise me as a wimp to those oil-rig workers, firefighters, bakers and miners out there, but…..
being an OHS professional I have been very watchful of my own health when working shiftwork. On full night shift it took my digestion weeks to break the routine of over forty years. My weight has increased but no chronic illnesses yet. My biggest risk comes from fatigue in the drive to and from work though I have to admit that at 2.30 in the morning in Melbourne, I could use my cruise control on the suburban streets as the traffic is so light.
I have also been more keenly aware of the studies and reports on shiftwork and the health risks associated with it. Often these reports garner considerable media coverage and, as is the way with media, some contrary articles never get a run. Below is a selection of links to articles that highlight increased risk or the reduction of risk in relation to shiftwork:
Epidemiological Diagnosis of Occupational Fatigue in a Fly-In–Fly-Out Operation of the Mineral Industry
Simple Schedule Changes Could Improve Shift Worker Health
U of T research finds shift work linked to organ disease
This is a selection of the most recent and show the difficulties posed to OHS professionals and managers in handling this emerging risk.
For the moment, I am taking the issue of shiftwork out of my personal concerns. I will focus instead on the health, fitness and fatigue issues applying the logic that the hazard variable over which I have the most control is myself.