Melbourne Business School takes the high road on fall prevention

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Below is a guest post from long time SafetyAtWorkBlog reader, Marian Macdonald.

Workplace Access & Safety height safety consultant Aaron Carratello on a walkway built for access to HVAC equipment at Mt Eliza Business School
Workplace Access & Safety height safety consultant Aaron Carratello on a walkway built for access to HVAC equipment at Mt Eliza Business School

It was when Simon Murray put himself in the witness box and imagined what a judge would say that investing in walkways and guardrails became a ‘no brainer’.

The property and facility manager of the Melbourne Business School was faced with an important decision: whether to install extra roof anchors and static lines or shift towards more passive forms of fall prevention.

Roof anchors were cheaper initially, while the walkways and guardrails offered a far lower lifetime cost but, in the end, price was not the issue.

“A judge would ask whether we had done what was ‘reasonably practicable’,” Mr Murray says, “and if we’d only installed roof anchors and static lines to reach our HVAC equipment, the answer would have been ‘no’.” Continue reading “Melbourne Business School takes the high road on fall prevention”

Quad bike fatalities cost an average of at least $2.3 million

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Australian research has provided an important additional element to discussions on the safety of using quad bikes as work vehicles on Australian farms.  According to a media release to be published on 3 April 2013 from the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety (ACAHS):

Two new papers released today in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health ….indicate that the costs for fatal [quad bike] incidents between 2001-2010 were $288 million.” [links added, articles only available for purchase or by subscription]
caution ATV signDr Tony Lower, ACAHS Director, says that
 ““This conservative estimate draws on deaths data from the National Coroners Information System and includes projected losses in future earnings, impacts on household contributions, insurance payments, investigation and hospital costs”…. The average cost was $A2.3 million, with the highest average being in those aged 25-34 years at $A4.2 million””.
This estimation is shocking but refreshing.  Shocking in that the cost is so high but refreshing because the data is not based, as so much OHS data is, only on workers compensation claims data Continue reading “Quad bike fatalities cost an average of at least $2.3 million”

Australian Government shifts workplace bullying into the industrial relations system

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Politicians are sufficiently media-savvy to release policies and information to gain the maximum exposure in the media cycle.  For some reason, Australia’s Workplace Relations Minister, Bill Shorten, missed the opportunity to have his changes on workplace bullying in the newspapers for 12 February 2013.  The news cycle is also being dominated by the resignation of Pope Benedict.  However Shorten’s response to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Workplace Bullying deserves detailed analysis.

??????????????????????????????????Shorten is bringing the investigation of workplace bullying cases under the Fair Work Commission.  There are likely to be complex consequences of this decision, a decision that is clearly the Minister’s as the Parliamentary Inquiry made no clear recommendation on the location of the “new national service”.

“The Committee did not receive evidence on where such a service [“a single, national service to provide advice to employers and workers alike on how to prevent, and respond to workplace bullying” 5.51, page 136] should be located.  It might be best situated within an existing government agency or department such as Safe Work Australia, the Fair Work Ombudsman or the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.  It may also be considered appropriate for the service to be an independent body that is funded by the Commonwealth. Consequently, the Committee does not have a clear recommendation as to where the new national service may sit.” (Section 5.58, page 138)

Clearly Shorten’s announcement could easily have been “Minister rejects independent body on workplace bullying”.  The Minister should be asked about his reasons for not establishing an independent body into this important issue. Continue reading “Australian Government shifts workplace bullying into the industrial relations system”

How safe is unsafe?

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roofwork 01Across the street from an office in Melbourne, a pub is installing a roof area for entertaining.  The work has gone smoothly as far as one can see but the position of the platform ladder in the corner of the roof was curious. If someone was working from the ladder and wobbled, it would be possible to not only fall a couple of metres to the roof but perhaps over the roof’s edge to the pavement two storeys below.

The worker in the front of this picture was moving to erect another platform ladder towards the front of the roof.

roofwork 02The second picture shows the worker on that platform ladder.  Similar risks of wobbling and falling over the roof’s edge.

How safe is unsafe?  There is the potential for the worker to fall from the ladder to the street some distance below but he didn’t.   So was his positioning of the ladder and work undertaken safe?

Kevin Jones

The fact that quad bike use is dangerous needs a fresh communication strategy

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Dr Tony Lower of the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health & Safety has released new information about deaths and injuries associated with quad bike use in Australia for 2011. His report lists media reports that

“There were at least 23 quad bike related fatalities and 56 major injuries, many of which are likely to be life‐changing…”

He also continues to keep pressure on the quad bike manufacturers:

“It is an absolute insult to quad bike users and particularly to those families that have lost loved ones in rollovers that the manufacturers and the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) simply continue to defend the indefensible. There is an urgent need to address this issue through better design of the quad bikes themselves and also ensuring crush protection devices are fitted”

But the severity of the risk and potential consequences of using quad bikes is well established.  This article is going to look at a couple of other issues raised by Dr Lower’s media release (not yet available online) and the Media Monitors report. Continue reading “The fact that quad bike use is dangerous needs a fresh communication strategy”