Explosive near-miss deserves safety investigation 1

There was a brief ABC report from Western Australia on 12 November 2011 about a young man receiving serious burns from an industrial explosion.  Information is scant on this incident in the press but SafetyAtWorkBlog has been told that the incident occurred at drinks after work.  As the incident is not considered related to work, WorkSafeWA is unlikely to be involved with any investigation.

This seems an odd situation as it is reported that the serious injury occurred “when a large engine exploded in an industrial yard”!

Young worker + alcohol (potentially) + industrial workplace = a serious near miss, if nothing else.

It is hoped that whoever investigates the incident shares some of the findings so that important OHS lessons will be offered.  WorkSafeWA seems to be the logical choice for investigator but we will have to wait to see who takes the lead.

Kevin Jones

Australian politician jumps on possible OHS concession from Government 1

Politics has again entered the OHS harmonisation debate in Australia.  Federal Workplace Relations Minister, Chris Evans, issued a statement on 10 November 2011, part of which that has been pounced on by the Opposition and slightly twisted by the online media.

“Senator Evans also announced that transitional arrangements for the model OHS laws have been developed by Safe Work Australia to assist businesses to move to the new harmonised arrangements.

“The transitional arrangements will apply to the model OHS Regulations and provide delayed commencement of up to 12 months or more where the new laws result in a new or significantly different set of duties,” Senator Evans said.

“The developments of sensible transitional arrangements are part and parcel of any new laws.”

The Shadow Minister for Workplace Relations, Eric Abetz, quickly responded with a media release of his own.

“Minister Evans has today conceded that businesses will be able to delay implementing new national health and safety laws by up to 12 months if the regulations result in them having to undertake significant change.  Given that almost every business will have to make significant change, this is the Minister’s back door way of delaying the laws implementation.”

It is important to read the entirety of Senator Evans statement as it reiterates some of the points that SafetyAtWorkBlog reported on several weeks ago.   More…

Small fine of $1250 but important safety lessons 3

An OHS fine of $A1250 hardly seems newsworthy but several important issues are illustrated by a prosecution in Western Australia on 10 November 2011, particularly, individual responsibility and accountability.

WorkSafe WA has released details of a prosecution against an individual worker over the fall of material from 15 metres towards fellow construction workers.  The media release (not yet available online) says that

“In July 2009, Mr Bell was employed by Perth Rigging Company Pty Ltd on a site at Naval Base where steel roof sections were being placed on concrete silos. He was in charge of arranging how the steel roof sections would be lifted into place.

The first roof section had been placed on one of the silos, and the second section (which was 18 meters long, six metres wide and weighed more than 10 tonnes) was to be lifted onto another of the silos.

Perth Rigging did not have available the necessary rigging equipment to lift this roof section, and the site supervisor offered to obtain this equipment. The offer was accepted, but Mr Bell did not stipulate what rigging equipment was required. More…

Australia releases official statistics into work-related injuries 12

Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in early November 2011 has revealed that 18.5% of people injured at work in 2009-10 received no OHS training prior to the incident.

The basic findings of the 2009-10 data are not all new as a December 2010 media release shows but the new report, “6324.0 – Work-Related Injuries, Australia, 2009-10” does include new data on OHS training.

Most of the OHS training data is included in table 13 but other tables should not be overlooked.  Table 3 shows that of those injured in 2009-10:

“82% (522,400) had received occupational health and safety training in the job prior to their work-related injury or illness occurring…”

and that 18.5% did not.

A legitimate question is “what is meant by occupational health and safety training?”   More…

Australia inactive on environmental tobacco smoke 1

Safe Work Australia has released a couple of packages of draft codes of practice in line with the Australian Government’s OHS harmonisation strategy but where is the code that addresses the established risk of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) or second-hand smoke?  This is a question that was asked during the recent Safe Work Australia week by Smoke Free Australia, an alliance of employee and health groups.

Smoke Free’s media release stated that

“….thousands of Australians are working in areas contaminated by highly toxic, carcinogenic tobacco smoke – and Safe Work Australia has done nothing to prevent it”

Stafford Sanders, the coordinator for Smoke Free Australia, was struggling to understand why ETS had not been given prominence in the new draft codes of practice given that second-hand smoke is a known killer. More…