Why a workplace accident needn’t destroy your business operations

Unfortunately, workplace accidents occur every day across Australia. These range from the very minor, such as cutting your hand on a protruding nail, right through to the major – a fall from a ladder, or electrocution due to exposed wires. These incidents can occur in any workplace, from agriculture and construction, to manufacturing and mining. Though many workplace accidents can be prevented through proper workplace health and safety training, should something happen, it can have a notable effect on employees.

These incidents can occur in any workplace, from agriculture and construction, to manufacture and mining.

Say that one of your employees incurred a small injury and had to go to an emergency department for treatment. He or she may have to take a few days off work. Your establishment is given the all-clear by investigating authorities, but even so, the remainder of your employees are a little apprehensive to get on with their work. Of course, this is completely understandable – we wouldn't be human if we weren't a little nervous re-entering the scene of an accident, no matter how small. 

The issue, then, lies in helping your employees return to previous levels of productivity, and this is by no means easy. Let's take a look at how you can best support your team through a potentially difficult time, and return things to normal as quickly and efficiently as possible.

What is critical incident stress management? 

One of the most effective ways to deal with the aftermath of an accident or an incident where injury could occur is a technique known as critical incident stress management (CISM). The method is described by Good Therapy as a style of crisis intervention designed to help support people who may have been involved in, or were affected by, traumatic events of any severity. Of course, workplace incidents can affect employees in a variety of different ways, and CISM uses a step-by-step plan to deliver a viable solution to the problem. Though there are several different methods utilised in CISM, there are a few which are highly relevant in the workplace – here are a two of the most applicable.

Talking about a workplace accident  is one of the first steps on the road to recovery.
Talking about a workplace accident is one of the first steps on the road to recovery.

– Defusing

According to the Victorian government's Better Health Channel, 'defusing' is carried out by an employee trained in workplace health and safety immediately after an event has taken place, with the intention of drawing a line under it and lending instant personal support. The key aim of defusing a situation is to stabilise workers, and give them every opportunity to talk over their concerns. This defusing process should happen no more than 12 hours after the incident has taken place. An open dialogue is encouraged, and after defusing has happened, a later debrief can be set up for those that require further care.

– Debriefing

'Debriefing' takes the defusing part of the process to the next level. It would normally take place a few days (up to a week or so) after the incident has taken place. This method takes the form of what initially appears to be a counselling session, though it isn't strictly as such – rather, it's a voluntary discussion designed to put the event in sharp perspective. Therefore, workers can gain a little clarity about just what has gone on, helping them come up with a plan for recovery.

Of course, it is imperative that managers and business owners understand that everybody's mind operates in a unique fashion, That huge, burly, bearded man, seemingly so fearless, could be visibly shaken up and might need an extended amount of time away from the workplace, whereas someone usually timid in demeanour may be keen to get back to work. You never can tell.

In any case, it's important that your staff, especially ones in a position of authority, are fully clued up when it comes to emergency management. At AlertForce, our range of courses can help prepare your employees for any eventuality, so get in touch with us to find out more today. 

3 reasons why WHS professionals should still be concerned about asbestos

Asbestos. The mere mention of it has the power to send a shiver down any WHS professional's spine. For decades, the mineral was used in the construction of houses, office buildings and barns, due to its flexibility, strength, resistance to fire and a whole host of other agreeable factors. Subsequently, asbestos was used everywhere – school roofs, home attics, ships, cement, and even in car brakes. It wasn't until the tail-end of the 20th century that the world began to realise asbestos was a hugely dangerous substance, but a lot of damage had already been done. Asbestos was found to cause scarring of the lungs and a condition known as mesothelioma, an aggressive form of lung cancer.

Today, the use of asbestos is banned in Australia - but its harmful effects remain.
Today, the use of asbestos is banned in Australia – but its harmful effects remain.

Because of the perceived versatility of asbestos, Australia used the harmful mineral by the truckload. According to the Australian government's Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA), some 1.5 million tons of the stuff were imported into the country between 1930 and 1983, and it was extensively mined for in the land Down Under, too. Few countries used more asbestos than we Australians, before it was effectively banned.

Asbestos still presents a very real danger to employees and the general public the length and breadth of the country.

Today, asbestos is all too often dismissed as yesterday's problem, something that doesn't affect us any longer. However, this way of thinking itself is outdated, as asbestos still presents a very real danger to employees and the general public the length and breadth of the country. Let's look at why.

1. Asbestos still exists in buildings across Australia

We've already talked about the extensive use of asbestos in Australia across the 20th century. Therefore, a great number of houses, schools and tower blocks built before the mid-1980s were almost certain to contain at least some level of the stuff, with those built after 1990 less likely to be contaminated. Concerted efforts were made to remove asbestos from as many of Australia's buildings as possible, but even so, it was nigh-on impossible to get rid of it all.

As such, the discovery of asbestos occurs with some regularity in Australia. Forgotten attics, neglected barns, and even some older schools are commonly found to be contaminated, with the ASEA stating that one-third of all Aussie buildings are thought to have been affected. Oftentimes, asbestos will lay undisturbed for years at a time, and is discovered only via accident or in the event of a natural disaster such as a cyclone or bushfire – then it becomes a big problem.  

It wasn't until 2003 that all forms of the mineral were completely banned in this country.

2. Asbestos exists across many different industries

Even though asbestos came under official regulation in the 1970s, it wasn't until 2003 that all forms of the mineral were completely banned in this country. Of course, by then the damage had been largely done. Employees across a whole host of industries were affected, especially those working in construction, carpentry, plumbing and electrical engineering. Indeed, The Mesothelioma Centre found that those working in construction or carpentry are at the biggest risk of asbestos exposure. Harrowingly, one in 10 carpenters born before 1950 are expected to die of asbestos-related cancer, meaning that WHS professionals with proper asbestos training are an absolute must, and remain in strong demand.   

3. It's dangerously dismissed as an old problem

We've already mentioned how short-sighted it is to shrug off asbestos as a problem of the yesteryear, as if it's smallpox. The truth, though, is that asbestos continues to affect people to this very day, and will long into the future. The Mesothelioma Centre states that a staggering 25,000 people will succumb to the condition over the next 40 years, with the disease toll actually rising over time. This shows that asbestos exposure, though perhaps not as widespread as it was in the past, continues to have an effect – especially when new cases of asbestos contamination are discovered almost by the day.  

To find out more about AlertForce's Asbestos Awareness Training, Assessment & Removal courses, be sure to get in touch with our expert team today.

Top 3 reasons investing in training is worth your while

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.

Employees want to work for businesses that invest in their development.
Employees want to work for businesses that invest in their development.

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.

When training is supported, job satisfaction improves.
When training is supported, job satisfaction improves.

"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!

4 ways to strengthen your business’s WHS culture

Having a strong workplace health and safety culture is critical for any successful business. In the past, we've discussed the benefits in terms of brand value, financial savings and overall liability protection.

But what steps can you take to ensure your organisation is truly committed to WHS practices? Let's take a look at a few key ways leaders can initiate a stronger work health and safety culture in their business.

1. Understand the expectations

For leaders, the first step to optimal WHS conditions involves gaining a complete understanding of what is required by them by law. In Australia, WHS legislation mandates that all employers provide: 

  • safe premises
  • safe machinery and materials
  • safe systems of work
  • information, instruction, training and supervision
  • a suitable working environment and facilities
  • insurance and workers compensation for your employees

While the intricacies of legal obligations vary from business to business, these are the general standards for most operating organisations. Leaders should be mindful of these criteria when creating WHS policies.

2. Assess your current state

Once leaders have studied the requirements for workplace health and safety, it is time to take stock of where their organisation stands. Are you succeeding in some areas and failing in others?

Conduct a thorough inspection of your workplace and take note of what needs improvement. Get your employees involved by asking them what they think needs to change in terms of WHS. A qualified health and safety professional should be involved in this assessment, as they are better equipped to identify hazards or problems in your current environment.

Conduct a thorough assessment of your workplace to determine any safety problems.
Conduct a thorough assessment of your workplace to determine any safety problems.

3. Create a plan

Every organisation should have a clearly defined safety policy in place. If you don't already have one, it is time to create one. If you do, there is always room for improvement. Take what you learned from your workplace assessment and address the pitfalls in your policy.

Make sure this document is readily available to your entire team. A plan that isn't thoroughly communicated is useless so make sure everyone is aware of policy changes and updates.

Every organisation should have a clearly defined safety policy in place.

4. Invest in your team

Arguably the best way to improve your office WHS culture is to invest in your team. AlertForce offers a variety of courses for professionals looking to improve and solidify their WHS skills.

Whether your dedicated WHS officer wants to finally get certified or an ambitious employee wants to take the initiative and begin their journey into WHS, we offer a comprehensive learning environment for all skill levels.

How to use LinkedIn to supercharge your career in health and safety

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.

With LinkedIn global networking is in the palm of your hand.
With LinkedIn global networking is in the palm of your hand.

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!

Top 4 skills you need for a career in health and safety

Whether you’re fresh out of school and looking to start your career path or a little further down the track but need a change of scenery, it’s not always easy to know where to start. Setting your sights on a role in the work, health and safety industry is one thing, but do you actually know what your potential employers will be looking for once you start sending out CVs and turning up for interviews?

Aside from the relevant qualifications, such as Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety (WHS) or better a Diploma of WHS, you’ll need to know what type of skills are most attractive to potential employers and how you can go about building on them as your career grows. To give you a bit context and offer something to set your sights on, we’ve prepared the top four skills that you’ll need to develop to succeed in Australia’s growing health and safety industry.

  • Communication skills – Be able to get your point across through multiple mediums, both in person and on digital platforms.
  • Be patient – Getting everyone’s agreement on new processes or policies will take time.
  • Grow relationships – Try to maintain genuine connections with all members of an organisation.
  • Have an eye for detail – The more you notice, the bigger the difference you’ll make.

1. You need to be able to talk the talk

For a health and safety strategy to be effective, it needs to be one that works to unite all employees under a common cause. In these cases, it would be up to you to as a health and safety officer to communicate the various goals and objectives to your colleagues.

There are many dimensions to communicating well in the workplace.

There are many dimensions to communicating well in any role in the workplace, but many of these take on an even greater importance if you’re responsible for keeping people safe. You need to be aware of how to make yourself heard and understood across the range of mediums used to communicate in modern business. From face-to-face meetings and presentations to emails and instructional booklets, it’s essential that you know how to get a message across both verbally and with the written word.

Interestingly, Skills Australia found that a significant proportion of people around the country still struggle to communicate effectively in the workplace. This is where specific training courses and a concerted effort to improve skills can help you better ready yourself for a high-paying career in health and safety.

2. Patience will get you far

While it’s often described as a virtue rather than a skill, this doesn’t make it any less applicable to the current health and safety landscape. As a health and safety officer, you’ll be in charge of communicating with a range of stakeholders, most of whom will have their own concerns or agendas that you’ll have to take on board.

For example, the people on the factory floor are going to have different demands and motivations in comparison to managers and leaders. Working out these differences and coming to an agreement when rolling out new training regimes or policies will require you to have a combination of effective communication skills and a knack for being patient. It might take time to get things done, but staying patient and ensuring everyone is on board will have a positive effect on the business in the long-term.

3. Build relationships with your colleagues

You can probably see a theme developing here. The four skills you need to succeed as a health and safety professional all build on one another. By increasing your proficiency in one of these five dimensions, you’re naturally getting closer to mastering another as well.

Being able to build and maintain relationships with colleagues of all levels, whether superiors or peers, is dependant on your ability to communicate well and exhibit patience with difficult situations or discussions.

As a health and safety officer, you’re an important conduit between management and the employees charged with getting work done. By having a good relationship with the higher-ups, you’re able to influence and provide feedback on any new initiatives they may be looking to roll out. If you’ve also built meaningful relationships with the rest of the staff, you’ll be a respected and trusted point of contact when they need to air any concerns they may have.

You need much more than the right equipment to make a difference in health and safety.You need much more than the right equipment to make a difference in health and safety.

4. Sweat the small stuff

As a member of an organisation’s health and safety team, everything you do or don’t notice has an impact on the way the business functions and how people do their job. In this respect, it’s actually important to sweat the small stuff. Have an eye for detail, look for things throughout the factory, office or wherever you work that may need a bit of extra attention.

Whether it’s a health and safety related task that’s impacting productivity, or a behaviour that isn’t minimising risk as well as it could, spotting it early is better than dealing with the consequences once it’s too late.

Of course, these four skills are just a few to get you started thinking about what you might need to develop to make a difference in the industry. To learn more, and to ensure your abilities are recognised by future employers, contact the team at AlertForce and find out what our OHS training courses can do for your career development.

3 reasons a WHS qualification just makes sense

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.

Getting the relevant certifications could result in a bigger payoff for WHS professionals.
Getting the relevant certifications could result in a bigger payoff for WHS professionals.

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.

Take the relevant steps to advance your WHS career by seeking out certifications
Take the relevant steps to advance your WHS career by seeking out certifications.

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!

Top 10 Job Roles on SEEK for Qualified Health and Safety Professionals

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."

Securing a diploma in various OHS skills can significantly improve your career prospects.
Securing a diploma in various WHS skills can significantly improve your career prospects.

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:

  1. Senior Safety Advisor
  2. WHS Leader
  3. Injury Management Advisor
  4. OH&S Officer
  5. National HSE Manager
  6. Project Safety Officer
  7. HSE Advisor
  8. Safety Systems Officer
  9. Senior Manager OHS&E
  10. 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. 

Investing in qualifications can set you up on the path to a more fulfilling professional life.
Investing in qualifications can set you up on the path to a more fulfilling professional life.

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!

Understanding the importance of workplace health and safety

Health and safety are two words people tend to take rather seriously – and understandably so. They play a vital role in your well-being and overall quality of life. When it comes to the business world, health and safety protocol should be at the top of any executive priority list. These processes are just as important as sales and marketing to the successes and failures of any company.

Regardless of industry, the possibility of accidents are always present. Some fields of work present more potential than others but the bottom line is that there need to be distinct protocols in place for workplace health and safety. This can be accomplished by investing in certification courses for your current WHS staff members.

Why is WHS important and some basics you need to know?

  1. Understanding and being familiar with Codes of Practice
  2. Safety laws and specifically WHS Law
  3. The WHS Act
  4. What is a business or undertaking? How does the PCBU play a part as the business owner?
  5. How businesses can create safe systems of work and a safe working environment?
  6. Who plays a role in the safety of workers?
  7. What States of Australia foes occupational health and safety still play a role?
  8. Workers compensation and how safety & WHS can reduce premiums?

Need for skilled WHS workers illuminated by high incident rate

The need for skilled WHS professionals is only compounded by the alarming rate of workplace injury across Australia. According to Safe Work Australia’s Key Work Health and Safety Statistics for 2015, 1 in 25 Australians suffered from work-related injuries last year.

These incidents predominantly occurred in the workplace (91 per cent) but notably also took place while travelling on business (4 per cent), when travelling to or from work (2 per cent) and during lunchtime or break activities (2 per cent).

The industries most susceptible to fatalities while on the job were:

  • Transport, postal and warehousing
  • Agriculture, forestry, and fishing
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing

These four industries accounted for just over 70 per cent of all workplace fatalities in 2015.

Health and safety policies are critical to a successful business environment. Health and safety policies are critical to a successful business environment.

The benefits of exceptional WHS

The obvious benefit of outstanding workplace health and safety protocols is the protecting of your employees. When organisations have clearly articulated and well understood WHS processes in place, their staff members are less likely to fall victim to workplace injuries. As a result, your business can be protected from the potential liabilities and costs associated with incidents that occur on-site.

But safety and legal responsibility aren’t the only benefits associated with well-executed WHS processes. They can enhance brand value, improve employee loyalty, decrease business disruptions and promote corporate social responsibility (CSR). Let’s take a closer look at a couple of these benefits:

Enhanced brand value: Branding plays an important role in customer perception. A company that promotes safe workplace conditions is inherently perceived as socially responsible by consumers and potential clientele – a value that increasingly translates to profitability. A study by the Bank of Finland examined the impact of corporate social responsibility on a company’s stock value between 1990-2004.

Organisations that were placed on a list of socially responsible companies saw a market value increase of around 2 per cent. Those who were removed from the list saw their stock value drop by an average of 3 per cent. Companies with exceptional WHS standards and procedures have the potential to not only enhance their brand image but improve profitability as well.

Workplace catastrophes can cause businesses to come to a screeching halt.

Decreased business disruptions: Workplace catastrophes can cause businesses to come to a screeching halt. Whether it be temporarily losing a worker to an injury or having to suspend production processes in light of potential dangers with current protocol, a lack of WHS procedures can cost your business time and money.

Investing in WHS skill advancements

Whether it be preventing costly legal fees or enhancing your overall company image, good WHS policies clearly play a vital role in an organisation’s well-being. As such, it is critical to invest in the development of your health and safety employees.

AlertForce can offer current health and safety professionals with formal qualifications in WHS practises. Our Certificate IV Work Health and Safety course enables employees to become certified by nationally recognised standards.

Our team of dedicated trainers provide a more personal approach to certification by supporting their students via weekly online webinar catch ups. To learn more about how AlertForce can help advance the skill sets of your health and safety staffers, check out the course today!

Useful WHS article links

3 great reasons to consider furthering your career in health and safety

Some of the most important decisions you will ever make concern the career path you find most interesting. What you study in school, and the qualifications you seek once you leave can have a major bearing on your future. As scary as that may sound. it's really anything but.

The idea that your first job out of school or university dictates the rest of your career is out-of-date and irrelevant. Now, it's incredibly common for people to shift not just jobs, but whole careers multiple times throughout their working lives. It's a trend that's mostly applicable to the millennial generation – those born between 1980 and 2000. So, if you're part of this generation and feel like you need to try something new, why not move into the health and safety industry with a diploma in WHS

Why is it now acceptable to change careers?

If you're feeling guilty for wanting to investigate the opportunities in a new industry after just a few years in your current role – don't, you aren't the only one. According to a study from Deloitte, around two-thirds of millennials have expressed a desire to leave their current role by the year 2020.  

Don't feel guilty about wanting to change careers – you aren't alone.

This doesn't mean that two-thirds of this generation hate their jobs, however, but there is a greater focus on ongoing learning and personal development. If a certain job, organisation or industry doesn't provide opportunities for people to grow professionally, they're likely to start looking elsewhere. The same survey also found that this was the second-most cited reason for people exploring new avenues. A slim majority (51 per cent of people) looked for a role that aligns with their desire to grow personally and professionally. 

Measuring the demand for health and safety employees 

Put simply, health and safety professionals are a necessity for most organisations out there. Whether it's one that operates in the mines or a manufacturing business set up in a massive warehouse, they need people who complete WHS courses to guide other employees.

Essentially, these qualifications give you the opportunity to make a real difference within an organisation, from running training sessions to auditing existing processes. Due to how influential these roles are to the running of a business, Hays reported there is significant demand for capable professionals to fill vacancies.

According to the organisation, while the industry as a whole is experiencing a need for these professionals, there are a couple of positions in particular that are in even higher demand. They are: 

  • Health and safety consultants – With some states and territories experiencing legislative changes, organisations are looking for consultants to ensure they react appropriately. 
  • Lead auditors – For health and safety campaigns to work in a business, they need to be built on plans and processes that support worker safety. Auditors have an important role in ensuring these are up to standard. 

These are just two examples of currently in-demand WHS jobs that rely on people with the right qualifications. If you're committed to changing careers, choosing one with certified demand for new people is an important consideration. 

Online courses mean you can study for a new career when it suits you.
Online and face-to-face courses mean you can study for your new career as it suits you.

Join a world-renowned safety culture

The way a country governs its health and safety laws and regulations is important. However, it's likely that you've never thought about the way another country views Australia's commitment to keeping workers safe. While we may take the system for granted, other countries appear to hold it in pretty high esteem. Take our neighbours across the ditch, for example. 

New Zealand recently went through a major restructuring of its health and safety guidelines, with its Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment reporting that the new model was directly based on ours. 

So, if you want a career change that offers in-demand jobs in an industry that is recognised internationally for positive reasons, get in touch with AlertForce today to ensure you get a qualification that will put you on the right track. 

How to ask for pay rise after getting a Work Health and Safety qualification

No one likes talking about wages or salary with their boss. After all, as you work with a company throughout the years, there's no doubt you become more valuable to an organisation. Convincing your boss of this fact, however, is another matter entirely. 

What if we had a solution for you? Instead of relying just on tenure and examples of your hard work, what if you could formalise your experience and value in qualification? With health and safety training leading to a Certificate IV in WHS, for example, there's a way to grow you skill set and legitimise your case for a pay rise.

Essentially, a qualification gives weight to your cause. However, this still doesn't mean the conversation is an easy one. If you're a bit nervous about broaching the subject, don't be, here's what you need to know. 

1. Back your argument up with facts

Whether you're a great salesperson or not, there are a number of ways to add credence to the point you're trying to make. When asking for a pay rise from your boss, simply winging it and hoping for the best is not the answer. 

Can your prove that you're worth a pay rise?

While it's likely your boss knows you're a great employee and offer a positive contribution to the workplace, they'll often need further proof that you're worth further investment from them. It's not necessarily that they don't want to pay you more, but more that you need to provide tangible proof where necessary. 

Instead of simply reminding your boss of times you displayed certain skills or competencies, a diploma in WHS or similar qualification shows that not only have you completed these tasks in the past, but that you have the knowledge to keep performing them and other responsibilities in the future. It's also important proof that you're committed to the role. 

2. Understand the demand for WHS professionals

Competent WHS professionals are integral to the success of organisations across a number of industries. As such, qualified candidates are constantly in demand across the country. As Hays Australia reported, this is especially true for lead auditors. As an auditor, you'd be responsible for managing everything from operational practices to the legislation that concerns your business most. 

By being aware of the high demand for quality auditors, you can make a much stronger case that supports your role in the business. Simply put, you need to know that not only are you valuable to your current place of work, but also that it wouldn't be hard for you to find a similar role either with a competing company or in a whole new industry. 

This doesn't mean, however, that you should walk in and threaten to leave if you don't get your way, as this will only create tension. Talking about money with your employer can be hard enough without adding extra conflict. Instead, simply keep it in the back of your mind so you know how much you're worth to your boss. 

What makes you eligible for a pay rise?
What makes you eligible for a pay rise?

3. Be loyal and work hard 

It sounds self explanatory, but it's often something that many people forget when they're talking to their boss about the future. Your eligibility for an increase in pay depends as much on what you've done in the past as it does on your new qualification. 

Think of a diploma in WHS or other related qualification as the icing on a cake made from hard work and loyalty. You need to have a strong foundation to build your argument on, and then seal the deal with details of your health and safety training qualification. 

To find out more about why these qualifications are so valuable to people and employers, get in touch with our team today. 

NSW building boom will demand more health and safety professionals

For a bustling city of millions like Sydney, infrastructure expansion and development is key to make it inhabitable. As the city and the rest of the state continues to grow, more roads, hospitals and buildings will be necessary to avoid overcrowding and uncomfortable conditions for commuters and workers. 

As developers and contractors rush to profit on the city's potential, it's not just work on the frontline that will be in demand. For the plethora of planned expansions and projects to go ahead smoothly and profitably, it will depend on the actions and planning of health and safety professionals. If you're looking to get the jump on an industry that's about to see a rapid increase in demand, it's worth having a look at what a certificate or diploma in WHS can offer you. 

The sky's the limit in central Sydney

Sydney's CBD is NSW's economic hub, so it's a centre of ongoing expansion and job creation that will see more and more people make their way into the city for both work and leisure activities. With the Australian Bureau of Statistics predicting that Sydney will be the first Australian city to hit a population of 5 million, these projects are now even more important. 

Sydney will be the first Australian city to hit a population of 5 million.

However, CBDs aren't just for business, they're often an important cultural hub too. This is why the Central City Planning Strategy has conditions in place to ensure that any new high rises don't overshadow public spaces like Prince Alfred Park, Harmony Park and the proposed public square by the Town Hall. 

The plan's focus on building up rather than out is where the demand for health and safety professionals will really be evident. Not only are these buildings set to reach new heights, the construction sites will be located on one of the country's busiest cities, so having the right skills for the job will be essential. 

Currently, the height limit for buildings in the CBD is 235 metres, an enforcement that could need to evolve as developers look to build up rather than out. It's suggested that the new limit may be 310 metres – one metre higher than the Sydney Tower. However, any developer wanting to build above a height of 55 metres will need to dedicate half of the space to "office, retail, cultural or other uses", the Sydney Morning Herald reported. 

It's not all about the central city

The focus on major tower developments and high-profile projects in Sydney's CBD will create significant competition in the region. While people who have WHS qualifications will be in demand either way, it's always reassuring to know there are multiple opportunities on the horizon. 

Currently, Western Sydney is the focus of a major plan to upgrade and improve roads in the areas. It's a long-term investment too, expected to cost $3.6 billion and be completed over the course of 10 years. Naturally, as the project expands across the region's roads, capable WHS staff will be essential to keep both workers and the surrounding traffic same. 

Sydney will continue to grow in the coming years.
Sydney will continue to grow in the coming years.

The intended road and highway upgrades will link to yet another major project as well. For the planned airport set to be built at Badgerys Creek to be at its most effective, it will need to be supported by a capable road network that makes it easy for people and freight to get to and from their destination. 

As with the central city projects described above, the billions of dollars worth of projects being rolled out over the next few years will create a sustained need for WHS professionals. Without the right people with the right qualifications, these jobs can't go ahead. 

To find out what you need to make a difference, contact the team at Alertforce today. 

Smart & Skilled: How to get subsidised training in NSW to enhance your career

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.

If you've left school, the Smart and Skilled program could be for you. If you’ve left school, the Smart and Skilled program could be for you.

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.

Mesothelioma in Australia

The use of asbestos products in Australia came to a halt more than a decade ago, but the threat of asbestos exposure — and asbestos-related disease — continues to thrive.

The danger remains real. It’s not going away anytime soon.

An estimated 700 Australians still are dying annually from malignant mesothelioma, the rare and aggressive cancer caused by exposure to toxic asbestos fibers. Twice as many will die each year from asbestos-related lung cancer.

The National Strategic Plan for Asbestos Management and Awareness was a step in the right direction. Its goal is the elimination of all asbestos-related disease, but it will require increased vigilance and many, many more years before that goal is reached.

Australia once had the highest reported per capita rate of mesothelioma in the world. Although it no longer has that distinction, it takes decades to significantly change course with asbestos.

Asbestos was once used in Australia so extensively that it became ubiquitous. The abuse and misuse of the naturally occurring mineral left more than one generation at risk of exposure.

It was once coveted for its versatility, affordability and heat resistant capabilities with almost anything. It was used so extensively with no regard for its long-term toxicity, or the damage it could do.

It still lingers today most everywhere, becoming more dangerous as it ages and becomes more brittle. Experts estimate a third of the homes and commercial structures in Australia — most of those built before 1980 — still contain asbestos products.

Any remodeling, renovation or demolition of those structures sends the asbestos fibers airborne, where they can unknowingly be inhaled or ingested.

Asbestos is in the plumbing and electrical circuits, the walls, floors and ceilings. Although those involved in new construction are not at risk anymore, those same tradesmen working on older structures are very much at risk. Anything that is cut, drilled or punctured releases the microscopic fibers.

The long latency periods (20-50 years) between exposure and diagnosis also means those who worked in various industries many years ago still could be threatened today.

Experts are expecting as many as 25,000 more Australians to die from mesothelioma in the next 40 years, despite the cleanup efforts being made today.

The professions most at risk include:

  • Shipbuilders and ship renovators
  • Military, especially U.S. Navy
  • Construction workers of different trades
  • Factory workers
  • Insulation workers and technicians
  • Railroad workers

Asbestos is no longer mined here. It is no longer imported. Consumption peaked in the 1970’s, although it use remained strong in the manufacturing industry for another decade. Most states and territories banned it in the 1980s, but the national ban of the product did not begin until 2003.

The cleanup has been an arduous process. Asbestos remains a part of the Australian legacy. Many asbestos-containing products, including gaskets and friction materials, millboard, cord, yard and cement articles were imported until the early 2000s. They remain in place today.

Unfortunately, the prognosis for most being diagnosed with mesothelioma is not good. It typically comes with a 6-12 month life expectancy. Although mesothelioma takes decades to develop within a person, it metastasizes quickly once it has taken hold in the lining around the lungs or abdomen.

If diagnosed early, though, the prognosis is considerably better because of advancements in therapy. A multidisciplinary approach that includes surgery, radiation and chemotherapy has allowed survivors to live two, three, four or more years.

There are now immunotherapy and gene therapy drugs being tested in clinical trials. They have shown tremendous progress, encouraging doctors to believe that mesothelioma will one day be treated as a chronic disease that someone can live with, instead of a death sentence.

The key to treatment is finding a specialty center with experience in treating it. Because mesothelioma is a rare cancer, many oncologists rarely see it, and don’t know the best ways of treating it.

The Bernie Banton Centre at Concord Hospital (Sydney, New South Wales), the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital (Western Australia) and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (Melbourne, Victoria) are three of the top specialty facilities.

More information about clinical trials can be found at research facilities like the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre, the Australasian Lung Cancer Trials Group and the National Center for Asbestos Related Disease (NCARD).

The National Strategic Plan wants to eliminate all risks of asbestos disease in Australia by 2030. The plan includes improvement in research, identification, removal, awareness and international leadership as it pushes for a worldwide ban of asbestos.

Until then, staying safe from asbestos disease is the goal. Vigilance is the key.

Tim Povtak is a content writer for The Mesothelioma Center and MesotheliomaPrognosis.com, an informational source for mesothelioma patients and families.

SWATting up on traffic safety

In 2004 WorkSafe Victoria instigated a Safety for Workers and Traffic Campaign (SWAT) designed to increase the level of safety for roadside workers.  Recently WorkSafe Victoria informed a seminar of OHS professionals that this traffic management program will be relaunched in the next year’s business plan and in conjunction with VicRoads.  As such it is worth re-examining the original plan

In response to a spate of roadside worker deaths, in October 2004, the then Minister for WorkSafe, Rob Hulls (pictured right, at the launch), announced

“A state-wide blitz to improve the safety of roadside workers and reduce the number of roadside deaths”.

Hulls stated in a media release

“Victorian road users have been too casual for too long in their attitude to the safety of road workers and too often, the results have been deadly. Since the beginning of last year [2003], eight people have died in work-related roadside deaths and WorkSafe reports at least two serious injuries a month. Last year was the worst for work-related roadside deaths in half a decade with five people tragically killed and this year three people have already tragically died.”

Inspectors were going to emphasise the following issues:

  • Traffic control measures including safety barriers and ensuring safe distances between vehicles and workers;
    • Appropriate training for roadside workers and supervisors;
    • Advance warning of roadside works;
    • Sufficient hazard warnings and signage at roadside worksites;
    • High visibility clothing and safety gear.

These measures seem standard in 2016 but were inconsistently applied in 2004.  Traffic Management Plans were often rudimentary and not applied to all roadside worksites.  Truck-mounted attenuators were not around and the technology associated with Variable Message Signs (VMS) was rudimentary.

According to WorkSafe Victoria’s Annual Report for 2005 700 roadside worksites were visited by inspectors as part of the six-month blitz.

VicRoads’ Road Design Note 06-04 of November 2015 illustrates the large range of road safety and worker safety measures that are now in place on Australian roads, including truck-mounted attenuators, jersey barriers and gawk screens.    Few of these measures were in place in 2004.

The original SWAT program was to have a team of 40 Inspectors dedicated to the program with additional training on the issues for the whole of the WorkSafe inspectorate.  The inspection strategy of WorkSafe has changed over that time and removed Inspector specialists.  However, over the last twelve months WorkSafe Victoria has reinstated its specialist building and construction industry inspectorate under which the original SWAT program operated.

Over the last decade road authorities have also matured and accepted that construction and infrastructure projects must be integrated into the management of traffic flows rather than an activity that is done by others and that must not impact on traffic.  In July 2015, VicRoads issued A Guide to Working Within the Road Reserve. Essentially this guide is about the need to talk about what works are to be undertaken and to talk with the right people, to gain the right approvals. – essential WHS requirements.

The application of the Safety for Workers and Traffic Campaign (SWAT) to the modern roadside worksite is likely to be more complex as the duties and roles of the traffic controller has become a highly technical role due to the broadened safety duties of looking after the safety of themselves, their fellow workers, motorists and other road users as well as minimising traffic movement impacts.  Traffic controllers are also beholden to two regulators WorkSafe and VicRoads.

However, road construction companies and utilities companies who often need to work in an emergency have also matured in their approach to traffic management.  Larger projects have additional safety inspection resources with specialists in traffic management.  Traffic management plans are very responsive to the dynamic construction sites and are scrutinised by more stakeholders now than previously.

Traffic management is no longer simply a man with a stick; it is becoming a profession in its own right.  Government regulators have increased their safety expectations substantially over the last decade and companies that need to work on roads and in road reserves have broader safety obligations.  There is a limit to the effectiveness of engineering control measures, as outlined in the VicRoads Guide mentioned above.  Engineering needs to be supported by training traffic management personnel who can implement the control measures but also “fill the gaps” that fixed controls cannot cover.

It is from this understanding that road management authorities issue various Standards, guides and handbooks, but it is also why companies like AlertForce provide training courses that are responsive to the changing legislative and regulatory expectations and changing technologies.

It is important to have safe worksites all the time but even more so when WorkSafe Victoria and VicRoads reintroduces the SWAT inspection campaign in the next year or so.

For more details on AlertForce’s nationally recognised Traffic Management courses, go to https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/nationally-recognised-traffic-control-training-nsw/

Is Asbestos Training any good?

Recently the Asbestos Safety & Eradication Agency (ASEA) completed a report based on an “Analysis of existing training materials used by organisations in the utilities sector”.  The report followed an investigation of asbestos training materials undertaken by the former OHS manager of the Australian Workers’ Union, Dr Yossi Berger.  Berger applied a specific list of criteria to the training materials which in many ways can be applied to all WHS training:

  • Accurate, effective and practical information, successfully communicated, complete and uncompromising
  • Teaching must go beyond the presentation of facts
  • Awareness that does not normalise risk
  • Development of emotional wisdom and protective unease
  • Fostering of an ability to query and withstand workplace pressures …
  • Historical examples of downplaying the serious health effects of exposure to asbestos
  • Precautionary principle
  • Emphases, demonstrations and explanations of safer work practices
  • Identification and use of correct tools and procedures
  • Knowledge of licencing and identification and communication of potential issues

The ASEA report found that asbestos training providers were quiet on the precautionary principle.  Asbestos is one of those materials that was used or installed in Australia decades ago so the handling of the material in construction is no longer a concern.   However, it occurs commonly in demolition – a process that already presents a high risk but is even a higher risk as it is a process that many want done quickly so it doesn’t impede whatever is being built on.  The focus in what is going to happen rather than what is happening at the moment.

asbestosIn terms of regular safety training the precautionary principle should receive move attention or is seen as more relevant because it prepares the student for avoiding hazards through job design, work task planning and resource management.

The report found that the criterion concerning fostering of an ability to query and withstand workplace pressures … was “least represented and almost completely absent across all reviewed materials”.

The report offered no reason for this absence yet the ability to question work practices and pressures is an essential element of the WHS obligation to consult and is often described as a workplace right to refuse work when one considers the task unsafe to perform.  

This absence is also strange given that the training materials are from an asbestos course and that awareness of the health risks of asbestos is generally high in the community.  Perhaps trainers relied on this high level of awareness to skip or downplay this unit.

A similar approach by the WHS trainers assessed may have applied to the poor representation of “historical examples of downplaying the serious health effects of exposure to asbestos”.  Given that Australia remains in the middle of projected span of asbestos-related disease fatalities it is important that the historical context of asbestos use be covered in asbestos training.  

The assumption that “everyone knows the risks of asbestos” is false given that Australia has a healthy rate of immigration with many coming from countries where WHS awareness is low.  Only a generation ago in Australia, asbestos was still being promoted as a suitable building material.  This is still the case in many countries and Australian asbestos training should be reiterating the seriousness and consequences of the mishandling of asbestos and asbestos-contaminated materials.

Part of the ASEA project was the development of a model unit of competency to “recognise and respond to asbestos risk in the utilities sector.  The unit of competency includes these four elements

  1. “Recognise asbestos hazards.
  2. Implement basic asbestos hazard controls.
  3. Contribute to an empowering safety culture.
  4. Comply with regulations and workplace procedures.”

The ASEA report found

  • “Elements 1, 2, 4 were addressed, to varying degrees, across most of the supplied training material.
  • Element 3 was rarely, if ever, addressed in the supplied material.”

The need to establish and maintain a “safety culture” has become a mantra for the WHS profession as it is accepted that a safety culture plays a crucial role in establishing a workplace where safety is advocated and that project and site managers display a commitment to WHS through appropriate leadership actions.

Trainers may have struggled with this element as even the WHS profession continues to argue about the existence of a “safety culture”.  However, the element is really a new way of discussing consultation, hazard assessment, safety management, investigation, preparation, resourcing and skill levels.  Perhaps the training element was rarely addressed because asbestos handling is often seen as a blue-collar activity where safety culture concerns more white-collar and supervisory activities.  Regardless, if the element exists in the unit of competency, it should be taught and to the best possible level.

The ASERA/Asbestos Awareness report concludes by acknowledging “…there is some great material being used” but also states that there are “some significant holes” in the training materials.  Holes in any WHS training material is of great concern but when training is on an issue like asbestos, such concerns should be very high.  As the Government continues to review asbestos training, it is time for employers and employees to not simply choose a training provider on trust but to inquire further about the trainer’s competency and whether the training materials being used are the best they can be.  Safety training should never be a waste of money and should always decrease workplace risks.


For more details on AlertForce’s nationally recognised Asbestos Removal courses, go to https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/asbestos-awareness/

Increased OHS penalties, mental health and suicide prevention

On March 9 2016, Victoria’s Industrial Relations Minister, Robin Scott, introduced a Bill to Parliament that increased an OHS penalty to $3,000,000 but also clarified the roles of WHS assessors and those conducting WHS training.

According to the Bill’s Explanatory Memorandum, the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 allows for rules to be made concerning licensing, registration, qualifications, permits or certificates of competency, the authorisation of persons as trainers and the examination of applicants for licences, permits or certificates of competency.  The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007, prescribes requirements for the types of licences relevant to high risk work.

The Bill amends the legislation so that under the Occupational Health and Safety Act people can be authorised as both trainers and assessors.

The achievement of competency is a crucial element of any safety management system and any training that provides skills competencies should be of a high integrity.  Specifying who is the skills trainer, the instructor, and who is the assessor or examiner is an important part of ensure that integrity.

The Minister’s Bill is a technical amendment to existing safety laws that tidies up the situation but also indicates that Government is not ignorant of workplace skills training needs and processes.

Workplace Mental Health and Wellbeing

Lately there has been an upsurge in attention to workplace mental health and the significance of a mentally healthy workplace in business productivity but also work health and safety.  This movement, largely from the public health advocates, is changing the way that WHS is being considered in many workplaces and this is flowing into WHS training.

Training courses provide the necessary skills and competencies to do a job safely and properly.  But those skills need to be applied within different workplaces, with different safety strategies and different corporate priorities.  Work does not occur in a vacuum and skills need to be adjusted, or the application of those skills need to be adjusted to fit those safety strategies.  And those strategies are going to be couched in terms of wellness, wellbeing and mental health.

Some companies are going to be assessing workers on their fitness and capacity to work.  If you are grossly overweight but still able to perform the job satisfactorily and apply the right set of skills, this may not be enough anymore.  Companies may expect you to lose weight or undergo medical and fitness assessments, even though weight and fitness may not be essential elements for you to do your job without creating harm.

The Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012–2022 developed by Safe Work Australia states one of the national visions is:

“promoting worker health, wellbeing and capacity to work,” (page 5)

It goes on to say that:

“Workers’ general health and wellbeing are strongly influenced by their health and safety at work. Well-designed work can improve worker health.” (page 10)

WHS professionals would interpret this statement as retuning to the basic ways work is undertaken and includes the reason for doing the job a certain way as well as the working conditions in which the task is performed an d whether the workplace fosters mental health rather than ill-health.  Few employers are willing to investigate the way work is done to this extent as it could disrupt the production process and seriously threaten the business case for the business, particularly if that business has operated for some time.

Companies are applying a big picture approach to work health and safety which includes wellness and workplace mental health but the focus remains almost entirely on the physical and mental capacities of the worker instead of the conditions in which they work.  Both the individual and the organisational factors need to be assessed to work safely

Suicide Prevention

Although some wellbeing advocates talk about gyms and yoghurt, there are mental stresses in the construction and mining sectors that are real and can be addressed.  According to Mates in Construction:

“Construction workers are twice as likely as others in the community to take their own lives”

“For a construction worker, you’re six times more likely to suicide than to die as a consequence of a workplace incident. If you’re under 24 that gets elevated to 10 times.”

Suicide is a real risk in the construction sector due to many factors such as the fluctuating work opportunities, the uneven work hours and isolation from home and family.

There are an increasing number of organisations who can provide assistance to those who are having suicidal thoughts – Mates in Construction is one, Lifeline is another.  Many companies have access to employee assistance programs that are available to employees and contractors.

For more details on AlertForce’s nationally recognised WHS training, go to https://alertforce.com.au/

WHS Training is More than Just Training

Training in work health and safety (WHS) is very important as should be, any training. But students are not often advised how to make the best of their WHS training.

Individuals undertake training because they have a need to improve their skills, to gain new ones or to polish the existing skills and qualifications.  This may have resulted from a training needs analysis conducted by the employer; it could have resulted from a WHS audit that identified workers undertaking tasks for which they were not, or insufficiently, qualified.  It may also be because an employer is diligent in the administration their training register and accept that using competent and suitably qualified personnel is a crucial element of achieving and maintaining compliance with WHS laws.

Regardless of the motivation, the individual attends classes to learn.

Most students will leave their training course with a sense of satisfaction in passing the exams, be they theoretical or practical.  Passing a training course is an endorsement that you have the skills to do a job safely.  But having the skills is not the same as applying them.

When returning to work it is important that supervisors know how things have improved.  They need to be reassured that the student has the skills AND the knowledge to use them properly.  This will vary, dependent on the type of training undertaken but it is useful to discuss these skills with your supervisor who is likely to have had the same skills for much longer.  This experience is an important element in reinforcing or tempering the enthusiasm one may feel.

Students want to please their employers and their supervisors and show that the training investment was not wasted.  But the enthusiasm can sometimes be applied in the wrong context.  For instance, in relation to working at heights training that may involve an Elevated Work Platform (EWP), a newly qualified student will want to get into the EWP to show their new skills but also to familiarise themselves with the type of EWP used on site.  

But skills should never be applied without being aware of the work environment in which the article of plant is to be used.  There are important safety protocols that still need to be applied regardless of the skills the worker has.  EWPs often require spotters who supervise the horizontal movement of the plant, but in light of some recent fatalities, just as importantly, look at the vertical movement of the EWP, watching out for canopies, electrical wires, ceilings and other obstacles at height.

Similarly, working at heights training would qualify someone to work at height but the company, and maybe the client, will still have significant safety protocols that need to be followed.  Any supervisors of heights work would continue to be uncertain of the training the student has received until the employed has showed both that they have the appropriate skills and they know how to use those skills appropriately.  Any supervisor that did not have this perspective would be likely to be breaching their WHS duty of care.

As well making sure that supervisors know that the training has been successful, there is an administrative process that should be undertaken.  Employees need to make sure that the qualifications are entered on the company’s training register.  This is a list of employees, the training qualifications held and the expiry date of that training certification.  Not only because, hopefully, the employer has paid for the training, the employer needs to be able to show that they are using only competent people to do specific work tasks, such as working at height, or operating an EWP.

Individuals, particularly in construction it seems, often maintain their own “register” of tickets.  Whether this is a small folder containing all the relevant training, induction and identification cards or a tobacco tin or a small Tupperware container, does not matter. The importance is that the certifications are readily available where one is working – not in the ute, or back in the lunch shed but in one’s tool box or shirt pocket.  These certifications can be called for by many people who visit the site and who need to be assured that contractors are operating to the commitments they made that won them the contract.

Students are justifiably proud of the qualifications they have achieved but these qualifications also have a legislative compliance role for employers.

For more details on AlertForce’s nationally recognised WHS training, go to https://alertforce.com.au/

Asbestos in Australia

Until around the mid-1980s, Australia had one of the highest rates of asbestos-related illnesses (per capita) in the world. Although the mineral was once touted for its affordability, ease of use, and resistance to heat fire, millions of people worldwide have developed toxic, life-threatening illnesses after coming into contact with asbestos.

Asbestos in Australia

Numerous asbestos mines sit in Australia, which made it easy for businesses to extract it and sell it to a myriad of businesses. Mining reached its heights in Australia from the 1930s throughout the 1960s, especially in the town of Wittenoom. As more studies developed about the dangers of asbestos, Australia began regulating laws on banning the mineral in the 1960s, starting with blue asbestos. In the mid-1980s, brown asbestos was banned, followed by white asbestos in the 2000s.

Prior to its ban, asbestos and asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) were used to build most homes in Australia. Over a third of the homes in Australia to this day contain asbestos. The toxic mineral was also used on a number of job sites, including textile mills, repair facilities, manufacturing plants, power plants, and more.

Although it’s been years since asbestos was used prominently, people are still dying from its toxic effects. The Australian Mesothelioma Registry reports that there were 614 asbestos-related deaths in 2014 alone. This number is expected to grow and reach its peak around 2021. According to Professor Peto of the University of Melbourne, both Australia and the UK have the highest incidences of asbestos-related deaths in the world. In fact, Peto predicts that asbestos deaths will reach to around 25,000 within the next 40 years. He stated that,

“The hazards in manufacturing, lagging and shipbuilding were recognised, but the much larger workforce in construction went on being heavily exposed with no effective regulation at all. Australian builders, particularly carpenters, often had to cut asbestos cement board with power tools, which caused very high dust levels.”

The following occupations have the highest risk of developing asbestos-related diseases:

  •      Railroad workers
  •      Military
  •      Factory and plant workers
  •      Construction workers
  •      Plumbers
  •      Shipbuilders
  •      Insulation installers and technicians

How Does Asbestos Cause Toxic Illnesses?

Asbestos fibres are thin, odourless, and undetectable to the human eye. When these tiny fibres become airborne, they are easily inhaled and/or ingested as they permeate through the air.

Once asbestos fibres are ingested or inhaled, it’s impossible for the body to dispel of them all. Over time, the fibres attach to the surrounding areas of major organs and start irritate organ linings. Eventually, these irritations turn into life-threatening illnesses such as asbestosis, asbestos-related lung cancer, or malignant mesothelioma.

What Can Be Done About Asbestos Exposure?

With the high amount of mesothelioma cases popping up due to negligent exposure to asbestos, many victims of the lethal mineral have opted to file lawsuits against asbestos manufacturers and other companies responsible for providing ACMs to job sites. As more and more people become aware of just how dangerous asbestos is, these lawsuits are projected to grow significantly.

In the meantime, workers, as well as people who live in older homes, should always practice caution and safety. If your work around asbestos, make sure to always:

  •      Wear protective gear, such as a HEPA-filtered face mask and protective coveralls
  •      Enroll in asbestos awareness training courses (employers are required to provide training to employees who work around asbestos)
  •      Do not bring home any tools or clothing that came into contact with asbestos

If you live in an older home,

  •      Do not allow your children to play around old furnaces or in attics
  •      Do not attempt to repair old appliances yourself until your home has been inspected for asbestos
  •      Never start a renovation project without having your home checked for asbestos first

If you think you may have come into contact with asbestos, it’s extremely important to get routine medical checkups. Detecting asbestos-related diseases as early as possible offers the best chances of successful treatment.

Special thanks to Tara Connor for writing this article. For more information please visit MesotheliomaLawyerCenter.org

For more information on Asbestos Removal Training Courses please visit: https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/asbestos-awareness/

Everyone’s looking at traffic management

It is common to start an article about traffic management training with a summary of the latest traffic controller death. But AlertForce has been reporting on these deaths for some time and the fact that controlling traffic is a high risk occupation is without doubt.

Expectations of some construction and infrastructure projects are expanding some of the tasks of the traffic controller that can change the types of risks faced and the context of the work. Also as the Work Health and Safety laws settle in, in most Australian States, traffic management is receiving increased attention from project clients; many of these clients are State governments.


Site Access

The classic traffic controller is the flagmen, the Stop/Slow traffic controllers. These continue to be an integral control measure in reducing potential harm to workers but construction site and infrastructure projects are also employing traffic controllers to manage site access. They are more than gatekeepers and require a strong understanding of what is occurring on the construction site, so that they can, amongst other tasks, check and verify a legitimate delivery, ensure that the worksite is not clogged with deliveries or ensure that a visitor does not drive aimlessly around site.

site access

Sometimes the physical site access has not been designed as well as it could have been and fails to anticipated the width, length or height of the plant or materials being delivered. This is particularly the case on construction sites that can change rapidly. Temporary or poorly-planned site access can increase the risk to the traffic controller who is usually required to get close to the vehicle in order to communicate with the driver. There have been several instances of traffic controllers being driven over, usually resulting in injuries to their lower limbs.

Traffic controllers should attend prestarts so that they understand the reasons behind traffic types, traffic volumes and any recent public or site concerns that may affect their duties. Perhaps more importantly, attending a prestart allows the traffic controller to raise any issues with site access or deliveries, for instance, that may have been unsafe or dangerous. These issues can often be resolved at the prestart and reduce the risks for the rest of the day or longer.

Controlling site access is not without its own risks. Truck drivers can be as impatient as any car driver and can be irate at having to be kept waiting, in line or even turned away – such is the authority of the traffic controller.

Client Demands

Recently one major Victorian infrastructure project provided additional training about traffic management to its safety advisers. This was undertaken as part of the Client’s OHS due diligence obligations as the Client had identified a hole in the advisers’ knowledge about traffic management and traffic controllers.

In the past such knowledge may have been picked up by a safety person on the job but more likely traffic plans and management were not looked at closely. The existence of a traffic management plan, no matter how poor, was often enough to satisfy a site walk.

Skilling up safety advisers increased attention to traffic management plans and controller activities. Many controllers are not comfortable with this level of attention but the safety adviser’s role is expanding beyond the limits of a construction site or project and they are entitled, under the WHS

laws they are encouraged, to inspect all of the safety documents and work processes related with that work site. Site safety walks are more likely to include traffic management than in the past.

This additional level of scrutiny requires traffic management plans to be accurate and to be part of, or linked to, the overall site safety management plans. It requires traffic controllers to be active participants in the prestarts, toolboxes and other consultative mechanisms on any project.

The obligations of traffic controllers and managers have not changed greatly – plans have to meet strict guidelines and codes, controllers need to set out their traffic control equipment in prescribed ways. But Work Health and Safety is changing and traffic controllers are becoming less invisible to the safety planning and auditing processes as project managers and, often government, clients are improving their understanding and scrutiny of traffic management.

Traffic controllers need to maintain their training and skills to the best standard that they can but they also must see themselves as part of the construction project and be involved in the decisions that may affect them or increase their risk.

To be accredited as traffic controller, a person must complete an approved Traffic Controller Training Course. The course must be delivered through a registered training organisation (RTO) approved by the relevant State Regulator.

For more details on AlertForce’s nationally recognised traffic control NSW training, go to https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/nationally-recognised-traffic-control-training-nsw/

Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency comments on Asbestos Training

The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency released several case studies into best practice management of asbestos risk.  Two case studies describe the approach taken by Ergon Energy, who aims to be a workplace that is free of asbestos by 2027. Asbestos Training provides an important role to play.

Ergon Energy realised that it needed to get an accurate measure of the asbestos risks to its company so it established a single point of contact for asbestos issues across all of its divisions.  This avoided any asbestos issues falling through any cracks in the occupational health and safety management system.  Companies in some construction and infrastructure projects have similarly established a safety team to address a single hazard, such as a gas pipeline, that travels through various sections of an infrastructure project.

The company coordinated, through the Asbestos Manager Wayne Cullen, an audit of all of its sites built prior to 2004.  The company also assessed all of its customers including around 540,000 residential properties that contained a customer-owned switchboard.

Ergon Energy built an asbestos register that is available in hard copy and online that is updated immediately after any work involving Asbestos Contaminated Materials (ACM). The register allows for annual audits of high risk sites and 3 yearly visits to sites of moderate risk, as well as supporting the use of Quick Response (QR) codes to reduce paperwork on site.

Ergon strictly applied the Hierarchy of Controls is determining how to address asbestos risks emphasizing the higher orders of control.  Some construction companies describe this as focusing on “above the line” controls, that is, to investigate the “hard” controls rather than relying on the “soft” controls of administrative processes of PPE.  Ergon Energy’s Wayne Cullen said that

“It can be perceived as an expensive approach in implementing hard controls. Some companies tend to rely solely on Soft Controls because of this potential cost factor and because they are so much easier to implement.”

However, the company believes that the higher control measures are more effective in reducing risk of exposure and are actually more cost effective in the long term.

The geography of Ergon Energy’s home state of Queensland meant that it requires its asbestos removalists to be qualified to an ‘A class’ licence even though most work only requires a ‘B class’ licence).  Cullen explains the need for this higher level of qualification through an example:

“The biggest problem for Ergon Energy is distance and remote locations. The major cost is derived from the mobilisation of suitable qualified contractor teams. In these smaller towns [out west and in the islands of the Torres Strait] there are a limited number of qualified personnel, so they have to come from the larger cities along the coast. In one case, a crew was sent out to a sub-station to remove a large quantity of bonded asbestos. However, after commencing the task, it was identified that friable asbestos was present and had to be removed [which requires an ‘A class’ licence]. Ergon Energy had to stop the job, demobilise that crew and get another qualified crew out to the site. This resulted in a huge cost to the business.”

This requirement of a higher level of competence and control than is strictly required also extends to PPE.  Ergon Energy has replaced traditional P2 respirators with Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPR) for teams working with Silva link fuses on electricity poles, many of which contain friable asbestos. According to Ergon’s best practice case study, unlike P2 masks which require the person to be clean shaven to ensure a proper seal, PAPRs consist of a hood that goes over the person’s head and a pump that generates a constant positive air pressure, preventing any chance of airborne asbestos fibres being inhaled.

These safety changes are supported by engaging with staff about safety and explaining the process behind safety decisions, keeping paperwork as simple as possible, and making sure that additional and expert safety advice is readily available, regardless of the remoteness of the location.

The two case studies from Ergon Energy recommend these processes for satisfy contemporary safety expectations around asbestos removal:

  • “There has to be someone in the organisation who is held accountable for asbestos safety. If it’s not part of someone’s day job, it won’t happen.
  • If you don’t have the support of senior management, the unions and staff in the field, it’s a hard, if not impossible task.
  • You need middle managers who are willing to promote a safety culture.
  • While there may be great costs involved initially, higher levels of control (i.e. elimination and isolation):
    • are much more effective in reducing risk of exposure to asbestos fibres
    • remove the need for ongoing costly and time consuming safety practices
    • often make it easier for employees to follow procedures
    • provide evidence that protects the organisation from any claims of risk to public health and safety.
  • Give staff ownership of the processes – include them in the decisions around safe work practices and tell them the benefits
  • Keep talking about it, so that it’s not just flavour of the month and then drops away
  • You need strong leaders that keep driving the practice and leading by example – that’s especially important for young apprentices and new starters because they see that it’s normal practice
  • People are more likely to change their behaviour when they understand the consequences – you and your staff need to understand ‘the why’
  • Make the message personal – help staff and management to understand where asbestos is in their own workplace or home and what exposure could mean to them and their families.”

Alertforce has a range of training courses on asbestos awareness, assessment and removal at https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/asbestos-awareness/

Rail Safety Around the Country

It may seem obvious to state that not all industries are the same.  A lot of safety knowledge is transferable from industry to industry but some is not.  As the health of industries rise and fall in Australia, workers are also taking their safety assumptions with them to new sectors, and this can increase the risk of injury and illness.  This is particularly the case with the construction of rail infrastructure which is increasing, particularly, in Australia’s Eastern States.

Just as civil construction is increasing in some capital cities so is the construction of new rail and light rail infrastructure.  Rail infrastructure has remained insular for decades with “train people” believing there is something special about their industry.  In some ways they are right as the operation of public transport has operated under its own legislation and “Book of Rules” which has paralleled but remained separate from occupational health and safety laws.  But those barriers are being eroded as the rail transport sector comes under more regulatory scrutiny through the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator and State safety bodies, and rail safety is being measured by OHS metrics. The safety journey experienced by New South Wales’ RailCorp is an obvious illustration of this change.

Rail infrastructure is in the process of a transition from a foxed view of safety to a more inclusive one but remains based on concepts and operations that are unique.  There are different words for structures, tools, plant and equipment, incident notifications and other standard workplace items and activities.  For instance, a set of personal protective clothing prescribed in one State will not be allowed in another State.  Some rail operators require hardhats to be worn, others do not. This inconsistency creates problems for those workers entering this sector for the first time and from other industry sectors, such as mining and manufacturing.

Many of the construction activities will feel familiar because building a railway station remains construction but the fact that trains may be continually running through the worksite introduces a substantial new hazard.  And because the end user is often partly owned by the government, the project is under a lot more scrutiny than the standard construction project.  There are more stakeholders and many of them want to be more engaged with the construction project than they have in the past.

This is a set of circumstances that the usual construction training has not addressed.  Construction Induction training is very generic and, for working in the rail environment, is usually supplemented by awareness training.  This training provides a basic understanding of the rail corridor and its contents.  It discusses the rail structures, overhead power systems, rail signals and, perhaps most importantly, a system of safety protection unique to the railway called Rail Safety.  All of this introduces the non-rail worker into the rail safety world.  It is intended to help workers transition from a generic construction work environment into a very different one – an environment where familiar construction activities are undertaken but with different terminologies, different levels of supervision, and different accountabilities.

Drugs and Alcohol

One of the most obvious differences of working in rail construction is that the obligation to be free of alcohol and drugs while at work is reinforced by random drug and alcohol testing.  There have been moves to introduce such a safety measure in the regular construction after years of trade union resistance.  Rail construction has had this requirement for many years and a mandatory drug and alcohol test is part of the certification process to work within the rail corridor.

Construction companies take this obligation seriously and have even sent workers offsite after they were having after-work drinks from the back of the ute in the site car park.

Positive test results are often reported up-the line to safety regulators and government clients and are seen as serious safety management failures.

There is no “dummies’ guide to working in the rail construction” and there probably never will be as each State’s rail network is slightly different and tramwork is different from light-rail even within the same States.  This places a great significance on safety training as the main method of increasing your OHS knowledge as it relates to rail infrastructure.  As with most safety training, the quality of courses varies between providers.  So to be able to be the most attractive supplier of safe workers in rail infrastructure, dealing with a reliable and reputable rails safety training provider is crucial.

Do wellness programs work?

Wellness programs are now found in many workplaces.

But do they improve wellness or work health and safety (WHS), both in the short term and with longer term sustainability?

“The jury is still out”, according to Julie Armour from Sydney-based risk management consultancy Working Armour.

Ms Armour says a recent review of the financial reports of Australia’s top publically listed companies by the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) found many companies now run workplace programs to “improve” employee mental health and wellbeing i.e. wellness programs.

Missing in these reports, however, was clear evidence the programs work, either from employee health – or a work health and safety (WHS) point of view, Ms Armour said.

According to the report, financial companies reported on enabling flexible workplaces, providing development opportunities, employee assistance programs (EAPs) and well-being initiatives – but only one in five disclosed absence rates.

Mining companies provided wellbeing programs and employee assistance programs (EAPs) but less than a third reported turnover rates, only 4% reported absence rates, and none reported on overtime worked, she said.

This was in addition to almost 20% of the top 100 publicly listed companies not publicly reporting on WHS.

“It almost seems like a stab in the dark; we are doing a whole lot of stuff which may cost a significant amount of money – but we have no idea if it works,” Ms Armour said.

“How do you know if you are making good investment choices when companies only report on the initiatives but not on the results?

“And how do you know such programs achieve any actual improvement? For all we know, we could be simply feathering the nests of a vast array of consulting companies profiting from the recent media hyped wave of interest in these areas. Equally we could be missing out on understanding which of these programs are most successful in improving indicators and saving money.”

Ms Armour said this was particular important in times of tightening WHS budgets. “If you are cutting your WHS budget at the same time as increasing your wellness budget, the question needs to be asked; why? There are clear monetary benefits to improving WHS – the benefits of wellness programs are less clear and we may be putting resources into areas which are less risk. We also may be ignoring opportunities for holistic expenditure where elements of both can be addressed at the same time.”

Ms Armour said there was a pressing need for companies embarking on wellness programs to identify objectives prior to starting – and accurately measure the results.

“Why spend significant amounts of money in an untargeted scattergun approach if you are not measuring for change?”

Ms Armour said when employers do attempt to measure their wellbeing indices they should invest in forms of objective measurements rather than the self-reported survey response alone.

They should identify the impact of wellbeing programs on other relevant workplace measures, such as utilisation of EAPs, employee satisfaction levels, staff turnover rates, absenteeism, or overtime worked.

Ms Armour said speakers at the Informa Workplace Wellness Conference in Sydney at the end of July 2015 identified a number of barriers to workers improving their general health and wellbeing.

These included long work hours and commute times, job insecurity, and the impact of physical work on their bodies. “It would seem that all the money spent on wellbeing initiatives could be a waste if there is no measurement of the impact of such programs on these barriers.”

Wellness program developers need to also not confuse popular programs with actual changes in wellness or WHS metrics, Ms Armour says.

“A Lend Lease example is reported where a financial workshop educating employees on superannuation and wills was its most ‘popular’ wellbeing initiative. Other parts of the wellness programs included cooking demonstrations, highlighting bad health habits, one-on-one health coaching, flu shots, cancer awareness, suicide intervention and mental health first aid.

A 12-month follow up survey found that 90-100% of the survey respondents had ‘benefitted’ from these wellness initiatives, but it was not clear how they benefitted or even how many of those involved in the programs responded to the survey.

They did indicate that they reduced their total recordable injury frequency rate (TRIFR) by half but the relevance to the wellbeing programs was not clear. They suggested that wellness programs contributed to a ‘happier and more productive’ business, without demonstrating exactly how this was determined or measured in an objective way that did not rely solely on self-reported feedback surveys.

“No one is suggesting such programs shouldn’t be conducted,” Ms Armour said. “But if you are going to spend money on them make sure you establish a baseline need, ensure the expenditure matches the degree of risk in the workplace and that you can measure if programs actually create any change in the workplace rather than just a number of superlative motherhood statements.

“Rather than manual handling consultations for example why not focus on ensuring the use of higher order controls at the design and planning phase of these types of tasks then follow up by measuring whether improved practices have been achieved. We know that talking about risk and being aware does not necessarily change behaviour! We know we shouldn’t speed when we drive but is that enough to slow us down?”

Dangerous, difficult and ‘sometimes appalling’: road management in spotlight

Working conditions in the traffic management industry are dangerous, difficult and “sometimes appalling”, according to the Workplace Rights Ombudsman’s Workplace Report on the Contract Traffic Control Industry Queensland.

Highlighting the high fatality rate and importance of traffic training courses, the report calls for among other things, all site supervisors and potential site supervisors are to be familiar with their safety obligations with respect to traffic control.

Separate fatality and injury statistics are not officially collected for the traffic management industry.

However, Australian Safety and Compensation Council (now Safe Work Australia) figures reveal 37 workers and seven bystanders were killed in work-related road and transport incidents notified to OHS authorities across Australia in 2007-08.

WorkSafe Victoria figures, meanwhile, reveal nine people were killed at roadside worksites in 2004 and 2005.

In such a dangerous industry, failure to follow strict work health and safety protocols for traffic management is tantamount to negligence, transport union the Australian Workers Union (Victoria) warns.


Union fact sheet

Collating the figures into a safety Fact Sheet for traffic management workers, the Australian Workers Union (Victoria) has for a number of years now been promoting a public campaign to improve work health and safety for traffic management workers, using the message ‘Slow Down @ Road Works – Speed Kills’.

The Fact Sheet notes a person hit by a car travelling at 50km/h has an 80% chance of being killed, but this drops to 20-30% if hit at 40 km/h. The risk of a crash causing casualties is doubled by every 5km/h travelled over the limit in a 60km/h zone (Transport Accident Commission).

The AWU says about 5,000 workers are employed by more than 100 traffic management companies in Victoria to control the flow of cars and other vehicles at road works or during special events. Most traffic management workers are casuals or labour hire employees for sub-contractors.

Despite the dangerous nature of the work, 25% of roadside worksites in Victoria were not compliant with safety standards when visited by WorkSafe Iinspectors during the Safety for Workers and Traffic (SWAT) Campaign in 2004-06, the Fact Sheet notes.


SWA draft code

Workplace injuries and fatalities are frequently linked with vehicles moving in and around workplaces, reversing, loading and unloading, Safe Work Australia’s warns.

Workers on foot are particularly at risk from moving vehicles. SWA says the safest way to protect pedestrians is to eliminate the hazard, which means removing the use of all vehicles including powered mobile plant or removing all pedestrians from traffic areas. This could be achieved by designing the layout of the workplace to eliminate the interaction of pedestrians and vehicles.

Where this is not reasonably practicable, the risks must be minimised so far as is reasonably practicable. This can be achieved by careful planning and by controlling vehicle operations and pedestrian movements at the workplace. This includes loading/unloading activities.

SWA’s draft guide for employers Traffic Management: Construction Work says the key issues to consider for managing traffic at a construction workplace include:

  • keeping pedestrians and vehicles apart, including on site and when vehicles enter and exit the workplace
  • minimising vehicle movements
  • the risks of vehicles reversing
  • visibility of vehicles and pedestrians
  • traffic signs
  • developing a traffic management plan.

A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) has a duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that workers and other persons at the workplace are not exposed to health and safety risks arising from the business or undertaking. This duty includes implementing measures to control the risks of persons being injured due to the movement of powered mobile plant at the workplace. A PCBU also has a duty to provide any information, training and instruction that is necessary to protect persons from risks to their health and safety.

A PCBU involved in carrying out high risk construction work must ensure that a safe work method statement (SWMS) is prepared before the work commences.

High risk construction work includes construction work that is carried out in an area at a workplace in which there is any movement of powered mobile plant.

The SWMS must identify the high risk construction work, specify associated hazards, describe measures to control risks and how these will be implemented. The PCBU must put in place arrangements for ensuring that high risk construction work is carried out in accordance with its SWMS.

A principal contractor for a construction project (where the value of the construction work is $250,000 or more) also has duties that include managing health and safety risks associated with traffic in the vicinity of the workplace that may be affected by construction work carried out in connection with the construction project. This includes preparing a WHS management plan for the workplace.

The WHS management plan sets out the arrangements to manage the risks associated with more complex construction projects, and in particular this relates to the interaction and co-ordination of a number of contractors and subcontractors.

Further information on the preparation of SWMS and WHS management plans is available in the Code of Practice: Construction Work.

Information instruction and training

Under the WHS laws a PCBU must provide workers and others at the workplace with adequate information, training and instruction. A PCBU must also ensure that construction induction training is provided to workers.

All workers need to know and understand the traffic rules, site safety policies and procedures for the workplace. Instructions should be provided to visitors before their visit, if possible.

External drivers should be aware of the site’s traffic safety procedures, any restrictions on vehicle size or type and where they are to make the delivery prior to attending the workplace.

Any site-specific health and safety rules and the arrangements for ensuring that all persons at the workplace are informed of these rules must be included in the WHS management plan.

Other persons at the workplace, so far as they’re able, must comply with any reasonable instruction that is given by the PCBU. They must also take reasonable care for their own health and safety and that they do not adversely affect the health and safety of others.

Keeping pedestrians and vehicles apart

The following actions will help keep pedestrians and vehicles apart both on site and when vehicles enter or exit the workplace:

  • provide separate traffic routes for pedestrians and vehicles
  • secure the areas where vehicles and powered mobile plant are being used, for example pedestrian barriers or traffic control barricades
  • provide separate clearly marked pedestrian walkways that take a direct route where possible
  • where walkways cross roadways, provide a clearly signed and lit crossing point where drivers and pedestrians can see each other clearly
  • when exiting the site, make sure drivers driving out onto public roads can see both ways along the footway before they move on to it
  • do not block walkways so that pedestrians have to step onto the vehicle route
  • create ‘no go’ zones for powered mobile plant (e.g. pedestrian-only areas around tearooms, amenities and entrances)
  • designate specific parking areas for workers’ and visitors’ vehicles outside the construction zone’.

Minimising vehicle movements

Good planning can help to minimise vehicle movement around a workplace.

To limit the number of vehicles at a workplace:

  • provide vehicle parking for workers and visitors away from the work area
  • control entry to the work area
  • plan storage areas so that delivery vehicles do not have to cross the site.

Where multiple items of powered mobile plant are being operated around the workplace, a person with the necessary training or qualifications should direct the plant:

  • when operating in close proximity to each other
  • when reversing
  • where persons are on the ground
  • in other situations as indicated by a risk assessment.


Vehicles reversing

The need for vehicles to reverse should be avoided where possible as reversing is a major cause of fatal accidents.

One-way systems can reduce the risk, especially in storage areas. A turning circle could be installed so that vehicles can turn without reversing.

Where it is necessary for vehicles to reverse:

  • use reversing sensors, reversing cameras and mirrors and warning devices such as reversing alarms
  • ensure drivers have another person to direct them before reversing if they cannot see clearly behind. The driver should maintain visual contact with the person directing them and signallers should wear high visibility clothing
  • ensure workers and other people are familiar with reversing areas and reversing areas are clearly marked
  • ensure operational plant movements are alerted to workers including swing radius, articulation points and overhead load movement.



To help reduce traffic risk on construction sites, AlertForce has released a new traffic training course for employers.

The Nationally Recognised Traffic Control Training NSW course reflects the latest nationally recognised competency qualification framework for traffic control training introduced by the NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) on July 1, 2015.

Heavy-industry employers urged to ratchet up workplace health and safety training

Training both workers and senior managers, including board members, in best-practice approaches to workplace health and safety (WHS) must remain a priority if heavy industry is to further reduce workplace fatalities.

The manufacturing industry has the highest average incidence and frequency rate of serious workers’ compensation claims for the five-year period from 2004–05 to 2008–09 compared to other industries, latest Safe Work Australia figures reveal (Work Health and Safety Perceptions: Manufacturing Industry, February 2015).

In 2011-12 (provisional national workers’ compensation data), the incidence rate of serious workers’ compensation claims for manufacturing was 18.4 per 1000 workers, which was 1.6 times the rate of all industries (11.4 per 1000 workers).


Positive signs

Despite these seemingly gloomy figures, manufacturing’s performance in regard to injuries and fatalities has improved in recent times.

From a peak of 2.83 fatalities per 100,000 workers in 2008, the fatality incidence rate fell dramatically to 1.87 (2012) and 1.07 (2013) – with the 2013 figure lower than the historically “safer” sector of administrative and support services.

Whether that trend is repeated in the next set of SWA’s Work Related Traumatic Fatalities Australia figures, due out in two months, remains to be seen.

Regardless, for an industry with a long history of serous claims, training workers, line managers and senior management in best practice approaches to WHS must remain a key priority for employers if the industry is to continue to improve its performance, AlertForce believes.


Machinery incidents remain a concern

Of the four industries with the highest number of fatalities in the 10 years between 2003 and 2013 – transport, postal and warehousing (664), agriculture, forestry and fishing (629), construction (402) and manufacturing (244), manufacturing is the only one where

the proportion of fatalities due to a vehicle collision in the manufacturing industry is relatively low (23% compared with 41% nationally).

However, manufacturing has higher proportions of hit by falling object (16%), trapped by objects (which includes being trapped between stationary and moving objects and being trapped by moving machinery or equipment [19%]), and being hit by moving objects (16%) than in the other industries profiled.

These mechanisms account for between 8% and 12% of worker fatalities nationally.


Key findings

The most common self-reported exposures in the manufacturing industry were exposure to airborne hazards, noise and vibration, SWA’s Work Related Traumatic Fatalities Australia 2013 figures reveal.

Most workers with exposure to noise were provided with some type of control.

However, about one in seven workers with exposure to airborne hazards and vibration were not provided with any control measure for these hazards.

According to the majority of workers and employers in manufacturing, work health and safety activities such as using personal protective equipment, identifying health and safety risks and removing hazards are undertaken ‘most of the time’ or ‘always’.

More than 80% of manufacturing employers reported that they provide health and safety training, have a work health and safety policy, have procedures for reporting work-related injuries and ill health and procedures for controlling hazards. Generally, a higher proportion of manufacturing employers reported undertaking these activities compared to employers in other priority industries. However, small manufacturing businesses were usually less likely to undertake these activities compared to large manufacturing businesses.


Areas for improvement

A few areas for improvement for control measures for specific hazards were identified in a separate SWA’s survey, National Hazard Exposure Worker Surveillance (NHEWS).

A considerable proportion (14%) of workers who reported exposure to airborne hazards and 14% of workers who were exposed to vibration reported that no control measures were provided for these hazards.

However, despite its high rate of work-related injury and illness, the industry appears to be doing well in terms of general work health and safety activities, SWA reports. The vast majority of workers reported undertaking work health and safety activities such as using PPE provided and making work practices safe. More employers reported that their workplace undertake a specific activity compared to workers, suggesting that there is a slight mismatch between employers and workers on how consistently these work health and safety activities are undertaken.

The largest discrepancy was for discussing health and safety concerns in the workplace. Almost all (99%) employers reported this compared to 73% of workers SWA’s WHS Perceptions Survey.


Training on the up

In terms of health and safety training, the manufacturing industry is doing well, SWA reports. SWA’s 2012 WHS Perceptions Survey of Employers showed that a large majority of employers in manufacturing (87%) provided health and safety training to their workers in the last 12 months. The proportion is 71% among employers in other priority industries.

SWA’s Regulatory Burden Survey 2013 also showed the high rate of internal and external staff training among manufacturing businesses. However, both surveys indicated that small businesses were less likely to provide health and safety training compared to medium and large businesses. Increased capacity and support for small businesses to provide health and safety training and undertake other compliance activities is needed, SWA says.

Other areas that could be targeted for improvement in health and safety activities include inclusion of contractors in health and safety induction training if required and addressing bullying and fatigue.

In general, manufacturing employers and workers believed that they have the knowledge and skills to protect themselves and others at work. Both groups also had positive perceptions about management actions to improve health and safety and safety communication in the workplace. There was an expectation by employers that workers will follow safety rules in their workplace and most workers reported following organisational rules on work health and safety.

However, at least one in five workers and employers accepted risk taking if there is time pressure. More research is needed to better understand risk-taking behaviours in this industry, SWA says.



Further information can be found at: http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/swa/statistics/work-related-fatalities/pages/workrelatedtraumaticinjuryfatalities.


Tougher liability laws see board and senior executives train up on WHS responsibilities

Early reluctance by boards and senior executives to acknowledge personal liability for company workplace health and safety (WHS) breaches has been replaced with acceptance and realisation they must be safety literate, a new report suggests.

The new ‘officer’s duty’ under the harmonised WHS Act is designed to make boardrooms, and those working closely with them, ensure their businesses have appropriate WHS systems that are adequately resourced and have adequate processes.

Reporting on the duty, Corrs Chamber Westgarth’s Workplace Relations Employment, Workplace and Safety Law: Mid-Year Review 2015 warns a recent decision of the Supreme Court of NSW (Perilya Limited v Nash [2015], NSWSC706, 5/6/15) opens a new door for WHS regulators to hold boards and executives accountable.

The case demonstrates that WHS regulators are seeking, and are entitled to seek, information created for board use (as long as the information does not attract legal professional privilege).

Further, the WHS regulator’s power to seek “board material” is not limited to documents that specifically refer to safety matters, as the court held that the absence of safety information in documents may prove that a WHS duty has been breached.

Corrs says board members and senior executives need to be ‘safety literate’ so they can sign off, on an informed basis, on safety initiatives and robustly interrogate their executives about safety – in much the same way that they must be financially literate in order to sign off on financial matters.

Who is an officer?

Meantime, difficulty in identifying “officers” has meant those that sit on the cusp of the officer’s definition tend to be asked by their organisations to comply with the officer’s duty, Corrs warns.

There are some concerns that the question of who is an officer will be relevant if the regulator is considering a prosecution. In order to deal with this issue, some commentators have suggested the WHS Act be amended to provide that a person, who would not otherwise be an officer under the WHS laws, does not make themselves an officer simply by complying with the officer’s duty.

“Generally, our clients suggest an acceptance of officer liability in the form set out in the WHS Act and a belief that the due diligence provisions have created an increased focus on health and safety with the potential to achieve improved outcomes in the workplace,” the Corrs report says.

“There is strong support amongst some part of the business community for the six-part ‘explanation of due diligence’ as set out in section 27(5) of the WHS Act. However, it should be noted that the Business Council of Australia wants the officer laws to be more aligned with those that apply in Victoria and in particular notes that in Victoria, officers are only liable for WHS breaches if the body corporate contravenes the legislation.”

The increased awareness of the ‘officer’s duty’ and the personal liability that flows from it has also meant boards and senior executives are casting a more critical eye over how they are affected by their partners in business.

Harmonisation has ‘significant’ prosecution impact

The Corrs report notes the harmonised WHS Act has had a “significant” prosecution impact, with defendants (particularly in NSW) now having options other than entering into a plea agreement. Under the Act, “defences are available again”, the report says.

Corrs says prosecutions stalled in most model jurisdictions about six months prior to the commencement of the model laws and did not restart “with any vigour” until 12-18 months after the model laws commenced. During that period the dominant approach taken by WHS regulators was one of “advise and persuade”.

“Prosecution action has recommenced with some vigour, although few decisions have been made under the WHS Act. However, those that have been made signal that at least in NSW, we will see a radical departure from earlier WHS judicial approaches and this will have significant impacts for prosecutors and defendants,” its report said.

In NSW, WHS prosecutions are now primarily heard in the District Court of NSW. In the first defended hearing to be determined WorkCover v Patrick Container Ports (February, 2014), Justice James Curtis considered the fatal injury of an employee who was aware of the relevant risk and the safe work method procedure he was required to adopt – but didn’t apply it. The employee had significant amounts of methamphetamine in his system at the relevant time.

WorkCover alleged a range of workplace risks against Patrick Container Ports that largely related to a lack of documented systems. Justice Curtis found that the employee had been trained about the safe procedure and his non-compliance with it would not have been changed if a documented process had been in place.

Corrs said the case signalled that the prosecutor must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant did not take all steps reasonably practicable to ensure the health and safety of its workers. This means that defendants now have options other than reaching agreement on a plea; defences exist and should be pursued where appropriate. Further, defendants should have increased bargaining power when discussing potential plea agreements.

Boundary tests

A pipeline of prosecutions is currently underway to test some of the boundaries of the ‘officer’s duty’, Corrs report says. Chief among them is will the officers of large companies be prosecuted for breach of the officer’s duty or will it tend to be prosecuted when the officer has been working close to the ‘coalface’?

Under predecessor OHS legislation, the officers of small organisations tended to be prosecuted and they were generally ‘hands on’ in the relevant operation (this led to the suggestion that there was defacto immunity for large company directors).

Corrs said the new officer’s duty was designed to make boardrooms and those working closely with them, ensure that their companies had appropriate WHS systems that were adequately resourced and had adequate processes.

Another important matter is can a company be an officer of another company under the WHS Act?

“For example can a holding or parent company be an officer for a subsidiary or operating company in circumstances where they fulfil aspects of the definition of an officer, such as being a person (albeit an unnatural person) making or participating in decisions which affect the whole or a substantial part of the company’s business?,” the report says.

With officer’s duty front and centre in the harmonised legislation, boards and senior executives will be watching with interest.

Enforceable undertakings: why they are important for WHS

On July 25, 2013, dairy company Norco Cooperative Ltd breached work health and safety laws after a NSW worker was trapped inside a garbage compactor whilst attempting to re-position loose tie strings.

The worker reached into the machine through the bottom door to release the string and was caught between the closed top door and the compacting feet as they rose up. He suffered a compensable injury to his head, but later returned to work on full duties.

After consultation with WorkCover NSW, Norco this year (2015) agreed to an enforceable undertaking for a breach of Section 19(1) of the NSW Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) i.e. duty of care.

Activities Norco agreed to undertake included:

  • conducting executive work health and safety workshops,
  • developing online work health and safety and human resources induction modules for staff,
  • implementing a human resources information system with work health and safety and training modules,
  • updating and publishing Managing Dairy Farm Safety farmer resources,
  • developing a two part Farm Safety for Children video, and
  • committing to establishing and maintaining an accredited work health and safety management system and third party audits of this system.

This undertaking has a total expenditure of $221,636. WorkCover NSW accepted the undertaking because the alleged contravention did not appear to be a section 31 reckless conduct (category 1) offence. Such offences preclude the proposed undertaking from being accepted.

In accepting enforceable undertakings by companies under the mirror WHS legislation, regulatory authorities such as WorkCover NSW first note the nature of the alleged contravention and the actions taken by the company in response to the incident before agreeing to an undertaking.

They also take into account the strategies proposed in the undertaking were assessed as likely to deliver long term sustainable safety improvements in the workplace, industry and community. Any legal proceedings in connection with the alleged offence are dismissed once the undertaking is accepted and completed.

In NSW, the undertaking addresses the requirements contained within the Enforceable Undertakings – Guidelines for Proposing a WHS Undertaking.

First for SA

Meantime, in a first for South Australia, an employer has negotiated an enforceable undertaking in lieu of a prosecution under the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA) (the WHS Act). Workplace lawyer Luke Holland from Sparke Helmore Lawyers said the safety regulator had been “true to its word” in offering an alternative to the courtroom, witnesses and hefty fines.

Of note was the lower level of investment (than other jurisdictions) accepted by SafeWork SA in enforceable undertakings, “which is perhaps reflective of the smaller South Australian economy”, Holland said.

What is an enforceable undertaking?

Holland says the purpose of an enforceable undertaking is to improve health and safety standards at the workplace, as well as for the wider community and industry. While a prosecution may fail to significantly change the behaviour of a workplace, an undertaking ensures that substantial improvements are made.

Although there are benefits to avoiding a prosecution (and the potentially significant penalty), enforceable undertakings can involve immense costs that could potentially be greater that the penalty’s value, he says. Nevertheless, undertakings are desirable because all costs determined go straight back into the workplace and community, ensuring future compliance and avoiding further contraventions of the Act.

Holland says possible strategies that may be proposed in an enforceable undertaking include:

  • implementation of special training programs to address the needs of workers, supervisors and management,
  • publicity regarding the alleged breach,
  • industry-wide awareness programs,
  • donations to not-for-profit organisations that focus on WHS, and
  • any other strategies that extend beyond compliance with the Act and provide a benefit to workers, the community and/or the industry.

The first SA enforceable undertaking

Holland outlines SA’s first enforceable undertaking as follows:

“On May 11, 2015, Adelaide Resource Recovery Pty Ltd (ARR), a recycling company, agreed to spend approximately $241,900 on safety initiatives set out in an enforceable undertaking. It was alleged that ARR had committed a category 2 offence in exposing an individual to a risk of death, or serious injury or illness, by failing to ensure the health and safety of its workers. As a body corporate, ARR faced a maximum penalty of $1,500,000.

On May 24, 2013, an employee of ARR was inspecting the mechanisms of a conveyer machine. The employee was observing the mechanisms driving the rotating shafts within the machine from a maintenance platform. The safety procedure required the mechanism to be isolated before inspection, but the employee did not do this. During his observations, the employee dropped a torch he was holding. When he reached out to grab the falling torch, his glove caught in the mechanism and his thumb was pinched. As a result the employee’s thumb was severed approximately 1 cm from the tip.

Before the incident, ARR had safety protocols, procedures, training systems, induction systems and safe work method statements in place. However, the machine involved in the incident was inadequately guarded, as it had been removed to allow for frequent maintenance.

It was noted in the enforceable undertaking that ARR had no previous convictions and that its services and products played an important role in South Australia’s recycling industry. ARR ensured the injured worker received immediate medical treatment and promptly complied with all notices issued by SafeWork SA.

As a result of the contravention, ARR spent approximately $215,050 on rectifying any deficiencies in health and safety at its workplace, including installing appropriate guarding to the machine, upgrading lighting in the area, hiring an additional construction and demolition shed supervisor, and employing a site safety supervisor. ARR also made several mandatory commitments including:

  • committing that the behaviour leading to the alleged contravention had ceased and would not reoccur,
  • committing to ongoing effective management of WHS risks,
  • committing to disseminate information about the undertaking to relevant parties,
  • committing to participating constructively in all compliance monitoring activities of the undertaking,
  • retaining the additional construction and demolition shed supervisor, and ensuring they conduct spot audits, site safety walks and revising the  Safe Work Method Statements in consultation with workers,
  • retaining the site safety supervisor,
  • publishing a safety hazard alert for its industry on the importance of adequate guarding,
  • having a representative speak at a forum conducted by SafeWork SA,
  • assisting in running a training program conducted by Mission Australia, and
  • paying SafeWork SA’s costs associated with the undertaking.

What does this mean for employers?

It is important to note that SafeWork SA, like a number of other jurisdictions, will only consider an undertaking proposed by the alleged offender and will not propose it themselves. Undertakings will not be accepted for a Category 1 offence or where the alleged contravention has resulted in a fatality or serious injury and there is a suggestion that the offender has been reckless under the Act. There is no power to compel jurisdictions to accept a proposed undertaking,  it is at their discretion whether or not they will proceed with prosecution.

Holland says there are penalties for not complying with an enforceable undertaking. In SA, SafeWork SA can apply to the court for an order to enforce compliance, with the maximum penalty for a body corporate being $250,000 and $50,000 for an individual.

More information on harmonised WHS laws, including enforceable undertakings, is available in AlertForce’s OHS Harmonisation Courses.

Senate inquiry urges overhaul of the VET FEE-HELP system

A Labor-chaired senate inquiry committee has called for an overhaul of the vocational education and training fee help (VET FEE-HELP) system, claiming existing safeguards aren’t working.

In a report to Federal Parliament this month (October 2015), the Education and Employment References Committee said there was evidence of “rampant abuse, accelerating costs, and doubling of bad debt”.

The committee said more effective ways were needed to control costs of courses for students under VET FEE-HELP, by either instituting a lower and separate loan limit or a cap on student loan amounts.

It wants the government to conduct a further review of the scheme, “so that only providers with the highest reputation for quality have unfettered access to the scheme”. The government should mandate minimum entry standards of year 12 completion or equivalent for access to VET FEE-HELP loans for diploma level courses and above, it said.

The inquiry’s two Coalition Senators defended the government’s record and opposed the call for a further review, saying in a minority report “a number of reviews, including this one, have already been held or are pending”.

“While there is more work to be done, the prompt response of the government so far to the issues raised during this inquiry is addressing the behaviour of unscrupulous VET FEE-HELP providers, protecting vulnerable students from bearing the cost of a lifetime of debt and aims to restore the integrity of Australia’s VET sector,” the minority report said.

The full committee report noted calls by some stakeholders to lower the repayment threshold to $30,000 or $40,000. However it said asking lower income earners to pay for the failure of government to properly regulate the operations of VET FEE-HELP – and for the rampant and unethical misbehaviour of some private providers – fails both the practical and ethical test.

“The committee recommends that urgent and concerted efforts are made to further raise awareness of the rights of students and existing standards relating to providers in the VET sector. This effort should focus on advocacy groups dealing with the most vulnerable members of the community, including the long-term unemployed or disadvantaged, migrants and people with disabilities.”

Under its recommendations, the Department of Education and Training (DDET) and the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) would be asked to conduct a “concerted and urgent blitz” of all providers to ensure that they are consistently complying with the national standards, especially those relating to student recruitment.

The blitz would be aimed at defending the interests of students, enforcing adherence to Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) volume of learning standards and removing non-compliant registered training organisations (RTOs) as VET FEE-HELP providers.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) would be encouraged to launch prosecutions against providers engaged or benefiting from fraud and take steps to recover monies lost. In addition, ASQA would be given powers to directly regulate brokers or marketing agents in the VET sector, and to protect students.

The committee recommended the government “caps or otherwise regulates” the level of brokerage fees paid for VET FEE-HELP students to maximum amount of 15 per cent the amount of the loan.

The government was further urged to apply, in consultation with industry and quality providers, minimum hours standards to VET FEE-HELP eligible courses.

“ASQA should be given powers to take swift and strong action against RTOs found to be providing inadequate training to their students. Closer scrutiny would be applied to the early childhood and aged care training sectors, given the concerns noted in this report. The committee further recommends ASQA improve its processes to enable it to more swiftly share information with other levels of government, regulators, government departments and law enforcement agencies.”

Under the committee’s recommendations, DEET would have to approve any instances of RTOS subcontracting out components of their VET FEE-HELP eligible training to non-registered third parties.

An Ombudsman focused on domestic students in the VET sector should be created, and the position industry-funded.

The committee said there was evidence of a “massive transfer of public wealth” from the Commonwealth and state government – and taxpayers – to private individuals “as a result of rushed rollout of demand driven entitlement schemes, particularly in Victoria and by the Commonwealth through VET FEE-HELP”.

There was a clear contrast between the actions of the Commonwealth government and that of the Victorian government, it said.

“In Victoria, the new government has acted to clean up a VET sector in crisis in that state, with the withdrawal of 8,000 qualifications and the naming and shaming of providers.”

The report will go to government for consideration.

Other reviews into VET already held or pending include:
• The Government-appointed a VET Reform Working Group, made up of representatives of students, consumer advocates, employers and providers.
• A performance audit of VET FEE-HELP be included in the Australian National Audit Office’s (ANAO) 2015-2016 work program.
• A VET Training and Assessment Working Group to consider options to strengthen the quality of training and assessment outcomes so as to maintain student and employer confidence in VET qualifications.

The Federal Government has announced it will review VET FEE-HELP in 2016-17.

AlertForce offers a wide range of compliance training courses for industry. For more details go to https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/

TAFE: is it still relevant?

Faced with reduced funding from the Federal Government, cash-strapped state governments are looking at alternative models for workplace training.

In this new environment, questions are being asked whether government instrumentalities such as TAFE remain relevant.

In South Australia, ABC Online reports 500 job will be axed in the SA TAFE sector over the next four years, with the closure of some campuses “not ruled out”. It comes at the same time as figures suggesting TAFE courses in SA cost up to two and a half times more to run than private training courses.

On June 23, 2015, the Sydney Morning Herald reported a massive 83,000 drop in TAFE enrolments in NSW in the three years since 2012.

In Western Australia, meantime, the West Australian reports the number of students studying at TAFE in WA plummeted by nearly 9,000 between 2013 and 2014. WA Department of Training and Workforce data shows that 8,800 fewer students were attending TAFE by the end of last year, compared with the same time in 2013.

Based on the figures, TAFE is in trouble. Cash-strapped states and territories are increasingly looking for alternatives to infrastructure-heavy government bodies. Channelling the public purse to registered training organisations (RTOs) could be the answer.

Why are TAFE numbers falling?
With TAFE numbers in freefall, the obvious question is: Why?

Faced with mounting costs and uncertain Federal Government funding, states in recent years have opened TAFE to private competition. The long-term benefit for governments is obvious – reduced infrastructure costs, as increased responsibility for education is placed on private providers.

Opening VET to the private sector had its genesis in Victoria under the former Brumby Labor government, SMH reports. The private providers were paid according to their course enrolments and the number of hours taught.

The privatisation push, however, has not been without problems, with some training providers accused of rorting the system. Eligibility was tightened in a revised model picked up by NSW and launched this year.

Dissent in the ranks
Not everyone agrees TAFE’s fate is sealed. Federal secretary for TAFE at the Australian Education Union Pat Forward is a former member of the National Skills Standards Council (now the Australian Industry and Skills Committee) that sets down the standards VET providers must meet before they can be registered.

In a statement on June 25, 2015, Forward welcomed Federal Labor‘s announcement it would guarantee a “proportion” of vocational education funding to TAFE if elected to government.
“Unfortunately what we have seen from governments is the pursuit of a privatisation agenda, that on any measure, has been an abject failure,” Forward said.

“We have seen the proliferation of unscrupulous operators looking to cash in by charging exorbitant fees for poor quality training. This broken system is leaving students the victims: without the skills they need to get secure jobs and saddled with huge debts they will struggle to pay off.”

Forward’s model proposes limiting the proportion of government funding tendered to the private sector to 30 per cent “to ensure TAFEs retain their capacity to provide quality training to all Australians who need it”.

“We also need immediate action to regulate fees in the VET sector, and to more closely control the massive growth in student debt through VET Fee Help.
“Standards must be improved urgently, including minimum hours for courses, a ban on contracting out training to unregistered third parties, and further restrictions on how private providers are able to market themselves.”

RTOs defend position
While unions say too much government education money is going to private providers, registered training organisations (RTOs) claim the opposite.

Training and workplace development consultant Mark Jones says governments in some states have been busy clawing back money for TAFE at the expense of private providers.
In South Australia, this includes providing subsidised training places to TAFE.

While the government has denied propping up TAFE at the expense of private providers, employer body Business SA says giving TAFE the monopoly of subsidised training places “will not only severely damage private training providers, but it will also significantly harm job creation, trainees and business, particularly small business”.

“It would appear that the real reason for the State Government’s decision is to prop up TAFE after it reduced TAFE’s budget and workforce,” its spokesperson says.

“But in doing so it appears that the government is not concerned that private sector training providers will shed hundreds of jobs with some facing closure of their business.”

Business SA said the adverse impact of the TAFE monopoly was much wider than just private sector training providers.

“Business, and in particular small business, may not be able to obtain the training they need, nor afford it, given that TAFE is not equipped to provide some of the training and is typically more than twice as expensive as private providers.

Business SA said there would be widespread adverse impacts across many critical industries including agribusiness, mining, retail, tourism, food and beverage manufacturing, building and construction and civil construction.

“No one is saying that TAFE should not exist but private training providers, businesses and just as importantly jobs should not be the sacrificial lambs to ensure TAFE’s survival.”
With numbers at TAFE collages falling, and RTOs moving into their space, the future of TAFE may have already been decided. Looking forward, governments appear to be looking to a largely private model.

AlertForce believes closer consultation with all the stakeholders is needed, regardless of which way governments go.

AlertForce provides a range of work health and safety training courses for industry. For more details go to https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/

Taking fatigue management to the next level: trucking shows the way

In September 2015, the first operator was accredited under the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s (NHVR) livestock transport fatigue management scheme (LTFMS) to provide flexible work arrangements that save time, lives and money.

Goondiwindi owner driver Pat Mulligan currently subcontracts to a large livestock transport business and welcomes the flexibility that the scheme provides his operations.

“The scheme will be of great benefit during busy work periods as the livestock industry continues to function outside of a traditional working week.

“The majority of my work involves travelling long distances in outback regions over a variety of road surfaces. This flexibility helps me transport the livestock to their destination in one trip, rather than pull up short to have a seven hour break with the cattle on board, which can affect the welfare of the animals”, Mr Mulligan said.

The NHVR launched the Livestock Transport Fatigue Management Scheme on 1 July 2015 to provide new opportunities for operators and drivers who become accredited with the NHVR.
NHVR says the scheme is a response to the growing need to marry safety with job flexibility.

Among other things, the LTFMS allows operators to apply for AFM accreditation to work up to 14 hours on a day, as part of a fortnightly cycle with ‘risk off-setting’ restrictions around driving between midnight and 4am and more frequent stops for welfare checking.

The scheme provides livestock transport operators with a template to manage their work and rest hours in a way that is suitable to the unique demands they face.

NHVR says the main causes of fatigue are not enough sleep, driving at night (when you should be asleep) and working or being awake for a long time, it says.

National heavy vehicle driver fatigue laws apply to fatigue-regulated heavy vehicles.

A fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle is:
• a vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) of over 12t
• a combination when the total of the GVM is over 12t
• buses with a GVM over 4.5t fitted to carry more than 12 adults (including the driver)
• a truck, or a combination including a truck, with a GVM of over 12t with a machine or implement attached.

Some heavy vehicles are not classed as fatigue-regulated heavy vehicles. These include trams, motor vehicles modified to primarily operate as a machine or implement (plant such as agricultural machinery, bulldozers, tractors, etc.) and motor homes specifically modified for residential purposes (not just built with a sleeper berth).

The laws cover all aspects of work and rest relating to heavy vehicles including:
• work and rest hours
• recording work and rest times
• fatigue management exemptions
• Chain of responsibility obligations.

At the heart of the laws for fatigue management is a primary duty – a driver must not drive a fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle on a road while impaired by fatigue. Drivers may be impaired by fatigue even when complying with work and rest limits.

Chain of responsibility
Under existing transport legislation, If you consign, pack, load or receive goods as part of your business, you could be held legally liable for breaches of road transport laws even though you do not drive a heavy vehicle. In addition, corporate entities, directors, partners and managers are accountable for the actions of people under their control. This is the ‘chain of responsibility’ (COR).

Each person in the COR must take all reasonable steps to ensure that the driver of a fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle does not drive on a road while impaired by fatigue or breach road transport laws relating to fatigue.

In addition to this, each person in the COR must take all reasonable steps to ensure a heavy vehicle driver can perform his or her duties without breaching road transport laws.
See the Chain of responsiblity for more information.

AlertForce is a leader in fatigue management training. If you are in trucking, freight management, mining, manufacturing or rail, AlertForce has customised courses that can help your business (see https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/fatigue-management/#course-content).

Who is protecting the protectors? Traffic controllers under the gun

A string of serious safety incidents involving traffic controllers has critics calling for an overhaul of legislative and safety protections, including traffic control training and planning.

In the most recent incident, Queensland detectives are investigating after two projectiles were fired at a traffic controller at a roadworks site on the Bruce Highway at Burpengary on September 22, 2015.

Police report the 45-year-old Sippy Downs man was sitting in a parked vehicle southbound, just after the Uhlmann Road exit, when a white sedan pulled up beside him around 9.40pm.

The front seat passenger, a male wearing a balaclava, pointed a handgun at the man and fired two rounds before the vehicle sped off.

The man managed to duck for cover and the projectiles travelled through the open front windows of the car, passing out of the vehicle and into bushland.

There was no information when this report was compiled whether the incident was a targeted attack.

The incident comes just two weeks after a 50-year-old traffic controller was struck and killed by a car southwest of Brisbane.

Shooting latest in long line of injury risks

While the shooting is far from typical, it joins a long list of occupational hazards faced by traffic controllers.

As previously reported by AlertForce, traffic controllers face an unacceptably high risk of being injured or killed on the job. A 10-year study by Safe Work Australia of truck-related fatalities put incidents involving traffic controller at the head of a list of fatalities involving “workers on foot”.

In Queensland, WorkCover Queensland figures for 2013/14 reveal more than 230 injury claims a year from traffic controllers in Queensland, costing $2.6m a year. More than 50% of injured workers were aged between 40 and 60 years old.

Costs up but days off work falling
Speaking to a Traffic Management Association of Queensland (TMAQ) meeting in Cairns in 2014, WorkCover Queensland customer advisor Pablo Aviles said total claims costs for the industry have continued to rise since 2011.

“This means that there’s more work to be done to prevent injuries and ensure safer work environments,” Aviles said.

“On the plus side, we have seen an ongoing reduction in the average days to an injured worker’s first return to work. In 2009-10, in traffic control services, the average number of days it took an injured worker to get back to work was 33.7, and it is now 19.2.

“This can help reduce the costs of claims, which can have a positive impact on premium rates.
“Similarly, the percentage of injured workers who are able to stay at work, often on a suitable duties plan, during their rehabilitation has improved from 36 per cent in 2009-10 to 50.4 per cent in 2013-14.”

‘Driver aggression’ the big problem
Driver aggression remains the biggest concern for traffic controllers, according to a 2012 survey by the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety-Queensland (CARRS-Q).

Reporting on the survey in its July 2013 newsletter, the Traffic Management Association of Queensland said driver aggression was followed by ‘working close to traffic and machinery’, ‘setting up signage’, ‘working on high speed roads’, ‘working during rain’ and ‘reduced visibility’ (during night, dawn and dusk)

The common types of incidents reported involved vehicles driving into cordoned off work areas, hitting traffic controllers, rear ending other vehicles as they approached roadworks, and reversing incidents involving work vehicles and machinery.

Many workers cited driver errors, such as violating speed limits, distracted driving, and ignoring signage and traffic controllers’ instructions as the main causes of the incidents.

While some believed that existing safety measures were effective, many argued there was room for improvement. Speed control through increased enforcement, increased public awareness, and driver education and licensing initiatives targeted to safety near roadworks were mentioned as potential improvement measures.

The researchers are currently measuring river speeds through roadwork sites.

Later phases of the research involve interviewing drivers regarding what influences their behaviour, and trialling new safety initiatives.

In Queensland and other states, regulators have moved to tighten controls around training delivery in the industry.

Recent Queensland Department of Transport and Main initiatives include:
• a state-wide review of speed signage at roadwork sites to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, compliance and consistency in the determination and placement of reduced speed zones at roadwork sites,
• increasing industry awareness of its responsibilities for ensuring road worker safety following the introduction of the Code of Practice for Traffic Management for Construction or Maintenance Work in 2008, and
• increasing public awareness through a range of activities stemming from the Workplace Rights Ombudsman’report in 2009.
To be accredited as traffic controller in Queensland, a person must complete a Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) Approved Traffic Controller Training Course. The course must be delivered through a registered training organisation (RTO) approved by TMR to deliver the course.

For more details on AlertForce’s nationally recognised traffic control NSW training, go to https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/nationally-recognised-traffic-control-training-nsw/

Work health and safety at a glance: seven key elements explained

The national harmonised Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act 2011 requires a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) to ensure the health and safety of workers it engages – or whose work it influences or directs.

The following summary prepared by employer body the Australian Industry Group looks at seven key elements of the Act.

Duty of care
A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must ensure the health and safety of all persons at its business, including visitors, are not put at risk by the activities of the business.

This “duty of care” specifically includes looking at the work environment; work systems; plant and structures used; substances used, handled or stored; as well as providing adequate information, instruction, training and supervision for work to be carried out safely. Access to facilities for the welfare of workers is also required.

“Ensuring health and safety” is defined as eliminating risks so far as is reasonably practicable, or if that is not possible, minimising the risks.

“Reasonably practicable” is defined as what could reasonably be done at the time to ensure health and safety, taking into account:
• The likelihood of the hazard or risk occurring and the degree of harm it could cause;
• What the business knows or ought to know about the hazard or risk and the available and suitable ways of eliminating or minimising it; and
• After assessing the above, the cost associated with available ways of eliminating or minimising the risk, including whether the cost is grossly disproportionate to the risk.

Specific obligations relating to risks or industries are detailed in the WHS regulations and employers must comply with them.

Codes of practice provide practical guidance on compliance. Employers should follow a code of practice unless they can show an alternative way of meeting their obligations that is at least as safe. This allows some flexibility but deviating from a code is not something you should do lightly or without good advice.

There is a specific code of practice setting out a systematic approach to managing risks. The regulations and that code both refer to the “hierarchy of controls” as part of that systematic approach.

The hierarchy is eliminate the risk so far as is reasonably practicable; if it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate the risk, minimize the risk so far as is reasonably practicable by doing one or more of the following: substitution, isolation and engineering controls.; if a risk then remains, minimise the remaining risk so far as is reasonably practicable by implementing administrative controls (eg, safe work instructions, supervision, signage and training); and if a risk then remains, minimize the remaining risk so far as is reasonable practicable by ensuring the provision and use of suitable personal protective equipment (PPE).

If you control a workplace that is used by others, say by renting out a factory space, you have some WHS duties as well, set out in section 20 of the WHS Act.

Meaning of workers
Because so much work is now done in businesses by people who are not direct employees, WHS defines worker very broadly to include employees; contractors; sub-contractors; employees of contractors or sub-contractors; outworkers; employees of labour hire companies; and volunteers.

Clearly those workers who are direct employees may well work for another business, which would also be a PCBU with the same duty to protect its workers. How you should interact with those other PCBUs to jointly look after those workers, and how responsibility is apportioned between you and the other PCBU is set out in the next section, Obligation to consult … with other duty holders.

Workers and other persons at a workplace, such as visitors, also have duties under the WHS law. These duties do not in any way take away from the PCBU’s responsibilities covered in Duty of care. The worker duties are very similar to duties under current law.

Businesses should make sure their workers understand the nature of these duties and should not tolerate material breaches of them without taking the matter up with the worker in an appropriate way consistent with workplace relations laws. They are an important part of the behaviour that makes workplaces safe.

Obligations to consult, cooperate and coordinate with other duty holders
WHS laws clearly identifies that more than one person can have the same duty.

For example, a labour hire company and a host of employers both hold the duty to ensure the health and safety of a labour hire worker placed with the host employer.

Both are PCBUs with the same duty towards the labour hire worker. The following principle (in section 16 of the Act) outlines how these duties interact: If more than one person has a duty for the same matter, each person:
• Retains responsibility for their own duty;
• Must discharge that duty to the extent that they have the capacity to influence or control the matter or would have had that capacity but for an agreement or arrangement purporting to limit or remove that capacity.

In order to support this concept, section 46 of the Act requires duty holders to consult, cooperate and coordinate, so far as is reasonably practicable, with all other persons who have a duty in relation to that matter. So the labour hire company and the host each has a duty to consult with each other, cooperate and coordinate their efforts to keep this worker safe.

A business that has a duty to consult, cooperate and coordinate with another business over the safety of a worker must do so until it runs up against the actual limits of its influence or control. It will be very dangerous for a business to argue that it didn’t try to consult, or did so only superficially because it assumed it had no influence or control.

Obligations to consult with workers
The overarching worker consultation obligation is outlined in section 47 of the WHS Act. A PCBU must, so far as is reasonable practicable, consult with workers who carry out work for the PCBU and are, or are likely to be, directly affected by health and safety matter.

Consultation is required whenever the PCBU is identifying risks and how to control them; making decisions about the adequacy of facilities; proposing changes that may affect health and safety; or making decisions about procedures that relate to health and safety (section 49).

Section 48 of the Act requires relevant information about the matter must be shared with workers; and workers must be given the opportunity to express their views and raise work health and safety issues; and contribute to the decision-making process. If the workers consulted are represented by a health and safety representative, that person must be involved in the consultation.

Consultation extends to all workers whose health and safety may be affected by your actions or decisions, including contractors and labour hire employees.

Upstream duty holders
The WHS Act and regulations establish obligations on businesses who design plant or structures (section 22), manufacture plant, substances or structures (section 23), import plant, substances or structures (section 24), supply plant, substances or structures (section 25), and install, construct or commission plant or structures (section 26).

These upstream duty holders have obligations to eliminate and minimise the risks, so far as is reasonably practicable, associated with their plant, substances or structures; and to provide the necessary information to enable them to be used safely. The obligations relating to the design of and also the health and safety of those constructing them.

In relation to supplying plant, the obligations extend to those who sell second hand plant. Upstream duties have been established to focus on eliminating or minimising risks at their source. It is much easier to deal with a health and safety issue during the design phase than to try and retrofit a solution once the plant, substance or structure is in use in the workplace.

Right of entry
Legislation in most states and territories has, for many years, included a right for union officials who hold appropriate permits to enter a workplace to inquire into a suspected breach of safety law.

In a few states, these same people have also had a right to enter the workplace to consult or advise workers or to assist a health and safety representative.

The WHS laws establish a right to enter for both purposes. Other provisions in the Act and Regulations establish other circumstances where a union may become involved in the workplace.

When the rights of entry powers are being exercised, the union must comply with any WHS or other legislated requirement that applies to the workplace if requested by the PCBU or person with management of the workplace; and must not delay, hinder or obstruct any person or disrupt work at the workplace. The business cannot refuse or unduly delay a permit holder entitled to enter the workplace.

Due diligence
WHS makes it clear that where duties are held by an organisation (such as a company), there is an obligation on the officers of the organisation to exercise due diligence to ensure that the organisation complies with those duties (section 27).

In other words, those who make decisions about how a company is run have their own individual obligation to contribute to it being run in compliance with the safety laws.

AlertForce offers OHS harmonisation courses for industry. For more details go to https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/ohs-harmonisation-course.

Are you driving your workers’ mad?

The high incidence of workers’ compensation claims for psychological injury in Australia remains an ongoing concern for workplace health and safety (WHS) professionals.

In recognition of Mental Health Week, the ABC’s Mental As program and National Safe Work Month, AlertForce this month devotes a number of its news articles to exploring WHS programs for workers with mental health issues.

Today’s article looks specifically at wellness programs.

Professor of Education at the University of Sheffield in the UK Kathryn Ecclestone notes educational settings have become a prime policy site for psychological well-being training (now transmogrifying as “character education”).

More generally, “behavioural economics, neuroscience and various strands of psychology now combine to generate government measures of citizens’ subjective well-being, myriad devices to capture, monitor and respond to mass sentiment are used by corporations such as British Airways, Facebook and Google, and there is a huge rise in behavioural and psychological disorders and treatments,” Prof Ecclestone notes.

“Behind it all lurks deep pessimism about the declining mental health of western workers.”
Dr Ecclestone’s comments were made in a critique of William Davies’ The Happiness Industry: How the Government and Big Business Sold us Well-Being on the UK Times Higher Education website.

Workplace psych injuries are particularly relevant for employers because they involve longer periods of time away from work and higher medical, legal and other payments than most injuries.

Responding to workplace psych injury is not the only cost for business, the July 2015 Corrs Workplace Relations Employment Workplace and Safety Law: Mid-Year Review notes.

“Changes in the labour force mean that four out of every five jobs in Australia are in the services sector and the delivery of services is usually in person. This means that happy workers are good for business,” the review says.

The Corrs report notes the model WHS Act taken up by most states and territories imposes an obligation on a person undertaking a business or undertaking (PCBU) to ensure that they take all steps reasonably practicable to ensure both the physical and psychological health of their workers.

WHS regulations generally require business to apply a risk management approach to psychological risk. “This means that businesses have a duty and responsibility under the WHS Act to proactively manage risks, which includes a comprehensive and systematic approach to identifying, assessing, controlling and monitoring risks to the psychological health of their workers and to ensure that they don’t expose others to relevant risks arising from work performed in their business,” Corrs report says.

Corrs says “significant” assistance is available from the WHS Regulators’ websites in relation to how to conduct a risk assessment in relation to psychosocial hazard. However it says business is struggling to convert those risk assessments into effective action.

“Many are turning to leaders in the field such as Canada which has produced the standard known as ‘Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace”,” the report says . “This is a detailed and voluntary standard that specifies requirements for a systematic approach to develop and enable psychologically safe and healthy workplaces, the integration of a psychological health and safety management system into the way the organisation manages its business and the promotion of psychological wellness as opposed to focusing only on preventing psychological injury arising from working conditions.”

The WHS Regulators now recognise workplace bullying as a WHS risk and have introduced guidance material and campaigns, and increased interventions in this area. However, WHS prosecutions in relation to these issues are not common yet. Corrs says “it remains to be seen” if the WHS Regulators and inspectors will be sufficiently resourced to respond effectively to workplace psychological risks. “Certainly, the WorkCover NSW 2010–2015 corporate plan states ‘Research indicates job stress and other work-related psychosocial hazards are emerging as leading contributors to the burden of workplace illness and injury’.

There is little doubt that workplace psychosocial risk is an emerging WHS issue requiring a systematic response from business, Corrs says.

Damages on rise
The rapid rise of psych injuries is not the only worrying trend for employers noted in the Corrs report. In its second annual review of workplace safety laws, Corrs says a Full Federal Court decision signals an important shift in the approach of Australian courts to the assessment of damages in sexual harassment cases. The Full Court awarded $130,000 in damages to Oracle’s former consulting manager for sexual harassment by a male sales representative. The company was held vicariously liable for the sales representative’s conduct. The Full Court found that the trial judge’s award of $18,000 damages did not reflect ‘prevailing community standards’.

A five-member FWC Full Bench, meantime, has upheld an appeal by DP World against a first instance decision that constrained its ability to conduct urine tests as part of a new drug and alcohol (D&A) policy. The case involved interpretation of DP World’s enterprise agreement provision that referred to the policy’s random D&A testing regime and swab/oral testing method. Under its new national policy, which replaced site-specific policies, DP World tried to introduce a follow-up urine test when an employee had a positive swab test. The Full Bench determined that the agreement, and the circumstances of DP World’s operations, did not preclude urine testing for a second or confirmatory test. The decision is one of a number of FWC decisions in the past year that have largely supported employer rights to administer D&A tests under applicable workplace policies, and to discipline or dismiss employees who breach such policies.

The Corrs report also looks at the “myth” of ‘harmonised’ workplace health and safety legislation. It says harmonisation is the most significant step to date to relieve the regulatory headaches businesses experience operating across states. However, it was not designed to deliver a national approach to the regulation of WHS and “has not done so”. “The adoption of the model laws in six of the eight WHS jurisdictions has given business little relief from the WHS regulatory bureaucracy because WHS laws remain different in each jurisdiction. Victoria and WA have not adopted the model WHS laws and within the so-called ‘harmonised jurisdiction’ the model laws have been varied to accommodate local pressures – this means that over time, each state and territory will become increasingly divergent.”

Require WHS training to better identify WHS risk factors? Go to https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/

Reference sources for this article: http://www.corrs.com.au/assets/thinking/downloads/Corrs-Employment-Workplace-Safety-Law-Mid-Year-Review-July-2015.pdf


To claim or not to claim: government releases easy guide to work disease

The Federal Government has moved to end confusion in the work health and safety market over what is and isn’t an occupational disease (including lung cancer due to asbestos exposure) by publishing an up-to-date “deemed-diseases” list.

Safe Work Australia’s (SWA) Deemed Diseases In Australia report lists diseases and associated work-related exposures to streamline identification and compensation of work-related disease in Australia.

The list provides information to help anyone involved in the prevention or compensation of occupational disease. Among other things, it will assist registered training organisations, including AlertForce, educate workers on WHS best practice in at risk occupations.

SWA chief executive officer Michelle Baxter said most Australian jurisdictions had special provisions in their workers’ compensation legislation deeming certain specified occupational diseases as being caused by specified work-related activities.

“In many cases, these lists have not been updated since they were introduced and therefore do not include some diseases for which there is now strong evidence of a causal link to work-related exposures.”

Ms Baxter said the Deemed Diseases in Australia report was the result of a “thorough review of the latest scientific evidence on the causal link between diseases and occupational exposure, by an independent consultant in epidemiology and occupational medicine, Professor Tim Driscoll”.

“While the report was developed primarily for use by jurisdictions, SWA agreed to publish the report as it provides useful evidence-based information for anyone involved in the prevention or compensation of occupational disease.”

The project involved consultation via the representative membership of SWA. SWA agreed that impact assessments and public consultation are more appropriately undertaken by those jurisdictions considering revising their own deemed diseases lists.

The effect of the deemed diseases list is to reverse the onus of proof. A worker with the disease who has been exposed to the relevant exposure in the course of their work is assumed to have developed that disease because of the exposure unless there is strong evidence to the contrary. Diseases that are not included on the list can still be the subject of a workers’ compensation claim through the normal approach, where the reverse onus of proof would not apply. The deemed diseases approach simplifies relevant claims on the assumption that there is a high likelihood that the disease has arisen as a result of work-related exposures.

The deemed diseases lists in use in Australia are not commonly used as the basis for claims. There are probably several reasons for this, particularly that the lists are not up to date and are not well structured to facilitate claims to be made under deemed diseases legislation. As a result of these issues, SWA undertook a project in 2013 to develop an up-to-date Australian list, based on the latest scientific evidence.

The criteria used to determine which diseases and associated exposures should be included on the list were:
1. Strong causal link between the disease and occupation exposure.
2. Clear diagnostic criteria.
3. The disease comprises a considerable proportion of the cases of that disease in the overall population or in an identifiable subset of the population.

Not every disease that is known to be caused by work should be included on a Deemed Disease list. Where the disease is very common in the community but only rarely caused by work, it would usually be inappropriate to include the disease on the List because the vast majority of cases would be expected to be due to non-work exposures. To include every disease that has ever been shown to be caused by an exposure that occurred in connection to occupation would make the List very unwieldy and not be consistent with the Deemed Diseases approach.

Equally, it would not be appropriate to only include diseases in which occupational exposures were the majority cause. Lung cancer is a good example. Lung cancer is known to be caused by exposure to asbestos, and the most common circumstance in which asbestos exposure occurs is through work. However, the most common cause of lung cancer in the community is smoking. Excluding lung cancer from consideration because the main cause is non-occupational would mean that many people whose cancer is actually caused by occupational exposure to asbestos will find it much more difficult to receive appropriate compensation for their illness. In many instances, people may have had several exposures,

There are some infections that are likely to usually or commonly result from work-related exposures. These are good candidates for inclusion on the list, because it is likely that any individual case would have arisen due to work-related exposures in the at-risk occupations. Leptospirosis is an example of this sort of infection. Leptospirosis is a zoonotic infection caused by a range of small organisms called leptospira. The main occupational source of infection is the urine of infected animals. Persons who appear particularly at increased risk of leptospirosis include farmers (especially dairy farmers), abattoir workers, forestry workers, hunters, veterinarians, plumbers, sewer worker and transport operators. It is recommended that leptospirosis in high-risk workers be included on the list.

For other infections, the majority of cases will occur not in relation to occupational exposure, which means the infection is not appropriate to include for workers in general. However, for some specific working groups, most cases of the infection in question will be due to occupational exposure, so the infection in that work group could be reasonably included on the list. Tuberculosis in health care workers is a good example. Infections where there is not a strong relationship between the infectious disease and a particular occupational group, but where occupationally-related cases do occur sporadically, are not recommended for inclusion on the list.

AlertForce offers training in asbestos awareness training, assessment and removal (https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/asbestos-awareness/), and dealing with hazardous materials and substances (https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/hazardous-materials/)

Asbestos Awareness Training, Assessment & Removal Courses

Mining employers opt for online training to reduce costs

Online training is proving cost-effective in the coal industry, as the industry explores less expensive ways to present government-mandated mining courses.

This is reflected in latest training offerings from AlertForce, one of Australia’s largest work health and safety (WHS) training providers.

Chief executive officer Mr Brendan Torazzi said falling coal prices had seen a greater focus on cost-efficient online induction/WHS training for new employees.

“The advantages of doing theory training online include working at your own pace; there is no travel involved and there are other cost savings for employers such as the initial cost of the course,” Mr Torazzi said.

AlertForce has taken up the challenge by providing its latest induction course for new employees in Queensland’s coal industry in an online-only format.

“The online program is comprehensive and in most ways more detailed than face-to-face training,” Mr Torazzi said. “The introductory price also represents a significant discount to current face-to-face offerings – important for coal producers faced with a fluctuating coal price and rising costs. Practical skills are validated by a supervisor on the job.”

Mr Torazzi said induction training is compulsory in the Qld coal industry under Qld Govt legislation. Under the legislation, coal industry employers are required to provide refresher training every five years – with the initial 2011 start date expiring this year.

New laws raise WHS bar

Mr Torazzi said the Qld Govt introduced ‘Recognised Standard 11: Training in Coal Mines’ in 2011 to raise the basic level of training and safety in Queensland coalmines.

AlertForce has decided to offer refresher coal surface training this year in an online format following the success of a similar AlertForce offering to NBN Co workers employed on the national broadband network.

The NBN Co Safety and Awareness induction training course is a mandatory requirement under NBN Co-imposed training requirements for any person working on the national infrastructure project. While face-to-face training is offered for the NBN Safety and Awareness program, the marketplace for the training is completed “95% online”, Mr Torazzi said.

AlertForce’s GI Coal Surface Standard 11 training, meantime, is based upon materials produced by Energy Skills Queensland.

Requirements for the Qld course are:

  • Broadband access
  • Speak and write fluently in English
  • Complete Perform CPR training or higher qualification
  • For existing workers in the mining industry, a copy of your CV and qualifications

New entrants need to complete the mandatory practical skills assessment / workplace experience logbook on the job.

On successful completion of the Standard 11 course, participants receive a certificate of completion and a GI Card that allows them to access Qld mine sites.

Once the logbook is returned, a statement of attainment is issued covering the following nationally recognised units:

  • Communicate in the workplace (RIICOM201D)
  • Apply initial response first aid (RIIERR205D)
  • Respond to local emergencies and incidents (RIIERR302D)
  • Comply with site work processes/procedures (RIIGOV201D)
  • Work safely and follow WHS policies and procedures (RIIWHS201D)
  • Conduct local risk control (RIIRIS201D)

Mr Torazzi says “practical “skills are addressed in the online course by requiring participants to keep a logbook demonstrating successful implementation of their training.

Valued professionals

Mr Torazzi said AlertForce induction training treats new employees as “valued” professionals, building a strong early relationship between the company and the worker.

“They introduce new employees to the right people (top to bottom),” Mr Torazzi said.

“They also provide the employee with essential company history, customer, product and organisation information,” he said.

Mr Torazzi said an ideal induction course should explain:

  • how employee can access supplies and equipment,
  • where to get help to get the job done,
  • basic duties and responsibilities, and performance standards;
plus how one job relates to another,
  • employment terms and working conditions.,
  • company policy, rules and regulations, traditions and how things are done; and
  • the company’s commitment to work health and safety;
community, environment and sustainability.

The induction training should be capable of being used by all types of employees, contractors and casuals and for re-induction of existing staff.

Advantages of training

Mr Torazzi said the advantages of properly implemented induction training included:

  • consistent messaging to staff,
  • increased staff efficiency,
  • fast return on investment for new staff
  • a reduction in incidents and injuries
  • saving up to 50% on face-to-face training costs,
  • increased talent retention,
  • mapping to nationally recognised credentials,
  • improved safety culture,
  • reduction in staff errors on the job, and
  • better staff alignment to company values.

For more details about AlertForce’s coal mining and NBN Co induction training courses, go to either GI Coal Surface Standard 11 Training at https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/standard-11-training-generic-coal-induction-queensland/ or NBN Co Safety and Awareness induction courses at https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/nationally-recognised-nbn-safety-awareness-course/.

Apprenticeships under pressure: industry body calls for urgent changes

Apprenticeships are under pressure, with latest figures revealing falling numbers, high injury rates, fatigue management problems and a shift in training priorities.

The Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET) said a combination of the end of the mining boom, fewer manufacturing and engineering jobs, currency movements, and “relatively high unemployment” had hurt the apprenticeship sector.

The situation had been exacerbated by decisions by governments to prioritise funding (incentives, user choice) away from traineeships.

“ACPET believes these government policy and funding decisions need to be reviewed as a matter of priority,” ACPET’s submission to the Inquiry into vocational education and training in New South Wales says.

Safety an issue

A shift in government training priorities is not the only issue facing the sector, with latest WorkSafe Australia figures revealing workers aged under 25 years (young workers) account for 20% of work- related injuries experienced by all Australian workers.

The 2009-10 figures reveal an injury rate of 66.1 work-related injuries per 1000 workers – 18% higher than the rate for workers aged 25 years and over (older workers: 56.2 injuries per 1000 workers). While young male workers had higher incidence rates of work-related injury than their female counterparts, on a ‘per hour’ basis young female workers had a frequency rate of injury 13% higher than young male workers.

This corresponds to an injury rate of 66.1 work-related injuries per 1000 workers – 18% higher than the rate for workers aged 25 years and over (older workers: 56.2 injuries per 1000 workers).

While young male workers had higher incidence rates of work-related injury than their female counterparts, on a ‘per hour’ basis young female workers had a frequency rate of injury 13% higher than young male workers.

Young shift workers working on a full time basis had substantially higher incidence rates of work-related injury than their non-shift working counterparts, suggesting fatigue management may be an issue.

When hours worked were considered, young female part time shift workers had the highest frequency rate of work-related injury compared to their young male and older worker counterparts.

ACPET calls for govt reforms

The combination of changed government priorities and pressures on the sector has prompted ACPET to call for a review of government policy covering apprenticeships.

ACPET said there was no truth in speculation students and employers were dissatisfied with the training provided – or that quality was declining as a result of recent VET reforms. Rather survey data indicated a “very-high” level of satisfaction.

ACPET said National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) 2014 student data indicated 88.9 % of graduates in NSW were satisfied with the overall quality of training, compared to 87.6% nationally. The “high levels” of satisfaction had been maintained over the past decade, its submission says.

For employers, the most recent NCVER data (2013) indicated those in NSW had similar engagement with the accredited training system as those nationally (52.9% compared to 51.9%).

Nationally, employer satisfaction levels since 2005 had risen and fallen in line with their use of the accredited VET system, which itself “broadly tracks” economic circumstances

In terms of ‘voting with their feet’, 45.3% of employers nationally used private training providers as their main provider of nationally recognised training compared to 16.7% for TAFE and 22.7% for professional or industry organisations.

ACPET said the growth in contestability in VET over the past 20 years, accompanied by the increase in number and diversity of providers, has had a marked impact on the affordability and accessibility of VET as private providers.

The greater efficiency (and flexibility) of private provision was highlighted in a report by Professional Fellow at Victoria University Peter Noonan in an August 2014 article in online publication, The Conversation, the submission argues. Put simply, new delivery strategies that harness technology and adopt greater flexibility in regard to facilities and staffing are underpinning private provider efficiencies that are enabling more affordable and accessible VET without compromising quality or outcomes. High cost does not necessarily equal quality nor does low cost necessarily mean lack of quality.”

“It was noted above that NSW has the lowest proportion of contestable VET funding of any state and territory. ACPET analysis indicates this approach has had a significant adverse impact on the cost of delivering VET services.

The 2014 NCVER student outcome survey indicated those receiving training through government-funded private providers were more likely to be employed after training compared to TAFE graduates (79% vs. 74%). Of those not employed before training, a lower proportion of government-funded TAFE graduates were employed after training compared to those from private providers, at 42.3% and 47.2% respectively in 2014.

“While there has been some criticism that training packages do not meet industry demand, they do enable the flexibility for providers to tailor delivery resources and strategies to the needs of students and industry alike. It is also important to acknowledge that while VET training is closely aligned to the needs of the workforce only some 40% of graduates work in the field of their study. The portability and flexibility of VET qualifications, therefore, is important in maximising ongoing employment opportunities and responding to changing workforce needs.”

At the same time ACPET acknowledges that training packages do not (and cannot) meet all the skill needs of the workforce or students. Many ACPET members have developed and deliver accredited courses that respond to niche labour market, student and employer needs. They are integral to a flexible, responsive VET sector.

“In summary, the contracting arrangements have mismanaged the allocation of training places and excluded some markets altogether (eg, foundation skills). It has resulted in large increases in student contributions for some programs, the halving of the number of registered training organisations delivering government-funded training compared to previous arrangements. ACPET members have reported the misalignment of provider capacity and contract locations, contract caps that make delivery not viable and contracts not being awarded to high-quality providers with strong long-standing industry links.”

This flawed approach to allocating training places, including by region, has led to a very slow take-up of training places. If not remedied, it is likely to cause significant long-term damage for students, industry and providers.”


AlertForce offers a range of training courses in fatigue management. For details, go to https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/fatigue-management/.

Confronting sexual harassment: an employer’s guide

Managers and supervisors must ensure that everybody in the workplace is free from sexual harassment. The following article explores those responsibilities and what to do if harassment occurs.

Despite being outlawed for more than 25 years, sexual harassment remains a problem in Australian workplaces, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) concedes. In fact, nearly one in five complaints received by the AHRC under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Commonwealth) relate to sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment comes at a considerable cost, both to affected individuals and to business, AHRA says. It is important that employers take active steps to prevent sexual harassment and respond effectively when it occurs, its Sexual Harassment: Know where the line is report says.

What is sexual harassment?
AHRC’s report says sexual harassment is defined in the Sex Discrimination Act as “any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favours or conduct of a sexual nature in relation to the person harassed in circumstances where a reasonable person would have anticipated the possibility that the person harassed would be offended, humiliated or intimidated”.

Tackling violence, harassment and bullying and building community understanding and respect for human rights are two of the AHRC’s priority areas.

Sexual harassment is also one of five priority areas for action contained in the commission’s Gender Equality Blueprint 2010.

Employers and unions, meantime, are doing their bit to defeat discrimination, joining with the cmn in a tripartite partnership called the Know Where the Line Is . The national awareness raising strategy is a combined effort by the cmn, employer body the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Australian Council of Trade Unions to prevent and reduce the harm of sexual harassment in Australian workplaces.

Sexual harassment prevalence surveys
While falling, harassment rates still remain unacceptably high, latest AHRA figure suggest. Since 2002, the cmn has conducted national sexual harassment phone surveys every five years. The aim of these surveys is to provide robust evidence on the prevalence, nature and extent of sexual harassment in Australian workplaces.

The cmn’s third sexual harassment survey, conducted in 2012, found that approximately one in five (21%) people over the age of 15 years experienced sexual harassment in the workplace in the previous five year period. It also found that sexual harassment continues to affect more women than men. Thirty-three per cent (33%) of women have been sexually harassed since the age of 15, compared to fewer than 9% of men.

An earlier cmn survey, conducted in 2008, found that 22% of females and 5% of males had experienced sexual harassment in the workplace at some time, compared to 28% of females and 7% of males in 2003.

It also found a lack of understanding as to what sexual harassment is. Around one in five (22%) respondents who said they had not experienced sexual harassment then went on to report having experienced behaviours that may in fact amount to sexual harassment under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth).

Bystander approaches
In July 2012 the cmn released a new research paper, Encourage. Support. Act!: Bystander approaches to sexual harassment in the workplace, which is a comprehensive examination of the way bystander intervention can be applied to addressing sexual harassment in workplaces. Bystanders are individuals who observe sexual harassment firsthand, or are subsequently informed of the incident.

Written by Associate Professor Paula McDonald from Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane and Dr Michael Flood from the University of Wollongong, Encourage. Support. Act examines the role bystander intervention strategies are already playing in other areas such as whistle blowing, racial harassment, workplace bullying and anti-violence.

Amendments to the Act
In June 2013, the Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Act 2013 (Cth) extended the list of circumstances to be taken into account when assessing whether or not sexual harassment has occurred, AHRA says.

Specifically, the Act replaced “marital status, sexual preference” from the existing list of circumstances in section 28A(1A)(a) of the Sex Discrimination Act with the following circumstances: “sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex status, marital or relationship status”.

The amendment to section 28A(1A)(a) recognises that a person’s “sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex status, marital or relationship status” may influence whether or not a reasonable person “would have anticipated the possibility that the person harassed would be offended, humiliated or intimidated”.

AlertForce response
AlertForce has responded to the incidence of sex harassment in Australian workplaces by offering convenient and cost effective sex discrimination training to employers, in the form of an online module Prevention of Sexual Harassment. The course can be scheduled wherever and whenever it suits managers and staff. The courses are carried out swiftly and simply, making it easy to meet responsibilities while keeping the business moving.

The Prevention of Sexual Harassment training covers compliance requirements under Equal Employment Opportunity, Sexual Harassment Prevention and/or anti workplace bullying legislation and codes of practice.

While treated in its own right through various codes of practice, workplace bullying often features in sexual harassment matters. It is best dealt with by taking steps to prevent it from occurring and responding quickly if it does occur, Safe Work Australia’s (SWA’s) Dealing with Workplace Bullying guide recommends.

The longer the bullying behaviour continues, the more difficult it is to address and the harder it becomes to repair working relationships, the guide says. The guide provides information for persons conducting a business or undertaking on how to manage the risks of workplace bullying as part of meeting their duties under the work health and safety laws.

It includes advice on what workplace bullying is, how it can be prevented and how to respond to allegations that may arise.

Meantime, in one of the first of its type, the Fair Work Commission in August 2015 issued a “stop- bullying” order that was not first determined by consent.

Thomson Reuter’s industrial relations news title Workforce reports the subject of the order was directed not to contact two former workers at a related real estate business for two years, after his former employer conceded the ex-property manager’s conduct towards the workers could be bullying.

For more specific details and training, see AlertForce’s Sexual Harassment module.

WorkSafe advises caution when dealing with trainers that aren’t RTOs

WorkSafe Western Australia has warned employees undertaking workplace training with companies that aren’t registered training organisations (RTOs) they may not receive their work licence.

The warning this month (September, 2015) follows its investigation into a non-registered training provider, A & J Training and Assessing.

WorkSafe director of business services Robyn Parker explained that A & J could not issue a Statement of Attainment a worker would require for a High Risk Work Licence to be issued.

“WorkSafe has recently received a number of queries about this particular trainer, and we need to warn the public that they may not receive the service they pay for if they deal with A & J,” Ms Parker said.

“A & J can deliver the training, but they are not a RTO and so cannot themselves issue valid Statements of Attainment.

“Statements of Attainment issued by A & J will not be accepted by WorkSafe, and as a consequence, a High Risk Work Licence will not be issued.”

Ms Parker said A & J would also contravene consumer laws if a licence applicant paid them for a service but did not receive the goods he or she had paid for.

ASQA defends its track record
Federal regulatory body Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), meantime, has rejected any suggestion it failed to investigate and take appropriate action in relation to concerns regarding the quality of vocational training and assessment.

In a June 2015 statement, ASQA said it had conducted almost 4,700 audits of the training and assessment activities of RTOs since its establishment in July 2011.

It has issued 470 notices of intention to cancel or suspend RTO registration; and made 218 decisions to cancel or suspend registration and 141 decisions to refuse reregistration of existing RTOs, affecting in total 261 different RTOs.

At the Senate Estimates hearing of 3 June 2015, questions were asked comparing ASQA’s actions in relation to the Vocation-Ltd owned RTOs taken by the Victorian regulator. In particular, the situation regarding the recall or cancellation of qualifications was raised.

ASQA said the policy framework for Australia’s Vocational Education and Training (VET) system was based on the regulation of RTOs, rather than the regulation of each individual learner. The wholesale cancellation of qualifications has not been a feature of the VET system.

“The National Vocational Education and Training Regulator (NVR) Act provisions assume cancellation is a specific response to particular circumstances and, if based on a concern that an individual’s actual competencies do not meet the certified competencies awarded to the individual, this would be preceded by an individual reassessment of the person’s actual competencies,” ASQA said.

Vocation-owned RTOs has “been on ASQA’s radar” since last year and all of its operating RTOs regulated by ASQA have been subject to extensive audit and regulatory scrutiny, it said.

Employers and workers concerned about the bona fides of their training provider should contact the ASQA. ASQA publishes information about regulatory decisions it makes to suspend, cancel or impose conditions on RTOs that don’t meet its standards (see http://www.asqa.gov.au/about/regulatory-decisions/asqa-decisions.html).

About 200 providers were on the list when AlertForce compiled this story.

AlertForce is a registered training organisation (RTO) providing WHS compliance and diploma training for employers. For more details, go to https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/

For details on the WorkSafe WA alert, go to: https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/announcements/worksafe-advises-caution-when-dealing-trainer-j-training-and-assessing

For details on the ASQA list, go to

For ASQA’s response to the Senate estimate’s hearing, go to www.asqa.gov.au/verve/_resources/MR_Statement_regarding_regulation_of_the_training_sector.pdf

Deaths and injury highlight importance of traffic control training

The death of two workers in separate heavy vehicle incidents and the hospitalisation of a 17-year old girl pinned under a utility reaffirm the importance of traffic control training and planning when working around motor vehicles.

Sydney security company MSS Security Pty Ltd (MSS) has been fined $150,000 by the NSW District Court following a 2011 incident that saw a 21-year-old male guard struck and killed by a cement truck. The truck was entering the Cement Australia manufacturing plant at Kandos in Central West NSW.

The guard was an employee of a company contracted to undertake work for MSS. MSS was found guilty of a breach of section 8(2) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 for failing to ensure the safety of a person who was not an employee.

SafeWork NSW had alleged there was a risk of the guard being struck by a vehicle as he was monitoring the entry of trucks into the site. MSS Security should have installed a no-go zone and required the use of radios for drivers and guards to communicate with each other, it said.

Student pinned under ute
Police, meanwhile, are investigating after a teenage girl, believed to be a student, was hit by a utility vehicle at Moss Vale TAFE in NSW on September 15, 2015.

Emergency services were called to the education facility on Kirkham Road, after reports a utility had run over a woman.

Officers from The Hume Local Area Command attended and found a 17-year-old girl trapped under a Toyota Hilux.

She was extracted before being airlifted to Liverpool Hospital in a serious but stable condition.

The driver, a 55-year-old man, was breath tested at the location with a negative result.

Investigators have been told that the girl and man were doing work on the utility, when the driver moved the Toyota forward hitting the girl.

Investigations are continuing, with the assistance of SafeWork NSW.

Worker crushed by front end loader
In March 2015, a Melbourne waste recycling company was convicted and fined $450,000 over the death of an employee who was struck by the bucket of a 20-tonne front end loader.

Resource Recovery Victoria Pty Ltd (RRV) pleaded guilty in the County Court of Victoria to two offences under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 for failing to provide a safe system of work and failing to provide information, instruction or training.

The court heard that RRV operated a waste recycling depot in Braeside in which dump trucks, heavy machinery, smaller vehicles and staff on foot all worked in close proximity to each other.

On 4 October 2013, an employee was driving a small sweeper vehicle in an open air shed used for dumping and sorting waste materials. Another employee was also in the shed, operating a 20-tonne Hitachi front end loader to move dirt and bricks up a small ramp into a hopper.

The court heard that after the front end loader emptied a load of material into the hopper, the operator reversed the machine back down the ramp and lowered its bucket to about one metre above ground level.

Just after the machine began to move forward, the operator felt a bump on the bucket. When he reversed, he saw his colleague slumped in the sweeper vehicle with fatal injuries.

The court was told that the depot was a busy workplace with trucks dumping materials, heavy excavators and front end loaders sorting and clearing materials, and staff on foot all working in close proximity to each other.

While new employees were given safety pamphlets to read, the court heard there was no written induction at the site and training was informal and “on the job”.

The court was also told that:
• There were no documented procedures for traffic management at the time of the incident. Instead, employees relied on common sense.
• There were no signs or lines in the yard area to determine where trucks, frontend loaders or the company’s street sweepers could or couldn’t go, nor were there alarms, lights or barriers.
• Training in relation to all the machines used in the depot was verbal.
• There had been a number of injuries and near misses involving employees and machines over recent years that had not been reported.

Executive director of health and safety Len Neist said the company had failed in its responsibilities to keep workers safe.

“A comprehensive – and communicated – traffic management plan is critical in workplaces where employees are required to work in close proximity to heavy machinery and vehicles. Simply hoping workers will stay away from heavy machinery is just not good enough,” Mr Neist said.

“All employers must ensure workers are properly inducted to their worksite and competently trained on how to use the equipment they’re operating. Expecting workers to just learn on the job is fraught with peril.

The tragic circumstances of this matter and the failings of RRV to keep its workers safe should serve as a reminder to all employers to put the upmost importance on workplace safety.”
AlertForce offers a range of training courses on traffic control. For details, go to https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/traffic-management-course/

Further information on work health and safety for remote and isolated work is available at www.safework.nsw.gov.au or by calling 13 10 50.

Landmark decisions shed new light on ‘officer’ role after truck driver electrocuted

The industrial court has shed important new light on the obligation under the Work Health and Safety Act for officers to exercise due diligence.

In its latest newsletter, Harmers Workplace Lawyers reports the ACT Industrial Court held in McKie v Muni Al-Hasani, Kenoss Contractors Pty Ltd (in liq) [2015] ACTIC 1 that a senior project manager, Mr Al-Hasani, was not required to exercise the due diligence obligation because his position did not meet the threshold required for an “officer” under the WHS laws.

This is because he did not make, or participate in making, decisions that affected the whole, or a substantial part of, the business of Kenoss Contractors Pty Ltd (Kenoss).

Criminal proceedings were brought against Mr Al-Hasani concerning the fatality of a truck driver whose truck struck live power lines. Specifically, it was alleged that Mr Al-Hasani did not implement adequate measures to address the risk posed by live overhead electric cables.

Senior project officer ‘not an officer’
In citing High Court authority, HWL said the court focused on having regard to the role of the individual in the wider corporational structure as a whole.

To that end, the court found that although Mr Al-Hasani, amongst other things, had operational responsibility for the implementation of specific contracts, participated in management meetings, liaised with customers, engaged with safety management plans, managed the performance of the projects team and monitored the progress of projects, his role did not rise to the level of an officer under the WHS laws.

Rather, the court determined that:
• although Mr Al-Hassani sat close to the top of the structure, the management structure was flat and no evidence was presented to demonstrate that he made or participated in making decisions that affected, at the very least, a substantial part of the business;
• Mr Al-Hassani did not commit corporate funds, did not sign off on tenders for particular work and was not responsible for hiring and firing employees; and
• no evidence was presented that he had direction over the contracts Kenoss pursued or that he attended board meetings or met any of Kenoss’ legal obligations, such as ASIC returns or establishing quality assurance compliance.

Importantly, the Kenoss business was not limited to construction work but extended to a development business, over which Mr Al-Hassani had no control over.

HWL says the case is a “useful reminder” that not all managers will be determined by the court as an officer under the WHS laws.

Notwithstanding this, each case depends on its individual circumstances and regard must therefore be had to the particular employee’s role and whether they, in fact, participate in making decisions that affect a substantial part of the business as a whole.

In light of this decision, all types of managers should carefully consider what active steps they are taking to discharge their due diligence obligation and what further steps (if any) should be taken, HWL says.

Additionally, employers should also review their corporate management frameworks to ensure the officers in their organisation are appropriately identified and are of their due diligence duties.

Record $1.1m fine for transport fatality
Arising out of the same set of facts, the ACT Industrial Magistrates Court imposed a $1.1 million fine on Kenoss for failing to ensure the safety of the driver in breach of section 32 of the harmonised WHS Act, HWL notes.

The maximum fine the court can award for a breach of section 32 is $1.5 million. This is the highest fine recorded for a single safety offence in Australian history.

The court had not released the full decision when this report was compiled, but it has been reported in the media that Kenoss’ circumstances were unique as, for example, its safety officer had no qualifications for his role, it attempted to hinder the investigation into the fatality and it lacked a systematic approach to safety, HWL said.

In a separate report on the earlier ruling on whether Al-Hasani was an officer, law firm Clyde and Co said the court found Mr Al-Hasani’s role reflected an operational one with only “speculative” evidence that the role went beyond this.

“Accordingly, the learned magistrate was not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that he had a large enough level of control or influence in Kenoss Contractors to be classified as one of its officers,” Clyde and Co’s Insight newsletter reports.

As the charges were dismissed on this threshold issue, it was not necessary for the court to consider whether Al-Hasani breached the due diligence obligation imposed on officers, it said. “Interestingly, however, we understand the learned Magistrate found he had breached his duty as an employee of Kenoss Contractors but as he had not been charged with any offence as an employee this could not be taken any further.”
AlertForce offers a range of compliance training courses to help employers and workers better understand their obligations under the new harmonised laws.

For more details on AlertForce’s nationally recognised OHS harmonisation courses, go to https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/ohs-harmonisation-course/

For more details on AlertForce’s nationally recognised traffic control NSW training, go to https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/nationally-recognised-traffic-control-training-nsw/

Harmers Workplace Lawyers can assist organisations and their officers to ensure their obligations are appropriately exercised, including by conducting due diligence training sessions and assisting in the preparation of due diligence frameworks.

The war on asbestos: cost implications of alleged ‘unsafe’ removal

In Sydney last month (August 2015) inner west residents blocked WestConnex Delivery Authority trucks from entering the authority’s Alexandria dump site, after claiming to have witnessed unsafe asbestos removal practices.

“For days in high winds we’ve watched WestConnex trucks leaving the asbestos dump full of this killer product, and trucks are only half covered,” WestConnex Action Group spokesperson Janet Dandy-Ward said in a statement.

A spokesperson for the group told AlertForce the protest saw the site shut down for a day, with cost implications for the authority.

WestConnex defends actions
In response, WestConnex referred AlertForce to a general statement claiming the authority fully complied with legislative requirements governing safe removal of asbestos.

Residents had staged an early morning blockade at the Alexandria Landfill, which has been acquired by WestConnex.

Work to remove asbestos at the site is part of WestConnex’s planned delivery of new undergrounds M4 toll road. The action group claimed work at the dump site had not obtained the necessary clearance from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Duty-of-care obligations
While the merits of the claims and counter claims remained unclear when this article was compiled, the cost implications of the blocking of work on the site show the downside for employers of any perceived failure to follow safe removal procedures.

Until recently asbestos training of significant quality has not been readily available to those pursuing a career in asbestos management and removal.

However, the current duty of care principle under the Work Health and Safety Act requires people in the workplace be aware of the consequences of their actions. These people include employers, employees, manufacturers, and suppliers.

A number of registered training organisations, including AlertForce, now provide training both for asbestos removal – and more general training in recognition of asbestos in the workplace.

After completing AlertForce asbestos “awareness” training, for example, workers are able to recognise and avoid harmful and dangerous situations.

Who needs asbestos training?
With asbestos present in many Australian buildings, it is important for a wide range of individuals to undertake some form of asbestos awareness course.

From construction workers to plumbers, any person who may come into contact with asbestos products can benefit from training.

Asbestos removal is also a prominent industry in Australia, with WHS standards requiring individuals in this field to hold official qualifications.

When materials containing asbestos are present, or even suspected in the workplace, only personnel with nationally recognised training are qualified to safely manage or remove it.

With strict regulations and requirements regarding training and qualifications, those hoping to enter a career in asbestos removal need to ensure they have the correct competencies in place. To comply with WHS standards and laws, the level of asbestos removal training accesses will dictate how you can participate in this vital and growing industry.

Alternatively, the asbestos awareness course is a program designed for individuals who may be required to work in locations potentially contaminated with asbestos, but will have no direct, intentional contact with the material; this includes builders, renovators and other related occupations.

Any employer who believes their workforce could benefit from the ability to identify asbestos should provide workers with asbestos awareness training. This will ensure that individuals can identify and respond to potential asbestos in the workplace.

What asbestos courses are offered by AlertForce?

AlertForce offers a range of vital asbestos assessment and awareness training programs, designed to meet the requirements of your industry and occupation. Whether you’re considering a career in asbestos removal, or simply want to formalise your skills and knowledge, AlertForce has an asbestos awareness and removal course to suit.

This introductory asbestos awareness training program can be completed online and gives individuals a fast and effective method for boosting their workplace health and safety.

By increasing your knowledge and awareness of asbestos products, you should be able to identify and address asbestos in the workplace. However, as asbestos awareness program does not give individuals the qualifications needed to remove asbestos.

Before asbestos removal can be completed, a competent person must conduct an assessment of the area and the process. To ensure removal procedures have the best possible chance of success without exposure, individuals working in this role need to have completed asbestos assessment training.

The nationally recognised qualification offered by AlertForce is Conduct Asbestos Assessment Associated with Removal CPCCBC5014A
For a career in asbestos management and removal, individuals need to undertake the relevant training. Depending on the level accessed, students will be able to work on relevant asbestos removal tasks.

The asbestos removal courses provided by AlertForce include Remove Non-Friable Asbestos (Class B) CPCCDE3014A (prerequisite for supervise asbestos removal); Remove Friable Asbestos (Class A) CPCCDE3015A; and Supervise asbestos removal CPCCBC4051A.

For more details about AlertForce’s asbestos awareness training, assessment and removal courses, go to https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/asbestos-awareness/

Employers need to take a more ‘proactive’ approach to near misses: SWA report

How aware are workers and businesses of factors in the workplace that may impact work health and safety (WHS)?

A July 2015 report Mindfulness of WHS in the Workplace by Safe Work Australia (SWA) looks at mindfulness among both businesses and workers when it comes to WHS.

“Mindfulness” is the conscious awareness of factors that affect health and safety in the workplace.

Overall the report found “generally high” levels of mindfulness across worker groups in terms of what businesses count on, sensitivity to operations and preoccupation with failure.

Small and medium business employers (88% and 87%) were slightly more likely to agree that everyone feels accountable for safety than employers in large businesses (73%).

Almost all large business employers agreed that their business spends time identifying how their activities could potentially harm their workers, compared to 85% of medium business employers and 71% of small business employers.

Not enough focus on prevention
A continuing area of concern reaffirmed in the latest report was a tendency by businesses to approach WHS prevention reactively (such as treating a near miss as useful information) rather than proactively (such as spending time to actively look for possible failures).

The favouring of a reactive approach to WHS incidents by Australian businesses is potentially an important insight into the ways in which Australian businesses manage work health and safety.

The report suggested this may be due to businesses not having the resources available to proactively assess their workplace for potential threats to safety (preventing incidents before they can happen), or this may simply not be a priority for businesses.

A proactive approach to WHS does however appear to be undertaken within those priority industries that have relatively high inherent injury risk (such as construction), suggesting that potentially catastrophic events may be proactively mitigated where they are most likely to occur.

Workers’ compensation claims data show that the construction and manufacturing industries had the greatest decrease in incidence rates of the priority industries over the period 2000-01 to 2011-12, with transport, postal and warehousing also experiencing a substantial decrease (Safe Work Australia, 2014).

Generally, taking a largely proactive approach indicates a good level of mindfulness with regard to preoccupation with failure of work health and safety in the culture of these workplaces.

Differences were present according to industry and occupation groups across worker types.

Employers operating in the health care and social assistance industry, for example, tended to have the lowest levels of mindfulness in terms of what they count on in their business, preoccupation with failure and sensitivity to operations compared to the other priority industries. Sole traders working as labourers displayed high levels of mindfulness across the three measures.

While businesses and workers all had high levels of agreement that when something unexpected occurs they always try to figure out why things didn’t go as expected, agreement was much lower for businesses actively looking for failures and trying to understand them.

Employers in manufacturing, transport, postal and warehousing and construction did appear to support both proactive and reactive approaches to work health and safety failures, with sole traders in the manufacturing industry also supporting both approaches. Workers in these industries tended to favour the reactive approach.

Sensitivity to operations
When it comes to sensitivity to operations in the workplace, employers operating in the accommodation and food services; transport, postal and warehousing and construction industries displayed consistently high levels of mindfulness with regard to sensitivity to operations in their workplace (see Figure 1).


Figure 1: Employer sensitivity to operations by industry
Employers had a higher level of agreement “the business actively looks for failures of all sizes and tries to understand them” (65 per cent) compared to workers and sole traders (57 per cent each). Workers were less likely to agree that “workers are rewarded if they report potential trouble spots” (24 per cent workers and 35 per cent employers).

Sole traders had slightly lower levels of mindfulness overall while workers had slightly higher levels when it comes to preoccupation with failure. Workers had a much higher level of agreement (75%), with the exception of “the business often updates our procedures after experiencing a near miss” than employers and sole traders (61% and 55% respectively). Employers also had a slightly higher level of agreement for the business actively looking for failures of all sizes and tries to understand them (65%) compared to workers and sole traders (57% each).

Employers and workers had almost identical agreement with workers being encouraged to report significant mistakes even if others do not notice a mistake has been made (85% each) and workers are encouraged to talk to superiors about problems (87% employers and 88% workers).

Workers were slightly less likely to agree that managers actively seek out bad news (31%) compared to employers (37%) and less likely to agree that workers are rewarded if they report potential trouble spots (24% workers and 35% employers). This indicates that while workers are encouraged to look for and report potential problems they perceive that employers are less concerned with this.

Sensitivity to operations
Employers tended to be more mindful in terms of sensitivity to operations than sole traders when it came to constantly monitoring workloads and reducing them when they become excessive (77% and 60%) and having access to a range of solutions whenever unexpected surprises crop up (80% and 61%).

This may be related to businesses having greater resources available to be able to deal with these situations. Both groups had similarly high levels of agreement that on a day-to-day basis there is always someone who is paying attention to what is happening (85% sole traders and 91% employers).

Across the three measures of mindfulness
While there are generally high levels of mindfulness among all groups, another study undertaken by SWA has shown that the top two perceived causes of injury nominated by employers, sole traders and workers were ‘the worker being careless’ and ‘just not thinking’ (Safe Work Australia, 2015).

In another study it was found that over 20% of sole traders and workers and just under 20% of employers agreed that they regarded risks as unavoidable in their workplace (Safe Work Australia, 2014a).

One explanation for these seemingly divergent findings is positive bias associated with responding to the mindfulness items within the survey (i.e. wanting to promote a good impression by agreeing with items when this may not be the case in reality).

Another explanation could be that while employers, sole traders and workers are generally quite mindful of work health and safety in their workplaces, they occasionally experienced failures in attention which lead to incidents occurring, or perhaps as a result of inherent risks existing in their workplaces from the nature of the work or the way in which it or the workplace is designed.

SWA says further research into the impediments to practical application of these general high levels of WHS awareness on a day-to-day basis to prevent workplace incidents and injuries would enable the establishment of an evidence base of the impact of conscious awareness of WHS on workplace incidents and injuries.

Health care figures a concern
SWA says the comparatively low levels of mindfulness observed for employers within the health care and social assistance industry “is of concern.” However, the findings could reflect that the work health and safety policies and procedures used in these workplaces did not allow for the regular assessment of potential failures or the updating of policies and procedures following a near miss. In addition, the positions held by workers in the industry may not allow for workers to solve unexpected problems or a range of solutions to be available if something unexpected occurred.

Workers’ compensation claims data show that the health care and social assistance industry had the highest number of serious claims in 2012-13 (preliminary) of all industries, and that there has been a 29% increase in the number of serious claims over the period 2000-01 to 2011-12 (Safe Work Australia, 2014b).

Investigation into work health and safety mindfulness in the health care and social assistance industry, such as the system of work health and safety used and the nature and application of relevant policies and procedures used, may shed further light on patterns of workplace injury and illness in the industry.

SWA said the finding that sole traders working as labourers had high levels of agreement across the three measures of mindfulness indicated that this ‘hands on’ occupation group appeared more mindful of work health and safety in their workplace due to the inherent risk associated with their work or the greater potential consequences of failures. This finding is also in line with labourers having the highest level of agreement that they never accept risk taking even if the work schedule is tight compared to other occupation groups (Safe Work Australia, 2014a).

The study suggests that high levels of mindfulness with regards to work health and safety, and specifically taking a more proactive approach towards risk management, may be contributing to recent reductions in accidents and injuries within the workplaces. However, this requires confirmation through further empirical study, SWA says.

AlertForce offers a range of courses to help businesses better target their WHS approach – and more actively look for system failures. They include Communicating Safety in the Office, Leadership Skills for Supervisors, Managing Hazards and Risk (Construction Safety) and Risk Management Safety Essentials Course.

Swans star praised for disclosing mental health condition

AlertForce has praised Sydney Swans star Lance Franklin’s decision to publicly disclose his mental health condition as an “important step forward” in recognising depression and anxiety in the workplace.

On September 8, The Swans released a statement confirming Franklin suffered from a mental health condition.

It said Franklin had been ruled out of Saturday’s qualifying final against Fremantle to take time away from the club to address his condition.

AlertForce chief executive officer Brendan Torazzi said Franklin’s stand in publicly acknowledging his condition would go a long way to encouraging others to seek help

Mr Torazzi said many workplaces now recognised the importance of early identification and treatment of depression in workers by offering support programs.

“Lance Franklin’s stand will encourage others to follow suit; we fully support his decision.”

Sydney Swans has previously worked with Beyond Blue on programs to promote acceptance and treatment of depression. In August 2015 it was the chosen charity for the Hawthorn clash at ANZ.

Franklin’s decision to go public comes at the same time as the release of a Beyond Blue training program targeting depression in the workplace.

The Mental Health in the Workplace program was successfully piloted by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) last month. It aims to help delegates reach out to workers who may be experiencing depression or anxiety.

The program includes a 90-minute session that teaches union delegates how to recognise the signs and symptoms of a mental health condition, the relationship between the workplace and mental health – and what to do if they are concerned about one of their members.

Beyond Blue developed the free program to address issues originally raised by the CFMEU’s fellow union Australian Workers Union (AWU), such as lack of awareness of depression and anxiety, and stigma. Delegates were often confused about how to approach a worker, what their role should be in providing support, and how they could support them.

Beyond Blue CEO Georgie Harman said the free resource, designed to fit into the existing training that unions already provide for delegates, provide delegates with the additional skill and confidence to have conversations about mental health with frontline workers.
“The toolbox kit is an easy way to equip delegates with the skills to improve workplace mental health at a grass roots level,” she said.

CFMEU forest products spokesperson Alex Millar said the program had been well received by delegates and would be included in training programs where appropriate.
Latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures suggest mental health conditions are common among working-age Australians, with 45 per cent of Australians aged between 16-85 years experiencing a mental health condition at some point in their lifetime.

However, a survey by Beyond Blue partner Heads Up reveals workplaces are not meeting their expectations when it comes to support programs. Only 52% of employees believe their workplace is mentally healthy compared to 76% for physical safety.

Only five in ten (56%) believe their most senior leader values mental health.
The survey found employees who believe their workplace is mentally unhealthy are unlikely to disclose they are experiencing a mental health condition, seek support from HR/management, or offer support to a colleague with a mental health condition.

Heads Up said the workplace was a relevant and an appropriate setting to promote and support the health and mental health of workers for several reasons, including:
• ease of access to a large number of people
• existing infrastructures (eg, communication channels, supportive environment)
• opportunity to tailor interventions to support the needs of specific groups of employees (eg, shift workers) and within particular industries
• cost-efficiency relative to clinical or community-based

The Swans, meantime, have thrown their full support behind Franklin. General manager of football Tom Harley said the club was doing everything possible to support him. “The timeframe on his return is unclear at this stage. We will continue to monitor his condition.”

Anyone seeking counselling or help with mental health issues can contact www.beyondblue.org.au or call 1300 224 636. The Heads Up resources are available at: www.headsup.org.au/toolboxtalkunions
AlertForce offers a range of work health and training (WHS) courses for industry. For more details go to https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/

Workers turn to training courses as first port of call for WHS information

Australian workers turn to training courses as their first source of work health and safety (WHS) information, a new survey reveals.

The Safe Work Australia survey reports the three main sources used by Australian businesses in 2014 to get information about WHS requirements were government documents and publications (33 per cent), the media (32 per cent) and employer/industry associations (31 per cent).

Conversely, the most common source for Australian workers was training courses (39 per cent) followed by the media (29 per cent). For health and safety representatives and WHS professionals the most common sources were government Acts/regulations and publications (42 per cent) and employer/industry associations (38 per cent).

The media was the most used source of WHS information for employers and sole traders operating in the agriculture, forestry and fishing and accommodation and food services industries.

Employer/industry associations were the most used source of WHS information for employers and sole traders operating in the manufacturing (42 per cent), construction (44 per cent), road freight transport (43 per cent) and health care and social assistance (58 per cent) industries.

In 2012 the most common source was the media.

Dissemination channels

Workers were provided with information or notified about WHS policies and procedures during a walk around the workplace alone or with other managers (68 per cent), through informal communication with workers (54 per cent) and during meetings on work health and safety with management and through notice boards (35 per cent each). Thirty seven per cent of businesses indicated they informed workers through other means.

Across the priority industries for sole traders the media and experience/doing the job itself tended to be common sources of learning about work health and safety. For employers in priority industries there was a great deal of variation in how they learnt about work health and safety.

Industry pamphlets and newsletters, the media and the internet were commonly utilised. Across the priority industries the most common source of learning about WHS for workers was training courses.

Training courses have been a popular source of learning about WHS for workers overall over the past 10 years. The media has consistently been an important source of WHS information for all worker groups (excluding CEOs in 2001). Since 2010, the internet has become an increasingly popular method of learning about WHS.

Importantly, 24% of manufacturing employers indicated they gave no information regarding WHS policies and procedures to their workers, followed by 18% in agriculture, forestry and fishing and 17% in road freight transport.

In 2012 employers most commonly provided to their workers or workers obtained work health and safety information during a walk around the workplace either alone or with managers and through informal communication with work mates about WHS.

Employers commonly provided information about WHS part-time/casual workers and full-time workers. One third of employers indicated that they provided WHS information to contractors/ sub-contractors.

Employers operating in construction and transport, postal and warehousing were more likely to provide information to contractors/ subcontractors and to apprentices/trainees than employers operating in the other priority industries.

These surveys include responses from 1052 employers, 520 sole traders and 1311 workers (2012) and 706 sole traders and 1644 employers (2014).

The data were weighted to produce national estimates of the number of businesses and workers in Australia that hold particular attitudes and perceptions about work health and safety.

Sole traders relied slightly more on the media and internet (28% and 26%) than government documents and publications (24%). For employing businesses, small business employers used government documents and publications (41%), employer/industry associations (40%) and the media (37%) with employers in medium and large businesses using government documents and publications (53% and 69%), employer/ industry associations (46% and 70%) but used the internet (39% and 47%) rather than the media.

Of some concern, 19% of sole traders indicated no sources are used to get information about WHS.

Medium and large business employers tended to learn about WHS from somewhat different sources. Half of medium business employers learnt from employer/industry associations followed by industry pamphlets/newsletters and experience/doing the job itself (38% and 33%, respectively). Almost half of large business employers also learnt about work health and safety information from employer/industry associations, followed by government Acts/ regulations and publications (43%) as well as training courses and government health and safety inspectorates (33% each).

In agriculture, forestry and fishing the information about WHS was learnt from Industry pamphlets/ newsletters (45%), media (41%) and experience/doing the job itself (39%).

In manufacturing half of employers indicated that they learnt about WHS from the media, followed by industry pamphlets/newsletters (39%), experience/doing the job itself and training courses (39% each).

In construction, half of employers learnt about WHS from employer/industry associations followed by industry pamphlets/newsletters (41%) and health and safety representatives (37%).

Over half (59%) of employers in accommodation and food services learnt from experience/ doing the job, followed by posters/ signs/ notices (42%) and industry pamphlets/ newsletters (39%).

In transport, postal and warehousing employers reported learning something about WHS from the internet, supervisors/ managers and experience/doing the job itself (38%, 37% and 32%, respectively).

In health care and social assistance employers most commonly learnt about WHS from the internet (41%), industry pamphlets (38%) and the media (35%).

AlertForce provides a range of WHS training courses for employers and workers. For details, go to www.alertforce.com.au

Safety regulator or insurer? NSW moves to end ‘conflict of interest’

AlertForce has welcomed reforms designed to end a conflict of interest in the NSW Government’s dual role as work health and safety (WHS) regulator and insurer.

Under structural reforms introduced by the government on September 1, 2015, three discrete agencies have been created to better manage and deliver the state’s WHS and workers’ compensation insurance services.

As part of the reforms, WorkCover NSW has been replaced by three separate organisations including:
• SafeWork NSW – the independent work health and safety regulator

• State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) – the independent insurance regulator

• Insurance & Care NSW – a single customer-focused insurance and care service provider.

NSW Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Victor Dominello said the new system would “iron out” the differences between the various interests that have affected the system in the past.

“These changes mark the end of the inherent conflict of interest that has existed in NSW between the operation and regulation of insurance,” Mr Dominello said.

“They allow a better focus on getting regulation right and improving workplace safety.”

Improved benefits
Key among the reforms is the winding back of 2012 changes to the workers’ compensation scheme that resulted in the slashing of medical benefits to injured workers, including those who had lost limbs or hearing in work incidents.

Benefits were cut in response to a $4.1 billion deficit in the WorkCover scheme, which is now in surplus.

Under a $1 billion benefit enhancements program, injured workers will now have access to additional assistance to get back to work or to continue their lives.

The benefit enhancements include:
• Cover will be extended for certain classes of prostheses and aids as well as home and vehicle modifications, from retirement age to life, regardless of the level of permanent impairment.

• The cap for medical expenses, currently 12 months from when weekly payments stop (or date of injury where no weekly payments were made) will double to two years after weekly payments cease for those with up to 10% permanent impairment and increase to five years after weekly payments cease for those with 11-20% permanent impairment.

• The maximum lump sum compensation payable for injury resulting in greater than 10% permanent impairment will be more than doubled – from $220,000 to $560,000.

• If you have more than 21% permanent impairment and have some work capacity, you will no longer have to work more than 15 hours per week to get weekly payments after 130 weeks (2.5years).

• If you have 21% or greater permanent impairment medical expenses will be payable for life.

• If you have more than 30% permanent impairment you will receive an increased minimum benefit of $788 per week which will be indexed to CPI, providing a safety net for those with lower weekly wages at the time of their injury (particularly for younger workers with highest needs).

• All injured workers who return to work with a new employer will get ‘return to work assistance of up to $1,000 to assist with the transition.

• Education and retraining grants of up to $8,000 will be provided for workers who have been receiving weekly benefits for 78 weeks (18 months) or more to improve the opportunity to return to work.

• Families of deceased workers will have access to an increased death benefit of $750,000 – up substantially from the current $524,000.

• The maximum amount that will be payable for funeral expenses of a deceased worker will increase from $9,000 to $15,000.

In addition to enhanced benefits for workers, businesses will receive five-20 per cent discounts for maintaining safe work places and helping injured employees return to work.

Implications for AlertForce and clients
Approval, accreditation and agreements for registered training organisations (RTOs) will continue to operate under NSW Work Health and Safety legislation, which is now administered by SafeWork NSW.

Over the coming months WorkCover NSW forms will be re-branded as SafeWork NSW. Until then, AlertForce will continue to use all WorkCover NSW branded forms including applications, Statements of Training (SOTs) and Notices of Satisfactory Assessment (NSAs).

All business as usual enquiries to SafeWork NSW for RTOs can continue via phone 13 10 50 or email thirdparty@workcover.nsw.gov.au.

AlertForce will amend the branding of its website over the coming months from WorkCover NSW to SafeWork NSW, when referring to approvals or WHS training.

What this means for SafeWork NSW

The new SafeWork NSW continues to offer the full range of WHS services across NSW.

Its inspectorate continues to provide advice, as well as undertake compliance and enforcement activities and conduct investigations.

Existing partnerships, sponsorships, agreements and memorandum of understanding will remain in place.

Authorised training and assessment providers will continue to provide critical services to its customers on SafeWork NSW’s behalf.

For further information, assistance and advice continues to be available via the SafeWork NSW website (www.safework.nsw.gov.au) and customer service centre (13 10 50).

AlertForce offers nationally recognised WHS harmonisation training courses covering the NSW WHS Act. Go to https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/ohs-harmonisation-course/

Fatigue: how to assess the invisible threat

Basic fatigue management is essential for combatting human error incidents in the workplace, a work health and safety conference has heard.

Within mining operations, for example, fatigue is a leading contributor in 60-70 percent of human error incidents, according to Caterpillar Safety Services’ Asia Pacific regional manager Brett Haskins.

Speaking at Queensland Resources Council’s Queensland Mining Industry Health and Safety Conference last month (August 2015), Mr. Haskins said fatigue undermines productivity and performance targets, impacts financial results and damages business reputations.

The impact isn’t all negative. It also provides an opportunity to better understand operator performance, positively impact risk mitigation, make efficiency gains, drive cost control and improve the overall health and wellness of our employees.

“One thing that I have learned over the years through multiple change management and continuous improvement systems is to first assess (define and measure) the current state of any operation, before developing an improvement plan that helps reach the desired state,” Mr. Haskins said.

Opportunities among the threats
Mr. Haskins said the ability to accurately assess fatigue represented a clear opportunity. Using custom-designed Six Sigma practices, Caterpillar Inc. built a comprehensive safety product suite that included a fatigue and distraction risk assessment – a holistic employee fatigue and distraction measurement tool that provides real-time visibility to an ongoing risk.

Over the past decade many technologies have emerged in the fatigue space ranging from in-cab camera systems and devices needing to be worn by an operator, to computer software scheduling systems, he said.

When used as stand-alone technologies, these tools can provide valuable improvement data. Together, the technologies can capture the entire picture.

“During the assessment period it’s important to consider the use of a range of technologies in order to clearly define the volume of the problem. For example, an in-cab camera system detecting operator alertness will provide the number of fatigue and distraction events occurring, but it doesn’t provide any data on that same operator’s sleep quality. Similarly, telematics data provides ample information about how the equipment is operating, but provides very little information about the control module (the operator).”

Caterpillar, Inc. uses a combination of products to provide a holistic view of operator and fleet performance. The product suite includes:
• Cat Smartband (a scientifically validated wrist worn technology that captures the quantity and quality of sleep for the wearer, which is then used to calculate an effectiveness score).

• Fatigue Avoidance Scheduling Tool (a fatigue modelling software that identifies areas of fatigue risk in schedule and roster design utilising individual and group sleep data to generate minute-by-minute performance predictions).

• Driver Safety System (an in-cab camera system that detects fatigue and distraction events).

• Equipment Telematics (“black box” type technology used to transmit vital equipment and operation data to improve usage and product life . A fatigue and distraction risk assessment analyses the combined data from each of these technologies to bring visibility to the current state of operations, employee effectiveness and risk. It monitors events through the use of an instantaneous in-cab alarm and seat vibration system. The accompanying 24/7 monitoring system also supports a fatigue intervention plan for each detected event and customised reports to be used for analysis and continuous improvement. The technology provides an accurate measuring system for determining the success of your overall fatigue risk management system. In addition, the availability of real-time data enables the changing out of any operators who are at risk of accidents and injuries due to their fatigued state.
Since its development the Driver Safety System has monitored more than 8 million hours and driven more than 101million kilometres in mining vehicles; 2641kms driven while operators were fatigued. The system has detected more than 1.5M distraction events in these same mining vehicles.

“During the assessment process we strongly encourage cross checking and referencing equipment telematics, tyre and incident data from your machines. Integrating these data sets with fatigue and distraction events provides even more tangible information to define the current reality,” Mr. Haskins said.

Once a fatigue and distraction risk assessment is undertaken, employers have specific and verifiable data from which to build an improvement plan.

Combining real-time intervention technologies, operator performance-related data and engaging in operator consultation creates an integrated and comprehensive improvement plan for the business, he said.

In working with employees to optimise policies, procedures, training and schedules rosters, an ongoing fatigue risk management system will facilitate a culture of continuous improvement driven by data analytics for a sustainable future.

Queensland Resources Council (QRC) chief executive Michael Roche, meantime, told the conference there was “no room for complacency” when it comes to safety, regardless of operating circumstances.

“When it comes to improving the industry’s safety culture and leadership, better management of vehicle and mobile equipment safety and addressing fitness for work challenges (such as impacts from drugs and alcohol), a collaborative rather than competitive approach is what is needed,’ Mr Roche said.

AlertForce is a leader in fatigue management training. AlertForce has customised courses in transport, mining, manufacturing and rail that can help your business (see https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/fatigue-management/#course-content).

WHS a priority in new NBN contracts

Work health and safety (WHS) is a key component of NBN’s (formerly NBN Co’s) new NBN jobs contracting model with the Australian construction industry.

The performance-based contracts aim to increase significantly the quality and speed of the rollout to homes and businesses in the fixed-line “footprint” that will make up the vast majority of connections to the NBN network.

The terms, which include adherence to safe work practice, represent a marked departure from the old commercial model which guaranteed large volumes of work to suppliers in specified states and regions regardless of performance but also placed upon them a high administrative burden and no competition for that work.

Instead, the new contracts offer flexible volume commitments, competition between delivery partners, and pricing based on outcomes rather than inputs.

AlertForce plays a part
AlertForce is playing its part in nbn’s heightened focus on WHS by providing mandatory online WHS induction training to NBN employees. AlertForce is the sole provider of online WHS training to NBN.

NBN CEO Bill Morrow said the performance of construction partners, the quality of their work and their adherence to safe work practices would determine how much additional work they will receive.

“We have worked closely with the industry to reduce the complexity of our contracts to make them easier to administer and to reward good work as we gear up to accelerate the rollout.”
The first of the new contracts were signed in June 2015 with construction partners Downer, Transfield, Visionstream, Fulton Hogan and WBHO.

Together the new contracts will cover around 4 million homes and businesses that are scheduled to be connected with fibre to the node, fibre to the building or fibre to the premises. Contracts with additional suppliers are also being negotiated and nearing conclusion.

NBN has a goal of ensuring that all homes, businesses and communities across Australia can access high speed broadband by 2020, including 8 million premises connected to the NBN network.

Strong focus on training
The new contracts come at the same time as NBN announces a significant recruitment and training drive to support the accelerated connection of homes to the NBN network by 2020.

The current construction workforce is expected to double to 9,000, with NBN committing nearly $40 million for training and awareness campaigns to help attract an extra 4,500 workers into the industry.

“To bring high speed broadband to Australians faster, our delivery partners will need a bigger pool of trained, skilled workers,” NBN CEO Bill Morrow said. “Flexible career options will be explored by construction partners to attract late-stage career workers looking to balance their hours with lifestyle and family.

Roles in coaching and training for new industry entrants will harness their experience and provide valuable expertise to younger workers setting out in the industry.NBN also aims to attract school leavers and workers rolling off other construction jobs, building a range of training and re-skilling programs with tailored career paths.

Workforce to double
The intention is to expand the industry’s workforce to meet construction and activation requirements. Long-term opportunities will also be created as the network moves into ongoing operations and maintenance.
“To those with telco experience, there are options to use your skills or become a teacher and coach for the next generation of workers,” Mr Morrow said.

“To those thinking about what course or career to pursue, our partners are developing options that will include training and real job opportunities on the NBN network over the long term.”

The occupations needed to meet nbn’s requirements include telco copper cable jointers, telco linesworkers, cablers, telco technicians and electrical linesworkers.
NBN is signing agreements with a number of training organisations, comprising TAFEs and registered training organisations, with providers in every major rollout region across the country. Further, a national NBN skills register will also be established to help record worker accreditations across the network.

“Both the rapid roll out plan and the multi-technology mix means we need more people in our united partnership to connect eight million happy homes by 2020,” Mr Morrow said.

“Together we aim to bring high speed broadband to Australians to bridge the digital divide and create new opportunities for business, health, education and entertainment.”

Satellite launch
NBN’s first satellite, meantime, is expected to launch from the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana soon, followed by the expected commercial availability of its wholesale Long Term Satellite Service (LTSS) in 2016.
The LTSS will deliver wholesale broadband speeds of up to 25 Mbps download and 5 Mbps upload.

More than one million premises can now order fast broadband services via the NBN network – about one in 10 homes. Nearly half a million homes are already connected and enjoying the benefits.

Mr Morrow said the fast broadband delivered via the NBN network can provide a range of benefits for Australians such as opportunities to work from home, access to online education tools and options for on-demand entertainment.

For more information on AlertForce’s Mandatory NBN Safety and Awareness Course/Training, go to https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/nationally-recognised-nbn-safety-awareness-course/

Australia’s asbestos disease rate continues to outstrip world

Latest figures reveal Australia’s rate of asbestos-induced mesothelioma continues to outstrip the rest of the world.

Reaffirming the importance of asbestos removal training, the Safe Work Australia (SWA) report reveals an incidence rate of a 2.2 per 100,000 person-years, compared with the global average of 1.2.

The Mesothelioma in Australia: Incidence (1982 to 2013) and Mortality (1997 to 2012) report, released in May 2015, is based on statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the Australian Mesothelioma Registry (AMR).

The AMR figures reveal the incidence rate for Victoria and NSW in 2013 was 1.8, but in WA it was 3.9. Age at diagnosis ranged from 27-96, but most people were aged 70-84. Men were more likely to be diagnosed in their 70s, while the incidence for women was more evenly spread across age groups.

About 60% of people who participated in research had possible or probable exposure through work, the report says.

The highest incidence was for tradespeople, particularly those in construction and the metal and mechanical trades.

So what is mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a fatal cancer that typically occurs 20 to 40 years after exposure to asbestos, although exposure does not always result in the disease, the SWA report reveals.

Mesothelioma of the pleura (a cancer affecting the protective lining of the lungs and chest cavity) is the most common form of mesothelioma in Australia and has accounted for approximately 93% of cases since 1982.

Mesothelioma of the peritoneum (a cancer affecting the abdominal lining) is less common and has accounted for approximately 6% of cases since 1982. The figures in the SWA report included all forms of mesothelioma.

History in Australia
In Australia, more chrysotile (white asbestos) than amphibole (blue and brown) asbestos was mined until 1939, the SWA report reveals. New South Wales, the first jurisdiction to mine asbestos, produced the largest amount of chrysotile until 1983, as well as smaller quantities of amphibole until 1949.

With the commencement of mining in Wittenoom in Western Australia in 1937, crocidolite (blue asbestos) dominated production until the closure of the mine in 1966. The main sources of raw asbestos imports were from Canada (chrysotile) and South Africa (crocidolite and amosite—brown asbestos). Consumption peaked around 1975 at approximately 70 000 tonnes per year.

In addition to imports of asbestos fibre, Australia also imported many manufactured asbestos products, including asbestos-containing cement articles, yarn, cord and fabric, joint and millboard, friction materials and gaskets. The main sources of supply were the United Kingdom (UK), the United States of America (USA), the Federal Republic of Germany and Japan.

With the closure of the crocidolite mine at Wittenoom, Australian asbestos production and exports declined. Imports of chrysotile also started to decline. Over 60% of all production and 90% of all consumption of asbestos in Australia occurred in the asbestos cement manufacturing industry, the SWA report confirms.

From around 1940 to the late 1960s, all three types of asbestos were used in this industry. The use of crocidolite began to be phased out from 1967, while amosite was used until the mid-1980s. Much of the industry output remains today in the form of “fibro” houses and water and sewerage piping.

By 1954, Australia was fourth in the western world in gross consumption of asbestos cement products, after the USA, UK and France, and first on a per capita basis. After World War II to 1954, 70 000 asbestos cement houses were built in New South Wales (52% of all houses built in Australia). In the past, exposure to asbestos was very high in some industries and occupations. It was as high as 150 fibres per millilitre of air (f/ml) in asbestos pulverisors and disintegrators in the asbestos cement industry and up to 600 f/ml among baggers at Wittenoom.

Regulation introduced in ‘70s
The use of asbestos products has been regulated in Australia since the late 1970s. A series of regulations adopted in the late 1970s and early 1980s by various jurisdictions imposed exposure limits of 0.1 f/ml for crocidolite and amosite and 0.1–1.0 f/ml for chrysotile.

In July 2003, a revised national exposure standard for chrysotile asbestos of 0.1 f/ml was declared by the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission. The prohibition of all forms of asbestos was adopted simultaneously under regulations in each Australian jurisdiction and by Australian Customs on 31 December 2003.

The prohibition bans the use of asbestos, but does not require the removal of asbestos products that were in place as at 31 December 2003. Therefore, some asbestos products are still present and need regulation to ensure their management or removal does not result in asbestos exposure.

Small decline since 2011 peak

In 2011, 690 new cases of mesothelioma were diagnosed in Australia. The preliminary number of diagnoses for 2013 is 575. The number of new mesothelioma cases has increased in most years since 1982, when national data first became available, and peaked at 690 in 2011.

The age-standardised incidence rate of mesothelioma increased from 1.1 new cases per 100 000 population in 1983 to a peak of 3.2 in 2010.

The rate fell to 2.8 new cases per 100 000 population in 2011. In 2011, the highest age-specific incidence rate of new mesothelioma cases occurred among males aged 85 years and above (49.9 cases per 100 000 population aged 85 years and above).

Deaths due to mesothelioma.

In 2012, 638 deaths were attributed to mesothelioma. The number of deaths resulting from mesothelioma increased between 1997 and 2012 and reached a peak of 638 in 2012.

In 2012, the age-standardised mortality rate for mesothelioma was 2.5 deaths per 100 000 population. The age-standardised mortality rate remained relatively stable over the 16 years for which data are available and ranged between a minimum of 2.1 deaths per 100 000 population in 1999 and a maximum of 2.7 in 2001.

The model work health and safety laws adopted by the Australian Capital Territory, the Commonwealth, New South Wales, the Northern Territory and Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania provide a consistent framework for the minimisation of asbestos exposure, the removal of asbestos and the management of remaining asbestos materials in workplaces.

What resources are available to deal with asbestos?
A national model code of practice, How to Manage and Control Asbestos in the Workplace, is available on the Safe Work Australia website to provide businesses with practical guidance on how to manage risks associated with asbestos and asbestos-containing material in the workplace.

The Commonwealth Government established the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA) to focus on asbestos-related issues at a national level. Along with developing a national strategic plan aimed at preventing asbestos exposure and eradicating asbestos-related diseases in Australia, the ASEA also undertakes research and awareness activities, including an examination of current disposal infrastructure and a study of community awareness and attitudes to asbestos.

For more details on AlertForce asbestos awareness training assessment and removal courses, go to www.alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/asbestos-awareness/

Two fatalities at freight hub highlight importance of WHS traffic control training

Two fatalities within six weeks at a freight depot highlight the importance of  traffic control planning and training.

Earlier this month (August, 2015), a collision between a truck and forklift at Crawfords Freightlines in Sandgate, NSW sparked a confrontation between two workers, with one killed in the fight that followed.

In July a maintenance worker died while at work for Crawfords after a tyre on a forklift he was repairing failed.

The company says it is working with regulatory authority WorkCover NSW and the Transport Workers Union (TWU) to improve safety at the yard.

A Crawfords spokesperson told AlertForce it was currently in the process of improving road markings and signage on site, in accordance with a Workcover NSW directive.

The earlier fatality, which involved a local tyre centre worker not employed by Crawfords, who died whilst carrying out maintenance on a Crawfords forklift, was the result of a “failure in procedures”, not a faulty tyre, the company said.

The man’s employer was issued with an improvement notice over the earlier incident in relation to training and instruction. No improvement notices were issued against Crawfords Freightlines in regard to the earlier incident, the spokesperson said.


TWU investigates yard safety

The TWU’s Newcastle secretary Mick Forbes, meantime, said the union was doing its own investigation of procedures and upgrades at the yard.

“Last year their (Crawfords’) timber exporting business was shut down by the EPA over the [alleged] improper use of the toxic fumigant methyl bromide,” Mr Forbes said.

“The last thing we want is another tragic incident involving transport workers, dangerous chemicals or explosives – we need the authorities to get in there and clean things up for the safety of the entire community,” Mr Forbes said.

Crawford’s Freightlines, meantime, has conducted an on-site inspection of its Sandgate head office with representatives from the union.

Crawfords managing director Peter Crawford said the company was committed

to strict workplace safety procedures in its loading and unloading areas.

“We reiterated that our company complies with relevant WHS Act and WHS Regulations as part of our day to day operations. For example, we undergo regular auditing by WorkCover NSW and our clients, including the Downer Group, Dyno Nobel and Orica, to ensure we meet the vigorous requirements needed to store and handle hazardous materials.”

Mr Crawford said the company was always working with WorkCover NSW to ensure best practice workplace regimes.

A WorkCover NSW spokesperson confirmed WorkCover issued one traffic management notice to Crawfords Freightlines in regards to the collision that lead to fight and subsequent fatality on August 4.

“The incident on 4 July involved a contractor. This was a different entity to Crawfords Freightlines,” its spokesperson confirmed.


WorkCover releases safety video

In an acknowledgement of the risks transport hubs pose to worker health and safety, WorkCover has released a new safety alert video addressing loading and unloading flatbed trucks and trailers.

The video establishes how an experienced truck driver fell two metres and sustained fatal injuries because fall protection was not in place.

The footage outlines a series of simple safety steps to prevent falls – number one being to remain on the ground during unloading and loading.

Executive director of WorkCover’s work health and safety division Peter Dunphy said there were a number of ways to do this, including pre-configuring the load or using load restraints.

“But if working from the ground is a no-go, then a safe way to access and work upon the trailer must be provided, and this can be anything from guard rails and work platforms to retractable ladders or steps with handrails.”

Mr Dunphy said the typical transport industry model involved several businesses, which often meant complex arrangements with loading and unloading freight.

Australia-wide, 15 transport workers died between 2003 and 2012 after falling from their trucks. Most trucks were flatbed types with no guard rails or other fall protection devices.

About 20% of injuries in NSW’s road freight transport industry are caused by falls, with almost 900 workers lodging workers compensation claims for fall-related injuries over two years prior to April 2014.


AlertForce provides traffic control training

AlertForce, meantime, is doing its bit to reduce transport-related injuries and fatalities through nationally qualified competency training in traffic control.

The training meets the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) nationally recognised competency qualification framework for all traffic control training, which was introduced on July 1, 2015

The introduction of a national framework is based on an Austroads research report Traffic Control at Worksites – Training and Accreditation, which recommends a set of standards, skill sets and units of competency for traffic controllers

The traffic controller qualification for workers who are required to setup traffic control guidance schemes (TCGS) in accordance with approved traffic management plans (ie, yellow card qualification), for example, assesses among other things the following knowledge and skills:

• Understand and make changes to a TCGS to suite the specific road environment

• Adapt behaviours to the work site

• Know the basic function of the TCGS

• Adapt to all WHS and operational requirements

• Follow organisational and legislative WHS policies and work procedures

• Use the site/location assessment, distinguish topographical landmarks and carry out authorised risk control

• Conduct an onsite check of a TCGS to identify any unexpected risks/hazards

• Able to interpret plans, that is, must be aware of the distance and measuring devices of the method

• Plan for emergencies that may arise.

For more details on AlertForce’s nationally recognised traffic control NSW training, go to https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/nationally-recognised-traffic-control-training-nsw/

For WorkCover’s safety alert on loading flatbed trucks, go to http://www.workcover.nsw.gov.au/news/safety-alert/falls-from-flatbed-trucks-and-trailers-safety-alert

What is good work design?: a 10-point guide

Good work is healthy and safe work, where the workplace health and safety hazards and risks are eliminated or minimised “so far as is reasonably practicable”, Safe Work Australia’s (SWA’s) new handbook Principles of Good Work Design (PGWD) argues.

Good work is also where the work design optimises human performance, job satisfaction and productivity.

So how do you ensure ‘good’ work design and how do you assess its value?

Before any new project, PGWD says job designers MUST consider:

The work:
• how work is performed, including the physical, mental and emotional demands of the tasks and activities;
• the task duration, frequency, and complexity; and
• the context and systems of work.

The physical working environment:
• the plant, equipment, materials and substances used; and
• the vehicles, buildings, structures that are workplaces.

The workers:
• physical, emotional and mental capacities and needs.

Failure to do so can result in “poor risk management and lost opportunities to innovate and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of work”, PGWD warns.

Key principles
So what are the vital ingredients you NEED to employ to ensure ‘good’ work design? The handbook lists 10 key reasons/principles, listed under three subheadings: why, what and how.

The Why principles

The Why section is split into three principles, as follows:

1: Good work design gives the highest level of protection ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’
PGWD argues eliminating or minimising hazards at the source before risks are introduced in the workplace is a very effective way of providing the highest level of protection. Doing so reduces the risk of injuries, claims and expense. Where that is not reasonably practicable, then the design process should minimise hazards and risks through the selection and use of appropriate control measures.

2. Good work design enhances health and wellbeing
Good work design optimises worker function and improves participation enabling workers to have more productive working lives. Effective design aims to prevent harm, but it can also positively enhance the health and wellbeing of workers for example, satisfying work and positive social interactions can help improve people’s physical and mental health. As a general guide, the healthiest workers have been found to be three times more productive than the least healthy (see PDF file). It therefore makes good business sense for work design to support people’s health and wellbeing.

3: Good work design enhances business success and productivity
Good work design prevents deaths, injuries and illnesses and their associated costs, improves worker motivation and engagement and in the long-term improves business productivity. Well-designed work fosters innovation, quality and efficiencies through effective and continuous improvement. Well-designed work helps manage risks to business sustainability and profitability by making work processes more efficient and effective and by improving product and service quality. Designing-out problems before they arise is generally cheaper than making changes after the resulting event, for example by avoiding expensive retrofitting of workplace controls.

The WHAT principles

4: Good work design addresses physical, biomechanical, cognitive and psychosocial characteristics of work, together with the needs and capabilities of the people involved
Good work design addresses the different hazards associated with work eg, chemical, biological and plant hazards, hazardous manual tasks and aspects of work that can impact on mental health. Work characteristics should be systematically considered when work is designed, redesigned or the hazards and risks are assessed. These work characteristics should be considered in combination and one characteristic should not be considered in isolation. Good work design creates jobs and tasks that accommodate the abilities and vulnerabilities of workers so far as reasonably practicable. Hazards and risks associated with tasks are identified and controlled during good work design processes and they should be considered in combination with all hazards and risks in the workplace.

5: Good work design considers the business needs, context and work environment.
Good work design is ‘fit for purpose’ and should reflect the needs of the organisation including owners, managers, workers and clients. Every workplace is different so approaches need to be context specific. What is good for one situation cannot be assumed to be good for another, so off-the-shelf solutions may not always suit every situation. The work environment is broad and includes: the physical structures, plant and technology, work layout, organisational design and culture, human resource systems, work health and safety processes and information/control systems. The work environment includes the physical structures, plant, and technology. Planning for relocations, refurbishments or when introducing new engineering systems are ideal opportunities for businesses to improve their work designs and avoid foreseeable risks. However, all businesses must eliminate or minimise their work health and safety risks so far as reasonably practicable.

6: Good work design is applied along the supply chain and across the operational lifecycle.
Good work design should be applied along the supply chain in the design, manufacture, distribution, use and disposal of goods and the supply of services. Work design is relevant at all stages of the operational life cycle, from start-up, routine operations, maintenance, downsizing and cessation of business operations. New initiatives, technologies and change in organisations have implications for work design and should be considered. Businesses in the supply chain can have significant influence over their supply chain partners’ work health and safety through the way they design the work. Health and safety risks can be created at any point along the supply chain, for example, loading and unloading causing time pressure for the transport business. These can be prevented if businesses work with their supply chain partners to understand how contractual arrangements affect health and safety.

The HOW principles

7: Engage decision makers and leaders
Work design or redesign is most effective when there is a high level of visible commitment, practical support and engagement by decision makers. Demonstrating the long-term benefits of investing in good work design helps engage decision makers and leaders. Practical support for good work design includes allocation of appropriate time and resources to undertake effective work design or redesign processes.Leaders can support good work design by ensuring the principles are appropriately included or applied. Good work design, especially for complex issues will require adequate time and resources to consider and appropriately manage organisational and/or technological change. Like all business change, research shows leader commitment to upfront planning helps ensure better outcomes.

8: Actively involve the people who do the work, including those in the supply chain and networks
Persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) must consult with their workers and others likely to be affected by work in accordance with the work health and safety laws. Supply chain stakeholders should be consulted as they have local expertise about the work and can help improve work design for upstream and downstream participants. Consultation should promote the sharing of relevant information and provide opportunities for workers to express their views, raise issues and contribute to decision making where possible. Effective consultation and co-operation of all involved with open lines of communication, will ultimately give the best outcomes. Consulting with those who do the work not only makes good sense, it is required under the WHS laws. Workers have knowledge about their own job and often have suggestions on how to solve a specific problem. Discussing design options with them will help promote their ownership of the changes. See Code of practice on consultation.

9: Identify hazards, assess and control risks, and seek continuous improvement
A systematic risk management approach should be applied in every workplace. Designing good work is part of the business processes and not a one-off event. Sustainability in the long-term requires that designs or redesigns are continually monitored and adjusted to adapt to changes in the workplace so as to ensure feedback is provided and that new information is used to improve design. Good work design should systematically apply the risk management approach to the workplace hazards and risks. Typically good work design will involve ongoing discussions with all stakeholders to keep refining the design options. Each stage in the good work design process should have decision points for review of options and to consult further if these are not acceptable. This allows for flexibility to quickly respond to unanticipated and adverse outcomes.

10: Learn from experts, evidence, and experience
Continuous improvement in work design and hence work health and safety requires ongoing collaboration between the various experts involved in the work design process. Various people with specific skills and expertise may need to be consulted in the design stage to fill any knowledge gaps. It is important to recognise the strengths and limitations of a single expert’s knowledge. Near misses, injuries and illnesses are important sources of information about poor design. Most work design processes will require collaboration and cooperation between internal and sometimes external experts. Internal advice can be sought from workers, line managers, technical support and maintenance staff, engineers, ICT systems designers, work health and safety advisors and human resource personnel. Depending on the design issue, external experts may be required such as architects, engineers, ergonomists, occupational hygienists and psychologists.

PGWD says the 10 principles are deliberately “high level “and broadly applicable across the range of Australian businesses and workplaces. Applied appropriately, they can help support better WHS outcomes and business productivity.

AlertForce offers a number of WHS compliance courses for employers. For details go to https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/

Online training to soar as NBN Co doubles workforce

AlertForce predicts online training in Australia will soar under NBN job plans to speed up the rollout of the national broadband network by doubling its construction workforce.

Announcing “one of Australia’s largest training initiatives” on August 3, 2015, Federal Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said nbn™ (NBN Co) would work with delivery partners to recruit and train an additional 4,500 workers. This will see the current project construction workforce doubled, with 9,000 workers employed at the peak of the rollout.

Mr Turnbull said nbn™ had identified “skills shortages and would work with delivery partners to ensure that trained workers have jobs after their training and stay on working in the project and the telecoms industry as the project proceeds”.

The scheme will target school leavers and people in the industry who require retraining.

“This is one of the largest infrastructure projects in Australia’s history and it’s certainly the most complex,” Mr Turnbull said. “It’s vital we have enough people to roll out the network as we increase the pace of the rollout.”

Welcoming the initiative, AlertForce chief executive officer Brendan Torazzi said AlertForce was “ideally positioned” to help NBN Co train its new workforce.

AlertForce is the sole provider of online safety induction training to nbn™. A mandatory requirement for nbn™ employees, induction training requires employees to demonstrate practical safety skills and knowledge of the NBN.

“Economies provided by the expanded workforce and online technology reduce the need for face-to- face training and allow us to provide even better efficiency and value for NBN Co,” Mr Torazzi said.

Mr Torazzi said there has been a shift from traditional face-to-face induction training to online in recent years, as employers seek more cost-effective ways to train employees.

In the price-challenged coal industry, for example, falling coal prices have seen mining employers turn to more cost-efficient online induction training for new employees.

“The advantages of doing theory training online include working at your own pace; there is no travel involved and there are other cost savings for employers such as the initial cost of the course.” In the case of the coal industry course, workers are required to keep a logbook demonstrating practical application of the skills learnt.

As part of its plan to speed up delivery of the NBN, nbn™ will work with training organisations to deliver relevant programs, while delivery partners will be responsible for providing on-the-job training. The nbn™ will also establish a skills register to ensure workers are retained in the industry. nbn™ aims to accelerate connection of eight million homes to the NBN network by 2020.


For more information on AlertForce’s Mandatory NBN Safety and Awareness Course/Training, go to https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/nationally-recognised-nbn-safety-awareness-course/ .

WHS and IR legislation: traps and pitfalls

Even the most experienced workers, managers and lawyers sometimes get it wrong when interpreting obligations under workplace health and safety (WHS) and industrial relations (IR) legislation. The following cases highlight the value of training and certification for all employees.

In one of the first defended hearing in the NSW District Court, (WorkCover v Patrick Container Ports 17 February 2014), Judge Jim Curtis considered the fatal injury of an employee who was aware of the relevant risk and the safe work method procedure he was required to adopt – but didn’t apply it.

The employee had significant amounts of methamphetamine in his system at the relevant time.

WorkCover NSW alleged a range of workplace risks against Patrick Container Ports that largely related to a lack of documented systems. Judge Curtis found that the employee had been trained about the safe procedure and his non-compliance with it would not have been changed if a documented process had been in place.

Reporting on the case in its July 2015 mid-year employment, safety and law review, law firm Corrs says the case signalled that the prosecutor must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant did not take all steps reasonably practicable to ensure the health and safety of its workers. This means that defendants now have options other than reaching agreement on a plea; defences exist and should be pursued where appropriate.

Further, defendants should have increased bargaining power when discussing potential plea agreements, it reports.

Safety raised in sham contract allegation

WHS laws are not the only ones creating confusion for workers and management alike. In an industrial dispute with a strong safety angle, Anglo Metallurgical Coal Pty Ltd has come under fire from mining union the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) for introducing what the union claimed were “sham” employment arrangements at the company’s open cut mine near Biloela in Central Queensland.

At the heart of the dispute: the company’s decision to add ‘supervisor’ to the job description of three new open cut examiner (OCE) positions responsible for undertaking safety inspections at the mine.

The union claimed the dual job role breached existing job descriptions and payment arrangements laid down in the enterprise agreement, by extending the OCE role to new duties without consultation. Further, adding supervisor responsibilities to the OCE’s principle role – looking after mine safety – posed its own safety risks, it claimed.

Anglo disagreed, arguing the new position was not a “sham substitute” for a pre-existing OCE position filled either by a contractor or an employed OCE, but rather a new position. The result was the enterprise agreement did not apply to a person employed in the new position, it argued.

Federal Court Justice John Logan agreed, finding a “quality which a person holding an OCE/supervisor position had to have in order to be appointed to that position was supervisory skills”. The position was new and not a substitute for a pre-existing OCE position filled either by a contractor or an employed OCE; and not covered by the enterprise agreement, Judge Logan found.

Drug testing under scrutiny

Misunderstandings when it comes to interpreting legislation are not unique, with WHS a frequent cause of dispute between employers and unions.

The Federal Fair Work Commission’s myriad responsibilities include dealing with general protection disputes that involve the exercise of a WHS right, disputes over clauses in an agreement related to WHS and termination of employment that may involve a WHS issue.

In a more recent FWC full bench decision affirmed by a full court of the Federal Court and reported by Corrs in its midyear review, the court upheld a decision to overturn the reinstatement of a ferry master who failed a drug test after crashing a ferry into a pylon.

The ferry master did not declare his use of marijuana for pain relief on the day prior to the incident. When he returned a positive reading, he was suspended and then dismissed for breaching the employer’s ‘zero tolerance’ drug and alcohol policy, Corrs reported.

In its decision, the full bench was dismissive of the mitigating factors identified first by the FWC. These included the absence of a link between the drug use and the accident and the fact that there was no substantial damage to the vessel.

The full court held that the full bench did not commit any jurisdictional error when it intervened to correct the erroneous reliance upon those mitigating factors. It rightly identified errors in the original decision-making process and in the order of reinstatement.

The full court’s decision is significant because it confirms that the FWC has the discretion to judge whether a dismissal is unfair and what remedy should be awarded – with limited scope for a challenge based on jurisdictional error, Corrs said.

It is also likely to make employers more certain about disciplinary action or dismissal clauses in their drug and alcohol policies, even when there is no evidence of employee impairment.

Dismissal a minefield

At the coalface, employers are under increased pressure to meet onerous new compliance requirements when it comes to workplace dismissal.

But lower courts sometimes get it wrong when interpreting this obligation.

The Full Federal Court recently overturned a Federal Circuit Court decision to reinstate a government lawyer dismissed for misconduct while suffering from anxiety and depression. The dismissal followed the lawyer’s repeated failure to adhere to directions. These arose from his absenteeism and poor performance, including him missing court hearings, Corrs reports.

In the Federal Circuit Court the lawyer succeeded with the argument that he was dismissed due to mental disability, which is prohibited under the Fair Work Act, section 351(1). On appeal, the Full Federal Court applied the High Court’s Barclay and BHP Coal decisions and held that there was no evidence to support the trial judge’s conclusion that the manager, responsible for the lawyer’s dismissal, should have linked the lawyer’s misconduct to mental illness.

The Full Court said: “It is possible for there to be a close association between the proscribed reason and the conduct which gives rise to adverse action and for the decision maker to satisfy the Court that no proscribed reason actuated the adverse action”. The manager had not, therefore, acted for a proscribed reason in breach of Part 3-1 of the FW Act.

Require training in WHS legislation? Go to https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/ohs-harmonisation-course/ for latest WHS Harmonisation courses.  

Reference sources for this article:

WHS or OHS – which is it?

In January 2012, new work health and safety (WHS legislation) laws commenced in most states and territories to harmonise occupational health and safety (OH&S or OHS) laws across Australia. The act and regulations has caused many changes in the work environment.

With it came a change in terminology. Bar the two states yet to introduce harmonised laws – Victoria and Western Australia- ‘work’ health and safety’ replaced ‘occupational’ health and safety in the legislation.

The style bible for bureaucrats – the Federal Government style manual – now lists work health and safety (WHS) as the recommended term for authors, editors and printers. Non-government health and safety titles have adopted the style in their news content – but like the Australian Institute of OHS, retain ‘occupational’ in their titles eg, ‘Occupational’ Health News, and ‘OHS’ Alert.

WHS requirements

Outside Victoria and WA, the harmonised legislation includes a model WHS Act, WHS regulations, codes of practice and a national compliance and enforcement policy. The Federal Government’s business website acknowledges the model WHS Act is “not significantly different” from previous occupational health & safety (OH&S) laws – but “makes it easier” for businesses and workers to comply with their requirements across different states and territories. Occupational health and safety WHS laws are designed at minimising the risk in the workplace and are prescribed by the regulations.

So if it is “not significantly different”, who decided that ‘WHS’ should replace ‘OHS’ as the recognised term – and why?

Is WHS a “different/better/clearer” description than OHS or was it simply a case of the harmonised legislation stamping its mark with a jazzy new name? Or is the shorter term “work” easier to understand than ‘occupational”?

Work Health and Safety WHS laws by Safe Work Australia

Safe Work Australia (SWA) is the national body in charge of developing work health and safety and workers’ compensation policy. AlertForce asked SWA to explain the genesis of the term WHS at a federal level and why it was thought preferable to OHS. Also, were there any remaining legacy issues still to address? Similar questions were posed to the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and industry body the Australian Industry Group (AIG).

SWA told AlertForce the term ‘work health and safety’ was adopted during the development of the model WHS Act.

The development of the model WHS Act involved “substantial” public consultation and an independent review of OHS laws in each state, territory and the Commonwealth, it said. The draft of the model WHS Act was based on the decisions of the Workplace Relations Ministers’ Council (WRMC) in relation to the review findings.

An exposure draft Model Act and a discussion paper were released for public comment in September 2009, providing all members of the Australian community an opportunity to contribute through written submissions. SWA said one of the matters raised in the discussion paper was the title of the Act and people were invited to comment on ‘an appropriate title.’

The relevant paragraph in the discussion paper explains why the term ‘work’ rather than ‘occupational’ was proposed:

It is proposed to call the model Act the Safe Work Act 2009 and that this citation be uniformly adopted for the Acts in the jurisdictions. The titles of OHS laws in Australia vary, with ‘Occupational Health and Safety Act’ the most common. Other titles are ‘work safety’, ‘workplace health and safety’; or ‘occupational health, safety and welfare’. The term ‘work’ is proposed in the title instead of ‘occupational’ to reflect that the Act applies more broadly to work, rather than only to occupations. An alternative is to include ‘health’ in the title eg, Work Health and Safety Act.”

SWA said a total of 480 submissions were received in response to the appropriate title and of those that commented on the title of the act, a majority preferred ‘Work Health and Safety Act.’ These health and safety laws work at eliminating or minimising risks in the workplace.

The WRMC endorsed the model WHS Act at its December 2009 meeting and recommended adoption into law by all states, territories and the Commonwealth by the end of 2011. All jurisdictions except Victoria and Western Australia have implemented the model legislation.

Safe Work Australia and the jurisdictions that have adopted the model legislation use work health and safety more generally and not just when referring to their Work Health and Safety Act, SWA said.

A spokesperson for SWA said the body understood the term “occupational health and safety” was still used by many people. “This may be something that changes over time,” he said.

What is WHS or OHS?

ACTU assistant secretary Michael Borowick told AlertForce, meantime, said it “doesn’t matter” if it is called OHS or WHS. “What matters is that workers are protected in legislation and have compensation if they are injured at work,” Borowick said.

“The term occupational health and safety (OHS) is still widely used as workers and the general public are more familiar with OHS than workplace health and safety (WHS). In Victoria, the act is still known as the OHS Act.

“With 83 Australians killed at work since January 2015, Australian unions will continue to focus on strengthening safety at work. “

Director of WHS policy for AIG Mark Goodsell told AlertForce WHS was the preferred terminology in the harmonised legislation, but acknowledged OHS remained in use. “I suspect some see the term ‘work’ is more specific and says something different to ‘occupational’ – exactly what, remains debatable, “ he said. “There has always been debate about where the boundaries of work stop – travel claims are one example of this ongoing debate. Perhaps, ‘work’ is seen as saying something about those boundaries. It could also come down to a short word being preferred over a longer word.”

Goodsell said use of the term workplace/work health and safety originated in the states (Ed: eg, the Queensland Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995 became the Queensland Work Health and Safety Act 2011), but said WHS was increasingly being used following the introduction of the federal harmonisation legislation.

10 things you should consider when implementing a traffic management plan, plus Blue Card changes

A traffic management plan is vital for anyone working on a construction site. AlertForce recommends the following 10-point planning approach. The new Blue Card system for traffic controllers is also explored.

  1. A traffic management plan provides the details of proposals to safely manage traffic during the conduct of works on roads.
  2. The plan includes a traffic guidance scheme (diagrams), worksite hazard assessment (such as a safe work method statement and details of the location, nature and duration of the works.
  3. For long-term work the plan should include details of the requirements to manage traffic through the worksite outside normal working hours or when workers are not present at the site (after-care).
  4. A plan is required by legislation whenever works affect traffic on public and private roads, parking areas, and restricted access construction sites. This includes short-term works such as line marking
or median strip mowing as and up to long -term major road construction work.
  5. Documentation is essential to planning all aspects of the worksite, setting out the what, when how and who of everything that needs to be done.
  6. Worksites need to meet the requirements of a range of compliance documents, which may include legislative, organisation and site requirements and procedures for workplace health and safety, environment and duty of care.
  7. In response to industry calls for greater national consistency, the Commonwealth, states and territories have agreed to implement nationally harmonised work health and safety (WHS) legislation to commence on 1 January 2012.
  8. While not all states and territories have me the deadline, it is important to be aware of the changes, as all states and territories will eventually implement them.
  9. The plan should include reporting requirements for notifiable incidents. Persons engaged in high-risk work should have licences, permits and registrations. There should be provision for worker consultation, participation and representation at the workplace, and resolution of health and safety issues.
  10. You can find out what regulations and codes of practice apply in your state from the relevant Road and Traffic Authority office.

In NSW, a combination of the red card and orange card qualifications enables workers to create a traffic management plan as well as design, select and modify traffic control guidance schemes (TCGS) and conduct inspections.

To attain a Prepare a Workzone Traffic Management Plan Qualification, the following key knowledge and skills set will be assessed, along with a number of other skills:

  • Design traffic control guidance schemes (TCGS) to suit the specific road environment
  • Select and modify traffic control guidance schemes (TCGS) to suit the specific road environment
  • Prepare and develop a work zone traffic management plan
  • Incorporate environmental management plans
  • Follow organisational and legislative WHS policies and work procedures
  • Select signs for a Traffic Control Guidance Schemes (TCGS) (as required)
  • Sign-off a Traffic Control Guidance Schemes (TCGS) (if required)
  • Keep records of all modifications to the Traffic Control Guidance Schemes (TCGS)
  • Monitor and interpret control systems to apply to the drawing, selection and design
  • Use approved methods and follow recognised local legislation
  • Use the site/location assessment, distinguish topographical landmarks and carry out authorised risk control
  • Conduct an onsite check of the plan to identify any unexpected risks and hazards
  • Interpret standards and requirements with local policy and procedures

For training in implementing a traffic management plan, go to https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/nationally-recognised-traffic-control-training-nsw/.

Changes to Blue Card system

While traffic planning saves lives, so too do competently trained traffic controllers. In NSW from July 1, 2015, Roads and Maritime Services has introduced a nationally-recognised competency-based framework into its suite of training courses for traffic controllers.

The competency framework is based on the Austroads research report, Traffic Control at Worksites – Training and Accreditation, which recommends a set of standards, skill sets and units of competency for traffic controllers.

Changes to the traffic controller qualification, currently referred to as Blue Card training, cover employees who manage traffic through or past a roadwork site, directing traffic with a stop/slow down baton or similar control device.

Skills and competencies required for the traffic controller qualification include stop/direct road users using a stop/slow bat and understanding stopping sight distances.

Other competencies include:

  • Understand and make changes to a Traffic Control Guidance Schemes (TCGS) to suite the specific road environment
  • Adapt behaviours to the work site
  • Know the basic function of the Traffic Control Guidance Schemes (TCGS)
  • Adapt to all Work Health and Safety (WHS) and operational requirements
  • Follow organisational and legislative WHS policies and work procedures
  • Use the site/location assessment, distinguish topographical landmarks and carry out authorised risk control
  • Conduct an onsite check of a TCGS to identify any unexpected risks/hazards
  • Able to interpret plans, that is, must be aware of the distance and measuring devices of the method
  • Plan for emergencies that may arise
  • Identify and select the correct type of signs and traffic control devices in line with a Traffic Control Guidance Schemes (TCGS)
  • Install and remove signs and traffic control devices, lane closures and advanced information signage, in line with a Traffic Control Guidance Schemes (TCGS)
  • Ensure spacing between signs and traffic control devices is in line with a Traffic Control Guidance Schemes (TCGS)

The units of competency required for the traffic controller qualification are Work safely and follow WHS policies and work procedures (RIIWHS201A), Control traffic with a stop/slow baton (RIIWHS205A) and Communicate in the workplace (RIICOM201D).

If you are currently working as a traffic controller, your current qualification will remain valid until its expiry as you are already demonstrating the appropriate skills and knowledge.

When your traffic controller qualification expires after July 1, 2015, your qualification must be recertified when your qualification expires. A number of options will be offered that may include on-the-job assessment or recognition of prior learning.

Depending on your skill level, knowledge and experience, you may need to complete a course or attend gap training. You will be provided with the appropriate options when you apply for recertification. If you currently have a valid qualification, you will still be permitted to design and inspect traffic control plans and carry out the functions and duties of your existing qualification.

Further information can be access via the Roads and Maritime website or by calling 1300 828 782.

Working in the civil construction industry and require traffic management or traffic controller training? Go to https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/nationally-recognised-traffic-control-training-nsw/ for latest training courses.  


* Reference source for this article: AlertForce’s ‘Implement traffic management plan’ (R11WHS302D) and AlertForce’s ‘Changes to Traffic Control Training’ https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/nationally-recognised-traffic-control-training-nsw/ and Roads and Maritime Services Traffic control training at http://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/business-industry/partners-suppliers/traffic-control-training/

NBN Co puts safety first

As part of their job requirements, employees at NBN Co must demonstrate clear knowledge of the company’s safety standards. AlertForce plays a key role by providing training for the employees. How do you think you would go answering the following questions taken from the course?

  • Search the Internet for the work health and safety government authority for your state/territory. Write the name (and date) of the relevant act and regulation that applies to you in your workplace.
  • Your employer under the legislation is referred to as a “PCBU”. What does PCBU stand for?
  • There are things that you, as a worker, must do, according to the WHS Act. Research the web site of the WHS authority and then write your interpretation of what you must do in order to comply with legislation.
  • The relevant safety act talks about “reasonable care”. What do you think this means?
  • Do you think that common law duty of care applies to both mental and physical harm?
  • If you notice that a workmate is being bullied or discriminated against in some way, what should you do?
  • According to WorkCover NSW, “the role of a health and safety representative is to facilitate the flow of information about health and safety between the person
  • conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU – the new term that includes employers) and the workers in the HSR’s work group.”
Go to WorkCover’s web page and find the powers and functions of an HSR. List all four of them
  • If an HSR’s role includes representing their work group, do you think this means they are entitled to attend meetings of the Health and Safety Committee?
  • As a worker, are you eligible to stand for election as an HSR?
  • If a safety inspector from the WHS Authority visits your site they must be given every co-operation and everybody on site must follow their instructions. They are authorised to inspect the workplace and work practices and to check tickets, licenses etc.
In your own case, list the licences that you must carry with you at all times.
  • When you are at work, you are injured very slightly – must you report this to your supervisor?
  • What do you think may be the consequences if you don’t report a slight injury and later there are complications that make you sick?
  • Why do you think it’s a requirement to report on a near miss that didn’t actually cause any injury or damage?

As part of the training, employees at NBN CO are required to identify construction hazards and control measures. In a typical example, an employee may be asked among other things to identify four hazards they are likely to come across in the physical environment, who else may be put at risk, and what should be done before work starts at the site, including controls.

At a practical level, they may be asked what type of work is most dangerous in relation to handling fibre cables, do they need additional training for this work, what are optical fibres made of, why food and drink shouldn’t be kept in the work area, what type of safety glasses should they wear and why is it essential to wash their hands before touching their faces, eyes or mouth.

More specific training covers areas such as Australian Standards that classify lasers by wavelength and maximum output and exposure to light from lasers. They are also asked to explain disposal procedures for chemicals.

In the event of an emergency, employees are asked to explain the four main steps to manage the incident. They are asked what they should do if they think it is unsafe to enter an area, and who needs to take leadership in making the scene safe. If power lines are involved, they are asked what is the closest distance for approaching the lines? And in the event of a fire, what type of fire extinguisher should they use.

Finally and importantly, they are asked why it is essential to clean up a site, what kind of work generates dust or fumes and how that can be minimised, what kinds of work will generate unacceptable noise and how can you minimise this, why is it essential to keep noise to an acceptable level, what kinds of waste will be generated in your work, how should they dispose of chemical waste, should you handle and dispose of sharps, what kinds of waste can be recycled or re-used and what types of environmental hazards must be immediately dealt with and reported to their supervisor.

The NBN Safety and Awareness Course is a mandatory induction program for any worker on the NBN. Designed by NBN and offered by AlertForce, the NBNAcc14001A NBN Safety and Awareness online course certifies workers are trained in health, safety and environment.

AlertForce is approved to deliver NBNATC1201A face-to-face. In addition, AlertForce currently has the only approval to deliver the course online.

The online training delivery for this course is more time efficient than other methods, meaning this version of learning can save business money. Whether they choose to do the course face-to-face or online, completing the course is mandatory for all NBN workers. The course is designed to give workers, both experienced and newcomers, useful knowledge to help make every NBN worksite a safe one.

Working for NBN Co or on the national broadband network and require safety training? Go to https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/nationally-recognised-nbn-safety-awareness-course/  for latest courses.  
  • Reference source for this article: AlertForce’s ‘NBN Safety and Awareness Course’ (NBNATC1201A).

21 things you SHOULD know about asbestos

The best thing to do with asbestos in good condition is don’t disturb it. Where it is damaged and needs to be removed, trained professionals must do the job. AlertForce has released this handy 21-point history of asbestos, its use in Australia and why training is essential if you intent to remove it.

  1. Asbestos belongs to the serpentine and amphibole groups of rock-forming minerals.
  2. Asbestos use in human culture dates back at least 4,500 years (to Finland, used in earthenware pots).
  3. The word asbestos comes from the ancient Greek (means “unquenchable” or “inextinguishable“). This refers to its heat-resistant qualities.
  4. Charlemagne, the first Holy Roman Emperor (800–814), is said to have had a tablecloth made of asbestos.
  5. Although asbestos causes skin to itch upon contact, ancient literature indicates that it was prescribed for diseases of the skin including, ironically, itching.
  6. Asbestos use in England dates back to the 1700s, but did not become widespread until the Industrial Revolution during the late 1800s.
  7. Commercial asbestos mines sprung up in the late 1800s and entrepreneurs recognised that asbestos could perhaps make them rich. The U.S. asbestos industry began in 1858 when fibrous anthophyllite was mined for use.
  8. By the mid 20th century uses included fire retardant coatings, concrete, bricks, pipes and fireplace cement, heat, fire, and acid resistant gaskets, pipe insulation, ceiling insulation, fireproof drywall, flooring, roofing, lawn furniture, and drywall joint compound.
  9. In Japan, particularly after World War II, asbestos was used in the manufacture of ammonium sulfate for purposes of rice production, sprayed upon the ceilings, iron skeletons, and walls of railroad cars and buildings (during the 1960s), and used for energy efficiency reasons as well.
  10. The first documented death related to asbestos was in 1906. The first diagnosis of asbestosis was made in the UK in 1924.
  11. The term mesothelioma was first used in medical literature in 1931; its association with asbestos was first noted sometime in the 1940s. Mesothelioma rarely occurs in less than 15 years from first exposure, and in most cases occurs more than 30 years after first exposure.
  12. Approximately 100,000 people in the United States have died, or will die, from asbestos exposure related to ship building.
  13. In Australia, asbestos was widely used in construction and other industries between 1945 and 1980. From the 1970s there was increasing concern about the dangers of asbestos, and its use was phased out. Mining ceased in 1983. The use of asbestos was phased out in 1989 and banned entirely in December 2003.
  14. The dangers of asbestos are now well known in Australia and there is help and support for sufferers from asbestosis or mesothelioma.
  15. Aside from the well-known asbestos related diseases there have been reports of 
stomach, colo-rectal, larynx, pharynx, kidneys and oesophagus cancers.
  1. The excellent fire resistance, insulating properties, fibre strength, durability and flexibility of asbestos minerals resulted in the manufacture of over 3000 asbestos-containing products worldwide. These products included household products (such as hair dryers, ovens and toasters), construction materials (such as roofing, siding and pipe lagging), industrial products (like insulating board, gaskets and heat resistant gloves) and thousands more.
  2. Asbestos-containing materials were used extensively in Australian buildings and structures, plant and equipment and in ships, trains and motor vehicles during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Some uses included some friction materials and gaskets, which were only discontinued on 31 December 2003. In Australia, the asbestos cement manufacturing industry was responsible for over 60% of all production and 90% of all consumption of asbestos fibre.
  3. The well-known adverse health consequences of exposure to airborne asbestos fibres can be prevented if precautions are taken and appropriate procedures are followed. Strong management and control of all asbestos-containing materials in the workplace is essential.
  4. Between 1945 and 1954, 70,000 asbestos cement houses were built in New South Wales alone (52% of all the houses built in that state). In Australia as a whole, until the 1960s, 25% of all new housing was clad in asbestos cement. By 1954, Australia was number four in the western world in gross consumption of asbestos cement products, after the USA, the UK and France, and clearly first on a per capita basis.
  5. The vast majority of asbestos products were used in construction applications and this is why asbestos assessment work typically focuses on buildings and structures.
  6. From a practical standpoint, asbestos will be encountered in two forms including friable and non-friable (or bonded). Examples of non-friable asbestos include most flooring products, cement products like roof tiles and siding, hard gaskets, bricks, adhesives and other obviously bonded products. Examples of friable asbestos include most textiles, papers, sprayed-on fire proofing, and insulating products.
  7. Asbestos becomes a health hazard when fibres become airborne and are inhaled or swallowed. When asbestos fibres become airborne, they can penetrate your body through the nose or mouth and embed themselves in the deepest part of the lungs causing lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.


Pursuing a career in asbestos management and removal. Go to www.alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/asbestos-awareness/ for latest training courses.  
  • Reference source for this article: AlertForce’s ‘Supervise asbestos removal’ course (CPCCBC4051A).


WHS Bulletin Issue 3: Drug use, ramp collapse and fragile roofing

A police prosecutor sacked for taking drugs has unsuccessfully sought reinstatement on the basis he was suffering emotional problems following the 2005 suicide of a police friend and the 2013 death of his father.

Matthew Baker was found to have used cocaine in a random police drug test. The 18-year veteran admitted using the drug but failed to identify the one of seven friends he was drinking with who supplied him with the drug.

Hearing the reinstatement application, Acting Justice Peter Kite of the Industrial Relations Commission of NSW said he had taken into consideration the personal grief and suffering suffered by Baker. However, this had to be weighed against the public interest. Baker had demonstrated a “lack of insight” into the implications of his actions on the integrity of the police force, reflected by his failure to identify who supplied him the drug.

Accordingly, his removal from the force was not harsh, unjust or unreasonable. AJ Kite said the circumstances might have been different had Baker volunteered his use of the drug. “This is not a case of an officer coming to his senses, admitting he has an issue and seeking help,” AJ Kite said. “Even when he knew of the possibility of the random test he did not volunteer his use of the prohibited drug.”

AJ Kite said it was not until Baker had been selected and was about to be tested that he made the admission. “It is clear he was hoping to get away with his misconduct. Facing inevitable discovery he made the admission, but even then he did not go further and assist with information which could identify the supplier(s). He exercised his right to silence when invited to be interviewed.”

The commission earlier heard evidence the police force had zero tolerance of drug use by officers. Officers who used drugs or believed they had a problem were actively encouraged to come forward for counselling and support services. “The effectiveness of the police in protecting the community rests heavily upon the community’s confidence in the integrity of the members of the police force, upon their assiduous performance of duty and upon the judicious exercise of their powers,” AJ Kite said.

“Applying these principles, I am satisfied that the findings I have outlined above demonstrate that it was open to the [police] commissioner to conclude both that Mr Baker’s integrity and that of the police force had been significantly compromised.”

Company fined $250k over ramp collapse death

A company has been fined $250,000 in the Victorian County Court after a loading ramp collapsed killing a driver.

Frewstal Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to three counts under the Victorian 2004 OHS Act of failing to ensure that people other than its own employees were not exposed to risks to their health or safety.

The court was told that the incident took place in September 2013 at Frewstal’s abattoir in Stawell, Victoria as the driver was unloading a shipment of lambs. The driver was on the loading ramp when the hoist he was using to move the ramp broke apart above him and the ramp collapsed. He suffered severe head injuries and was taken to Stawell Hospital before being airlifted to Melbourne. He died several weeks later.

WorkSafe Victoria spokesperson Leanne Hughson said issues around the company’s decision to alter the design of the hoist, a lack of maintenance, and poor driver training in relation to the loading ramp and hoist had “an all too familiar ring to them”. “A lack of maintenance and a lack of training are common causes of serious injuries and fatalities in workplaces across the state,” Hughson said.

“And, far too often, WorkSafe investigators will discover that an incident has been caused by a piece of machinery being altered without due regard for the safety implications. WorkSafe will continue to prosecute employers who fail to understand that there can never be shortcuts when it comes to safety.”
The court was told an investigation at Frewstal’s abattoir revealed a lug on the loading ramp hoist had failed “catastrophically”.

The court heard that when a new loading ramp and safety mechanism was installed at the abattoir in 2010, the hoist lug was moved 300mm. However, the new position made it more susceptible to fatigue damage, stress and corrosion. The court was told that the company had failed to get expert opinion about the design change before moving the lug, and then failed to regularly inspect the hoist system during regular maintenance checks of the loading ramp.

The company also failed to put in place a system to train, direct or induct drivers to the use of the loading ramp and hoist. The court heard that in order to lower the loading ramp, a safety bar had to be manually disengaged. It had to be manually re-engaged once the loading ramp had been moved into its new position. The court was told that the driver had not been adequately trained in the safety bar’s operation and the safety bar had not been engaged when the loading ramp collapsed.

Hughson said the health and safety failures in relation to the abattoir’s loading ramp meant the risk of a serious injury – or worse – kept growing. “The decision to move the hoist lug without first assessing the engineering consequences was a critical error,” Hughson said. “The failure to keep an eye on this vital part of machinery during regular maintenance checks also created a serious risk.”

Safety alert on fragile roofing

SafeWork SA has issued a safety alert on working with fragile roofing.

Fragile roofing materials include corroded corrugated steel cladding, structurally unsound roof members, plastic sheeting, wired glass and corrugated asbestos-cement roof sheeting.

It is essential to identify all potential hazards and conduct a risk assessment before working on any roof area or using the roof as a means of access (eg, for construction, repair, maintenance, demolition or inspection), the alert warns.

WHS Bulletin Issue 2: Hairdressing, fatalities, awards and agriculture

A hair dresser sacked after she changed her sanitary napkin in the salon kitchen and then washed her hands in the kitchen sink has failed to be obtain an extension of time to hear her unfair dismissal claim.

Employer Raw Hair argued it was a serious breach of workplace health and safety (WHS) relating to personal hygiene in the salon kitchen – and came on the back of ongoing poor performance. The kitchen was used for meal breaks and food preparation for the salon café, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) heard.

In her application seeking reinstatement, Samra Vilic argued her dismissal was not related to her performance at work because she did not receive a warning about her conduct, and because the WHS breach did not relate to her job or performance. The commission noted Vilic’s recollection of the events leading up to her dismissal differed to those of Raw Hair. While she did not dispute the incident had occurred, she did dispute the significance of the breach.

“Having considered all of the factors, I find that there are no exceptional circumstances warranting the granting of further period for the making of an application for an unfair dismissal remedy,” Deputy President John Kovacic found.

“Accordingly, the application cannot proceed and is therefore dismissed. An order to that effect will be issued with this decision.” The commission heard her application was lodged one day outside the 21 day statutory timeframe for making an unfair dismissal application.


15 work related deaths in March

Latest Safe Work Australia figures reveal 15 work-related notifiable fatalities during March 2015 — 12 male workers and 1 female workers, 1 male bystander and 1 female bystander.

Of these fatalities, six workers died as a result of incidents on public roads or air. The monthly notifiable fatality report provides a national summary of work-related traumatic fatalities that were notifiable to Australian work health and safety jurisdictions.

Besides providing an estimate of the number of work-related deaths, the report also included details of the types of incident involved; the industry of the workplace at which the fatalities occurred; and the industry of the decedent’s employer. The reporting is based on calendar year.


CASA recognised for annual report

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s (CASA’s) focus on workplace health and safety (WHS) in its annual report has been recognised with an award at this year’s Australasian Reporting Awards in Melbourne.

The WHS Reporting Award recognises the value of incorporating WHS performance into organisation’s annual report. Safe Work Australia chief executive officer Michelle Baxter said all businesses should include WHS reporting in their annual report.

“Congratulations to CASA. Their annual report illustrates a commitment to ensuring their workers, contractors and others stay healthy and safe at work,” Baxter said.

CASA’s report was selected from a finalists including BHP Billiton, Woodside Petroleum and the City of Ryde. The Australasian Reporting Awards (ARA) provide an opportunity for organisations to benchmark their reports against the ARA criteria. They are open to all organisations that produce an annual report. The criteria for entering can be found on the ARA website.


Safeguards for agricultural industry

WorkCover NSW is set to launch the third phase of an industry action plan to improve health and safety in the state’s highest risk agricultural sector.

Inspectors are contacting sheep and beef cattle farmers across regional NSW to arrange visits between now and the end of August to help farmers assess and improve safe work systems.

While some will be first-time clients, others have already received a special rebate of up to $2,000 for purchasing or supplementing the cost of health and safety solutions.

Executive director of WorkCover’s Work Health and Safety Division Peter Dunphy said about 9,500 famers – more than a third of the target industry – had received assistance under the project’s now discontinued rebate scheme. “That is an extraordinary and unprecedented take-up rate, representing around $18 million in rebates, with more than $30 million invested in actual safety improvements that have helped to improve the industry’s health and safety performance,” Dunphy said.

“Most of these safety improvements are long-term infrastructure that will not only reduce the risk of injury on farms right now, but also for years to come and future generations. “We have already seen some significant results in pen and yard improvements, animal restraint and handling devices, animal loading ramps with hand-rail systems, and better sunshade protection.”

The project stems from an industry action plan devised by WorkCover and partners, such as NSW Farmers Association, the Country Women’s Association, Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety, and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service.

The plan addresses five main areas of concern – working with livestock, quad bikes, tractors and related implements, occupational disease and ‘recover at work’. Further support is being provided via an Alive and Well campaign – featuring real farmers conveying safety messages based on personal experiences to the wider agricultural community. The program has its own website; aliveandwell.net.au

During forthcoming visits, inspectors will work with farmers to improve safety systems. Farmers who are visited may be eligible for the $500 Small Business Rebate.

WorkCover NSW said there were about 26,000 workplaces and 14,000 workers in the sheep and beef cattle farming industry. In the three years to 2010/11, workplace injuries and occupational disease in the industry had cost the NSW WorkCover scheme around $48 million, it said.

WHS Bulletin Issue 1: Mining, asbestos and codes of practice news

Mining’s improving safety performance is reflected in latest figures – with companies in resources, materials and “heavy industry” among lower injury rates in the latest Citi workplace safety survey.

Citi’s Safety Spotlight: ASX100 Companies & More survey found safety systems were “often well established in such industries, given the potentially high risks in these industries, where major injuries and fatalities do occur”.

“Conversely, higher injury rates tend to be seen in industries with diverse sites, and activities like logistics, manual handling and hospitality – including consumer staples and retail,” its July 13 report said.

The research of Top 100 companies found in general, injury rates had “tended to come down over time, though for many companies substantial improvements have already been made and improvements are now more incremental”.

“Indeed, where injury rates are now low, it may be unrealistic to expect to see a continuing smooth downtrend”. Figures over the past five years revealed significantly reduced injury rates from earlier high levels for several ASX100 companies.

Metcash consistently had the highest lost time injury frequency rate (LTIFR) injury rate in the sample at 14.1 injuries for every million hours worked, though the rate was down from 16.3 in 2012-2013. Woolworths (10.37), Qantas (8.9) and Wesfarmers (7.6) were next on the list. The report identified 437 fatalities among the Top 100 companies between 2005-2014.

Companies with more than 10 fatalities among employees and contractors over the period included Aquarius Platinum (37 fatalities over the period), BHP Billiton (45), Boral (15), Coca-Cola Amatil (17), CIMIC (ex-Leighton Holdings) (49), Downer EDI (10), Lend Lease (40), Newcrest Mining (18), Orica (12), Rio Tinto (51) and Transfield Services (11). (Toll Holdings was previously in this category but recently delisted.)” It appears that more companies are now reporting vehicle accidents (eg, Coca-Cola in Indonesia) and we suspect historical reporting may have been less comprehensive,” the survey said.

The charts identify where a single incident resulted in five or more fatalities – these were three aviation accidents: BHP (5 fatalities, 2008), NCM (8, 2012), RIO (10, 2008) and one underground mining fall-of-ground: AQP (5, 2011). South Africa featured heavily in BHP and RIO’s fatalities. Of BHP’s 49 fatalities from 2005-2015, 16 (33%) were in South Africa. Of RIO’s 54 fatalities, 12 (22%) were in South Africa.

Fatalities have tended to result from: vehicle / mobile plant accidents, helicopter accidents and falls from height, falling objects or crush injuries, electrical accidents and drowning.


Rethink for asbestos training in utilties sector

The Federal Government’s Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA) is undertaking a review designed to strengthen asbestos-related training materials in the utilities sector. The public has until Friday (July 17) to respond to an issues paper on the subject.

The best practice training materials developed will ultimately be for use by organisations within the utilities sector. Improvements to asbestos-related training in other sectors may be considered following this process. The review follows a number of reported instances of inappropriate handling and removal of asbestos containing materials (ACMs) during the Telstra/NBN cabling rollout.

An independent national taskforce was established by the Australian Government to monitor ongoing activities and prevent exposure of employees, contractors, and the general public to airborne asbestos fibres.

One area requiring continued focus and oversight included the development and implementation of an improved practical competency based training program for safer work practices for all workers engaged in pit and pipe works.

Feedback on the issues paper can be provided by email to Secretariat@asbestossafety.gov.au or by mail to Mr Julian Farrugia (Assistant Director), Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, GPO Box 9880, Sydney NSW 2001.


New WHS codes of practice for the ACT

The ACT Government has adopted new model codes of practice developed by Safe Work Australia.

The notified codes are:

  • Work Health and Safety (Demolition Work Code of Practice) Approval 2015
  • Work Health and Safety (Excavation Work Code of Practice) Approval 2015
  • Work Health and Safety (First Aid in the Workplace Code of Practice) Approval 2015
  • Work Health and Safety (Managing Electrical Risks at the Workplace Code of Practice) Approval 2015
  • Work Health and Safety (Managing the Risk of Falls at Workplaces Code of Practice) Approval 2015

AlertForce Nominated For Telstra Business Awards

AlertForce Team

AlertForce chief executive officer Brendan Torazzi struck on the model for his award-winning training business when exploring ways to market futuristic sleep pods to manage corporate fatigue.

Discouraged by barriers required to sell the pods, Mr Torazzi sought advice to build a course to help truck drivers manage fatigue.

Within six months, he had secured around 20 per cent of the market.

AlertForce now is one of Australia’s leading providers of workplace health and safety (WHS) training. Its success has seen it nominated in the NSW small business category of the annual Telstra Business Awards, to be announced at the Westin Sydney on Tuesday (July 21).

Launched in 2009, AlertForce is a registered training organisation that offers nationally recognised WHS training courses and qualifications. Operating across Australia, courses are delivered face-to-face and online for small businesses through to multi-nationals.

The Sydney-based operation employs eight fulltime staff to facilitate training in the areas of construction, telecommunications and government.

Mr Torazzi says the company’s website is the best sales generator, with 60 per cent of revenue delivered through sales transacted online. “I believe the best marketing and sales strategies for small business are delivered online. Done correctly, small business can leverage results not possible last century.”

Mr Torazzi said he spent a lot of time and effort getting the website and learning management system integrated so that customers can self-serve.

“Our marketing and sales strategy is let clients come to us once they are ready to purchase. Once an enquiry is made we regularly drive engagement through clear communication.”

WHS Mines Act 2013 Duties

The Work Health and Safety (Mines) Act 2013 (WHS Mines Act) has a wider application than previous laws.  It applies to all workplaces which are defined as mines – such as:

  • Where mining operations are carried out; or
  • A ‘tourist mine’ (being a workplace only for tourism purposes but at which mining operations were formerly carried out and at which there was a hazard prescribed by the regulations).

The term ‘mine’ is defined as a workplace at which ‘mining operations’ are carried out (or a tourist mine). The term ‘mining operations’ is defined to mean:

  • Activities (referred to as ‘mining activities’) carried out for the purpose of:
    • Extracting minerals from the ground;
    • Injecting minerals into the ground;
    • Exploring for minerals; and
    • Activities carried out in connection with mining activities at a site, or a site adjoining or in the vicinity of a site, at which mining activities are carried out.

Certain activities are expressly included in the definition of ‘mining operations’, and these include:

  • Handling, storing, preparing or processing extracted materials; and
  • Constructing a site where a mining activity is or may be carried out.

The scope of the term ‘mining operations’ means that the WHS Mines Act 2013 may extend to certain other activities which are not within a colliery holding or mining title, or at a place where extraction of material is carried out.

Duties of a “mine operator

The Work Health and Safety (Mines) Regulation 2014 (the WHS Mines Regulation) places primary obligations on the “mine operator” for the “mine”.  The “mine holder” is the mine operator, unless the mine holder has appointed another person to be the mine operator.

The “mine holder” is the person conducting the business or undertaking (PCBU) with control over a right or entitlement to carry out mining activities, or the preparation or processing of extracted materials carried out in connection with mining activities or at an adjoining site or in the vicinity of such a site.

The WHS Mines Regulation places requirements on the “mine holder” to only appoint a person as a “mine operator” if:

  • The person is a PCBU and is appointed to carry out mining operations at the mine on behalf of the mine holder;
  • The person has the skills, knowledge, experience and resources to exercise the functions of the mine operator; and
  • The mine holder authorises the person to have management or control of the mine and to discharge the duties of the mine operator under the WHS Act and WHS Mines Act and Regulation.

The WHS Mines Regulation introduces the ability of the Regulator (The Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services (DTIRIS)) to direct that one or more mine operators be appointed at a mine. The Regulator can give a direction, for example, that there be a single mine operator for the mine holding where the colliery holder/mine holder may have wished to appoint separate mine operators for separate and distinct mines.

Managing Risks – general requirements

A PCBU must ensure that a risk assessment is conducted by a person who is competent to conduct the particular risk assessment having regard to the nature of the hazard. This is a new requirement under the WHS Mines Regulation.

There are new obligations requiring PCBUs to maintain certain records in relation to risk assessments, control measures and reviews of those control measures. PCBUs which are mine operators have specific obligations concerning records of control measures which are to be reviewed in relation to certain events, such as notifiable incidents. The mine operator must maintain records relating to the causes of an incident, any WHS issues arising, recommendations, and a summary of any changes to the safety management systems. Similar obligations are imposed on other PCBUs at a mine.

These new obligations may impact on how mine operators currently conduct and retain internal investigations and claims for legal privilege. There are also penalty provisions which can result in fines being imposed for non-compliance.

Safety management system

The Work Health and Safety (Mines) Regulation 2014 requires that a safety management system be established and implemented by the mine operator. These requirements are similar to the “health and safety management system” under the CMHS Act and the “mine safety management plan” under the MHS Act and Regulation.

The WHS Mines Regulation is more prescriptive in a number of respects than the CMHS Act and Regulation and MHS Act and Regulation. For example, the WHS Mines Regulation requirements include that there needs to be procedures for responses to, and investigations of, incidents. Organisational charts are also required to show the positions and persons who have WHS responsibilities. The safety management system is also to include, for example, arrangements for consultation, co-operation and co-ordination between fellow duty holders, particular measures for contractor safety management, and the procedures and conditions under which persons are to be withdrawn from the mine.

In relation to all underground mines, there are particular and detailed requirements for air quality and ventilation including that the mine operator must prepare a ventilation control plan for the mine.

“Principal mining hazard management plans”, “principal control plans” and “emergency plan”

The WHS Mines Regulation requires development, maintenance and review of principal hazard management plans and principal control plans.

The primary concept for such plans has been transposed across from “major hazard management plans” under the CMHS Act and Regulation, to now apply to all mines under the WHS Mines Regulation.

The mine operator of a mine has a duty to prepare an emergency plan for the mine, and there are specific things that must be done in this regard for underground mines, including in relation to the number of exits, safe escape, and refuge.

The WHS (Mines) Regulation also creates obligations to develop, implement and periodically review various plans, including a health control plan, mechanical engineering control plan, electrical engineering control plan, and explosives control plan.

The WHS (Mines) Regulation also requires that specified risks are managed by having specific control measures in place for “all mines”, “all underground mines”, “all coal mines”, and “all underground coal mines”.

There are many areas that are new under the WHS Mines Act 2013 and The WHS Mines Regulation 2014 and it will be necessary to review existing systems to ensure they comply with the new laws.

Further information can be found at www.resourcesandenergy.nsw.gov.au/safety

Work Health and Safety (Mines) Act 2013
Work Health and Safety (Mines) Regulations 2014 (clauses 6 & 7)

For more information on WHS Act and a free course visit AlertForce Health and Safety Courses.

Management Of Asbestos in Leased Buildings

Asbestos is a serious health risk that must be managed. Immediate action to comply with the legislative changes is prudent. All pre-2004 buildings with common property workplaces need to comply. Compliance is simple with good quality properly experienced and trained advisors.


Most would perceive that the duty for managing asbestos in buildings is the responsibility of the owner. Although that was largely true once, the Model Work Health Legislation has changed some obligations concerning the detection and management of asbestos containing materials in their leased premises to the tenant. This responsibility concerns buildings constructed before 31 December 2003 (the date that a complete prohibition in the use of asbestos in building materials was imposed). Hence, the Legislation has determined that whoever is leasing the building based on this age limit and set criteria, is accountable for maintaining an asbestos register and for preparing an Asbestos Management Plan.

Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011

Part 8.3 Clause 422 of the Regulations states:

“Asbestos to be identified or assumed at workplace

  • A person with management or control of a workplace must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that all asbestos or ACM at the workplace is identified by a competent person.
  • A person with management or control of a workplace must:

(a) if material at the workplace cannot be identified but a competent person reasonably believes that the material is asbestos or ACM – assume that the material is asbestos, and

(b) if part of the workplace is inaccessible to workers and likely to contain asbestos or ACM – assume that asbestos is present in the part of the workplace.”

A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) with control of a workplace must ensure that any asbestos at the workplace is identified, recorded in a register (Reg. Clause 425) and subject to an Asbestos Management Plan (Reg. Clause 429).

The obligation to keep an asbestos register applies to buildings constructed before 31 December 2003. An asbestos register is not required to be prepared in circumstances where (Reg, Clause 425):

  • the workplace is a building that was constructed after 31 December 2003
  • no asbestos has been identified at the workplace, and
  • no asbestos is likely to be present at the workplace from time to time

However, even if no asbestos is identified or is determined not be present based on reasonable grounds, the register must state that:

“no asbestos or ACM is identified at the workplace if the person knows that no asbestos or ACM is identified, or is likely to be present from time to time, at the workplace.” (Reg. Clause 425)

If there is uncertainty about whether asbestos is present, it must be assumed that it is asbestos or arrange for samples to be analysed.

Many might falsely presume that this obligation falls upon building owners. However, the Tenant (or Lessee) as the PCBU has had the responsibility to ensure a register is maintained and if necessary, an Asbestos Management Plan from 1 July, 2013.

Victorian and West Australian OHS Legislation

As Victoria and Western Australia have yet to take on the Harmonised Work Health and Safety Act, their legislation in general does not have the lessee of a building and who runs the business from that building as the entity that has responsibility to maintain an asbestos register or management plan.

However, his does not affect the businesses’ responsibilities under Victorian or West Australian OHS Legislation to sustain an asbestos controlled environment, ensuring and maintaining a safe workplace. This would include ensuring the control risk of exposure where asbestos is identified, the control of asbestos-related work and specify the location of asbestos.

Ensuring Compliance: Asbestos Registers and Management Plans

There is a requirement to survey the building area and identify all loose and friable asbestos as well as stable categories found in building materials. These stable Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) can be located in all manner of building materials (e.g. old concrete pits, fibro sheets, etc…).


In order to assess the situation and be compliant, a survey to ascertain which buildings were completed prior 1st January, 2004 and order an asbestos survey (buildings that were completed prior to 31st December, 2003 which were strata titled at a later date should be included).

The surveys whereby asbestos or ACM are located must be kept onsite and available. When they are located, an onsite asbestos register and Asbestos Management Plan is to be developed and made available to those who might be at risk.

If asbestos or ACM is located, and the decision made is not to remove it but leave it onsite in a stable encapsulated state, a regular audit of the building will be necessary. The location of any asbestos needs to be clearly indicated (labelled) with the asbestos register that must be maintained, outlining:

  • The location of the asbestos
  • The type of asbestos-containing material
  • The nature of the material (friable or non-friable)
  • The likelihood of the material posing a health risk
  • Any work activities that may affect or cause deterioration to the material.

Depending upon the condition of the asbestos it must be removed or monitored to ensure that it is in safe condition.

Asbestos Management Plan

Every workplace where asbestos is present or may be present must have an Asbestos Management Plan. “A person with management or control of the workplace must ensure that a written plan (an asbestos management plan) for the workplace is prepared.” (Reg Clause 429).

An asbestos management plan must include information about the following:

  • the identification of asbestos or ACM,
  • decisions, and reasons for decisions, about the management of asbestos at the workplace,
  • procedures for detailing incidents or emergencies involving asbestos or ACM at the workplace,
  • workers carrying out work involving asbestos

A copy of the asbestos management plan for the workplace is readily accessible to:

  • a worker who has carried out, carries out or intends to carry out, work at the workplace, and
  • a health and safety representative who represents this worker and
  • a person conducting a business or undertaking who has carried out, carries out or intends to carry out, work at the workplace, and
  • a person conducting a business or undertaking who has required, requires, or intends to require work to be carried out at the workplace

The Asbestos Management Plan must be reviewed at least once every five years and, as necessary revised:

  • Before asbestos is removed , disturbed, or otherwise work undertaken on it
  • If the Asbestos Management Plan is no longer adequate
  • If a health and safety representative requests a review

Asbestos removal must be done by a licensed removalist and the regulator must be notified of any work taking place.

An asbestos case study

An apartment owner in a block of 12 apartments built in the 1970s phoned the strata manager indicating that both her door and that of her neighbour were sticking. She asked the strata manager to organise a tradesman to take a look at the problem.

The tradesman took the two doors off their hinges and proceeded to shave the doors (without a catcher). The doors were tagged indicating that they were made of asbestos material however the tradesman didn’t see this tagging. As well as shaving the doors in the apartment, he took them down to the garage and worked on them.

The owner was previously in the building industry, and became concerned about the dust in her apartment, the common area, and the garage. The owner contacted the strata manager with her concerns.


The strata manager arranged for the dust particles to be tested and it was confirmed that they were asbestos particles. Immediate measures were taken to contain it. Black plastic was placed over the carpet and soft furnishings in the owner’s apartment, as well as in the common areas. The garage was blocked off. A qualified asbestos consultant was contracted to safely clean up the areas where asbestos particles were identified.

The presence of asbestos in buildings isn’t insurable, so the owner’s corporation was responsible for costs incurred in cleaning up and replacing carpet, furnishings in the contaminated apartment, carpet in the common areas, and cleaning up the garage. Several special levies had to be raised to cover the costs.

To access asbestos awareness and removal training, get in touch with the AlertForce team today.


Controversy over Discovery of Asbestos on Rottnest Island

For many years now, Rottnest Island off the coast of Western Australia has been one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. Known for its natural beauty and fine weather, it’s been especially popular among families looking for a relaxing outdoorsy holiday.

Recent discoveries of exposed asbestos on the island, however, may be threatening that popularity. Although the local government has issued a study that declares the asbestos deposit to be ‘low risk’ chrysotile or ‘white asbestos’ that isn’t much of a threat to health, many local activists and the President of the Asbestos Diseases Society vehemently disagree.

Not the First Time

The most recent discovery was made by a tourist staying in a bungalow on the island who spotted what he initially feared was blue asbestos, the most dangerous form of the mineral. The Rottnest Island Authority (RIA) immediately fenced off the area and sent the material for testing, announcing that it was actually the less dangerous white asbestos and that it posed no threat to visitors or inhabitants of Rottnest.

This isn’t the first time asbestos has been found on the island; in 2013 a little girl found a chunk of asbestos while collecting shells and brought the dangerous mineral back to her parents to show them.

However, activists and the Australian Medical Association (WA) disagree with this assessment, pointing out that breathing in white asbestos dust and fibres can cause cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis, and that it can take years for damage done by asbestos to show. There is in fact no accepted ‘safe exposure’ to white asbestos. As a result, they criticised the government’s reaction, suggesting it was trying to save money by evading a full-on asbestos removal project.

Finding the Source

Although the source of the asbestos on Rottnest Island has not yet been identified, the most likely source is similar to many other communities in Australia that have suffered from asbestos contamination: Home construction. As with many other residential homes all across Australia, many of the structures on Rottnest Island were built years ago when asbestos in many forms was a common insulation material.

Asbestos works very well as insulation and is fire-resistant. For decades it was used in various forms – often in the most dangerous fibrous form. As long as the asbestos remains intact it offers very little danger to residents. But when these homes are renovated or torn down, the demolition process often releases huge amounts of asbestos into the environment and becomes an active problem. And even without construction the asbestos can break down due to environmental stresses or other factors and invisibly contaminate the air of a home or surrounding area. And since the diseases caused by asbestos exposure can take years or even decades to manifest, it is often difficult to trace the symptoms to asbestos exposure.

Across Australia many homeowners are every familiar with the problem of asbestos as they discover the Mr. Fluffy product in their homes, often unbeknownst to them. While the Australian government has been buying contaminated homes from affected owners in order to tear down the structures safely and dispose of the mineral, there is currently no indication that any of the homes on Rottnest contain the Mr. Fluffy product. However, it is deemed very likely that the asbestos so far found on the island originated with construction and demolition of older structures. There is a theory that the asbestos found most recently came from roof repair work done at the bungalow in 2005.

Danger to Families

Why the long delay between the roof work and the discovery of the asbestos? Chances are good the material was buried and then disturbed by weather or other natural activities, revealing it to the open air. Despite the RIA’s assurance that the white asbestos posed no real threat, many families are thinking twice about booking vacations at Rottnest until the problem has been thoroughly investigated.

Many families don’t feel confident in their ability to identify asbestos in the first place, and with the medical authorities reminding them that there is no ‘safe’ level of exposure, they naturally worry that a few weeks or even days spent on the island enjoying the scenery could make them or their children ill – if not immediately, then down the line when making the connection between the disease and the vacation.

Rottnest, known affectionately as Rotto by its loyal holiday tenants and full-time inhabitants, has been voted in the top ten favourite places for Australians to visit over the years. However, that status appears threatened by this new health risk and the perception that the RIA is not taking a serious enough position on it and is failing to protect its visitors and residents from what could be a disastrous health risk.

For its part, the RIA continues to preach calm, pointing out that an isolated deposit of white asbestos very likely stemming from an isolated construction project is no reason to assume the island is riddled with the deadly mineral. It maintains that the asbestos found on the island at no time represented significant risk to anyone, and stresses that it reacted promptly to fence off the area and perform a proper clean-up of the area the moment it was made aware of the problem.

In the end, the real trouble for Rottnest Island may not be asbestos removal or even the possibility of sickened visitors or residents launching lawsuits in the coming years. The real trouble may be the simple matter of managing fear and bad publicity, two powerful forces that have combined to disastrous effect at many other places and services both in Australia and elsewhere. No one, after all, wants to put their family at risk in exchange for a few days of fun and relaxation, and whether it is necessary or not the RIA must be considering some further efforts in order to satisfy the court of public opinion, or risk not being anywhere near the top ten of holiday destinations for Australians in the years to come.

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.

Asbestos amendment to Work Health and Safety Regulations in the ACT to commence

In 2011 the federal government issued the Work Health and Safety model legislation and regulations, and began pushing all states and territories to adopt them with the goal to have a uniform set of laws for Work Health and Safety across the country. The aim was to have a uniform and consistent set of laws and regulations making it far easier for businesses working in multiple states and territories to comply with those regulations. With the exception of Victoria and Western Australia (who have now introduced the Work Health and Safety Bill 2014 for public comment), all states and territories have implemented the Work Health and Safety Act and Regulations.

Recently the ACT’s Legislative Assembly have recently passed the Dangerous Substances (Asbestos Safety Reform) Amendment Act 2014 which commences on 1st January 2015. This amendment takes in Chapter 8 of the Work Health and Safety Regulations with adaptation for the ACT.

How will this affect business?

Businesses undertaking work that involves the handling, removal or disposal of asbestos will have to become familiar with the amendments to ensure that their company fully complies with the new requirements from the beginning of 2015. They still are required to follow the Work Health and Safety regulations which set out the context for the management of asbestos involving:

  • the training of workers at risk of encountering asbestos
  • notifying the regulator of asbestos removals
  • health monitoring for workers
  • naturally occurring asbestos
  • stricter requirements for the removal of asbestos and
  • national licensing and competency standards for licensed asbestos removalists and assessors

The ACT Government developed the Work Health and Safety regulations further through the Dangerous Substances (Asbestos Safety Reform) Amendment which requires businesses to ensure they comprehend and apply the following deviations by:

  • requiring all asbestos removal work to be carried out by a licensed asbestos removalist
  • removing the exception in the Work Health and Safety regulations for non-friable asbestos removal not exceeding 10 square meters
  • removing the exclusion on work involving asbestos when the work is only minor, routine maintenance work
  • replacing the term “competent person” with “licensed asbestos assessor” to clarify that all asbestos assessment, clearance
  • inspections and air monitoring must be provided by a licensed asbestos assessor (i.e. from 1 January 2015 a person must not
  • remove asbestos or asbestos containing material from any premises unless the person is an appropriately licensed asbestos removalist) and
  • requiring that a person who manages or controls a workplace, having to assume asbestos is present if an approved warning sign is present

What does businesses need to do?

The Dangerous Substances (Asbestos Safety Reform) Amendment Act 2014 in the ACT will impact individual workers and contractors as well as businesses. Anyone handling asbestos-containing materials or other potentially toxic materials will need to study the new regulations because they may need to complete additional training or secure a license that was previously unnecessary for the tasks they complete in their line of work.

Businesses handling asbestos contracts, utilizing heavy machinery, conducting work in the mines or otherwise completing jobs governed by the work health and safety regulations have hopefully already studied the new laws to determine how they will affect their operations. Some of the changes that some companies may need to implement are as follows:

  • Workers potentially handling materials that contain asbestos may require additional training.
  • All jobs that involve the removal and disposal of asbestos materials must be reported to Work Safe ACT prior to beginning the project.
  • Companies may be required to monitor the health of all workers handling or removing asbestos materials.
  • All workers removing and disposing of asbestos materials will need to complete training competencies and secure a license as trained removalists or assessors.

Notice that there is no longer any room for non-licensed contractors or workers to remove or dispose of materials containing asbestos, and that includes naturally-occurring asbestos. While there was a previous law that confused many businesses regarding their ability to remove small amounts of materials that contain asbestos without a license, that law is being overturned in favour of stricter standards for worker protection against exposure to asbestos.

Asbestos courses are offered online by AlertForce and works as an introduction to this crucial section of work health and safety (WHS) standards. To obtain a basic knowledge of asbestos in Australia and confidently put measures in place to reduce your risks, you should talk to the AlertForce team today.

Yoga Keeps Workers on Their Toes, Saves Businesses Money

What comes to mind when you think about yoga? You may think that yoga pants are comfortable on a lazy weekend at home but you would never wear them to work. You may think of some of your more zen friends and then laugh. Perhaps you don’t think yoga is the right form of exercise for you, but recent studies may make you think twice about that assumption.

It turns out that there are many physical and mental benefits of performing yoga on a routine basis, and those benefits aren’t limited to your personal life. More and more businesses are thinking about offering yoga programmes as employee incentives because they increase employee health, increase productivity within the workforce and can potentially reduce the number of injuries suffered on and off the job.

Yoga programmes are now available through live instructors, DVDs and internet-based courses. You can even perform yoga with a cheap mat or carpeting and written instructions. Something as simple as a booklet that contains pictures of various yoga poses could potentially become a powerful tool for a business interested in keeping workers health and happy so that they report to work more often and work harder when they are on the clock.

Yoga Relieves Stress, Promotes Happiness

In 2011, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released a report that showed workers missing five or more consecutive days from work were more likely to do so as a result of stress or mental health issues than as a result of a physical injury. This signifies a shift from physical injuries causing the majority of work absences to mental distress causing a large percentage of absences.

This is an important shift because work absenteeism costs businesses a lot of money due to loss of productivity. According to research completed by Safe Work Australia, absenteeism costs businesses more than $10 billion every year, so it is in the best interest of every business to minimize work call offs to the greatest extent possible.

Researchers are now starting to explore the physical and mental response to yoga as well as other forms of exercise. One study reported in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that people performing yoga experienced a more significant boost in happiness than those completing a walking programme. There are other studies starting to surface which also validate the claim that yoga boosts positive thinking and increases overall sensations of happiness and well being.

This is important because workers are now under more stress in the workplace than ever before. The amount of stress experienced is even greater for employees and contractors working on or within close proximity of heavy machinery or toxic chemicals. The more hazardous or dangerous the work environment, the more stress employees are likely to feel while on the job.

Stress also comes in the form of harassments, conflicts with colleagues and pressure to complete duties that are potentially unethical. This type of emotional stress is just as debilitating as the stress of physical danger when it is suffered on a routine basis over a long period of time.

Since more workers are now calling off work due to the mental and physical effects of stress, it’s important for businesses to help workers fight off those effects. Yoga is proving to be one of the most cost-effective options, and it has many other benefits for employers and employees.

Yoga for Pain Management and Prevention

One of the biggest benefits to performing yoga on a routine basis is the stretching and strengthening of muscles throughout the body. It is important to strengthen the back and other core muscles in order to perform the poses correctly, and that offers three benefits for employers and employees:

Stronger, more flexible back and core muscles reduce the chance of employees suffering injuries in the workplace. Employers invest in employee physical fitness in order to benefit from reduced rates of injury which cost the company money.
When an injury is sustained at or outside of work, stronger muscles increase the chances of a fast return to health. This limits the amount of time employees may need to spend away from work when injuries do occur, increasing productivity and saving companies money.

Employees suffering from chronic back over a long period of time can learn to manage the pain naturally through yoga, allowing them to work even while in pain. This is beneficial to the employee in need of a paycheck and the employer in need of active, productive workers.

Yoga and ROI

Is it possible that paying for yoga programmes could provide a substantial return of investment, or ROI, for employers? Could something as simple as offering yoga classes for all employees once a week improve the health and increase productivity for all workers within a business? Research is showing that yoga is beneficial physically and mentally to workers, so employers can consider it wise to invest in the health and well being of their employees in this manner.

The payback comes through reduced employee absenteeism, fewer workplace injuries, and more productive work from employees when they are o the job. As employees maintain healthier bodyweights, feel more energetic and increase muscular strength, they also start to feel happier and more content. That means they can focus on their jobs and put more effort into their duties, and that benefits employers tremendously.

There is no way to eliminate all forms of stress currently affecting workers, but companies can potentially benefit from keeping workers on their toes with regular yoga classes. In many studies completed to date, the best results came from weekly programmes featuring one or two classes of 50-60 minutes each.

There are many ways that employers can offer that type of programme to employees either through live courses offered on the job or DVDs, mats, printouts and other materials provided for practice outside of the workplace. Some companies may even find it beneficial to offer incentives to employees embracing their health and wellness by picking up yoga classes on their own.

Get in touch with the AlertForce team today.




Mr. Fluffy Heads to West Belconnen

The Mr. Fluffy saga has been playing out in Canberra for more than a decade, and it is now expanding to New South Wales and other surrounding areas. It all started 40 years ago when raw, loose asbestos was placed in thousands of residential homes to serve as insulation. It was marketed by a company now known as Mr. Fluffy because the product was marketed under the name “asbestosfluf” for the fluffy nature of the material.

It is now well known that this type of loose asbestos material can cause cancer and other health conditions 20 or more years after inhalation. The human body cannot eliminate it from the system as it does many other toxins, so the fibres collect inside the body and lead to mesothelioma or asbestosis. Thousands of Australians have died due to asbestos-induced cancer, and even more people are receiving the same deadly diagnosis of cancer every day.

The number of people affected by asbestos-induced cancer will continue to grow as long as buildings in Australia contain asbestos. While some reports state that the government was warned about the dangers of the loose asbestos fill being placed in thousands of homes throughout Canberra and NSW 40 years ago, the government is just now being forced to take action on the problem.

Recent Mr. Fluffy Updates

If you have been following the Mr. Fluffy saga, you may already know that more than a thousand homes have been identified as containing Mr. Fluffy asbestos insulation in Canberry and homes are now being identified in NSW and other areas. The ACT government has decided to buy back homes in the area so that they can be demolished and the materials properly disposed of before more people are affected by the asbestos materials.

The problem is that the federal government had not offered a loan to help the ACT government cover the expenses of such a buy back programme. That was recently changed when the federal government stepped forward with a $1-billion loan to help the ACT cover the buy backs and demolition projects essential to cleaning up the Mr. Fluffy asbestos mess.

With the financial means to move forward with the buy back programme, the ACT government started searching for a safe place to dispose of the homes demolished through the programme. Most Australian landfills do not accept asbestos materials, and there are strict laws that must be enforced to ensure more people are not exposed to asbestos fibres that get loose in the air. Those fibres are not seen by the human eye, so they are among the deadliest toxins to ever enter the environment.

The Planned Asbestos Dump

It is now being reported that all of the homes demolished in the Mr. Fluffy buy back programme will end up in the West Belconnen Resource Management Centre. This centre is a landfill in Macgregor located on Parkwood Drive. All remains of the asbestos-contaminated homes will be dumped in the West Belconnen tip which is just slight over 1 km from the closest residential area.

The Act government claims that this is the only dumping facility capable of handling the amount of asbestos-contaminated waste that will be produced as more than 1,000 homes are demolished. It is estimated that 150,000 tonnes of asbestos-contaminated material will be disposed of by the completion of the project, and there are still more homes throughout Canberra and NSW which may have even more Mr. Fluffy asbestos materials.

The estimate of 150,000 tonnes of waste is based on the estimated amount of rubbish produced by a home with three or four bedrooms. This figure is likely to go even higher since homeowners are likely going to give up some of their material possessions which are now contaminated with asbestos fibres. There are reports of families finding asbestos fibres on clothing, bedding and in carpeting.

Some reports even detail asbestos fibres found on children’s toys and in carpeting, walls and dressers used by children. All of those materials may need to be included in the waste deposited at the centre, increasing the number considerably.

Moving Forward with Mr. Fluffy

It is scary to think about children playing with toys contaminated with deadly asbestos fibres. That hints that many more Australians are likely to receive diagnoses of mesothelioma in the future, and many of them can get the diagnosis in their 20s or 30s rather than later in life since they have potentially been exposed to these fibres as young children.

Other reports have detailed asbestos insulation installed by Mr. Fluffy remaining in roofs which are now in poor condition. These roofs are in residential areas where children play and adults enjoy their daily lives, and there is a concern that the asbestos fibres will break free and contaminate the breathing air in those areas.

Since the ACT government continues to request homeowners come forward if they are aware of Mr. Fluffy asbestos in their homes, many simply don’t know whether this insulation was placed in their homes during construction or not. Others have simply not responded to the government inquiry, which means there could be many more homes contaminated than the figure currently revealed.

Now that funding for the buy back programme is in place and there is a plan for the disposal of the contaminated rubbish, the Act government will proceed with purchasing homes from families and demolishing them to prevent future exposure. Some families have already been removed from their homes because they are so contaminated they are deemed unsafe for inhabitation.

There are likely many more homes that are unsafe for inhabitation, and they will be identified as the project moves forward and testing on homes throughout Canberra and NSW continues. The problem is that this is a slow process, and thousands of people are at risk of inhaling deadly asbestos fibres in the meantime.

While no one likes the idea of disposing of this amount of asbestos anywhere in the ACT, it has to go somewhere and the faster these homes are demolished the better.

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.




ACT Government Corrects Misconceptions Regarding Key Asbestos-Removal Rule

Any company involved in building demolition, renovations or construction must go through proper training courses regarding the safe removal and disposal of materials containing asbestos. This is a heat-resistant material that was heavily used in residential and commercial construction prior to the 1980s. It was used as insulation inside buildings as well as in wallboard, roofing shingles and indoor tile.

While asbestos was championed as an affordable material that resists and traps in heat naturally, it also releases fibres that are invisible to the eye which collect inside the lungs. Inhalation of those fibres is now linked to the development a form of cancer known as mesothelioma as well as other life-threatening diseases.

It can take more than 20 years for victims to start showing symptoms of disease, and Australians die from asbestos mesothelioma every year. Although the use of any material containing asbestos in the construction of residential or commercial buildings was banned in Australia in 2003, there are many structures built in earlier years that still contain these materials. When these materials are encountered during renovation, demolition or property maintenance, they must be removed and disposed of safely so that fibres aren’t released into the air.

When governmental regulations regarding the removal of asbestos aren’t followed carefully, the lives of all people in the area are put in danger. This is why companies are now working through the certification process to qualify as approved asbestos-removal professionals. Companies, contractors and individuals without the proper certification must call an approved professional if they believe a material containing asbestos is found during the course of a project.

Loopholes and Misconceptions about Removal

The ACT government is now taking action to close loopholes and bust myths surrounding one particular rule included in asbestos-removal regulation. The rule states that certified, approved asbestos-removal professionals must be called for all projects involving the removal of more than 10 square metres of asbestos-containing material.

For years, many companies have interpreted this to mean they can remove up to 10 square metres of asbestos materials without any training. This means that many companies have allowed uncertified, untrained workers and supervisors to remove small amounts of asbestos materials without contacting a qualified professional to oversee the work. This puts Australians in danger because even small amounts of asbestos-containing materials can release dangerous fibres into the air.

Taking it even further, some companies interpret the rule to mean that they can remove up to 10 square metres of asbestos materials per day. If a project takes 40 days to complete, that means the company may remove up to 400 square metres of asbestos without the supervision of a qualified professional before the end of the project.

Builders, contractors and other workers involved in the removal and disposal of asbestos materials have abused this rule either intentionally or out of ignorance for many years, but the ACT government is closing the loophole and clearing up any misunderstandings.

What Does the Rule Really Mean?

The rule was intended to allow uncertified workers to remove small amounts of asbestos materials when encountered over the course of a larger project. Workers are still required to receive some training in the handling and removal of these materials, even if they don’t obtain their certification or diploma in work health and safety.

The intention was never to allow uncertified and untrained workers to accept jobs removing any amount of asbestos materials. Companies have been carrying out this work without the proper training and without meeting other legal qualifications due to this one rule, and that is what the ACT government is now correcting.

The New Asbestos Removal Rules

The ACT government is making the following changes to ensure the safety of all Australians:

  1. All asbestos removalists and assessors will be licensed through Worksafe. All company oversight will be completed by Worksafe as well, ensuring the asbestos-removal industry is closely monitored with the strict standards currently experienced by other high-risk industries.
  2. New workers handling asbestos in Canberra must contact Worksafe so that their first project can be approved. This will ensure that workers moving into the area have received the proper training, are licensed and are handling these dangerous materials in line with the government’s expectations.
  3. Worksafe must receive advanced notification from companies completing projects that involve friable asbestos. This form of asbestos crumbles and breaks easily and is therefore much more likely to contaminate the air with asbestos fibres. These projects are currently reported after the completion of the work, but Worksafe will now demand advanced approval for such jobs.
  4. Any job requiring the removal of asbestos materials, friable or non-friable, must be completed by a licensed asbestos removalist. This completely does away with the 10 square metre rule, closing that loophole and leaving no room for misunderstandings of the law.

These new rules will go into effect January, 1, 2015, and will change the way many construction and remodelling companies perform their work. This may also lead to an increase in the number of companies investing in asbestos training and certification so that they can employ their own asbestos removalists and assessors.

These new rules go well beyond correcting misunderstandings surrounding the 10 square metre rule. They address a few other problems that have left the asbestos removal industry vulnerable in past years. Once the new rules go into effect, companies will have no choice but to train their workers for the safe removal and disposal of these materials or to connect with licensed asbestos removalists in their area to ensure that these materials are handled legally when identified during the course of a project.

The new rules will also give companies fewer excuses when violations of the rules are discovered or reported. The new rules are straightforward and contain fewer loopholes, so workers will have less room to talk their way out of citations when caught handling these dangerous materials improperly. This will increase business for removalists while decreasing the risk to Australians living near construction sites that contain any amount of asbestos materials.

More info on Asbestos Training


AIG Puts Spotlight on Victorian Economy in Pre-Election Statement

On November 29, 2014, all Australian citizens living in Victoria over the age of 18 will hit the polls to take part in the state election. While the candidates running for office haven’t made workplace health and safety a major issue in their running platforms, that doesn’t mean organisations and citizens in Victoria aren’t concerned.

The Australian Industry Group, otherwise known as AIG, issued their pre-election statement for this voting cycle on November 2. This is a report that the group submits before each round of voting in hopes of influencing candidates running for office. The report contains a variety of recommendations for the government soon to take office, including issues related to state-based taxes, regulatory reform, state holidays and employment trends in specific industries.

The pre-election statement issued for this year’s candidates in Victoria includes some strong recommendations for employment in the construction industry. It also contains some recommendations related to workplace health and safety.

Spotlight on the Economy

The AIG spared no time digging into highlighting what the group believes is a major obstacle for Victoria: the struggling economy. The report states that prices are high and productivity in the region is low, creating a difficult economy for Victorian residents. At least part of the blame for this is placed on the closing of the automotive industry which previously kept the economy in Victoria quite strong.

In order to strengthen the economic conditions in Victoria and bring more businesses into the area, the AIG recommends that the incoming government consider taking the following steps:

  • Reduce taxation
  • Reduce business regulation
  • Invest more in infrastructure
  • Encourage innovation
  • Take action to increase worker skills
  • The AIG believes that the new Victorian government can reduce the cost of operating a business in Victoria by reducing taxes and easing regulations placed on businesses. They recommend more investment in infrastructure and a focus on innovation and skill enhancement because it might increase business productivity in the region.

These recommendations will have an impact on all industries operating out of Victoria, and that includes industries bound by strict health and safety guidelines.

Recommendations for the Harmonised OHS laws

The AIG also recommended that the new Victorian government commit to the Harmonised OHS laws, stating that they can help reduce the cost of business. This refers to the Intergovernmental Agreement for Regulatory and Operational Reform in Occupational Health and Safety which was signed by the Council of Australian Governments in 2008. The goal was to enact one health and safety code for all Australian governments, ensuring that businesses and workers enjoyed the same protections regardless of where they lived and worked.

One of the reasons given by the Council of Australian Governments for harmonising the OHS laws throughout Australia was to reduce “compliance and regulatory burdens for businesses operating across State and Territory boundaries.” Since the AIG is calling for the new Victorian government to reduce the cost of business in order to spark more economic activity, it makes sense that they would encourage the state to agree to the harmonised laws in order to reduce regulation pressure on businesses.

To date, the Victorian government has refused to agree to the harmonised occupational health and safety laws because of the expense. The government viewed a report presented by PricewaterhouseCooper regarding the expense of initiating the changes and determined that the benefits would not justify that expected expense.

There is one more major criticism against the harmonised laws which may have impacted the state’s decision not to commit: there aren’t too many Australian businesses operating in multiple states and territories. Statistics were used to show that most business operate in just one state or territory, so they won’t benefit much from standardised laws that apply to all states equally.

Mark Goodsell, Director – NSW of the AIG, is now pointing out that the logistics industry was not included in the statistics used in that big criticism of the harmonised laws. He points out that that logistics industry includes many businesses that operate in states throughout Australia, but those businesses may have headquarters in only one state. He reasons that these companies would benefit tremendously from harmonised OHS laws throughout all states and territories, since they operate vehicles in all regions of the country.

Will the New Victorian Government Conform to Harmonisation?

Joining the rest of Australia in the commitment to the harmonised OHS laws was just one recommendation presented in the lengthy AIG pre-election statement. While members of the new government have made no mention of workplace health and safety laws through their campaigning efforts, only time will tell whether they are paying attention to these recommendations and whether they will take action to bring Victoria on board with the commitment to harmonisation.

Victoria does have a good worker’s compensation plan in place, and many of the workplace health and safety laws in the state are well-developed and effective. Yet, the AIG argues that harmonising with the rest of Australia will help the state make a comeback as a leader in this important industry.

Mark Goodsell notes that the state was once a leader in OHS but has recently slipped from that position because the government is out of the loop in terms of harmonisation. He states that the states and territories already committed to the agreement are working together to create the best OHS laws possible, but the Victorian government has been left out of those negotiations due to its stance against the harmonisation project.

As Victorian residents hit the streets to vote for their preferred stated candidates on November 29, many of them may not think much about occupational health and safety laws. That doesn’t mean that the candidates they vote for won’t take a position for or against the harmonisation of OHS laws after they take office.

Residents concerned can look up their candidate’s previous statements and political actions to determine whether they have taken a stance on one side or the other on this issue.




Asbestos Factory in Victoria Possibly Linked to 16 Mesothelioma Cases

Asbestos is fast becoming a dirty word in Australia. Due to the heavy use of this dangerous material in construction prior to the 1980s, many commercial and residential buildings throughout the country contain loose-fill, boards, shingles, tiles and other materials which contain asbestos. Australians are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year, and the cases are growing at an alarming rate.

In 1983, there were 156 people diagnosed with mesothelioma in the country. In 2008, there were 661 people diagnosed with the disease. Hundreds of people also die due to this illness every year. For example, there were 668 people diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2007, and 551 Australians died from the disease that same year.

These statistics are alarming, but they are reality. Many of these mesothelioma cases are due to the inhalation of asbestos fibres before the 1980s. Many Australians worked in industries that used this material heavily, and they breathed those deadly fibres into their lungs on a daily basis year after year. Those fibres collect inside the body and aren’t easily eliminated, and it takes more 20 years for signs of disease to become apparent. That is why so many people are dying today for asbestos fibres they inhaled many years ago.

Ongoing Risks

Yet, the growing rate of mesothelioma diagnosis isn’t a result only of inhalation in the past. There are thousands of buildings throughout Australia that still contain some type of asbestos material. For instance, more than 1,000 homes are currently being bought back by the government and demolished because they contain asbestos insulation marked by Mr. Fluffy.

As long as asbestos remains in our homes and offices, it is a risk for Australian citizens. It is not harmful when left undisturbed, but it may easily release fibres into the air if licensed removalists are not contacted for safe removal and disposal during remodelling and other construction projects.

The Problem in Victoria

One of the most recent discoveries of potential asbestos contamination comes out of Victoria. The problem surrounds an old factory which is no longer in use. The factory was a heavy producer of asbestos prior to the 1980s, and authorities decontaminated all buildings at the site in the late 1980s. the property was also sealed and capped to prevent any remaining asbestos fibres from escaping into the surrounding community.

Unfortunately, many people worked in that factory before the dangers of asbestos became well known in the late 1980s. Many others lived in close vicinity to the factory and potentially breathed in air contaminated with asbestos fibres before it was capped and sealed. Since it takes 20 years or longer for signs of mesothelioma from asbestos inhalation to manifest itself, it makes sense that reports of mesothelioma cases are now starting to surface.

Between 2001 and 2013, there were 16 diagnosed cases of mesothelioma in the region of this factory. According to Michael Ackland, acting Chief Health Officer, this rate is slightly higher than what is expected for an area that size within that time period. This has sparked concern that many people in the area may have been exposed to unhealthy amounts of asbestos in the past, but it also raises the question of whether the factory is safe for the surrounding community as it stands today.

Addressing the Victoria Asbestos Problem

In order to determine whether the old factory continues to contaminate the air and soil with asbestos fibres or not, the Environment Protection Agency will oversee testing in the area. The testing will be conducted by an environmental hygienist without connections to the government or factory. The air in surrounding residential areas will be tested in addition to the soil and roof spaces.

There are also 10 residential structures in the area that will undergo testing due to previous connections to asbestos materials. If these homes are found to contain asbestos fibres in the air, roof spaces or soil, they may be considered dangers to the community just like the old factory.

The government will also talk to the 16 people diagnosed with mesothelioma to determine their connections to the factory. It is possible that at least some of them are former employees of the factory before it was decontaminated and capped. This means that they may have been exposed to asbestos fibres for many years before the dangers of the material were realized.

What Happens After Testing?

The test results will determine whether the Victorian factory and those 10 homes continue to present a threat to residents of Victoria or if the increasing rate of mesothelioma is due to inhalation of fibres prior to the 1980s. The course of action taken by the government will depend on the findings of those tests, so it is too early to predict what may happen in the area moving forward.

If the factory is determined to be a present health risk for community members, it is possible that the government will have it demolished and the site cleansed of all asbestos materials. More drastic measures may need to be taken if high levels of asbestos are found in the soil at the factory or in surrounding communities. Many community members may be impacted if asbestos fibres are found in the air within communities surrounding the factory.

Tips for Residents

It is important for all Australians to understand the risks of handling asbestos materials. Anyone believing that their home or office building may contain an asbestos material of any type should contact a licensed asbestos removalist. They can thoroughly examine the property to determine what type of asbestos is present, how much of the material is present, and whether fibres are currently contaminating the air.

Professional removalists can also take on the project of removing these materials and decontaminating the site so that it is safe. It is crucial that residents not undertake construction projects that involve these materials without the assistance of licensed removalists. There are companies in Victoria with the expertise and asbestos training needed to safely remove these materials without releasing deadly fibres into the air.




AlertForce Pty Ltd Ranked 19 on BRW’s Fast 100 List

Potts Point, NSW, Australia
  – 13 November 2014 – BRW recently released their prestigious Fast 100 annual list, recognising the fastest-growing start-up companies in Australia. Many promising businesses made that list, and AlertForce.com.au is proud to stand amongst them. Ranking #19 on the list for 2014, the compliance training company looks forward to networking with and learning from other Australian businesses.

In order to compile this list, BRW scores companies based on the following criteria: number of years in business, financial turnover the previous year, number of full-time employees and growth in company revenue. In order to qualify, companies must have at least four months of operational history, employ fewer than 200 full-time employees and prove revenue growth and a minimum of $500,000 turnover from the previous year.

Brendan Torazzi, AlertForce’s CEO, told SmartCompany.com.au that the company has enjoyed steady growth since 2009, but the progress over the past two years has been remarkable. This is largely due to the company’s expertise in national training standards for the removal of asbestos.

While many Australian communities struggle to clean up dangerous asbestos-containing materials in residential and commercial buildings, many asbestos-removal companies have made headlines for illegal practices. AlertForce has stepped up to provide training to businesses and individuals involved in the removal of asbestos safely and legally.

In addition to specialising in asbestos education, AlertForce offers comprehensive Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) compliance training courses that are accredited, nationally recognised and in line with current governmental regulations. A diverse collection of certification and diploma courses are offered, including some unique specialisations.

AlertForce allows students to select from online courses and classroom courses with live instructors. Some students complete their certifications through a blend of online and face-to-face classes. The format is flexible so that participants needs are accommodated.

What sets AlertForce apart from other WHS training programmes is a commitment to innovation and expansion. Brendan Torazzi is a well-known entrepreneur and stated that the company “always looked for little niches in the market where the government says training is needed by a certain date.” Brendan and his WHS experts look for those opportunities to provide essential health and safety training to a wider audience.

For example, the company recently announced a new programme offering mandatory training for those interested in the Government’s National Broadband Network. As new government regulations are introduced, the course offerings at AlertForce will expand. It is that rapid response to governmental training standards, top-of-the-field instructors and flexible course environments that skyrocketed AlertForce to the top 20 of the Fast 100 List.

National Broadband Network work ramping up

Australia’s National Broadband Project is ramping up its efforts and is starting to show solid results with tens of thousands of properties being connected to the blazingly fast new system and talk of big things to come.

What is the National Broadband Network?

The National Broadband Network (NBN) is a government program launched in 2011 aimed at getting more than 93 per cent of Australian homes connected to ultra-fast internet access by mid-2021.

The goal is to create a system with download speeds in excess of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) by 2016, and 50 to 100 Mbps by 2019. This is not some minor side-project; the Australian Government plans to stump up $29.5 billion over the project’s lifetime.

Such speeds may become necessary if the amount of data being downloaded continues to rise. In the past five years the amount of data Australians use has risen tenfold, and the total has increased from 657,262 terrabytes to 996,000 from June 2013 to the same time next year. To put that in perspective, that’s just over 217 million DVDs.

It’s a project that is expected to employ tens of thousands of Australians over its run time and require local workers to up-skill intensively to take part in the infrastructure construction project aimed at integrating fibre-optic, fixed wireless and satellite technology across Australia.

Once complete it is also expected that many of those workers will be retained at the end of the project to repair, maintain, update and expand the infrastructure they built.

The NBN is different to the mobile wireless services, where download and upload speeds can be affected by the number of users in the area and how much activity is going on. The NBN network is designed to provide consistent and reliable service for a specific number of premises in an area.

Why does Australia need it?

According to a report by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were nearly 12.5 million internet subscribers in Australia by the close of June this year, with over 98 per cent of Australian connections being broadband and the number of dial-up connections continuing to dwindle. This represents a huge shift from 2006 when roughly 47 per cent of connections were dial-up.

Fibre has been the fastest growing internet connection type in recent years, increasing by 76 per cent since June 2013 and reaching 203,000 connections as of June this year. The data makes it clear that Australians are opting, where possible, for ever-faster internet connections, and expanded capacity is crucial to providing this for both commercial and residential connections.

Of the total Australian market, just over 2 million subscribers had internet speeds of 24Mbps or greater, with the greatest number (6.2 million) having speeds between 8 and 24Mbps, 3.7 million had speeds between 1.5 and 8Mbps, and 256,000 people had speeds ranging between 256 kilobits per second and 1.5 Mbps, while 186 thousand were stuck on dial-up.

“Fast broadband helps give residents access to e-health services, distance education and entertainment on demand and we have seen examples of businesses demonstrating an increase in productivity, reduction of costs and access new markets,” NBN co-spokesperson Justin Jarvis said.

What’s happening now?

The National Broadband Network has reported a series of solid achievements in recent weeks, with technological advancements, end users growing 27 per cent over the last quarter to 267,000, and revenue up 32 per cent to $29 million.

“These results reflect the improvements we are making in construction, product development and the end user experience. They represent solid progress towards our FY15 targets of 1 million serviceable homes and 480,000 end users,” NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow said.

Workmen are labouring across Australia to make it happen, and work is proceeding ahead of schedule in some locations, like Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, which are getting bumped ahead on the list and are expected to be up and running by the end of 2015.

The region is crucial to the roll out in the New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland regions, NBN told ABC News, with the implementation of fibre-to-the-node (FttN) infrastructure planned for more than 200,000 premises across 140 NSW and Queensland suburbs in the near future.

Fibre-to-the-node is a slight step down from having fibre-optic cables run directly to a premises, but NBN’s Darren Rudd told ABC news that it is a faster way to get the infrastructure laid down. The decision to ramp up the FttN method comes after a 50 house trial in Umina NSW that found FttN houses managed download speeds of 97Mbps and upload speeds of 33Mbps, while running fibre directly to the property only increased this to 100/40.

“There’s less complexity, less cost and we can get people on the network, in those numbers, in those suburbs this time next year,” Mr Rudd said. “Essentially what we’re going to do is roll through the city and build this network … They’re like a mini exchange in the street, we run fibre from the exchange to them and then we push more of the data through from that little node into the house or apartment.”

Safety requirements for getting involved

The National Broadband Network, like any infrastructure project that involves working with electrical systems, carries with it a set of risks to workers’ health.

As a result NBN Co has a comprehensive mandatory safety program in place, which can be accessed either through the internet or in person. The program must be completed if an employee is to take part in the installation, connection and maintenance of network assets, shifting fibre optic cables, boring and excavation. Those in charge of sites where NBN work is underway must also access the safety program.

The training focuses on spotting and controlling for both industrial and environmental dangers, and helps employees to understand the scope of their role within the wider project. AlertForce is presently the only training provider registered to conduct the online training program. People who do the online safety program also need to undertake an accredited and instructor-led CPR course.

If you are interested in becoming a part of Australia’s broadband future, contact AlertForce to get more information on the online NBN Safety and Awareness program.

Asbestos still a concern in NBN rollout

As the Australian government rolls out the National Broadband Network (NBN), work health and safety standards continue to be a serious concern.

One of the most significant threats to employee wellbeing is the presence of asbestos in pit sites. As the construction of telecommunications company Telstra’s network dates back over a number of decades, many pits and materials were manufactured using asbestos-containing cement.

This issue came to a head last year when Telstra came under fire after investigations revealed some contractors were not handling the deadly material in the correct methods.

“These pits and ducts are owned by Telstra and it is their responsibility to get them ready for the NBN rollout in a safe and secure way,” said Julia Gillard, prime minister at the time. “I do want to emphasise there are no shortcuts when dealing with asbestos. All safety procedures must be adhered to.”

In response to this, Telstra reported in May last year it had hired 200 specialists to investigate poor handling of asbestos.

“Telstra retains ownership of the pit and pipe infrastructure and retains the primary responsibility for the remediation of its infrastructure to make it fit for NBN practice,” NBN Co Chief Executive Mike Quigley told a parliamentary hearing in 2013.

After the initial story broke, Telstra was quick to respond. The communications giant put measures in place to reduce the poor handling of asbestos and worked hard to mitigate any further exposure. This included offering asbestos awareness training to workers through a long-standing partnership with AlertForce.

Telstra pits back in the news

The presence of asbestos in Telstra pits has recently been thrust back into the spotlight after a young girl fell into a Telstra services pit earlier this month.

According to an article by The Herald on November 6, the girl’s mother, Melanie Strempel, was watching her daughter riding her bike when she witnessed the lid to the pit flip open, causing the girl to fall partially inside.

“When we went over to see if she was alright in the bottom of the pit we noticed all the broken bits of asbestos, the pit had deteriorated on the inside,” Ms Strempel told The Herald.

Ms Strempel revealed that she had lost her grandfather to an asbestos-related disease and the incident brought back painful memories.

While it has not been confirmed whether the material in the pit did contain asbestos, Telstra representatives were quick to seal the area with plastic sheeting and put up precautionary barriers. The company will now work to remove the material in the safest possible manner.

Addressing asbestos in Telstra pits

Due to the potentially high prevalence of asbestos in Telstra pits, many workers and some residents are at risk of exposure as the NBN upgrade is carried out around Australia.

Addressing this hazard is a serious concern, which Telstra has approached through education, training and awareness strategies.

Furthermore, the mandatory NBN Safety and Awareness course offers additional training and qualifications for those working on the nationwide campaign. This particular program is designed to introduce students to the NBN project and help workers identify the specific risks they may face.

When asbestos is discovered in a Telstra pit, a specific set of practices and procedures must be adhered to. This will ensure that both workers and the public are not unnecessarily exposed to asbestos while the NBN rollout continues.

No one knows what condition much of Telstra’s infrastructure is in around the country, or how much needs to be replaced before it is fit for NBN Co to lease. This is why caution is important.

Telstra does have a significant number of asbestos-related regulations and practices in place, to ensure the rollout continues to run smoothly.

The first step is for NBN Co and its contractors to inspect the pits and pipes to identify which elements need to be upgraded or fixed prior to the fibre cable installation. At this point, asbestos testing can also be carried out to ensure no work is being performed on or near materials that may contain the deadly fibres.

If asbestos is detected in a pit, Telstra requires workers to follow a strict set of procedures, put in place to reduce the risk of asbestos exposure. These include:

  • The site must be barricaded to ensure the public and other workers are kept at a safe distance
  • Signage must be visible to warn of the asbestos risk
  • Asbestos removal must only be carried out by a trained professional
  • Those directly involved in the clean-up need to wear appropriate personal protective equipment, including asbestos-rated masks, goggles, disposable coveralls, boots and gloves
  • The pit will be thoroughly wet down to prevent dust and airborne fibres
  • Once the material has been removed, it needs to be sealed in specially designed asbestos disposal bags
  • Protecting clothing and equipment must also be disposed of in sealed asbestos bags
  • Only once all material is removed from the site should the signage be taken down and work commenced on the new pit installation
  • Protecting health and safety on the NBN

There are many potential risks to health and safety when working on a telecommunications upgrade. Beyond the asbestos risk outlined above, workers need to remain alert and on guard to protect against injuries related to electricity, falls from heights, engulfment and traffic accidents.

Understanding the hazards that could put you at risk is vital to ensuring you can go home safe to your family each work day. However, when working on a remote or rural Telstra site, it may become difficult for you to travel into a major centre to undergo training.

This is why AlertForce offered the NBN Safety and Awareness course online. Accessing the training via the internet gives workers in any region the ability to earn this mandatory qualification. Once the course has been completed, you will need to also obtain a CPR certificate which can only be undertaken through instructor-led training.

Fortunately, this component is typically easy to arrange due to being an important part of many work health and safety courses – which means you can find the training time and place that suits your needs.

For more information on the online NBN course or to get qualified in asbestos removal, talk to the AlertForce team today.

Asbestos is a serious and ongoing concern in Australia

Asbestos is a serious concern in Australia, affecting the lives of many and creating havoc in the building and construction industry.

Staying on top of developments regarding this dangerous material is just one way to minimise your risk of exposure. An in-depth and evolving knowledge of asbestos is crucial to mitigate the hazards that may be lurking in your workplace.

Another consideration would be to undertake asbestos awareness training, to ensure you can identify and address any potential asbestos that may be present.

To ensure you are in the best possible position to protect the health and the safety of your colleagues and staff, here are just a few of the latest asbestos-related headlines from around Australia.

Australian hospitals tested for asbestos

A hospital is the place you go when recovering from an illness or injury. The last thing you would expect would be for the very building itself to pose a danger to your health and safety.

Unfortunately, recent testing has revealed many hospitals in Australia may contain asbestos products. Sydney’s Westmead hospital closed its service tunnels earlier this year after an untrained apprentice disturbed asbestos in the walls.

Now, only trained and supervised personnel are allowed entry into the tunnels, and only while wearing protective clothing and suitable asbestos-grade breathing masks.

Speaking to ABC News, Annabel Crouch, a former speech therapist at Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital, explained that she had recently been diagnosed with mesothelioma – a disease directly related to asbestos exposure.

It is believed Ms Crouch contracted the cancer while working at the hospital, due to service tunnels being lined with asbestos materials.

“We went up and down the tunnel 10 times a day,” Ms Crouch explained. “And there would always be people working on it, the pipes, there’d be plumbers doing things {…} No-one thought there would be asbestos or any danger.”

This revelation is a serious concern for anyone who has worked in or on a hospital in Australia, particularly those built prior to the total asbestos ban in 2003. It is therefore important for individuals in all industries to stay aware and understand their risks. One way to do this is to complete asbestos training to help identify and monitor the hazards.

Home renovators the new wave of asbestos victims

As the health risks of asbestos was discovered, the victims contracting related diseases have come in waves. Starting with those working in asbestos mining and factories, the ill effects soon moved into the construction and manufacturing sectors.

The third wave appeared much later, when families and spouses of first and second wave workers also began being diagnosed with mesothelioma and other conditions. This was due to a lack of safety precautions meaning workers often carried dangerous asbestos fibres home on their clothing – where it was then inhaled by family members.

The latest wave of victims to come forward is also related to domestic exposure, but is not limited to the years before the total asbestos ban was put in place. Now, home renovators who are unaware of their property’s history are putting their own and their family’s lives at risk by undertaking DIY renovations and disturbing asbestos materials.

This is according to Asbestos Diseases Research Institute professor Nico van Zandwijk, who told the Daily Telegraph last month that “statistics are suggesting that an increasing number of mesothelioma victims were exposed to asbestos fibres in non-occupational settings such as home renovation and maintenance including women and children.”

Approximately one-third of Australian homes contain asbestos products, so it is important for homeowners to get their property assessed before starting any developments. While buildings constructed after 1990 are likely free of asbestos products, any home built before this time need to be checked.

Homeowners, renovators, tradies and contractors are all at risk when working on older buildings. This is why awareness and training is crucial. Any person considering DIY renovations should talk to a qualified professional before cutting, stripping or disturbing materials in the home.

“Factory of death” responsible for neighbours’ health concerns

The importance of correct asbestos containment and removal has been highlighted as the death toll in Melbourne’s Sunshine North continues to climb.

Reports from the Sunday Herald Sun suggest that more than 30 people have died and 15 fallen ill simply due to living near the Wunderlich factory, which created asbestos products prior to the nationwide ban.

The Health Department last month conducted a range of air quality tests around the area and found no evidence of asbestos fibres. However, the toll of past manufacturing work is hard to ignore.

Because of this, the Sunday Herald Sun commissioned asbestos experts to test the roof spaces of a number of houses near the factory and found a significant number contained invisible asbestos dust.

Peter Thomson, a resident whose home tested positive, was upset over the lack of information. Prior to these recent tests, homeowners were unaware of the danger lurking in their roof spaces.

“If it wasn’t for the Sunday Herald Sun this still would not have come out,” he said on October 18.

“There could be 2,000 or 3,000 homes sitting on a time bomb. It leaves a dirty taste in your mouth and makes you feel sick.”

While it may be too late to prevent the asbestos spreading from the abandoned factories, it is not too late to minimise exposure in your workplace. Correct asbestos removal techniques are crucial for protecting the health and safety of yourself, your colleagues and any neighbouring residents.

As the presence of asbestos in these homes demonstrates, precautions need to be taken even when properties are not directly exposed to asbestos products. If the wind were to blow in the wrong direction on the wrong day, any loose asbestos fibres can easily travel over long distances and contaminate many homes.

Any person who may be required to undertake asbestos removal needs to complete the relevant training. While official qualifications are not required for small amounts of non-friable materials, the training will ensure all proper precautions are in place no matter what.

For more information on safe asbestos removal or to get started with asbestos awareness training, get in touch with the AlertForce team today.

Australian Hospitals and the Asbestos Crisis

Millions of people walk in and out of hospitals around the world every day. Some are doctors, nurses and staff members getting paid to clock in and help the sick and injured. Others are patients and their loved ones seeking relief from pain and treatment for illnesses and injuries. Some are already fighting serious medical conditions like cancer. Others are conducting research on subjects suffering from those diseases.

What none of these people expect to encounter is a deadly dose of asbestos fibres floating around in the air. They breathe the air freely, perhaps assuming that the hospital is one of the cleanest and healthiest places in the world.

Unfortunately for many Australians, those hospitals may be the least safe of all places in the country. Employees working in some hospitals for many years are now coming down with mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos fibres in the air. The problem is being traced to the presence of asbestos materials in the tunnels running underneath many hospitals.

According to many hospital workers, tunnels have served as passageways for staff members for many years. One mesothelioma victim and long-term hospital employee noted that she used the tunnel under Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney as many as 10 times a day, and she worked at the hospital for 30 years. She has now been diagnosed with mesothelioma and is campaigning against the hospital to ensure that the danger of asbestos is contained and eliminated.

There are many other employees at hospitals throughout Australia who were likely exposed to asbestos in the air inside those tunnels. There is also concern that the presence of asbestos is not limited to the tunnels.

Tanya Segelov actively represents victims suffering from diseases caused by asbestos and other dangerous dusts. She alleges that asbestos is hidden within many Australian hospitals, and it isn’t just in the tunnels. She believes that the ceilings, steam pipes, fire doors, broiler houses and laundry facilities of many hospitals are contaminated with asbestos.


The Hospital Perspective

danger of asbestos in hospitalsIf you are questioning why so many hospitals and other businesses can contain asbestos and still remain open to employees and the public, it is a matter of justifiable risk. Hospitals allege that their buildings have been tested for asbestos fibres in the air, and no detectable asbestos fibres are present. The argument is that the asbestos materials present in hospitable buildings are not friable and therefore don’t present an immediate threat to people breathing the air inside the buildings.

Friable materials are those that can easily crumble, sending dust fibres into the air. Those airborne dust particles are what collect in the lungs of humans, causing mesothelioma and other diseases. These fibres are not easily eliminated from the body, so they collect over time. In many cases, symptoms of disease don’t set in until years after the exposure.

Hospital representatives have stated that they believe the asbestos contained within their buildings is contained and is not friable. This would mean that they are of no danger to humans unless disturbed.

The Unions Protest

Many hospital workers and patients are starting to worry about their safety when they enter hospitals, largely due to the case of one known hospital worker diagnosed with mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure over three decades of service in a hospital. Employees of some hospitals are also starting to talk openly about time spent in the tunnels beneath hospitals, including some stories that relate to Halloween festivities that may have introduced children and other non-staff members into those asbestos-contaminated tunnels.

Union representatives throughout Australia are now fighting for hospitals to take the risk of asbestos contamination more seriously. Representatives including Tanya Segelov claim that the risk is not limited to those tunnels, and the threat of life-threatening disease is still valid for many Australian hospital workers.

Concern for Workers and Citizens

This concern over asbestos in hospitals comes during a time of heightened alert in Australia. Many residents are now well aware that millions of structures throughout the country were built with asbestos-containing materials, and there are routine news stories regarding citizens concerned with potential exposure in their local communities.

As buildings are demolished and renovated, there is an ongoing concern that asbestos fibres will release into the air, causing disease that will sabotage lives in years to come. This is a nationwide health concern that has been around for generations, and the lingering presence of asbestos materials in older buildings means that it will remain an issue for generations to come.

It is important to stress that this is not an issue related only to the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney. The discovery of asbestos has shut many businesses down in recent years, and that includes small businesses as well as large corporations operating in various areas of Australia. The country used more asbestos materials than most others prior to 1980, so it is going to take a long time to completely eliminate all structures throughout the country of those materials.

What Happens Next?

As unions continue to place pressure on hospitals to take asbestos concerns seriously, testing will continue to determine the true risk to lives of people moving in and out of Australian hospitals each day. As risks are detected, sections of hospitals may be closed to the public while the asbestos threat is eliminated.

In the meantime, Australians should remain on the lookout for potential asbestos dangers. Maintenance workers and other employees in charge of construction, renovation and maintenance of facilities should receive professional training on the detection and treatment of asbestos materials. This training is essential because employees may unknowingly disturb materials containing asbestos, presenting a health risk to their own bodies and many others around them. Education is the best weapon Australia has against the lingering threat of mesothelioma and other diseases caused by exposure to asbestos fibres.

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.


November is National Asbestos Awareness Month

This November is the second annual National Asbestos Awareness Month, leading up to National Asbestos Awareness day on November 28. But what is asbestos and why should homeowners and tradespeople take notice?

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring set of mineral fibres coming in three main varieties: white asbestos, brown/grey asbestos, and blue asbestos. Prized for centuries for its collection of useful properties including flexibility, strength, insulation from heat and electricity, chemical non-reactiveness and its low cost, it has had thousands of applications including strengthening concrete and plastics, insulation, fireproofing and sound-proofing.

It was also employed intensively industrially, with the shipbuilding sector using it to insulate boilers, steam and hot water pipes while the car industry used it in brake shoes and clutch pads.

Australia was one of the world’s most prolific users of asbestos until the 1980s; Australian industry mined asbestos until 1984, and approximately 1.5 million tonnes of it were also imported between 1930 and 1983 according to the Australian Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency.

It was used extensively in housing construction, with the Australian Government’s Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency saying: “If your house was built before the mid-1980s, it is highly likely that it would have some asbestos containing materials.”

The health risks of asbestos were first discovered in 1899 and the first case of asbestosis was discovered in 1924 with the death of 33-year-old asbestos factory worker Nellie Kershaw.

Asbestos was eventually classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a group-one carcinogen, meaning it is a known cause of cancer in humans. It is a category shared with burning coal fumes, several forms of radiation, tobacco smoke and some industrial production fumes.

Asbestos’ tiny fibres can become airborne and when breathed in become lodged in the lungs where they cause the lining of the lungs to become inflamed and scarred, causing asbestosis (which is incurable) and increasing the risk of mesothelioma (also incurable) and lung cancer. However, there is a lag between ingesting the fibres and developing the related diseases that can last decades – it is for this reason that children are believed to be at greater risk.

Asbestos comes in two forms, bonded and friable. Bonded asbestos is asbestos mixed into other materials such as concrete which cannot be crumbled or crushed with hand pressure. Renovations that involve actions like crushing or drilling can release asbestos fibres and create a risk of them being breathed in, but if the asbestos-containing material is in good condition, the Asbestos Awareness Month website advises that they are best left undisturbed as they do not pose a significant health risk. Simply paint over them to help ensure the fibres are sealed within.

Friable asbestos refers to materials containing asbestos that can be crumbled or crushed. Generally this form of asbestos was used in industrial applications such as pipe lagging and asbestos rope or cloth. However, bonded asbestos can become friable when it the material it is bonded to becomes broken, such as when asbestos-containing concrete has holes drilled in it. Friable asbestos may only be removed by a trained and licenced specialist with a friable asbestos licence.

Warning signs of asbestos-related diseases include:

  • shortness of breath, wheezing and hoarseness
  • coughing up bloody fluid
  • persistent painful coughing which worsens with time
  • chest pain and tightness
  • difficulty swallowing
  • swelling around the face and neck
  • lack of appetite
  • losing weight
  • excessive tiredness
  • anaemia

Asbestos Awareness month

Many Australian cities are getting on-board with this year’s Asbestos Awareness Month, urging homeowners and tradesmen to educate themselves about the risks of during home renovations and demolitions when they accidentally expose themselves or others to asbestos fibres.

The Asbestos Awareness Month is supported by the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute, and will be overseen by WorkCover, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, and wall and floor construction specialists James Hardie.

This will be the second year the awareness month has run after its launch in 2013. In 2011, the Asbestos Education Committee ran an education campaign in New South Wales in cooperation with the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute, and following its success the two organisations went on to run a national campaign, Asbestos Awareness Week in 2012.

When removing things like asbestos concrete roofing, the website advises relying on licenced removalists, as there is a history of people dying or suffering serious injury after falling through asbestos cement roofs when they underestimated how brittle the material was.

What to be aware of

Home maintenance can be particularly risky. Asbestos fibres are particularly dangerous when they are disturbed, such as during home renovations. Once airborne they can be breathed in, or settle on other surfaces and become ingested and while greater quantities of fibres are more dangerous than smaller quantities, there is no safe level of exposure.

Asbestos products were often used in wet areas of homes, such as bathrooms, kitchens and laundries, however it is not possible to tell whether a material contains asbestos using sight alone.

People intending to do home maintenance or renovations should be aware of the risks and take action to protect themselves. Measures like an asbestos assessment can identify potential risks and are the first step to removing it safely.

“Removing asbestos is a dangerous and complicated process best carried out by professionals who are licenced having completed the required training,” the Asbestos Awareness Month website says.

“If you suspect you have asbestos in your home, don’t cut it! don’t drill it! don’t drop it! don’t sand it! don’t saw it! don’t scrape it! don’t scrub it! don’t dismantle it! don’t tip it! don’t waterblast it! don’t demolish it! And whatever you do… don’t dump it!” the website says.

Asbestos contaminated materials require special care when being disposed of, as they cannot simply be dumped or buried and each state has its own set of regulations about how they should be handled. Any decision to remove asbestos-tainted material must take these legal issues into account.

For more information contact the AlertForce team

Top 10 Deadliest Jobs in Australia

So many things can go wrong on the job. You may strain muscles and tear ligaments in any line of work that requires movement, but some industries present much bigger dangers. If your job requires travel or your job site is on the highway, you are risk of being run over. You can fall from great heights, get trampled by animals or light up in a chemical explosion.

A recent study completed by finder.com.au surveyed all of the injuries and deaths suffered in 2012 to determine a list of the 10 deadliest jobs in Australia. If you or someone you love works in any of the following fields, make sure you pay close attention to safety standards for your own protection and that of your colleagues.


#1: Transportation Workers

This includes truck drivers, postal workers making deliveries and all workers employed in storage and warehousing within the transport industry. This industry reported the highest number of deaths out of all industries in Australia in 2012. This is likely due to the fact that there are so many things that can go wrong when you are out on the open road. While you can control your own behaviours to ensure safety, you are always at the mercy of other drivers.

#2: Agricultural Workers

This includes anyone working in theagriculture, fishing and forestry fields. There are so many perks to working out in the wild with Mother Nature, but that also exposes you to wild animals, elements of the weather and other dangers. With more than 50 work-related deaths reported in 2012, this industry was a close second for the deadliest industry in Australia.

#3: Construction Workers

It isn’t surprising to see construction in the top five deadliest jobs of Australia. In fact, many people would list it as number one if it weren’t for the statistical backing of this research. The construction industry can expose you to a variety of dangers from hazardous chemicals, extreme heat and cold or great heights. You may even encounter live electrical wires and hidden ground wires, depending on your job site and duties. This is why safety is so critical for every worker on a construction site.

#4:  Manufacturing Workers

There were far more injuries reported in the manufacturing field than the transportation and agricultural fields combined, but the death rates are higher in those other fields. This makes manufacturing less deadly, but it is still quite dangerous. You are at heightened risk for injury when working in this field due to picking up heavy loads, operating heavy machinery, working near hazardous waste or chemicals and trusting colleagues to follow safety protocol.

#5: Public/Government Administration Workers

This category includes workers employed in safety and defence for the government or public works companies as well as police officers working the streets. While there were only 13 deaths reported in 2012, that is enough to squeeze this industry into the top five deadliest Australian workforces. There are known risks to working in law enforcement, but other workers within this field may find themselves at risk for auto accidents and other dangers as well.

#6: Mining Workers

According to Safe Work Australia, 21 of the 36 deaths reported in the mining industry between 2007 and 2012 involved vehicle accidents. Other fatalities included falls from great heights and strikes by falling objects. From falling down a mine shaft to ducking as heavy debris rains down unexpectedly, there is a lot to watch out for in this industry.

#7: Retail Workers

How can working retail put your life in danger? There were six deaths reported in this industry in 2012, which is more than you may expect but not quite high enough to make the evening news. While you may not deal with toxic waste or climb to great heights in this industry, you do deal with the public daily. Your job may also require you to lift and manoeuvre heavy boxes or drive in heavy traffic or in warehouse environments.

#8: Skilled Trade Workers

You could put this industry at number seven on the list with retail workers, since both industries reported six deaths in 2012. This category includes scientists, engineers, lawyers, accountants and other white-collar employees. Some jobs have a higher risk for injury and death than others. For instance, a scientist working in a lab with chemicals is much more likely to experience a potentially-deadly incident than a lawyer sitting behind a desk completing paperwork.

#9: Wholesale Trade Workers

This industry places many workers in large warehouses and manufacturing facilities, so there are flying objects to watch out for and great heights to climb. In some settings, you may also work alongside dangerous chemicals that can cause injury or death in the case of a leak or explosion. There were five deaths in this industry in 2012, and many of those involved driving accidents and falling objects.

#10: Electrical, Gas, Water and Waste Services Workers

Many of the deaths reported in 2012 for this industry involved traffic accidents. This reflects the amount of time that many technicians spend out in the field, providing service customers, maintaining equipment and restoring service after natural disasters. There were 530 injuries reported for the industry in 2012, and that is lower than what you may expect for an industry that places so many workers in high-activity roles. If this is your industry, you may be safer out there than you expected, especially when compared with some of the stats from other industries placed higher up on this list.

Now that you are aware of the deadliest career fields in Australia, don’t rush to pack up your tool belt and find a new direction for your life. These death rates are far lower than they were in previous years for many industries. This is a reflection of the progress taken by implementing and enforcing stricter safety protocols for companies and employees. Brush up on your safety knowledge and make sure you follow protocol so that you are as safe as possible even if your industry does fall on this list.

Sources: http://www.smh.com.au/national/10-deadliest-jobs-i​n-australia-20141019-118cnj.html

$1 Billion Bill for Asbestos Contamination Case

Clean-up for Mr Fluffy houses could cost $1 billion

Solving the problem of homes contaminated with asbestos in New South Wales will not come cheap, according to ACT Government statements to the Canberra Times, which put the cost of buying the contaminated houses for demolition as high as $1 billion.

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher told ABC News the state would need to buy the approximately 1,000 contaminated houses in order to demolish them, and that she had already begun receiving valuations from affected owners, with some coming in at upwards of $1 million.

More than 1,000 houses in the south of New South Wales had their roof cavities filled with loose-fill asbestos by the Mr Fluffy company during the 1960s and 70s (Mr Fluffy stopped operating in 1979). While the first negative health effects of asbestos were discovered in 1899, Australia did not start regulating it until the late 1970s, with white asbestos finally banned in 2003.

The ACT government is currently in talks with the Commonwealth Government, she said, and was also looking at recouping as much as $700 million of the costs by selling the land on after the houses had been demolished.

“There is an issue about cash flow and there is an issue, if we proceed with a demolition program, how fast people would want to relinquish their homes and move out,” she said. “The true cost will not be known until we finish the program.”

The fate of the occupants is also raising concerns, as despite the contamination many still have outstanding mortgages that need to be paid. This can cause strife when families need to move out and have trouble paying both rent for their new accommodation and their existing mortgage payments.

The ACT government has announced an emergency support package of up to $10,000 per household with an extra $2,000 per dependent child, to help those living in Mr Fluffy houses move out. To qualify, they must have been advised by an asbestos assessor that they needed to leave.

Grants of $1,000 are also available for those still living in contaminated homes who have been advised to destroy contaminated items.

Government was warned of contamination 25 years ago

The Australian Commonwealth was given expert medical advice in 1988 on the health risks that houses insulated with Mr Fluffy asbestos posed, say the Fluffy Owners and Residents’ Action group, citing documents obtained through freedom of information legislation requests.

The group says that the Commonwealth had received reports from both occupational health academic Dr David Douglas and the National Health and Medical Research Council concerned that more deaths would ensue if people lived in houses insulated with Mr Fluffy.

Dr Douglas told the Canberra Times that the Mr Fluffy contamination was “a public health asbestos problem far greater than any documented elsewhere in the world” and that exposure levels to the fibres by those who had been hired to install the insulation were “likely to have been as high as any ever recorded”.

The reports also raised concerns that children were more vulnerable to contracting mesothelioma (a form of cancer in the lining of the lungs or other organs) from exposure to asbestos fibres. Asbestos is a class-1 carcinogen, a category it shares with arsenic, plutonium, mustard gas and formaldehyde.

The government of 1988 was preparing to remove the insulation from the ceilings of over 1,000 homes in a five-year, $100 million program. However, this program failed to remove all the asbestos from the affected houses.

Although the program was carried out, it has been discovered that the asbestos insulation was not removed from 12 houses and many of the houses that were cleared have been found to still be contaminated by residual asbestos. Owners now await a decision from the ACT and Commonwealth Governments on whether to demolish the houses.

Professor Bruce Armstrong, who was Director and Professor of Epidemiology and Cancer Research at the National Health and Medical Research Council at the time, told the Canberra Times that it was known then that asbestos had escaped some houses’ roofs and contaminated the living spaces.

The risk of developing mesotheliuma was 25 times higher for those living in Mr Fluffy homes than the base population, he said, rising from 26 deaths per million to 650.

“It should be noted that the National Research Council’s estimates were based on exposure to mixed asbestos fibres including chrysotile which carries a lower risk of mesothelioma than does amosite. Thus the risk in the Canberra houses would be likely to be greater than the above estimates would suggest,” he said.

In his report, Professor Armstrong had advised the government to quickly remove the asbestos from both the roofs and living spaces, also pointing out that residents would be anxious if they thought they’d be exposed to the carcinogen, fearing for both for their health and the future of their property.

“Anxiety and fear are major causes of disability. The levels of both will rise the longer people continue to live in the asbestos insulated homes,” he said.

Founder of the Fluffy Owners and Residents’ Action Group Brianna Heseltine told the Canberra Times that anxiety and stress levels were “off the charts” and that she did not see many options for the government.

“They either decide that there is an acceptable death toll among the Mr Fluffy owner and resident population, or they come together to eliminate the risk,”

It defied belief, she said, that the New South Wales government had not re-evaluated its stance on the danger of the fibres, which was that they weren’t a threat so long as they weren’t disturbed. Dr Douglas’ report, she said, raised the risk that the asbestos could escape through the tiles and that damage to homes caused by wind, water and fire could also raise exposure levels.

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.

Air New Zealand’s Epic Safety Video

Air New Zealand’s Epic Safety Video shows it’s audience that safety doesn’t always have to be serious, it can be fun too once you understand the risks.

As the official airline of Middle-earth, Air New Zealand has gone all out to celebrate the third and final film in The Hobbit Trilogy – The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. Starring Elijah Wood and Sir Peter Jackson; we’re thrilled to unveil The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made.

What do you think?

Paralympians inspire safety at work [VIDEO]


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.

Where is asbestos found in the home?

Here are the top 6 places where asbestos is found around the home. Asbestos was a common building material in Australia prior to the 1990s. Beneficial for fire, sound and water proofing, this material was used extensively when building and renovating homes and commercial properties across the country.

This means that many homes built before 1990 therefore contain asbestos containing materials (ACMs)– posing a risk for any homeowner or professional undertaking renovations or demolition. You won’t necessarily release asbestos unless you are undertaking home renovations. If you have a house built before 1990 and you suspect ACM’s it’s worth getting the opinion of an expert.

Understanding the risks in the home is vital for ensuring families and workers are not accidentally exposed to this deadly material. A key consideration is engaging the services of a qualified professional – who has successfully completed assessment training – to conduct testing and appraisals before any work is undertaken on older homes.

For small jobs, however, it may not be reasonable to invite a professional in your home. In these situations, it is important that you are aware of the potential risks.

If your home or a property you are renovating was built prior to 1990, here are the six key areas where asbestos materials may be present:

1.  The bathroom

As asbestos was often used as waterproofing and insulation, it is unsurprising that your bathroom is one of the most significant locations likely to contain this material.

The most common areas for asbestos to be present include the walls, ceilings and floors – particularly if cement sheeting was used during construction.

Another space to be aware of is the insulation around hot water pipes and hot water heaters. In its friable form, asbestos was often sprayed onto pipes to protect against heat loss – making this a key concern for renovators and plumbers. Friable asbestos around pipe insulation requires professional removal help.

2.  Living areas

If the property contains a fireplace, this is one location that is likely to contain asbestos. The product was proven to slow the effects of flames, making it an ideal fireproofing material. However, if the product was to burn, the resulting ash and dust would be a serious risk to health and safety if inhaled.

It is also recommended to be mindful of the total fire and smoke system, including the flue pipes.

Another location to consider is underneath the floors and within the roof space, as asbestos could have been used to insulate in these areas.

3.  Kitchen

As a heat and waterproofing material, asbestos was often used in the kitchen splashbacks – that is, the panels around kitchen sinks and draining boards.

Additionally, asbestos will likely be present in the roof, walls and under the flooring. If your kitchen contains vinyl flooring, the material was often used as backing – so keep this in mind if you are ripping up old tiles or vinyl.

4.  Outdoors

Due to the insulating and waterproofing materials of asbestos, this product was commonly used in exterior cladding. Be mindful of walls and roofs made from imitation brick cladding, concrete and even flat, patterned and corrugated sheeting.

Fibro homes are the most at risk of asbestos exposure, as this form of building material tended to always contain asbestos in Australia. Another area to consider is the guttering around your home, as asbestos fibres can collect here following storms.

In the backyard, any fencing and sheds built from similar exterior materials are also likely to contain asbestos products. Fences were built using asbestos up until the 1990s, with many constructed using “Super Six” fencing, according to the Queensland Asbestos Management Services.

5.  Vehicles

Your home is not the only area where asbestos may have been used in the past. Mechanics and vehicle owners also need to be aware of the risks in their automobile.

Asbestos was used extensively in the automotive industry, with a ban on the products not introduced until December 2003. This means that if your car was manufactured prior to 2004, you could be at risk.

You need to take care when carrying out maintenance on the brakes, clutches or gaskets in particular. Any items installed or purchased before 2004 could contain asbestos fibres, creating a significant risk to your health and wellbeing.

If these parts become damaged in any way, you should take the vehicle to a trained and qualified professional as soon as possible and inform them of the asbestos risk.

6.  Electric meter board

Not only could asbestos protect against water, heat and fire, it was also often used as an electrical insulation. Asbestos was added to other materials in the manufacture of electrical backing in a similar way to the creation of cement sheeting.

According to Ausgrid, electrical meter boards installed before 1988 may contain asbestos materials. Another important clue is the colour of your board, as relevant electrical boards were typically black.

The meter boards may also be stamped with one of several product names – Lebah, Ausbestos, Miscolite and Zelemite. Otherwise, it could have a caution sticker placed on or inside the box.

When employing an electrician to work on your board, it is important that you make them aware of the potential asbestos risk. You should also discuss the work that is required and how they will manage the potential risk of exposure for themselves, you and your family.

Additionally, if working as an electrician in Australia, it is important to undertake asbestos awareness training to ensure you can identify and respond to deadly materials. This online course will give skills and knowledge to understand your risks and control the hazards related to your work.

Awareness training (free here)

With asbestos such a significant threat in Australia, it is important that you are able to identify the material in all locations within the home.

For those working in any trades related to plumbing, construction and electrical work, it can be a very real hazard present each time you pick up your tools. For this reason, it is vital that you and your employees complete the necessary asbestos awareness training.

This course is offered online by AlertForce and works as an introduction to this crucial section of work health and safety (WHS) standards. To obtain a basic knowledge of asbestos in Australia and confidently put measures in place to reduce your risks, you should talk to the AlertForce team today.


Are you ready for Safe Work Australia Month? [VIDEO]


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.


Third annual Mesothelioma Registry released [VIDEO]


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.

WHS News Recap – WHS obligations [VIDEO]


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.

WHS News Recap – Working at Heights [VIDEO]


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 Monthly News Round Up: August 2014

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

mulchA recent asbestos scare has seen a number of Bundaberg residents unintentionally putting their homes and gardens at risk.

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.

WHS News Recap – Traffic Management [VIDEO]


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.

WHS News Recap – Confined Spaces [VIDEO]


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.

Road surfacing safety a primary concern

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.

Asbestos dumping prompts call for education

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.

Government body fined after workplace death

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.

WHS complaints rise in Queensland

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.

Monthly News Roundup: July 2014

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.

OHS News Recap – NBN Safety and Awareness [VIDEO]


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.

August is National Tradies’ Health Month

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

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.

Seven step action plan for small business safety

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.

2. Consult

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.

OHS News Recap – Working at Heights [VIDEO]


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.

Safety audit reveals gaps in Tasmanian mines

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.

Focus placed on safety in farming

A renewed focus is being placed on work health and safety (WHS) outcomes in the farming sector. This drive, supported by a number of WorkCover authorities across the country, has come after a Safe Work Australia report revealed employee fatalities rates are highest in the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry.

The Work-related Traumatic Fatalities: Australia 2014 report, released on July 15, found that almost one in four (19 per cent) of the total occupational deaths recorded in 2013 involved workers in the agricultural sector alone. This industry accounted for 37 of the 191 fatalities in Australia last year.

With a fatality rate of 15.11 deaths per 100,000 workers, it is easy to see why health and safety initiatives are so crucial for employers in this industry. This is nine times the national rate of 1.64 fatalities per 100,000 workers.

As many of the deaths in this industry and other sectors were related to vehicles, a particular effort should be made to access traffic management training for all employees. In particular, approximately 66 per cent of all fatalities over the past 11 years involved a vehicle, with one-third of workers killed in collisions on public roads and one-third in incidents on site. 

Work-related injuries and fatalities in Australia

Overall, WHS training and initiatives seem to be making an impact as total fatalities across all industries fell to the lowest rate in 11 years.

In 2013, 191 workers were killed through an incidents related to their employment, compared with 228 in 2012 and significantly lower than the highest figure of the past decade (311 fatalities in 2007).

Despite this decline, Safe Work Australia Acting Chief Executive Officer Michelle Baxter reminds workers and employers that health and safety should remain a priority.

"While we have seen a 16 per cent reduction in work-related deaths since 2012, this does not mean workers should become complacent about reducing and eliminating risks while working," she said. 

Beyond the fatalities reported in the agriculture industry, 46 people died in the transport, postal and warehousing sector, followed by 19 construction-related deaths. Additionally, 66 bystanders and members of the public were killed due to work-related activity in 2013.

This shows that WHS policies still have a long way to go in these particular industries, and employers need to remain vigilant in regards to worker health and safety.

Farm safety improving in Victoria

While the number of fatalities in Australia's agricultural sector increased last year, total farm-related injury claims in Victoria fell by approximately 14 per cent – reaching the lowest rate in a decade. This is according to figures released on July 16 by the Victorian WorkCover Authority.

In 2013, 401 farmers and employees made a workers compensation claim, which is down from 467 claims in 2012. However, the industry still presents a significant number of risks to workers. This is shown by tallying the number of fatalities (53) and injuries (4,600) on Victorian farms over the past 10 years.

"A farm is just like any other workplace, and farmers need to ensure the same proactive approach to safety is adopted," said Victorian WorkCover Authority Executive Director of Health and Safety Len Neist.

Mr Neist expressed concern at the more than 400 injuries claims that occurred last year. He explained that although reports are at their lowest in 10 years, it is vital that those working on farms remain "vigilant when it comes to workplace safety".

In particular, Mr Neist urges farmers and workers to avoid taking on tasks for which they are not trained, as this commonly leads to accidents and errors that caused injuries.

"Specialised services should always be engaged in work which is outside of the farmers' expertise or knowledge," he said.

Farmer health and safety initiative launched in NSW

Over the past three years, close to 5,500 NSW farmers have sustained injuries that required claims on workers compensation, according to WorkCover NSW.

Because of this, the authority has developed a new farm safety initiative designed to improve awareness of the hazards in the industry. The program was launched by the NSW Minister for Finance and Services Dominic Perrottet at the 2014 NSW Farmers Conference on July 15.

WorkCover NSW has teamed up with individuals across the industry to help farmers stay alive and well by offering them a hub to share and experience stories of accidents, injuries and deaths on farms.

"The NSW agricultural industry is one of the state's largest and most important industries, contributing $11.7 billion in revenue," Mr Perrottet said.

"It is also one of the State's highest risk industries, recording 5,465 injuries and illnesses, including seven fatalities over the three years to July 2012. As the high number of injuries show, it is important that everyone out on the farm works more closely together to improve safety."

The website, aliveandwell.net.au, serves as a place for farmers to share their stories about accidents and incidents from their past. By promoting awareness and offering personalised advice, these individuals can help boost the safety and wellbeing of others in their industry.

"By using these real-life stories of farmers to highlight the devastating impact they can have, we hope it leads to more farms improving safety," Mr Perrottet explained.

"Importantly, the stories show that it doesn't have to be expensive or complicated to keep everyone on the farm safe."

With a number of guides and channels of support available through the initiative, workers can benefit from checking out the site and searching for the specific injuries or hazards they may face.

For instance, an advice and support page shares a range of links to industry authorities, educational videos and fact sheets to increase awareness of the help available.

Improving WHS outcomes

The agriculture industry records high rates of vehicle-related deaths, as well slips, trips and falls – which accounted for 22 per cent of the total injuries.

A range of factors can result in serious safety issues, including unguarded machinery and untidy workshops, as well as poorly stored chemicals creating hazards in confined spaces. Additionally, inattention when manoeuvring vehicles is a significant WHS risk.

"The key to keeping farm work safe is effective planning and using the right equipment for the job," said Mr Neist.

"It's important that if you are heading out on the tractor for the day, or fencing in the back paddock, to let someone know where you'll be."

In lights of the approaching National Farm Safety Week, which runs from 21–25 July 2014, Mr Neist offered a range of helpful tips to help boost safety in the agriculture industry. The advice includes:

  • Always communicate to someone where you will be
  • Ensure machinery is well maintained and switched off when undergoing repairs
  • Engage specialists for work you are not trained to complete
  • Always follow manufacturers standards when operating machinery or storing chemicals
  • Be aware of fumes and hazardous chemicals
  • Stay vigilant when operating or working near vehicles

How AlertForce can help

To achieve improved health and safety outcomes, it is important to ensure all employees have access to the right training, supervision and knowledge.

In particular, WHS training relevant to agriculture industry can vastly reduce the chance of inadequate policies and procedures resulting in an accident, injury or death. This includes working at heights, confined spaces and traffic management training.

For more information on any of our occupational health and safety courses, get in touch with the AlertForce team today. We can offer nationally recognised training and qualifications relevant to most high-risk industries, including agriculture, forestry and fishing.

Government warns of asbestos danger in wake of Cyclone Ita

Queensland residents and businesses are still dealing with the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Ita, the category three storm that caused havoc across some areas of the state earlier this month.

Despite being downgraded from category five to a category three as it made its way across Australia, the cyclone still caused flooding, heavy rains and shortages of water and electricity in the most affected regions.

As the clean up and recovery process continues to take place, the state's attorney-general Jarrod Bleijie has issued a warning to residents to be aware of the dangers of asbestos exposure as they operate in flood-affected buildings.

"Cleaning up and rebuilding quickly is important when it's your home and business but you shouldn't put your life at risk in doing so," Mr Bleijie said in a statement released April 14.

"Houses and other buildings built before 1990 may contain asbestos materials, and residents are urged to be careful when cleaning up."

Whether or not your workplace has been affected by a weather event, asbestos removal can still pose a danger to employees if handled improperly. 

What are the risks to health?

While asbestos can lead to serious risks for human health and safety, living or working in a building that contains asbestos will not automatically expose people to these. As long as the asbestos is undamaged, the likelihood of developing diseases and conditions related to the hazardous material is low, although asbestos awareness is still important to manage the risks involved. 

Asbestos becomes most damaging to health when the fibres are made airborne, which means they have the potential to be inhaled into the lungs. While coughing and other natural reactions can eliminate some or most of these fibres from the body, those that remain can lead to serious problems.

As such, the people who are typically most at risk of asbestos exposure are those who carry out repairs, renovations, demolitions and other activities that could release contained asbestos fibres into the air. 

The more fibres inhaled and the more someone exposes himself or herself to the material, the more severe the potential consequences. The issue is even more complicated by the fact that many asbestos-related diseases develop over a period of years, so the effects of an initial bout of exposure may only be discovered later on. In some cases, the gap between exposure and diagnosis can take up to 50 years. 

Inhaling the asbestos fibres can lead to several serious diseases. One of these is asbestosis, which is a chronic lung disease that can result in respiratory impairment and interstitial fibrosis, the term for scar tissue that appears between alveoli in the lungs.

Asbestos can also cause mesothelioma, a cancer of the outer lung lining, or lung cancer.

How can asbestos be removed safely?

If you want to equip your workers with the knowledge and skills they need to be safe around asbestos, specialised asbestos removal courses and awareness training can provide the ideal solution. 

There are several ways an asbestos risk can be managed and contained in the workplace. For example, you can implement a new work, health and safety policy to ensure everyone is informed and up to date about the procedures surrounding the affected area or areas. You could also create new working practices to ensure only staff with the necessary training have the authority to operate at the affected site.

When it comes to asbestos removal, you have several strategies at your disposal. Providing the appropriate personal protective equipment is essential so any removalists or staff members in the area have as much physical protection between them and the material as possible. 

It's also crucial to keep any asbestos materials wet during the removal process, as this lessens the risk of stray fibres drifting off and becoming airborne. You should always take care not to break up the material, particularly in situations where sawing and drilling may be involved. 

One thing to avoid is the use of any high-pressured hoses or gurneys when cleaning asbestos-containing materials. Asbestos waste should also never be put into the general waste system at the premises, as it can only be disposed of properly at a official site licensed by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA). 

For more information on how asbestos can be safely removed, talk to the AlertForce team today. 

Have you checked the quality of your safety equipment?

A UK company was recently fined £14,000 (A$24K) plus costs of £7,500 ($13K) for supplying imported hard hats that failed to meet safety standards despite being marked as approved. Trading standards officers from Northamptonshire County Council arranged for safety helmets to be tested against the requirements of the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002 in January 2012. Northampton Magistrates Court heard the tests included a Jewson Safety Helmet purchased from the company’s store. When tested the helmet did not comply with the shock absorption test in EN 397. A further 6 helmets were purchased from another Jewson branch & three of these also failed the same test. The helmets stated “complies with: EN397” & had been imported from China by the company. Jewson Limited was only able to produce a test certificate from 2001 despite selling over 63,000 of them over an 11 year period. The challenge here is that it very difficult for users to detect this kind of issue for themselves & therefore it is vital that regulatory officers proactively monitor the safety of products on sale.

Article by: Julie Armour – www.WorkingArmour.com.au

Footwear retailer fined over “preventable” injury

 A footwear retailer has been fined after an employee was injured at a store.

A footwear retailer has been fined after an employee was injured at a store.

An Australian footwear retailer has landed in hot water after its poor OHS practices resulted in an employee sustaining an injury.

SafeWork SA prosecuted the company under the Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Act 1986 after it failed to “provide and maintain plant in a safe condition” or “a safe system of work”. The company was thus hit with a $33,000 fine and ordered to pay extra legal costs.

The incident itself occurred in May 2011, when a retail assistant was attempting to free up a jammed hoist that was used to move stock from the basement to the shop floor. In doing so, the employee slipped, hit her head on a rail and fell to the ground, hitting her head again.

She suffered back and shoulder injuries as a result of the accident.

Magistrate Michael Ardlie, who presided over the case, did however point out that the company was cooperative during investigations and took steps to safeguard against similar accidents in the future.

These included equipping the hoist with interlocked gates, preventing access from employees while in operation, and a new measure in place to stop employees from entering the hoist shaft.

Bryan Russell, executive director of SafeWork SA, said that businesses still had to do more to protect their employees from such preventable accidents.

“A major cause of workplace injuries in South Australia arise from the lack of adequate guarding that enables people to come into contact with moving parts,” he said in a November 6 statement.

“This case highlights that engineering controls preventing people coming into contact with moving parts, or substantially reducing the occurrence, are important work health and safety initiatives.”

He also stressed the importance of providing safe equipment, OHS training and clear procedures to workers.

Footwear retailer fined over “preventable” injury

An Australian footwear retailer has landed in hot water after its poor OHS practices resulted in an employee sustaining an injury.

SafeWork SA prosecuted the company under the Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Act 1986 after it failed to “provide and maintain plant in a safe condition” or “a safe system of work”. The company was thus hit with a $33,000 fine and ordered to pay extra legal costs.

The incident itself occurred in May 2011, when a retail assistant was attempting to free up a jammed hoist that was used to move stock from the basement to the shop floor. In doing so, the employee slipped, hit her head on a rail and fell to the ground, hitting her head again.

She suffered back and shoulder injuries as a result of the accident.

Magistrate Michael Ardlie, who presided over the case, did however point out that the company was cooperative during investigations and took steps to safeguard against similar accidents in the future.

These included equipping the hoist with interlocked gates, preventing access from employees while in operation, and a new measure in place to stop employees from entering the hoist shaft.

Bryan Russell, executive director of SafeWork SA, said that businesses still had to do more to protect their employees from such preventable accidents.

“A major cause of workplace injuries in South Australia arise from the lack of adequate guarding that enables people to come into contact with moving parts,” he said in a November 6 statement.

“This case highlights that engineering controls preventing people coming into contact with moving parts, or substantially reducing the occurrence, are important work health and safety initiatives.”

He also stressed the importance of providing safe equipment, OHS training and clear procedures to workers.

WorkSafe SA provides reminder on harvest safety

Agricultural workers are reminded to stay safe this harvest season.

Agricultural workers are reminded to stay safe this harvest season.

National Safe Work Australia Month may have just ended, but SafeWork SA is continuing to remind the country about the importance of OHS for the remainder of the year.

Bryan Russell, SafeWork SA executive director, says those in industrial sectors such as agriculture needed to be extra cautious. As temperatures warm up with the promise of a fruitful season ahead, employers and employees alike are being reminded to keep on top of work health and safety.

“We know that farming is a high-risk occupation, and as the sector gears up for harvesting and shearing we remind everyone working at this busy time of year to ensure that they are working safely having managed known risks,” said Mr Russell in an October 31 statement.

He noted that farm workers had unique risks and hazards they had to manage due to the nature of their jobs. These arise from circumstances such as working with heavy machinery and dangerous equipment, and working alone.

Some of the most common injuries suffered by these workers included falling from height, rollovers and crashes on farm vehicles, and body stress sustained from improper manual handling.

The high risk factor of working in this sector cannot be ignored. According to Safe Work Australia, the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry has claimed the most workplace fatalities this year, with 38 deaths to date in 2013.

SafeWork SA has offered some safety tips for the upcoming harvest season. Firstly, workers are encouraged to “develop a simple safety plan and stick to that plan”.

This plan can involve everything from ensuring all equipment and machinery are properly safeguarded, not entering field bins or silos when grain is being emptied, staying hydrated and taking regular breaks.

“A truly successful harvest is a safe, injury-free harvest,” Mr Russell concluded.

WorkSafe SA provides reminder on harvest safety

National Safe Work Australia Month may have just ended, but SafeWork SA is continuing to remind the country about the importance of OHS for the remainder of the year.

Bryan Russell, SafeWork SA executive director, says those in industrial sectors such as agriculture needed to be extra cautious. As temperatures warm up with the promise of a fruitful season ahead, employers and employees alike are being reminded to keep on top of work health and safety.

“We know that farming is a high-risk occupation, and as the sector gears up for harvesting and shearing we remind everyone working at this busy time of year to ensure that they are working safely having managed known risks,” said Mr Russell in an October 31 statement.

He noted that farm workers had unique risks and hazards they had to manage due to the nature of their jobs. These arise from circumstances such as working with heavy machinery and dangerous equipment, and working alone.

Some of the most common injuries suffered by these workers included falling from height, rollovers and crashes on farm vehicles, and body stress sustained from improper manual handling.

The high risk factor of working in this sector cannot be ignored. According to Safe Work Australia, the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry has claimed the most workplace fatalities this year, with 38 deaths to date in 2013.

SafeWork SA has offered some safety tips for the upcoming harvest season. Firstly, workers are encouraged to “develop a simple safety plan and stick to that plan”.

This plan can involve everything from ensuring all equipment and machinery are properly safeguarded, not entering field bins or silos when grain is being emptied, staying hydrated and taking regular breaks.

“A truly successful harvest is a safe, injury-free harvest,” Mr Russell concluded.

WorkSafe ACT announces innovative approach to OHS education

WorkSafe ACT is taking a unique approach to educating the state’s youngest and most vulnerable workers on the importance of work health and safety.

Mark McCabe, ACT Work Safety commissioner, has announced the launch of the Hazardman project, which aims to engage young workers and get them thinking about workplace safety.

The project revolves around the fictional character of Hazardman, who appears in a series of educational resources such as comics and fact sheets. It highlights the dangers posed by Hazardman’s ‘villains’, represented by common workplace hazards.

“This project is a fresh and original approach to a topic which is often overlooked or considered dull or unimportant,” Mr McCabe said in an October 28 statement.

“We cannot afford for the importance of safety to be devalued or under-estimated and the ACT Government is committed to making sure it stays on the agenda.”

WorkSafe cited several concerning statistics which prove the need to provide better OHS education for young and vulnerable workers. It pointed out that workers aged between 15 and 24 have the highest rate of work injuries per hour worked.

These young workers were most likely to sustain their injury as a result of manual handling and falls, including slips and trips.

Another goal of the project is to encourage workers to take a proactive approach to dealing with workplace hazards, such as discussing them with supervisors. In addition to school students, the initial focus of the project is to centre around young workers in the construction, retail and hospitality sectors.

If you have young people working at, or about to enter, your workplace, initiatives such as Hazardman will offer a welcome helping hand in ensuring they stay safe.

In addition to fun and light-hearted tactics, it is of course also important to invest in comprehensive occupational health and safety courses. These will enable your young employees to start work with the know-how to look after themselves and others.

WorkSafe ACT announces innovative approach to OHS education

A new initiative from WorkSafe ACT aims to better educate young workers on OHS practices.

A new initiative from WorkSafe ACT aims to better educate young workers on OHS practices.

WorkSafe ACT is taking a unique approach to educating the state’s youngest and most vulnerable workers on the importance of work health and safety.

Mark McCabe, ACT Work Safety commissioner, has announced the launch of the Hazardman project, which aims to engage young workers and get them thinking about workplace safety.

The project revolves around the fictional character of Hazardman, who appears in a series of educational resources such as comics and fact sheets. It highlights the dangers posed by Hazardman’s ‘villains’, represented by common workplace hazards.

“This project is a fresh and original approach to a topic which is often overlooked or considered dull or unimportant,” Mr McCabe said in an October 28 statement.

“We cannot afford for the importance of safety to be devalued or under-estimated and the ACT Government is committed to making sure it stays on the agenda.”

WorkSafe cited several concerning statistics which prove the need to provide better OHS education for young and vulnerable workers. It pointed out that workers aged between 15 and 24 have the highest rate of work injuries per hour worked.

These young workers were most likely to sustain their injury as a result of manual handling and falls, including slips and trips.

Another goal of the project is to encourage workers to take a proactive approach to dealing with workplace hazards, such as discussing them with supervisors. In addition to school students, the initial focus of the project is to centre around young workers in the construction, retail and hospitality sectors.

If you have young people working at, or about to enter, your workplace, initiatives such as Hazardman will offer a welcome helping hand in ensuring they stay safe.

In addition to fun and light-hearted tactics, it is of course also important to invest in comprehensive occupational health and safety courses. These will enable your young employees to start work with the know-how to look after themselves and others.

Health and safety inspections for ACT cafes and restaurants

WorkSafe ACT has announced it will be conducting an inspection program on cafes and restaurants in the state, in order to ensure they are complying with relevant health and safety standards.

Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe has confirmed that the inspections will get underway on Tuesday October 22. Inspectors will be specifically looking for unsafe behaviour that may put the wellbeing of employees at risk.

The campaign is expected to look specifically at common issues such as first aid education, chemical storage and handling, working conditions, personal protective equipment and OHS training.

According to the Department of Employment, Training and Industrial Relations, employees working in the cafe and restaurant industry are at constant risk of preventable injuries such as burns, back injuries, falls and cuts.

It is hoped that this initiative will help lower this risk by raising awareness amongst ACT eateries about applicable OHS legislation contained within the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

“Injuries arising from manual tasks, fires, slips, trips and falls in this industry impose a burden on employers and particularly on workers,” said Mr McCabe in a statement.

“Generally, our inspectors will take an educative approach. More serious issues may however lead to the issuing of Improvement or Prohibition Notices. If the matters are serious enough, some breaches could result in Infringement Notices (i.e. on-the-spot fines).”

The inspections follow a special WorkSafe ACT seminar on cafe and restaurant health and safety, which was held last month at the Waldorf Conference Centre.

A full summary report containing the results of the inspection program – which is expected to run for one week – will be published on the WorkSafe ACT website once assessments have been completed.

Health and safety inspections for ACT cafes and restaurants

Cafes and restaurants in the ACT are being inspected for health and safety this month.

Cafes and restaurants in the ACT are being inspected for health and safety this month.

WorkSafe ACT has announced it will be conducting an inspection program on cafes and restaurants in the state, in order to ensure they are complying with relevant health and safety standards.

Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe has confirmed that the inspections will get underway on Tuesday October 22. Inspectors will be specifically looking for unsafe behaviour that may put the wellbeing of employees at risk.

The campaign is expected to look specifically at common issues such as first aid education, chemical storage and handling, working conditions, personal protective equipment and other OHS training.

According to the Department of Employment, Training and Industrial Relations, employees working in the cafe and restaurant industry are at constant risk of preventable injuries such as burns, back injuries, falls and cuts.

It is hoped that this initiative will help lower this risk by raising awareness amongst ACT eateries about applicable OHS legislation contained within the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

“Injuries arising from manual tasks, fires, slips, trips and falls in this industry impose a burden on employers and particularly on workers,” said Mr McCabe in a statement.

“Generally, our inspectors will take an educative approach. More serious issues may however lead to the issuing of Improvement or Prohibition Notices. If the matters are serious enough, some breaches could result in Infringement Notices (i.e. on-the-spot fines).”

The inspections follow a special WorkSafe ACT seminar on cafe and restaurant health and safety, which was held last month at the Waldorf Conference Centre.

A full summary report containing the results of the inspection program – which is expected to run for one week – will be published on the WorkSafe ACT website once assessments have been completed.

Harvest workers urged to stay safe as summer approache

Summer is fast approaching in Australia, and farmers and grain growers across the country are currently preparing for what will hopefully be a prosperous harvest season.

But while this time of year may be an important and busy period for harvest workers, WorkSafe Victoria is reminding everyone in the industry not to let good health and safety practices fall by the wayside.

“Nobody – workers, family, friends or the wider community – should have to suffer the trauma of a workplace fatality,” said WorkSafe Health and Safety General Manager Lisa Sturzenegger in a statement released October 18.

According to Ms Sturzenegger, there have already been three farm deaths recorded in Victoria since June. In September, a Robinvale man was killed when he was run over by a tractor when trying to climb down from the vehicle.

Incidents such as these should serve as a timely reminder about the high-risk nature of the farming industry.

WorkSafe Victoria has offered a range of safety tips for farm workers to keep in mind this harvest season, in order to ensure they stay safe and avoid injury while on the job.

These include understanding the limitations of any equipment you are using, taking extra care when conducting repairs and maintenance, keeping the lines of communication open and making sure that operators are all trained and competent.

Care should also be taken to ensure fatigue is managed carefully and that harvest workers are given regular rest and hydration breaks – particularly when working in hot conditions.

“We want everyone to put safety at the front of their mind, reassess their systems of work and, if there’s a safety risk, make changes,” said Ms Sturzenegger.

“Don’t be the next workplace fatality. Identify and control the risk before it’s too late.”

Harvest workers urged to stay safe as summer approaches

Harvest season is fast approaching.

Harvest season is fast approaching.

Summer is fast approaching in Australia, and farmers and grain growers across the country are currently preparing for what will hopefully be a prosperous harvest season.

But while this time of year may be an important and busy period for harvest workers, WorkSafe Victoria is reminding everyone in the industry not to let good health and safety practices fall by the wayside.

“Nobody – workers, family, friends or the wider community – should have to suffer the trauma of a workplace fatality,” said WorkSafe Health and Safety General Manager Lisa Sturzenegger in a statement released October 18.

According to Ms Sturzenegger, there have already been three farm deaths recorded in Victoria since June. In September, a Robinvale man was killed when he was run over by a tractor when trying to climb down from the vehicle.

Incidents such as these should serve as a timely reminder about the high-risk nature of the farming industry.

WorkSafe Victoria has offered a range of safety tips for farm workers to keep in mind this harvest season, in order to ensure they stay safe and avoid injury while on the job.

These include understanding the limitations of any equipment you are using, taking extra care when conducting repairs and maintenance, keeping the lines of communication open and making sure that operators are all trained and competent.

Care should also be taken to ensure fatigue is managed carefully and that harvest workers are given regular rest and hydration breaks – particularly when working in hot conditions.

“We want everyone to put safety at the front of their mind, reassess their systems of work and, if there’s a safety risk, make changes,” said Ms Sturzenegger.

“Don’t be the next workplace fatality. Identify and control the risk before it’s too late.”

High-risk work licence holders reminded to maintain competencies

A high-risk licence is required for anyone working on scaffolding.

WorkSafe ACT has issued a reminder that high-risk work licences are “a privilege, not a right”, and that people holding such licences must ensure they are maintaining the correct competencies at all times.

In Australia, any worker who is performing particularly hazardous tasks or operating complex equipment on the job is required to hold a high-risk work licence that is valid across all states or territories.

For example, high-risk work licences are mandatory for anybody who is performing scaffolding work, operating cranes and hoists, forklifts or pressure equipment, or doing rigging work.

In order to acquire a high-risk work licence, individuals must undergo specialised safety training with a registered training organisation, before being assessed by a registered assessor. Licences are valid for five years from the date of issue.

However, ACT Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe has this month warned that high-risk licence holders must take responsibility for ensuring that they have and maintain the competencies associated with their particular licence.

“High risk work, by its nature, can lead to serious accidents, if not fatalities,” said Mr McCabe in a statement released October 8.

“WorkSafe ACT will take action if it determines that a high risk work licence-holder does not have the competence required to undertake the work for which they are licensed.”

Mr McCabe says that anybody concerned about the competency of a person holding a high-risk work licence should contact WorkSafe ACT so that a proper investigation can be conducted.

The warning follows an unfortunate incident earlier this year, which involved an apprentice carpenter being injured after the building site scaffolding that he was working on collapsed.

An individual had his high-risk work licence suspended for 12 months as a result of the incident. However, he will be able to shorten that suspension by participating in specialised construction safety training programs on correct scaffolding erection and dismantling protocols.

Forklift Safety Training: Worker Injured Using Forklift Instead of Ladder

Forklift safety trainingA business was told to pay out in excess of $67,000 after an employee was seriously injured while being elevated on a forklift to close a faulty rolled door.

The man was crushed when he got trapped between the roller door and the forklift backrest at the Holsten’s Pty Ltd building in Adelaide in September 2011.

He was sent to the hospital for a week for treatment for injuries to his ribs, back, right shoulder, chest, stomach and lungs.

The Industrial Court were informed the man was unable to return to work following the accident.

The family-run establishment imports and sells florist and wedding products.

It was revealed in court the motorised roller door at the warehouse was not working properly, and employees sometimes used a forklift to reach the door when opening and closing it.

The employee operating the forklift was not certified to use it, and lifted to other worker too high which caused him to be crush against the door.

The company pleaded guilty for failing to provide and maintain a safe workplace, and allowing an employee to do high risk.

Industrial Magistrate Michael Ardlie said accepted the company was remorseful and subsequently made efforts to improve its safety.

“The defendant sincerely regrets the injuries sustained by the employee and unreservedly apologises to the employee for the harm caused,” he said.

“The defendant took steps to ensure that the employee received immediate medical attention on-site and an ambulance was called.

[Company director Richard] Holsten himself attended the hospital with the employee to ensure that he was not alone.”

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-09-17/worker-crushed-when-forklift-used-instead-of-ladder/4961984

More info on Forklift Safety Training

WorkSafe VIC Issued $4 Million in Fines This Year

WorkSafe officers reportedly visited over 2,200 transport industry operators throughout this year, and 737 safety notices were issued.

WorkSafe has so far issued $4.1 million in fines throughout all of Victoria, according to an annual Victorian WorkCover Authority report.

With over 21 per cent of workers remaining at home six months following an injury, the report shows that the longer one stays away from work, the less chance they have of returning. These individuals are even more likely to suffer secondary issues like mental health, which is why the report suggests the implementation of a strong support network to help workers return to work.

The weeks before Christmas is still the most dangerous time for workers, with 3 deaths in December of last year.

Twenty fatalities were reported in the last year, and over 28,000 injuries and illness claims were lodged.

The lead-up to Christmas remains the most dangerous period for workers, with three people dying in December last year.

Twenty deaths were recorded in the past year and over 28,000 injury and illness claims were lodged.

More info on Occupational Health and Safety

Source: http://www.fullyloaded.com.au/industry-news/articleid/85560.aspx

Former yachtsman to sue for asbestos exposure

Asbestos is a serious danger on construction sites.

Asbestos is a serious danger on construction sites.

A former elite sportsman now living in Australia is planning to sue a New Zealand-based company for exposing him to harmful asbestos inside building and concreting materials.

According to the Northern Star, former yachtsman Lance Robinson is planning to sue Studorp Ltd in an Australian court, after being given authorisation by The Queensland Supreme Court.

Mr Robinson claims that Studorp Ltd – then known as James Hardie & Coy – exposed him to asbestos during his childhood, when he would join his father at work on the company’s construction sites.

Court documentation available from the New South Wales Caselaw shows that Mr Robinson was born in New Zealand in 1958. His father was a carpenter who handled asbestos products allegedly manufactured by Studorp Ltd.

In 1988, Mr Robinson moved to Australia. Since then he has developed asbestos-related pleural disease. He claims that the disease is a result of Studorp Ltd’s unsafe asbestos safety practices.

According to the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), asbestos related pleural disease involves an “inflammation and irritation of the outer lining of the lung”, also known as the pleura.

Affected individuals suffer from a stiffening and thickening of the pleura, which can lead to restriction in breathing.

Studorp Ltd had previously argued that Mr Robinson’s case should be heard in a New Zealand court of law. However, the Queensland Supreme Court disagreed, and the case will now be heard in Australia.

While Mr Robinson’s claims are only allegations at this stage, the story does highlight the importance of proper asbestos training for those working around this harmful mineral.

Each state and territory has its own regulations related to asbestos work health and safety, and it is important to be well aware of these before beginning any construction project.

Forklift Safety Training: Worker Injured Using Forklift Instead of Ladder

A business has been fined more than $67,000 after an employee was seriously injured while being raised on a forklift to close a faulty roller door.

The man, 33, was crushed when he got trapped between the roller door and forklift backrest at Holsten’s Pty Ltd at Hindmarsh in Adelaide in September 2011.

He spent a week in hospital with injuries to his ribs, back, right shoulder, chest, stomach and lungs.

The Industrial Court heard the man was unable to work after the accident.

The family-run business imports and sells florist and wedding products.

The court heard the motorised roller door at the warehouse was faulty and employees sometimes were lifted by a forklift to reach the door when opening and closing it.

The employee operating the forklift on the afternoon of the accident did not have a valid licence and lifted the other worker too high, causing him to be crushed against the door.

The company pleaded guilty to two charges of breaching workplace safety laws by failing to provide and maintain a safe workplace and allowing an employee to do high-risk work.

Industrial Magistrate Michael Ardlie said he accepted the company was remorseful and acted quickly to improve its safety.

“The defendant sincerely regrets the injuries sustained by the employee and unreservedly apologises to the employee for the harm caused,” he said.

“The defendant took steps to ensure that the employee received immediate medical attention on-site and an ambulance was called.

[Company director Richard] Holsten himself attended the hospital with the employee to ensure that he was not alone.”

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-09-17/worker-crushed-when-forklift-used-instead-of-ladder/4961984

More info on Forklift Safety Training

WorkSafe VIC Issued $4 Million in Fines This Year

WorkSafe officers paid more than 2,200 transport industry operators a visit this year, issuing 737 safety notices in the process.

WorkSafe issued $4.1 million in fines across all sectors in Victoria, according to the annual Victorian WorkCover Authority annual report.

With more than 21 per cent of workers still at home six months after an injury, the report shows that the longer one is off work, the less chance they have of coming back.

They are also more likely to suffer secondary issues, such as mental health.

The report suggests a strong support network is needed to help those return to work.

The lead-up to Christmas remains the most dangerous period for workers, with three people dying in December last year.

Twenty deaths were recorded in the past year and over 28,000 injury and illness claims were lodged.

More info on Occupational Health and Safety

Source: http://www.fullyloaded.com.au/industry-news/articleid/85560.aspx

Former yachtsman to sue for asbestos exposure

A former elite sportsman now living in Australia is planning to sue a New Zealand-based company for exposing him to harmful asbestos inside building and concreting materials.

According to the Northern Star, former yachtsman Lance Robinson is planning to sue Studorp Ltd in an Australian court, after being given authorisation by The Queensland Supreme Court.

Mr Robinson claims that Studorp Ltd – then known as James Hardie & Coy – exposed him to asbestos during his childhood, when he would join his father at work on the company’s construction sites.

Court documentation available from the New South Wales Caselaw shows that Mr Robinson was born in New Zealand in 1958. His father was a carpenter who handled asbestos products allegedly manufactured by Studorp Ltd.

In 1988, Mr Robinson moved to Australia. Since then he has developed asbestos-related pleural disease. He claims that the disease is a result of Studorp Ltd’s unsafe asbestos safety practices.

According to the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), asbestos related pleural disease involves an “inflammation and irritation of the outer lining of the lung”, also known as the pleura.

Affected individuals suffer from a stiffening and thickening of the pleura, which can lead to restriction in breathing.

Studorp Ltd had previously argued that Mr Robinson’s case should be heard in a New Zealand court of law. However, the Queensland Supreme Court disagreed, and the case will now be heard in Australia.

While Mr Robinson’s claims are only allegations at this stage, the story does highlight the importance of proper asbestos training for those working around this harmful mineral.

Each state and territory has its own regulations related to asbestos work health and safety, and it is important to be well aware of these before beginning any construction project.

Handling & Storing Hazardous Chemicals – OHS / WHS Newsletter – August 2013

This month: Your duties in relation to Labour Hire Workers

A PCBU needs to ensure that all chemicals that are used, handled, stored or generated by the workplace have been identified in consultation with workers.

The identification of hazardous chemicals can be completed by referencing the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) (Formerly Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and the chemical labels.

Manufacturers and suppliers are obligated to:-
Provide you with a Safety Data Sheet as outlined in the legislation at the commencement of this document.
Ensure that the information contained on the Safety Data Sheet and labels are correct.

If there is any concern in regards to the accuracy of the Safety Data Sheet or label, for example the information is different or contradictory, then initial contact should be made with the manufacturer/supplier.
Information on chemicals can also be found in the Hazardous Substances Information System (HSIS) database accessed through Safe Work Australia.
What must Officers, Managers and Supervisors do?

1. Check current hazard identification arrangements.
2. Determine whether they meet the requirements of the legislation and codes of practice.
3. If legislative requirements are not being met, in consultation with workers:

a) Assess current procedures for obtaining SDS to ensure that they are provided for every hazardous chemical and are easily accessible by workers.
b) Determine whether an SDS for every hazardous chemical and for every different concentrate of the chemical is available.
c) Ensure that there is a procedure in place to review and update SDS at a minimum of at least once every 5 years.
d) Determine whether there is an effective process in place for checking SDS and labels so as identify hazardous chemicals.
e) Assess whether there are procedures in place for obtaining hazardous chemical information from other sources, such as manufacturers and suppliers.

Safety Data Sheets (SDS)

Manufacturers and importers must determine and classify the hazards of the chemical and include the information on labels and Safety Data Sheets.
Check labels in conjunction with SDS and in conjunction with the information sources outlined in Supporting Documentation section to ensure all chemical hazards are identified

Labels may not always contain all hazard information due to the small size of the label and therefore the SDS should be referred to when identifying chemical hazards and ensuring the correctness of the information.

Hazardous chemicals Generated or Manufactured in the Workplace
In some instances a chemical may not have a label or SDS, for example fumes generated in the workplace from an activity such as diesel exhaust fumes from truck engines.
The risk associated with chemicals produced or generated in the workplace must be managed.


WHS Regulation 2011

A manufacturer or importer of a hazardous chemical must prepare a safety data sheet for the hazardous chemical before first manufacturing or importing the hazardous chemical.
If that is not practicable, as soon as practicable, after first manufacturing or importing the hazardous chemical and before first supplying it to a workplace.
The manufacturer or importer of the hazardous chemical must:
Review the safety data sheet at least once every 5 years, and
Amend the safety data sheet whenever necessary to ensure that it contains correct, current information.
The manufacturer or importer of the hazardous chemical must provide the current safety data sheet for the hazardous chemical to any person, if the person:
Is likely to be affected by the hazardous chemical, and
Asks for the safety data sheet.

S.341-343 requires that the Agency ensures that the hazardous chemical, the container of a hazardous chemical or a hazardous chemical in pipe work is correctly labelled.

S.335 requires that the manufacturer or importer of a hazardous chemical must ensure that the hazardous chemical is correctly labelled as soon as practicable after manufacturing or importing the hazardous chemical.

A hazardous chemical is correctly labelled if the selection and use of label elements is in accordance with the GHS and it complies with Part 3 of Schedule 9.

This clause does not apply to a hazardous chemical if:
a) the hazardous chemical is a consumer product that is labelled in accordance with the Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons 2011 published by the Commonwealth, as in force or remade from time to time, and
b) The container for the hazardous chemical has its original label, and
c) It is reasonably foreseeable that the hazardous chemical will be used in a workplace only in: a quantity and in a way that is consistent with household use and is incidental to the nature of the work carried out by a worker.

This clause does not apply to hazardous chemicals in transit.

This clause does not apply to a hazardous chemical that:
a) Is therapeutic goods within the meaning of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 of the Commonwealth, and
b) Is in a form intended for human consumption, for administration to or by a person or use by a person for therapeutic purposes, and

This clause does not apply to a hazardous chemical that:
a) Is therapeutic goods within the meaning of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 of the Commonwealth, and
b) Is in a form intended for human consumption, for administration to or by a person or use by a person for therapeutic purposes, and
This clause does not apply to a hazardous chemical that:
a) Is therapeutic goods within the meaning of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 of the Commonwealth, and
b) Is in a form intended for human consumption, for administration to or by a person or use by a person for therapeutic purposes, and
c) Is labelled in accordance with that Act or an order made under that Act.

S.338 requires that the supplier of a hazardous chemical must not supply the hazardous chemical to another workplace if the supplier knows or ought reasonably to know that the hazardous chemical is not correctly labelled in accordance with clause 335.

For further guidance please refer to:

WHS Regulation 2011
Preparation of Safety Data Sheets for Hazardous Chemicals Code of Practice
Labelling of Workplace Hazardous Chemicals Code of Practice
Hazardous Substances Information System (HSIS)

Former Council Workers Alleges Asbestos Cover Up Requests

A former northwestern NSW council worker has alleged that he was told to cover up dumped asbestos with green waste and garbage.

Mark Sankey revealed that he worked at landfill sites for Gwydir Shire Council between 2008 and March this year.

On several occasions he reported that he was asked to conceal the dumped asbestos with garbage and green waste and push it into walls or even burn it.

“When I was first in that job I was exposed to asbestos many, many times,” he told AAP on Wednesday.

“They would ask me to just push the asbestos under the garbage so people couldn’t see it.”

He said only two landfills in the area were locked, which made it easy to dump overnight.

He began to question the requests after receiving asbestos removal training.

“When I asked questions they threatened me with my job.”

In March, Mr Sankey said he was made redundant after being told his skills were no longer required.

Gwydir Shire Mayor John Coulton stated, “The council is confident that no staff member or member of the public has been endangered during the water pipe replacement program in Warialda,” he said in a statement.

WorkCover NSW and the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) have both pledged to investigate the matters.

More info on Asbestos Training

Source: http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2013/09/25/council-worker-asked-cover-asbestos


OHS:Union Warns Oval Construction Deadline Risks Worker Safety

occupational health and safety trainingSouth Australia’s Labor has been accused of risking the safety of workers by rushing a redevelopment project on the Adelaide Oval for a March state election deadline.

The construction union have warned of the implications of the government’s plan to give  the main contractor a $5 million bonus if the election deadline is met.

The government has denied any reports of the project being rushed, but emphasised that it must be finished in time for the AFL season.

“It’s certainly not worth the price of one of our workers on that site getting killed,”  said Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union state secretary, Aaron Cartledge.

Concerns have arisen following the death of a construction worker at the $1.8 billion desalination plant.

The court found 35-year-old steel rigger Brett Fritsch was killed as a result of the unsafe workplace practices of his employer, Ferro Con.

A parliamentary inquiry in 2011 indicated that the desalination project was rushed and production took precedence over safety.

Opposition frontbencher Iain Evans said “We cannot afford a repeat of the tragic circumstances that marred the construction of the desalination plant “.

More info on Occupational Health and Safety or OHS

Source: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/state-politics/oval-deadline-a-risk-to-safety/story-e6frgczx-1226717219393

WorkSafe VIC Approves AF As Asbestos B-Class License Provider

For Immediate Release:

August 21,2013

POTTS POINT, NSW- Australia’s Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) training company, AlertForce (AF), is now an approved provider of Asbestos B-Class training in Victoria.

Since January 2013, a new set of asbestos training laws have been implemented that all Asbestos-industry professionals are required to adhere to. Now participants from Victoria can enroll in AF’s  training courses and receive up-to-date knowledge and experiences to effectively and safely attend to situations involving asbestos.

The main components needed to attain a B-class license are:

(1) Participants must enroll in Asbestos training courses offered by a licensed training professional, such as AlertForce. To qualify for the license, a company must have a trained Asbestos supervisor. Supervisors in charge of asbestos-related matters must complete the Supervise Asbestos Removal (CPCCBC4051A) course which will train participants to be competent in supervising the removal process of asbestos or ACM. This course will explore areas such as the planning and supervising of the removal of asbestos or asbestos containing material, preparing the worksite, and using safe and approved removal methods.

(2) Employees must complete training in an asbestos removal course such as the Remove Non-friable Asbestos. This course will provide participants with the the skills and knowledge needed to properly remove non-friable asbestos. It will also teach participants the history of the deadly material, as well as control measures, risk prevention, and legal issues related to Asbestos.

“ We at AlertForce are so pleased that we can provide our excellent an unparalleled Class-B training to the asbestos-industry professionals in the Victoria area. Our training courses are of crucial importance for any industry leaders or professionals who want to have quality training in the asbestos removal process! “ says Brendan Torazzi, AlertForce company founder.

Regardless of if a company’s employees had previously completed asbestos-training in the past; AlertForce’s new courses target the most up-to-date, and current asbestos-removal laws and legislation. Successfully completing these courses will render participants eligible to receive the Class B Asbestos License in Victoria.A licence holder is permitted to remove up to 10 m2 of non-friable asbestos or ACM.


Contact: Brendan Torazzi – CEO AlertForce. Ph: 1300 627 246

AlertForce (https://alertforce.com.au) specialises in delivering fast, competency-based, interactive short online and face to face OHS & E courses to mitigate risk and health and safety & environmental hazards in Australian workplaces.

For more information please contact Brendan Torazzi – CEO AlertForce. Ph: 1300 627 246


Hazardous Materials: Veteran Still Hasn’t Received Compo Despite Successful Claim

Hazardous MaterialsA Perth Veteran who participated in the  1958 atomic testing at the Montebello Islands is still tirelessly struggling to receive  compensation he is legally owed after willing a compo case in the federal courts.

Kenneth Whitby, 74 suffers from several ailments including an anxiety disorder,  following his exposure at the site.

Whitby’s case was undertaken by  WA Greens senator Scott Ludlum, who is confident that those who served in the Montebellos and two other atomic test sites should be subject to the  receiving  of the veterans’ Gold Card.

The card covers all medical costs, which is footed by the Government. Senator Ludlam recalled that many servicemen who had worked at  the sites, have since developed radiation-related disorders.

Whitby and hundreds of other veterans have been battling for recognition and compensation and accuse the Department of Veterans Affairs of dragging out their claims.

In June last year, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal ruled Mr Whitby was entitled to compensation.

“What is the AAT there for,” Mr Whitby said.

“Remember that politician who fell off his bicycle near Parliament? They backdated his compensation.”

The DVA would not discuss Mr Whitby’s case when probed.

More info on Hazardous Materials

Source: http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/wa/18451622/veteran-yet-to-get-compo/

Forklift Safety:Court Fines Man for Running Over Co-worker


forklift safetyIn Early 2011, Gary Egberts was operating a forklift in order to unload a truck at the Karratha depot of transport company Star Frieghtlines. As a result of his inadequate training, Egberts accidentally hit  a truck driver and ran over his left leg, resulting in a dislocated patella and significant abrasions and bruising.

WorkSafe reported that  Egbert did not honk the forklift’s horn while reversing and it lacked a working reverse alarm.

Egberts put forth a guilty plea for  failing to take reasonable care to avoid an incident and was fined in the Perth Magistrates Court this week.

Last month, his employer was subject to a $20,000 for failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment.

More info on Forklift Safety

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-07-12/worker-fined-3k-over-forklift-accident/4816924?&section=news

Your Duties for Labour Hire Workers – OHS / WHS Newsletter – July 2013

labourers on a construction siteThe primary duty of care under the WHS Act is owed by a PCBU to a ‘Worker’.
The term ‘Worker’ specifically includes a labour hire worker who has been assigned by one PCBU to work for another.

If your business contracts labour hire workers (Host PCBU) or is an agency which provides services of labour hire workers (Labour Hire PCBU), the WHS Act sets out your specific health and safety obligations.

Both the Host PCBU and the Labour Hire PCBU have individual and shared duties aimed at better protecting the labour hire worker. The duty is to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of labour hire workers engaged by, or whose activities are influenced or directed by the PCBU.

Where this is the case, all duty holders who have a duty in respect of the same matter must consult, cooperate and coordinate with each other so far as is reasonably practicable. (Refer Safe Work Australia – Code of Practice: Work Health and Safety: Consultation, Cooperation and Coordination.)

Host PCBU – Work health and safety duties

As a host PBCU, you have the same health and safety duties to labour hire workers as you do to directly engaged or employed workers. It is your duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of all workers while at work. This duty requires you to eliminate or, if that is not reasonably practicable, to minimise risks to health and safety.

As a host PCBU you must also consult, cooperate and coordinate activities with the labour hire agency to ensure you meet your obligations. The WHS Act specifically provides that you cannot contract out of or transfer your work health safety obligations to another party

When engaging labour hire workers to carry out work, you should:

– Provide the labour hire PCBU with detailed information about the nature of work to be carried out including details of:

– – The work environment
– – Any plant or equipment to be used
– – Organisational and work health and safety arrangements
– – Health and safety risks associated with the work
– – Any skills and knowledge required to safely undertake the work required.

– Verify that the selected worker/s have any necessary qualifications, licences, skills and training to carry out the work safely

– Consult with the labour hire PCBU on general health and safety information about the work, the workplace and work environment and ensure that general health and safety information about the work, workplace and work environment has been provided to the worker/s

– Maintain open communication and consultation methods with the labour hire PCBU and the labour hire worker in relation to health and safety matters. This should include establishing relevant points of contact for health and safety between the organisations as well as agreed means and frequency of communication.

– Provide labour hire workers with a site specific safety induction which would outline specific work health and safety duties they are to comply with, workplace policies and procedures, safe work practices, training requirements etc.

– Provide adequate information, instruction, training and supervision of labour hire workers to ensure that work is being performed safely

Labour Hire PCBU – Work health and safety duties

As a labour hire PBCU, it is your duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers during their placement with a host PCBU. It is your duty to eliminate or, if that is not reasonably practicable, minimise risks to health and safety a labour hire worker may encounter. In some circumstances, this might mean not placing workers in a workplace while you believe there is a risk to their health and safety or where risks have not been adequately controlled.

Before you place labour hire workers, you should:

– Review information about the host PCBU’s safety record and the workplace including the work environment, organisational arrangements, health and safety risks associated with the work and any skills and knowledge the worker will require to safely undertake the work

– Assess the workplace for any risks to health and safety. Where risks are identified,

– consult with the host to ensure they are eliminated, or if that is not reasonably practicable, minimised

– Verify that the host PCBU will provide site-specific and task-specific induction, training and PPE to labour hire workers

– Ensure that workers have the necessary qualifications, licences, skills and training to safely carry out the work

– Ensure the host PCBU obtains your approval prior to transferring a labour hire worker to

– new task

– Consult with the host PCBU and workers to ensure you and the workers understand and are confident in your understanding of the work health and safety policies, procedures and practices of the host PCBU

– Establish communication methods so workers can use to contact you if they consider there is any risk to their health or safety or if the worker is unsatisfied with the host PCBU’s response to a safety concern.

– Ensure workers have the means to identify and take action in an unsafe situation at the host workplace, such as stopping work or bringing it to the attention of the host PCBU or a health and safety representative

– Provide workers with a general work health and safety induction and training covering any risks you have identified in the host workplace and consultation methods you have established with workers and the host PCBU

– Ensure that you have a documented system in place for the management of work health and safety including trained staff.

While your workers are placed with the host PCBU, you should continue to:

– Consult with the host PCBU and labour hire workers on any changes which may affect their health and safety.

– Monitor the workplace for new risks to health and safety and consult with the host PCBU about how they might be addressed. (e.g. regular visits to the host workplace)

– Take effective action when the worker or host PCBU identifies risks or raises concerns about health and safety

– Encourage workers to maintain contact with you and to provide feedback on health and safety matters in the host workplace.

Whether your business contracts labour hire workers (Host PCBU) or is an agency which provides services of labour hire workers (Labour Hire PCBU), you should ensure your workers are aware of their duties, and highlight the duties which are shared between the host PCBU and the labour hire PCBU, and those that are not.

All workers have the same right to expect a safe workplace.

You can obtain further information regarding your duties via your local Work Health and Safety Regulator or directly from Safe Work Australia. (www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au)

Food Safety: Company Fined For Serious Burns

Food Safety A food company was charged with a  $110,000 fine and ordered to pay WorkCover’s legal costs after a 19-year-old apprentice chef suffered serious burns at a CBD restaurant.

SG Foodservice will face charges for the September 2010 incident which resulted in an apprentice chef burning 60 per cent of his body.

The apprentice chef was carrying boiling stock in two 20 litre buckets between floors via the fire escape when he slipped and fell, dropping the buckets. SG Foodservice was charged with a breach of the Occupational Health & Safety Act 2000.

WorkCover began an investigation which has since revealed that

• It was common place in the business to transport boiling hot stock in buckets via the firestairs.
• Previously, other staff members had fallen while using the fire escape on at least two separate occasions.
• it was unclear  among staff over whether the nearby elevator was free to use for  staff or only for guests.
• After the incident SG Foodservice prohibited the use of the firestairs to transport hot stock, instead requiring that stock be transported via the lift.

The court found that the risk to the injured person was so foreseeable that an accident was bound to happen.

SG Foodservice pleaded guilty to the charge and was fined $110,000.

WorkCover NSW’s acting General Manager of Work Health and Safety Division Peter Dunphy said“Working in the hospitality industry involves a lot of manual handling, especially in commercial kitchens which can be dangerous if risks to health and safety are not made the top priority,” he said.

“WorkCover will work with the company to ensure that the same mistakes are not made in the future.”

More info on Food Safety Supervisor Training

Source: http://www.workcover.nsw.gov.au/aboutus/newsroom/Pages/Companyfined$110,000afterseriousburnsataCBDrestaurant.aspx


On the Spot Fines To Tackle Canberra’s Construction Safety Breaches

construction safetyWorkSafe ACT inspectors will soon commence the issuing of on-the-spot fines throughout construction sites that are in breach of safety regulations.

A report released last year cast a dark shadow over  the Canberra construction industry when it revealed the serious injury rate there was 31% higher than the national average.

The Government accepted the report’s recommendations which included the soon to be implemented on-the-spot fines.

Workplace Safety Minister Simon Corbell says 11 types of safety breaches fall under the new fine scheme.

“These deal with relatively straight forward, factual matters that allow inspectors to exercise their discretion and issue a fine,” he said.

“That will send a message to people in control of development sites that they have to keep their house in order in relation to these basic safety obligations.”

WorkSafe ACT are pleased with the new power, and announced that employers  could  potentially face on-the-spot fines of approximately $3,000.

WorkSafety commissioner Mark McCabe says construction safety can no longer be gambled.

“I think they knew it’s only the very serious cases that are going to end up in court,” he said.

“They could roll the dice and just hope to get away with it basically.”

Under the new penalties, building site managers will still be able to challenge a fine in the courts if they believe it has been incorrectly imposed.

More info on Construction Safety

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-06-24/act-on-the-spot-construction-fines/4776072?section=act

OHS:Maritime Safety A Hot Topic Following Ship Fatality

Occupational health and safetyThe Maritime Union described their findings from an investigation into the death of a man as “horrific”.

The 56-year-old worker was crushed and died while working on a cargo ship in September of last year. His death was result of a 20-tonne pallet of aluminium ingots fell upon him.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s recently released report from their 8-month investigation, revealed that unsafe work practices and stevedore fatigue could be to blame.

Union rep Warren Smith called for changes in the industry to improve safety.

“The findings are quite horrific really and it clearly demonstrates a complete lack of safety culture and massive gaps in the safe working systems within Newcastle Stevedores that absolutely need to be rectified,” he said.

“It’s quite abhorrent really that in the 21st century basic flaws in safety systems exist like that.”

The union are expected to meet with Newcastle Stevedores to discuss the findings of the ATSB report.

Smith says improvements to the system are especially needed.

“We have met them [Newcastle Stevedores] over a period of time prior to the release of the report and all our concerns have been articulated to the company very clearly.

“There will be ongoing meetings and we’ll do everything we can with the company to ensure the systems of work are eliminated, the gaps in their system of work are eliminated once and for all.”

More info on Occupational Health and Safety

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-06-05/maritime-safety-talks-to-continue-after-ship-fatality/4733616


OHS:Company Fined for Burned Chef

The Company that owns a fancy Sydney restaurant was subject to an over $100,000 fine, after a chef was badly burned by boiling stock.

SG Foodservice was slapped with the $110,000 fine over the incident which occurred at the Pendolino restaurant in September 2010.

The apprentice chef, 19, was carrying a boiling stock in two 20-litre buckets when he slipped and dropped them, burning over half of his body.

The chef was using the fire stairs when he dropped the boiling buckets.

He received emergency hospital treatment and had to receive skin grafts to his left calf, right ankle, and right thigh, according to WorkCover.

His injuries were so severe that he had to wear compression bandages, and was prohibited from being in sunlight and required physiotherapy.

WorkCover said SG Foodservice pleaded guilty to breaching the Occupational Health & Safety Act over the incident.

WorkCover NSW’s acting general manager of work health and safety, Peter Dunphy, said it would “work with the company to ensure that the same mistakes were not made in the future”.
More info on Occupational Health and Safety
Source: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/company-fined-after-sydney-chef-burnt/story-fni0xqi4-1226657098067

OHS:Ten Queensland Rides Given Prohibition Notices

Ten amusement rides were given Prohibition Notices and made temporarily  inoperable after they were found to be so dangerous that they may could result in injury.

Amusement ride safety has once again become a hot topic after a young child was flung 10m from a frisbee ride only a few weeks ago.

Carnival Land Amusements, the ride operator, had recently passed an official audit conducted by Workplace Health and Safety when the accident occurred.

In order to maintain safety standards, OHS inspectors frequently do random audits at shows,carnivals and fetes — where they assess the rides against the Amusement Devices National Auditing Tool.

Currently over 200 inspectors are employed and continue to conduct audits on rides all over the country– with 663 assessments last year alone.

The peak industry body, the Australian Amusement, Leisure and Recreation Association has also developed a private audit – AMSAFE – through which members can gain another safety “tick”.

Amusement ride inspecting engineer of 13 years Brian Bradley said most operators maintained their equipment and complied with the regulations

Mr Gidlow said a Prohibition Notice was reserved for rides that were likely to cause injury or illness.

More info on Occupational Health and Safety

Source: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/ten-amusement-rides-found-to-be-dangerous-and-temporarily-shut-down-last-year/story-fnii5v70-1226650511597


OHS:Worker’s Arm Caught in Olive Crushing Machine

WorkSafe ACT is reviewing safety conditions at a Narrabundah business where a worker’s arm was became wedged into an olive-crushing machine.

Crews were required to use hydraulic tools in order to release the machine’s hold on the man’s hand and he was then transported to Canberra Hospital by ACT Ambulance service.

The man suffered injuries to the lower part of his arm.  A spokesperson for the hospital was reportedly unable to comment on the man’s condition beyond the fact that he had been receiving continued treatment.

ACT WorkSafe Commissioner Mark McCabe said the authority had handed out a prohibition notice on the equipment in addition to an official do not disturb notice throughout the area. A full  investigation is being considered.

McCabe stated that investigators would deliberate on whether the  business owner’s are required to comply with regulations established by the Work Health and Safety Act.

”WorkSafe has some serious concerns about the processes in place,” Mr McCabe said. ”Our serious investigations unit are looking at the issues involved and once we clarify the situation we will investigate how this incident came to take place.”
Source: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/mans-arm-caught-in-olive-crusher-20130530-2nd7j.html#ixzz2VE70ihgG

OHS:WorkSafe Crackdowns on Apprentice Safety

High-risk apprentices will now be safer following a renewed crackdown on construction projects by WorkSafe ACT

Commissioner Mark McCabe released two new sets of guidance requirements for apprentice supervision.

Under these new requirements, apprentices and trainees are prohibited from working without mandated supervision or without required accreditation

”We have seen several accidents in recent months involving apprentices working alone doing high-risk work,” Mr McCabe said.

”Supervisors should be aware that they are responsible for the safety of all of their workers, and especially apprentices and trainees, who require a higher level of supervision than experienced workers.”

Last February, Fairfax Media reported young electrical apprentices were illegally being told to work despite no proper supervision and completing jobs charged at the full commercial electrician’s rate.

A WorkSafe audit and compliance campaign was launched following two serious accidents in the ACT in which apprentices suffered from electric shocks while working without supervision.

Mr McCabe said  ”I am releasing these new guidance notes as part of a campaign to ensure that all supervisors understand and adhere to this responsibility,” he said.

”Failure to do so could not only lead to severe penalties for supervisors, it could cost lives.”

The guidance notes for construction and electrical call for risk assessment and proper supervision as well as fines of $3 million for corporations and $600,000 and even up to five years imprisonment for individuals who breach the rules.

The notes state that licensed electricians must be present when an apprentice is carrying out licensed electrical work as a suitably qualified person must be present to oversee output by apprentices and trainees.

Mr McCabe said closer scrutiny of supervision of apprentices by WorkSafe inspectors in the ACT would begin in coming months.

More info on Occupational Health and Safety

Source: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/crackdown-on-work-sites-for-apprentices-20130520-2jx8v.html#ixzz2UMhWD9z3

Heritage-Listed Cinema Deemed Unsafe Amidst Asbestos Dangers

The owner of Piccadilly Cinemas  has declared the  heritage-listed building “totally unsafe”  following two ceiling collapses that “narrowly missed the customers.”

Recently WorkSafe undertook a risk assessment the buildings “flaking” asbestos roof.

Veteran cinema operator Cyril Watson and his lawyer had reportedly sent a letter to the agents for the landlord pleading for urgent attention to waterproof the roof and  “safeguard and suppress the asbestos materials used in the roof”. The matters had been discussed early in a face-to-face meeting last November.

Worksafe inspectors recently visited the cinema and ordered  14 improvement notices.

One of the improvement notice called the the cinema out for breaching  Occupational Safety and Health Regulations  by failing to have an asbestos register. Watson has been until August 9 to conduct an identification and risk assessment on the asbestos and to record all data at an onsite register.

“Since that time we have had preliminary plans prepared by the conservation architect for the arcade and theatre to understand what can and cannot be done to the building. In respect of the asbestos roof … sheet asbestos roofing is a stable form of asbestos in particular when painted. Many schools in WA have this form of roofing. That is not to say we will not be replacing it when we renovate the arcade, but it is not at the point where it should be replaced immediately.”

But WA Asbestos Diseases Society president Robert Vojakovic called on the health department for urgent attention and to investigate the issues in order to ease the minds of patrons and workers alike.

Mr Vojakovic  upon seeing photos, described the site as being in a very poor state and appeared to be “friable” in places. “If the dust can reach the cinema then there is a risk,” he said. “The Department of Health or Perth City Council need to have a look at the situation. It’s a public facility; it must be free of risk.”

Roof plumber Rick Rogers, discussed the condition of the cinema stating”It is in poor condition, it’s quite flaky,” he said. “My old man died of asbestosis at 48. You are talking to a guy who is pretty paranoid.”

A Worksafe spokeswoman said inspectors didn’t see any cause for concern on the inside of the cinema because the asbestos roof is on the outside of the building.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said its officials were unaware of any issues at the Piccadilly. “Issues regarding the management of asbestos in the workplace should be directed to the Department of Commerce (WorkSafe WA),” she said. “When required, the department will assist WorkSafe by providing toxicology advice and public health risk assessments.”

More info on Asbestos Training

Source: http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western-australia/horror-movie-right-here-in-the-cbd/story-fnhocxo3-1226650604784

OHS:Mine Worker Measles Leads to Statewide Alert

A statewide alert has been raised following the diagnosis of a Central Queensland mine worker with measles.

Queensland Health’s communicable diseases unit acting senior director Stephen Lambert stated that the Moranbah mine worker had contact with several mining colleagues and others over the past few weeks.  Investigators are concerned that he may have infected others. 

He said many of the mine workers had returned to homes throughout Queensland.

Dr Lambert said measles was a serious infection, particularly in children too young to be immunised.

“Up to one-third of young adults who are infected will be hospitalised,” he said.

The Moranbah mine worker who has triggered the measles alert is believed to have contracted the virus while holidaying in Asia.

Dr Lambert said the man had been in the dining room of Moranbah’s Grosvenor Village camp in the last week of April.

He said Queensland Health was asking anyone who may have been exposed to the virus to seek medical advice if symptoms developed.

They should alert their general practitioners they may have measles before attending the clinic.

“Measles is one of the most infectious of all communicable diseases and is spread by tiny droplets through coughing and sneezing,” Dr Lambert said.

Symptoms usually start around 10 days after becoming infected and include a fever, lethargy, runny nose, a cough and sore, red eyes followed by a blotchy red rash.

Measles complications can include pneumonia and inflammation of the brain. The infection can occasionally be fatal.

More on Occupational Health and Safety

Source: http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/moranbah-mine-workers-measles-prompts-alert/story-e6freoof-1226637798701


OHS:Subcontractors To Be Hit by Compensation Scheme Changes

Subcontractors are among those expected to lose access to the state’s workers’ compensation scheme under changes due to be introduced into Parliament this week.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said the Government was moving to change the definition of a worker under the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act.

“We’ve come up with a plan to do what they did at the federal level and have the definition of worker the same as the Australian Tax Office and PAYG definition,” Mr Bleijie said.

The move, which would repeal changes made by the Beattie government in 1999, comes less than four weeks before a parliamentary committee is due to report back with the findings of its review of the WorkCover scheme.

Unions are expected to object to the change, which will largely affect the construction and transport sectors.

But Mr Bleijie said he believed no worker would be worse off.

He said the change had been requested by the WorkCover board following a litany of complaints from businesses that had been audited and fined because they found the current definition confusing.

In one instance, Mr Bleijie said a business was left with a $600,000 bill following an audit, even though its employees were independent contractors.

“These poor guys never anticipated this because they never thought they were actually in the WorkCover scheme,” he said. “It is a genuine issue that’s impacting a lot of businesses.

“My view is if a tradie comes in with their own ute, all their own tools, their trailer … and they’ve got their own work insurance so they should be an independent contractor and not fall under the definition.

“But if you look at the technical nature of it, they do fall under the worker definition … which is hitting business hard in Queensland.”

He defended the move to introduce changes to the scheme before the parliamentary committee’s review of WorkCover had been finalised.

About 17 submissions to the review raised the definition as an issue needing investigation with the committee hearing arguments for and against such changes during public hearings.

Some raised fears employers could exploit the change by forcing workers to become independent contractors so they did not have to pay WorkCover premiums while other submitters said the change would benefit workers and business.

“We are going to amend that before the review is finished because we want to give some immediate certainty to business and to WorkCover and to workers that they are either in the WorkCover or they are not in the WorkCover scheme.”

If passed, the change will be in place by July 1.

“You are either a worker or you’re an independent contractor. Absolutely no one will be worse off,” Mr Bleijie said.

“The benefit will flow to both parties because people will be less confused and you may avoid a situation where a worker believes they are under WorkCover but the employer thinks they are an independent contractor.”

More info on Occupational Health and Safety

 Source: http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/subcontractors-likely-to-be-hit-hard-by-changes-to-workers-compensation-scheme/story-e6freoof-1226631860536


OHS:Comcare Fronts Meditation Bill for Former Worker

The federal government workers’ compensation fund has been ordered to pay for philosophy and mindfulness classes for a former Canberra public servant who has not worked for 14 years.

Eleanor Rope was injured in a car crash in 1987 when she was a federal public servant.

She had another fall at work and left on invalidity grounds in 1999.

Mrs Rope has suffered chronic pain and depression and received taxpayer-funded compensation for medical care, including travel to Townsville to receive specialist treatment not available in Canberra.

Last year her doctor recommended mindfulness meditation classes at the Canberra School of Practical Philosophy, but Comcare refused to pay.

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal has now ruled such classes are therapeutic and Mrs Rope is entitled to compensation of $110 per term for the cost of the course.

It also found Comcare should consider paying her travel costs of about $100 for a taxi from her farm outside Canberra to the classes in Barton.

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-05-10/comcare-pays-for-meditation-for-former-public-servant/4680972?section=act


OHS: Falling Gate Kills Worker

A 32-year-old man was killed when a steel gate pinned him between it and a vehicle. The industrial accident occured at Bayswater North  earlier last week.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman said the incident occurred just after 7pm at an automotive engineering factory in Clipsal Drive.

It is believed three men were working on a large steel gate at the factory when the heavy object suddenly fell from its track.

The gate then landed on one of the men and pinned him between the gate and a vehicle.


Emergency personnel were unable to revive the 32-year-old Croydon man.

Police said the two other men, believed to be a 55-year-old from Ringwood East and a 44-year-old from Donvale, were not injured.

WorkSafe Victoria also attended the site and will prepare a report for the coroner in conjunction with police.

More info on Occupational Health and Safety

Source: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/man-crushed-killed-by-falling-gate-20130509-2j8sm.html#ixzz2T3n3JEkG

OHS:Rural Death Causes Plea For Safety

The WorkSafe commissioner says the agriculture industry must undergo a cultural change to prevent any more fatal accidents.

A 65-year-old man was killed on Tuesday at a potato farm near Pemberton while trying to stop a truck that was rolling down a hill.

It is the sixth death in the sector this financial year.

Lex McCulloch says while the industry only accounts for 3 per cent of the workforce Australia-wide, it accounts for 35 per cent of workplace deaths.

“We’re moving to a very busy time of the year, it’s really important that they assess the risks of the work they’re doing, they put in place strategies to minimise and mitigate those risks and that they use … [equipment] consistent with the manufacturer’s instructions,” he said.

“They do work in quite a dangerous industry, they work long hours but they also need to be really clear about the … [equipment] and the safety requirements … and if they do that and follow the manufacturer’s instructions there’s a good chance that nothing untoward will happen.”

More info on Occupational Health and Safety

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-05-09/potato-farm-death-sparks-plea-for-rural-jobs-safety/4679478?&section=news

OHS:Plasterer Suffers Back Injury

A plasterer suffered a back injury at a construction

A 34-year-old plasterer has been lowered from an O’Malley construction site with a hydraulic lift after suffering a back injury this morning.

The man has received pain relief and was talking to paramedics before he was taken by ambulance to Canberra Hospital.

An ACT Fire & Rescue Skylift hydraulic platform  was used to lift the man from the second storey of the private residence on Wallangara Street, as he was unable to use the scaffolding.

Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe said inspectors had been on site, but there was no concern over working conditions.

Read more: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/plasterer-injured-in-workplace-incident-20130507-2j4ed.html#ixzz2Sel3EA9T

“It appears the man has bent over to pick something up and his back has knocked up,” he said.

“We don’t believe there’s any worksafe issues.”

ACT Ambulance Service duty officer of operations Steve Mitchell said he was alerted to the incident about 8.45am, and wasn’t aware of the exact details.

“He hasn’t fallen from a height or anything – he said [he was doing] some sort of lifting,” he said.

“This doesn’t appear to be an accident, more an incident.”

Complete Fixset Plastering owner Ron Rawson, the man’s employer, said he understood the worker had been moving a stool at the time of the injury.

Mr Rawson said his company had been on the site for a week.
Read more: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/plasterer-injured-in-workplace-incident-20130507-2j4ed.html#ixzz2Sel0ibZm

OHS: Unions Raise Concerns Over WorkCover Closures

Unions have raised concerns that the imminent closing of WorkCover’s regional offices in Queensland, is in fact an attempt to hinder workers’ compensation claims.

The Toowoomba branch will join nine others when they are shut down throughout the next month.

The closed branches are set to be replaced by four outlets in Brisbane, which means claims outside of the state’s capital will have to be made by phone.

Electrical Trades Union Toowoomba spokesman Chris McGaw stated that the move was simply a part of the LNP’s “slash and burn” public service policy.

McGaw stated that the concerns are not simply about jobs and offices but rather, the impact the closures would have on people’s access to the services.

“The hoops they have to jump through to get workers’ compensation is hard enough already.

“The last thing an injured worker needs is more hassles – especially for people who live from pay to pay.

“That office has been operating here for as long as I’ve been in the workforce – more than 40 years.”

Mr McGaw said the forthcoming May 5 Labour Day march in Toowoomba would be the “biggest since WorkChoices”.

More info on Occupational Health and Safety

Source: http://www.thechronicle.com.au/news/unions-react-workcover-office-closures/1840918/

OHS:Perth Company Fined for Grinder Death

A Perth based powder coating company has been fined $85,000 over the death of a worker who was killed when a drum he was cutting with an angle grinder exploded.

Welshpool-based Diamond Powder Coaters this week pleaded guilty in Perth Magistrates Court to failing to provide a safe workplace and causing the death of the worker as a result of that failure.

The incident occurred in November 2010, when the worker used an angle grinder to cut into a metal drum that had previously contained methylated spirits.

A spark from the angle grinder ignited the residue or fumes in the drum, causing an explosion so large it blew part of the drum 20 metres over a fence into a neighbouring property, and inflicted fatal head injuries to the worker.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch said serious incidents involving the cutting of drums was something he heard about far too often.

“Angle grinders, oxy torches or any other heat-producing equipment should not be used to cut metal drums that have contained flammable or combustible liquids or gases, or when there is any doubt about the previous contents of the drum,” Mr McCulloch said.

“The rule of thumb is that if you don’t know what has been in the drum or tank, assume it has contained an explosive substance and have it recycled by a specialist cleaning company.

“This is neither an expensive nor inconvenient process, and it could well save someone’s life.”

Earlier this week, a Bunbury man was seriously injured when a fuel tank he was cutting with an oxy torch exploded.

A worker in Welshpool died last year doing the same thing.

More info on Occupational Health and Safety

Source: http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western-australia/business-fined-over-angle-grinder-death/story-fnhocxo3-1226624683812

Years of Harmful Exposure To Chemicals Leads to Lifelong Skin Problem

Nearly everything in her home can result in  Leslie Dyson’s hands, arms and legs breaking out painful rashes and lumps.

The mother of four, now suffers from allergic dermatitis  (and probably will for the rest of her life) as a result of her working as a process worker for a Perth company which required her to electroplate metals with chemicals.

When she stopped working a year ago — and when the company agreed to pay her workers’ compensation– skin had been peeling off her eye lids, cheeks, stomach, and anywhere else you could imagine.

She was forced to use a steroid cream every day to attempt to avoid flare-ups of the rashes that often last for months.

 Dyson said she was exposed to a range of chemicals including tantalum chloride, pentanol, ruthenium chloride, hexachloroiridate solution and, to a lesser extent, epoxy, nickel and cobalt. Now, even water can result in a horrible rash. 

Dyson alleges that her employer failed to provide her with the proper protective clothing and only gave her yellow dishwashing gloves.

“It wasn’t until I saw a specialist and showed him what gloves we were using that he found out we should’ve been using rubberised gloves that don’t seep,” she said.

She resented that she had to investigate the safety of the chemicals she was working with, instead of the onus being on her employer.

Slater and Gordon workers’ compensation lawyer Joel Schneider warned many workers were still being exposed to hazardous chemicals.

Mr Schneider said people worried about their exposure to chemicals should contact WorkSafe.

More info on Personal Protective Equipment or PPE

 Source: http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/wa/16617862/worker-was-exposed-to-chemicals/

OHS: Wharfies Demand Safety Reforms

The protests are part of a national campaign by the Maritime Union of Australia to push the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry to end its opposition to a national stevedoring code of practice.

Workers rallied in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Darwin and Devonport on Tuesday, but not in Perth, where other union meetings were being held.

About 40 union members turned up blowing horns and waving placards at chamber offices in Brisbane and succeeded in gaining a 20-minute police-brokered meeting with ACCI members.

Outside the NSW Business Chamber, 200 protesters rallied against opposition to the code, aimed at protecting the safety of workers.

MUA Sydney branch secretary Paul McAleer said the ACCI argued the code was too expensive, but that was a step backwards.

”For them to say that the cost of implementing the code is an obstacle effectively says wharfies’ lives and safety are not a priority for them,” Mr McAleer said.

In Melbourne, MUA assistant national secretary Warren Smith told more than 100 union workers that waterfront workers were 14 times more likely to die on the job than the average worker.

ACCI spokesman David Turnbull said industry would work with unions to make sure the code reflected good practice. He said Safe Work Australia would make the final decision on the code.

More info on Occupational Health and Safety

Source :  http://www.smh.com.au/national/wharfies-demand-industry-back-safety-reforms-20130326-2gsdg.html#ixzz2P3R5TBB2

Young Workers Face Higher OHS Risk

Nearly 20 per cent of all workplace injuries experienced by Australian workers were involved individuals 25-years old and younger.

Safe Work Australia’s Work-related injuries experienced by young workers 2009-2010, report found the injury rate of young workers (the rate of injuries per 1,000 workers) was 18 per cent higher than for those aged over 25.

Compared to workers aged 25 and over  (56.2/1000 workers), the rate for younger workers was significantly higher at approximately 66.1 OHS injuries per 1000.  The report revealed that the disparity was greatest in the manufacturing, accommodation, food service, healthcare and construction industries.

The report also showed that nearly 66 per cent of injured workers never applied for workers compensation, with about half of them feeling their injury was too minor to lodge a claim.

Chair of Safe Work Australia, Ann Sherry stressed the need for  young people to comprehend the various safety issues in their workplaces and learn the value of following procedures.

“Often in their first jobs, young workers can get caught up with the excitement of entering the workforce,” Ms Sherry said.
“They may overlook the need to be familiar with the potential workplace hazards and safety procedures in place.”

She said the statistics in the report showed why it was necessary for young people to learn safe workplace practices and who they should go to for help.
“The safety habits and behaviours they learn now will set them up for positive safe work practices for the remainder of their working lives,” she said.

More info on Occupational Health and Safety

Source: http://www.psnews.com.au/Page_psn3543.html

OHS: Crushing Conveyor Belt Incident To Be Investigated

A 27-year old worker was rushed to the hospital following a serious incident that resulted in his leg becoming lodged in a conveyor belt.

According to a spokesperson for Ambulance Victoria revealed that the paramedics were called to Thorton Engineering early in the morning.

Upon arrival they discovered the man had serious crush injuries to his leg. He was rushed to Geelong Hospital and was said to be in stable albeit, serious condition.

WorkSafe Spokseperson Rosanna Bonacurrso stated that the watchdog organisation was notified of the incident at the Corior workplace. Bonacurso stated

“It’s believed a 27-year-old worker suffered injuries to his right leg after it was caught between a roller and steel product.

“A WorkSafe inspector visited the workplace this morning and is making inquiries.”

More info on Occupational Health and Safety

Source: http://www.geelongadvertiser.com.au/article/2013/03/08/360778_news.html

OHS:UK Pie Manufacturer Employee Death Hits Close To Home

Andrew Jones Pies, a Yorkshire based pie manufacturer which is now facing bankruptcy , has been ordered to pay  £375,000 following a gas explosion which killed a man an injured another.

The manufacturer has been found in breach of health and safety laws, with a judge claiming it had “failed dismally”.

According to reports, the judge acknowledged that while the business is not in a financial position to pay the fines, the charges  expose the manufacturer’s failings.The explosion occured in 2009 when baker David Cole, repeatedly attempted to light a 3-decade old oven, unaware that gas was building up inside the baking chamber. Eventually the door blew off the oven and hit Cole, who was trapped when a section of the roof collapsed. Cole died and another worker at the scene was seriously injured.

The case is similar to a local case involving the directors of the  Pokolbin’s Drayton’s Family Wines. The winery was charged with failing to ensure the  safety of their workers which resulted in a  2008 explosion which killed two people.

Workcover NSW launched a criminal investigation against the winery almost two years after a coroner revealed that poor safety measures was a key cause of the blast which killed two employees.

More info on Occupational Health and Safety

Source: http://www.foodmag.com.au/news/uk-pie-manufacturer-fined-375-000-for-safety-brea

OHS:Spinal Injury Results in 60k Fine

A woman who suffered a fractured skull, broken ribs and serious spinal injuries  almost three years ago, has seen her employers fined approximately $70,000 for the inability to protect her.

National Fleet Administrative Services pleaded guilty for failing to provide and ensure a safe work environment.

The company contracts drivers who transport goods. According to WorkSafe, In 2009, a driver was sent to a customers residence to move two large industrial ovens.  The driver told the woman, an employee of NFAS, to lift the oven off the factory floor with the help of a device known as a “walkie stacker”. However, the truck did not have “roll stop devices fitted” and the stacker rolled backwards and fell off the end of the truck effectively pinning the woman to the ground.

It was revealed that the driver had not received any training on how to use roll stop devices or how to properly use the tail lift on his truck.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch called the driver’s  lack of training  “a recipe for disaster,” in a statement on Monday.

“The customer’s employee needlessly suffered serious injuries as a result,” he said.

“The case should serve as a reminder to employers of the importance of training workers in all aspects of operating machinery and having safe systems of work in place at all times, especially when handling heavy items.”

More info on Occupational Health and Safety
Source: http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/company-fined-60k-for-spinal-injuries-20130225-2f1re.html#ixzz2MPdYbua9

OHS:Unions Left Out of WorkCover Pamphlets

The state’s peak union body has accused WorkCover NSW of sidelining the unions in newly released leaflets.

Unions NSW secretary Mark Lennon raised concerns that a new fact sheet advising sick and injured workers on how to make compo claims and disputes, failed to make mention of any trade unions.

Lennon stated that documents of similar nature had always mentioned them in the past.

“People should always be made aware of their rights to seek information from various sources, including from their union,” he told AAP on Wednesday.

Mr Lennon lamented that sick or injured workers were vulnerable and sometimes needed help with their cases.

The new fact sheet comes a year after the state passed far-reaching WorkCover reforms to help lower the $4 Billion deficit.

Benefits and medical expenses were capped and journey claims axed for many workers.

“I think this makes the situation even more difficult,” Mr Lennon said.

WorkCover could not be reached for comment on Wednesday night.

More on Occupational Health and Safety


OHS: Worker Struck by Ute At Mowbray

A road worker died after being struck by a utility vehicle  in the Launceston suburb of Mowbray.

The 62-year old man from Ravenswood, was holding a stop-go traffic control sign when he was struck and thrown back approximately 15m.

He was rushed by ambulance to the Launceston General Hospital but succumbed to critical to both internal and external injuries and later died.

Tasmania Police Sergeant Nicholas Clark stated that the middle-aged driver of the Nissan flat tray vehicle was not injured but will undergo standard drug and alcohol tests at the LGH.

The accident which occurred on a suburban stretch of Vermont Rd at Mowbray, was witnessed by several coworkers who had been resealing the road.

Sgt Clark revealed the police will be investigating the speed and specifics of the accident while Workplace Standards will be investigating the work site’s signage and safety arrangements.

“We just ask motorists if they come across roadworks to pay particular attention to the signs there and slow
down,” Sgt Clark said.

“If the maximum speed is 50km, 40km or 60km, that is the maximum speed.

“Slow down, take your time and look out for people who are on the road or on the edges of the road.”

More info on Occupational Health and Safety

Source: http://www.themercury.com.au/article/2013/02/06/371764_print.html

OHS:Safety Top Priority in Maitland

WorkCover NSW is strongly encouraging Maitland businesses put safety above all else in 2013.

Thousands of young workers will enter Hunter workplaces for the first time, therefore safety should be ensured to limit any injuries.

WorkCover’s acting Maitland district co-ordinator Greg Saunders said young workers suffered a greater risk of workplace injury than most other workers because of a lack of significant experience

He also cautioned that complacency could be a risk for older workers returning from holidays.

“Starting a new job can be an exciting experience for a young person entering the workforce or a new workplace,” Mr Saunders said.  “Many young workers are also keen to impress and take risks that more experienced workers may not.

“Unfortunately, 12 per cent of all injuries in NSW workplaces occur among the state’s young workers with 2767 workplace injuries and one fatality in the Hunter during 2011/12.”

Mr Saunders said the return to the work period at the end of the school holidays required extra caution on the part of more ­experienced workers.

“Complacency is a major factor in many workplace incidents and workers should be reminded that safety is the top priority when returning from holidays,” he said.

Hunter Valley business MIGAS Apprentices & Trainees provides a comprehensive induction process to ensure all employees understand their workplace safety rights and responsibilities.

“The safety and well-being of our staff and our apprentices and trainees is our first priority,” CEO David Brown said.

“We strongly believe that all injuries are preventable and every person should go home in the shape they came in, if not in a better frame of mind.”

More info on Occupational Health and Safety

Source: http://www.maitlandmercury.com.au/story/1249321/push-to-make-work-safety-a-priority/?cs=171

OHS: Safety Blitz Results in Dozens of Notices

A safety raid on building sites in north Canberra has resulted in several improvement notices and on-the-spot fines.
The raids were organised by WorkSafe ACT inspectors and were reportedly a part of an continuous campaign to improve safety in the construction industry.

In excess of 80 improvement notices and infringement notices were issued midday and the tally is expected to rise according to WorkSafe Commissioner Mark McCabe.

He says inspectors are finding the same type of  problems throughoutmost building sites.

“There’ll be a lot of issues associated with sites not being fenced with no amenities for workers, fall from heights issues and electrical issues – those last two are quite important,” he said.

“The on-the-spot fines were largely about lack of signage on sites.”

The Harrison blitz follows a crackdown on residential housing developments in the Molonglo suburb of Wright in December

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-01-31/harrison-work-safety-blitz-fines/4492602?section=act

More info on Occupational Health and Safety

OHS:WorkSafe Investigating Death of Roma Worker

AN investigation has begun into the death of a coal seam gas project worker during last week’s heatwave.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland has confirmed it is investigating the 38-year-old employee’s death on Sunday at Roma, where temperatures reached 42.8C.

Police are also preparing a report for the coroner.

Electrical Trades Union assistant state secretary Peter Ong said members had told him the man collapsed in his donga after finishing work on Sunday and hit his head.

He was taken to the Roma Hospital, in southwest Queensland, and pronounced dead.

Queensland Health said nine people had been seen at Roma Hospital since New Year’s Day with heat-related conditions.

Two people were admitted.

Another person has been admitted to the St George Hospital with a heat illness since the start of the year out of seven people who turned up at the emergency department affected by the extreme temperatures.

Figures provided by the Bureau of Meteorology show the mean average maximum temperature for Roma so far this year has been 38.9C, almost five degrees higher than the average January mean since records were kept.

Project manager Fluor Australia said it was investigating and assisting authorities in their investigations.

More info on Occupational Health and Safety

Source: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/workplace-health-and-safety-authorities-investigating-the-death-of-38-year-old-worker-at-roma-on-sunday/story-fndo45r1-1226555379672

OHS:Man’s Injury Blamed on Dock’s Poor Safety Standards

A man’s arm was seriously injured while working at a dock supplying Chevron’s large LNG project in Western Australia, according to the Maritime Union of Australia.

The MUA was rushed by air ambulance to Perth when his arm was crushed between the dock and a barge at the Mermaid Marine Supply base.

There have been conflicting reports as to the severity of the injury, with the Mermaid Marine spokesman claiming the the injury was to the wrist and was treated at the Nickol Bay Hospital in Karratha.

The spokesperson claims he is resting at home following the incident.

“The health and safety of our employees is paramount and all steps will be taken to ensure our employee makes a full and speedy recovery,” the company said.

“The incident is currently under investigation.”

MUA WA secretary Chris Cain remarked on  Chevron and its contractor’s poor safety record at the Mermaid Marine Supply base for months.

“It’s becoming clearer and clearer that Chevron and their contractors like Mermaid are cutting corners to make up time and money on the Gorgon project,” Mr Cain said.

The union said WorkSafe WA was advised of the level of poor training and management  and the accident was “inevitable”.

“We’ve got serious issues when the day after WorkSafe says there’s no problem, ambulances are called to an accident of the type exactly predicted by health and safety representatives,” Mr Cain said.

More info on Occupational Health and Safety

Source: http://www.perthnow.com.au/business/poor-safety-blamed-for-dock-worker-injury/story-e6frg2qc-1226537890019

OHS: Whyalla First To Launch Statewide Safety Initiative

Whyalla will be the first in the state to launch an initiative developed by Safework SA in order to compel community businesses to collaborate on reducing workplace injury.  Safework SA Executive Director Bryan Russell met with local business leaders and industry groups to discuss the Zero Harm Business Leaders forum . Safework SA proposed that a periodical forum be held in Whyalla.

“We met with key business groups to establish a high level discussion group to share ideas and solutions to drive further improvements in safety performance in Whyalla,” Mr Russell said. The general consensus regarding the forum was positive and Russel indicated Safework SA intends to work on implementing it.

“The participants in the meeting fully supported the proposed business leaders forum and everyone welcomed the opportunity to work collaboratively towards improving safety at work,” Mr Russell said.

“Any injury in the workplace is one injury too many and efforts by all individual parties to reduce injuries in the workplace are welcome.” Mr Russell said the initiative was an exciting opportunity for Safework SA to work collaboratively with key business leaders in Whyalla to achieve safety improvements. “This is as a significant initiative to engage businesses, workers and government in achieving a shared vision for reducing accidents in the work place,” Mr Russell said.

Source: http://www.whyallanewsonline.com.au/story/1190906/whyalla-first-to-pilot-statewide-workplace-safety-initiative/

More info on Occupational health and safety

OHS: Christmas Season Bad For Bosses

 Australian employees are expected to take approximately one million sick days this holiday season, costing employers $350 million.Absenteeism will be especially high this season with data suggesting that 1,069,889 working days will be lost mainly because Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve both fall Mondays.

This means that anyone who decides to fake sickness on December 24 will be subject to a five-day break. In addition, those who decide to avoid work on December 31 will get a four day break. Approximately 570,000 ‘sickies’ are expected on these two days.

Surveys conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Morgan and Banks and Direct Health Solutions on workplace absenteeism, revealed that 67 per cent of workers admit to taking a sick day on a Monday.Reports indicate that employees who have become more privy since they are now 50 per cent more likely to ask for a certificate before or after a public holiday.

Many workplaces that stay open during the Christmas- New Year period suffer from higher levels of absenteeism.According to Paul Dunden, chief executive of Direct Health Solutions, service and production roles going full throttle during the Christmas period.”As a result these industries are at risk of high levels of absenteeism either side of public holidays over the festive season,” he said.

Retailers are  especially susceptible to absenteeism.

“Retail tends to increase shifts during the Christmas and Boxing Day sales period because it is the busiest shopping period in the year,” said Margy Osmond chief executive of the Australian National Retailers Association.

More info on Occupational Health and Safety

Source: http://tools.themercury.com.au/stories/53873245-business-news.php

OHS: WorkSafe Hopes For Safer November and December

WorkSafe Victoria is hopeful that the end of 2012 will be safer as compared to the “catastrophic” level of incidents last Christmas.

Leading up to last Christmas, seven people died in less than two weeks, fortunately this year’s results have been better.

This year approximately 14 people have died in the workplace, two less fatal incidents than the same time last year.

In the lead up to Christmas last year seven people died at work in less than a fortnight, but so far 2012 results have been better.

So far this year 14 people have died at work, two less than the same time last year, according to Fairfax Media

November and December are notorious for their typically higher level of workplace fatalities with over 26 deaths in the last 5 years within these two months.

SafeWork executive director health and safety Ian Foryth attributes the deadly two months to a number of factors.

“Organisations rushing to finish jobs before their summer break and peak periods for the farming sector can mean that corners are cut and safety becomes less of a priority,” he said.

“It can be a lethal combination and it only takes a moment’s inattention for tragedy to strike … Everyone should return home safe at the end of the day and when this doesn’t happen, it’s a tragedy for all involved.”

Forsyth indicated that most of the workplace deaths in 2012 involved people carrying out regular duties, and it wasn’t just workers with dangerous jobs that risked injury or death.

More info on Occupational Health and Safety



WorkSafe Zeros in Injury Hotspot


WorkSafe Victoria will launch an advertising campaign in the Greater Dandenong area following reports that the manufacturing region was one of ten hotspots in the state.

Greater Dandenong has a record high injury rate in Victoria, and a large billboard has already been put up on a local road to inform the public.

The area is home to approximately 40 per-cent of Victoria’s Manufacturing industry.  The industry has a total of 780 workplace injury claims from July 2007 to June 2012.

The Manufacturing industry was home to over half of the incidents to happened in the manufacturing industry.

The most occurring injury was Misculoskeletal at 232, with ‘open would’ injuries in second place with 185.

In addition there were 45 amputations.

WorkSafe health and safety operations general manager Lisa Sturzenegger called for a more hands-on approach from workers and employers alike.

“Employers must get on the front foot by taking a preventative approach to identifying and controlling the risk of dangerous machines at their workplace,” she said.

“Workers need to ask questions and not take anything for granted.”

More information on Occupational Health and Safety

Source: http://www.manmonthly.com.au/news/worksafe-targets-manufacturing-injury-hotspot

OHS: Builder and Union Clash Using Ads

Conflicts between builder Grocon and Victoria’s most prominent construction union continue, with expensive billboard attack-advertisements being erected throughout Melbourne’s freeways. A spokesperson for Grocon described the give billboards as a fragment of a campaign meant to discredit or “distract from the union’s increasingly toxic brand”.

The billboards were erected at the Flemington section of CityLink, the Monash Freeway in Richmond and the West Gate Freeway in Port Melbourne.The ads are estimated to have cost approximately $20,000 monthly. As such, the ad is expected to remain in place until the end of the month.

The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union  has also taken to running ads amidst the dispute with Grocon. The dispute was reportedly started following a disagreement over who was to appoint shop stewards and the right to display union paraphernalia at work sites.Police clashed with protesters at a Grocon Lonsdale Street Emporium site, when a picketline was formed last August. Grocon claimed in court that the picket line was a tool to intimidate its employees.

Bill Oliver, state secretary of the union’s building division, claims to have remaining concerns regarding the safety of workers on Grocon’s sites.

“Until workers are able to have proper safety representatives rather than employer-appointed stewards, the union will continue to have concerns,” he said.

More info on Occupational Health and Safety

Source: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/union-billboards-attack-grocon-on-safety-standards-20121108-28zua.html#ixzz2Bqu8pUtj

OHS:Perth Company Pays Out for Injured Labourer

A Perth company was told to pay $10,000 to an employee who lost part of a finger in a mincing machine.

In February 2010,  a labourer at D’Orsogna Limited was using a mincing machine that had a metal chute also known as a hopper, in which meat was fed into.

The employee placed 200kg of meat onto a hoist and checked the levels of meat being consumed by the hopper.

Upon inspection, the labourer noticed the meat was not reaching the mincing area. This prompted the worker to use his hand to push the meat down which resulted in him getting his finger stuck in the mincing area. He was subsequently required to have his finger amputated at the knuckle.

D’Orsogna LTD pleaded guilty in court for failing to provide and uphold a safe work environment for employees.

In a recent case, Harvest Freshcuts was told to pay over $50,000 when an employee lost two fingers in a vegetable slicer.

WorkSafe executive director Ian Munns said “It’s disappointing that the message evidently still has not gotten through that it is never safe to allow the moving parts of machinery to remain operational when workers may have to make adjustments or perform maintenance,”

“Subsequent to this incident, the employer installed a safe system of work for this mincer that cost less than $3000 – far less than the total $11,548 the company ended up paying in a fine and costs.”

More info on Occupational Health and Safety

Source: http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/wa/15313188/company-fined-10-000-after-mincing-accident/

Food Safety Supervisor: It’s Good For Your Health To Be Safe

There is nothing worse than having been slightly liberal with your wallet on a beautiful 5-star restaurant meal (trying to impress the significant other! )… only to wake up in the middle of the night with a burning, unbearable pain in the stomache. That sharp pain  feels like a swift punch in the belly by Mike Tyson…but its not from that. You hurriedly think to your self ” It can’t be the cereal I had this morning! I THINK that sandwhich meat for lunch was fine.. so it could only be— NO! Why?! Why did I have to spend so much money on this meal, and experiment to be “exciting!”…Why?!

But it’s not always your fault, and it’s not always the mysterious, exotic dish’s fault… Sometime’s things go wrong, and someone is to blame.

It is imperative that  food business owners in Victoria  ensure  that their staff  are adequately skilled and knowledgeable enough to  safely handle food in their respective roles. It is therefore important for  food businesses  to elect a food safety supervisor to make sure of this.

What? A Food Safety Supervisor? What’s that?

A FSS  is someone who:

  • Is able to easily recognise, prevent and eliminate food handling hazards at the food business
  •  has earned a Statement of Attainment that declares that they have the required food safety competencies from a Registered Training Organisation (RTO);
  • has the ability and authority to supervise other people handling food at the premises and ensure that food handling is done safely.

What type of  Food Businesses Need FSS?

Only class 1 and class 2 food premises require a  food safety supervisor.

Food poisoning most often occurs upon consumption of  “potentially hazardous food” such as meat, seafood, cooked main meals and sandwiches. In addition, persons with weakened or immature immune systems suffer a greater risk of serious illness or death from food poisoning.

Class 1 and class 2 businesses therefore require a food safety supervisor. However a food safety supervisor is not required for class 1 and class 2 food premises which use a whole-of-business food safety program prepared under a recognised Quality Assurance (QA) system, and that program includes competency-based or accredited staff training. Such a system is an alternative means of educating staff about how to handle food safety.

Class 3 and class 4 food premises do not require a food safety supervisor as the nature of the food handled at those premises is not commonly associated with food poisoning. However, these businesses must still ensure that they maintain safe food handling practices.

All food premises (businesses and community groups) that sell food are legally required to ensure that it is safe for human consumption, regardless of the premises food safety supervisor requirements.

OHS: WorkSafe Pressured To Rush Inquiry

OHS TrainingWorksafe is refusing to prematurely release the details pertaining to a pearl diver death investigation.

Jarrod Hampton of Melbourne, died in April while he was diving off the coast of Broome for Paspaley Pearls. WorkSafe took statements from witnesses and has been looking into the safety record of the company.

Commissioner Lex McCulloch stated that the pressure has been put on in order to rush the outcome. He is however, confident that the result will remain thorough and accurate.

Commissioner Lex McCulloch says he has experienced enormous pressure to rush the outcome but maintains it will be thorough and accurate.

Since the investigation started, countless emails and printed letters have made their way through the ministry and some have even reached the premier’s office.

The letters are reportedly requests for updates on the current situation regarding the death. McCulloch said the process may take longer but the process will be thorough.

“If there’s been errors made or gaps in what we need to do, then the industry will assess those and try to meet them,” said Pearl Producers Association chief executive officer Brett McCallum

A Coroner’s report is being anticipated.

Despite the police report on  Hampton’s death already finalised, the Coroner is still awaiting the WorkSafe report to be complete, before it investigates.

More info on Occupational Health and Safety

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-10-25/worksafe-pressured-to-rush-dive-death-investigation/4333874?section=wa

Government Rallies Against Asbestos

Asbestos AwarenessThe Queensland government is putting more pressure into the fight against the often fatal substance, asbestos. They will put increase allotted funding in an effort to remove high-risk asbestos that exists throughout schools and public housing.

According to Public Works Minister Bruce Flegg, one Queenslander is diagnosed with a terminal case of mesothelioma (asbestos related disease) ever six days. This number is expected to rise through out the next decade.

Flegg  recently stated there are two million cubic metres of asbestos in public buildings, most of which is in the walls of schools and public housing, with 400 asbestos scares a year.

Dr Flegg announced the government’s plan to invest $1.5 million to prioritise the removal of high-risk asbestos material, particularly fibre boards and vinyl floor sheeting, which is substantially more dangerous than fibro asbestos.

The extra funding is on top of the $26 annual budget for removal.

Dr Flegg said it’s particularly worrying that schools have the most cases of asbestos.

“Asbestos exposure in schools has been going on for a very long time and it is really frightening for parents because there is no way of telling (whether) your child … has inhaled asbestos fibres if the circumstances occur where they may become airborne,” he told reporters.

Dr Flegg would also work with local government to create more dump sites and a central register so people can easily identify a tip to go to instead of illegally dumping the lethal material.

QBuild staff, the government’s construction and building maintenance business, would also be upskilled to have Class B and Class A licences for asbestos removal, to curb the use of contractors.

More info on Asbestos Training 

Source: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/government-to-ramp-up-fight-against-asbestos-20121018-27t5p.html#ixzz2AAw62nEm

Young Parent Campaigns For OHS After Serious Accident

A young mother of two, Tiffany Ward has been adamant campaigner for occupational health and safety since she almost lost her arm in a  a potato processing plant accident in 2008. The life changing accident has compelled her to become deeply committed to preventing others from suffering such debilitating injuries in the workplace.

Ward now appears in a recent government-backed film meant to educate workers about the importance of safety practices at work. In the video, Ward recounted the moment she realized how serious her injury was, after a workmate unwittingly pressed start on the potato slicer while she was cleaning it.

Ward recalls looking down and seeing torn flesh and bones instead of her arm. Her body was reportedly lifted off the ground because of how twisted her arm was in the machine.

Other employees had to hold Ward up for approximately 40 minutes until medics were able to free her. The injury has left her family mentally and financially wounded and her disability has limited her job prospects.

“I drop things all the time. All the cutlery and plates in our house are plastic because I have no strength in my right arm,” she said.

Ward is hopeful that the film will be seen as a warning to young people now entering the workforce.

“It can happen to anybody. It doesn’t only happen to middle-aged men,” she said.

Every year over 25 workers die as a result of occupational accidents in Queensland and over 5000 are left with detrimental injuries. The cost of workplace accidents is estimated at $6.2 billion of public funding annually.

Source: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/new-push-to-prevent-workplace-accidents/story-e6frf7kf-1226478898090

OHS: Safety Review Underway At Newcastle Port

ohs trainingA sudden safety review is in operation after a man was crushed to death by 20 tonnes of aluminum at Newcastle Port.

This is the second workplace death to occur on the docks in 10 days Wharfie Greg Fitzgibbon was killed when the pallet of metal ingots collapsed on to him at the Eastern Basin Distribution Centre.The father of two was loading onto a 36,000- tonne cargo ship when the incident transpired. Maritime Union of Australia assistant secretary Warren Smith expressed regret over the loss of another member due to a workplace accident that could have potentially been avoided.

A 55-year-old man suffered a cardiac arrest and died on board another cargo ship docked at the port. Union sources stated that he was discovered at the bottom of a stairwell with signs indicating he was injured before he died. Autopsies are being conducted on both men and a police investigation is underway.

WorkCover and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) have commenced safety inquiries and the union is attempting to meet with Fitzgibbon’s employer, Newcastle Stevedores. According to the ATSB, the packets of ingots collapsed onto him as it was being transported onto the ship.

More info on Occupational Health and Safety

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/newcastle-dock-death-second-in-10-days-20120924-26gim.html#ixzz27X9ES2F4

OHS:Worker’s Crushed Arm Leads to Company Fining

OHS Safety trainingA company has been fined $90,000 after a worker’s arm was severely injured in a machine.

Goodman Fielder Consumer Foods Pty Ltd was convicted and fined last week over an incident at its Pampas factory in West Footscray which left a worker with serious and permanent injuries to his arm.

The company admitted guilt in court to failing to provide a safe work environment and failing to provide proper training  under OHS regulations.

The injured employee worked for  labour hire company Skilled Group Ltd and had been working at the company’s Pampas factory for two years before the incident occurred  September 2009.

It was revealed in court that the worker was cleaning a dough extruder when it suddenly activated, catching the worker’s arm in the machine.

An investigation found the worker  received insufficient training in how to operate the machine’s controls, which led to him failing to properly de-activate the machine before cleaning it.Informal training was carried out while on the job by fellow workers but they did not meet the proper OHS approach.

The investigation also revealed that the machine was not properly guarded.Lisa Sturzenegger, WorkSafe’s General Manager for Health and Safety Operations, said

“Properly guarding machines is a fundamental safety requirement that employers must act on to avoid incidents like this from happening,” she said.

“Businesses have to make sure moving parts of a machine have proper guards or physical barriers fitted.

“As this incident has shown, inadequately training staff can have distressing consequences for all involved.”

More information on Occupational Health and Safety

Source: http://www.starnewsgroup.com.au/star/footscray-yarraville/363/story/154106.html

OHS:Silence Is Perpetuating Safety Issues

OHS TrainingUnsafe practices within the construction industry has compelled General Simon Corbell to call for a safety probe.

This news come soon after the untimely death of 21-year -old concreter Ben Catanzarity who died when a concrete boom struck and killed him. These type of incidents have even be have garnered it a reputation as an industry that profits off the marginalization of worker’s safety. Usher has even gone to refer to the atmosphere of workers as “apathetic” throughout Canberra.

In addition to the accused breaches, the site representative has also fused requests for Worksafe to visit the site.

Eventually inspectors closed the site due to the large number of non-compliance infractions and a general lack of interest of the company to improve safety.  .

While these issues may have long gone undetected, that is no longer the case. Both WorkSafe ACT and the government  are working in conjunction to take on a a hardline approach that will leave no room for these practices to continue.

More info on Occupational Health and Safety

OHS:Gas Rig Deaths Lead To Safety Recall

OHS TrainingWorkers have refused to return to work on a gas rig off the Victorian coast following the deaths of two workers. The  Australian Workers Union stated that they are seeking improved safety measures for the rig before workers return to work. The union argues that offshore rigs are some of the most dangerous professional environments on the planet. The ACTU stated that they have also called for the improvements because they had previously warned that the petroleum industry was accident waiting to occur.

AWU Victorian secretary Cesar Melhem he had serious concerns the drilling union and they have subsequently cautioned workers not to return to work until they are satisfied with the investigations and methods implemented to improve the Occupational Health and Safety standards.

Origin and it’s subsidiary, Stena Drilling are currently investigating the deaths, as well as the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA). The AWU Victoria is attempting to position itself in a formal role within investigations.

ACTU assistan secretary Michael  Borowick is also asking for offshore workers to take on the same national workplace health and safety rights and protections as individuals on shore.

“We need to get to the bottom of this tragedy, but unfortunately, unions have been warning for some time that the offshore petroleum industry is an accident waiting to happen,” Mr Borowick said in a statement. Borowich desires a harmonised model OHS act that includes the entire offshore petroleum industry.

Source: http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/8523679/gas-rig-deaths-prompt-safety-review-call

OHS: WorkSafe Goes After Dangerous Machines

ohs trainingTwo business in Victoria  were fined approximately 35,000 following an incident involving an unguarded machine that left a contractor with a crushed thumb.These prosecutions emerged just as WorkSafe Victoria begins a year-long campaign against dangerous machines in the workplace.

WorkSafe’s Regional Director Shane Gillard strongly desires for  businesses to regularly revisit safety measures around machinery. He noted that removing guarding from a machine (as happened in the above incident) is a potentially disastrous scenario.

“Guarding is there to protect workers from being seriously hurt or killed, yet we frequently come across incidents where someone has suffered a serious injury that could easily be prevented,” he said.

In order to protect workers, employers need to ensure that appropriate machine safety apparatus is provided.  WorkSafe recommends that employees who manage,maintain or own machinery should ensure that ”

  • all moving parts that can touch with any part of the body, deliberately or otherwise, are protected by a physical barrier or guard
  • all staff, especially those with little experience with machinery, are properly trained and consistently supervised; and
  • machinery usage follows manufacturer as recommended by the
More info on Occupational Health and Safety

Source: http://www.ferret.com.au/c/CPR-Safe-Ind/WorkSafe-Victoria-targets-dangerous-machines-What-can-you-do-to-ensure-employees-are-protected-n1831988

OHS:Commonwealth Contractor Fined $50k

OHS TrainingWorkSafe hopes that a recently imposed fine on a Commonwealth contractor will send a strong message to other companies who consider sending inadequately trained and equipped workers into Goldfields desert.

MAX Network was fined $50,000 following a guilty plea for sending two female employees in a car to the remote community of Tjuntjuntjara.

The women were lost in the desert all night and spent the night their until coming across a roadhouse the following day.

WorkSafe commissioner Lex McCulloch stated that employers and staff need to understand the risks of travelling in remote areas.

McCulloch said this case highlights the need to be very vigilant for the many workers who traverse great distances in their daily professions.  He added that it is fortunate that the incident did not result in a tragedy. He stated that the situation could have easily ended in a much worse result.

McCulloch said that companies need to assess the risks for remote area work, and develop strategies and manage whatever risks for their adequately trained staff.

More info on Occupational Health and Safety

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-08-16/contractor-fined-50k-over-lost-workers/4202984?section=wa

OHS:Cafe Owner Fined For Abusing WorkSafe Inspector

OHS TrainingA cafe owner was subject to a conviction and a $500 fine when he attacked a WorkSafe inspector who was visiting his premises.

The inspector was visiting the cafe in Gungahlin as part of  an ongoing cafe and takeaway outlet inspection project when the assault occurred.

Prior to the July 2011 incident, the inspector had identified occupational health and safety issues that needed attending to in the business. She returned in July 2011 to see if previously noted issues were addressed. According to WorkSafe ACT Commissioner Mark McCabe, the man became physical and physically removed the woman from the cafe preventing her from conducting her duties.

ACT Magistrates Court concluded that the man had also been verbally abusive towards the woman. He was convicted at the start of June. McCabe said that this recent court case should stand as a reminder that inspectors were public officials and should be allowed to work without any hindrance. McCabe added that WorkSafe’s inspectors should have the right to be safe while conducting their professional duties.


Source: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/cafe-owner-fined-for-abusing-official-20120803-23kgr.html#ixzz22efPtvQL

Gov’t Launches Audit into Construction Industry Safety

Construction safety trainingDuring a discussion regarding an major industry-wide investigation, Attorney-General Simon Corbell stated that an exorbitant number of companies are neglecting the safety of their employees on Canberra construction for increased profits.

Corbell announced the planned investigation following the fourth workplace death in Canberra since December.  Three of the past incidents took place within the civil and construction industry, while the fourth one involved a painter.

Corbell called for an close examination into why the civil and construction sector seems to have uninterested in complying with the government on workplace safety.

Most recently, Ben Catanzariti, a young Kingston Foreshore construction worker, was killed when struck by a 39 metre boom.

ACT Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe said that the site has remained closed but did not reveal an open date.

Corbell said an inquiry into the death would likely fall under Work Health and Safety laws and a thorough investigation is needed to gather all the evidence and testimonies.

McCabe is believed to be one of two panel members selected to conduct the inquiry. Corbell believes the investigation would call for submissions, union officials and OHS experts but not a public hearing. Instead it appears that only the report and recommendations will be revealed. The investigation is expected to take up to four months to complete.

More info on Construction Safety
Source: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/govt-launches-building-industry-safety-audit-20120723-22l0z.html#ixzz21avKTX9V

OHS:Comcare Appeals Public Servant’s Compensation Claims

OHS TrainingA public servant is at risk of having money taken away after having to fight for compensation for injuries sustained while having sex in a motel. The Commonwealth have appealed to the full bench of the Federal court to strip the public servant of compensation.

The unnamed public servant was sent by her government employer to a country town for a departmental meeting where she stayed in a hotel.

A night prior to the meeting the women suffered facial and other physical injuries when a glass light fitting came away from the wall while she was having intercourse with a male friend.

Originally the Commonwealth workers compensation agency Comcare, rejected her request for compensation, a decision which was supported by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

However, this year Justice John Nicholas of the Federal Court reversed the previous rejection of compensation on the grounds that the woman was “in the course of her employment” when she sustained the injuries.

Comcare has subsequently appealed the decision citing that sexual intercourse was not an activity “expressly or impliedly induced or encouraged”  by the woman’s employer.

More information on Occupational health and safety

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/national/twist-in-sex-on-the-job-payout-case-20120719-22biv.html#ixzz21DRsCpFK

OHS: Yarra cleared of Safety Breaches

OHS TrainingWorkSafe has cleared Yarra Trams of charges accusing the company of breaching occupational health and safety regulations. The company was initially accused of breaking OHS laws for keeping its fleet of C-class low-floor trams despite the fact that some conditions result in the failure of  rear-view cameras.

The workplace safety watchdog, WorkSafe issued Yarra Trams with a notice last month stating that the company was found to be in breach of occupational health and safety regulations by running the aforementioned fleet of trams.

It is alleged that the rear-view camera of these trams fail in wet, dark or glary conditions. Drivers have previously expressed their concerns that the trams had visibility problems with the back end of the trams which also resulted in a difficulty in seeing if passengers had safety boarder or vacated the tram.

WorkSafe ruled that it was dangerous because someone could potentially get caught in the doors and subsequently dragged by the moving tram. However, following a thorough investigation it became clear that the doors were actually not dangerous due to sensitive edges on them.  New Cameras are currently being trialed to see if they can function regardless of the conditions present. C-Class trams run only on route 109 in the area between  Box Hill and Port Melbourne

Source: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/yarra-trams-cleared-in-safety-check-20120717-228hv.html 

Unions Call for Jail Time for Serious Bullying Cases

Workplace BullyingUnions are pushing for the use of jail terms for cases of workplace bullying. Recently the The Australian Council of Trade Unions’ submitted a  motion to a parliamentary committee recommending an increase in the severity of penalties for individuals accused of workplace bullying. The recommendation discusses the potential of implementing jail terms for extreme cases, and increase in  recognition that employers have a responsibility to ensure that their workplace is bully-free.

The ACTU discussed the findings of the Productivity Commission which revealed through research that workplace bullying costs the economy between $6 and $36 billion a year.

ACTU assistant secretary Michael Borowick, provided evidence to the  inquiry in Melbourne.  While Borowick stated her support for stronger and more severe penalties, she did however emphasize the importance of a shift in workplace culture which would thereby ensure that such bullying never occurs.

Employer body, the Australian Industry Group  stated that employers were vehemently against any form of bullying and matters of bullying are treated with importance.

More info on Human Resources

Source: http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/actu-call-to-get-tougher-on-bullying/story-e6freoof-1226422944446 

Asbestos Found at Deteriorating National Archives Storage Facility

Asbestos AwarenessThe National Archives of Australia’s Mitchell storage facility is reportedly in such shambles that they are   taping down floor tiles which potentially contain asbestos.

Federal Parliament’s Public Works Committee pondered evidence put forth regarding plans for an almost $100 million preservation facility to alleviate the pressure on the existing centre which is so full that it can no longer accept classified documents.

Labor Senator Ann Urqhart remarked that she had noticed at least one tile being held down by tape, on a visit to the storage site. Urqhart inquired as to what plans were in place to guarantee the safety of the staff in the event that asbestos was conclusively discovered.

Archives assistant Director-General Cheryl Watson indicated that certain measures were being implemented to ensure the safety of staff in the wake of asbestos contamination. Watson stated that some highly secretive documents were no longer accepted at the facility, although some other less sensitive documents were still stored at the site.  The site has commenced work on upgrading a vault so that documents can continue to be safely stored until a new building is chosen.  D

Defence Housing officials informed the committee that a nearby school had been consulted by ACT planning authorities about development of site. Defence Housing also planned to communicate and work with the school.

More info on Asbestos Training

Source: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/tape-used-to-hold-down-asbestos-tiles-at-archives-storage-20120709-21rzv.html#ixzz20H3LrZNG

Classifying Dangerous Goods

Previously, the storage, handling and use of hazardous chemicals in the workplace were regulated separately in each jurisdiction under a different framework for hazardous substances and for dangerous goods. Now with the implementation of the new work health and safety (WHS) harmonised scheme, the WHS regulations cover hazardous substances and dangerous goods under a single scheme. This single scheme, “hazardous chemicals” includes a new process in which hazards are classified. This classifying system is based on the United Nations’ Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).

What is a “hazardous chemical”?

It is easy to get confused as to what actually classifies as a “hazardous chemical” but basically, it includes any substance that, following employee exposure, can have a harmful effect on health. Side effects of exposure can include (but are not limited to); burns, skin/eye irritation and even fatal diseases such as cancer.

 “But isn’t that the same thing as “Dangerous Goods”?

Dangerous Goods can include substances, mixtures or articles that are hazardous to people, property or the environment. These types of substances can come in chemical or physicochemical form.  It is the properties of these substances that typically cause harm. Some “Dangerous Goods” are explosives, flammable liquids/gases, corrosive substances, and chemically reactive or highly toxic substances. Other examples of dangerous goods include petrol, LP gas, chlorine, explosives and fireworks.

The characteristics used to determine if a substance is a ‘Dangerous Good’ falls under the Australian Code for the Transport of Dangerous Goods (ADG Code) 7th Edition. This code presents a list of substances considered to be ‘Dangerous Goods’.

However, to answer the initial question: In many cases, dangerous goods are also considered to be hazardous substances.

One can speculate that the system was harmonised in order to avoid confusion on whether or not a substance was a hazardous chemical or dangerous good. However, now they both simply fall under the same scheme.

Whose Job is it to classify materials as ‘Hazardous’?

The model WHS Regulations (harmonised law) made it the manufacturer and importer’s responsibility to correctly classify the hazardous chemical prior the chemicals delivery to a workplace.

More information on Hazardous Chemicals:

According to a 2009 International Labour Conference report, over 650,000 deaths worldwide were caused in 2003 due to hazardous chemicals.

Dangerous Goods Transportation by sea falls under the IMDG Code. Since 2010 every marine worker who transports Dangerous Goods has been required to receive the proper training under AMSA regulations.  

More information on training


Dangerous Goods: Families Reportedly Suffering From Gas Exposure

Dangerous Goods TrainingA number of Queensland residents have been complaining of symptoms related to gas exposure, according to the Australian Medical Association. The exposure is likely due to the exploration of 5 coal seam gas wells inside a Brisbane residential estate.

“A number of people live near where CSG exploration is occurring and they are reporting symptoms that are consistent to gas exposure,” says Dr Christian Rowan.As of now, there is not enough evidence to comment on complaints of rashes, bleeding noses, headaches and vomiting by the residents of the Tara Residential estate, which is in close proximity to the CSG exploration. However, eye and throat irritation, nausea and vomiting, severe headache and dizziness, and even blurred vision and heart palpitations are all symptoms related to gas poisoning. In June, government officials were sent to the Brisbane estate to investigate complaints of gassy odours and health concerns.

Lock the Gate Alliance president Drew Hutton said that people continue to call in, complaining of illness. “They’re ringing in saying their whole family is sick”

The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association says it has only been made aware of one family complaining of illness in the Tara Estate, Debbie Orr.

An APPEA spokesperson said that Ms. Orr has refused medical evaluation offers. Furthermore, he says that gas and air samples taken last year revealed insignificant levels of volatile organic compounds or heavy metals at gas fields across Queensland, including Tara. Ms. Orr has called for an independent health study, encouraging people to speak up about their health issues.

“There’s just too many of us with the same symptoms.”

More information on Dangerous Goods

Source: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/families-sick-in-gas-field-ama-20120705-21jd9.html

OHS: Worker Devastated After Courts Deny Him Comp

A Hobart man is  deOHS Trainingvastated after a court judgement denied him workers’ compensation

28 year old Anthony Young lost his leg after it was crushed by a machine at K&D Brickworks while on the job in September 2010.

Despite working at the New Town plant for 2 years, the Supreme Court has decided that Young is not eligible for workers compensation as he was hired under a contracting agency, therefore making him an independent contractor. Young was a contractor employed by Tasmanian Contracting Services when the accident occurred.

Young reportedly devastated by judgement, which was upheld by the Full Court of Appeal. He is said to be struggling to pay medical bills and make ends meet.

“It’s coming to the stage now that I can’t even afford to pay for things I need, so I just go without it. I guess there must be some legal side of things but I don’t know how you can find out someone is not a worker when you pay your taxes, you pay your super just like every other person does.” said Young.

K&D was fined $60,000 as a result of the accident. A case for damages for personal injuries was also lodged by Young against the company but it has not yet concluded

More info on Occupational Health and Safety



OHS: Worker Devastated After Courts Deny Him Comp

Petition May Reignite Debate over WorkCover Overhaul

OHS TrainingThe NSW opposition launched a petition recently against the O’Farrell government’s WorkCover overhaul. It is believed by some, that the petition will reignite the debate about workers’compensation.

Some of the cuts to WorkCover compensation payments are to public service staff, and those who have injured themselves on the way to and from the job. Despite the successful action of Firefighters going against the cuts, nurses and other hospital staff were not as fortunate as they will feel the effects of the cuts. Police will also be exempt along with the firefighters.

The Opposition’s John Robertson indicated his hope and intentions to get 10,000 signatures on the petition to compel the government to put discussions about the law back on the table. Robertson stated that even though the legislation has passed, the fight is not yet over. Dozens of nurses gathered to hear Robertson speak about the petition.

Robertson feels that there needs to be proper justification for the changes put forth by the O’Farrell government. Thus, he believes there is a need for a debate regarding the issue. Robertson’s hopes will be achieved if they are able to get 10,000 since the government promised last year to debate any issue raised in a petition with 10k signatures.

More info on Occupational Health and Safety

Source: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/business/breaking-news/workcover-petition-aims-to-reopen-debate/story-e6freuz0-1226417897655



Asbestos Training: Mining Sites Closed After Asbestos Fibers Discovered

Asbestos AwarenessThe Department of Mines and Petroleum is examining the state of asbestos contamination in the Pilbara mine site.Rio Tinto confirmed that brown asbestos was uncovered at the West Angeles mine site last month.

The contamination in question was revealed when fibres were identified in material submitted from Holcim Quarry. A spokesperson for Rio Tinto indicated that the exposure levels were below OHS exposure limits but employees were swiftly informed of the dangers.

The Holcim quarry has voluntarily halted their operations and a  preliminary report on the site is due to be submitted shortly.

BHP have subsequently isolated material at another mine site near Meekatharra, following allegations that workers could have been exposed to asbestos. Key industry players have also been called to gather at the company’s behest.

A spokesperson for BHP said tests are currently underway and the safety of workers is not in jeopardy.  CFMEU safety officer Steve McCann claims to have spent three days investigating asbestos following calls from reports from several concerned workers.

McCann is worried that workers will continue to be exposed to the deadly substance while the investigation continues.

More info on Asbestos Training

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-06-27/asbestos-found-in-holcim-quarry-and-minesites/4095068?section=wa

Is Better Fatigue Management Needed For Paramedics?

Fatigue management trainingRecent lapses in procedure have resulted in the Ambulance union declaring that mistakes made by paramedics were the direct result of fatigue. Shortly before this declaration, it was revealed that a 62-year-old woman collapsed from what appeared to be a heartattack. Paramedics arrive at the scene and immediately tried to revive. After 27 minutes, the paramedics gave up and declared the woman dead—then six minutes later the woman woke up. The woman’s heart had never infact started but the allegedly fatigued paramedics did not notice any abnormalities.

A leaked Ambulance Victoria report revealed that paramedics have had fatigue level readings that are equal to twice the blood/alcohol limit. The secretive report quoted paramedics who stated their concerns for the safety of patients and the level of alcohol that many consume to avoid work.The confidential report is almost 3 years old now but little changes have been made to deal with the fatigue levels of ambulance workers, according to the Ambulance Employees Australia union.

State secretary Steve McGhie is concerned that fatigue may be causing incidents such as the one involving the 62-year-old woman.McGhie said he would consider legal action if any of his injuries were the victim of shoddy Fatigue Management

Source: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/fatigued-paramedics-fear-for-safety-of-patients-20120628-215g8.html#ixzz1zbUkvWsZ

Fallen Knives Leaves Manual Labourer Without a Career

Manual Labour SafetyA Queensland meatworker had his career cut short when three extremely sharp knives struck his neck,collarbone, and hand in an accident at JBS meatworks.

Steven Larson is seeking over $750,000 in damages after the 2009 freak accident left him without a career.Larson’s claim against JBS Pty Ltd  alleges that the former meat-worker has sustained wounds in his neck and hand which has left him with residual pain and the inability to continue as a manual labourer.

Court documents state that Larson was preparing for his shift by sharpening his knives in the “kill floor” at 5:45 am on July 14.A colleague was walking up the stairs directly above Larson’s work area, when she dropped her knife kit and three knives fell and stabbed him.

More info on Manual Handling

Source: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/skewered-meatworker-seeks-750000-compensation-20120628-213ka.html#ixzz1zbuj7KXI 

Flemington Market Worker Dies in Forklift Accident

forklift safety trainingA worker died when he was crushed by a forklift in front of fellow workers at Flemington Markets. Shocked workers said Lilipe Manuoliku Hehea was doing work with a customer when his forklift fell over and trapped him beneath it. He was an employee for a produce wholesaler and was working back and forth between trucks in a  hectic loading zone.

Emergency services were called to the scene shortly after the accident but the man had already succumbed to his injuries. One agent who arrived early on the scene said it was a tragic accident. No other workers or vehicles were involved, the man was working on his own prior to the accident.

Some have speculations are that Hehea got distracted or did something unusual to make the forklift turnover. Hehea was a husband and a father. Hehea has worked at the markets for over half a decade. The incident has been described as a “freak accident” that resulted in the death or a respected worker.

WorkCover is currently investigating the incident and have stated that early reports regarding the circumstances of the accident seem to be correct.Police are presently preparing a report for submission to the coroner.Workers in the Flemington market continue to mourn his loss.

More info on Forklift Safety

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/tragic-accident-as-father-crushed-to-death-at-work-20120626-20zax.html#ixzz1z8DnK14d

OHS: Compensation Amendments Marginalize Workers

OHS Lawyers have warned that all injured workers will soon have to pay their legal costs under new workers compensation laws which could potentially leave many unrepresented victims or unreported claims.

Richard Brennan, a Sydney solicitor who represents injured workers claims, warned that Christian Democrats MP Fred Nile had mistakably made it increasingly difficult for injured workers to have their claims heard.

Nile has come under fire for amendments made to workers compensation laws which were allegedly aimed at helping eliminate costs.

Brennan stated that Nile’s attempt to save one out 1000 workers from paying insurance company costs, has instead insured that all 1000 workers will have to pay the fees.He warned that this could potentially lead to insurance companies paying lawyers any fee they desire.

The Labor MP Adam Searle and the Greens MP David Shoebridge fruitlessly attempted to explain the consequences of the changes to Nile but the government has defended the amendments that they believe will rein in on the $4 billion WorkCover deficit.

More on Occupational Health and Safety

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/changes-to-compo-laws-leave-workers-worse-off–lawyers-20120624-20whh.html#ixzz1yyVotkJM

Unions call for Federally Funded Asbestos Authority

Asbestos AwarenessReports have indicated that unions intend on pushing for the creation of a National Asbestos Authority to help protect people, and remove asbestos from homes and businesses.

Lifelong campaigner against Asbestos, Paul  Bastian will meet with Prime Minister Gillard and Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten to discuss the case. The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union national secretary, Bastian said more Australians died from asbestos exposure than in World War II.Bastian believes that the number of people and legal matters dealing with asbestos surely indicates that the problem must be dealt with. The union believes the best way to deal with this problem is a federally funded authority to manage the asbestos awareness, asbestos removal and to protect people from the dangers of the deadly substance.

The goal of the authority, according to the union would be educate the community about the existence of asbestos in private homes, businesses and public buildings. Bastion also mentioned the need for an immediate audit and plan to remove asbestos from all government buildings. He cited State government’s common reports of low levels of compliance with asbestos regulation, as reason for the need for a federally funded scheme to treat the issue as one of critical importance on a national scale.

Shorten recently mentioned that asbestos was indeed a critical issue for the government which is evident by their recently commissioned asbestos management review. The government currently awaits the report’s recommendations which is expected to be released later this week.

Asbestos Victims Association Pleased With Successful Asbestos Court Case

Asbestos AwarenessThe Asbestos Victims Association revealed that more  people will be eligible for damages claims for asbestos exposure following the case of a former Whyalla shipyards worker successfully brought against BHP Biliton.

The Full Court of the South Australian Supreme Court sustained a ruling to grant William Parker $20,000 in exemplary damages.

The court found that BHP failed to prevent Parker from getting Cancer while he was a shipyard worker in the 1970s.Terry Miller of the support group stated that the case was an important win for victims.  Miller believes that this case will represent precedent for future cases and will enable more asbestos related cases to make it to court. Miller added, that though not all cases will be made for exemplary damages, this case makes it “more easy”.

Asbestos continues to plague individuals years after Australian companies were ordered to stop using it. Many victims suffer end up suffering from the asbestos- exposure disease Mesothelioma, years after being exposed to the deadly substance.

More information on Asbestos Training

Source: www.abc.net.au/news/2012-06-20/asbestos-victim-bhp-biliton-whyalla/4081964?section=sa


Fire Safety: Gas Leak Evacuees Allowed to Return

Fire Safety TrainingApproximately 100 staff members have been granted permission to return to businesses in South Brisbane, after a suspected gas leave lead to their evacuation.

Emergency services were informed of a gas leak from a building in South Brisbane early in the morning. Businesses in the surrounding area were all subsequently evacuated for their safety.

The police have since released a statement notifying all motorists and pedestrians that streets closed due to the gas leak have since been reopened.

The leak was reportedly caused by a ruptured gas pipe. The fire safety risk forced the closure of Grey Street between Glenelg and Melbourne streets.

Police were on the scene shortly after reports surfaced. They directed pedestrians and motorists from the area to a safe vicinity.

More information on Fire Safety

Source: m.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/southbrisbane-gas-leak-cleared-20120620-20mt4.html


OHS: Injuries Costing Moonee Valley $41.2 million

Moonee Valley businesses have spent $41.2 million in the last five years to treat the injuries of workers.WorkSafe Victoria released statistics that show that musculoskeletal injuries such as broken bones and sprains caused from slipping or tripping is one of the leading causes of compensation claims.

Annually there are over 15,000 new cases of seriously injured workers who were injured while conducting routine tasks. In the past five years 1515 claims were musculoskeletal injuries in Moonee Valley. Over 29,000 serious injuries occur in Victoria every year, and over half of those were musculoskeletal injuries.

Moonee Valley focuses on their manufacturing, industrial and construction based industries which are home to many of the claims.WorkSafe’s Ian Forsyth stressed the importance of a properly trained and supervised staff that is knowledgeable in the required equipment needed to lift and move loads, and how one should react in a variety of circumstances.

An annual cost of $55,000 is averaged for the treatment and rehabilitation of all musculoskeletal injuries.

More info on Occupational Health and Safety

Source: http://www.mooneevalleyweekly.com.au/news/local/news/general/slips-trips-cost-moonee-valley-412m/2593476.aspx 

Asbestos Closes Part of Parliament House

Asbestos AwarenessThe Lower House chamber of the SA Parliament House has been closed for an undertermined time after asbestos fragments were discovered.

Both paint on the chamber’s canvas and the dust on the ceiling were tested and were revealed to be positive for asbestos fibres.  The problem was discovered by heritage architects during their usual inspection of the House of Assembly.

The lower house chamber of the South Australian Parliament House has been closed indefinitely after traces of asbestos were found.

Since the traces are considered minuscule , the risk to parliamentarians has been deemed minimal, but the chamber was closed as a precaution until further tests are conducted.

Since the closing of the Assembly Hall, meetings are reportedly being moved to another section of the Parliament House in Adelaide.

More info on Asbestos Training

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-06-18/asbestos-house-of-assembly-chamber-parliament/4076322 

Working At Heights: WorkSafe Launches Fall Prevention Campaign

WorkSafe has been vigorously promoting their working at heights safety campaign since 2011, and now reports have indicated that following a death of a labourer, they plan to further expand on their efforts to promote safety. The worker fell from a rooftop of an Oakleigh South factory and was found later by workmates. WorkSafe’s General Manager of Operations Lisa Sturszenegger has continuously promoted safety precautions for those who work at heights.

Preliminary enquiry showed that the man is believed to have fallen from up to five metres when he was replacing the factory’s roof. Sturzenegger is reportedly hopeful that this tragedy will send a message to the industry that quality safety standards must be implemented at all times.

Sturzenegger stated that proper equipment, training, supervision, risk assessment, and frequent maintenance is fundamental to maintaining safety in the workplace. This is the most recent death in a series of construction deaths this year. WorkSafe has launched a campaign this week to promote the continual need for safety requirements to be consistently met. Sturzenegger called for a continuous effort to maintain safety standards in order to limit the costs to the community for areas such as compensation, treatment and rehabilitation.

The investigation into the incident continues, and further information is expected as the inquiry develops.

Source: http://designbuildsource.com.au/worksafe-falls-warning-strengthen-workplace-death 

AlertForce Awarded At LearnX eLearning Technology Conference


For Immediate Release

June 16, 2012


POTTS POINT, NSW– Australia’s Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) and environmental training company, AlertForce (AF), were successful in various areas of the Learning &Technology Impact Awards.

The annual conference is organised by LearnX, a non-profit organisation that supports the progress of learning and supporting technologies. The conference includes various professionals throughout the corporate, education, and private sectors. More specifically, the conference targets learning professionals who operate and manage e-training solutions and services.

The deadline to enter into this conference was June 1, 2012. At this point each participant was evaluated in a variety of key areas such as: Best Talent, Best Learning Program, Best New Initiative, and Best eLearning design. Within these categories, AlertForce was honoured in the Occupational Health and Safety (second place winner) in partnership with client Port Stephens Council, Environmental (second place winner) in partnership with Carbon Training International, and Compliance (finalist) with client Daly International.

The purpose of the awards is to honour the progress and development of learning technologies. In addition to this, the awards are meant to showcase the effectiveness and impact that learning has on the success of an organisation. AlertForce has provided quality online training and education that has continually promoted the success and growth of businesses.

“It is a great honour to have been successful in a variety of areas in the LearnX awards. I think the diversity of our commendations signifies how prolific and diverse our OHS & E training and eLearning services are!” says Brendan Torazzi, AlertForce company founder.

Alertforce.com.au offers over 70 online training programs that can typically be completed at the convenience of the participant.


AlertForce (https://alertforce.com.au) specialises in delivering fast, competency-
based, interactive short online OHS & E courses to mitigate risk and health and safety & environmental hazards in Australian workplaces.


Contact: Brendan Torazzi – CEO AlertForce. Ph: 1300 627 246



Thousands March Against WorkCover Changes

OHS TrainingApproximately 5,000 workers in the New South Wales public sector rallied in the pouring rain in protest of the state’s proposed changes to the occupational health and safety compensation scheme.

Some of the participants included firefighters and nurses and thousands of other public sector workers.

During the rally workers laid flowers at the gates of parliament in honour of fallen workers. A band comprised of teenage brothers performed songs in remembrance of their father who was killed on the job.

Upper House Shooters and Fishers MP Robert Borsak will reveal the findings of the inquiry into the compensation scheme. Reports have indicated that Premier Barry O’Farrell has not been swayed by the impact of the rally.O’Farrell is determined that changes to WorkCover will go forward. He believes that nothing will hinder the State Government’s to make a financially stable compensation scheme.

Last year reports surfaced stating that the deficit was $4 billion. In response to the deficit, Workers benefits are allegedly going to be slashed in order to reform the scheme. Mark Lennon, secretary for Unions NSW believes O’Farrell is attacking workers when his aim should instead be the insurance industry.

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-06-13/unions-to-rally-over-nsw-workcover-shake-up/4067864?section=nsw 

Human Resources: Coopers Faces Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

A worker for Coopers Brewery reportedly offered to pull down a female cleaner’s pants to spank her and also touched her inappropriately.

Jennifer Fiedler took her sexual harassment claim to the Federal Court against the company and the accused worker, Terry Allen.

Fiedler is  seeking $150,000 in damages over the alleged sexual assault. The incident in question allegedly occurred on the companies property on July,5 2010.  Fiedler was employed by Exact Cleaning Maintenance Services and was subsequently contracted to clean at the Coopers building.

Fiedler  claimed that she was performing her normal duties and entered a room looking for her mop and asked four men if they had seen her mop. Terry Allen  replied to her”No, pull down your pants and I’ll spank your bottom.” She refused his offer and Allen said

“I’ll pull them down and I’ll spank your bottom.”  When Fiedler again refused, Allen grabbed her breasts and made a groaning sound. Fiedler said the incident left her feeling “offended, humiliated, and intimidated”.

Coopers denied any liability for the incident on the basis that they took all reasonable steps to prevent Allen’s actions.

More info on Human Resources

Source: http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/ipad/coopers-brewery-sex-calim-lawsuit/story-fn6bqpju-1226391646766


OHS: Police Operation Reveals 1300 Truckie offences

OHS TrainingA POLICE operation targeting truck drivers has uncovered more than 1300 offences in South Australia, including drug use and tampering with speed limiters.

A police operation aimed at truck drivers revealed over 1300 offences in South Australia such as drug use and speed limiter tampering.

Police are now trying to determine whether trucking companies were  privy to the offenses after over 2300 truckers were stopped last month.

Traffic Support Branch Inspector Andrew Thiele made it clear that despite these discoveries, the majority of operators were respectful towards the law.  Thiele said the focus is going to shifted towards the small demographic of truckers who continue to disobey and disregard the law.

Of the 2374 trucks that were stopped randomly, 97 of the drivers were reported for speeding or driving recklessly.25 other individuals were discovered to be in possession of drugs while 11 were driving while disqualified.

Polie have also reportedly defected 497 vehicles. Thiele said they will be working in conjunction with interstate colleagues to try and solve this national problem.

More on Occupational Health and Safety


Asbestos Discovered At Kurunda Building Site

It has been confirmedAsbestos Awarness that Asbestos was discovered at the Kuranda building site after it was shut down amid health concerns of 15 trainee tradesmen.

The State government is considering handing out fines to the parties responsible. A spokesperson for Workplace Health and Safety Queensland said the presence of the deadly building material was confirmed by testing at a National Association of testing Authorities lab.  The safety board stated that they are considering action against the applicable duty holders as a result of health and safety breaches.

Reports indicate that action  could be handed out in the form of a fine as well another prohibition notice to further restrict work at the site. The board may also demand that safety practices be improved at the site. The site in question was issued a stop-work notice on Tuesday and has been closed since.

Executive officer for Ngoonbi Co-operative Society, Lionel Quartermaine  has yet to comment on the discovery but has previously stated that a qualified worker who was working with the trainees  was unaware of the potential threat. Jobfind Centres Australia’s general manager of Queensland Operations, Stewart Williams stated that the co-operative society informed them an inspection had been performed on the house and was subsequently deemed safe to refurbish.

Jobfind job seekers attempting to receive a Certificate II in Construction training, have been relocated to another work site. Work Health and Safety Queensland continues to investigate the incident.

More info on Asbestos Training


Gillard:Australians Not Alone in Carbon Quest

The government is attempting to refute claims that Australians are unique in their carbon price by revealing a new departmental findings that show similar schemes are expected to be operational in over 30 countries from 2013.

The research conducted by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency reveals that Australia will be a part of over 50 national (or subnational) trading schemes when a $23-a tonne tax takes effect on July 1,2012.

Statistics released by the department indicate that the schemes will cover a total population of 850 million and will include approximately 30 per cent of the global economy.

Climate Change Minister Greg Combet stated that with the soon-to-be implemented scheme, Australia was joining the majority of “the world’s industrialized economies”

Combet stated that since Climate change is a global issue then Australia must do their part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  The price on carbon is expected to act as an incentive for industries to adopt new clean energy practices.

Opposition climate spokesman Greg Hunt believes the analysis was “humiliating “ because of the difference in carbon prices between Australia and the global community.

But opposition climate spokesman Greg Hunt said the analysis was “humiliating” for the government given the difference in the carbon prices between Australia and other nations.

Hunt stated that the European scheme averaged about $1 per person annually in its first five years, while Australia is expected to be about $400 per person annually.  PM Julia Gillard refuted assertions that Australia was home to the highest carbon tax in the world citing Norway’s carbon tax on petrol, Switzerland’s fossil fuel tax, Sweden’s heating fuels tax and Ireland’s carbon tax.

Source: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/australian-not-going-it-alone-on-carbon-price-analysis-shows/story-fn59niix-1226389526347

Confined Spaces : Queensland Won’t Undermine Mine Safety

Confined Spaces TrainingThe Queensland Government has released a press release regarding the safety legislation of the mining industry. According to the press release, the government is currently awaiting notice from the resources sector on a proposal to harmonise Queensland’s mine safety legislation with other states.

Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Andrew Cripps recently released a paper welcoming industry comment on the model act.  Despite efforts to harmonise the safety legislation, there are some concerns with the process.  However Cripps said that every effort is being made to ensure that the new model laws were at least as effective as the current mining laws.  Cripps cited public fears that since Queensland’s laws are already of good quality, then they may risk adopting lesser-quality harmonised mine safety legislation.  Cripps encourages the mining industry to provide input on the mining safety legislation. The Newman Government is allegedly committed providing the highest safety standards with minimal risk to the 58,000 Queenslanders in the industry.

Industry stakeholders have until July,23 2012 to provide input to the State Government.

The laws are reported to be developed with the partnership of industry professionals and union representatives.

The Newman LNP Government  is reportedly unconvinced that the national model legislation is the best thing for Queensland  and for mine safety.

More information on Confined Spaces

Source: http://www.mysunshinecoast.com.au/articles/article-display/queensland-wont-compromise-on-mine-safety,25969

Understanding Carbon Pollution Legislation

Currently there has been political furor over the announcement of a Carbon Tax scheme. Some may have read about it in the newspaper but sometimes it is difficult to dig through and find the facts.

Back in 2011, the Australian Parliament passed a law to put a price on carbon pollution.

This reform includes a carbon pricing mechanism and will provide support for jobs and competitiveness and Australia’s economic progress while also reducing pollution. Households will be responsible for increased payments that will be delivered through tax reforms.

The changes are seen as an important step in environmental and economic reform in Australia. Australia now aims to be a bigger player in the global effort to combat climate change and reduce our carbon footprint.

The government also alleges that the reforms will enable Australia to be advantageous in the environmental reform since economic and job opportunities are expected to open up as the world joins the effect to shift to clean energy.

The plan will first start with the introduction of a carbon price.  Innovation and investment in renewable energy will be consistently promoted as well as energy efficiency. Opportunities will also allegedly open up in the land sector to cut pollution.

Some may ask ‘what exactly brought this movement on? ‘These changes are the result of a study conducted by the CSIRO, The Bureau of Meteorology, and various international Academies of Science. The findings of these groups reveal that the world is warming and high levels of carbon pollution risk environmental and subsequently, economic damage.  Studies have indicated that 2001-2010 was the warmest decade ever recorded and each decade since 1940 has been warmer than the preceding.  In Australia, serious environmental and economic costs are expected to result from a warmer, less-stable climate. An increased occurrence of extreme weather events, such as droughts, heat waves and forest-fires could have a serious and negative impact on the environmental and economic state of Australia.

How it will be implemented:

The Fixed Price Period– the pricing mechanism will begin on 1 July 2012.  The price will remain fixed for three years at $23 per tonne. It will then rise at a rate of 2.5 per cent each year in real terms.

Emissions Trading Scheme – on 1 July, 2015, the carbon price will become a flexible price under an emissions trading scheme and the price will be decided upon according to the market.

Discovering the various ways in which to lower your business’ carbon footprint and ensuring environmental sustainability will also lead to economic sustainability. It is important for everyone to understand this issue for the benefit of not only Australians, but also the international community.

Source: http://www.cleanenergyfuture.gov.au/clean-energy-future/an-overview-of-the-clean-energy-legislative-package/

ACT Hints At Legal Action Against Feds Over Asbestos Removal Costs

Asbestos Removal TrainingThe ACT government is thinking about taking legal action against the Federal Government over the steep cost of cleaning up asbestos.

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher discussed her unsuccessful attempts at convincing the Commonwealth into funding some of the clean-up costs from when it dumped a significant amount of contaminated soil in Canberra.

Gallagher claims the ACT government spent approximately $30 million to clean up and resign in the new Molonglo development. Almost 180,000 tonnes of asbestos were reportedly removed from the site by the ACT.

A site with 600,000 cubic metres of contaminated waste in Eastlake is expected to cost about $100 million to remove.
Gallagher strongly supports the ACT in their quest to convince the Commonwealth to contribute. The support she has stems from the belief that since the former government authority allowed such practices to occur then Canberra tax payers should not be held liable.

However, the Federal Government is expected to counter on the basis that since the land was transferred to the ACT, liability did as well.

The position of the opposition is that tax payers should not be held financially liable for the “incompetence” of the former governing authority.

More info on Asbestos Training



Are there any Benefits to the Carbon Tax for My Business

scales showing benefits of the carbon taxAmid all the debate, worry, and fear about what the carbon tax means to many Australian’s, many businesses want to know if there are any benefits of the carbon tax for their businesses. The truth is that there may well be several benefits to those businesses whose managers or owners are wise enough to clearly understand what the carbon tax can mean in terms of energy savings. Here are some ways that businesses may be able to benefit from the carbon tax.

Clean Technology Program

Businesses of all sizes may benefit from the grants that will be created by the carbon tax. These grants are to be used for businesses to invest in energy efficient equipment. This means that your business may be able to get a grant to offset all or some of the cost of purchasing new energy efficient equipment for your business. The result will be not only new machines and equipment for your business for practically free or at a reduce costs, but continual savings in future energy bills.

Solar Panel Scheme

In addition small businesses can take advantage of the carbon tax and the push for businesses to cut down on those greenhouse emissions by installing solar panels at a reduced cost. Over time these solar panels will not only pay for themselves but, will end up once again saving you money on energy costs resulting in what could be a huge drop in operating costs for your business resulting in a greater profit margin.

Your Own Efforts

In addition since under the carbon tax, the cost of these taxes are going to have a knock on effect that will filter down to your business and add to those energy costs, your own implementation of carbon footprint management can further reduce your energy costs. While this may not seem like such a huge benefit now, when you can offset the rise in expected energy costs by more efficient energy use you won’t have to pass on those increased cost to your own customers which may result in an increase in business as other businesses may be forced to raise prices.

While the carbon tax may not have huge immediate benefits for your business over time this tax may well end up saving you money and increasing profits by:
• Helping you to get new, more advanced and energy efficient equipment at a reduced price.
• Lowering the cost of solar panels to an affordable level which will result in energy savings in the future.
• Encouraging you to make your business more energy efficient leading to lower energy rates and perhaps an increase in business.

When you stop and think about it these are some pretty nice benefits that you may get courtesy of the carbon tax.

OHS: ACTU Condemns BHP for Safety Practices

OHS TrainingThe ACTU congress has criticized the safety record of energy resource company BHP Billiton.  This condemnation comes after BHP’s company chairman Jac Nasser made disparaging comments regarding Australia’s labour laws. Nasser made comments eluding to the so-called inflexible regulations on labour laws, which he believes are the cause of “never ending” strife within the industry at BHP’s coal mines.

However, ACTU congress in Sydney passed a resolution indicating their support for the 4000 BHP mineworkers who have been involved in stand-off with the company for over a year over enterprise bargaining. ACTU believes BHP desires to weaken safety in Queensland, which ACTU believes lead to the deaths of 29 coal workers at the Pike River Coal mine in 2010.

The resolution passed by ACTU also criticizes the BHP for their lack of cooperation with the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union. Federal Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten addressed the ACTU conference and stated that the cause of industrial strife is simply BHP’s refusal of negotiating with staff. Shorten stated that since the company struggles to persuade its workforce of the need for change, then the problem must not simply be the law but also the method in which the case is being put forth and the involvement of the workforce in question.

More info on Occupational Health and Safety


OHS: Manufacturing Workers Suffer From Health Issues

New research has indicated that the health of manufacturing workers has reached a problematic level. While desk-workers have typically been known as the “stressed out and overweight”, some  manufacturing workers have slowly adopted this stereotype.

Traditionally workers in this industry avoided this tag since their work seemed to involve physical labour which kept them fit. However, a study by WorkSafe Victoria has revealed that things have drastically changed.

The study has revealed that 32 per cent of manufacturing workers are at a high risk of type-two diabetes. The sample of individuals involved in the study was of 40,919 volunteers. Subjects such as cholesterol, bloodpressure and lifestyle were analyzed. The study further revealed that 6.1 per cent of the manufacturing workers suffer from a high risk of heart disease. These figures contrast the 3.1 per cent of white collar workers who suffer the same risk. 25.2 percent of these individuals were also revealed to be smokers.

WorkHealth Ambassador Wayne Kayler-Thomson believes the turnaround is related to the constant changes in the manufacturing industry in which many jobs have become sedentary due to new technology.

White collar workers and their employers have taken steps to improve their health such as the adoption of healthier food options in their cafeterias, and the encouragement physical activity.

More info on Occupational Health and Safety


OHS:Gran Awarded $270k for Team-Building Injury

Successful Hardware company BunningsOHS  Training was fined approximately $270,000 after a woman broker her leg during a team-building exercise.

Leanne Grace Bagiante 50, appeared in court recently over the 2008 accident that left her with a broken leg.

The customer service officer broke her leg during a game of ‘tunnel-ball’. The game in question, involves players racing to a roll a ball through a tunnel of their teammate’s legs until each player has participated. Bagiante alleges that the polished concrete floor of the store caused her to slip and crash to ground while she was running with the ball.

The worker,a grandmother; had to wait for a significant amount time prior to being taken to the doctor. The doctor then misdiagnosed Bagiante’s injuries as a simple sprain. The next day the grandmother was back at work but fell sick with pain.

In response to this, Bagiante eventually got an X-ray which displayed that she in fact had a fractured bone in the lower part of her leg.

Bagiante claims the injury has left her with ongoing pain.

The South Port District Court ruled in favour of Bagiante’s claims and handed a $269,644.70 bill to Bunnings for damages.

More information on Occupational Health and Safety

Source: http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=8476481

The PeaceFul Place Program:Relieving After Work Stress

Occupational health and SafetyJust imagine – in just ten minutes a day you could calm your mind, get rid of stress, get rid of negativity, make it easier to do what needs to be done to meet your needs and solve your problems. The Peaceful Place meditation technique in the book “Your Peaceful Place” which comes with two audio cd’s is a way that busy people can do all this and more.

Your Peaceful Place is a special place you can create inside your mind, where you are always at peace and relaxed. A place you can get back to easily and in the process of getting there, you automatically relax and let go any stress and anxiety.

Once you have practiced this simple meditation technique every day for a month,you can relax in three or even one minute. This is important because it means that, whenever you feel stressed, before a difficult meeting, before you go to the dentist, before studying, before doing exams, before a job interview, before you go on a date, you can go to your Peaceful Place just briefly, settle your mind and body and then any stressful occasion can be handled calmly.

Your Peaceful Place, co- written by Laurence Toltz and veteran trainer Sandy MacGregor, describes Sandy’s easy to learn, easy to do, self-talk meditation technique for busy people, and isn’t everyone busy these days?


STAGE ONE: Building Your Peaceful Place and learning the Peaceful Place meditation technique:

The meditation technique can be learned from chapters one and two of the book and CD1 or just by listening to tracks one to four on CD1.

Stage One Benefits

1. A simple meditation technique that helps you relax quickly, let go of stress and achieve peace of mind

2. Less stressed people get on better with those around them, be they a partner, family or work mates.

3. Most people report going to their Peaceful Place just before or after they go to bed makes it easier to go to sleep. The major advantage of this meditation technique is that it is simple, people like it, they feel happy and relaxed while in their Peaceful Place. They can move from a stressed state to a peaceful one in minutes.A busy doctor who now uses the Peaceful Place System, comments that previously, after a day in the surgery, he was so stressed that when he got home he was too stressed to even play with his kids or help his wife until he went to his study and downed two scotches to help him relax. After a few weeks of going to his Peaceful Place for one to two minutes  between patients, he now arrives home fresh and ready to play with his children and be a part of the family.

STAGE TWO: Your Peaceful Place is also the place where by following a simple four step system, you make it easier to meet your needs, solve a wide range of problems and achieve your goals.

Changing long established habits of thinking and behaviour is very difficult for most people. The Peaceful Place System helps people break through whatever is holding them back and motivates them to make the changes they need in their lives.

Please visit the website yourpeacefulplace.com.au.On the home page, press the play button to listen to co-author Laurence Toltz being interviewed about YOUR PEACEFUL PLACE by Radio National’s Rachel Kohn, on her program The Spirit of Things. Questions and Answers about the book begin about 45 seconds into the interview. There is a link to Chapter One of Your Peaceful Place on the home page.



Judith’s Story

Judith had been nervous and overwhelmed both in her personal and business life. “I felt I was living in a thick cloud. With a busy job I had trouble going to my Peaceful Place during the day, but I practiced it every night after going to bed and I now sleep better than I have for many years. I often need to get up in the middle of the night to look after my young daughter, and, when I get back into bed I go to my Peaceful Place and I can get back to sleep really quickly.”

The real plus for Judith was, that after practicing the Peaceful Place system for four weeks,  Judith began to feel more in control and the overwhelmed feeling she had lived with for so many years lifted and she was able to prioritise and see key issues in her life more clearly and objectively.“You look at things differently after using the Peaceful Place process. I am more self aware and have had a breakthrough at work. Overall the process helped me get rid of the feelings of being ‘out of control’ and ‘overwhelmed’ and I now know I’m in control of my life instead of the other way around.

Betty’s Story

Betty who had been ill, was six months down her healing journey when she discovered Sandy’s Peaceful Place system and how she could take control and make a huge impact on her recovery. “The techniques gave me the tools to help myself in all parts of my life. It is only now I have realized I don’t even think about going to my Peaceful Place, I automatically do it “I go to my Peaceful Place while waiting for appointments, prior to encountering new situations, making important telephone calls, to remain centred and be able to see situations as they are and not become caught up in the emotion of the event.

I also go to my Peaceful Place prior to meditation, prayer and any activity requiring total concentration. I go there every chance I have to just sit, and every night before going to sleep. Now I do it automatically — it doesn’t seem to take much of my time but it has maximized my body’s natural healing energies and has had an enormous impact on my coping skills, energy levels and my health and well-being. It is a major factor in me being as well as I am today.

Also See: Fatigue Management 

What Will Be The Supply Chain Knock On Effect From The Carbon Tax

supply chain and the carbon taxThe upcoming carbon tax is supposed to make the top 500 contributors to Greenhouse emissions consider the wisdom of their ways and make changes in order to reduce their carbon footprint and help save the environment. However, in reality these big companies will hardly feel the pinch of the carbon tax as these tax costs will be passed down to the average consumer through the supply chain.

While no one disputes the need to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse emissions being shot into the atmosphere is a worthy and necessary endeavor, there is some dispute about whether charging a high carbon tax is going to be enough to make the worst violators clean up their act. Even the Government admits that these tax costs will not really be paid by the offending companies but, in the end the carbon tax will be paid by the average citizen in higher costs.

In addition, though the Government expects no rise in the cost of food, many fear that consumers will also be paying higher prices for their groceries as gas companies pass on their carbon tax bill to to individual petrol customers who then in turn charge more for gas at service stations, and those that ship goods and foods to the market will then pass on the taxes to consumers.

This will include a 10 percent increase in electric and 9 percent increase in gas bills in the first year alone. The carbon tax will have a negative effect on consumer spending which in turn will have a negative effective on the overall Australian economy which may end up in lost jobs and less money for the average family to live on.

Knock on effect from the carbon tax will be felt by all those across the country except for those companies that the carbon tax was actually designed for.

In addition, the knock on effect of the carbon tax will affect other countries as well as developing countries who rely on Australian coal exports will find themselves paying higher coal prices once the carbon tax takes effect.

Despite the fact, that Government keeps assuring the public that knock on effect of the carbon tax will only effect consumers in a somewhat limited way, many fear that the rise in prices will leave them just scraping by and leave the poorest of Australian consumers destitute. In the end, everyone will just have to wait until July when the carbon taxtakes effect to see just how affected the general public will be and whether or not the carbon tax actually has the desired effect on reducing businesses carbon footprint or if the public will end up footing the bill for the carbon taxwhile the companies continue with business as usual.

OHS: Xstrata Orders Study On Workers Health

OHS TrainingMining company Xstrata ordered a study that will examine the health of its Northern Queensland workers.

The study will include approximately 100 of the company’s past and present employees.

Spokesman for the company, Steve de Kruijff stated that employers desire to learn how certain work patterns adversely affect their worker’s health.

Kruijff elaborated by stating that companies aspire to learn about the health and well-being of their workforce and their overall quality of life.

The company has reportedly altered its shift system which now includes blocks of four 12-hour work days.

According to Kruijff, miners spend majority of their day sitting down. This revelation has concerned the company,causing them to determine the best method of promoting regular exercise, and healthy living.

Xstrata’s study is expected to last about 3-years.

More information on Occupational Health and Safety

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-05-30/xstrata-studies-workers-health/4041222

Asbestos Training Breaches Cause Concern At ACM Removal Site

Asbestos Removal TrainingWorkers are concerned that the state’s biggest asbestos-removal site is risking safety by frequently breaching procedure.

Worker’s anonymously contacted The Advertiser news source and informed them that are doubtful that the correct removal methods were used in the first four months of the project. These four months involved the clean-up of 93,000 sq m of asbestos sheeting on the former Mitsubishi  manufacturing site.

SafeWork SA officers visit the site frequently and have had inspectors issue statutory notices for non-compliant work practices.

Some of the breaches include a failure to comply with PPE (personal protective equipment) requirements for asbestos-removal. However, there have been reports by former workers (who have quit) that the dangers extend far beyond PPE issues. Some issues have been cited regarding the handling of asbestos sheeting once it is removed from the factory structure by DE-Construct.

One worker stated that sheets were simply “dumped” into trucks with a plastic lining, causing airborne asbestos particles and dust.  Workers have also cited concerns with the thick cloud of dust in the factory that they believe may contain asbestos.

A spokesperson for the company stated that the company’s top priority was the safety of their workers.

Asbestos removal is being carried out according to EPA guidelines and under the watchful eye of SafeWork SA.

More information on Asbestos Training

Source: http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/asbestos-clean-up-breach-fears-at-old-mitsubishi-site/story-e6frea83-1226370401166 



May 29th, 2012


POTTS POINT, NSW– Australia’s Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) training company, AlertForce (AF), launched an online training program that aims to arm participants with the knowledge and capability, to effectively and safely attend to situations involving asbestos removal. New regulations under the Work Health and Safety Act mean that many states will require Asbestos Industry existing participants to have nationally recognised training by 31st December, 2013. New entrants to the industry should be trained now.

For over six years AlertForce has offered quality competency-based, online asbestos awareness training to various professionals including industry leaders and employees. AF’s original Asbestos Awareness training course has now been updated so that it is compliant with the most recent regulations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

In addition to this update, AF has replaced their Asbestos Removal training course with a new, nationally recognised course for Asbestos Removal which will be available on June 1, 2012.

AlertForce’s new Asbestos Removal course, CPCCDE3014A: Remove Non-Friable Asbestos will enable participants to effectively and safely remove non-friable asbestos containing material (ACM). This course will specifically target areas such as; preparation, containment and removal of non-friable ACM, as well as decontamination and disposal needs. In addition to the soon-to-be launched Asbestos Removal training course, there will also be two other units included that target other aspects of asbestos removal.  The following additional units are offered:

The Supervise Asbestos Removal (CPCCBC4051A) course will train participants to be competent in supervising the removal process of asbestos or ACM. This course will explore areas such as the planning and supervising of the removal of asbestos or asbestos containing material, preparing the worksite, and using safe and approved removal methods. Conduct Asbestos Assessment associated with Removal (CPCCBC5014A) will ensure that participants are competent and able to perform assessments and use a diverse array of measuring devices for the monitoring of airborne asbestos fibres in the workplace. Participants will also learn how to properly identify hazards and risks, and how to determine that an area is free of asbestos contamination and safe for reoccupation.

“Our newly added Asbestos Removal courses are detailed and extensive while remaining as clear and concise as any other course that we offer at Alertforce. These nationally recognized units are of the utmost importance for any industry leaders or professionals who want to have quality training in the asbestos removal process! says Brendan Torazzi, AlertForce company founder.

Upon successful completion of these units, participants will receive a Statement of Attainment signifying their competence in the respective areas. These Statements are then used as evidence of competency for State OHS Regulators when required. In addition to knowing how to safely remove a harmful and deadly substance, participants will also gain a useful employability skill.


AlertForce (https://alertforce.com.au) specialises in delivering fast, competency-

based, interactive short online courses to mitigate risk and health and safety hazards in

Australian workplace.


Contact: Brendan Torazzi – CEO AlertForce. Ph: 1300 627 246





Human Resources: Discrimination Must Be Addressed

Human ResourcesA state Equal Opportunity Commissioner encourages women to continue reports of discrimination in the workplace to authorities.  This call comes following recommendations from Opposition Leader Isobel Redmon that women should avoid confrontation in the workplace over discrimination and instead focus on work performance to achieve equality.

Equal Opportunity Commissioner Ann Burgess said that despite some women’s attempts to deal with the situation themselves, they have found it to be unsuccessful.

Burgess stated that if women continue to not report discrimination, the culture in workplaces will not change.

Redmon’s comments have met a divisive response. Women’s rights advocates have expressed concerns with her position while others have agreed.

SA Senator Penny Wong encouraged women to speak up against workplace discrimination and emphasised that “silence in the face of unfairness “ does not lead to equality.

More information on Human Resources

Source: http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/sexism-at-work-cant-be-ignored/story-e6frea6u-1226365061692

Cranes, Hoists and Slings: Worker Dies in Crane Accident

Crane SafetyA crane has crushed a man to death at a metal factory in Sydney’s west.

A man died when he was crushed to death by a crane at a metal factory in Sydney.According to police, the crane fell, pinning the man against another piece of machinery.

Two fellow workers freed the man  but despite their attempts  to revive him they could not save him. NSW WorkCover will allegedly investigate the incident.

The manufacturing union stated that the incident signifies the dangers within the industry.

The accident comes at a time when the NSW Government has commenced a campaign to overhaul workers compensation

Tim Ayres of the MWU believes the Government needs to alter their priorities and not be focusing on cutting costs in workers compensation schemes.  Ayres stated the need for everyone to focus on increasing the level of safety in the workplace.

More info on Cranes, Hoists and Slings Training

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-05-24/sydney-worker-crushed-to-death-by-crane/4029838




For Immediate Release

May 24, 2012

POTTS POINT, NSW– Australia’s Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) training company, AlertForce (AF), launched an online training program that teach participants the various processes that are believed to cause climate change and greenhouse gases; and subsequently, why carbon management is an important path for businesses to explore.

 AF is currently offering four Carbon Management (CTICM) courses which would effectively enable participants to gain a clear and concise understanding of the several key aspects of Carbon Management. Every participant is granted a 90-day period to complete a course. Upon competition of each individual course, the participant will receive a Statement of Attainment for each respective subject. Every credit gained would then be put forth towards the attainment of a 91500NSW Certificate III in Carbon Management

 Each online training course will include 90 minutes of online study, study notes, and an online exam. Additionally, participants will have the opportunity to engage in a gathering of evidence component. Since the courses are online they are offered in a manner that is conducive to each participant’s business needs. This means that each course can be engaged at the student’s own speed and convenience within the 90-day period.

 AF’s Carbon Management Training is comprised of four courses The first course  CTICM301A- Communicate Climate Change impacts and Recognition of Sources of Greenhouse Gases introduces the issue to participants and helps them gain an understanding of the social impact that climate change can have on business and economics. Furthermore, this course will explore the greenhouse effect, its sources, and other aspects pertaining to greenhouse gas emissions. Each ensuing course is a pre-requisite to the next one in numerical order. The following courses will expand further on topics explored in the CTICM301A course:

  • CTICM302A Measure carbon emissions in three scopes
  • CTICM303A Evaluate carbon reduction and renewable energy options
  • CTICM304A Assist implementation and monitoring of a Carbon Management Response Plan.

“AlertForce’s nationally recognized,Carbon Management training courses can teach businesses how to be leaders in the low-carbon economy. By low-carbon economy, I am referring to an economy that has met its energy resource needs through low carbon inputs, outputs, and clean energy production! “ says Brendan Torazzi, AlertForce company founder.

Participating in this efficient training regimen can enable participants to leverage all their low carbon opportunities whilst promoting their green reputation. These course can enable business leaders to improve their green reputation and low carbon opportunities without costly errors or penalties.

Contact Information: Brendan Torazzi – CEO AlertForce. Ph: 1300 627 246



AlertForce (https://alertforce.com.au) specialises in delivering fast, competency-

based, interactive short online courses to mitigate risk and health and safety hazards in

Australian workplace.

OHS:Poor Investments to Blame for WorkCover Woes

OHS Safety trainingAccountants have determined that half of the $4 billion deficit in the finances of the NSW WorkCover scheme is a result of poor return on investments.

The NSW government has however argued that rorting of the worker’s compensation scheme is a significant cause of the problems plaguing the organisation. A report released by the government included a recommendation for slashing benefits to injured workers in order to reduce the deficit.

Deputy Premier, Andrew Stoner made recent statements calling for the need of WorkCover to be a scheme that is without any loopholes, thus preventing rorts while remaining affordable.

Stoner stated that some cases involve part-time workers who have been receiving worker’s compensation for many years despite questionable claims.

WorkCover’s annual report for 2010-2011 revealed that nine people were prosecuted for defrauding the system.

Michael Playford of PricewaterhouseCoopers actuary, stated that an increase in damages claims can be attributed to an emerging “lump sum culture”.However an evaluation from the very same actuary revealed that 50% of the deficit is due to “external influences impacting investment returns achieved”.

The other half of the deficit is attributed to a deterioration in claims management over the past four years. Finance Minister Greg Pearce believes that the investment returns are probably set to further deteriorate. He added that the efforts to improve systems to compel people to return to work earlier, would require a change in benefits.

More information on Occupational Health and Safety
Source: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/workcover-woes-blamed-on-poor-investments-and-rorters-20120521-1z1ew.html#ixzz1veNsbCMa

Asbestos Training: Over 100 Workers Exposed at WorkSite


Asbestos AwarenessOver 100 workers are believed to have been exposed to the deadly substance, asbestos as a result of safety lapses at an Ipswich work site.

Brad Ayers, a contractor is one of the workers allegedly in the “significant potential exposure”

According to workers and union representatives, the workers began work on a bridge where much of their material is believed to be asbestos, however it was never tested to confirm.Work was only halted this month when an analysis identified a substance at the site was revealed to be chrysotile asbestos.

One of the highlighted concerns is that workers were exposed to this substance prior to going home and hugging their wives and children.Ayer is terrified over the prospect of exposing his young children to the deadly substance. He expressed his grave disappointment and anger that the employers allegedly lied to their faces.

The  Roadtek project commenced after a truck smash left the overpass on Cunningham highway severely damaged.The Formwork on part of the bridge is made up of a 25mm sheet of asbestos which had to be removed following the crash.

A piece of material suspected to be asbestos was eventually turned in for analysis but work went ahead when staff was informed that the site was safe. Since workers were not informed of the dangers, they did not wear the proper protective equipment.

Chrysotile asbestos is identified as a Class 1 carcinogen under the National OHS commission.

More information on Asbestos Training

Source: http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/brad-ayers-33-one-of-more-than-100-workers-potentially-exposed-to-asbestos-from-ipswich-worksite/story-e6freoof-1226359843387 

What is Carbon Accounting?

carbon accountingCarbon accounting is use of software to measure and predict the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. Software that can be used for a variety of businesses from forestry and farming to corporations, mining and transport companies will give these businesses a way to monitor their greenhouse emissions and will let them know how effective their procedures for managing their carbon footprint is.

For example, foresters who cut down trees can use carbon accounting to see how their business affects greenhouse emissions and can then predict how planting new trees and other plants may lower the level of green house emissions thus reducing their carbon footprint. Corporations too can use carbon accounting to see how effectively their efforts to lower electric and gas usage is in helping to lower the overall “green house effect.”

It is expected that over the next few years as more and more businesses are held to accountability for their carbon emissions that careers in carbon accounting will grow. Carbon accounting consultants and accountants will soon be in high demand and in many cases corporate executives, managers of companies and others will be lining up to takecarbon accounting training in order to more effectively reduce their companies greenhouse emissions and avoid paying that carbon tax.

While carbon accounting has been around in Australia since the early 21st century only now with added pressure for companies to do something about their carbon emissions is carbon accounting become something more people are seeking to understand.

Australia is leading the way in carbon accounting and there are carbon accounting software programs available like the programs the government itself uses. These programs are considered to be the programs of choice as businesses who use this software should be coming up with same carbon accounting figures as the government itself does.

It is the hope of the Australian government that by making carbon accounting programs available that all types of businesses will use this accounting system when trying to reduce their carbon footprint, before engaging in certain activities that may have an adverse effect on the environment, or even when purchasing a new piece of equipment.

Carbon accounting will not only help make those businesses who are the most guilty of emitting greenhouse gasses more aware of the damage they are doing but, also to help those businesses see how even small changes can make a huge difference. Carbon accounting will be a way these businesses can predict and measure how the changes they will make can reduce or add to their carbon footprint and hopefully encourage many businesses to come up with more innovative ideas to solve this problem.

No doubt the citizens of Australia and indeed the world will soon be hearing more about carbon accounting and how it will have a lasting effect on the reduction of greenhouse gasses.

Human Resources: Workplace Bullying Still a Serious Issue

BullyingThe ACT Greens stated that a survey has revealed extensive bullying allegations in both the public and private sector, and a lack of reporting by victims.

135 workers in the private and public sector participated in the online- survey.Three quarters of the participants claimed to have been bullied, and most of them allege that it occurred within the last twelve months.The survey also revealed that over half of all bullying incidents were left unreported.

85% of those who reported incidents claim to have been dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the response.Majority of participants called for specialist bullying inspectors on behalf of WorkSafe ACT.

Spokesperson for the party, Amanda Bresnan says the survey signifies the need for greater victim support and prevention strategies. Bresnan stated that they are still committed to proposed legislation to deal with the problem of workplace bullying.

The legislation calls for the implementation of specialist positions and an expert advisory committee on the issue.

More information on Human Resources

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-05-17/workplace-bullying-still-real-problem/4016898?section=act

Simple Steps To Manage Your Carbon Footprint

carbon footprint management planWith the new carbon tax about to go into effect even those businesses unlikely to be taxed are thinking more seriously about finding ways to manage carbon footprint in their own businesses. Here are some simple tips that may help you to find a way to manage carbon footprint.

Make A Manage Carbon Footprint Assessment

In order to manage your carbon footprint the first thing you want to do is make a manage carbon footprint assessment. Some things you may want to look at are:

・ Machines that are turned on when not in use

・ Lights left on in rooms when no one is using them

・ Heating or air conditioning turned too high

・ Possibility of car pooling for employees

・ Are business vehicles being used unnecessarily

・ Can purchasing more efficient machinery save energy in the long run

Get Everyone Involved

Get everyone who works for and with you involved in coming up with suggestions on how to help manage carbon footprint for your business. You can make a contest out of it and reward the winners with an extra 1/2 hour for lunch, a certificate, or some other small reward. Not only will getting everyone involved help manage your carbon footprint but, it will also boost moral and help you to come up with some great ideas you may not have thought of on your own.

Once you actually come up with a plan to manage carbon footprint then implement the plan and get everyone excited about following the plan. The more involved everyone feels the more likely they are to follow the plan and do their part to manage carbon footprint.

Environmentalist Of The Month

If you are a big company with several different departments you can institute an environmentalist of the month depart. The department that does the most to manage carbon footprint for the month gets their name on a plaque where visitors of your company can see it. Not only will this encourage everyone to manage the carbon footprint, but it will make the public aware of your efforts to help reduce those carbon dioxide emissions and help the environment. With more and more citizens showing concern for the environment this will not only help to manage your carbon footprint, but will help cement customer loyalty as well.

In most cases, you don’t have to go to a big expense to manage carbon footprint. It’s all about doing the little things like turning those computers off when everyone leaves for the night. Turning lights off in rooms not being used, and making a conscious decision to make less copies, use that microwave less, and try and reduce waste that will have to be hauled away.

Even the smallest effort to manage carbon footprint can make a big difference in the environment and in savings to your company.

What Does Carbon Management Mean For SME Owners And How Can It Benefit Their Business?

carbon tax and the environmentCarbon management has become a global issue and the businesses of Australia are being asked, or rather demanded to play their part in instituting better management techniques and lowering their carbon footprint. With the new Carbon tax looming on the horizon, many small and medium size businesses fear that the trickle down effect for these taxes will place an unbearable burden on their businesses raising the cost of everything from manufacturing to shipping and forcing them to either raise their prices and risk losing customers or to eat the increased costs and make next to no profit.

However, despite the doom and gloom felt by some small businesses those SME businesses who themselves jump on the bandwagon and institute their own systems for managing their carbon footprint may offset those increased costs by saving on energy themselves and running a more productive and efficient business. Carbon management may even net them larger profits than they are currently predicting by saving on energy costs and increasing efficiency in production.

Little Steps May Mean Huge Savings

Carbon management is everyone’s responsibility and with more and more people becoming aware of the necessity for reducing their carbon footprint any company which makes an effort to reduce their carbon foot print will see an increase in customer loyalty as well as lower energy bills. Some small steps in reducing the carbon foot print that can result in huge savings may be:

・ Turn computers, copy machines, and other office equipment completely off or even unplug them when not in use.

・ Whenever possible use natural sunlight in place of those overhead lights and keep lights off in rooms not being used.

・ Switch to more energy efficient machines and equipment.

By finding ways to improve the carbon management in your businesses you may save as much as 30% to 40% on those energy bills which can offset any additional cost that the carbon tax may add to your business expenses and may even result in some extra savings overtime.

While there is little doubt that the carbon tax is an effort to force larger industries to institute better practices to manage their carbon foot print, these taxes will filter down and have effect on SME businesses a well. Whether this carbon tax will have a positive or negative effect on your business will depend a great deal on whether or not you are willing to institute your own systems to manage your company’s carbon foot print in your business. Instituting a good system now ahead of the tax can help you to benefit from your own efforts at carbon management and increasing the efficiency of your business instead of becoming a victim of the tax fallout.

Asbestos Training: Thermochemical Conversion Waste Cleanup

[trafficplayer_skin padding: 52px 0 0 170px; width: 492px; height: 316px; background: url(https://alertforce.com.au/wp-content/uploads/skin18_320x192.png) no-repeat top left; text-align: left;][trafficplayer_youtube_video width=”320″ height=”192″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/bKoEL2MlW6c?modestbranding=1&autohide=0&controls=1&hd=0&rel=0″ ][/trafficplayer_youtube_video][/trafficplayer_skin]

Process Overview Video Description

The following is a video description for the 6 minute video displaying ARI Technologies Inc Thermochemical Conversion Process Overview. Each bolded headlines below correlates with the same headlines that can be observed in the video. The text accompanying each bolded headline provides a concise description of what the video demonstrates when the viewer sees each headline in the video.


  • Waste Feed Operations: Timed buzzer alerts the worker to push bags of asbestos waste off of a scale and onto a conveyor. Each bag weighs approximately 50 LB and is loaded onto the conveyor every 3.5 minutes. This adds up to a total daily load of 10/tons per day.
  • Asbestos Bag Feed & Shredding: The bag is moving up the conveyor across to the conveyor scale where the bag’s weight is electronically recorded prior to being dropped into a shredding system. Shredder housing is held at slight negative pressure and vented through ductwork to HEPA filters in order to avoid the risk of releasing harmful emissions into the workplace. The shredded waste is fluxed, mixed, and conveyed to a feed hopper. One cannot see the flux, mix, or conveyance process since they are all enclosed and out of sight.
  • Ram Feeder Pushes Waste into Hearth:   The prepared waste hopper can be observed in the background. As the ram extracts, the prepared waste descends from the hopper in the anterior of the ram where it is then pushed into the furnace. Cycle of ram is timed for 10 tons/day.
  • First Cake Breaker Breaks up Waste:  The rotating shaft is armed with blades to   The rotating shaft is equipped with blades to separate the compressed pile of waste just pushed onto the hearth by the ram feeder. It is not possible to view this process because the pile of waste that moves into view from the right conceals this process. The additional cake breaker can be observed in the background rotating in the alternate direction.
  • Second Cake Breaker Spreads Waste: The second cake breaker can be seen exposing cooler waste and dispersing it to an even depth on the hearth to increase heat transfer rates, and to achieve uniform heating.
  • Removal Plow Collects and Rake Removes Treated Product: the alloy plow gathers treated product on the hearth. The rake intermittently drags the product of the hearth where it is released into a water quench. At this time , the waste     The alloy plow gathers treated product on the hearth.  The rake intermittently drags the product off of the hearth where it drops into a water quench. At this point, the waste discharge is approximately one-half to- two thirds the mass of feed  and one-half to one-tenth the volume of the feed.
  • Removal of Treated Product Bins: Treated product is sent from the Treated product is directed from the water quench tank through the auger conveyors to enclosed storage bins where it awaits a confirmation analysis.  Each bin has a capacity of approximately 2 tons of product which equals to approximately 4-tons of asbestos fee
  • Removal of Treated Product Following Analytical Clearance: Upon being declared as “asbestos-free”, the trap door on the holding bin is opened and the treated product is position on a roll-off bin where it will await transportation off site.

More Information on Asbestos Training 

Who Has Duties To Manage And Control Asbestos Or ACM

asbestos courses logoThe WHS regulations spell out the specific obligations of those who are responsible to manage and control asbestos or asbestos containing materials. It is the person who is conducting a business or undertaking in a building that has duties to manage asbestos. This may include:

• The owner or manager of the business

• The owner or management company that owns the building that can make decisions as to the altering of the structure even if the building is being leased to someone else who is conducting business within the building.

Duties Of Person Conducting Business, But Does Not Own The Building

Many times a person conducts business in a building they do not own and have not been given rights to make any structural changes to. In such cases the person conducting the business still has the duty to manage asbestos or any asbestos containing material in the workplace in the following ways:

• Eliminate or reduce the risk of airborne asbestos exposure to their employees and the public.

• Notify the building owner or anyone who can make decisions about altering the structure and having the asbestos removed.

• Consult with his employees and make known the hazards and risks and see that they have proper training to identify those risks and know how to use protective gear to reduce their risk of exposure

• Label the area if possible

• Monitor the heath of your employees that may have been exposed to airborne asbestos fibers.

Person In Charge Of The Premises That Can Make Structural Decisions

If you are the owner of a building or a person who can make decisions regarding structural changes to the building ( such as the management company) then it is your duty to:

• Ensure that a asbestos management plan is prepared, maintained, and reviewed

• ensure that the asbestos is registered and a copy is given to anyone carrying out the removal of the asbestos

• ensure that they only hire a fully trained and licensed person or persons to conduct the removal.

• Co-operate, co-ordinate and consult with the tenant who is operating in the building to ensure that all safety issues are covered and all safety regulations have been adhered to.

In summary while it is up to the person who has control of the building to manage asbestos and asbestos containing material and see that it is properly removed or sealed to prevent further exposure in order to protect the tenants in the building. It is still your duty as the business owner or manager to protect your employees health and safety even if you happen to rent the building.

Job Losses And The Carbon Tax: Reality Or Not?

carbon taxFrom the moment that the carbon tax was first announced there has been a lot of debate whether or not this tax would accomplish it’s goal and more importantly would it lead to job losses across Australia. With those that oppose the carbon tax, warning people that their jobs are in jeopardy due to the carbon tax and the Australian Government assuring people that there will actually be more jobs not less, however, the reality maybe somewhere between these two fractions.

No one knows for sure what effect the carbon tax may have on job loss. With prices of electric, gas, and even products bound to increase as the carbon tax is passed down to ordinary consumers adversely effecting these consumers purchasing power retailers and other businesses may well see a sharp decline in sale and be forced to lay people off work in order to continue to stay in business and make a profit.

On the other hand if the carbon tax works like the Government hopes, there will be an increase of jobs in the green sector as more and more businesses scramble to reduce their carbon footprint and lower the amount of carbon tax they will be expected to pay. Which may well balance everything out.

While this may be bad news to those who may lose their jobs, and good news to those who may find good employment in the field of green technology it is difficult to tell which way things will actually go. Since those businesses which are the worse polluters will have the opportunity to pass the carbon tax down through the supply chain they may not feel any real incentive to change the way they do business.

If these businesses decide not to make any effort to reduce their carbon footprint then chances are there aren’t going to be any new jobs opening in the green technology field. At least not right away. Which could be bad news for the Australian economy.

On the other hand if these big companies do take themselves to task and make a real effort to reduce those carbon emissions then jobs will be more likely to be gained than lost. As of right now it is a waiting game with everyone holding their breaths until July when the carbon tax goes into effect and they can get some idea how the carbon tax is going to play out among these big businesses.

Like any other tax or law no one will truly know what effect the carbon tax will have on the Australian economy until it has actually been in effect for a while. In the meantime, all anyone in Australia can do is wait and hope that carbon tax does good than harm.

OHS:Two Companies Fined $140,000 For 2 Deaths

ohs trainingA pair of companies have been fined an aggregate amount of $140,000 for the deaths of two workers at a Broome depot in 2008.

Baker Hughes Australia Ltd and Oilfields Transport Services Pty Ltd appeared in the Magistrates Court for the charge of failing to provide and maintain a safe work setting which resulted in the deaths of two workers.

BH was fined $80,000 while OT received a fine of $60,000 when both companies pleaded guilty

Leon Mobbs, a tanker operator, and Geoff Lucas, manager of BH Broom depot were killed when a tanker burst and exploded while they were trying to release all of the barite powder.

The court discovered that the tanker was not kept in a safe working condition, and it had not been registered nor inspected by WorkSafe or a competent position.

Lex McCulloch believes the incident was an unfortunate example of proper safety systems  being in place.McCulloch stated that safety procedures and adequate training had been neglected which could have contributed to the loss of life that occurred that day. Both companies were found to have been culpable for the incident that resulted in the deaths of both of the middle-age workers.

More information on Occupational Health and Safety


How Do I Get An Asbestos B License 2012? Do I Need A Supervisor? What Kind Of Training Do I Need?

asbestos safety trainingWith the new changes in the WHS laws that began in January of this year some people are a little confused as to requirements for licensing and training for certain jobs. If you are a worker that wants to apply for an Asbestos B License this year (2012) then you might have some questions that you are going to want answered. The three main questions asked by those wishing to go into this type of asbestos removal work are:

• What Do I need to do get an Asbestos B license?

• What kind of training is involved

• And Do I need a supervisor

Requirements For An Asbestos B license

If you are looking to obtain your asbestos B license you need to meet the following criteria:

1. In order to obtain your asbestos B license you must nominate the supervisor who has been appointed to supervise the asbestos removal work for the company for which you are planning to work. In order for the supervisor you nominate to meet the supervisory guidelines, they must be over the age of 18, have worked in the asbestos removal field for at 12 months and completed the VET course for supervisor asbestos removal. You will need to check with the manager of your company to make sure that the supervisor you nominate meets all the necessary criteria to be a supervisor.

2. In addition you must complete an asbestos training course. New asbestos removal training has been developed and you must get your training through a Registered Training organization. However, since many of these training organizations are still in the process of setting up these training units you may have to wait until the training is offered in your area.

Using The Current Training or Wait For The New Asbestos Training

The WHS does allow for you to get the current training that is available through registered training organizations, however the new training that will soon be in effect which will better prepare you for the safe removal of non friable asbestos and asbestos containing dust. Waiting for the new training to be offered is a wise decision as it will cover new changes in the law and may offer more about safety when handling this material.

Since starting in January 2013, all the training will be of the new units of competency it is best for your company to have all of those employees who will be dealing with asbestos removal have the most up to date asbestos training possible.

You will especially want all your asbestos removal supervisors to have the new supervisor asbestos training in order to ensure that they know and understand all the regulations they need to adhere to in order to keep your business in compliance with the new WHS regulations. Making sure that your supervisor and other employers have the most up to date training will allow you to better protect the public, your employees and your business.

Human Resources: Teachers Bullied in NSW

HR Training95% of Australian educators have experienced at least one of 42 “bullying behaviours”, say researchers.

Personal confrontation and professional destabilization are most common, commonly resulting in deterioration of not only mental health, but also physical well-being.Dan Riley, Deirdre Duncan and John Edwards surveyed 2529 school educators, 83% female and 27% male.
The researchers discovered that 81% had experienced bullying from parents, and a staggering 79% named colleagues and executives, 1 in 15 being principals. Students are also bullies, with educators reporting that 75% had experienced bullying from a pupil.
Research shows that questioning of decision-making is one of the biggest bullying behaviours, followed by assignments with impossible to meet deadlines. Many of those surveyed did not realize that these behaviours were considered bullying.
Belittling of work, lack of recognition or praise, and witholding of information were also commonly reported bullying behaviours among those surveyed.
These statistics have been published by Australian Council for Educational Research.
More information on Bullying or any other Human Resources issues
Source: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/teachers-suffer-bullying-in-nsw-schools/story-e6freuy9-1226350155460 

Useful Facts on OHS Harmonisation Laws For Managers and more…

OHS Harmonisation lawsThe new Australian Occupational Health and Safety Harmonisation  or OHS Harmonisation laws include a series of changes to the old laws. Breaches of legislation can result in fines in excess of $ 500,000 or even imprisonment for five years for corporate or individual executives.

The changes were officially implemented in January of this year in; NSW,Queensland,The Commonwealth, and the Northern Australia.

Senior Managers and Directors who have a desire to stay clear of penalties (whether it be financial or to their reputation) should be mindful of the following important aspects of the OHS Harmonisation laws.

a)     A “Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking” or a PCBU, is the one who is chiefly responsible for upholding OHS standards— this does not necessarily mean the “employer”. An individual or a corporate body can be considered PCBU since they operate a business or duty alone or with other PCBUs.

b)    “Duty of care” now includes a more diverse group of individuals including workers and “any other person” whose safety is at risk because of the business activities of the PCBU. Someone is referred to as a worker whether they are employed or a volunteer. This means that incidents that once fell under public liability laws and negligence can now be prosecuted under the new OHS laws.

c)     The term “ Officers’ refers to Directors and managers and these individuals are personally obligated to use their best efforts to ensure that the company stays within the boundaries of OHS Harmonisation laws.  This is referred to as “Due Dilligence” and includes the following duties:

  • Gather and uphold current safety knowledge
  • Gain an understanding of the various business risks
  • Deliver and implement the proper resources
  • Maintain legal compliance with OHS laws.
  • Verify compliance and safety standards by conducting frequent and thorough audit and review processes.

Duty Holder(s) (If there indeed more than one) of OHS must ensure that they work together in collaboration and cooperation to ensure that all responsibilities related to OHS legislation are upheld.

The OHS Harmonisation laws recommend that organisations conduct an audit of current processes,safety policies, and contracts. The audit will determine and identify the proper steps needed in order to comply with the new OHS Harmonisation laws. Under these new laws; rules pertaining to personal liability need to be explained clearly to all officers to ensure that breaches are limited.

It is also encouraged to implement due-diligence practices throughout the entire company to ensure that safety measures are upheld.

Source: http://www.sbwire.com/press-releases/sbwire-140172.htm


Human Resources: Tribunal Awards Compensation to Nurse

HR TrainingThe Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) have made a decision in favour of a nurse who was up against the state’s health department.

They awarded the nurse over $20,000 in compensation for her claims of discrimination. The panel found that the nurse was treated unjustly because of her inability to work night shifts due to her medical condition. The tribunal decided that it was unnecessary for nurses to be available ever hour of the day, 7-days a week.

The Queensland Nurses Union (QNU) felt that the ruling signifies the need for employers to be flexible to the needs of their employees. . Secretary for the QNU, Beth Mohle believes the judgement sends an important message to all employers.

Mohle discussed the recent decision will encourage employers to be more thoughtful in the action they take.However, in her opinion, the health board should have been able to apply a reasonable policy without the assistance of the court – especially when involving those with disabilities .

More on Human Resources Training


Supermarket’s Hit Back At Unsubstantiated Claims

OHS TRAININGThe Chairman of Woolworths has defended the company’s reputation for using trucks to move goods throughout the country.

The Transport Workers Union alleges that Woolworths has an unreasonable delivery schedule that transport companies struggle to live up to. The schedules being imposed are allegedly resulting in reckless driving and road deaths, according to the union.

The union held a protest at Coles and Woolworths supermarkets throughout the country.Coles spokesperson stated that the union’s claims are unconfirmed, while Woolworths Chairman James Strong, calls the allegations as “unfair”.

Strong believes that the problem could be dealt in a different manner and asserts that the TWU’s use of sensationalist terms is common.He is hopeful that the public can decipher between the truth and conjecture . He maintains that a rational discussion is needed between the TWU and the supermarket chains.

More info on Occupational Health and Safety

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-05-10/woolworth-chairman-defends-truck-transport–policy/4003768?section=nt 

Working At Heights: Company fined for 2.7 metre Fall

Working At Heights safetyA company  was fined for an incident which resulted in a worker sustaining skull and spinal fractures when he fell almost 3 metres onto a concrete slab.

Access Matrix Scaffolding was fined  $22,000 in the Perth Magistrates Court for failing to provide a safe work environment  which resulted in an injured worker.

The company supplies and  builds scaffolding, and the incident in question occurred when a void in a floor was left unfinished and covered with particleboard.

A worker stepped onto the void with the assumption that it was supported by scaffolding and the void collapsed under his weight. He fell 2.7 metres onto the concrete slab, where he sustained the skull and spinal fractures, as well as injuries to his ribs and shoulder.

Despite the particleboard being in place as flooring, the board was spanning a greater length than th manufacturer recommended.

WorkSafe WA commissioner Lex McCulloch said that the case should act as a reminder to the importance of having preventive measures to avoid falls.

According to McCulloch, falls are one of the most frequent causes of workplace death in the construction sector. In the last four years, 16 workers have died as a result of falling.

More info on Working at Heights

Source:: http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/27-metre-fall-costs-company-22000-20120508-1yaio.html#ixzz1uKlz5QA3

Asbestos Awareness: Company Fined For Importing Asbestos

Asbestos TrainingA company appeared in Perth Magistrates Court where they received fines for importing asbestos into Australia.

The global engineering company Clyde Bergemann Senior Thermal was found to be accountable for a $64,000 fine  for penalties and costs of importing the deadly substance in machinery parts.

3 years ago, CBST imported over 60 machinery parts from China which was allegedly supposed to be used in the development of a power plant.

Customs and Border protection discovered that the machinery contained chrysotile asbestos, also known as white asbestos. It is currently banned for importation under the customs regulations since it can cause serious health defects such as lung cancer.

A year later, the company imported an additional 60 parts with asbestos in it.

CBST was subsequently found guilty of two counts of importing prohibited substances.

More info on Asbestos Awareness

Source: http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/asbestos-importer-slapped-with-64000-fine-20120507-1y8l2.html#ixzz1uExSVjs3

Important Facts About Confined Spaces Safety

Confined Spaces Training

When working in Confined Spaces it is important to have adequate training in order to avoid entrapment or even worse, death. Luckily there are some measures recommended to utilize in order to understand the complexities of Confined Spaces Working.



According to Work Safe, it is important for the employer to mention any confined spaces and the various hazards that accompany such work. Also the employer should practice the utilization of sign postings  when required in order to secure the area.

The follow circumstances can result in serious injury or even death:

  • Firstly,  oxygen deficiency in confined spaces can result in;  slow oxidation reactions for organic or other substances, combustion, diluted air and gas, absorption of deadly substances by grains, or soils.
  • Over-abundance of oxygen in confined spaces can be caused by contaminants , whether they be from solids, liquids or a various other forms.
  • Adjusting the position of equipment can result in workers becoming overwhelmed and crushed.

It is important for one to conduct a risk assessment in order to identify the various dangers within the workplace. Doing so can determine what the nature of the confined space is,  and the work required  to be done within a confined space . Furthermore, it can help workers understand emergency proceduresIt is the employers responsibility to ensure that the assessment is consistently kept up-to-date and always valid

Some steps that employers must take to avoid many accidents, is the prohibition of smoking and naked flames. within confined spaces and the adjacent areas.Some  equipment should even prohibited, such as the use forklifts.  An additional concern is the level of heat while working in the area.

Types of Risk Assessments

Generic assessment : The employer is responsible for several confined spaces in which related work is performed at all sites. Risks factors are often identical but when this is not the case, a generic risk assessment is encouraged. This type of assessment helps identify the conditions and location of confined spaces and the type of work practiced in it.  Depending on the type of work or condition of the site, the risk factors could potential differ from eachother.

Assessment frequency: 

The assessment period should be decided on by the employer with consultation with employees or representatives. Whenever risks change, a new assessment should be conducted with this change in mind. A change in risk can result from :

  • Modification in equipment operating conditions
  • Change in the work atmosphere or environment
  • Change in work procedures or agreements.

OHS:Tribute To Honour Fallen Rail Workers

OHS TrainingA tribute has been erected to honour fallen rail workers.

Charles Firmin was operating one of Perths original batch of diesel-powered trains when he was hit by a truck and killed 60 years ago.

His daughter Gillian O’Callaghan, who was 7 at the time of the accident, remembers the day well.Police officers showed up at her door, breaking the news to her mother.

At school other students would discuss the horrific nature of her father’s death and that is how she found out the circumstances surrounding his accident. She said one student even claimed to have seen the wreckage.

Since Perth was so small, many people in town were talking about the death of her father.O’Callaghan’s father was a train operator her whole life, driving steam trains before a new batch of trains emerged with cleaner diesel engines.Her father’s name was recently posted to the Australian Railway Monument in NSW.

The Australian Rail Journey Museum is entreating the public to help in the gathering of an estimated 10,000 other railway workers who have died on duty in Australia.

More info on Occupational Health and Safety

Source: http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/wa/13587549/tribute-for-rail-workers-killed-on-duty/

Dangerous Goods: WorkSafe Concerned With Deadly Gas Storage

Dangerous Goods TrainingNT WorkSafe claim that many refrigeration and plumbing companies continue to endanger their employees lives regardless of two tradesmen’s deaths last year.

A 24-year old fridge mechanic was killed when his van blew up in his driveway. Less than a week later, a similar incident caused the death of a tradesman.  These deaths have launched inspections of air-conditioning and plumbing businesses by NT  WorkSafe.

According to Executive director Lauren Hull, inspectors have been compelled to issue prohibition notices to some businesses.

Hull stated that workers continue to carry oxyacetylene even though it could potentially cause a fatal accident.  She said that more than half of the businesses visited have ignored WorkSafe’s many pleas.

More info on Dangerous Goods Training

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-05-03/worksafe-finding-gas-bottle-workers-at-risk/3987634?section=nt


Asbestos Awareness: 2.9 Million Awarded in Workplace Compensation

Asbestos TrainingThus far, almost 3 million dollars was paid to Tasmanian workers who are victims of asbestos exposure.

Workplace relations minister David O’Byrn confirmed that the asbestos Related Diseases compensation scheme had already granted payments to eight applicants.

So far the largest compensation awarded under the employer-funded scheme, was $540,000. The program was launched in October and the cost was covered by an employer-levy. O’Byne alleges that Tasmania’s biggest OHS killer was going to become even more of a problem when the contraction rate is expected to be at its highest in the next five-to-10 years.

O’Byrne stressed the dangers of the asbestos substance which exists throughout various government and corporate buildings, and even homes.

More info on Asbestos Awareness

Source: http://www.themercury.com.au/article/2012/05/04/325001_tasmania-news.html

Worker Crushed in Lift Accident

ohs trainingA man died when he was caught between two lifts in an Occupational Health and Safety accident that occurred in Melbourne early this week. It is alleged that the man was delivering a scissor-lift and a forklift to a Masters Home Improvement store in Preston when he was crushed between the two. Workers discovered the man early in the morning and called emergency services, but unfortunately he had already succumbed to his injuries prior to their arrival.

Worksafe spokesperson Michael Bert indicated that the time of death was undetermined and that the victim could have been trapped for quite some time.

According to Birt, Investigators were at the store, trying to determine the circumstances surrounding the untimely death. The man was said to have been carrying out a routine job.He revealed that all that they know is that the man was crushed by two lifts but the time and how it happened is undetermined. Police are also at the scene preparing a coroner’s report.

This is the fifth workplace death in Victoria this year.

Birt stated the need for workers to consider the various dangers and risks that accompany every-day routine jobs. He urges workers to take heed of the dangers and not neglect the risks so that serious injury or death can be avoided.

Source: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/man-crushed-in-scissorlift-tragedy-20120502-1xxwc.html#ixzz1tlnRnOfB

How Do I Review Work Health and Safety (OHS) Risks?

work health safety risks chartIdentifying, accessing, and controlling work health and safety issues is imperative in helping to create a safe working environment for your employees, but none of these steps towards safety will do you much good if you don’t know how to review work health and safety risks.

The Purpose Of Safety Reviews

The entire purpose to review work health and safety risks is to ensure:

・ That the controls you put into place eliminate the hazard or reduce the risk of injury should the hazard occur.

・ That the controls that have been put in place do not create additional risks of their own and are practical to use.

・ Are new safety procedures being understood and followed?

・ Does more need to be done to decrease the risk even more?

・ Have workers had adequate training to perform the job, or use tools safely and correctly?Have workers been informed of the risks currently present and do they have the training and the knowdledge to deal with those risks?

・ Have all safety risks been found and addressed?

・ Have workers been consulted to any additional risks and possible solutions?

The best way to review work health and safety risks is by reviewing each control you have put into place in order of the seriousness of the risk involved. Make sure that each solution you have put into place takes care of the problem or reduces it while you search for better alternatives. As you gather new information about various risks or as new techniques or solutions to eliminate or reduce risks become available assess whether or not the new solutions are better and more practical than the solutions you already have in place.

If the controls you have put in place do not eliminate the risk or reduce it substantially then reassess your options and look for a different way to control the risk or consider adding additional controls to further reduce the chance of injury.

Keep in mind that to review work health and safety risks is for the sole purpose of finding out which controls work well, which ones need to be improved, and which ones simply don’t work at all or create additional risks. Not every solution you come up with is going to be the “best” solution the first time around which is why reviewing these controls is so important.

Creating a safe working environment is an ongoing part of owning or operating a business and your efforts will eventually be rewarded when over time there are less accidents, less time lost, and increased productivity and employee satisfaction. To review work health and safety risks periodically means you can find and eliminate those risks before they result in injury or harm.

Coles Supermarket Receives $170,000 Fine and Pays Fees

Risk Management trainingSupermarket king Coles, received a fine of $170,000 and told to pay legal fees when a worker fell through a ceiling at a branch in Sydney half a decade ago.

The worker scaled a guard rail in order to obtain promotional material stored on a suspended plasterboard ceiling in August 2007. The ceiling collapsed and she crashed over two metres to the ground which left her with cuts to her head, whiplash and bruises.

Preliminary investigations revealed that Coles in fact knew the area was dangerous to use as a roof cavity for storage and had even built a railing and posted a caution sign.

However, WorkCover disclosed that Coles management had not undergone a risk assessment to determine how much weight the plasterboard could stand, and failed to inform staff of the risks of accessing the area.

Coles was fined on behalf of the Industrial Court of NSW and told to cover WorkCover’s legal costs.

WorkCover’s Work Health and Safety general manager, John Watson stated that since the company employed over 23,000 people in 238 stores across NSW, the safety procedures of the company are important to a significant number of people.

Watson also stated that the area should not have ever been permitted for storage of merchandise and management was responsible for being vigilant. He added, saying that despite management being aware of the dangerous nature of the area, the area was still used without any proper training.

More info on Risk Management

Source: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/coles-fined-170000-over-workers-fall-through-ceiling/story-e6frf7kf-1226340693166

Co-Workers Gather To Remember Fallen Workers

OHS TrainingCo-Workers  came together to remember workplace deaths and address safety standards;

 A significant amount of workers rally in response to the number of construction industry deaths in Queensland.
Thousands of workers in Queensland gathered the Roma Street Forum to remember their 15 colleagues, killed on duty.
Unions claim that standards have slipped, at the fault of Queensland’s workplace regulator.
Bill Shorten, the Federal Employment and Workplace Relations minister, addressed the crowd regarding the improvement of industry safety standards. “It is unacceptable that the same accidents that killed people 60 years ago are still happening today.”
He wants workers to feel comfortable in reporting safety issues to their manager or union, and for that to happen the culture of the industry must change.More information on Occupational Health and Safety

Source:  http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-04-27/colleagues-gather-to-remember-workplace-deaths/3976434?section=qld 

Unions Want Tougher Consequences for Company Safety Oversights

working at heights safetyUnions have requested tougher consequences after a company was fined slightly more than a mine worker’s annual salary for an occupational health and safety accident that resulted in the death of a man.

John Holland received a fine of $242,000 by the Federal Court earlier this month for their breach of workplace safety laws by failing to protect staff from injury or death at a Pilbara mine.

The company’s oversight caused a death at BHP Billiton’s Mt.Whaleback site.

Wayne Moore died in early 2009 when he plummeted 12m from an unsafely secured sheet of grid mesh on a machine. It is undisclosed how much Moore earned, but the typical tradesmen in his sector often earned over $150,000 annually and senior workers often received over $250,000.

The court imposed the highest penalty under the old OHS safety regime when safety watchdog Comcare pursued a successful prosecution.  Later, the maximum penalty under the national system rose to $1.5 million for the same type of offense and $3m for more significant breaches. The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union commented that the case displayed the inadequacies of penalties in the region.

State Secretary Mick Buchan stated that nominal fines sent a problematic message to employees since many in the sector earned the same around the same amount as the fine.


More info on  Working at Heights
Source: http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/wa/13531660/tougher-penalties-bid-for-fatal-safety-breach/                                                  

Inadequate Amount Of Training Results in Crane Death

crane safety trainingACT Coroner’s Court has observed the graphic video of a Canberra truck driver who died when he was trampled by a crane. Geoffrey William Blackfella Gowan died on his birthday a few years ago while picking up large waste bins at Evatt shops. The footage showed Gowan receiving serious neck and chest injuries when the arm of the crane jammed him against the truck with his feet elevated off the ground.

A police witness also showed footage to the court of a re-creation that reveals poor visibility and lighting in the area during the accident. The court maintained that the poor lighting coupled with Gowan’s inexperience and inadequate training contributed to his death.

The Court was informed by work colleagues that Gowan had limited experience with a crane as well as low level of training and competence with the equipment used. The investigation is ongoing.

More Info on Cranes,Hoists and Slings Training

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-04-24/inquest-canberra-workplace-death/3968286?section=act 

OHS: Mechanic Apprentice Suffers Head Injuries

ohs trainingA mechanic from worth is being forced to shell out $3200 for a workplace accident that resulted in serious head injuries on a 16-year old.  The mechanic, Paul Egerton has pleaded guilty for charges alleging that he failed to take reasonable care to avoid negatively affecting the safety and health of another individual. The injuries of the young occurred when a bus fell on top of him.

Egerton was employed as a heavy duty mechanic for Path Transit when the incident happened.

Despite the company’s written procedure prohibiting employees from working beneath a bus when it was jacked up, Egerton permitted his two apprentices to do so.The bus was allegedly being jacked up using two wooden blocks while the apprentices were underneath it conducting their work.The bus rolled onto the apprentice causing injuries to his head and chest when they were pinned below it.

WorkSafe’s Lex McCulloch stated that Egerton should have known better considering his ample experience in the field.

According to McCulloch, the incident should serve as a caution for anyone who considers wilfully disregarding safety measures in the workplace. McCulloch hopes the incident will cause employees to be constantly mindful of the safety of employees in the workplace.

More info on Occupational Health and Safety

Source: http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/small-fine-for-work-accident-where-bus-fell-on-boys-head-20120423-1xgi1.html#ixzz1t1B7IOWL

PPE Training: Practice Safe Work!

Personal Protection Equipment

Personal Protective equipment can include a variety of clothing and equipment that employees, students and various professionals must wear in order to protect themselves from workplace safety hazards.

What Does The PPE Act Say?

Firstly, an employer should ensure that the worker is not exposed to any hazards in the workplace, however when that is unavoidable, the employer must ensure that workers are provided the proper safety equipment that would protect them against any potential hazards that exist.

The Codes of Practice: First Aid Facilities and Services, Workplace Amenities and Facilities, Personal Protective Clothing and Equipment 2002, all provide varies measures and suggestions in the selection and utilization of PPE. The acts also list the various PPE requirements for a multitude of workplace safety hazards.  In addition to these acts, The Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 provides further assistance in understanding PPE measures.

Often times employees may complain due to the general discomfort and hassle associated with PPE. Furthermore, there are sometimes issues with PPE that is in poor condition or may seem inappropriate. However, the employee must be informed of the necessity of the equipment and any problems regarding inappropriate equipment must be dealt with in order to ensure safety for all.

 Examples of PPE

PPE  can be used for protection in a variety of situations:

  • Respiratory protection- air cannisters/masks
  • Eye protection – eg  Safety goggles, visors
  • Hearing Protection–  Ear Plugs and other hearing apparatus
  • Hand Protection– eg  Safety gloves
  • Foot protection – eg  Steal toe boots, gripped shoes
  • Head Protection– eg helmets, construction hats
  • Protection from falls – eg  safety harnesses
  • Skin Protection– eg caps, sunscreen, long sleeved clothes

Responsibilities and PPE

Employers must maintain:

  • The required PPE are monitored and inspected by a competent individual in order to determine if other, more efficient methods of ensuring safety can be implemented
  • Professional guidance is requested in order to determine the most suitable types of PPE for what ever types of tasks are being conducted.
  • PPE Training is provided to all so that they can ensure that the proper PPE is used and maintained.
  • A constant supervisor to ensure that PPE is worn whenever required.
Employees must also be informed on how to properly wear and utilize the PPE. In addition, employees must avoid the improper use or damage of the equipment.


While PPE  is ultimately not the most efficient way of avoiding injury, it is the last bastion of protection when all other safety measures are overcome.

Source:  http://www.safety.uwa.edu.au/policies/personal_protective_equipment_guidelines

OHS:WorkCover Scheme To Receive Serious Cuts

ohs trainingThe O’Farrell government plans to make significant cuts to workers compensation which would result in a slashing of lump-sum payments for injured workers and eliminating weekly benefits for long-term recipients from the scheme after a specified time. Workplace lawyers have cited concerns that the changes would designate NSW into “the meanest system in the country”

The government has stated in the past that it intends to re-evaluate the $13 billion WorkCover scheme which encompasses a deficit of approximately $5 billion. An announcement regarding these changes is expected by Tuesday.

Various lawyers and union representatives are concerned that 50% of the 28,000 workers who receive benefits and medical expenses; will be abandoned because of the proposed changes to the scheme.

Barrister Bruce McManamey stated his concern that the coming changes may result in injured workers losing their homes.

Currently, injured workers receive their normal, full salary for the first 26 weeks off work. A scaffolder without children or a partner would receive $1100-1500 a week for the 26-weeks. If the worker is off for longer the payout would drop to $432 a week.The proposed changes would make it so that an injured worker could receive only 90 per cent of their salary, but not exceeding that amount.

Some Lawyers have alleged that the cuts to WorkCover are to ensure that NSW does not lose its AAA credit rating.

More information on Occupational Health and Safety


Confined Spaces: Mine Worker Injured At Leonora mining site

Mining Safety TrainingA young mine worker was injured in an underground incident in Leornora. He sustained injuries to his throat and chest area when he was struck by some apparatus.

He was airlifted by the Royal Flying Doctor Service to Royal Perth Hospital where he received treatment.

The accident took place at the King of the Hills mine a few kilometres north-west of Leonora. According to St Barbara Managing Director and CEO Tim Lehany, the man is a worker for contracting company Byrnecut.

The mine is owned by a Melbourne gold mining company, St.Barbara. Lehany alleges that the incident did not result in any falling rocks. According to a spokesperson, there is currently no scheduled formal investigation by the Department of Mines and Petroleum.

More information on Confined Spaces training

Source: http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/wa/13474320/man-injured-in-mining-accident/ 

Asbestos Awareness: SafeWork Investigates Deserted Dump Site

SafeWork SA has been charged with the task of immediately cleaning up an abandoned asbestos dump site in Wingfield.

Unions brought the site to the attention of the authorities after the All State Group went into administration which left asbestos sheeting and insulation exposed.CFMEU secretary Martin O’Malley said despite the company’s licensed ability to remove the asbestos, it first had to be monitored by Safe Work . WorkSafe will have to determine if the harmful substance was sealed in airtight bags or containers.

O’Malley maintains that the site was littered with asbestos materials as well as other building matter.He continued by stating that members of the asbestos removal business that existed there were exposed to asbestos and residents living the wider community may have been exposed to deadly asbestos dust.

SafeWork has spent a significant amount of time at the site where they commenced the investigation immediately after The Advertiser informed them of the dangerous substance’s existence in the area.

O’Malley said Safe Work SA has to justify a 4m- high pile of asbestos ridden matter for over a year that was left unattended for a year.

BRI Ferrier, the appointed liquidator yet to commented on the status of the asbestos dump site.

More information on Asbestos Awareness


How Do I Control Work, Health, And Safety Risks?

safety risk trainingThe WHS regulations list a hierarchy of risk control. This hierarchy begins with eliminating the hazard completely down to the least effective method of reducing risks. WHS regulations require that you use the highest control that is reasonably practical to eliminate or minimize the risk.

To control work health and safety risks the best possible scenario is to eliminate the risk in the planning stages of the job. For example, if a job requires that equipment or products be stacked then to eliminate the risk of falling stacks of equipment or products planning to stack the materials at less height over a larger area will eliminate the hazard of falling stacks of boxes or equipment or at least greatly reduce the risk of such a hazard occurring.

To avoid the risk of back injuries due to manual lifting of heavy objects making sure that there are trollies or trucks available to move those objects eliminates or reduces the risks of injuries.

However, if the risk or hazard is already present in the workplace, then you will need to find a practical way to eliminate or reduce the hazard. The first step to control work health, and safety risks already built into the job is by consulting with your workers and their representatives. Discuss with them changes in equipment, or the way the job is performed, and how these changes will eliminate or reduce the hazard that can cause them harm. Get their ideas on workable solutions as well as their concerns.

Keep in mind that in order to control work health and safety risks there may be times when the only practical solution is to institute more than one control to minimize the risk of a single hazard. For example, you may use engineering controls such as a guard rail around a piece of machinery to prevent an employee from getting a limb caught. Then you may deem additional training on operating the machinery is necessary to further reduce the risk of injury.

One of the things you can do in your efforts to control work health and safety risks in the workplace is study what other like industries have done to eliminate or reduce risks and how effective their controls have been. Keep updated on new safety measures that seem to be working and continue to work to further reduce or eliminate each risk.

While some risks may be easy to eliminate or reduce such as adding more lighting or brighter lights to an area, some may take some planning and trial and error to correct. There may also be times when you will use temporary measures to reduce risks as much as possible while instituting better controls. Keep a record of each risk you find and everything you have done to control that risk.

By making the effort, consulting with employees and keeping apprised of new and innovative controls you can not onlycontrol work health and safety risks to your employees, but you will create a more positive working environment for everyone concerned.

How Do I Identify Work, Health And Safety Risks

work health and safety signIf it is your responsibility to manage work, health and safety risks, the first thing you need to do is to identify work, health and safety risks that could result in injury or harm to your employees. This can seem an overwhelming task for those who are new just opening a business, have made major changes to an existing business and those new to position where part of their job is to manage these risks.

However, keep in mind that to identify work, health, and safety risks it is best done on an ongoing basis and using a check list for your business can help make the task easier.

To identify work, health and safety risks, it involves looking at things and situations which could result in injury or harm to a workers health. This means looking closely at:

・ The actual physical environment where work is carried on. Is there adequate light and ventilation? Is the working space large enough to perform all tasks safely? Are there any hazards that could result in injury such as uneven floors or poor material storage, or poor housekeeping practices.

・ Next take a good look at the machinery being used. Is the machinery designed for the function it is being used for? Is it in good working order and repair? Does it need any guards or other addition to prevent injury to a workers limbs? Is the noise from the machinery likely to affect the workers hearing?

・ Study the material and substances being use. Do these pose any hazards such as using chemicals or heavy materials needing to be lifted or moved by hand.

・ You are also going to need to look at each work task and how it is performed. Are the employees properly trained to used the necessary tools? Are they using the safety equipment provided? Is there undue pressure placed on them to perform the job faster than reasonably safe?

・ Work design and management. Is the job designed to be done with health and safety in mind. Is the supervisor of the area managing the work in a manner that may pose a safety or health risk to one or more employees? Does the job require repetitive movement, likely to cause fatigue, or undue stress?

In order to find and identify work, health and safety risks regularly walk around and observe everything. Make a list of those hazards you find. If there is an immediate risk such as a spill then immediately stop the work being done, remove the workers to a safe place and take care of the risk immediately.

Talk to the employees and make a note of their health or safety concerns and any suggestions they have for eliminating or reducing those those concerns. Look for instances of bullying or harassment that may be going on, but employees may be reluctant to talk about.

Take the time to look at past records of accidents, injuries or other related problems. Chances are if an accident occurred once it can happen again unless controls have been put in place to prevent future accidents.

By remaining alert and using all resources at your disposal you can identify work, health and safety risks and take steps to correct them.

What Is Involved In Managing Work, Health, And Safety Risks?

ohs risk managementAccording to WHS regulations it the duty of every business owner, manager, and supervisor and even to some extent the individual employee to help in managing work health and safety risks to employees and members of the public that visit or do business with you. But what exactly is involved in managing work health and safety risks.

The First Step Is To Identify Hazards In The Work Place

In some cases, certain jobs have known and easily identifiable hazards, in others the hazards may be there, but may not be quite so identifiable. It is the job of the owner, manager, or supervisor to identify all risks. There are a number of ways to go about managing work health and safety risks, but one very important way is to consult with the workers who actually work each given job. They are the best source of information when it comes to identifying potential dangers in the area where they work.

Keep in mind that these hazards are not just limited to working with equipment and machinery or the likelihood of injury due to poor ventilation, or lighting. The hazards may be due to fatigue, stress, or harassment as well as many other things.

Assess The Risks

Once you have identified the risks the next step is to assess the risk.

・ How likely is that the risk could actually happen?

・ What kind of harm could result?

・ How serious would the harm caused be?

Control the Risks

Once you have assessed the risk you need to begin putting in controls that either eliminate the risks all together or at least minimize the risks. These controls need to be reasonably practical given the circumstances. In other words, if you have a hazard that could result in a small non serious injury, such as a small bruise and the only way to completely remove the risk is with an extremely expensive piece of equipment this would not be considered a practical solution to the problem.

When instituting controls you should again consult with those who work in the area or with a given piece of machinery as they can often offer solutions to hazards you may not have thought of that will prove to be both economic and workable in managing work health and safety risks. Keep in mind that controls should also include any training, or testing you feel is necessary to ensure that the worker understands how to do the job and can follow all safety procedures in managing work health and safety risks.

Reviewing Your Controls

The last step in managing work health and safety risks is to review the controls you have in place to ensure they are working. Again talking with the employees is one of the best ways to find out if the controls you put into place have eliminated or reduced the hazard.

As part of managing and reviewing the controls that are set in place you may need to make frequent checks to see that the employees are using any equipment or gear that is necessary to reducing the risk and keeping adequate records of safety checks and any warning or discipline measures that have been enacted in order to encourage the employees to adhere to the safety controls and guidelines you have put into effect for managing work health and safety risks.

OHS:Pearl Producers Shocked By Diver’s Death

OHS TrainingWestern Australia’s Pearl Producers Association says the industry has been shocked by the death of a 22-year-old pearl diver in the Kimberley, the first death of its kind for more than 20 years.

WA Pearl Producers Association stated that the industry is shaken by the death of a 22-year old pearl diver. The association stated that a death of this cause has not occurred in over two decades.

The diver was a member of a six-person driving team that was diving from a boat at a Paspaley wild shell harvest close to Eighty Mile Beach.

According to police, the diver was found in a distressed state but died shortly after. Association chief executive Brett McCallum says the cause of death is currently undetermined.McCallum assured that the association will do everything in its power to determine what the cause of death is and how it can be prevented through improvements in any area. He added that the industry has worked diligently to improve safety standards.

According to the association, all divers must undergo arduous health and swimming tests before being permitted to enter the water.

WorkSafe and Water Police are investigating the scene in order to prepare a report for the coroner.

More info on Occupational Health and Safety

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-04-16/industry-shocked-by-pearl-divers-death/3951608?section=wa 

Human Resources: WorkSafe Says CIT Has Inadequate Bullying Systems

Workplace BullyingACT Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe revealed that an investigation in to workplace bullying which was conducted at the Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT), is now completed.The investigation was launched as a result of several ideas submitted to WorkSafe ACT by various CIT employees regarding CIT measures for handling bullying and harassment situations.

McCabe said that the WorkSafe ACT investigation determined that the CIT had  breached the Territory’s health and safety legislation.

The investigation revealed that the CIT lacks an adequate prevention and response system for incidents of bullying and harassment in the workplace.

WorkSafe issued an Improvement Notice that compels the CIT to improve a number of aspects of its systems and procedures regarding bullying and harassment of staff. The CIT has six months to fulfill all the requirements in the notice in order to ensure that the organization has an efficient prevention and management system for this human resources issue.


More info on Human Resources 

Source: http://www.worksafe.act.gov.au/news/view/1312/title/investigation-into-bullying-at-the

OHS:Cruise Ship Crocodile Attack Probed By WorkSafe

OHS TrainingWorkSafe has stated the possibility that they will investigate a crocodile attack that happened in Kimberly because the victim was at work at the time of the attack.

Tara Hawkes 23, was exiting a fresh-water pool at Talbot Bay, when she was attacked and bitten on the leg by an approximately two-metre crocodile.

Hawkes is an employee at True North, a cruise ship owned by North Cruises. The boat’s owner is currently preparing an accident report to be handed over to Worksafe.

Worksafe Commissioner Lex McCulloch says the report will assist in determining whether or not charges are to be laid.Worksafe says it will most likely investigate a crocodile attack in the Kimberley because the victim was at work at the time.

McCulloch indicated that the investigation may indeed lead to charges if the company is not able to show them that they have measured the risks and provided training for their employees so that they know what to do in similar situations.He added that they have been in contact with the company and will be gathering more information regarding the accident and then they will make a decision on how to proceed next.

Hawkes suffered lacerations to her leg and is currently receiving treatment in Perth where she was flown to following the incident.

More info on Occupational Health and Safety 


Fake “Asbestos-Free” Documents Endanger Maritime Workers

Asbestos TrainingAustralian maritime workers are frequently being exposed to potentially fatal asbestos fibres aboard foreign registered ships that have been discovered with fake papers citing that they are asbestos free.

The Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers have expressed concerns that vessels or tug boats being brought into the country, continue to endanger the safety and lives of seafarers.

The union’s concerns were included in a public submission to the federal government investigation into asbestos management.

The submission states that the International Maritime Organisation has distributed warnings that asbestos has been uncovered in ship fire blankets, wall and ceiling coverings, and other parts of the ship.

Federal Laws dating back to 2005, have prohibited the entry of vessels containing asbestos, however ships continue to arrive in Australia with asbestos ridden materials. The ship carry “asbestos free” certificates but they have  often been proven false by respectable Australian authorities.

The submission also cited a difficulty in enforcing Australia’s health and safety laws on internationally- registered ship, which have proven an obstacle in the process of achieving asbestos-free workplaces.

According to the submission, eight tug boats brought in from abroad, were discovered to have a serious amount of asbestos on their vessel despite being in possession of “asbestos –free” certificates.

The federal inquiry on asbestos management will be finalized in June.

More info on Asbestos Awareness 
Source: http://www.smh.com.au/national/maritime-workers-still-face-asbestos-risk-20120408-1wjli.html#ixzz1rxSYlBuC

Manual Handling: Queensland Council Pays $400,000 To Injured Worker

Amanual handling safety northern Queensland council was told to pay a worker over $400,000 in compensation for injuries he received to his back while swinging a sledgehammer while working.

The Supreme Court in Cairns directed Cook Shire Council to pay Darryl Hosmer following the injury he received to his spine.

Justice Jim Henry published a 35-page decision which cited that despite early denials by Cook County , the council has admitted responsibility for the injury Hosmer received to his lumbar spine while conducting a task.

According to Justice Henry, Hosmer alleges that the spinal injury was a direct result of the council’s breach in its “ obligations and duties” in ensuring workers safety.

However, Justice Henry said that despite the council admitting liability they have also denied that the incident caused the stated injuries.The court was informed that Hosmer was inspected and assessed by two notable orthopaedic surgeons in October and November 2008. The injury is said to have been caused by the repetitive action of swinging the sledge hammer and then bending over to  strike ‘dumpy pegs’ into the ground.

Hosmer was awarded damages of $413,600.43. $250, 000 of the total compensation accounts for a future economic loss. $30,000 is awarded for a loss off superannuation and the remaining $45,000 was awarded for general damages.

More info on Manual Handling 

Source: http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/cook-shire-council-pays-worker-400000-for-back-injury/story-e6freoof-1226325480162

Asbestos Awareness: Work-Site Closed Amidst Asbestos Concerns

Unions claim they’ve been forced to shut down and pause work on an inner Sydney site because of asbestos exposure concerns.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) says work has been halted and 150 workers were told to evacuate the work site.Union state secretary Brian Parker says that documentation indicates that there have been several occasions where asbestos has been discovered on the site.

According to Parker; no action has been taken by the project manager Bovis Lend Lease.Lend Lease spokesman David Hutton ensured that safety was the companies top concern.Hutton claims that small traces of historically buried asbestos have been uncovered throughout the last five years.

Hutton confirmed that the company has always closes and quarantines the site when asbestos is discovered in a small number of excavation locations. The asbestos is then allegedly removed in accordance with WorkCover regulations.

More info on Asbestos Awareness


Confined Spaces: Late-Night Mining Work Resumes After Gas Leaks

Confined Spaces TrainingEvening mining operations have continued at a North Queensland coal mine which has struggled with a series of hazardous gas leaks.A month ago, the Mining company Thiess, made the decision to suspend late night operations at the site following a several gassing incidents recently.

25 miners have been taken to the hospital in the last two months after being exposed to hazardous gases.A spokesperson for the company stated that five new monitoring stations have been placed on the site and staff have received supplementary training.

Since operations have resumed last weekend, there has been low-level readings but the exposure was not enough to negatively affect others.

The company is exploring potentially long-term solutions to the issues.

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-04-11/night-mining-resumes-after-miners-gassed/3942626?section=qld

More info on Confined Spaces 

OHS: Timber Company Doubles Fine After Appeal

OHS TrainingA subsidiary  of a notable Australian forestry company received nearly double their initial fine on appeal for Occupational Health and Safety breaches . Carter Holt Harvey Woodproducts Australia Pty Ltd, now under BSG Holdings Pty Ltd, received a conviction and fine of $230,000 after originally receiving a $120,000 fine in November 2010. Michelle Cooper died in 2008 as a result of a collapsed timber pack which exceeded a tonne in weight. The timber pack hoist fell on her as she dislodged a piece of jammed material.

The Director of Public Prosecution stated that the original fine was inadequate which compelled the undertaking of the case. Judge Tinney acknowledged that the company does not openly disregard safety but neglected to ensure that a common hazard was given more attention considering the size and nature of the machine involved. WorkSafe’s Executive Director for Health and Safety, Ian Forsyth is pleased with the increase because of the high-risk nature of timber milling.

Forsyth believes that the highest standards of safety must be upheld for timber workers. Forsyth signified that they were disappointed that a company of such high regard in the industry were not leading the way with regards to health and safety. He believes there is now an opportunity for the industry to closely examine where safety improvements can be made to limit risks and costs.
Source: http://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/wsinternet/worksafe/sitetools/news/carter+holt+harvey+workplace+fatality+fine+nearly+doubled+after+appeal

Residents Outraged At Plans to Dig Up Asbestos Ridden Site

Asbestos TrainingSydney residents are outraged over plans to dig up an asbestos ridden site in order to build a huge waste treatment plant. In the late 1990s the deadly effects of asbestos were fully realised so the owner of the site, James Hardie, tore down  their buildings and built a concrete slap.

It has been five years since the asbestos-caused death of Bernie Banton, a former James Hardie employee who worked at the site. Residents are concerned and angry about the plans to dig up the contaminated site.

A German waste management and recycling company is looking to construct a commercial and industrial waste treatment facility where the James Hardie building was once located. However, residents are concerned that digging up the soil under the concrete slap will put their safety at risk since it is laced with asbestos. The site is located adjacent to a childcare centre.Residents have been adamant in their protest against the development, and their feelings that the government is putting corporate interests above public safety. Parents have since threatened to remove their children if the project proceeds.

Remondis has conceded that although the land had been cleaned up by Sydney Water, asbestos particles were still present in the ground. Mohan Selvaraj, a technical manager for Remonidis, said that the process will not include digging up the concrete slab except to provide sewage. Selvaraj said this part of the process will be monitored by Work Cover despite the ease to do it.

President of the Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia, Barry Robson, feels that the project is outrageous because any construction or vehicle is at risk of fracturing the concrete slap. Robson is concerned that a fifth wave of victims will occur.

NSW Planning Assessment Commission will make a decision regarding the project sometime after the public comment period closes on April 10.

More info on Asbestos Awareness Training

 Source: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/residents-livid-over-plans-to-dig-up-asbestos-site-20120327-1vwlh.html#ixzz1rDbJ2h78

Highway Work Delayed Due To Construction Safety Issues

construction safety trainingConstruction work at the Monaro Highway duplication in Fyshwick has been halted after the construction union visited the site and raised various safety concerns.

Construction, Forestry Mining and Energy Union official Brett Harrison arrived at the site where he proceeded to examine potential safety breaches and ensuring that contractors were working to rectify any problems. Harrison cited issues with protection on each side of the bridge, scaffolding, and handrails.The union is concerned that these dangers put passing motorists at risk.

WorkSafe ACT has allegedly visited the site on two occasions and found no problems. Senior project manager Ben Helmers stated that the issues cited by the CFMEU were fixed immediately.Helmers said there were no serious risks but in the interest of all parties, they fixed whatever issues were cited.He said all of the issues relate to general maintenance and the company does frequent inspections to make sure that safety standards are maintained.

More info on Construction Safety

Source: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/highway-work-halted-20120404-1wdfq.html#ixzz1r7SzrRiR

OHS:Ten year Work Health and Safety Strategy Open For Comment

OHS TrainingThe draft Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy for 2012-2022 is now available for public comment.

Safe Work Australia has made a list of frequently asked questions pertaining to the draft commenting process. Comments can be sent to AustralianStrategy@SafeWorkAustralia.gov.au. If it is not possible for you to email your comments then you can use post to mail the comments in.

The public comment period will be stopped at 5:00 pm on May 21, 2012. No extensions will be given for public comment.  The draft strategy can be accessed from the Safe Work website where the public will be able to download a PDF and Word Format draft.

The purpose of the comment period is to utilize a wide range of expertise and experience in ensuring that the highest standards are met in implementing the safety strategy. Any area of the draft can be commenting on by anyone interested in the occupational health and safety legislation process.

SafeWork has supplied a template for participants to comment on the draft. In this template they have provided a cover sheet and a public comment response form.  The cover sheet is important because it gives Safe Work Australia your permission to publish your comments on their website. All comments will be accepted and considered when pertaining to the Work Health and Safety Strategy draft. There is no amount of detail that must be included in your comment since all feedback and comments will be welcomed and will assist in a comprehensive safety strategy.

It is important to note that even if you submitted comments on the Model Work Health and Safety Act/Regulations/Codes of Practice then you should still comment on this draft since it is a separate body of work to the work health and safety legislation.

This legislation will be implemented in planned improvements to occupational health and safety in the next decade.

All comments are expected to be carefully considered and used in order to determine what aspects of the strategy can be improved. Following the comment period, the strategy will be revised with consideration of all the public comments.  Considering the influence this strategy could have on you or your employees throughout the next ten years, the public should serious consider commenting on the strategy in order to ensure that the views, needs, and opinions of the public are considered.

The new Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022 is expected to be implemented later this year.

Source: http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/AboutSafeWorkAustralia/WhatWeDo/PublicConsultation/Pages/WHSStrategyPC.aspx

5 Reasons You Need Chain Of Responsibility Training

Driver fatigue whether it be the long haul freight driver or the bus driver who is asked to work frequent back to back shifts often results in serious accidents that can damage expensive equipment and jeopardize the lives of the driver, his passengers, or other drivers or passengers on the road. In order, to help reduce driver fatigue and reduce the number of accidents cause by driver fatigue laws have been passed ensuring that everyone involved in the transport business does their part to help reduce and prevent driver fatigue.

Here are 5 reasons why you need chain of responsibility training:

1. As a manager or other officer in the transport business your words and actions may have an impact on the behavior and actions of the driver of those big rigs or public transportation vehicles. Taking a chain of responsibility training course will help you to do your duties better to see to the safety of the driver and how your words and actions can make you liable if an accident does occur. By having a clearer understanding of how your words and actions can affect a drivers actions and the liability that you may have due to those actions will help you to stay in compliance with the laws and insure that all drivers maintain compliance as well.

2. Making sure that your employees; whether the driver of the vehicle, the person who schedules the work or the person who loads the cargo understands their role and responsibility in seeing that a delivery or person riding on your transport system arrives to their final destination in one piece can decrease your responsibility should an accident occur. Chain of responsibility training can not only help your employees understand their responsibilities, but, can help you to protect yourself from liability if an accident should occur by providing you with proof in the form of their certificate of completion that you are providing your employees with the necessary training to make responsible and safe decisions.

3. Chain of responsibility training helps each person in the chain understand how their words or actions impact the decisions that the driver makes when he is out on the road. Having a clear understanding of how these actions impact the safety of the driver, his passengers and others on the road and the liability that they carry for their own decisions and actions will help each person to see how they personally can be held responsible for any accidents that are a result of their actions.

4. Chain of responsibility training can help you put into effect a system of checks and balances that helps to ensure that good decisions are made all the way down the line resulting in less risk to the driver and others on the road, less damage to property and equipment, and less injuries and deaths due to driver fatigue. This not only results in more profit for your business in the long run but, also safer roads for all drivers.

5. Chain of responsibility training will help drive