Dust suppression innovation research

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Many areas of Australia are flooded, sodden or just very wet in the middle of this Southern Hemisphere Summer.  Many workplaces had been expecting to be wetting down worksites and roadways to suppress the dust.  Instead the water carts are garaged due to mud.  But the environmental and occupational hazard of dust remains a hazard.

On 13 January 2010, it was announced that the Australian Coal Association Research Program will provide almost a quarter of a million dollars over two years to research the suppression of dust by synthetic means.  This is a good initiative and one that could benefit many mining and non-mining workplaces but the issue of dust suppression with material other than water has raised environmental and health issues in the past.

Some background to the research report mentioned by Dr Nikki Williams of the NSW Minerals Council in her media release is available from this link to the NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (DECCW).   Continue reading “Dust suppression innovation research”

Another public service bullying guide

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December must be the month for bullying guidances as another workplace bullying guide for employers has been released in Australia, this time by Comcare.

Comcare has changed considerably over the years, particularly with the influx of private companies and organisations under its jurisdiction.  Where previously it’s guidances covered public servants, postal services and the defence forces, it now has member organisations in construction, banking, and transport.  It is this broad membership that creates challenges for Comcare. Continue reading “Another public service bullying guide”

NZ Farmers rep enters quad bike safety debate

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An opinion piece was published in the New Zealand Herald on 12 January 2011 concerning quad bikes.  There are several points raised by Donald Aubrey, vice-president of Federated Farmers and chairman of the Agricultural Health and Safety Council that can be disputed.

“In the hands of the untrained or the over-confident they can be deadly. And quad bike safety is far from being a problem exclusive to the agricultural sector.”

From the outset Aubrey’s position is clear, the problem with quad bike safet is not design-related, it is lack of training and over-confidence.  Training for quad bike riding has existed for many years and injuries continue to occur.  At what point should more effective controls be introduced? Continue reading “NZ Farmers rep enters quad bike safety debate”

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NZ Coroner presses for changes in quad bike safety

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One of New Zealand’s coroners, Ian Smith, has set a safety challenge to the OHS regulatory and quad bike distributors.  In the coronial findings (not available online) into the 2008 death of 21-year-old beekeeper, Jody Santos, Coroner Smith has recommended to the Ministers for Transport and Labour:

“The Court endorses the new educational and enforcement programme being proposed by the Department of Labour, but considers that both Ministries undertake an immediate investigation to consider the mandatory installation of:

(i) The compulsory wearing of helmets when operating ATVs in any circumstances; and

(ii) The installation of a roll bar on all A TVs/quad bikes; and

(iii) The installation of lap belts on all ATVs/quad bikes.”

The Department of Labour (DoL) specifically requested that the Coroner remove the mandatory installation recommendation.   Continue reading “NZ Coroner presses for changes in quad bike safety”

Is capitalism anti-safety? Systemic failures in oil industry

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The Wall Street Journal and other media around the world have reported on systemic failures of the global oil industry and government regulators identified by the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling.  These articles are based on the release of a single chapter, Chapter 4, of the final report due for release on 11 January 2011.

A media release from the Commission includes the following findings from Chapter 4

“The well blew out because a number of separate risk factors, oversights, and outright mistakes combined to overwhelm the safeguards meant to prevent just such an event from happening.  But most of the mistakes and oversights at Macondo can be traced back to a single overarching failure—a failure of management.  Better management by BP, Halliburton, and Transocean would almost certainly have prevented the blowout by improving the ability of individuals involved to identify the risks they faced, and to properly evaluate, communicate, and address them.”

“. . .the Macondo blowout was the product of several individual missteps and oversights by BP, Halliburton, and Transocean, which government regulators lacked the authority, the necessary resources, and the technical expertise to prevent.”

“The blowout was not the product of a series of aberrational decisions made by rogue industry or government officials that could not have been anticipated or expected to occur again. Rather, the root causes are systemic and, absent significant reform in both industry practices and government policies, might well recur.”

“What we. . .know is considerable and significant:

  1. each of the mistakes made on the rig and onshore by industry and government increased the risk of a well blowout;
  2. the cumulative risk that resulted from these decisions and actions was both unreasonably large and avoidable; and
  3. the risk of a catastrophic blowout was ultimately realized on April 20 and several of the mistakes were contributing causes of the blowout.”
The significance of these quotes is that the Commission is critical of an industry and not just a single company.   Continue reading “Is capitalism anti-safety? Systemic failures in oil industry”