What is the OHS “public interest”?

On 7 May 2010 Judge Lacava of the County Court of Victoria increased the $A25,000 fine applied to A Bending Company to $A75,000.

WorkSafe’s Acting Director for Health and Safety, Stan Krpan, said in a media release:

“The fact that the Director of Public Prosecutions [DPP] found the original penalty inadequate, and the increase in the fine on appeal, demonstrates the courts’ attitude towards health and safety offences.”

The DPP made the appeal to the County Court after a request for review of the original fine was made by WorkSafe Victoria.  According to the judge’s decision (not yet available online):

“The appeal by the Director is made pursuant to section 84 of the Magistrates’ Court Act 1989. The section gives the Director the power to appeal to this Court “if satisfied that an appeal should be brought in the public interest“.” [emphasis added]

So how was the public interest served by increasing the fine by $A50,000? Continue reading “What is the OHS “public interest”?”

Ergonomics of quad bikes – new research

While the New Zealand government is investigating agricultural safety issues, researchers from the University of Otago have looked at the ergonomic issues associated with the loss of control (LOC) of quad bikes by drivers.

According to a University of Otago media release, researchers Dr Stephan Milosavljevic and Dr Allan Carman published a paper in the current edition of Ergonomics.  The researchers

“….set out to analyse the driving behaviour of people who regularly use quad bikes, recognising a need to find out why people lose control of them so frequently.

Of the 30 male rural workers and farmers studied, 19 of them, or 63 percent, had experienced loss of control on a quad bike.  They were in their mid 40s on average, and about eight to nine years younger and less experienced than those who did not lose control.   Continue reading “Ergonomics of quad bikes – new research”

Safety professionals must understand RTW in order to avoid unnecessary costs

The rationale for the Australian government’s evangelism of harmonisation is the reduction of “red-tape” on the logic, or assumption, that business costs will also be reduced.  Dr Mary Wyatt, according to a report on ABC News Online, says that cost reductions may be possible be reducing over-servicing of injured workers.

Dr Wyatt says:

“We have an increasing focus on the medicine, and we have lots of scans that tell us there are things wrong with our bodies, and then when those scans are done it’s often labelled as a serious problem, and then the worker gets worried and we often go off on a tangent..” Continue reading “Safety professionals must understand RTW in order to avoid unnecessary costs”

If laptop design is hazardous, what does this say about the iPad?

Recently SafetyAtWorkBlog received some promotional material from a laptop accessory supplier, ErgoAustralia, which stated that  laptops may be “the RSI of this decade especially for the growing bones and muscles of our children”.  The aim of the information was to show how accessories can reduce the risk of using laptop computers.

There is no doubt that this is so.  This blog is often written in a cafe through a fold away keyboard and back at the office, the laptop sits on a stand with a wireless keyboard and mouse but the laptop is not the principal PC on which work is performed.  That is a desktop PC.

When laptops are the only computer option and the work tasks rely on laptops, the complications and hazards occur.

Rick Clancy of ErgoAustralia provided the following quotes in support of the dangers of laptops:

Alan Hedge from Cornell University says the following “Guidelines for laptop use are more difficult because laptop design inherently is problematic – Continue reading “If laptop design is hazardous, what does this say about the iPad?”