Near miss but no government action

On 28 January 2010, three men walked away from the helicopter that crashed in Northern New South Wales on the lip of a 1,000 metre cliff.  The Australian media covered it fairly extensively.  What is curious about this air crash is that there is no government investigation into the possible cause of the crash.

OHS professionals advocate the inclusion of “near misses” in any investigation program so such a lack of interest seems peculiar.

One media report said that both the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) will not be investigating.  (The company that owned the helicopter is in Queensland). Continue reading “Near miss but no government action”

Dipping into workplace violence

Jeff Sparrow recently gained considerable media attention with his book that reflected on violence in society.  Yossi Berger once described occupational health and safety as a “kind of violence” in his book of that title.  There is a lot of research  into occupational violence, much of it from the United States which, to some extent, has an unrepresentative view of this hazard.

An interesting, and brief, discussion on the matter is a chapter in the book “Perspectives on Violent and Violent Death” published by Baywood Publishing.  The existential perspective of one particular chapter may make it impractical for safety management purposes but as a background article for provoking thought, it is very good.

Without this chapter I would not have found the work of C E Newhill* into client violence in social work or that of C L Charles.  Charles identified some factors that have contributed to the “anger epidemic” which may provide some clues on understanding occupational violence.   These are listed below:

No guard = hand injuries + $50k penalty

Machine guarding is one of the most effective and longstanding control measures for occupational hazards.  Sometimes safety people even get excited about them.  Equally safety people, regulators and magistrates, get angry when the guards are left off.

One company in South Australia on 1 February 2010 received two penalties for similar hand injuries that occurred only days apart in 2007.   Continue reading “No guard = hand injuries + $50k penalty”

Does OHS training work?

Businesses thrive on the concept of return on investment (ROI) but it has been very hard to apply this to training in workplace safety and SafetyatWorkBlog can only provide clues to this relationship.

Training is an important component in any company’s safety management program but it will not solve all OHS ills, regardless of  the claims of some training providers.  Specific training to achieve licences is one type of training where skills become directly practical but other training, such as First Aid, Health & Safety Representative (HSR) training or general OHS training, is more difficult to quantify. Continue reading “Does OHS training work?”

Operating cranes without a certificate costs $13,500

Only a day or two after writing about fines applied in Victoria over ignoring improvement notices from OHS inspectors, a similar case has been reported by SafeWork South Australia.

According to SafeWorkSA:

“Gillman-based Adelaide Ship Construction International Pty Ltd was fined $13,500 after pleading guilty to failing to comply with three Prohibition Notices issued by SafeWork SA.

The court heard how in September 2006, the shipbuilder’s managing director continued to operate a mobile crane and elevated work platform after removing the yellow “Do Not Use” tags placed on them by inspectors.

The Prohibition Notices were issued as a result of the lack of inspection records and logbooks for the machinery, and the managing director being unable to produce a certificate of competency to operate the crane.”

Continue reading “Operating cranes without a certificate costs $13,500”

Dignity At Work, different UK and Australian approaches

On 26 January 2010, a fascinating document was released from England concerning  workplace harassment and violence.  This builds on earlier work in Europe and has led to the joint guidance on “Preventing Workplace Harassment and Violence“.

The guidance has the demonstrated support of employer, employee and government representatives who have committed to

“…ensuring that the risks of encountering harassment and violence whilst at work are assessed, prevented or controlled.”

Significantly they also state

“We will implement our agreement and review its operation.”

Continue reading “Dignity At Work, different UK and Australian approaches”

Business assessment of OHS

Australia’s Productivity Commission released its draft report into Performance Benchmarking of Australian Business Regulation: Occupational Health and Safety on 27 January 2010.  The 432-page report will take some time to read and digest but below are the general key points of the report

  • “This study compares inter-jurisdictional differences in occupational health and safety (OHS) legislation in 2008-09 and its administration and enforcement and the costs they imposed on business. Such benchmarking provides information which can support current moves to establish a consistent regulatory approach to OHS across all jurisdictions.
  • Generally, OHS performance has been improving. National injury incidence rates have fallen almost 20 per cent between 2002-03 and 2007-08. Continue reading “Business assessment of OHS”

Stress management may be only a chocolate cake away

Safety professionals often struggle to manage stress in their employees and themselves but new research has found links between the consumption of chocolate and a reduction in stress.

The study in the Journal of Proteome Research entitled “Metabolic Effects of Dark Chocolate Consumption on Energy, Gut Microbiota, and Stress-Related Metabolism in Free-Living Subjects” Continue reading “Stress management may be only a chocolate cake away”

Prevention of depression is better than treatment

Depression as an occupational illness is one of the most difficult hazards faced by managers and safety professionals.  Depression is hard to understand and it is often difficult to recognise an employee who suffers from the condition, let alone, figuring out how the workplace may contribute to the illness.

[Mental health issues are going to receive increased attention in Australia following the naming of the Australian of the Year, Professor Patrick McGorry.]

A recent article in Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine reports on a study that looked at “the relationship between antidepressant treatment and productivity costs”. Continue reading “Prevention of depression is better than treatment”

Survey shows continuing increase in mobile phone use while driving

The use of a mobile phone while driving can be very dangerous for other vehicles, pedestrians and drivers themselves.  New communications technology has been devised to accommodate the less-new technology of mobile phones but in itself hands-free technologies are masking the risk.

Although this hazard is across the driving community, there is particular relevance for workplace drivers as their status complicates the arguments against talking or texting while driving and provides additional control measures. Continue reading “Survey shows continuing increase in mobile phone use while driving”