The recent tragedy at the Gold Coast's Dreamworld theme park, in which four people lost their lives on the Thunder River Rapids ride, has cast a stark spotlight on health and safety standards not only at Dreamworld, but at theme parks across Australia. Though the full details of the accident have not yet been fully disclosed, the incident has sent shock waves across the resort industry, with many doubting whether Dreamworld can fully recover.
Dreamworld isn't just any run-of-the-mill theme park. It's Australia's biggest, with many of the tallest and fastest rides in the country calling the resort home. During 2014, over 2 million thrill -seekers passed through the gates of sister parks Dreamworld, WhiteWater World and the SkyPoint Climb, with owner Ardent Leisure stating that the combined resorts earned a total of $100.1 million in 2014, an increase of 3.1 per cent from the year previous.
The Dreamworld incident has sent shock waves across the resort industry, with many doubting whether Dreamworld can fully recover.
An nightmare at Dreamworld
You'd be forgiven for thinking that such a profitable, high-profile theme park would have only the highest of safety standards in place. However, it appears that Dreamworld has missed the mark not only on this fatal occasion, but on several others, too.
Speaking to the Guardian Australia, Ben Swan, Queensland secretary of the Australian Workers' Union (AWU) said that there had been multiple concerns raised about the park over the past 18 months, none of which were addressed in any great detail. For example, a complaint lodged way back in October 2012 stated that several of the park's rides desperately needed attention, with rust notably visible and even falling into pools below.
Large leaks, cracks and chips were spotted on slides, with tape used to mask the damage. Perhaps even more alarmingly, Queensland licence stickers could be seen, which would be reassuring were they not out of date. This only raised questions as to when the rides were last professionally inspected.
It appears, then, as though the recent tragedy really was an accident waiting to happen. Indeed, a Brisbane lawyer has told ABC News that she believes that the Thunder River Rapids ride wasn't a freak occurrence. So, what was it?
"Cases like this generally aren't just freak accidents, it's generally a series of events or something has actually gone wrong to result in such a significant catastrophic event," said Alison Barrett.
"If Dreamworld is prosecuted, the highest penalty is up to $3 million for a corporation. So Dreamworld itself, and then the directors themselves can also be held personally liable and face up to five years in jail and other hefty penalties," she warned.
Dreamworld, though, have countered, stating that the ride underwent its mechanical and structural safety engineering inspection just one month ago.
What happens next?
Regardless of who or what was actually to blame for the deaths of four people at Dreamworld, the Queensland government has announced that it is in the process of launching a broad-ranging safety audit of all of the state's theme parks, beginning with Dreamworld itself. Additionally, the government is also preparing to launch a review of all WHS processes in the state.
"This is about protecting visitors to our theme parks and restoring public confidence in Queensland's prime tourism assets ahead of the busy Christmas holiday season," said Queensland Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace. All of Queensland's theme parks are set to be thoroughly inspected before the end of November. Though the true causes of what happened at Dreamworld have yet to be determined, it's sure to shake the industry to its core.
At AlertForce, courses in work health and safety have always been at the very core of our offering. To help prevent terrible tragedies such as the one at Dreamworld, the industry is going to need skilled, trained WHS professionals to ensure such an awful accident never occurs again. With a qualification from AlertForce, you can lend a hand in keeping the general public safe. Be sure to contact our expert team to find out more.
In every professional industry across Australia, quality audits are a vital tool for recording and addressing a broad range of factors. These could include ensuring that all legal responsibilities are adhered to, checking a firm's finances are in order, and confirming that stock take figures are accurate, amongst a raft of other tasks.
Indeed, a quality auditor requires a host of transferable skills needed to get the job done effectively – and to really make a mark on the field, they'll need the right qualifications under their belt. This is where AlertForce comes in: Our Diploma of Quality Auditing is specially designed for those looking to get ahead in this intriguing field. Here's what the course involves, and how it can benefit you.
It doesn't matter in which industry you're aiming to become an auditor, whether it's construction, education, finance or food. The core set of skills you'll need remain the same, which is why with a Diploma of Quality Auditing, you'll be putting yourself at the front of the queue when hunting for a job.
With a Diploma of Quality Auditing, you'll be putting yourself at the front of the queue when hunting for a job.
Auditing isn't just about checking whether or not figures have been entered correctly – the profession delves far deeper than that. With the Diploma of Quality Auditing on your C.V., you'll be qualified in the very latest and greatest auditing methods, analysing current work health and safety standards, risk management and establishing action plans to iron out any problems that arise from the audit result.
You'll learn about the auditing process from start to finish, including how to begin and lead an audit, report on it, and manage any potential risk that could occur. Additionally, you'll discover how to manage people performance, encourage further improvement and how to maximise employee efficiency.
What to expect at AlertForce
When you enrol in the Diploma of Quality Auditing at AlertForce, you'll have the option of either learning on a face-to-face basis over a six-month duration, or logging into a webinar. It's even possible to mix up the two, depending upon your learning preferences. Regardless of which option you choose, your trainer will be sure to catch up with you on a weekly basis to find out how you are getting along. This is done via an online webinar.
Because the Diploma of Quality covers so much ground in its versatility, it's an excellent qualification to hold regardless of your experience. Perhaps you're looking to get your foot in the door within the world of auditing, or maybe you've built up several years of knowledge in the industry and would like to formalise your experience.
Indeed, at AlertForce, we realise that some of our students are at different knowledge and experience levels when they begins their courses, which is why we offer Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).
In short, RPL can allow you to complete the course more quickly, as you can potentially move through topics that you already have a good understanding of at a faster pace. Of course, this is of big benefit to those who already work in the industry and are looking to take the next step up the career ladder, so be sure to find out if you are eligible for RPL before you begin the course.
If you're worried about how you can pay the course fees for the Diploma of Quality Auditing, don't be. As an accredited provider of a VET FEE-HELP approved course, you may be eligible to take advantage of this loan, which can cover the cost of the fee, or a portion of it, depending on how much you want to borrow. Don't let such things as money get in the way of your educational and professional development – once you have your qualification, you won't regret the possibilities and opportunities it grants you.
Be sure to contact the team at AlertForce to find out more about the Diploma of Quality Auditing.
At AlertForce, we believe that money should never become a roadblock between a potential student and their education. Everyone deserves a shot at bettering their C.V. and in turn, their career prospects, which is why we're pleased to offer VET FEE-HELP on a number of our courses. This government initiative is designed to help more people follow and achieve their dreams in education. In this article, we're going to take a look at just what VET FEE-HELP is, whether or not you might be eligible, and a few other frequently asked questions about the scheme.
Just what is VET FEE-HELP?
In simple terms, VET FEE-HELP is a loan designed to help students pay for certain VET (Vocational Education and Training) courses. Unlike a traditional student loan, VET FEE-HELP can only be used to cover the cost of the course. This means that rent, food and other expenses must be paid for by other means.
You can use VET FEE-HELP to cover the entirety of your course fee, or just a portion of it.
However, VET FEE-HELP is still pretty flexible. You can use it to cover the entirety of your course fee, or just a portion of it, if you have a bit of cash stashed away and would prefer that route. Though there are certain limits with regards to how much you can borrow, in the majority of cases, most of the fee will be covered.
Who is eligible for VET FEE-HELP?
Though VET FEE-HELP is not available to everyone, the government has ensured that it's relatively open to most, provided you meet certain criteria. First of all, you must be studying at an approved VET FEE-HELP provider, of which AlertForce is one. You'll also need to be an Australian citizen or hold a New Zealand Special Category Visa that meets long-term residency criteria. If you are in possession of the former, you must enrol in at least one unit of study towards your course, in Australia.
You're also eligible if you hold a permanent humanitarian visa and will be in Australia for the duration of your course. Additionally, you'll need to be studying an approved VET course, and must not have exceeded the FEE-HELP limit.
How much am I allowed to borrow?
As we head in 2017, the VET FEE-HELP limit has been raised by $1,490 to $100,879 for the majority of students, states the government's Study Assist website. You should always bear in mind, though, that this limit counts for a lifetime, and can never be reset or increased by making repayments as with other types of loan. The approved courses at AlertForce cost nowhere near in the six-figure region, so you should find that your VET FEE-HELP loan will easily cover the expense, leaving you to get on with the important stuff – getting that shiny qualification under your belt!
With VET FEE-HELP, your repayments are calculated via the taxation system.
How do I pay back my loan?
Your VET FEE-HELP isn't the same as a loan you'd take out from a bank to buy a new car. With such a loan, you'd be paying back in monthly installments until the debt is settled. With VET FEE-HELP, your repayments are calculated via the taxation system, in that they are automatically deducted from your payslip once your earnings are above the compulsory repayment threshold. For the 2016/17 financial year, that threshold is $54,869, so until you earn more than this, you won't be paying a cent. The amount you repay each month will be determined by what you earn, from a minimum of 4 per cent, to a maximum of 8 per cent.
Which AlertForce courses are VET FEE-HELP approved?
Two of our courses allow students to apply for a VET FEE-HELP loan: the Diploma of Work Health and Safety and the Diploma of Quality Auditing. You can find out more about our policies regarding VET FEE-HELP right here, or get in touch with our team for further guidance.
One of the most popular courses that AlertForce provides is the Diploma of Work Health and Safety. Lasting for a duration of six months, the Diploma of WHS teaches and hones the skills necessary to build a successful career in this important industry. As a broadly recognised, accredited qualification, the Diploma of WHS is a welcome addition to any professional's C.V., so much so that a truncated, five-day version of the course has been devised.
As a broadly recognised, accredited qualification, the Diploma of WHS is a welcome addition to any professional's C.V.
However, we at AlertForce believe that this version of the course offers little value when compared to the six-month rendition, and there are a raft of reasons as to why. In this article, we're going to examine a few of them.
1. It's nigh-on impossible to absorb all the necessary information in just five days
On the full-length version of the course, there are a number of distinct modules that must be studied in order to gain a better understanding of the WHS world. These include managing and investigating WHS hazards, risks and incidents, learning about information systems and other safety measures and initiatives. Additionally, students will also discover how to develop, implement and maintain WHS management systems, amongst a host of other points.
As such, the six-month duration of the course allows enough time for students to take in the wealth of information coming their way, analysing and demonstrating their knowledge as they do so. On the five-day version, we don't believe that students have the necessary time to learn and absorb everything they need to. It's possible that tutors will be skirting over the facts and potentially missing out vital details. This spells bad news for both the students and the working world – if a WHS professional's skills are insufficient, he or she could be placing a lot of people at risk.
2. Registered training organisations should always have students' best interests at heart
In these austere times, we know how financially squeezed many households, businesses and individuals really are. Therefore, it's only natural that students will be looking for the best deal when it comes to their education, and the shorter, intensive version of the Diploma in WHS simply doesn't offer good value. Priced at an average of $1,799, it's three times as expensive as the longer course, without offering a better outcome for the student.
We at AlertForce believe that all RTOs should have a duty of care towards their students, and not be purely financially motivated.
Sure, a student may get their qualification more quickly, but without having enough time to fully grasp the finer concepts of WHS, they'll come out poorer for the experience, both on a financial and educational level. To this end, we at AlertForce believe that all RTOs should have a duty of care towards their students, and not be purely financially motivated.
As a registered training organisation (RTO), AlertForce has always prided itself on delivering the finest possible education for its students, whilst at the same time offering value for money. We want our students to head out into the world of WHS equipped with the tools needed to succeed, and we don't think that the five-day Diploma of WHS will properly prepare them.
3. Though the certificate has the same name, it's not of the same quality
Of course, the Diploma of WHS has the same name regardless of how it is taught. Even so, it's likely that a holder of this qualification will be asked, in an interview, whether they took the long or short version of the course, as this can have a big bearing on a potential employer's thinking. After all, WHS managers have a deep understanding of their industry, and they know what is quality, and what isn't.
Indeed, they are fully aware that the longer version of the Diploma of WHS course offers greater value and better prepares an individual for the world of work than does the shorter one. This puts applicants with the former in a far stronger position than those with the latter, so even if it does take you a little more time, the full version of the Diploma of WHS is by far the better option in the long run.
Managers value what the long course will teach you, and will understand that you've taken the time and effort to study in the greater detail that the extended time period allows. They will be more hesitant to employ a person that studied the five-day course, , knowing that they won't have had the time to study and digest the information properly.
We can fully understand the appeal of the five-day diploma. Your certificate will be in the post within a short few weeks, and you can add it to your C.V. in preparation for that dream position. Certainly, it's time efficient, and must be very tempting for those looking for a quick fix. However, before you apply and hand over your hard-earned cash, remind yourself of this: if the five-day Diploma of WHS isn't valued by the industry, what's the overall point of having it under your belt?
Patience is a virtue, or so the old adage goes. If you have this virtue, your time and effort will be far better spent studying the full-length course, as this will stand you in much better stead when it comes to the rough-and tumble of the job market. Be sure to get in touch with the expert team at AlertForce to find out more about our courses – we look forward to hearing from you.
No matter the industry, dangers in the workplace are always going to exist, especially those where insufficient WHS measures are in place. Even so, it's true that some sectors pose a greater risk than others, and agriculture is near the top of the danger tree, according to a new report published by Safe Work Australia.
Titled 'Work Health and Safety in the Agricultural Industry', the report lends an in-depth insight into injuries, fatalities and workers' compensation across the sector, with several worrying trends indicating that stricter WHS procedures need to be put into place to reverse some of the alarming statistics.
It's perhaps of little surprise that fatality rates in this industry are markedly higher than those recorded across other sectors, what with working at heights, heavy machinery, and uncertain terrain all contributing to the risk factor. Even so, there is some encouraging news – deaths are dwindling when examined over the long term, falling by almost a quarter (24 per cent) since 2003.
Fatality rates in this industry are markedly higher than those recorded across other sectors.
Additionally, the report also reveals that approximately three-quarters of deaths in the agriculture industry (76 per cent) involved vehicles, and around a third (32 per cent) of those who succumbed to fatal injuries were 65 years of age or older.
Such statistics may make for grim reading, but it also shows that there is much work to be done from a WHS perspective in this sector. At AlertForce, we offer a broad range of courses that can equip you with the tools needed to help improve WHS statistics in the agriculture industry. Whether you opt to study for the flagship Certificate IV in WHS, or one of our short courses such as fatigue management, each will lend you a greater insight into how to help prevent accidents and injuries in the workplace, agriculture or otherwise.
A focus on farming
Already, Safe Work Australia is attempting to do something about the damning statistics coming out of the agriculture industry. This October, inspectors from the New South Wales arm of the organisation are set to visit sheep and cattle farms across the state, as part of three-year initiative to improve safety standards in NSW.
Indeed, Safe Work Australia NSW granted some $18 million in safety rebates to farms statewide, and these visits are designed to see how efforts are coming along. Some 300 farmers are set to be surveyed in an effort to gain a better understanding of important safety factors, as well as to gain a snapshot of their ideas when it comes to safety on the farm.
"The visits and surveys are part of our efforts to develop sustainable improvements to safety, injury management, return to work and workers compensation so that rural workplaces are safer and more productive," said SafeWork NSW Executive Director Peter Dunphy.
"Farmers and farm workers have proven that they are well placed to develop work health and safety solutions and we want to learn how the project has helped them, as well as connect them with other products and services that can help them improve safety."
Why the stronger focus on New South Wales? Well, the agricultural industry remains one of NSW's riskiest sectors, with over 1,500 injuries recorded in the three years leading up to July 2010, costing some $41 million in compensation.
It just goes to show how much work there is still to do with regards to WHS not just in NSW, but the country over. Trained, qualified health and safety professionals will continue to be in demand for the foreseeable future, so get in touch with AlertForce today to help further your WHS career.
Some 132 Australian employees have lost their lives at work so far this year, according to SafeWork Australia. Though this is six fewer deaths than at the same time in 2015, any number of preventable deaths is a stark reminder of the need for health and safety precautions in the workplace.
To help prevent accidents and injury in the workplace, health and safety laws are continually being put into place to ensure that Australia's employees can go about their day-to-day tasks with minimal risk. There are a myriad of reasons skilled, experienced health and safety professionals will always be in demand.
Accidents can happen just about anywhere, especially if insufficient WHS measures are in place.
1. There will always be WHS hazards to deal with
It doesn't matter whether it's a construction site, chemical laboratory or staid office: Accidents can happen just about anywhere, especially if insufficient WHS measures are in place. Different types of work present different types of hazards, such as the perils that can come with manual lifting, exposed electrical wires, toxic substances, working from heights and even trailing computer cables.
Indeed, back pain alone – often derived from incorrect sitting posture at a desk, or poor lifting form – is the most commonly recorded workplace injury. It's accountable for AU$4.8 billion in healthcare costs alone, with a quarter of those that suffer from it taking 10 or more days off in sick leave per year.
How can the risk of such injuries be minimised? It's deceptively simple. Systems of prevention are devised by WHS professionals, which helps prevent accidents from occurring in the first place. Stripped to a base level, many accidents in the workplace are preventable, requiring only the expertise, attention and care from a qualified professional to make the work-related arena as safe as possible.
2. It's not only lives you'll be saving
During 2010/11, some 132,570 workers lodged compensation claims against their employer for a work-related injury or illness.
Of course, the core aim of WHS is to prevent injury and death in the workplace, but there are several other factors at play, too. Sound WHS principles in any given company can bolster business efficiency, especially when it comes to staff absence.
A 2014 SafeWork Australia study found that during 2010/11, some 132,570 workers lodged compensation claims against their employer for a work-related injury or illness. That's approximately 13.1 claims per 1,000 employees – compensation money and wages that could have been saved if the proper WHS procedures were in place.
Additionally, the same source states a quarter of serious claims needed the employee to take 12 or more weeks leave from work. Therefore, as well as compensating in the form of of sick pay and the claim itself, further expense would have been required to train another to fill the gap left by an extended absence.
3. The threat of asbestos remains
The scourge of asbestos continues to loom large. Because Australia was one of the highest users of the deadly substance for over 50 years, it still remains in many homes around the country – potentially one-third of them, according to the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency. Therefore, discoveries of long-forgotten asbestos in Australia are common, meaning that there is a permanent need for asbestos awareness in the workplace to combat this constant threat.
Additionally, asbestos still finds its way into the country under the radar via imports from countries where the substance is not banned, meaning that trained assessment and removal professionals will be required for years to come. The battle against asbestos looks set to continue for the foreseeable future, and eradicating the dangerous substance for good is a long term target for Australia – and with trained, knowledgeable people in place, it can be done.
Australia will always have the need for Health and Safety professionals. At AlertForce, we offer a raft of WHS courses for those looking to get ahead in the health and safety industry. Be sure to get in contact with us to find out more.
Despite the many dangers that surround asbestos, it wasn't until the final day of December 2003 that the substance was completely banned in Australia. This means that the deadly mineral still exists in many homes and buildings around the country, so asbestos training remains a vital part of many a professional's repertoire. Due to its versatility and low cost, Australia imported some 1.5 million tonnes of asbestos into the country between 1930 and 1983, and the substance found its way into one third of Aussie houses during that time, according to the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA).
Australia imported some 1.5 million tonnes of asbestos into the country between 1930 and 1983.
Unfortunately, as we know all too well in these enlightened modern times, asbestos is a highly hazardous substance. Those that worked with it on a day-to-day basis were at a serious risk of a range of lung conditions (due to asbestos fibres' persistence, which refers to the amount of time they'll stay in someone's lungs). This prolonged irritation of the lungs can feasibly lead to the development of tumours and an aggressive cancer known as mesothelioma, an illness which has accounted for more than 10,000 Australian deaths since the mid-1980s, states The Mesothelioma Centre.
Why is asbestos still arriving in Australia?
Despite the fact that asbestos is now completely banned in Australia, it continues to be imported into the country, according to the Asbestos Industry Association (AIA), only adding to an already big problem. The AIA stated that asbestos was found in a cement compound which arrived from China, despite the presence of a certificate stating that they were free of the substance:
"Importers are accepting these goods in good faith and they're relying on the documentation from overseas stating these products are asbestos-free," said AIA president Michael Shepherd to the ABC.
"From what we know, customs are checking less than 5 per cent of all products that come into Australia, so it's very difficult to identify which products are coming in and which products do contain asbestos."
An enduring problem
In light of these revelations, the ASEA was granted an extra AU$3.4 million over two years as part of the 2016/17 Budget. Following this, the ASEA stated in its Annual Operational Plan that it would cooperate with a broad range of government arms to monitor the threat of asbestos. That's great news, but because asbestos is completely banned in Australia doesn't mean it is everywhere else. Far from it, in fact.
There is no ban on asbestos in several developed nations, including Russia, India, Canada, the United States and China. It's the latter that is causing the most concern, seeing as China is easily Australia's most lucrative trading partner.
There is no ban on asbestos in several developed nations, including Russia, India, Canada, the United States and China.
Worryingly, in a report produced by KGH Border Service, a company partnered with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, it was implied that imported asbestos is a problem too difficult to effectively police, especially as much of the substance crossing our borders originates in China.
Alarmingly, the report states that even though asbestos has been proven to be danger to public health and safety, it's still a cheap and effective material, suitable for a range of uses.
That may be so, but it's also widely known that asbestos is a lethal substance, responsible for the deaths of thousands. At AlertForce, we don't believe that any substance as deadly as asbestos should ever see the light of day again in Australia. Nevertheless, it's a problem that won't be going away for the foreseeable future, so be sure to get in touch with AlertForce to arrange your asbestos training today.
When it comes to getting ahead in the world of workplace health and safety (WHS), it's no secret that having the relevant, desired qualifications on your CV will stand you in better stead. With a Certificate IV in WHS under your belt, you'll be setting yourself up for an enriching career in the sector, as many who have studied at AlertForce will attest to. To illustrate this point further, we caught up with Yanet Ochoa, a former student of ours who completed the Certificate IV in WHS with flying colours.
As a newcomer to Australia, Yanet was keen to expand on existing skills learned in her native country. She completed her course in mid-2016, choosing the Certificate IV in WHS to formalise her experience via an accredited, recognised certificate. She realised that to get ahead in the industry, it was necessary for her to gain the qualifications that would enable her to get her foot in the proverbial door. Even though Yanet had built up a fair bit of experience in her previous job overseas, she had no formal certificates to prove her worth.
Therefore, a course in WHS was the natural choice for Yanet to take things to the next level, so we were keen to hear her thoughts on how things are going since she finished up. Let's take a look at what she had to say.
Why did you choose to to study for a Certificate IV in WHS?
"At the time I saw the course advertised, I was actively looking for a job. Of course, I wanted to start work straightaway, but most of the roles I found required formal qualifications, which at the time I didn't have. I had worked in health and safety during my previous job, but aside from the experience I had there was no certificate to back me up. WHS has always been of interest to me, and I know that it is of paramount importance in every workplace around Australia today. I figured that with a recognised qualification in WHS, it would make things a lot easier with regards to securing a job."
"I figured that with a recognised qualification in WHS, it would make things a lot easier with regards to securing a job."
Yanet's words just go to show how important it is to gain the qualifications necessary to put yourself at the front of the queue when looking for employment in WHS. In this competitive industry, having as much weight on your CV as possible is a must, and with a Certificate IV in WHS from AlertForce, you're on the right path.
Why did you choose AlertForce as your training provider?
"There are a lot of training providers out there, but you simply must use the better ones. AlertForce is accredited, and has an outstanding reputation within the industry. I did a little more research online, and it was this reputation and accreditation that sold it to me. From my very first day it was excellent – very high standards, and I knew immediately that I had made the right choice."
At AlertForce, we've always strived to provide the very finest in WHS and OHS compliance training. Whether online, face-to-face, or a mixture of the two, when you enrol in an AlertForce course you know that you'll be coming out the other side with a qualification to be proud of. As a registered provider, our courses are meticulously crafted to ensure that students receive a deep knowledge and understanding of the subject matter – as they have done on countless occasions.
How did you find the course?
"The course was excellent – not only did we learn how best create a safe working environment in a range of sectors, we also studied specific legislation, were taught about educational WHS tools and how to work safely on a day-to-day basis."
"The teacher at AlertForce was very, very good. Directly to the point, understanding and very helpful."
"Even though I was pretty busy at the time, I still found that I had enough time to read, learn and study everything that I needed to. I found the course intriguing, and it was especially interesting to find out about Australia's WHS/OHS standards that are already in place. Creative thinking and innovative solutions were also strongly encouraged, because it is so important to spread this knowledge, as there are so many managers, owners and employees out there that just don't know their responsibilities when it comes to WHS. With a Certificate IV in WHS from AlertForce, we're perfectly placed to spread this knowledge."
"The teacher at AlertForce was very, very good. Directly to the point, understanding and very helpful – it made working through the course a whole lot easier."
We deliver the Certificate IV in WHS as a series of five two-day courses over six sessions. Additionally, you'll have a weekly online webinar with your trainer, who'll provide invaluable support and advice. Students have up to one year to complete the course, but this can often be shorter depending upon experience and other factors – how quickly you finish is up to you. The Certificate IV in WHS is often seen as the perfect qualification for people looking to make their mark in WHS, or as an excellent way to formalise your experience if you're already working in it.
Would you say that having the Certificate IV in WHS has improved your career prospects?
"Yes, definitely! When looking for a job, I found a lot, but most of them required a qualification. The Certificate IV in WHS sets you up perfectly for a career in the sector, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to build a career in this industry."
The Certificate IV in WHS is one of AlertForce's most popular courses, meaning that spaces are limited. Get in touch with us to book your spot, as Yanet did, today!
WHS. It’s an acronym that many of us see every day, but few pay attention to – but we should. Workplace health and safety protocols remain a big priority for businesses, schools, hospitals and all manner of facilities the length and breadth of Australia, and it’s easy to see why.
Despite the best efforts of trained WHS professionals, workplace accidents, injuries and other preventable incidents continue to occur in workplaces across Australia. Indeed, Safe Work Australia states that one in 25 Aussie employees were injured at work in 2015, according to its annual Key Work Health and Safety Statistics report. These injuries have occurred in all manner of different industries, with varying degrees of severity, which is why demand for WHS professionals remains high. Let’s take a look at how to land that perfect WHS role, wherever you are in Australia.
The realities of the job market
Of course, ever since the global financial crisis hit in 2008, there have been job shortages all across Australia. The workplace health and safety sector is no different, and we understand that it can seem very difficult to get a career in WHS. Perseverance is key, though, and thinking outside the box when looking for employment can also really help. Keep at it and, with a qualification from AlertForce and a positive, can-do attitude, you’ll set yourself on the right path. It’s important to remember that, even in times of job shortages, there will always be a need for skilled, qualified WHS professionals, so don’t let your head drop.
Whether you choose to learn on a face-to-face or online basis, AlertForce have a broad of WHS courses for you to choose from.
The first step: Get qualified
You wouldn’t prepare a sumptuous meal without the requisite ingredients, nor would you attempt to fix a leaking pipe without the proper tools. The same philosophy applies to getting a job in WHS – it pays to be prepared.
This means laying the initial groundwork before you begin the application process, and there’s no better place to begin than with a qualification from AlertForce. Whether you choose to learn on a face-to-face or online basis, AlertForce have a broad of WHS courses for you to choose from. To really put yourself at the front of the queue, though, you should strongly consider enrolling in the Certificate IV in WHS, Diploma in WHS, or the Diploma in Quality Auditing.
Whichever of these certificates you have safely under your belt, you can rest assured it will put your name near the top of the list when you enter the WHS job market. You’ll enjoy the benefits that come with being taught by experienced industry leaders – each of our students are provided with a mentor to guide them through the finer points of their course, so from beginning to end, you’ll always have someone to turn to.
What’s more, AlertForce can proudly boast a 97 per cent completion rate, and we don’t shy away from going the extra mile. As such, our students not only finish their course, they come out of it the other side bursting with WHS knowledge and eager to start their careers.
Workplace accidents occur every day in Australia – which is why demand for OHS professionals is on the rise.
What are my chances of landing a job?
With a qualification from AlertForce safely in the bank, Australia really is your oyster when it comes to career opportunities in WHS. Things may seem a little difficult right now, but data released by the Australian government states that the job market in this industry is set to expand exponentially over the coming decade. That’s right – some 17 per cent more WHS professionals are projected to be employed in Australia in 2018 than there were in 2013, illustrating just how in demand WHS employees are.
Some 17 per cent more WHS professionals are projected to be employed in Australia in 2018 than there were in 2013, illustrating just how in demand WHS employees are.
The same source states that, as of November 2015, approximately 24,000 people were employed in the industry. This means that there are likely to be positions in every state in Australia, across a broad range of fields, so you’ll be able to pick and choose which industry to specialise in. To get a snapshot of the areas in big demand across Australia, as well as how much you can expect to take home, it is a good idea to browse job vacancies sites where you’ll see positions such as:
- OHS Support Officer – AU$60,000.
- Return to work (RTW) Coordinator – $87,500.
- OHS Consultant – $125,000.
- Compliance Manager – $128,000.
- RTW National Manager – $148,000.
Of course, there are a raft of other WHS jobs that you can get your teeth into. What you choose to do is completely up to you.
An alternative way to the top
There are other pathways into the WHS work arena that differ from the traditional routes. For example, you may have your heart set on a career as a senior asbestos removal specialist. Of course, the money at this level is a lot better than it would be for an entry-level position, but to reach the very top, you have to start somewhere – and that’s often a little further down the ladder. After following a course in asbestos removal, you could well land an entry-level job in this field. Stick with it and, with hard work and dedication, advancement and pay rises are only a matter of time away.
There are many jobs with a big link to WHS that require licensing – for example, operating a forklift, or a role in traffic control. Though these might seem very minor industries, they actually represent a golden opportunity to get your foot in the door of the WHS house. By starting here, you’ll gain a wealth of experience and, as companies much prefer to promote internally, you’re in with a far better shot of working your way up.
State of the nation
In a recent article, we talked about how the building boom in New South Wales was causing WHS professionals to be in great demand. This still rings true today, and as the country’s most populous state with the biggest city, it’s where you’ll find the most job opportunities. Our article on the situation can tell you more, but to really put yourself on the fast-track to a rewarding WHS career, NSW is the place to be.
Data released by the Australian government states that the job market in this industry is set to expand exponentially over the coming decade.
Sadly, the same can’t be said of Queensland. The famous mining state is experiencing something of a downturn at present, meaning that cutbacks are having to be made. This means that any new vacancies are hotly contested, lowering your chances of landing a role. Of course, the mining industry is one that is always going to need WHS professionals, and should it recover, there’s every chance that there will be a big call for such workers in the future.
How can you improve your chances in the current climate?
After the financial crisis of 2008 unemployment rose across Australia, very few industries were unaffected. Even so, the market has been steadily recovering, with the unemployment rate standing at 5.6 per cent as of August 2016, according to Trading Economics. This is the lowest jobless rate since 2013, so things are certainly starting to look up. Though the green shoots of recovery are now apparent, giving yourself the best opportunity of finding work in the current climate is still an absolute priority.
This could mean meticulously tailoring your CV and cover letter for each specific job – there are few things that an employer finds more off-putting than a a blanket application that has obviously been used elsewhere. Additionally, showing your potential employer that you’re serious about your application will also go a very long way in what can be a competitive, selective atmosphere. Unpaid voluntary work in your chosen field, researching your employer and making use of AlertForce’s wealth of industry contacts will all stand you in excellent stead when you submit that application – as will attitude and a keen eye for that hidden gem of a job opportunity.
How to boost your earning potential
We’ve already talked about how having a nationally recognised qualification on your CV can vastly improve your chances of finding employment in the health and safety sector, but did you know that holding formal qualifications can also mean you’ll have more earning power than someone non-certified? To illustrate this, payments analysts PayScale found that safety officers who lacked formal qualifications were rarely paid more than $100,000, but those with the relevant certificates had earning potential of up to $150,000 – that’s a difference not to be sniffed at!
Be sure to get in touch with our friendly, knowledgeable team to get your WHS career off to a flying start!
Any motorist who lives and works in the Sydney area has surely heard of the WestConnex motorway scheme. In short, it's a project that entails widening and extending the M4 Western Motorway, adding a new section to the M5 South Western, and creating a new inner bypass of the Sydney CBD that will join the M4 and M5. Such an ambitious project doesn't come cheap, with the cost looking to hit AU$16.8 billion, and the scheme itself has been labelled as the largest transport project in the city since the Harbour Bridge was built.
However, the cost of the project, as well as a raft of other issues, has seen the WestConnex motorway scheme mired in controversy, and now an alarming new development has come to light – the alleged presence of asbestos in the road base of the new motorway.
A riddled road?
News agencies across the country are reporting that a former employee of Sydney excavation company, Moits, was supplying road base riddled with asbestos for use on the WestConnex project. Of course, such claims are highly serious, and so SafeWork NSW have now got involved. They are currently investigating Moits' practices at the recycling plant, with the end goal of figuring out whether or not WestConnex is being built with contaminated products.
Moits, though, is denying the allegations, stating that it unequivocally does not, and never will recycle anything that contains asbestos. Going forwards, Moits has stated that they will give their full cooperation to regulatory authorities such as SafeWork NSW to show them just how safe their work processes are – and that the wellbeing of the firm's employees is not in doubt. So how did these allegations actually come about?
A serious allegation
The ex-employee in question, Daniel McIntyre, worked for Moits as a weighbridge operator, as well as a quality control trainee, at a rock and dirt recycling plant in western Sydney. Part of the facility's main operations involves taking receipt of demolition waste from Sydney's various building sites, which is then crushed and given a new lease of life as road base.
It was Mr McIntyre's job to lead a team of staff in hunting through piles of rubble to discard anything that could not be put through. His team were allegedly given just 10 minutes to sift through each 30-tonne load – a small timeframe for such an undertaking.
Moits does not have the necessary licensing to receive anything that contains asbestos, but Mr McIntyre states that he and his team would regularly find sections of broken asbestos sheeting – every day, in fact.
"On some days it was quite clean, we'd maybe get four or five pieces, on other days you could have we'd pick out maybe 20 pieces. We had three guys going through roughly 30 tonnes – times five – per hour so there was no way you could pick it all out. It was impossible," said Mr McIntyre to ABC.
"We had three guys going through roughly 30 tonnes – times five – per hour so there was no way you could pick it all out. It was impossible."
A new lease of life
When Mr McIntyre noted that the road base was headed for the WestConnex project, as well as other construction sites all over Sydney, he called for a meeting with his management, and was promptly fired for 'being a troublemaker', he alleges.
"My concerns are that people there are being put at risk. And my concerns are that there is asbestos that's free floating that's being crushed and it's dust and it's being sent out into businesses and homes and other places in Sydney and it poses a potential risk to the public," Mr McIntyre concluded.
Whether or not these claims turn out to be true or not, it just goes to show that asbestos remains a big problem across Australia. Hence, there remains a strong need for asbestos removal professionals the nation over, so be sure to get in touch with the team at AlertForce to gain your formal qualifications.
Without training, professional development is near impossible. At its core, training provides the resources for growth as a modern day worker. Investing in the continued development of your team is an investment in the future of your organisation as a whole. Study after study highlights the benefits of employee development initiatives.
Yet, according to a recent Harvard Business Review study, a lack of proper training initiatives across businesses plays a key role in the current employee retention problem. In a survey of over 1,200 young professionals, with an average age of 30, respondents cited a lack of employee-development efforts as a major reason for leaving a position.
The researchers found a major disconnect between what employees wanted in terms of training initiatives and what their employers offered. While on-the-job development was highly available, there was a reported lack of formal development – including industry-based training.
Perhaps the most important finding here is just how bad these young professionals want training. They crave the opportunity to develop professionally within their given field. When you pair this desire with the considerable organisational benefits of investing in employee training – the case for professional development within your business becomes crystal clear. Let's take a closer look at why training investments are worth your while:
1. Training drives engagement
Across industries and continents, there exists a considerable problem with employee engagement. Gallup's State of the Global Workplace report found that only 13 per cent of employees across the world are engaged in their current position.
Learning and professional development opportunities are the key to driving engagement.
When staff members are better engaged, the organisation as a whole reaps the benefits. According to Gallup, organisations leading the charge in employee engagement also performed 22 per cent better in terms of profitability and 21 per cent higher in productivity compared to businesses with low engagement levels.
So, where does training fall in the engagement equation? In an interview with CIO, Jason Weingarten, CEO of Yello, explained that learning and professional development opportunities are the key to driving engagement, especially with the largest demographic in the workforce today: millennials.
"Millennials are concerned with investing their energy and their time in organisations that will reciprocate," noted Weingarten. "They want to make sure they're growing inside their organisations and that they have a path to continue to do so. The fact that our survey found that salary isn't as key for them wasn't honestly much of a surprise to us; they're more concerned with working well with teams of their friends, making a positive impact on the world and having a promising path to growth is really important."
2. Training improves job satisfaction
Training initiatives go beyond engagement, they can even help improve the overall satisfaction of your team. In a survey of 1,000 working professionals by Bridge, a cloud learning management solutions platform, continuous learning and training opportunities ranked number one on the list of most important factors contributing to overall job satisfaction.
Development opportunities for your employees show them that you are committed to their growth thus increasing levels of overall satisfaction.
"In our survey, the majority of employees say continuous learning was important or very important to their job satisfaction.They cared about their growth and wanted these training opportunities," says Jeff Weber, senior vice president of people and places at Bridge, in an interview with CIO.
"And 53 percent of respondents say they're very likely or likely to leave their job because there are insufficient learning and professional growth opportunities. This is a major message to companies that if you're not sufficiently providing ways for workers to learn and grow."
3. Improve your training, improve your bottom line
At the end of the day, training your team is all about improving your core business functions. Not only does it help with engagement and satisfaction, it ultimately delivers a better experience to your customers. When you have a highly skilled workforce, you have a highly functional company – it's as simple as that.
Supporting employee development begins with investing in training for your team.
Supporting employee development begins with investing in training for your team. In such a fast-paced business world, leaders that fail to dedicate resources to the skill advancement of their employees risk falling behind.
Here at AlertForce we are committed to the professional development of workplace health and safety teams across Australia. We provide our students with comprehensive training with personal mentorship and flexibility. Whether you opt for our face-to-face courses or our online training, you will be provided with personal support from one our experienced AlertForce mentors to help you every step of the way.
Leaders looking to invest in their team are in good hands with AlertForce. With a 97 per cent student completion rate and high levels of student support, we have got your employees covered. To learn more about what AlertForce can offer you, contact one of our reps today!
While LinkedIn may not be viewed as the most glamorous social media site out there, it certainly holds the most value for professionals at every stage of their career.
Whether you are looking to jump start your career in work health and safety or you are trying to build your current professional network, creating a solid LinkedIn profile can be the boost you need to supercharge your health and safety career.
Create a stronger network
LinkedIn's obvious appeal has to do with the opportunity to network. Professionals can search through a database of millions of people with varying positions across industries. This opens up a whole new level of networking potential.
However, independent LinkedIn consultant Victoria Ipri says there should be a limit to which connections you accept. Instead of accepting every pending invitation, be thoughtful in your selection to create a truly strong network.
"You should keep it to people in your industry who you think could be of assistance, and to people you know and have done work with before," explained Ipri.
LinkedIn can be a critical tool to help you keep up with past professional connections.
Maintain and nurture your relationships
The same way Facebook may be used to keep up with old friends or family members that have moved away, LinkedIn can be a critical tool to help you keep up with past professional connections.
Just because you relocated to a new city for a new position doesn't mean you can't leverage the advice or connections of your old boss. Keep in touch with your past colleagues via LinkedIn and maybe they can help you out somewhere down the road.
Find your next new job
LinkedIn truly is a land of professional possibilities. Whether you are actively seeking a new job or not, your LinkedIn profile can open up the door to exciting new opportunities.
According to a 2015 Recruiter Nation survey, 87 per cent of recruiters actively search LinkedIn for new prospects. Keep the door open to new career opportunities by creating a profile.
Show off your skills
For health and safety professionals, LinkedIn can be a great tool for finding exciting new opportunities or gaining a better understanding of what skills are most important in the industry.
Your profile can create a professional portrait for recruiters, with areas on LinkedIn dedicated to special skills, past experience and even professional certifications.
Perhaps one of the best additions to your LinkedIn profile would be a WHS qualification. In an increasingly competitive job market these kinds of certifications can prove your skills to potential new employers.
So, what are you waiting for? Sign up for a course with AlertForce today!
In an increasingly competitive job landscape, more and more professionals are looking to stand out from the crowd. For health and safety professionals, one of the best ways to enhance your workplace marketability is by securing a certification or qualification in your industry.
By taking an online course and validating your skills, and learning some new ones along the way, you can not only solidify your spot in your current position but open up opportunities for future career advancements – including a bigger paycheck.
Crunching the numbers
According to a 2015 survey conducted by a variety of US organisations including the the Board of Certified Safety Professionals, workers with certifications in safety earned nearly $22,000 USD more than those without certifications. For health and safety professionals, certifications accounted for an increased salary of over $30,000 USD.
"The results from this industry survey highlight the positive impact that having a license or credential can have on an individuals' professional development and overall compensation," said American Industrial Hygiene Association Executive Director, Peter J. O'Neil.
Though these numbers are from a US study, Australian health and safety professionals follow a similar trend, with certifications generally being associated with higher positions and higher paychecks
PayScale, the world's largest database for professional salaries, shows an uncertified safety officer's reaching a maximum of $91,699 whereas a certified safety professional can see salaries as high as $150,000.
Looking beyond the numbers: The value of online certifications
While the promise of a higher salary is certainly enticing, the benefits go beyond the paycheck. And when professionals choose to seek out these qualifications through an online medium, the ease of completion makes getting certified even more enticing.
Let's take a look at a few reasons why an online WHS qualification just makes sense.
The benefits of a WHS certification go beyond the paycheck.
1. Cost and time conscious: As a professional, your time is most likely stretched thin. Online certification provides thorough training in a way that is mindful not only to your busy schedule but also your wallet, explained Huffington Post contributor Tomas Laurinavicius.
2. Validation of skills: Certifications provide a recognised validation of your skills. While you may have experience to back the claims on your CV, a certification or qualification course can help prove to employers that you have a specific set of skills which have been tested by clear industry standards.
3. Innate proof of ambition: A professional that seeks out qualifications or certifications in their field exudes an admirable sense of ambition. Getting a certifications proves you are serious about your career path and are willing to the onus to advance your knowledge. This translates impressively to employers and peers in the professional environment.
Health and safety professionals with the relevant qualifications can enjoy increased employed recognition, a flexible learning environment and a gratifying validation of skills.
You'd be hard-pressed to find reasons a qualification wouldn't make sense for your professional advancement.
Getting a qualification with AlertForce
Online courses are a great tool for professionals, yet you shouldn't just pick any provider. In order to reap the full value of online qualifications you need more than just a static course. AlertForce prides itself on providing all its students with a mentor to help see them through the duration of their learning experience.
With a 97 per cent completion rate, we help ensure our clients not only finish their course but get the most they can from the materials. To get started on your qualification today, sign up for one of the many AlertForce courses today!
The landscape for Health and Safety professionals continues to be promising. Future employment growth in the WHS field is predicted to be strong over the next five years, according to the Australian Government, and earnings for employees in this industry remain above average.
With demand growing and full-time work offering competitive salaries, now is a great time to invest in either advancing or jump-starting your WHS career with the relevant qualifications. Obtaining a Quality HSR Training Certification or better yet a Diploma of Quality Auditing can help improve your prospects for a promotion or even a starting job.
According to Paul McDonald, senior executive director at recruiting firm Robert Half, organisations across industries appreciate the formal recognition of skill that comes with certifications or qualifications.
"Keeping your skills up to date is vital to career advancement, and acquiring a general or industry-specific certification is one way to do so," explained Mr McDonald. "Employers often support ongoing development because they benefit from well-educated, highly skilled professionals who are current with trends and able to apply what they've learned to business needs."
What jobs are available to qualified WHS professionals?
Many people look to SEEK, the world's largest online employment marketplace, when pursuing new job opportunities. As such, we decided to pinpoint the top 10 job roles advertised on the site for qualified WHS professionals. The entries were as follows:
- Senior Safety Advisor
- WHS Leader
- Injury Management Advisor
- OH&S Officer
- National HSE Manager
- Project Safety Officer
- HSE Advisor
- Safety Systems Officer
- Senior Manager OHS&E
- Executive Director, Health and Safety
This list gives a taste of the spectrum of jobs available to WHS professionals with the relevant credentials. Working in this field allows for mobility across industries as many WHS workers are employed in fields spanning from manufacturing to government services.
While the salaries on SEEK are not always displayed, the range for the above jobs spans from $50,000 to nearly $300,000 annually – showing the true potential for earnings in the field. Whether you are starting off at the beginning of this scale or the middle, qualifications provide professionals with the skills necessary to climb to the top-end of these earnings.
The professional value of WHS qualifications
WHS professionals, as a whole, are generally above average when it comes to securing various educational attainments in their fields.
On average, 38.5 per cent of WHS workers have an advanced diploma, compared to 10.5 per cent across all other occupations. Yet, only 14.8 per cent have Certificate III or IV qualifications. This means there is a serious opportunity for professionals to gain a leg up in their industry by investing in the relevant qualifications.
The underlying message beneath this is that the more qualified you are, the better chances you will have of advancing your career.
For professionals hoping to break into the WHS field, training courses can provide them with the necessary requisites to land an interview and begin their career. For seasoned professionals, upskilling allows for the chance to take on bigger positions at more senior levels with higher salaries as well.
Investing in qualifications really translates to investing in yourself and your professional advancement.
To learn more about a variety of relevant certifications for your WHS professional future, check out what AlertForce has to offer today!
We all have certain goals and aspirations for our careers, but sometimes it’s not always easy for us to find a course or career that suits our needs. One of the most common barriers for people looking to further their education is money. Tertiary qualifications aren’t cheap, and for some people other course or alternative training options are out of their reach.
Thankfully, there is a solution. If you live in NSW and have been putting your health and safety training ambitions on hold, there may be a better way. The state’s Smart and Skilled program offers training subsidies for people around the state based on specific criteria. What does this mean for you? Your training could be fee free!
There are just a few things to keep in mind, including:
- Eligibility – You need to find out if you’re able to make the most of the program, which will depend on traits such as your age and whether or not you’re still at school.
- Course availability – Is the course you’re interested in actually available? Furthermore, will it lead to the career you’ve set your sights on?
- Training provider – Which organisation will actually meet your needs and give you the best start possible?
What makes someone eligible for the Smart and Skilled training program?
Unlike some other programs or courses you may be looking at the eligibility guidelines for, Smart and Skilled training are actually pretty simple. The state government’s website for the initiative even offers a tool you can fill out to get a quick and easy answer. However, before you do that, it’s also worth running through some of the basic requirements so you have an idea of what to expect.
First and foremost, you need to be at least 15 years old and must have left school. If you’re not sure about starting an apprenticeship yet, then a diploma in WHS can be a great way to begin preparing for the workforce.
There’s also a range of conditions concerning your living arrangements. If you live and work in the state, that’s the first step, but you also need to be either an Australian citizen or permanent resident, the holder of a humanitarian visa or even a New Zealand citizen. Since the program isn’t too restrictive on who can and can’t apply, it’s a fairly open and straightforward way to get access to cheap yet also high-quality education.
Better yet, being an apprentice or trainee won’t stop you from applying. If the qualification you have your eye on supports the focus of your apprenticeship, you may be able to secure funding for a supporting course, such as a Certificate IV in Work Health & Safety.
What courses are actually available?
The Smart and Skilled program offers people a range of qualifications to choose from, including courses in work health and safety. The initiative pairs you with a training provider too, ensuring everything is taken care of. Most importantly however, the initiative only offers courses that are integral to the state’s economy and expected to offer tangible job opportunities.
A Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety will get your foot in the door.
These offerings include the Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety, a course that’s perfect whether you’re new to the industry or looking to formalise the experience you’ve gathered so far. If you’re aiming for a career as a WHS professional, this is the course that will get your foot in the door, and it’s essential to take it on through an experienced provider.
To find out more about how AlertForce can set you up for a career in the health and safety industry, get in touch with the team today.
Working at heights training and other OHS programs are vital for reducing the risk of injuries in Australian workplaces. A fall from height can often result in serious injuries, such as paralysis.
Because of the high rates of accidents in local businesses, some of Australia’s most inspiring athletes have signed an alliance to help increase safety awareness.
The Australian Paralympic Committee has partnered with the Safety Institute of Australia in order to deliver targeted messages directly to workers. Paralympians will be travelling the country, sharing their real-life injury experiences with workers.
It is hoped the stories these athletes can share regarding their own struggles and rehabilitation will create a more tangible impact on OHS strategies than traditional training.
Allowing those who have sustained workplace injuries to share their experiences is just one way employers can boost OHS standards. Another is working at heights training from AlertForce.
We all know how important occupational health and safety strategies are in Australian workplaces. In an effort to boost awareness and encourage more businesses to adopt these life-saving practices, Safe Work Australia has launched its preparations for this year's safety month.
Safe Work Australia Month will be held in October this year. The theme for 2014 is Work Safe, Home Safe, which reminds us that our families are the most important reason for OHS standards.
If you want to get involved in safety month this year, you can consider taking part in one of our OHS training programs or signing up to become a safety ambassador in your community.
For more information on the workshops and events scheduled next month, visit SafeWorkAustralia.gov.au.
Asbestos exposure is a very serious problem in Australia, with people in a range of occupations facing potential contact with this deadly material during the course of their employment.
For employers, asbestos awareness and removal training is one of the best methods of mitigating the risk of exposure in the workplace.
To help workers understand the risks, Safe Work Australia – together with Comcare – have released the third annual Australian Mesothelioma Registry report.
According to the report, 575 people were newly diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2013. More than two-fifth of these patients are male, with 80 per cent being over 60 years of age.
Asbestos exposure continues to be a problem in Australia, with 60.9 per cent of workers surveyed by Safe Work Australia having experience possible or probable exposure in 2013.
For more information on asbestos awareness training, talk to AlertForce today.
When dealing with work health and safety in the workplace, it is vital that you understand your obligations as a manager, director or officer.
The recent changes to the Work Health and Safety Act have meant that the company is no longer held primarily responsible for accidents, injuries and fatalities. This responsibility has also been extended to cover business officers and senior managers.
The ACT became the first Australian state to prosecute an individual under these new regulations. In a case involving the electrocution of a dump truck driver in 2012, the ACT Work Safety Commissioner identified a number of failings regarding the company director's responsibilities.
When the proceedings continue in December this year, the company officer is facing a potential $300,000 penalty. This shows just how important it is for directors and managers to understand their obligations, including the provision of relevant OHS training and personal protective equipment.
For more information on these or other OHS stories, check out the articles on our news feed.
August is National Tradies’ Health Month, which means now is the best time to consider the Work Health and Safety risks that face tradespeople in Australia every day.
Working at heights is a common OHS hazard among tradespeople, with many individuals required to climb ladders and enter roof spaces to complete their work in the trades. With around 10 per cent of all work-related injuries caused by a fall from height, it is easy to see how working at heights training can benefit our nation’s tradies.
And this consideration is becoming more important, as the number of tower blocks and apartment buildings being raised across Australia continues to climb. Population growth is driving demand for more space-efficient housing solutions, which is in turn influencing a need for trained construction workers.
When individuals are working above ground on any project, having the right protection in place is key. Without training and fall-arrest systems, employers risk substantial fines or even injuries and fatalities on site.
For more information on these or other OHS stories, check out the articles on our news feed.
Asbestos awareness and removal is a vital consideration in Australia, as products containing the deadly fibres are discovered each day.
The country’s extensive history with asbestos has made this material a serious threat to homeowners and employees in many industries. It is important, therefore, that Australians know what trends and discoveries are affecting buildings and work across the country.
Here are just five recent headlines that shed some light on how asbestos continues to impact on local and international operations.
NSW joins asbestos campaign
As the campaign to remove loose-fill asbestos from home in the ACT continues, the NSW government has come on board, offering free inspections to any home built before 1980 in high-risk areas.
Thus far, NSW has lagged behind the ACT in terms of addressing the “Mr Fluffy” crisis, claiming that the asbestos was safe as long as fibres were undisturbed.
However, as the campaign to demolish affected ACT homes moves forward, NSW Finance Minister Dominic Perrottet announced the state would conduct health assessments in affected homes to make a better informed decision.
“The NSW government is absolutely committed to ensuring the health and safety of all citizens in this state,” Mr Perrottet said in an August 15 statement.
“This commitment stands when it comes to the issue of asbestos.”
Fronting the campaign is the NSW Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities (HACA). This organisation is chaired by WorkCover’s Acting General Manager Work Health and Safety Division Peter Dunphy.
“While the investigation will help determine the extent of properties that may be impacted it is important to remember that the risk of exposure to asbestos in buildings containing loose-fill asbestos is likely to be very low if the asbestos is undisturbed and sealed off,” Mr Dunphy explained.
He added that sprayed asbestos insulation is a “highly hazardous” product, and should not be disturbed by homeowners or workers who have not undertaken asbestos removal training.
“Only qualified tradespeople with training in suitable asbestos control measures can work in any areas identified as containing asbestos.”
Garden mulch asbestos contamination discovered
Many locals purchased garden mulch from the Bundaberg Regional Council rubbish tip. Unfortunately, a resident last month discovered small pieces of asbestos present in the product.
After sending the product away for testing, the tip continued to sell the mulch until the results were returned. This meant that dozens of residents had time to purchase and use the contaminated product.
A spokesperson from the council explained to NewsMail that residents who had bought the mulch were being contacted and offered assistance. The council planned to send a qualified professional to each home to test gardens and undertake any necessary decontamination.
Since the incident, measures have now been put in place to obtain contact details for those purchasing the council’s mulch, as well as improving monitoring of what is being dumped. Asbestos products are not normally allowed in the affected tip site, which means that material has likely been incorrectly disposed of.
Anyone concerned about their garden should contact the Bundaberg Regional Council on 1300 883 699.
Drive for education in Wollongong
The Wollongong City Council has pushed for increased asbestos education for residents. In addition to publishing a list of approved and licenced removalists, the council will also release an asbestos education program.
Developed by the Asbestos Education Committee, these measures will ensure that local residents are aware of their responsibilities regarding asbestos assessment and removal.
“All of the councillors were unanimous in expressing their concerns about the effects of asbestos on people’s health and believed council should and could do more to protect the health of Wollongong residents,” Councillor Jill Merrin told the Illawarra Mercury on August 10.
Unlicensed asbestos removal results in fines around the world
A number of recent court cases have seen unlicensed removalists be landed with heavy fines. While these trials were located overseas, they each demonstrate the serious nature of unauthorised asbestos handling.
In particular, an American man from Woodbridge, New Jersey has been given five years in prison for undertaking unlicensed asbestos removal in schools, homes, churches and pre-school centres.
The man came under investigation after authorities discovered asbestos dust and material had been left in a day care facility he had been charged to clear.
“[He] exhibited tremendous greed and callousness with his unlicensed and unsafe asbestos removal, putting the health of young children at risk so that he could turn a profit,” acting state Attorney General John Hoffman said in a statement.
Another case in the United States has seen a man from Lebanon, Oregon fined more than US$13,000 for allowing an unlicensed individual to undertake an asbestos project on his home.
Issued by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, fines regarding unauthorised asbestos work are handed out regularly to property owners and businesses. This particular fine was followed by a $8,800 penalty issued to a cafe in the same area that engaged the services of an unlicensed contractor.
This shows that it is important not just for removalists to access the appropriate licences, for also for homeowners to ensure they hire the right people to undertake asbestos-related work.
Unlawful demolitions a problem in Rockdale
The unauthorised demolition of a home in Bardwell Park, NSW is just the tip of the iceberg in regards to unlicenced renovations, according to the Rockdale Council.
While the owners of this particular property were given a stop-work order and a clean-up notice, a spokesperson from the council claims there are “dozens and dozens” of homeowners who are working on their homes without approval.
These individuals are not only putting themselves at risk, but also creating hazards for the health of neighbours and workers by potential asbestos contamination.
The home in this particular instance was over 70 years old, which means it is very likely it contained asbestos products, as reported by The Leader on August 15.
A suggestion raised by locals is for approved and assessed demolitions to be given official notices to be displayed prominently on the site. This will help the community identify illegal works, and should boost the number of unauthorised projects the council is informed of and able to stop.
The Rockdale Council has reissued warnings regarding older homes, particularly those that may contain asbestos materials. Residents who are planning renovations or demolition should engage a suitably licenced individual to assess the asbestos risk and, if required, carry out the removal.
Non-compliance with the clean-up notice could result in a fine up to $1 million for a business and $250,000 for an individual.
Want to know more?
Asbestos is a serious issue in Australia. If you would like to know more about this deadly material, check out the other stories on our news feed.
To access asbestos awareness and removal training, get in touch with the AlertForce team today.
Traffic management training is a serious work health and safety consideration for businesses across almost every industry. However, some sectors are more at risk than others, according to recent headlines from around Australia.
In particular, audits of mining companies in Tasmania in recent months have revealed troubling gaps in OHS standards. With safety inspectors overworked and underpaid, concerns have been raised regarding the efficiency of monitoring and controlling hazards.
Mining vehicles often reach immense size and weight, so preventing collisions is vital to reducing the number of fatalities in the industry. Fortunately, this is where comprehensive traffic management training can help.
Another area of significant concern is forklift safety in the manufacturing and warehousing industries. A Perth company was recently fined $30,000 when two untrained employees were injured after a forklift toppled over.
Operating a forklift is a high-risk occupation, so it is important that workers access all the necessary permits and training before jumping behind the wheel.
For more information on these or other OHS stories, check out the articles on our news feed.
Confined spaces can pose many work health and safety risks, due to dangerous atmospheres and limited entry and exit points.
This is why it is important for employers to understand the hazards their workforce could be facing, particularly in relation to accidents, injuries and fatalities in confined spaces.
Unfortunately, a recent case in Victoria has seen an employer fined for a second time regarding a fatal confined spaces incident in 2010.
Originally, the company was fined $80,000 for work health and safety breaches when a worker was overcome by carbon dioxide while moving stock in a confined space. With the right level of confined spaces training, the individual may have been able to identify the hazard and vacate the area before inhaling a fatal dose.
This year, the same company now may have to pay damages to another employee, who suffered anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing the accident.
This incident demonstrates how vital it is to provide employees with a safe working environment in which to complete their duties.
For more information on this or other OHS stories, check out the articles on our news feed.
Those undertaking a traffic management and control training program may be taking the first step towards a career in road construction and surfacing. Creating quality road infrastructure is a massive local industry, worth over $280 billion, according to Roads Australia.
With more than 817,000 kilometres of road network already laid across the country, maintaining the existing roads and building new network connections takes a lot of work. This is why civil contracting roles are always in demand, with more than 70,000 individuals employed in this sector in 2012, the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed.
Unfortunately, this essential industry can pose many risks to employees’ health and safety. When working on or near public roads, there are always traffic hazards present. Vehicles are one of the leading causes of work-related injuries and fatalities, according to Safe Work Australia.
Because of this, working near traffic has been defined as a high-risk activity, under the current Work Health and Safety Act.
As with any high-risk industry, understanding and controlling the hazards is a crucial consideration. Fortunately, with the right level of training and education, workers can easily minimise WHS risks. This is particularly important for traffic controllers – who are required to work directly with both civil and public vehicles.
Understanding the risks
In regards to addressing the risks traffic controllers face, industry authority, the Australian Asphalt Pavement Association (AAPA) has published an article in the most recent Asphalt Review dispatch.
The publication highlighted the importance of workshops and training for traffic controllers, citing a number of issues that may be influencing high injury and accident rates.
There have been a number of incidents that demonstrate the high-risk nature of surfacing work, particularly in regards to traffic managers. AAPA spokesperson Robert Busuttil pointed to one tragic day in November 2010, when two controllers were killed in separate events only hours apart.
On this day, a 45-year-old worker and a 23-year-old man within his first week on the job were both struck and killed by reversing trucks. Both men were employed as traffic controllers at the time of their death.
Following these accidents, the Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities (HWSA) released a report looking into the WHS failings present in the road surfacing sector.
The key concerns identified in the 2012 dispatch included:
- A lack of hazard awareness and induction training to both controllers and the persons responsible for creating Traffic Control Plans (TCPs)
- Failing to update TCPs to specific jobs and locations
- TCPs not inclusive of indirect hazards and how roadwork activities can affect a site
These dangerous issues are causing major hazards, as traffic controllers continue to work with limited knowledge of the risks they face each day. Additionally, managing the public and internal traffic can be difficult when not given an adequate or up-to-date control plan.
Addressing these concerns is a crucial consideration for any person working in or planning to enter the road surfacing industry.
Education is the key
Traffic controllers are a vital part of any civil construction project, with their work protecting the lives of their colleagues and the public. However, it is important that individuals employed in this role do not forget their own safety.
Fortunately, increasing the awareness and understanding of personal and site-wide hazards is simple when the right training and education is in place.
In this regard, the AAPA has developed a new workshop to improve WHS outcomes on civil construction sites. The Road Surfacing Awareness for Traffic Controllers course is aimed at improving the recognition of the hazards associated with related projects.
This important training program will include competencies relevant to:
- Unique risks traffic controllers could experience – such as proximity to hot materials and working on public roads
- Factors that can affect traffic control measures – including the introduction of work-related vehicles
- Identifying issues which may compromise work quality and lead to extended project time and increased exposure to risks
Launched this month, the safety and awareness program is designed to help any worker who may be required to manage a traffic control plan. Additionally, supervisors and those responsible for approving or auditing these schemes can also benefit from the training.
Quality education from the beginning
Prior to undertaking employment in the construction, road surfacing or similar industry, individuals are encouraged to seek all necessary training. Rather than waiting until accidents and near-misses occur, undertaking a traffic control program as a preemptive measure can help mitigate potential risks.
In particular, any person who may be required to work as a traffic controller must access the mandatory traffic and pedestrian management and control training. Under state and federal legislation, all employers have a legal obligation to ensure only competent and adequately trained personnel are appointed as traffic controllers.
However, each state and territory is subject to different regulatory requirements. Understanding the specific courses and training needs in your area can be difficult. This is why it is recommended that you contact a registered training provider who can direct you to the most appropriate course for your needs.
This includes knowing when refresher training is required and which programs are needed prior to any work being undertaken. If you need any more information on traffic management and control programs, or want to access WHS training relevant to your industry, talk to the AlertForce team today.
AlertForce can help you meet your legislative requirements, as well as creating a training program that suits your role and WHS needs.
A recent spate of illegal asbestos dumpings has highlighted the need for more awareness and control over this dangerous material.
On August 12, a large amount of asbestos was discovered strewn along the side of a busy road in North Rocks, NSW. This incident required hours of dedicated work safely contain and remove the material.
Several roads were closed as the clean-up was undertaken, and Council General Manger Dave Walker explained that it was difficult to tell just how much asbestos had been dumped. It appeared likely that the material has been deliberately thrown from the back of a truck, as it was spread across a 300m distance along three separate roads.
The council were taking this incident very seriously, and a full and thorough investigation is now underway. If caught, the individual responsible could face a fine up to $1 million and seven years in prison. Alternatively, if a business is found to be the source of this material, penalties would climb to $5 million.
"Asbestos dumpers are the most inconsiderate and reckless of all illegal rubbish dumpers – they put the long-term health of innocent people at risk," Mr Walker said.
Educating individuals and businesses on safe asbestos removal
While most people should now be aware of the dangers of asbestos material, it seems that many individuals are still practising unsafe dumping and removal. Unfortunately, this is not only putting themselves at risk, but also their families, friends and members of the public.
When an untrained person attempts to remove asbestos from their home or business, it is possible that the deadly fibres could become attached to their clothing, skin or hair. If the individual then heads home without changing their outfit, they are unintentionally exposing everyone they come into contact with to the material.
This means that your family and friends could be inhaling asbestos fibres all because you failed to undertake safe removal procedures. This is just one reason why it is vital that any person who may be required to work with or near asbestos is provided with the necessary asbestos awareness training.
As we head into spring, it is likely that the warmer weather could encourage more homeowners to start DIY projects. Home renovations and amateur construction projects are a hot bed for asbestos exposure, with untrained members of the public unaware of the potential danger.
This is why a number of licensed asbestos removal contractors and disposal facilities across Australia have launched a campaign to spread awareness.
"Exposure to asbestos is very dangerous there are many risks involved in the removal but if people are given the correct procedure to follow and the right equipment to wear there will not be any problem," explained Justin Castelluzzo, part-owner of Adelaide-based waste management company, Metro Waste.
"We tell every person that comes to the yard what's involved in correct asbestos removal and disposal and we still get a number of enquiries each day regarding the process."
While educating the public regarding the danger of asbestos works to a point, it is also vital businesses dedicated to the removal of the deadly material access all the necessary licences and training.
Often, companies and individuals rely on official removalists to undertake the process of containing and disposing of asbestos in the home or worksite. If these organisations are staffed by workers who have not obtained adequate education, permits or licences then significant hazards are likely.
How to become a qualified asbestos removalist
If you are interested in working as a qualified asbestos removalist, or have launched a business with this intention, it is vital that you understand how to access the necessary qualifications and licences.
Under the Work Health and Safety (WHS) regulations, there are two key licences required by those removing asbestos products. Essentially, the Class A licence allows individuals to work with all kinds of asbestos, while the Class B is limited to non-friable material only.
These levels can be obtained by accessing the relevant asbestos removal training through a registered training provider, such as AlertForce.
Other crucial considerations are the asbestos supervisory licence and the assessors qualification. In some cases, asbestos removal projects will require a supervisor to be present at all times, while others may only need a qualified person on standby.
Conducting asbestos assessments with the intention of removal requires a person to hold specialist skills related to identification of hazards and control of air monitoring. Without the relevant Level 5 qualification, individuals should not be employed in this role.
More information on these particular obligations can be found at Safe Work Australia, or through your state's affiliate authority.
To access the necessary asbestos removal training to get yourself started in this career, talk to the AlertForce team today.
Traffic management training is an important consideration not just for employees, but also any members of the public. Vehicles of any size or shape can pose serious risks to people's health and safety, and it is the employer's responsibility to ensure these hazards are mitigated.
When contractors are engaged to carry out high risk tasks, this issue becomes even more vital. A person conducting a business or undertaking cannot safely assume that a contractor will perform the necessary hazard checks. It is therefore up to the employer to ensure the individual has received the necessary training and understands the correct risk management processes.
This was demonstrated recently when a local government council was fined after a bystander was struck and killed by earth-moving equipment on a landscaping site in Stirling, Western Australia.
Failure to keep the public safe
The accident, which occurred in November 2011, involved a contractor who has been hired by the council to undertake landscaping works outside a community centre.
In the same area, a group of individuals were clearing a shed. The contractor had repeatedly told these people to stay clear of the vicinity. Unfortunately, when the landscaping machinery was being reversed up an incline, it struck and killed a man from that group.
The Perth Magistrates Court found that the employer, the City of Stirling, had failed to ensure the contractor had completed risk assessments in the area before performing the work. Additionally, the obligation for an employer to satisfy itself that the contractor was adequately reducing risks was also not met.
Because of this, the Court fined the City of Stirling more than $20,000 in compensation and costs. This decision was reached after much deliberation, with the final order being laid on August 6.
WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch explained that the tragic death of the bystander should serve as a reminder to employers to ensure that safety measures are always in place.
"This is especially important when mobile plant such as bobcats are in use in and around public areas," he said in an August 6 statement.
"The case also provides a reminder that workplace safety is the responsibility of not only the contractor performing the work, but also the organisation that engages the contractor."
As the City of Stirling employed the contractor to carry out the landscaping work, it was then the obligation of the government officer overseeing the project to ensure a job safety assessment (JSA) had been carried out.
"It was not alleged that the City of Stirling's failure to require a JSA caused the man's death, but had the City taken these measures, the risk of harm would have been reduced or eliminated," Mr McCulloch said.
Traffic management in public areas
Traffic management and control is not only to ensure those operating vehicles and mobile machinery follow the rules onsite. This training is also vital for protecting pedestrians and avoiding preventable accidents involving members of the public.
In particular, pedestrian management is a vital component of any traffic control training course. While this is most important for projects undertaken in public areas, it can also be beneficial for on-site work to ensure visitors and bystanders are protected.
When construction, maintenance, landscaping or any other work is being carried out close to where you can reasonable expect members of the public to occupy, it is vital that pedestrian controls are in place.
In the case above, the contractor had allegedly told the bystander to stay clear of the worksite. However, if physical boundaries had been in place, for example, the accident may not have occurred.
The very best solution for preventing traffic-related injuries and fatalities is to keep pedestrians and vehicles physically separated. This can be done by simply installing temporary barriers around workspaces. In the Western Australian case, mobile fencing could have been utilised to clearly mark where the worksite began.
However, in some circumstances this is not always possible. For instance, if the landscaping work required the contractor to move across the entire community centre grounds, it would not be reasonable for the complete area to be fenced-off.
Protecting the public with traffic management training
When physical barriers are not a reasonable solution, there are fortunately other options that can be put in place. In particular, any person operating a work-related vehicle near the public should be provided with traffic management training to ensure they understand the risks to themselves and others.
Another consideration could be to have a stand-by employee checking the area is clear before machinery is moved. In the case outlined above, the accident occurred when the equipment was reversing up an incline. It is possible that the bystander did not see or hear the machinery coming towards him, and was not visible to the operator.
In this case, simply having a spotter standing nearby could have ensured that both the member of the public and the driver were aware of each other.
Alternatively, the driver – knowing that people were nearby – could possibly have chosen to turn the machinery around. By reversing, the contractor potentially cut down his own field of vision and impacted on his ability to identify the risks and stop before the accident occurred.
There are many potential factors that could have resulted in a different outcome. Understanding how these influencers relate to your own undertaking is a crucial consideration. Fortunately, you can find out more information through comprehensive traffic management training.
To improve the safety at your site, get in touch with the AlertForce team to access training for you or your staff today.
New figures from the Queensland Work Health and Safety (WHS) authority show that the number of construction-related complaints has climbed significant over the past year.
This is according to an August 3 article published in The Sunday Mail, which revealed reports concerning safety breaches on local sites climbed to 2,765 for the 2013-14 financial year. In comparison, complaints reached just 2,092 in 2012-13 and 1,764 in 2011-12.
One of the key influencers driving the increased complaints is the growing public awareness of WHS standards. While in the past, the majority of complaints were issued from internal sources, recent years have seen nearby residents and passersby become more widely represented in the figures. According to The Sunday Mail, this could be because the popularity of shows such as The Block and House Rules, which commonly feature segments outlining safety procedures and awareness.
In addition to the rise in complaints issued, a WHS Queensland (WHSQ) representative has reveals that there were 10 workplace fatalities throughout the entire 2013-14 financial year. However, the current statistics show two people have died in work related incidents within a week.
One of the individuals was killed when the trench they were working in collapsed and engulfed them, while the second died after falling six metres on a construction site.
These incidents, and the WHS breaches that result in complaints, are demonstrations of the importance of correct safety procedures in workplaces. When policies are not present or not followed correctly, businesses can be hit with substantial fines or even experience serious accidents.
Making a WHS complaint in Queensland
For any individual who discovers a serious WHS breach, informing the proper authorities is vital for protecting the health and safety of employees and the public.
WHSQ supports this important process by offering an online complaint form as well as a direct phone line for those wishing to make a report. If an individual does not wish to reveal their identity, complaints can be made anonymously. This is important for any contractor or employee who may not feel comfortable reporting on their boss or colleagues.
Once a complaint has been received, WHSQ will review the details and take action depending on the nature of the breach. In many cases, this involves sending a Department of Justice representative to the site in question and ensuring those working in the area are aware of their obligations and best practice policies.
The Department of Justice inspectors issued more than 1,300 improvement notices in Queensland in the 2013-14 financial year. Around 750 projects were forced to halt their work due to non-compliant and high-risk activity.
Although the number of fines was down on previous years, 32 employers still received penalties of between $200 and $3,600 last year. The drop in overall fines issued is largely attributed to the change in philosophy by the Department of Justice. Now, the focus has been placed on working with builders and contractors to boost compliance prior to incidents being reported – rather than responding to accidents.
Addressing the rising complaints
With the number of complaints continuing to climb across Queensland's construction sites, the Office of Fair and Safe Work Queensland has revealed plans for a 2014-17 action plan.
This initiative will target "critical risks/issues related to fatalities" within the construction industry, with a focus on traffic management, falls prevention, site supervising and mentoring of young workers.
Another important factor for employers and workers to consider is asbestos exposure, with issues related to the dangerous fibres making up more than a quarter (28 per cent) of total complaints.
Fortunately, it is not difficult to address these concerns in workplaces and construction sites across Australia. In fact, there are a few simple measures that can be put in place to mitigate the risk of serious WHS breaches and non-compliance.
What can employers do?
When responding to the high number of workplace complaints, employers working in high-risk industries – such as construction – probably already have policies in place to boost safety.
However, in some cases, a basic knowledge of the WHS standards may not be enough to avoid accidents and injuries. In particular, when employees are not continually supervised and reviewed, they could make changes to their work behaviours which fail to meet safety requirements.
This is why it is vital that employers regularly check up on their workers and keep them informed and aware of their changing WHS needs. Additionally, employers, supervisors and site managers should undertake the following standards to ensure that best practices are being followed at all times.
– Know the regulations and requirements
When you want your workers to follow correct WHS policies, it helps to hold a thorough understanding of these practices yourself.
It is therefore important that all leaders and stakeholders access the relevant education that can help boost WHS compliance. This could include contacting your local Work Safe Authority, or undertaking comprehensive WHS training.
– Educate your workers
As well as increasing your own understanding and knowledge, it is vital that you provide all relevant workers with the necessary training to protect themselves and others. By giving employees access to these qualifications, they are more likely to work within industry standards.
While some competencies may be more relevant than others, the construction industry is an area that requires a large number of skills to operate safely. For instance, most workers within the building sector will need some level of working at heights training throughout their career.
This is reflected in the high number of workplace fatalities that are related to falls and working at heights. Once an individual is working two metres off the ground, their risk of serious injury or death increases dramatically. With much in construction work involving roofs and tall structures, this is an important consideration for all industry employers.
– Have all necessary equipment available
In addition to accessing the necessary training and education for you and your workers, it is crucial that the worksite offers all necessary safety equipment and set-ups.
Many WHS complaints involve environmental and situational issues, such as ladders being set on uneven ground or scaffolding placed under live power lines. Additionally, a lack of personal protective equipment is also a common reason for complaint.
For instance, a worker climbing over a roof without a fall-arrest system in place may be grounds for an official WHS complaint. Alternatively, unstable or unsecured scaffolding may also be cause for alarm.
Addressing these issues is easy, when employers invest in the right equipment and environmental reviews. However, knowing which systems would be most beneficial and being able to identify and address potential risks is vital.
With WHS training and reviews, employers can ensure that they and their workers understand these factors – significantly reducing their risk of accidents and injuries.
If you need more information on your WHS training requirements, or how to improve safety on your construction site, get in touch with the AlertForce team today.
Another month has passed with serious asbestos revelations making headlines around the world. Staying up-to-date with asbestos-related news is an important consideration for any employer, as it helps increase awareness of the potential risks you and your employees could be facing.
With this in mind, here are four of the top asbestos-related revelations that dominated the news channels around the world in July.
Telstra terminates NBN asbestos subcontractors
Health and safety has become one of the defining features in the rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN). With various risks and hazards present across the process, companies working on this vital project are encouraged to boost safety wherever possible.
This focus has led to a number of important policies, such as the introduction of mandatory NBN safety and awareness training for individuals working in particular roles.
Recently, major NBN employer Telstra has revoked accreditation of a number of subcontractors and individual workers, according to a July 28 article from The Australian.
"This decision was made after audits showed they were not meeting safety standards we expect for this type of work. These accreditation breaches were not limited to asbestos work, but included other issues such as traffic and pedestrian management," Telstra spokesperson Nicole McKechnie explained.
Last year, the rollout was delayed due to a series of asbestos scares, demonstrating the need for NBN individuals to undertake comprehensive asbestos awareness training.
More schools closed due to asbestos scares
Asbestos exposure is a serious hazard for many workers in Australia. Unfortunately, this risk can also affect people unrelated to their occupation – such as homeowners performing renovations.
Another major asbestos hazard is the historical use of the material in schools built across the country. This means that a significant number of children could be exposed at any time.
It seems that not a month can pass without another school being closed due to asbestos discoveries – and July was no different. In particular, Willetton Senior High School in Western Australia was closed down on July 22 in response to suspected asbestos.
"We've known Willetton is an old school and has been scheduled for major work as part of the rebuilding program," David Axworthy, a spokesperson from the Education Department told ABC Australia.
"The buildings that are to be demolished later in the year are routinely monitored and checked so during that routine inspection they found some broken ceiling tiles and other residue … that contained asbestos."
There are many schools facing potential asbestos risks, according to a 2013 government report, with several institutions in WA listed as needing immediate attention.
New threat in Gaza war
Residents in Gaza are not only facing the persistent threat of mortar shells and rockets. The war-ravaged southern communities are now being exposed to a secondary danger – asbestos.
A recent media report has picked up on the increased risk of asbestos inhalation, due to structures and buildings being destroyed in the fight.
Fortunately, the local councils are working hard to replace any asbestos roofs that may be in the line of fire. However, as shells continue to drop across the communities, the threat is becoming increasingly urgent.
"The problem is mainly with front-line communities, which are most vulnerable to rocket and mortar fire," Council Head Haim Yalin said, according to Middle Eastern news publication Haartz.
"Warehouses and other buildings also have asbestos roofs, but our first priority is to replace the roofs of residential structures."
Mr Yalin revealed that there are around 700 residences with asbestos roofs located along the Gazan perimeter. This means that any initiative to replace the dangerous materials will be a lengthy and consuming endeavour.
Former BHP worker wins asbestos damages case
A landmark case concluded in New South Wales last month, with a former BHP worker awarded more than $2 million in damages.
The ex-employee claimed that he was exposed to asbestos in the early 1980s due to negligence from his employer. The plaintiff is now suffering from terminal mesothelioma as a consequence of inhaling the fibres.
On July 31, the Dust and Diseases Tribunal found BHP guilty of negligence related to work health and safety standards. The Court then decided BHP would have to pay the worker $2.2 million in compensation.
"While today's verdict is a significant victory for Mr Dunning and his family, it does not take away from the fact that he is dealing with an incurable, terminal disease as a result of BHP's negligence," Joanne Wade, asbestos lawyer with Slater & Gordon expressed.
"We are extremely pleased that Mr Dunning can now move on and concentrate on spending his remaining time with his loved ones."
For more information on asbestos in Australia, check out our news feed. Get in touch with the AlertForce team to access a range of vital asbestos training programs.
The National Broadband Network is being steadily rolled out across the country, with more Australian homes connected to the service every week.
As the project continues its campaign, regional workers may soon see job opportunities to land in their area. Overall, construction of the network is expected to employ 18,000 individuals, according to Deloitte.
The project to connect every Australian to fast broadband has started to infiltrate regional towns, with this activity expected to pick up this year. Over the past 12 months, 20,000 premises in remote and regional areas have been connected to the network. But there is still a lot of work to do.
Fortunately, those interested in taking part in the rollout, and working on sites in regional communities, can access the mandatory NBN safety and awareness training online through AlertForce.
For more information on these or other OHS stories, check out the articles on our news feed.
The health, safety and wellbeing of tradespeople in Australia is under the spotlight this month, as industry bodies launch the National Tradies' Health Month.
Throughout August, the Australian Physiotherapy Association – together with work boot manufacturer and supplier Steel Blue – will be supporting initiatives which raise awareness of the hazards in many trade industries. Of particular importance are musculoskeletal health issues, caused by lifting, slips, trips and falls.
"Too many tradies are injured on site every day, 80 per cent of injured workers in Australia are tradies and labourers," Steel Blue General Manager Ross Fitzgerald explained.
"We have been working closely with the Australian Physiotherapy Association to encourage a behaviour change amongst tradies, to make them more aware about the importance of health and safety, at work and home."
Trades can be the most dangerous occupations in Australia, with a vast and complex range of hazards present each time an individual commences work. Because of this, around 10 Victorian tradespeople are badly injured at work each day, according to WorkSafe Victoria. This means that 3,560 tradies sustain an injury that requires workers' compensation each year.
"The number of deaths, injuries and safety breaches prove that everyone – builders, contractors and workers – must do more to make sure workers get home to their families safely every night," WorkSafe Chief Executive Denise Cosgrove said.
According to Safe Work Australia, around 10 in every 100,000 workers claim compensation related to musculoskeletal disorders. Nearly a quarter of all roofers, labourers and plumbers experience back pain, muscle stress and strain from lifting equipment or slips, trips, and falls when handling materials.
"The injuries caused on sites are not always life threatening, but are often painful, costly and result in long periods off work," said Ms Cosgrove.
Unfortunately, when workers require time away from employment, mental health becomes another major issue among tradespeople. Statistics released on the official Tradies' Health website reveal that 18 per cent of injured workers sought mental health services after six months off work. After a year off, that number increased to 30 per cent.
What are the risks to tradies' health?
There are many potential risks to the health and safety of tradespeople in Australia. With these roles often playing a crucial factor in a number of industries, addressing every hazard can be challenging.
To help tradies and employers understand the risks facing tradespeople, here are five of the most common hazards.
- Working at heights
Falls from roofs, ladders, scaffolding and other heights account for around 25 per cent of all workplace fatalities, according to WorkSafe Victoria.
Many trades-related occupations can require an individual to work above the ground. Every time a tradesperson climbs a ladder, they are putting themselves in danger of a serious injury or even death.
Fortunately, simply strategies can be put in place to avoid these accidents. In particular, employers should provide all at-risk individuals with necessary fall-arrest systems and working at heights training.
- Asbestos exposure
When a tradesperson works on a building or structure that was built before 1990, there is a significant risk of being exposed to deadly asbestos fibres.
Each time a worker cuts into a wall, for example, the resulting dust could contain asbestos. If the individual was to then inhale the dust, they would forever be at risk of developing an asbestos-related lung condition.
It is important for all workers who may be working in environments that contain asbestos to access the necessary information and guidance. For instance, older buildings should have a register that indicates the presence of asbestos so workers can avoid dangerous areas.
Additionally, undertaking asbestos awareness training will ensure workers are able to monitor and identify asbestos fibres in any workplace – which is ideal for tradespeople who often move from site to site.
Electricity is a major concern for some tradespeople, as their occupation may involve working directly with wires and other electrical equipment. For others, it is less of a persistent threat but can still pose a risk when working in certain locations.
Any tradesperson who may come into contact with electricity during the undertaking of their duties can follow a few simple practices to ensure their own safety. These include personally checking wires and equipment are not live before handling them and wearing the necessary protective equipment – such as thick gloves and rubber-soled boots.
- Heavy lifting
Musculoskeletal disease is one of the most common injuries reported among tradespeople, with the culprit usually being unsafe lifting procedures.
Back pain and muscle sprains are typical results of incorrect lifting, and these injuries can seriously affect a person's ability to continue physical work. If a tradie was to permanently injure their back, they could lose their entire income due to not being able to complete the tasks they are trained for.
It is therefore crucial that practices are put in place to promote safe lifting techniques, such as warming up and stretching before undertaking any strenuous labour. Whenever possible, physical lifting tasks should be avoided – employees need to understand when a crane, forklift or wheelbarrow is suitable.
Additionally, tradies need to be encouraged to ask for help. Some individuals may believe that asking for help would make them seem weak and unable to perform their job – however, seeking assistance is recommended and demonstrates an admirable knowledge of one's own limits.
- Excessive noise
Tradespeople are often required to use loud equipment and machinery during the undertaking of their duties. For instance, an electrician may need to operate drilling equipment to access the wires in a structure.
Excess noise can also be a risk when operating a heavy vehicle or working close to other construction work. Unfortunately, once you feel pain the damage is already done, so it is important to put preventative measures in place.
Examples of this could be wearing earmuffs or plugs whenever you are using a hand drill or other loud piece of equipment. Noise-related hearing damage is permanent, so don't just put up with excessive sounds – talk to your employer or human resources department about the protection and policies you need.
How can you get involved with National Tradies' Health Month?
There are a number of ways individuals and corporations can take part in National Tradies' Health Month. A variety of events are being held across Australia, raising awareness of the hazards tradespeople face and methods to control these risks. A list of the events can be found on Tradieshealth.com.au.
Alternatively, employers and tradespeople can register to host their own event – as well as access a range of WHS resources to share with staff.
For a more unique and interactive approach to boosting hazard awareness, individuals can play the online game. The Australian Physiotherapy Association and Steel Blue have released this fun and informative game to encourage increased participation in WHS initiatives.
Need more information?
If you need more information regarding occupational health and safety in the trades, or would like to access a relevant training program, get in touch with the AlertForce team today.
If you own and operate a small business in Australia, then it is your responsibility to ensure your employees are provided with a safe working environment.
Work-related injuries and accidents are a serious issue across many industries, with a significant number of fatalities and workers' compensation claims being lodged each week.
According to Safe Work Australia, almost 100 people had died in work-related incidents in 2014 by the end of July. This amounts to nearly one fatality every second day. Reducing this number is an important work health and safety (WHS) consideration for any Australian business owner, as even one preventable death is too many.
Fortunately, SafeWork SA has released a seven step safety guide and checklist for small businesses. By following this plan, employers and owners will more effectively understand and meet their obligations regarding Australian WHS standards.
This action plan includes practical advice on how to improve safety in the workplace, with general information that can apply to a vast range of industries and occupations.
Seven steps to safety
There are many ways an employer can meet their obligations as a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU). Safe Work Australia explains that, as far as is reasonable practical, the primary duty of a PCBU is to ensure the health and safety of workers (and visitors to the workplace) is not put at risk.
In particular, it is vital that business operations and conduct does not create unnecessary hazards. This is why the seven step process is crucial for any persons launching a startup enterprise or running an existing small business.
The guide, released on July 30, encourages employers to work with their workers when addressing potential risks in the workplace. Safety improvements can be implemented more efficiently and effectively if all employees are aware of their responsibilities and requirements.
Prior to commencing the seven step process, PCBUs should compare their current operations with the WHS snapshot. This document helps employers identify where there is room for improvement and which areas should be priorities.
Once this has been completed, the seven step action plan should be put in place.
1. Set up a safe workplace
The very first action you need to take as a small business owner is to ensure the working environment is supportive of WHS standards. This includes investing in quality machinery, mitigating trip hazards and supplying any necessary personal protective equipment.
This step can generally be achieved by engaging a Safe Work representative to review your site. Once the potential hazards have been identified, policies and protection can be enacted to prevent accidents.
Other PCBU responsibilities include installing WHS information sheets and reporting procedures, to ensure workers and visitors are aware of crucial risks and practices. A common example of this is to have evacuation procedures prominently displayed in the workplace, where both employees and the public can find it.
As well as engaging the services of an official representative, employers should involve their workers in the WHS process. In South Australia, this is a legal requirement under the WHS Act (2012).
Your employees often have first-hand knowledge of the potential hazards they face during business conduct, so they can provide valuable insight into your WHS policies.
Consulting with your workers is not only beneficial for you, but will ensure that every worker is aware of the risks in the workplace. This review and discussion should take place whenever business processes and practices change, as any minor adjustments can affect potential WHS hazards – putting uninformed workers at risk.
3. Manage hazards
Once you have identified and addressed the numerous hazards in the workplace, ongoing management policies need to be put in place.
Having procedures in place will ensure that workers continue to follow WHS standards, particularly as regular reviews are made.
4. Train and supervise
Training is one of the most vital factors in improve WHS outcomes, as misinformed and untrained employees can struggle to understand and adequately address their risks.
Your WHS training requirements will vary depending on the industry in which your business operates. However, it is the duty of the employer to know and access the correct courses and programs for their staff.
For instance, any business that involves handling or working near materials that may contain asbestos could benefit from asbestos awareness training.
As well as investing in the required education, employers need to ensure that adequate supervision is provided to monitor new workers and those undertaking unfamiliar tasks. A competent supervisor will ensure that safety policies are being followed and correct procedures are in place.
5. Maintain safety
Once the required training and policies have been integrated into the business, employers need to regularly check that these processes are still being utilised and have remained relevant and effective.
Hazards and operations can evolve throughout the life of a business, which means that original WHS standards may not suffice for future risks. By carrying out regular reviews and maintenance, PCBUs can ensure best practice policies are in action at all times.
6. Keep records
Documenting injuries, incidents and near misses is an important legal requirement for any business. This includes recording any maintenance, inspections and tests you perform.
By keeping this information on file, you can respond when your Safe Work authority requests the reports – which may occur in the event of an accident. This will also make it easier for you to monitor health and safety in the workplace, so you can quickly and efficiently act when potential issues are identified.
7. Monitor and review
As your business grows and evolves, so too could the hazards. It is therefore vital that you regularly review and improve your WHS standards and policies to suit your changing business.
If you need any more information on monitoring WHS in your business, or would like to access the training your staff require, get in touch with the AlertForce team today.
Working at heights training is an important consideration in many industries across Australia, but some sectors are more dangerous than others.
In particular, the high risk forestry industry recently announced plans to continue a partnership designed to improve worker safety and awareness. The New South Wales WorkCover authority has signed an ongoing agreement with the Forestry Corporation to provide training in areas such as working at heights, traffic management and driver safety.
Within the construction sector, high winds kept workers on their toes in Victoria and New South Wales earlier this month. As bad weather swept across the country, various WorkCover bodies issued warnings regarding working at heights and the dangers of structure collapse.
As winter continues to create havoc across Australia, and spring approaches, workers in the southern states in particular need to prepare for ongoing strong winds.
For more information on these or other OHS stories, check out the articles on our news feed.
Mining is one of the most dangerous industries in Australia, with employees at every level facing a range of potential work health and safety (WHS) hazards.
In fact, approximately 3 fatalities occurred per 100,000 workers in 2013. Although this was a great result for the industry, which has seen historical fatality rates reach up to 12.35 deaths per 100,000 employees, it still highlights the dangers present in this sector.
Sustaining WHS standards is therefore a serious consideration for any employer in the resources sector. Unfortunately, mining business owners in Tasmania have their work cut out for them, according to a recent audit conducted by the University of New South Wales' School of Management.
The independent report, commissioned last year and published this month, found that serious deficiencies have led to various safety incidents over recent months. Lead study author, Professor Michael Quilan explained that Tasmania's regulatory framework is "deficient in a number of regards".
"It's imperative critical gaps in existing rules be addressed because most, if not all, are pivotal to preventing fatal accidents," he explained in the audit.
In particular, Professor Quilan investigated the training, presence and pay of safety inspectors across the industry. His findings revealed serious shortfalls in the number of mining-qualified competent persons available on a full-time basis.
The industry stakeholders surveyed by Professor Quilan commonly identified training as an area where improvements are needed. For instance, several interviewees claimed that no inspectors were available who held specific training and knowledge for the unique hazards associated with coal mining.
A lack of succession planning could be the leading cause of this issue, with no adequate training or induction processes in place when staff turnover occurs. Because of this, Professor Quilan urged Tasmanian mining employers to adopt mandatory training requirements, such as the policies currently in place in Queensland and other resource-reliant states.
The benefits of training in the mining industry
There are many reasons why training is a crucial consideration for mining employers, including the vast range of potential hazards each employee faces on every shift.
For instance, due to the complex nature of many mining occupations, a worker could be subject to risks related to confined space, traffic control and machinery entrapment all at one time.
Training individuals to recognise and address these hazards should not only help improve WHS standards, but can also lead to more efficient operations and increased profitability. This is because a decline in safety incidents will reduce the amount of time needed for injury recovery and accident investigations. In turn, this should lead to more time focused on daily operations and business-as-usual endeavours.
Because of the complexities of mining work, knowing what WHS training to access can be a challenge. To help you reach positive safety outcomes in your business, here are just four areas where training and qualifications can be beneficial to miners.
– Traffic management
Whether the mining operations are above or under the ground, traffic management training should be a vital consideration for any employer. This is because the resources industry often relies on large and heavy mobile equipment to move product across sites and through freight channels.
A particular hazard of underground mining is when these vehicles are required to enter the same shafts and confined spaces as pedestrian workers. Operating vehicles in shared tunnels can lead to collisions and crushing if adequate WHS policies are not in place.
Fortunately, traffic management training can help any employee understand the risks and avoid potential accidents. In particular, the use of vehicles in shared spaces – above or below ground – can be controlled to strict safety standards if each individual holds the necessary qualifications.
– Confined spaces
Underground mines can be dangerous environments to work in, due to the risk of poor atmospheric conditions, cave-ins and disorientation. Employers can protect their employees against these risks in a number of ways.
Workers should be provided with comprehensive confined spaces training before entering any area with limited entry points. This competency will ensure that individuals are able to monitor their environment and utilise any necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) if a hazard is present.
For instance, atmospheric testing can help employees identify whether oxygen levels are fluctuating – due to poor ventilation or an unexpected release of gas. If unsafe environmental conditions are detected, workers must be able to safely find, don and operate breathing apparatus and any other relevant PPE.
– Hazardous materials
Some mining situations can require individuals to handle or work alongside hazardous materials. In particular, explosive substances are commonly used in these situations.
Training is an important requirement which must be accessed before workers are given permission to handle such material. Unsafe or misinformed use of these items could lead to serious accidents, such as preventable fires and explosions.
Additionally, radioactive materials are sometimes present in mines – potentially creating significant health risks. Using the right PPE and protective clothing is crucial to avoid necessary exposure to unsafe materials.
– Emergency response
No matter how safe your workers are, accidents can happen. This is why it is vitally important that certain employees are trained and aware of their duties in an emergency.
If an incident was to occur on your site, having qualified workers on staff will ensure that would-be rescuers do not put themselves in danger. This is of particular importance when dealing with confined spaces, where a significant number of fatalities are related to emergency response, rather than business-as-usual operations.
If you would like more information about WHS risks in the mining industry, or want to access the relevant training, contact the AlertForce team today.