Forklift incident leads to amputated foot and $60,000 fine

All workplace incidents result from a combination of actions and circumstances that come together at a specific point in time that can result in injury or damage.  WorkSafe Victoria reported on 17 February 2010 about a company that was successfully prosecuted, and fined $A60,000, after a worker had his foot crushed under a forklift.  The worker’s foot was later amputated.

Below is a summary of the incident taken from a WorkSafe media release (not yet available online):

“A Kilsyth company was convicted and fined $60,000 on Monday after a forklift driven by a 22-year-old man tipped over, crushing his foot which was later amputated.

The worker was not licensed to drive a forklift – nor was he wearing a seatbelt when the forklift tipped in December 2008. Continue reading “Forklift incident leads to amputated foot and $60,000 fine”

Recent workplace incidents

Below is a quick summary of some workplace incidents that have occured in Australia.  Often these sorts of incidents can be useful in reinforcing safe work practices to employees and clients.

The Metropolitan Ambulance Service in Victoria reports the following work-related incidents

Angle Grinder Blade

“…(a) 55 year old man… told us he’d been working with an angle grinder when the blade snapped off and hit him in the left side of his chest.  The wound to his upper chest was quite deep but thankfully a towel had been used to slow the bleeding before we arrived.” Continue reading “Recent workplace incidents”

Don’t get sidetracked by depression marketing

Over the last couple of months, SafetyAtWorkBlog has written several articles on the psychosocial workplace hazard of depression, stress and anxiety.

Science Friday is a regular feature of the NPR  program, Talk of the Nation in the United States.  Last Friday, it focussed on depression.  Its speakers talked about how the diagnosis of depression has changed over the decades, sometimes to match the range of depression medications available.

Importantly there is a differentiation between depression and mental health. (Psychosocial disorders doesn’t seem to be a term used outside of OHS)  Depression is slowly becoming the collective term for sad, melancholy, unhappy, miserable, anxious……….  It is very important for workplace safety professionals to try to pierce the fug of depression marketing so that one is not distracted into the trap of treating workers for a personal problem rather than preventing the hazard through changing organisational attitudes. Continue reading “Don’t get sidetracked by depression marketing”

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”