First prosecution announced over insulation-related deaths

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Queensland’s Department of Justice and Attorney-General has announced that an insulation installation company will be charged with offences under its safety legislation due to the death of an employee.  This is the first safety prosecution related to the Government’s , failed,  job creation scheme.

According to a media statement issued late on 5 May 2010,

“QHI Installations Pty Ltd has been charged with breaching section 30 of the Electrical Safety Act 2002 for allegedly failing to conduct its business or undertaking in a way that was electrically safe. Continue reading “First prosecution announced over insulation-related deaths”

Inter-related issues of workplace bullying

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Most of the workplace bullying attention in Australia in recent years has focussed on the white-collar industries and the relationship to stress, workload, harassment and policies for respect.   A case reported in the The Age newspaper on 29 April 2010 about bullying in a door frame company is reflective of apprentice bullying cases of over a decade ago but also illustrates the potential complexity of this workplace hazard. Continue reading “Inter-related issues of workplace bullying”

Two farmers dead and two injured from contacting overhead electricity cables

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On 16 March 2010, two farmers outside Rainbow in Victoria were killed when the windmill they were moving touched live overhead electricity cables.  According to preliminary reports from the emergency ambulance service, two work colleagues went to the rescue and were injured themselves.

A video report is available HERE.

According to media information from WorkSafe Victoria:

“A father and son died this morning while moving a 25-foot metal windmill which came into contact with a 12,500 volt power line.

The incident occurred while moving a 25 foot metal windmill was being moved using a tractor with a forklift attachment on it.” Continue reading “Two farmers dead and two injured from contacting overhead electricity cables”

OHS due diligence and safety management

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In the February 2010 newsletter for Australian law firm, DLAPhillips Fox, Andrew Ball and Donna Trembath wrote about one of the important elements of the model Work, Health & Safety Act – due diligence.   We look at how SafetyAtWorkBlog and other OHS information services can support due diligence on OHS matters.

Ball and Trembath list 6 elements in the definition of due diligence (in bold):

Acquire and have up to date knowledge of work OHS matters.

This first element is where business and OHS information sources are going to be crucial supporters.  OHS law in Australia has always supported the need for companies and safety professionals to maintain a current state of knowledge.  There have always been newsletters on OHS issues but it is very easy to fall into a habit of reading only the information that will assist one in their job rather than getting information that relates to safety throughout a workplace.  The use of Health & Safety representatives or OHS Committees can be important in maintaining a “corporate” state of knowledge.  Delegation of reading information can be very useful and HSRs and OHS Committees are probably the most neglected preventative tools in the safety professionals toolbox. Continue reading “OHS due diligence and safety management”

A discussion on ethics and OHS decision making

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In 2004, I was asked to make an OHS-themed presentation to a group of paramedic students on ethics and from a small business perspective.  Some of the information may have dated slightly but I post this to stimulate discussion.  Below is an edited version of that 2004 oral presentation:

Quite often, when we have an ethical dilemma, “should I do this or should I do that?” we often go away somewhere to think.  In the short term, you “sleep on it” and when you wake you may have a solution or, at least, a different perspective on the problem.  Often we try to clarify our perspective.  I don’t know many people whose job it is to develop ethical statements or programs who sit at a table and talk about ethics.  More often, we go away and think about the issue and then come back and discuss, compare and refine our problem.  We frequently do this with our colleagues and by using our social network.

For an example, recently a colleague asked for me to sign off on a safety manual for some Australian contractors who are installing equipment for an American company in Australia.  It is one thing to deal with companies in your native country but dealing with overseas companies is very different.  With local companies you can solve problems by meeting with the Manager or CEO but when it is an American company, from such a litigious society, how should a small business proceed?  Should I accept the contract?  Is the risk worth the money?  I am not sure. Continue reading “A discussion on ethics and OHS decision making”