Death from a well-known hazard – culture is only part of the answer

Cover of cif-cole-cb-20150911A coronial finding in Queensland in September 2015 illustrates how daily activities can lead to tragedy but also the role of safety culture.

According to one media report, in investigating the 2009 death of 24-year-old Cameron Cole who was hit as a pipe rack fell from a truck, the Queensland Coroner, Terry Ryan, found that

“…the semi-trailer had been over packed, not properly secured and there was no exclusion zone around the vehicle when the load was being released.”

From this event the Coroner makes many recommendations about the safety management of work practices at that time.  Many of these reflect common work practices that exist to this day on many Australian worksites.

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Sedentary work research features at ergonomics conference

The current International Ergonomics Congress in Melbourne seems to be successful in a number of ways:

  • The size and variety of its program
  • The quality of its keynote speakers
  • Out of 900 delegates, 600 are from outside Australia.

Where it seemed to be less successful was in its profile outside of the ergonomics profession. The information available, some identified on other blog articles, has relevance well beyond ergonomics and it is disappointing that the conference was not marketed more to the general occupational health and safety (OHS) profession. (It should have been possible to exceed 1000 delegates just from local promotion.) The OHS profession needs livening up and have its body of knowledge expanded to areas that both support and challenge its own principles and processes.

Sedentary Work

A major thread in the Congress was the issue of sedentary work, something discussed by the first day’s keynote speaker, Professor

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Ergonomics conference provides good, free knowledge

The 19thTriennial Congress of the International Ergonomics Association (IEA 2015) is currently running in Melbourne Australia with 900 delegates, of which 600 are from outside Australia.  It offers a fascinating (online) library of ergonomic and occupational health and safety (OHS) research. Below is a sample of the research on offer picked, largely, at random.

It seems unnecessary to state that ergonomics is an essential part of the knowledge base of safety and production but ergonomics still seems to be a “dark art” to many.  This is acknowledged by many in the sector and is summarised well by Ruurd N. Pikaar

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Mental health missing from key OHS statistics

Cover key-whs-stat-2015Part of the core duties of any occupational health and safety (OHS) regulator is the production of data. Recently Safe Work Australia (SWA) released its “Key Work Health and Safety Statistics” for 2015 and given the amount of media attention on workplace mental health, one would expect mental health to be one of the key statistics.  It’s not.

In fact mental health is referenced only once in the document on page 28.  The table states that for the decade of 2000-2001 to 2010-2011

“mental disorders…did not display a clear overall trend of increase or decrease”.

This is significant in the context of workplace mental health reporting.  Is the reported increase in workplace mental health a myth?  Safe Work Australia’s statistics seems to support this.

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