Scissor lift pins worker to door frame

The Victorian Ambulance Service reported a serious and curious workplace incident that occurred on 26 May 2010.  According the Ambulance Service media statement workers found a the 25-year-old man was trapped “with his neck pinned between a door frame and the rails of a scissor lift machine..”.

The worker was not breathing and so workers  moved him to a safe area and commenced CPR. Paramedics needed to place the man in an induced coma in order to insert a breathing tube.  He was taken to hospital in a critical condition and no further details about the patient are publicly available.

WorkSafe advised SafetyAtWorkBlog that it is investigating and believes the incident occurred when the man was manoeuvring a scissor lift through a doorway, and was pinned between the bottom of the door frame and the scissor lift.

There are scant details available at the moment but the incident serves to remind companies about allowing some tasks to be undertaken without supervision and to take additional care with motorised plant.

Kevin Jones

Important OHS court decisions go unreported

On 20 May 2010 a Victorian magistrate fined an employer over $A500,000 following a workplace prosecution.  Almost all of it went to charity, according to WorkSafe Victoria.

There are several issues raised by Magistrate Vandersteen’s decision:

  • Why to charity?
  • Why the particular charities?
  • Why not allocate the funds to OHS-related organisations or initiatives?
  • Why does the Magistrates’ Court not make court decisions publicly available?

The workplace incident that started this case was that in August 2008, a 40-year-old man had his arm ripped out of the socket when it became tangled in an unguarded post peeler.   He was taken to hospital by an emergency ambulance helicopter where his life was saved. Continue reading “Important OHS court decisions go unreported”

Mining company trial set over cyclone deaths

Further to the SafetyAtWorkBlog article about the prosecution of Fortescue Metals Group, The Australian newspaper reports on 28 April 2010 that the trial will start tomorrow.

The article states that

“Lawyers for the Department of Commerce — prosecuting the case through WorkSafe — successfully argued the site was not a mine and was instead a camp for workers constructing a railway to transport iron ore.”

The company was arguing that the site was a mining support site and that its contractors were responsible.

Interestingly the Magistrate, Joe Randazzo, wants a definition of “safe refuge”.  This may lead to a reconsideration of the use of dongas, or temporary accommodation units, in areas of extreme weather conditions.  There is the potential for safety improvements from this case and not just  a punishment.

Kevin Jones

The fatal consequences of riding in the tray of a pick-up or ute

In 2007, Pedro Balading fell off the back of a utility vehicle while working in remote outback Australia and died.  On 16 March 2010, the owner of the Wollogorang cattle station, Panoy P/L, was fined $A60,000 over the death.

According to one media report:

“Pedro Balading, a 35-year-old father of three, was a Manila piggeries supervisor who arrived at Wollogorang Station in early 2007 and found himself isolated, underpaid and performing menial jobs. He asked to go home but was told by his employer, Panoy Pty Ltd, and the labour hire firm that brought him from the Philippines to complete his two-year contract.”

Work Health Authority‘s executive director, Laurene Hull said in a media statement:

“The danger associated with travelling in the back of a moving utility, where the risk of falling from the moving vehicle can result in death or serious injury is common knowledge,” Ms Hull said.  “Panoy Pty Ltd failed to take appropriate steps to ensure the hazard posed by travelling in the back of utilities was known to the workers and the risks appropriately managed.” Continue reading “The fatal consequences of riding in the tray of a pick-up or ute”

Reviewing Today Tonight’s insulation exclusive

As an example of “tabloid TV” the Today Tonight (TT) report broadcast on 17 February 2010 concerning children assisting workers to install insulation, was very good.  It probably benefited from my own appearances remaining brief.

The topicality of a story on the home insulation industry could not have been higher yesterday as a Senate inquiry into the Australian Government’s environment and job creation scheme held hearings in Melbourne.  TT led its show with the scandalous report.

The video of a young boy handling large bags of insulation on a roof is disturbing; the unprotected handling of the insulation material by the young boy is similar.  That the children were allowed to be on the roof by the homeowner and parents is a parental supervision issue and outside the scope of this blog.  That the workers allowed them to be present and did not tell the children to get down is more disturbing and a clear breach of the workers’ OHS obligations. Continue reading “Reviewing Today Tonight’s insulation exclusive”

Small business can equal depression, stress and mental health problems

According to an article in  the Australian Financial Review on 16 February 2010 (only available online through subscription):

“The isolation of working at home or in a small shop or factory by themselves can wear down many in the small and medium  enterprise sector.  In the most severe cases, it can lead to depression and cause major problems for their family and business.”

Andrew Griffiths provides a quote that illustrates well the work/life conflict in the small business sector: Continue reading “Small business can equal depression, stress and mental health problems”

Getting safety promotion right

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has come in for a lot of “stick” over the last few years by seemingly over-reacting to OHS hazards.  In many cases, these reports have come from a misinterpretation of OHS rules and guidelines or a misunderstanding of the basic principles of safety.  In some cases it is simply a beat-up my England’s tabloid media.

However, this attitude to safety and the creation of a misperception of OHS has annoyed the HSE.  Below is a video that the HSE produced, going by the tone of the video, in response to the bad press.

The “Right People” campaign seems familiar to many other campaigns attempted around the world and the introduction depicting silly headlines shows that the HSE is think-skinned.

Much more successful is the HSE’s recent campaign about safety in farming.   Continue reading “Getting safety promotion right”

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