Occupational injury statistics for France released

France has released OHS statistics for 2007.  The document is currently only available in French.  My schoolboy French translation of the introduction says France is experiencing most workplace incidents in the construction industry. Continue reading “Occupational injury statistics for France released”

Politics and safety in California

Workplace safety, as is any legislation, is subjected to the political whims and decisions of whichever political party is in power at the time.  In Australia, John Howard’s conservative government almost halved the already meagre budget of the National OHS Commission, stopping many of the programs of national OHS uniformity that are now being resurrected by the Labor Government of Kevin Rudd.

On 14 January 2010 an investigative report into the operation of Cal-OSHA by KCET says that there was a marked change in the enforcement policies of Cal-OSHA shortly after the election of Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger as Governor of California. Continue reading “Politics and safety in California”

Changing the OHS guard

John Merritt is leaving WorkSafe Victoria to head up the Environmental Protection Authority.  Nothing special in such a move as such progression is part of many senior executive public servant’s career plans.  But Victoria’s politicians have started to use this change for political point-scoring on the basis that Merritt is married to Victorian parliamentarian, Maxine Morand.

This is unfortunate but not surprising.  The political argy-bargy implies that John Merritt is undeserving of his new appointment and this is not the case.

I have met John Merritt over a number of years and from before he became the executive director of WorkSafe in 2001.  During his time with the National Safety Council of Australia, there was an air of optimism in this moribund organisation, the same air he brought to WorkSafe.  I interviewed him regularly

Continue reading “Changing the OHS guard”

Shipbreaking Explosion

In September 2009 several workers were killed and burnt when cutting up an old tanker that still had chemical residue.  The National Labor Committee (NLC)  has released a a ten minute video interview with the NLC Executive Director, Charles Kernaghan.

According to an 11 January 2010 NLC notice:

“Eight more workers in Bangladesh were burned to death on December 26, 2009, when the ship they were dismantling exploded.   The workers had been told that the gas tanks on the Agate oil tanker had been cleaned.   It was a lie.   Continue reading “Shipbreaking Explosion”

Cabinet-making compliance

In March 2008, in Western Australia, a 22-year-old worker was crushed to death when a stack of veneered chipboard sheets toppled onto him.  This sparked an audit campaign of the cabinet-making industry in 2009 by WorkSafe WA about which some results were released on 12 January 2010.

Such results are not often covered in this blog but the number of improvement notices provide a useful summary of the persistent hazards present in this industry and on machinery that is used in a variety of workplaces. Continue reading “Cabinet-making compliance”

Forklift death and safety posters

Twelve days in 2010 and Victoria has experienced its first workplace death and it was due to the use of a forklift.  A 60-year-old man was crushed after a load being removed from a truck by forklift fell.

According to WorkSafe Victoria:

“…the man was guiding a forklift driver who was to remove the computer equipment weighing some 200kg and standing about 2m high, from the back of a semi-trailer.  The equipment was on castors and not mounted on a pallet.”

As part of WorkSafe ongoing campaign on forklift safety, it has issued two safety posters.  Originals should be available through the local WorkSafe Victoria offices.

Risk/Reward trade-off

On 11 January 2010, the Tasmanian Workplace Relations Minister, Lisa Singh, announced a  new safety focus on the abalone industry following the findings of a coronial inquest into the death of David Colson in 2007.

There are several interesting elements to the Minister’s decision.  Firstly and, perhaps, most importantly, the decision shows the significant role that Coroners in Australia play in improving workplace safety.  For legislative change, it is difficult to see any more effective political motivator.

Also, the Coroner can express opinions based on evidence in a way that few other courts do. The findings are not yet publicly available. Continue reading “Risk/Reward trade-off”

New (hard copy) OHS magazine

The European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) has upgraded its newsletter to a hard-copy six-monthly magazine called HesaMAG.  SafetyAtWorkBlog received its copy a couple of days ago and we applaud the ETUI for being innovative by going backwards. Continue reading “New (hard copy) OHS magazine”

Health Department bans all employees from smoking at work

Most of the Australian media have reported on a memo to staff of the Australian Department of Health that only allows smoking while on meal breaks.  Health Department employees are not permitted to smoke while undertaking departmental duties or “when representing the department in any capacity”.

Government authorities have long participated in smoking reduction campaigns which have succeeded in minimising smoking.  Workplaces in Australia already have workplace smoking bans.  So what’s caused the memo (a copy which has not been seen by SafetyAtWorkBlog) to be issued?

The principal reason seems to be to improve the “professional reputation of the department”.  It has always been a ridiculous image to see Health Department employees crowding around departmental doorways smoking cigarettes.   Continue reading “Health Department bans all employees from smoking at work”

Move your way to better health

Further to the recent posting on cardiovascular disease research, Dr David Dunstan participated in an online media briefing on 12 January 2010. (Video and audio interviews have begun to appear on line)

It is often difficult to identify control measures for workplace hazards from the raw research data.  Dr Dunstan, this morning elaborated on the possible workplace control measures that employers can design into workplaces in order to reduce the CVD risk from prolonged sedentary work.   Continue reading “Move your way to better health”