Business assessment of OHS

Australia’s Productivity Commission released its draft report into Performance Benchmarking of Australian Business Regulation: Occupational Health and Safety on 27 January 2010.  The 432-page report will take some time to read and digest but below are the general key points of the report

  • “This study compares inter-jurisdictional differences in occupational health and safety (OHS) legislation in 2008-09 and its administration and enforcement and the costs they imposed on business. Such benchmarking provides information which can support current moves to establish a consistent regulatory approach to OHS across all jurisdictions.
  • Generally, OHS performance has been improving. National injury incidence rates have fallen almost 20 per cent between 2002-03 and 2007-08. Continue reading “Business assessment of OHS”

Stress management may be only a chocolate cake away

Safety professionals often struggle to manage stress in their employees and themselves but new research has found links between the consumption of chocolate and a reduction in stress.

The study in the Journal of Proteome Research entitled “Metabolic Effects of Dark Chocolate Consumption on Energy, Gut Microbiota, and Stress-Related Metabolism in Free-Living Subjects” Continue reading “Stress management may be only a chocolate cake away”

Prevention of depression is better than treatment

Depression as an occupational illness is one of the most difficult hazards faced by managers and safety professionals.  Depression is hard to understand and it is often difficult to recognise an employee who suffers from the condition, let alone, figuring out how the workplace may contribute to the illness.

[Mental health issues are going to receive increased attention in Australia following the naming of the Australian of the Year, Professor Patrick McGorry.]

A recent article in Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine reports on a study that looked at “the relationship between antidepressant treatment and productivity costs”. Continue reading “Prevention of depression is better than treatment”

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”

Compliance campaigns not toothless

Regularly Australian OHS authorities announce campaigns in certain regions or for certain industries.   To some extent these campaigns are about raising awareness of OHS issues but the fieldwork by inspectors does have some real benefit for some employers and workers.

Often these campaigns result in scores of improvement notices being issued.  Safety improvements are a major part of this inspectorate activity so, to some extent, the more notices, the better.  But notices aren’t advisories, they are directions that require action. Continue reading “Compliance campaigns not toothless”

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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”

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Prosecution of manufacturer of plant

On 25 January 2010, Jalor Tools P/L was convicted of two breaches of the 1985 version  of Victoria’s OHS Act following the death of Ekaterini Peripetsakis in the week before Christmas in 2006.  Ekaterini was hit in the chest by a piece of the router tool that broke off at very high speed striking killing her.  She was working in her family’s cabinet making business.

Jalor Tools was prosecuted by WorkSafe Victoria because there was no information provided about the maximum permissible operating speed of the router – between 6,000 and 8,000 rpm.   Continue reading “Prosecution of manufacturer of plant”

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”