November 2016 – Newsletter

Reminder on what is important in our lives!

As 2016 flies past us all and we are starting to plan for the Christmas Break, celebrations with families and loved ones, I felt it was timely to stop and think why we do what we do day in and day out!

We have had several fatalities this year, and most, I would confidently say, were totally avoidable, so now it is important to remember those that have been effected by these incidents.

Ask yourself:

What can I do to make it a better workplace?

What can I do to change the culture in the workplace?

What part can I play to become a safety leader, not follower?

We would welcome the chance to talk to you or your team about what your answers were to the above questions. Developing safety leadership and culture is increasingly important for businesses trying to positively influence work safety, reduce their injury rates and create a healthy and productive work environment

With these thoughts, I wanted to share with you some “findings” and statistics that you can use in your tool box meetings or safety talks to your team:

Trucking Executive receives 10 years jail for workplace accident:

An Adelaide trucking company boss twice found guilty of manslaughter over a driver’s death due to faulty brakes has had his sentence reduced. Peter Francis Colbert, 56, was convicted in September over the death of Robert Brimson, 45. Mr. Brimson was killed when the truck he was driving slammed into a pole on Main South Road at Happy Valley in 2014. Justice Malcolm Blue sentenced Colbert to 10 years, six months’ jail with a non-parole period of seven years and five months, commencing from September 2016. Colbert was also convicted of endangering the life of another driver who the court heard warned him about failing brakes two days before the fatal crash.

This is a salient reminder to Executive Officers of their Duties as detailed in the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 specifically section.19 primary duties, s.20 duties of a person conducting a business or undertaking and the penalties outlined in s.31 for category 1 breach where a person is exposed to death or the risk of death due to reckless behavior where statutory offences can in certain circumstances become criminal manslaughter charges.

NB: The words “criminal manslaughter” have been in the newspaper several times in October with the Queensland fatalities still fresh in our minds.

Ladder safety matters – don’t let this be your last step!!

With time off (holidays) over Christmas we often look at working around our homes, so some sobering thoughts for you: Across Australia, about 1,600 men aged over 65 were hospitalized annually with ladder-related injuries, with most occurring while doing DIY and maintenance work at home.

Using a ladder around the home is something the DIYers have done for decades, but re-thinking the risks involved a ladder fall can have a lasting impact on both the injured person and their family, and often the consequences of a fall go far beyond the injuries themselves. Many men have difficulty adjusting to life after a fall, where they are less mobile, less independent and less able to do their own maintenance and DIY work.

“Research indicates older men suffer a heavy sense of loss at not being able to help out around the house, and this would be felt particularly among Queensland men used to being outdoors. The burden on families can also be significant, with family members leaving employment to care for fall victims, or returning to work to be able to afford the professional ongoing care needed”, reported from the Attorney General and Minister for Justice. Almost every ladder injury was preventable and it is often a split-second decision, something that the man knows is a risky shortcut! Of those admitted to hospital, one third need intensive care. Shockingly, a quarter of these intensive care patients die, and of those who do survive, over half are not well enough to live at home after 12 months.

The figures show just how serious a fall from a ladder can be, and should be a sobering reminder for older Aussie men to stop and think before doing something risky on a ladder. It’s very important to maintain three points of contact always and not overreach.

Following some simple ladder safety tips can drastically reduce the risk of injury:

    • choose the right ladder for the job
    • don’t work in wet or windy conditions
    • take time to set up your ladder
    • work safely up the ladder
    • have another person hold the ladder
  • know your limits and work to your ability Some surprising facts follow for you to consider with your team:

 

  • In the environment / market place we work in today we are always trying to cram more work time into the workplace, so shift work is growing in popularity with businesses.
  • New study results shows shift workers suffer more work injuries

The injury rate for Australian shift workers at 49.9 injured workers per million hours worked, is more than twice that of non-shift workers at 23.2, per new Safe Work Australia study results.

The study found shift workers accounted for only 16 per cent of hours worked, but they accounted for 30 per cent of injured workers. However, it also stated that further investigation into the causes was needed to improve the safety of shift workers because not all groups of shift workers had significantly higher injury rates.

Shift workers who were machinery operators and drivers had a significantly lower injury rate than their non-shift worker counterparts. There were no significant differences in the injury rates of shift workers and non-shift workers in clerical and administrative workers; retail trade; transport, postal and warehousing; and health care and social assistance.

The study found shift workers in the following groups had significantly higher injury rates than their non-shift worker counterparts:

  • Occupations: labourers; community and personal service workers; technicians and trades workers; and professionals.
  • Industries: manufacturing; accommodation and food services; and public administration and safety.

So, one final note before we close. Remember the joy and excitement of the works get togethers need to be organized and controlled! Sorry, but remember you have an obligation as it is still a workplace as well as a “party”.

I look forward to having you all part of our network again next year. If there is anything mentioned through this newsletter you require further information on, do not hesitate to contact us.

If you want more statistics to share with your team on musculoskeletal impacts or the changes to the Workplace Bullying Guidelines, let us know. Always happy to share information!

Until next newsletter.

Stay safe and well.

June 2016 – Newsletter

Time to review some facts that can impact on your business.

Well, who would believe we are into mid-June already! Where is the year going?

Talking to some of our clients we realized that it may be time to revisit some of the simple “refresher” points when we talk WHS and HR compliance. Everyone has their heads down trying to keep businesses going, there is the odd occasion when things go terribly wrong, and what should have been avoided, ends up a major issue!!

We have attached a couple of “court outcomes” for you to go through and use as a tool box or meeting topic for your team when you are together next.

We thought first of we should add the ALERT that has come through this week after the crane toppled in South Brisbane.

“This alert is to remind you and your organisation that if you are planning to operate a crane with partially extended outriggers, you must verify the acceptability of the loading configuration from the manufacturer’s load charts. The load chart shows the allowable lifting capacities of the crane when set up with the outriggers partially extended and must be complied with. Additionally, set-up and pack-up of any crane must be completed in accordance with procedures specified by the manufacturer.”

Now for the court outcomes as stated:

Fine for fatality:

A construction company has been fined $170,000 over a fatal workplace incident in 2011.

The Federal Court in Brisbane handed down the penalty in Brisbane on Wednesday. The company breached the then Commonwealth Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991, which has been replaced by the Work Health and Safety Act that came into effect in 2012. The victim, a mechanical fitter was working on smoke duct formwork in the Airport Link Tunnel on 29 September 2011 when a section he was cutting collapsed, crushing him. He was brought to the hospital where he died two days after.

In an Agreed Statement of Facts tendered to the court, the company acknowledged its failure of providing the mechanical fitter with training on risk or control measures for the work, or a safe system of work for the cutting of the formwork.

“In this case, there was a clear failure to take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure this work was carried out safely,” said Comcare Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Taylor.

“Detailed risk assessments are fundamental requirements in identifying hazards and ensuring the health and safety of workers, and that did not happen here.”

Point: Is it time to revisit your risk assessments?

What is in your training matrix? Is it up to date?

 

Are you a labour hire company or do you use a labour hire company?

This is for you to read:

Miserable failings by labour hire company

Two recent occupational health and safety (OHS) prosecutions in South Australia related to labour hire employees and providers indicate changes in enforcement approach and clues for change as they illustrate how some people and companies have almost no regard for the safety of its employees, according to a Safe Work SA media release dated 28 May 2016

“The Industrial Court convicted Queensland based labour hire company, Fix Force (Qld) Pty Ltd, and imposed a penalty of $150 000 plus court costs.

On 22 October 2012, Mr. Clinton Benson, a contracted employee on the South Road Super Way Project, suffered life threatening injuries when his head was crushed between a lifting arm and welding table. Following investigation by Safe Work SA, Fix Force (Qld) Pty Ltd was charged with offences under the then Occupational Health Safety and Welfare Act 1986 (SA), for “failure to ensure its employee was safe from injury and risk to health whilst at work, as far as was reasonably practicable.” Prosecuting labour hire companies has been problematic because of the legal maneuvering and contractual structures that many companies implement but OHS responsibilities are reasonably clear that a duty of care is expected and required.  A worker dies or is injured and an investigation identifies the decisions taken by whoever that may have contributed to the incident.

“It is the responsibility of the labour hire company to ensure hazard identification and risk assessments are completed at the host workplace before allowing employees to work in and around items of plant… This conviction reinforces that a labour hire company has a work health and safety duty to employees which cannot be delegated to others including joint venture partners.”

Case 2:

“The Industrial Court convicted labour hire employer, Big Mars Pty Ltd, this week for failing to provide a safe system of work and failing to provide information, instruction, training and supervision. On 6 November 2013, a temporary migrant from Taiwan, Yu Hsiang Hsiao, fell into a bath of caustic soda. Mr. Hsiao suffered severe burns which left him hospitalised for more than three months.

Following a thorough investigation by Safe Work SA, Big Mars Pty Ltd was charged with offences under the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA), for failure to comply with their health and safety duty which exposed Mr. Hsiao to a risk of death or serious injury.”

The significant difference in this prosecution was that it occurred under the more recent Work Health and Safety (WHS) legislation so not only is it a safety warning to labour hire companies around Australia, it may also indicate how prosecutions and penalties apply under revised OHS laws that most States have implemented. The size of the financial penalty is also a point of difference with the penalty imposed under WHS laws being double that of the prosecution under the OHS laws. Although the magistrate had the discretion to apply a fine of $A1.5 million.  If deterrence is intended through the application of a substantial fine, an amount closer to the maximum could change the labour hire industry very quickly.

“As a labour hire business Big Mars had a duty to assess the abattoir, including the Hook Room, before it sent Mr. Hsiao to work there. It had a duty to provide an appropriate safety induction in Mr. Hsiao’s language. It had a duty to take all reasonable practicable steps to ensure that risks to safety were controlled, and it had a duty to regularly monitor and review the workplace’s safety standards. It was also obliged to consider the safety aspects of Mr. Hsiao’s youth and language barrier!!!!! Big Mars should have obtained details of the tasks that its worker would be required to carry out. It should have obtained information from Thomas Foods or made its own enquiries, about all specific foreseeable hazards and resulting risks of injury, together with the adequacy of hazard control measures. Big Mars should have ensured that Thomas Foods provided and maintained appropriate written Safe Operating Procedures that referred to and required maximum use of the gates, and use of an aid to move the hook tree along the rail over the bath. If all this was not provided Big Mars should not have placed its employee in that role. Big Mars should have provided a written translation of all relevant safety and work instructions, and it should have ensured that Mr. Hsiao was told of the dangerous chemicals he was to work with, and of the appropriate first aid measures. Big Mars should also have had some system to assess the effectiveness of the training and supervision provided by Thomas Foods to Mr. Hsiao. So much could have been done to prevent this from happening!!

For those interested in extra information about the Chemical Changes as of January 2017 or effective contractor management programs I have added the information in a separate document on our website. If there is anything mentioned through this newsletter you require further information on, do not hesitate to contact us.

Until next newsletter.

Stay safe and well.

Additional Points Of Interest For Your Reading

Jail time looms for Safety Consultant!!

Charges carrying jail time have been laid against a safety consultant following the death of a young girl at the Royal Adelaide Show in 2014.

Eight-year-old Adelene Leong was thrown from the Air Maxx 360 ride at the show on 12 September 2014 and died later in hospital. Hamish Munro of Safe is Safe Pty Ltd inspected and verified the safety of the Air Maxx 360 before the incident, according to a Safe Work SA media statement.

Following an investigation, Safe Work SA filed charges against Munro in the Industrial Magistrates Court of South Australia. Munro and Safe is Safe Pty Ltd face Category 1 offences under South Australia’s work health and safety legislation, which carry a maximum penalty for an individual of $300,000 or five years’ jail or both.

Safe Work SA alleges that elements of Munro and Safe is Safe Pty Ltd.’s conduct were reckless and without reasonable excuse. South Australia’s Crown Solicitor’s office continues to investigate the possibility of prosecuting other parties associated with the Air Maxx 360.

New Hazardous Chemical Regulations as of 2017.

Manufacturers, importers, suppliers and users of hazardous chemicals have duties to manage risks associated with hazardous chemicals in the workplace. This includes ensuring the safe use; handling and storage of chemicals as well as ensuring chemicals are classified and labelled correctly under the model work health and safety laws.

If you work with hazardous chemicals, it’s important you:

  • ensure safe systems of work are in place to manage the risks associated with hazardous chemicals in the workplace
  • review your chemical inventory and dispose of chemicals which are out of date or no longer used, and
  • talk to your chemical suppliers to check you will receive GHS labelled stock.

Users of hazardous chemicals are not required to relabel or dispose of existing stock. It is okay to keep using, handling and storing hazardous chemicals labelled in accordance with a previous labelling code in your own workplace if the product was supplied to you before 1 January 2017.

From 1 January 2017, end-users should not accept new hazardous chemical products that are not GHS labelled, e.g. labelled in accordance with previous labelling codes. If you are a manufacturer, importer or supplier of workplace hazardous chemicals, it’s important you:

  • consider how the introduction of the GHS will impact your business, and
  • review your business practices to ensure chemicals supplied to your clients are classified and labelled under the GHS.

Contractor Management:

Contractor management can be a very challenging area for organisations to manage and your obligations under Occupational Health and Safety legislation are not absolved because you have engaged the services of a contractor.

It is important that contractors have a clear understanding of what is required while on site at your workplace and that they have their own robust Safety Policy and Safety Procedures in place.

If your organisation engages contractors or sub-contractors, contractor risk management should be integrated into your Safety Management System. A safety induction which is relevant to the site should be completed before commencing work. The complexity of the contractor management process will depend on how a contractor is engaged, the type of work, where and under what circumstances the work is being conducted.

Take the time to think what you do have and what you SHOULD HAVE!!!….

Before it becomes too late and you are scrambling for evidence you do not have!

April 2016 – Newsletter

Facts for you to discuss with your teams.

We have split this newsletter into 2 for you. First one is with an OHS focus and the second is more HR designed discussing what makes up a contractor versus a worker!

OHS:

We thought that it was time to revisit some safety “facts” and outcomes from incidents and court findings to make sure everyone remains focused on the health and wellbeing of our workers, and of course our businesses that employ.

We had 2 notices of fatalities come through this week and this made me realize that sometimes the message is not getting through to the guys and girls that we have working for us, how quick things go terribly wrong, or what the consequences are to us as business owners when tragedy happens.

So have a read through some of these points raised and share them with your team, maybe it will become a good “PROMPT” to revisit what you have in place to ensure your compliance is maintained, and the competency of the people around you.

What were the fatalities?

First: A construction worker in Cairns died on April 1st. The worker died in hospital from head injuries he sustained after falling three (3) metres through a second floor void. Could this happen to your workers at work they are undertaking? What are your controls and safety management system like?

Second: A 13 year old from a Goondiwindi farm again on April 1st, received serious head injuries when he was run over by a vehicle, later dying in hospital. Could this happen anywhere that your workers are undertaking work?

Re Visit Due Diligence and Reasonably Practicable:

To understand your liability and responsibility I thought we should revisit this topic first.

Directors and officers have a personal duty to exercise “due diligence” to ensure their company is complying with its obligations under the Harmonized Work Health and Safety Laws.

A recent case gives an insight into what’s required to meet that threshold.

A director and employer were charged under the (now repealed) OHS Act after an employee, Mr. Lama, caused an extensive fire while decanting liquid for manufacturing paint thinner. Mr Lama was qualified, experienced and trained in the task. But on that occasion, he neglected to adequately check the equipment. The employer, Omega International Coatings, pleaded guilty and copped a $40,000 fine.

The director, Mr Shetty, was personally charged for failing to “use all due diligence to prevent the contravention“. He defended the charge, and it paid off!!

Mr Shetty successfully avoided a conviction on account of having:

  • engaged an industry consultant to prepare hazard analyses, safety documentation and procedures for decanting liquids;
  • commissioned an accredited dangerous goods consultant to produce a Dangerous Goods Handling Manual;
  • employed a qualified chemist who developed risk assessment procedures including a decanting work procedure; and
  • implemented safety documentation by ensuring that employees, including Mr Lama, were trained on the relevant procedures.

(Question: How would your due diligence stand up if tested?)

Another case:

A crane operating business and one of its employees have been ordered to pay a total of $9,877 over an incident in 2013 where an employee received an electric shock. Cranes R Us Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to directing a worker to complete high risk work when they were not licensed to do so and was fined $5,000 plus ordered to pay costs of $688.50.

Simon Peter Pratt pleaded guilty to failing to take reasonable care to avoid adversely affecting the safety of others, and carrying out high risk work without the required High Risk Work License.  Mr Pratt was fined $3,500 plus ordered to pay costs of $688.50.

On September 10, 2013 Mr Pratt was employed by Cranes R Us, who had been contracted to lift steel lintels to the window and door frames at a construction site for a new residential dwelling in White Gum Valley. Mr. Pratt and the dog man on the site conducted a visual site assessment and saw the overhead high voltage power lines at the front of the site. The crane’s boom commenced rising upward until the end of the boom came in line with the overhead power lines and at a distance of approximately two metres from the lines. The boom then slewed away from the site, toward the power lines. The dog man, who had been holding onto the crane’s hook, started to let go, however, the crane made contact with the power lines and an arc flashover occurred. The dog man received an electric shock and burns to the palm of his right hand and both feet. Mr. Pratt had been granted a Certificate of Competency for slewing mobile cranes up to 20 tons in 2003, however this certificate expired in 2012.  Mr. Pratt did not submit an application to convert his Certificate to a High Risk Work License and was hence unlicensed at the time of the incident. (Question: Are all of your licenses up to date and on file??)

Commissioner Lex McCulloch said today the case should serve as a reminder that it is the responsibility of everyone in the workplace to ensure that the workplace is safe. “This case illustrates that it is not just the employer’s responsibility to keep the workplace safe. Employees and contractors also have a responsibility to take reasonable care to ensure the safety and health of others in the workplace,” Mr McCulloch said. “Both the employer and the employee are responsible for ensuring the relevant licenses are current before undertaking high risk work. “Fortunately, no one was fatally injured in the incident, however it could have been a very different story. It is crucial that crane drivers are aware of the position of overhead power lines and maintain the relevant exclusion zones.”

Final Court outcome for discussion:

Company director given home detention after worker buried in trench collapse

22 March 2016

The director of company Steelcon Construction Limited, Rodney Bishop, has been sentenced to four months home detention over the death of a worker who died after he was buried when a trench he was working in collapsed. Steelcon Construction was also fined $56,000 and ordered to pay reparation of $121,320.

Michael Haines, who was 34, died in May 2014. He was helping to install a concrete effluent transfer tank and pipes at a farm at the time of the incident.

Mr Haines was clearing dirt in the area where the tank pit joined to the four-metre-deep pipe trench when the face of the trench collapsed and approximately five cubic metres of soil with an estimated weight of eight tonnes fell and buried him. Despite immediate efforts to rescue him he died.

Investigation found that the trench had not been shored up (by the installation of appropriate panels to prevent collapse). It had been cut with vertical sides and not “battered” (in other words it had not had its sides cut back at a safe slope to ensure the face remains stable).

There had also not been any geotechnical assessment of the site to check the stability of the soil before work began.

Question: What evidence could you produce for your “governance / due diligence” that controls are in place?)

There are identified risks with rider restraint systems on some amusement rides. This alert outlines information on engineering controls to assist in ensuring the safety of patrons. Date issued: 01 May 2015 |  Read more

For those interested in the HR section, please continue on reading.

For those that are only OHS focused I hope that the above facts and cases can start a proactive discussion in your workplace.

HR:

The old debate is still out there as to the definition of a contractor versus a worker.

So I thought it may be worthwhile to share some points raised by CCIQ to assist in sorting through the confusion.

When is a contractor really an employee?

You’ll be hard-pressed to find an employer who enjoys paying leave loading, workers’ comp, super or tax. But the law takes a dim view of bosses who try to pass employees off as contractors to avoid these costs.

JUST BECAUSE YOU CALL A WORKER AN INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR DOES NOT MEAN THEY ARE, AND YOU CAN STILL BE FINED!!

In today’s world there is strong demand on flexible workplace resourcing models like contractors and casuals.

To protect the rights of workers, there’s a well-defined line between how an independent contractor should work and when they deserve the extra entitlements that legally belong to an employee. The Fair Work Act 2009 calls crossing that line “sham contracting” – when an employer attempts to disguise an employment relationship as an independent contracting arrangement to avoid these entitlements. If you run a workforce that ramps up or down with demand, then this aspect of the law is well worth mastering. Getting caught sham contracting can attract a penalty as high as $54,000, and ignorance of the law is not accepted as an excuse.

Employee and contractor: What’s the difference?

The courts assess nine key indicators to define whether a person is a contractor or an employee. While every workplace is different, these indicators give a pretty good working definition of how to employ someone:

  • Employees generally work under the direction and control of their employer, while independent contractors exercise more personal control.
  • Employees carry no financial risk, while contractors bear the risk of making a profit or a loss from the job.
  • Employers are paid superannuation and leave; contractors generally aren’t.
  • Employees get tax deducted by their employers but independent contractors pay their own PAYG and GST.

Remember, just because the workers you engage bring their own tools to work and have their own ABN, it doesn’t mean a court will rule they are a contractor. Even if a worker is happy to call themselves a contractor, ignorance of the law is no excuse and it’s the employer who will be penalized. Trade-based businesses are notorious for passing off labourers as sub-contractors and the newspapers are filled with stories of small firms being caught

Rules to live by

Keep in mind that the Fair Work system was designed to protect the rights of workers, not bosses. The Fair Work Act defines three clear actions which are bound to get employers in hot water. Break these rules and you’re looking for trouble.

  • Don’t tell an employee that he or she is an independent contractor.
  • Don’t dismiss or threaten to sack an employee so that you can hire them again as an independent contractor, especially if it’s to do similar work.
  • Don’t lie to an employee – or a former employee – to persuade them to do much the same work on a contractual basis.

Like many other aspects of employment law, sham contracting is something you need to know more about than the people who work for you.

What might seem like a tax-effective decision today could spell the end of your business down the track.”

Well I sincerely hope these points help clarify some “grey” areas for you.

Work cover Queensland also has a very good tool on their web site that you can go in and do a questionnaire to see if the agreement you have some of your workers under is as “independent contractors” in the real sense or a “worker” which means also workover premiums and all the other red tape that goes with this.

If there is anything mentioned through this newsletter you want further information on, or another topic requiring clarification, don not hesitate to contact us.

Until next newsletter.

Stay safe and well

 

January 2016 Newsletter

2016 has arrived Happy New Year !!!!!!

Well it is finally here, another year begins and the challenges start straight away.

We hope that the following information is helpful to you and your business when you start the planning for activities and focus points of 2016.

New worker cover medical certificate being considered:

An interesting fact: Work related injuries cost the Queensland economy $5.8 billion a year according to latest estimates—around four times the cost of compensated work-related injuries. The community bears more than half of the total economic cost, followed by workers and employers.

The impact that work-related injuries have can be reduced by promoting a positive return to work culture and implementing practices to return injured workers to work quickly and safely. It’s also good for business. The potential savings from supporting early return to work can help business maintain operational requirements and minimise claim costs that impact on your workers’ compensation premiums.

To support a positive return to culture, we are currently reviewing the workers’ compensation medical certificate. In 2016 we will introduce a new certificate that focuses on capacity, rather than incapacity, for work. This will encourage doctors, workers and employers to start talking about the issue from the very first medical appointment.

We will keep you posted as this is progressed through the chain of “sign offs” by the relevant decision makers.

WHSQ Action Plans for 2016:

Seven Queensland industry sectors have been identified as requiring targeted efforts to improve safety in order to keep the state’s work injury rates trending down. Recent statistics show that the serious injury claim rate for the targeted sub-sectors, including the metals manufacturing, meat processing, road freight, civil construction, construction trades, horticulture and livestock sectors were much higher than each overall industry claim rate.

Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations Grace Grace issued a statement saying. “Although the rate of workplace deaths and injuries in this state is lowering, it’s no reason to ease up on work safety. We know that jobs in the these industries often involve hard, physical, dirty work—but these workers have as much right to a safe workplace as those in other industries. Workplace Health and Safety Queensland will work closely with businesses in these sectors to identify the most prevalent injuries and what is causing them. We will look at the financial impact of injuries on their business, as well as the impacts on workers and their families”.

So with this in mind the following industries will form the Action Plan for the year of 2016.

The Metals manufacturing industry action plan and the Meat processing industry action plan highlight:

integration of health and safety, injury management and health and wellbeing systems
resource materials for the control of occupational health and hygiene risks
initiatives and resources to raise awareness and build industry capacity to manage musculoskeletal disorders, psychosocial and chronic disease risks.

The Road freight industry action plan highlights:

accessing and working on and around trucks and trailers
coupling and decoupling
immobilising heavy vehicles and trailers
work related violence for bus drivers
loading, unloading and cross-loading cattle

The Civil construction industry action plan and the Construction trades action plan highlight:

working around mobile plant and moving traffic
operating elevated work platforms
loading and unloading trucks
working around electrical installations.

The Horticulture industry action plan highlights:

design controls for on farm transport of workers and loading and unloading of produce and equipment
establishing partnerships with research institutions to improve safety
establishing safety networks in major horticultural growing regions
initiatives and resources to raise awareness and build industry capacity to manage musculoskeletal disorders, psychosocial and chronic disease risks.

The Livestock industry action plan highlights:

livestock loading and unloading facilities
safe work environments for young and travelling workers
the use of agricultural chemicals
exposure to noise and UV radiation
working in isolation / remote workers.
Injuries in these sectors make up a significant proportion of the state’s workers’ compensation claims and it is only natural that if there is a focus on where the injuries are happening it can only prove to be a benefit to us all.

Would be interested to hear feedback on the above points from any of you in the industries identified.

Safety Alerts issued through 2015:

The following list are the issued safety alerts that were posted through the year.

If you require any further information on any of these, or missed them when they came through, let us know and we will only be too happy to pass them on.

Support of mobile plant on outriggerThe purpose of this safety alert is to highlight the potential risks associated with inadequate support under outrigger feet on mobile plant – particularly on poor ground, including fill.
Date issued: 22 December 2015 |  Read more
Stair module failures on scaffoldingA number of incidents have occurred in Queensland where modular scaffolding stair units have dropped or stair treads have failed.
Date issued: 12 November 2015 |  Read more
Re-design of rider restraint systems on amusement devices
Setting-up and dismantling of amusements rides.
Multi-cutters and other discs on power tools and air tools
There are identified risks with rider restraint systems on some amusement rides. This alert outlines information on engineering controls to assist in ensuring the safety of patrons.
Date issued: 01 May 2015 |  Read more

Safely immobilising heavy vehicles and trailers

For you that are in this related industry, some information for your follow up.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland is investigating a fatality at a workplace in Nanango where a worker was crushed by a truck trailer combination which rolled while he was attempting to repair an airline. Workers frequently need to get in and out of heavy vehicles during on-road activities, or when working on or under a heavy vehicle or trailer to clean it, check for faults, and undertake servicing and repairs. Tragically though, many Queensland workers have been seriously injured or killed due to a heavy vehicle or trailer not being effectively immobilised.

Businesses must ensure that the risk of being crushed or hit by vehicles and trailers is controlled and there is a safe system of work in place which includes training. Guidance was published earlier this year as part of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland’s Safely immobilising heavy vehicles and trailers campaign to help businesses address these risks. This campaign will run continue into 2016 as inspectors visits businesses throughout Queensland and variety of industries providing information and awareness.

I feel that this is sufficient to get the year started.

As you know our world is forever changing and the laws and regulations that impact us change more often than we would all like!

The right of entry has changed again in Queensland and the global system of labelling chemicals is in the final year of transition, to commence this time next year.

We will release further details on this new requirement within the next month, so you can then start to focus on getting this area of your business compliant!

If you need to discuss this before then, just drop us a note or contact and we will talk you through the major impacts.

So there it is. A start for 2016 and more to follow!

As the old saying goes:

“The failure to plan is a plan to fail!”

So if you need help to plan, you know who to contact.

Thank you to all who have allowed us to work with them through 2015 and we look forward to catching up in 2016 to share some of your achievements.

3 Essential Steps for WHS Due Diligence Compliance

April 2015

As we move through another month we thought it was timely re revisited the “3 Essential Steps for WHS Due Diligence Compliance”, or the three “must haves” for business survival.

There are three steps organizations and businesses need to take to assist their officers in complying with their work health and safety (WHS) due diligence duties, according to a leading OHS Lawyer.

Under WHS laws, officers are REQUIRED to exercise due diligence to ensure their organization or business is complying with its obligations under the laws, and this due diligence obligation is a personal duty imposed on officers.

Officers are required to take both personal and proactive steps to demonstrate compliance with their duty!

There is nothing new about this statement, as I am sure you are all well aware of what we are required to do, but there is evidence that officers will to some extent “rely” on their organization or business model to have certain systems and processes in place so they can comply with their due diligence obligation.

SO!

There are three steps the businesses need to take to ensure this responsibility is fulfilled.

Step.1.

Establish a due diligence framework and safety management system. This needs to have a corporate governance framework in place which sets out how officers will comply with their due diligence obligations, and the organizational systems and processes in place to assist officers in meeting their duties. They should also ensure that they have a legally compliant documented Safety Management System in place!

Step.2.

Establish a safety performance reporting framework. One of the specific elements of the due diligence obligations requires officers to consider incidents, hazards and risks. In order to enable officers to comply with this requirement a robust safety performance reporting framework must be evident and used to collect and assess information around incidents, hazards and risks also providing regular reports delivered. There also needs to be effective corporate governance structure and committees in place to enable a flow through of information so that is considered / discussed at all levels.

Step.3.

Conduct regular legal Compliance Audits. This is one of the more critical aspects of due diligence obligation is to requirement for officers to ensure legal compliance by their respective organization or business, according to the respected OHS lawyer Michael Tooma, partner and head of OHS and security (Asia Pacific) for Norton Rose Fulbright, Australia.

Businesses should have in place a comprehensive safety auditing program and undertake legal compliance of their safety management system and performance on an annual basis. Audits should be externally conducted and internal follow ups.

Three steps for officers to make sure they have in place! If you are unclear of what makes up some of these points noted in the steps, let us know and we can send you a “checklist” to let you revisit what is required.

I hope this has given you a refresher on your “personal obligations” that officers of the organizations or businesses face.

Remember if there is any further information you require on points raised in this newsletter just let us know.

March 2015 Newsletter

March 2015

As another month draws to a close and we all start to focus on a couple of days off over the Easter break we thought it was timely to catch up on how businesses are performing in the area of WHS.

Some facts to consider:

Unfortunately we are still hurting our people.

Unfortunately we are still having fatalities in the workplace.

The business sector is slower than normal in most industries, but we are still managing to not have the time to maintain our compliance, induct our staff and update our records.

As at this week we have had 3 fatalities involving Excavator Operators since Christmas.

As at 27th March, just 3 days before we put this update out, 39 Australians have been killed at work in 2015. Yes it is a slight improvement since this time last year, but I am sure you will all agree is still far too high.

We should all have the focus that everyone of us has one right in the workplace, and that is to go home in the same condition we came to work in (except of being a little dirtier or weary)

With the occurrence of each work related fatality, Safe Work Australia records information, updates statistics and prepares various reports.

If you are interested it may be worth a visit to the site as they also have relevant information on each industry.

 

http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/swa/statistics/pages/statistics

 

So what can we learn from statistics?

Simple, we can see that all incidents are preventable, in some way. The fatalities we have spoken about may have been an injury if there were the “checks and balances” in place.

In one of the Excavator Operator fatalities mentioned we know that the plant was less than in “good and well maintained condition, no pre starts undertaken”. The protection of the operator was not in place to ensure he was kept in a safe work environment!

So no SAFETY MANAGEMENT PROGRAM!!

In one industry we work with we can state that there were over $3.7m in workers compensation payments made with an average of 30 plus days off work for injury in the last calendar year.

This is a HUGE loss to any sector, and if you add it up across all industries the bottom line of any size business would suffer severely. Nobody EVER puts this allowance a loss of this size in their budgets!

We do seem to focus on the “cost of doing business” but the biggest impact is really one that cannot be measured.

This is the cost of the injury (mental and physical), time off work, loss of self-esteem, total incapacity of the injured worker, impact to their family and the work mates that are around the work area. Worst outcome would be the loss of a life.

This is an impact that cannot be given a “single” dollar amount and I am sure that if we all sat with pen and paper and started to list out all the things we can do now, and then take into account what we would not be able to do if we were injured or suffered an illness as a result of poor work habits, we would all have a “LIGHT BULB” moment.

Maybe a good exercise to undertake in a team meeting!

Now another topic that has really started to get the discussion happening around workplaces at present is the debate: Should we all have a standing desk?

A report from research is showing that “sitting is the new smoking”.

I was able to read a report on a worker who “tried” out the standing desk over a 3 day period. It was interesting to see they listed the following “benefits” after the trial.

  1. Standing and working felt a lot more natural after a few days.
  2. They were able to stand for longer stints (time frames) without back and foot pain.
  3. After the initial trial they found they were able to get absorbed in work and forgot they were upright in stance.
  4. They were able to stand for more than an hour at a time and would do this at least twice per day.
  5. They were more aware of the body responding to its position which made them more likely to stretch throughout the day before discomfort becomes pain.
  6. Headaches had not entirely disappeared but were becoming less frequent after the short trial. There was also noticed improvement in the neck, back and shoulders.

I thought this was an interesting “outcome” for a short “trial” which the resource documented, and could be worth further consideration in your workplace if you have an “office” based environment.

So until the next update, I hope this has given you something to share with your team and I would be interested to hear from their feedback, especially when you ask them what “impact” an injury would have on them!!!!!

Remember if there is any further information you require on points raised in this newsletter just let us know.

Tips for Management Organising Work Christmas Parties

Another year and again we are ready to “celebrate” what has been achieved, and make our resolutions for 2015.

This year seems to have passed by so quickly and it is hard to believe we are now in the “Christmas Party Mode”…….

This time of year can become a night mare for business owners and their management team, so we thought it is timely we “revisited” what we refer to as the:

“Ten Tips to ensure PCBU’s Duty of Care at Christmas Parties is met”

1. Risk Assessment: Know where the event is going to be held, the place, the people. What are the plans should you need to put them into action.

2. Relevant WHS Policies: Alert the team of the relevant company policies. Ensure they understand that the Christmas gathering and celebrations are an “extension” of the workplace. Make sure they re-visit and refresh their memory as to the contents of the Drugs and Alcohol Policy, Company Car use, Harassment and Social Media, e.g. needing another’s permission to post a photo on Face book, to guide what is acceptable and unacceptable and even legal and illegal behaviour.

3. Managers Responsibility: Ensure your mangers are fully versed on the relevant company policies and fully aware of their responsibilities such as setting the tone for the event by their own behaviour, being alert to what is happening and taking action as required; and a procedure for if someone is intoxicated could be developed accordingly.

4. Insurances: Check you have the appropriate and sufficient insurances in place for both the venue as well as the caterer.

5. Venue Staff: Take a minute to brief the staff that will be serving or attending your staff at the venue. Make them aware of what your staff polices are so they understand the behaviour you expect from your team.

6. Travel/ Transport: Take into consideration how your people will travel to and from the venue. Will you organize taxi charges? Will you provide a bus for them to travel together in? Are there suitable arrangements for the returning home or safe travel of the staff in the evening / late night?

7. Invitation: Send out an invitation to the attendees that has a clear START AND FINISH time. Maybe also consider including dress code, extra “partners” that are able to attend and other specifics.

8. Catering: Ensure there is adequate food and non-alcoholic beverages available to lessen the effects of alcohol. Perhaps part of the venue scope would be plenty of water available.

9. Underage: Identify all under-age attendees and make them known to bar staff. Perhaps appoint a buddy who is available to them if necessary. This would be part of your planning and risk based process.

10. After party: Make it clear in the invite any festivities that continue after the designated end of the Christmas party are not endorsed by the employer and are on the employees’ own time. This is why it is important to make clear “time frames” on the invitation or any memos etc. relating to the event.

Christmas parties are a great way to get together and celebrate what has been (for many) a tough year. Remember employers can be held responsible for employee’s inappropriate statements and conduct.

Consequently to ensure the Festive Season does not turn into a Miserable New Year a PCBU needs to take necessary steps to guarantee its duty of care. Put some thought into your celebrations and ensure they do not “cost you” all the hard work you have put in through 2014

Have a safe one!

CHEERS!!!!!

Lynn and the team at P.B.C.&S

Key Work Health and Safety Statistics – 2013

Please click on the link below to view Key Work Health and Safety Statistics, Australia published by Safe Work Australia.

Key-WHS-Statistics-2013 – Download the pdfSafe Work Australia 2013 Key WHS statistics_med

 

September 2014 Newsletter

We thought we would start this newsletter off by reminding everyone about the upcoming Safe Work Month, which kicks off with a great breakfast launch on the 2nd October. Good time to start the planning! There are some great posters available on the website (http://www.deir.qld.gov.au/workplace/) to use in the workplace for a timely reminder as to why we all “work safe for the moments that matter” which is the theme used this year. I recommend that you all take 5 minutes to “google” the site and see what can be used in your workplace, or what type of event you can run. It can be as simple as remembering to update the training for the staff, look at the documents you have in the safety system, are they current (they all have an expiry date), even a morning tea to just take 5 and ask “how are we all going?”.

Safe Work Month could also be used to consult with your team in the area of “disaster management planning” and what should they be looking for when we all are faced with higher risk management requirements such as we will be experiencing through the time of the G20 Summit in November.

Through the month there are also a number of well run and informative sessions that you may find helpful to your businesses.

A point to think about is that 17 Queenslanders per year die as a result of a traumatic workplace incident and in excess of 5000 suffer permanent incapacity!!! A thought we should keep in mind.

On another issue we raised the fact in last month’s newsletter about “checks” and some business audits that were starting to be undertaken as the pro active safety management by WHSQ. We have listed some of the industry sectors and what will be assessed and the focus.

All of industry interventions

Asbestos registers

Asbestos removal businesses

Participative ergonomics for manual tasks (PErforM)

  • In Queensland, the highest number of non-fatal workers’ compensation claims is for musculoskeletal injuries. The majority of these injuries are caused by manual tasks. This program is a simplified risk management program that involves workplace teams devising solutions for high risk manual tasks.

People at work

  • The People at Work project is a psychosocial risk assessment process. It measures how different workplace characteristics influence worker health and well-being, focusing particularly on risks to psychological health.

Construction

Leadership in major contractors: Preventing sprain and strain injuries.

Manual handling of plasterboard

Mobile and operational plant in construction

Manufacturing

Legionella in cooling towers

Manifest quantity workplaces

  • Hazardous Chemical Safety will be monitored through in-depth evaluations of safety systems for specific elements of a workplace’s hazardous chemicals safety management system for targeted high-end quantity manifest quantity workplaces.

Red meat processing

  • Over the next two years, key processes in the manufacture of red meat and game meat will be audited including the cattle yards, kill floor, boning room, process room, offal room, rendering plant, load-out, maintenance and cleaning activities. Inspectors will concentrate on the priority mechanisms of injury (body stressing, hitting and being hit by objects, falls, trips and slips); heat, electricity and other environmental factors; chemicals and other substances; and biological factors.

Red meat and poultry processing industries

  • Inspectors will work with stakeholders to identify and manage risks associated with meat processing workplaces.

Transport

Service station operators

  • A statewide audit of randomly chosen sites will be conducted to assess compliance with the hazardous chemicals provisions in the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011.

Preventing falls from trucks

  • Workplace Health and Safety Queensland is running a campaign to help workers, operators and employers understand the risks of falls while working on or around trucks at worksites across Queensland. Inspectors will audit the risk of falls from trucks by looking at the design of the vehicle, type of equipment used, work practices and risk management.

Other industry sectors

Parks and Gardens – Australian Bat Lyssa Virus

Recreation – Amusement Devices

  • Audits of amusement devices at agricultural shows, small and large festivals, corporate functions, schools.

Retail/Wholesale – Hazardous Chemicals in the water treatment industry

  • Selected workplaces with chlorine gas or bulk quantities of oxidisers and corrosives associated with the water treatment industry will be inspected to assess hazard identification and risk management associated with the use, storage and handling of water treatment industry-related hazardous chemicals. Some pool chemical retailers will also be inspected to assess their safe management of hazardous chemicals.

As you can see the “industries” and coverage of the Audits are wide spread and the agricultural sector also is included so that the workers there do not feel left out!!

So as always we hope that this has given you useful information and assisted you in ensuring you are doing as much as is “reasonably practicable” to maintain a safe work environment by also managing your hazards and risks.

Until next month…..remember if there is anything you need assistance with, you know who to contact!!!

Workplace Health & Safety Consultants

PO Box 678
Bribie Island QLD 4507
Tel: 07 3410 8482
Fax: 07 3408 8736

Worplace Health & Safety Training and Audits

WH&S Services:

  • Safety Officers
  • Fire Safety Advisors
  • Risk Assessments
  • Drug & Alcohol Testing
  • Seminars
  • Hazardous Material Management
  • Harmonisation Laws
  • Farming / Rural WH&S

 

HR Services:

  • HR Management
  • HR Audits
  • Staff/Team Assessments
  • Staff Surveys
  • Software Systems
  • Coaching Programs

 

Workplace Auditing Services:

  • Safety Management Systems (OHSMS AS4801)
  • Construction Audits
  • High risk safety work (SWMS) Audits
  • Traffic Management
  • Environmental Audits
  • Ergonomic Audits
  • HR Audits
  • QMS Audits

 

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