Level crossing investigation reports

The Victorian Auditor-General is conducting an investigation into the “management of safety risks at level crossings”.  Victoria’s Coroner is also investigating several, of the many, deaths at level crossings.

According to the Auditor-General’s website the level crossing report will be tabled in Parliament next month.  It is understood that the three nominated level crossing hearings of the Victorian Coroner will commence sometime in 2010. Continue reading “Level crossing investigation reports”

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”

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”

Inadequate support under a vehicle costs one life and £90,000

Newspapers regularly report of home mechanics being trapped or killed while working under their cars and the jack slips.  This type of event is less likely in workplaces because workshops have hoists or pits  where work can be undertaken under a fairly stable vehicle.  However not all vehicle repair happens in a workshop.

On 26 January 2010 a judge in the Old Bailey in England fined a vehicle maintenance company, Aviance UK Ltd, £90,000 over the death of Mohammed Taj in March 2008 after being crushed under a baggage tug at Heathrow Airport. Continue reading “Inadequate support under a vehicle costs one life and £90,000”

Comcare comments on quad bike advisory

Considerable discussion has resulted in the quad-bike safety fraternity following the blog article about Comcare’s safety alert on 22 January 2010.  Below is an official comment on the article.

“Comcare is aware that a number of organisations in the Federal jurisdiction use quad bikes and are concerned some may be using them inappropriately without necessarily understanding the risks. Continue reading “Comcare comments on quad bike advisory”

Australia’s Comcare issues safety alert on quad bikes

On 22 January 2010 Comcare issued a safety alert concerning the use of quad bikes (available on the Comcare website from 25 January 2010):

“Employers who own and operate quad bikes should be aware of the hazards and potential safety risks.

Following some recent accidents while operating quad bikes, a draft Code of Practice is currently being developed by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries and Distributors [FCAI] relating to the ‘Use of All Terrain Vehicles in the Workplace’.

Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities (HWSA) has also formed a working party comprising of OHS Regulators and industry representatives to look at strategies to improve quad bike safety. Continue reading “Australia’s Comcare issues safety alert on quad bikes”

Something fishy in Tasmania’s abalone industry

Recently, SafetyAtWorkBlog received a long anonymous email concerning the death of David Colson, Tasmanian abalone diver who drowned in October 2007.  The Coroner completed his inquest into the death and released his investigation findings in early January 2010.  An earlier blog article on the findings can be found here

The correspondent pointed out that Allen Hansen, founder and managing director of Tasmanian Seafoods, the company that was to receive the abalone harvested by David Colson and Tony Burton, and a director the Tasmanian Abalone Council for an Export Award.  The award was in fact an Export Leadership Award.

There is no indication that workplace safety is a criteria in the awarding of the Export Leadership Awards.  The Award website describes Hansen as

“…truly an industry ‘builder’ and has made an outstanding contribution to developing the premier image of Tasmanian abalone.”

Attitudes to OHS in the abalone industry

The Coroner found that Allen Hansen’s company, Tasmanian Seafoods, did not have any procedures in place for when a boat did not return on time. Continue reading “Something fishy in Tasmania’s abalone industry”

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”

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”