Explosive impacts from the Quin Investments prosecution still to be felt

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The Quin Investment prosecution in South Australia is a good indication of the importance of workplace safety and equipment maintenance.

On 24 June 2010, Quin Investments and one of its directors Nikolai Kuzub were found guilty of breaches of OHS law in South Australia by Industrial Magistrate Ardlie.  The incident involved an explosion at an explosives factory in May 2006 that killed three workers, injured two others and flattened the factory.  Pieces of equipment were located over 600 metres away, houses a kilometre away were damaged and the explosion was heard 40 kilometres away according to one media report.

Grant Germein, the lawyer representing Quin Investments, has asserted a conspiracy from, at least, the start of the court case:

“He said the company was being used as a scapegoat and SafeWork SA’s investigation into the incident was “not directed at the cause of the explosion”, but to “see if they could find a culprit”. Continue reading “Explosive impacts from the Quin Investments prosecution still to be felt”

CSB agrees to investigate the root cause of the BP Deepwater disaster

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The chairman of the Chemical Safety Board (CSB), John Bresland, has formally announced his organisation’s investigation into the BP/Deepwater oil rig disaster.  The experience and professionalism of the CSB is evident in correspondence to the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce where the scope is defined and additional resources anticipated.

The letter identifies those current investigations that may need wrapping up quickly so that resources can be diverted to the BP/Deepwater investigation.  This honesty has the advantage of reinforcing that the CSB  is begin called on to undertake tasks beyond its resource allocation and is clearly an opening pitch for the next funding season, as a chairman should do. Continue reading “CSB agrees to investigate the root cause of the BP Deepwater disaster”

New Zealand farm advocates talk briefly on quad bike safety

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New Zealand’s Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) has released some statistics on quad bike incidents in support of its attendance at field days in mid-June 2010 and the release of three new agricultural safety publications.  The media release quotes research from the Otago University.

“Three farmers or agricultural workers died and nearly 300 were injured in quad bike accidents on farms last year, according to ACC claims figures.

Recent research from Otago University forecast that in any given year farm workers will lose control of quad bikes on approximately 12,645 occasions, resulting in about 1400 injuries.  Not all of these will be registered as workplace injury claims with ACC.”

The risk of jumping to conclusions from these statistics is that the ACC is not only concerned with workplace incidents and hence the conditional sentence at the end of the quote. Continue reading “New Zealand farm advocates talk briefly on quad bike safety”

BBC podcast on UK’s OHS review

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The BBC’s radio program, Politics UK, for 18 June 2010 includes an uncredited discussion on the OHS review announced by Prime Minister Cameron recently.  The discussion occurs at the 20 minute mark of the podcast which is available to download for a short time.

Much of the content seems to reflect the thoughts and comments of The Telegraph article by Philip Johnston but at least the BBC reporter acknowledges that the issue is not really health and safety but the “fear of litigation”.

There is an interesting reference to the “goldplating” of European Union directions and the issue of food safety and cheese is mentioned.  The impression given is that the more significant and, perhaps, the more difficult challenge for Lord Young is not OHS but the “compensation culture”.  If this is the case, OHS may come off the worse of the two as it may be given a secondary priority.

Kevin Jones

HSE and Lord Young test the waters of reform

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The head of the UK’s Health & Safety Executive, Judith Hackitt has released part of a letter that she sent to Lord Young of Graffham on the announcement of his OHS review.  According to Hackitt’s media statement she advised

“The terms of reference of your review extend beyond HSE’s remit, which is concerned with addressing real risks and preventing death, injury and ill health to those at work and those affected by work related activities.

“However, we in HSE have been saying for some time that health and safety is being used by too many as a convenient excuse to hide behind.”

Hackitt welcomed the review and has released Lord Young’s response in which he says:

“Thank you for your letter of 14 June confirming your commitment to the review commissioned by the Prime Minister into Health and Safety and the growth of the compensation culture.   Continue reading “HSE and Lord Young test the waters of reform”