An example of how safety can be misperceived as expensive

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Today I received an email that had the intriguing heading of:

“Do you fully understand what the harmonisation laws mean to your organisation?”

As I don’t “fully understand” harmonisation and spammers don’t usually use OHS as a spam tool, I opened the email.  It was a promotion for an upcoming conference called Supply Chain and Logistics Safety 2012.  The harmonisation of Australia’s OHS was not in the title but was mentioned in the email body.

“Although some states appear to be delaying their timeline for harmonisation implementation, businesses in reality can’t afford to wait. You will not only need to meet the regulation, but devise strategies to prevent your bottom line being impacted.”

No one wants an impacted bottom line (there’s a cream for that) and my unease increased by the writer implying that the two major issues of OHS harmonisation was to comply – “to meet the regulation” – and to protect profits.   Continue reading “An example of how safety can be misperceived as expensive”

Weekly Times sets the tone for quad bike safety research

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The Weekly Times newspaper continues to report on the changing attitudes to quad bike safety in Australia.  In its 19 October 2011 edition it featured an article that for the first time in the Australian print media questions the US research statistics on quad bike safety on which motorcycle manufacturers have been relying for many years.

The research by Dynamic Research, predominantly undertaken by John Zellner, has been questioned before but the appearance of such an article in the mainstream, albeit rural, press indicates a degree of research maturity in this area in Australia.  It also indicates the possibilities presented by the internet and social media for promoting change and questioning important matters that do not usually garner mainstream attention. Continue reading “Weekly Times sets the tone for quad bike safety research”

New WHS Regulations present a challenge to quad bike manufacturers

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In late 2009, SafetyAtWorkBlog discussed the relevance of plant safety regulations and the hierarchy of controls to quad bikes.

“The Hierarchy of Controls has some questionable OHS applications to psychosocial hazards but it applies very well to “traditional” hazards, those involving plant.  The Hierarchy also emphasizes that the first step in any hazard control is to consider whether the hazard can be eliminated.  But what happens when the designers of equipment and plant know that a design can be made safer but do nothing to improve it?”

Several of the 662 pages in Australia’s new Model Work Health and Safety Regulations due to be officially released on 26 September 2011 mention plant safety and the hierarchy of controls.

Section 214 – “Powered mobile plant – general control of risk” states

“The person with management or control of powered mobile plant at a workplace must in accordance with Part 3.1 [Managing Risks of Health and Safety], manage risks to health and safety associated with the following:

(a) the plant overturning; Continue reading “New WHS Regulations present a challenge to quad bike manufacturers”

Helmet debate misses the point of safe design

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Workplace safety is rarely simple or easy.  It has become a standard recommendation in Australia recently for quad bike riders to wear helmets.  Quad bike manufacturers recommend the wearing of helmets and some OHS regulators are making it mandatory but this should not be the end of the safety discussion.  The Weekly Times newspaper on 21 September 2011 describes the current arguments occurring over the type of helmet to be worn.

It is common for workplaces to experience disputes or discussions over personal protective equipment (PPE).  These discussions are necessary to ensure that the best, the most suitable, PPE is used to control a hazard.  Sometimes safety eyewear can be heat-resistant sunglasses, sometimes this should be goggles.  Sometime head protection comes from a hard hat, sometime from a bump cap.  PPE should never generate new hazards when trying to control another.

The current discussion indicates has arisen over the wearing of motorcycle-style helmets while following a herd of dairy cows during an Australian summer.  Dairy farmers say that the wearing of helmets in these conditions is absurd and farmers will choose to ride quad bikes un-helmeted instead. Continue reading “Helmet debate misses the point of safe design”

Where is the evidence for the safety benefits of high visibility clothing?

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Recently a local council in Australia suggested that bicycle riders should be required to wear high visibility jackets.  Bicycle Victoria was not impressed:

Bicycle Victoria spokesman Garry Brennan slammed the idea.

“Unfortunately there is no evidence that so-called ‘high-visibility clothing’ is of any benefit to bike riders,” Mr Brennan said. “Whether the rider is dressed in bright fluoro or black, or is stark naked, matters little when drivers are not paying attention.  The good news is that as more bikes crowd the roads, most drivers are paying more attention.”

In another article Brennan said

“It’s redundant and potentially misleading,” Mr Brennan … said.  He said high-visibility clothing would give cyclists a false sense of security.  “All it does is make you feel more visible,” he said.”

High visibility clothing is an established element of personal protective clothing on construction sites and in the transport industry.  It was introduced as a way of increasing the visibility of workers where traffic on- and off-site interacts with pedestrians.  A UK article by BrightKidz summarises the logic on high visibility clothing but is there any evidence that bright clothing reduces serious contact between pedestrians and traffic? Continue reading “Where is the evidence for the safety benefits of high visibility clothing?”