Work Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) recently revealed some early research into the Return on Investment (ROI) of occupational health and safety (OHS) controls. (Thanks to a reader for pointing it out) According to its website:
“Recent pilot research in several Queensland organisations found clear evidence of the cost effectiveness of safety interventions, including:
- an automatic shrink wrapping machine at Rexel’s Tingalpa distribution centre that had an ROI of around $1.82 for every $1 of costs, and a payback of upfront costs of less than three years
- an ergonomics intervention at BP Wild Bean Cafés with an ROI of $2.74 for every $1 of costs and a payback within the first month
- a workplace health and wellbeing program at Port of Brisbane that had an ROI of $1.58 for every $1 of costs and a payback of 15 months.”
None of this “pilot research” is publicly available so it is not possible to verify the data. (WHSQ has been contacted for further information for a follow up blog article)
It always surprises me when clients and colleagues ignore the Hierarchy of Controls when deciding what control measures to introduce. Recently Oregon’s OSHA released a podcast about the Hierarchy of Controls which shares some of my concerns.
It was concerning that the podcast stated that some hierarchies place Administrative Controls on the same level as Engineering Controls and that some consider fall protection devices as Engineering Controls due the engineering of the anchor point (a dubious engineering control as this blog has discussed previously).
Below are several quotes from the 4 minute podcast Michael Wood of Oregon OSHA.
“A control that fully eliminates the hazard is always preferred to one that does not.”
“The hierarchy improves the control’s reliability.”
“The hierarchy of control recognises that perfection in human performance can not be attained.”
This short podcast is a good quick reminder to occupational health and safety professionals but could also be discussion catalyst on basic hazard management.
WorkSafe Victoria has asked me in the past why I do not report on some of their successful activities and promotional campaigns. Recently WorkSafe Victoria has been running what appears to be a very successful safety campaign focusing on young workers. The campaign is called “if you’re not sure, ask“. The television and online advertisements again feature confronting workplace injuries but the significant difference in this case is that there is a social context about body image. This element of the campaign is very effective however, from the perspective of an old fart of a safety professional, the advertisements miss the role of the supervisor and the importance of a safe working environment.
Continue reading “The “if you’re not sure, ask” campaign needs “if unsafe, fix””
On 21 December 2012 in the South Australian Industrial Court, Amcor Packaging (Australia) was fined $A96,000 over a breach of the occupational health and safety (OHS) laws. That type of sentence appears frequently in SafetyAtWorkBlog but the difference this time is that it is the third similar OHS prosecution and fine applied to Amcor in South Australia. Amcor Packaging has had similar OHS problems in Queensland and Victoria.
According to a SafeWorkSA media release (not yet available online), the latest prosecution involved an incident in November 2010 where:
“Two workers were walking on conveyor rollers to guide an unstable stack of cardboard when one inadvertently stepped into a gap between the rollers. The female worker was then struck by the arm of an automated pallet sweeper, sustaining multiple fractures to her lower leg and ankle.”
In his judgment on the case, Industrial Magistrate Stephen Lieschke said there was no risk assessment at the plant and a lack of engineering controls. The two previous Amcor offences in South Australia also related to inadequate engineering controls.
Magistrate Lieschke also said that
“The two prior offences are highly relevant to this sentencing process, as the court is left with a low level of confidence that Amcor will not commit any future offences…..,”
In June 2008 law firm Holding Redlich mentioned an increase in an OHS penalty against Amcor by the Court of Appeals: Continue reading “It can take a long time to learn how to manage workplace safety”
The development of Australia’s new Work Health and Safety laws relies on potential prosecutions and Court rulings to clarify various elements and definitions. Some labour lawyers have forecast this clarification to take several years however last week The Warrnambool Standard reported on a decision by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) that provides a worrying clarification on the contentious definition of “as far as is reasonably practicable” from outside the anticipated Court structure.
WorkSafe Victoria placed an improvement notice on a woodchipper owned by the Warrnambool City Council following an incident in September 2011 where a worker, David Johnstone, had both hands removed by the blades of the woodchipper. The improvement notice stated that additional guarding in the form of a “bump bar” be installed on woodchippers. The Council requested a review of the notices through WorkSafe’s review processes. The directions stood and the Council appealed to VCAT, as per the normal process. VCAT found that the engineering controls demanded by WorkSafe were not required as the administrative controls advocated by the Council were found to have “reduced risk “so far as is reasonably practicable”.
The VCAT decision is concerning because it seems to conflict with the application of the Hierarchy of Controls for risk in which machine guarding, an engineering control, is considered a more effective control measure that administrative controls such as those favoured by the Council Continue reading “Woodchipper decision could set a worrying safety precedent”