Non-fatal injuries summary

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Below is a summary of non-fatal workplace incidents handled by Victoria’s Metropolitan Ambulance Service over the last few weeks.

Many of these incidents gain no media attention principally due to the fact that the workers did not die but the incidents are of relevance ot safety professionals and provide a better perspective on the frequency of workplace incidents.

Hand injuries

The first case saw advanced life support paramedics from Footscray called to an Altona North address at 8am.

The Paramedic, Cameron Joyce, said when they arrived they were told the 42-year-old woman had been working with machinery when the accident happened.  “‘The woman told us that the fingers on her left hand were crushed for only two or three seconds. Continue reading “Non-fatal injuries summary”

Gas, lungs, ladders, fruit picking and concrete pumping – latest workplace incidents

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The media on 11 March 2010 was reporting the discovery of a the body of a hotel worker in  a beer cellar of a Victorian hotel.  WorkSafe Victoria is investigating the possibility of carbon dioxide.

As with so  many cases of confined spaces, a second man was lucky to be alive after venturing into the cellar to check on the hotel worker.  The police report suggested that the second man was making a delivery to the hotel.

At such an early stage in the investigation and with so little detail,it is hard to say more than what WorkSafe’s Stan Krpan said in a media release this afternoon:

“With or without a gas leak or chemical exposure, limited means of entry and exit, poor air circulation, and working in confined spaces, is risky. Continue reading “Gas, lungs, ladders, fruit picking and concrete pumping – latest workplace incidents”

Television exposé of children at risk on roof insulation worksite

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On 16 February 2010, I was interviewed by Channel 7 television in Melbourne over 20 minutes of footage they had received that showed unacceptable work practices at a domestic site in Cranbourne.

Emails from friends told me that my words and face were used in promotional ads by the TV program. At the time of writing this, I have not seen the ads and I have no idea what words of mine they will use in the program to be broadcast this evening, 17 February 2010. [Video now available online]

Today Tonight has video of  two men who are installing fibreglass insulation into a domestic roof space after having made an entry by removing some roof tiles.  The men were employed to undertake the work by a company that has registered with the Australian Government for the task.  The workers are equipped with face masks, gloves and coveralls.  No fall protection was provided. Continue reading “Television exposé of children at risk on roof insulation worksite”

Biomarkers for musculoskeletal disorders

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Slips, trips and falls are often the neglected “bastard son” of occupational health and safety but the can cripple and can, literally cost an arm or a leg.

The traditional approach to control these hazards have been to make  the working environment safer by mopping up spilled liquids, for instance, or be using a piece of equipment such as a stepladder, or in the long-term or in the beginning of a project, to design out hazards.

We also know that musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) make occur suddenly, and dramatically and painfully, but one’s body has accumulated weaknesses over time.  The UK’s Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has released a research report that indicates a new approach to MSDs or at least a start. Continue reading “Biomarkers for musculoskeletal disorders”

Workplace falls continue even during a safety week

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Several years ago while visiting a local council with an OHS mentor, a call came through that a worker had fallen over 10 metres through a skylight into a plant room at a commercial swimming pool.  It was the first time I had been on site shortly after a workplace incident and was party to the negotiations and advice between OHS advisers, health & safety representatives and quickly after the event, the CEO.

I am reminded of that day too often when reports come through of workplace falls and deaths.  Workplace incidents do not take a holiday even during Safe Work Australia Week and this year was no different.  Below are a couple of short reports of incidents from last week.  As they did not result in a death, they were unlikely to be reported in the mainstream press.

“A man has fallen through a warehouse roof, dropping eight metres onto concrete at Brunswick [on 30 October 2009].

‘The 24 year old man landed on the concrete and some bicycles that were on the floor,’ according to Intensive care paramedic Kate Cantwell. ‘Even though he had fallen about eight metres, he is extremely lucky that he landed on his arm and side, and not on his head. He has quite a severe fracture to his arm, and possibly a fractured pelvis.”

“A 62-year-old man fell nearly three metres to the ground when he slipped off a ladder in Heidelberg Heights [on 26 October 2009].  Advanced life support paramedics from Oak Park and Epping were called to the residential building site at 11.05am.

Paramedic Haley McCartin said they arrived within eight minutes to find the man lying on the ground in a significant amount of pain.  ‘He suffered a suspected fractured hip and wrist,’ she said.”

Both these cases were posted by the Ambulance Service in Victoria and reinforce that falls in workplaces continue to occur.  Not all falls cause death but falls invariably result in serious injuries.

It is fair to say that gravity continues to be the number one contributory factor to workplace falls.

Kevin Jones