Planning for an ageing workforce – statistical clues

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There has been a lot of media attention on the potential impact of an ageing population on all aspects of our society, workplaces included.  In terms of OHS, there may be an increased risk of injury as people are encouraged to work longer and past the compulsory retirement age of around 60 to 65.  But it is worth looking beyond the newspaper reports to get a better understanding 0f the level of risk presented by current population trends.

A report by Professor Diane Gibson for the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia is a terrific way to begin to comprehend the reality of the risk.  The report, Beyond life expectancy,  was released in May 2010 and provides an interpretation of the 2006 Australian Census data.  From a cursory scan of the contents there are important facts that challenge us, particularly if we manage, in any way, people in the workplace. Continue reading “Planning for an ageing workforce – statistical clues”

In ROPS we trust

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Roll Over Protective Structures (ROPS) are a standard safety design feature on many items of agricultural equipment from tractors to quad bikes.  But ROPS do not prevent a rollover, only minimise the risk of injury from a rollover.

The Workplace Health and Safety Queensland has issued a safety alert over a tractor ROPS that failed.  The background for the safety alert is:

“A 180 hp tractor towing a 7.8 tonne trailer was travelling at approximately 20 km/h along a single lane bitumen road.  To enable a vehicle to pass, the tractor was driven to the side of the road which was corrugated with a sharp drop off and steep drain nearby.  When driven back onto the road, the attached trailer slipped down the steep incline into the drain pulling the rear of the tractor sideways.  This caused the tractor to roll over, which resulted in the failure of the ROPS fitted to the tractor.  The driver suffered fatal injuries.”

Kevin Jones

All exposure standards must consider hours of work

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The last sixty years’ of research into the effects of hours of work, shiftwork, associated workload, fatigue and affects on social life and families has produced many findings, but no general detailed agreements.  There are interesting debates about who and what to research, what methods to use, what to measure and how to interpret results.  In the meantime workers and managers continue to work in difficult circumstances that research suggests has an impact on hormone secretion patterns, and, for example, on cardiac health, gastrointestinal health and breast cancer.

Here are a number of specific statements about hours of work, fatigue and fitness for work.  Total agreement on these statements can’t be achieved but they would generally be supported.   Continue reading “All exposure standards must consider hours of work”

Quad bike safety remains a hot topic in Australia

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Prominent OHS unionist, Yossi Berger*, has attempted to place the issue of quad bike safety in the greater context of OHS In the latest issue of the Australian Workers’ Union’s Say Safety magazine (only available in hard copy).

Berger says that the current debate between safety advocates and vehicle manufacturers over quad bikes is the latest illustration of a debate that leads nowhere while workers continue to be injured and killed.

A current debate in Australia about quad bike safety

“…unfortunately looks like following a similar pattern. The use of this machine kills hundreds of riders around the world every year, and in Australia – occupationally – about 15 every year, mostly in farming.  It looks like the entire discussion (for improvement) is going to develop into another description of how not to achieve fundamental OHS improvements.” Continue reading “Quad bike safety remains a hot topic in Australia”

Australia’s national safety award winners

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This evening in Canberra, Safe Work Australia announced the winners of the 5th Annual Safe Work Australia Awards. The profiles below are provided by Safe Work Australia.

The winners are:

Best Workplace Health and Safety Management System – Private Sector

GHD, South Australia

“GHD South Australia uses an electronic workplace health and safety management system accessible to all employees and has a workflow element to ensure that the necessary safety analysis and reporting is undertaken for all projects. Continue reading “Australia’s national safety award winners”