August 2017 – Newsletter

Changes to our scope of offerings!

Well we are into the second half of the year, and the businesses we talk to are planning for the next round of compliance and work they require. I thought it was therefore a good time to share with you some of the additions that our business has been working on to offer.

  • We have been accepted by the “Advisory Board Centre” as a “recognized expert in compliance”, which we are very excited about and very proud of the achievement in gaining this recognition. Working with Advisory Boards is fascinating, and allows the years of knowing what businesses require to be put into practice through the structures of Board levels. The others from the Centre that work with us on the projects are of the highest caliber of professionals, very rewarding work.
  • Reminder that we offer Audits for AS4801OHMSMS, ISO 14001, and ISO9001 standards. A point to note on these is that (unlike some of our competitors) we DO NOT add travel or expenses to our costs when an Audit is requested, so this enables businesses with various locations to have their annual compliance undertaken on all their sites knowing the costs are affordable.
  • We now include small, short, and sharp workshops for Supervisors / Leaders in workplaces so they have a good, assessed understanding of their role and responsibilities within the compliance field. This ensures the duty of care is met by the PCBU which is giving the people to right “tools” and “knowledge” to undertake their roles. This has proven to be very popular and does not take their key people out of the business for any longer than half a day. We also have specific “risk management “workshops / half day for all levels of the working team.
  • Organizational Risk Profiles is another addition we have been working on, and include in our offering. This is an outcome of a SWOT analysis and then work through for developing an understanding of the actual business structure and risk profile. This is a big TICK for clients working towards their certification in ISO9001:2015.

Hopefully the new additions will give you peace of mind that the team at PBC&S are continually assessing and monitoring the market requirements to ensure our clients are up to date and have the best possible support and advice.

Now, I know from feedback from you that you look forward to some case studies or outcomes from prosecutions that you use in tool box talks and meeting topics for the team. So here are a couple to include this month:

Forthcoming campaign – Child Safety at home-based workplaces

Since November 2010, 14 children have died in Queensland home-based workplaces. Seventy-six per cent were 9 years old or younger.                                                                           Home businesses primarily fall under the small business classification, and the most common industries are manufacturing, transport and agriculture.                                                     A home business has many of the same hazards as a commercial workplace. When some or all of business operations are undertaken in a home environment, business owners must still manage safety to ensure no harm comes to anyone while they are at the workplace. This includes visitors and family members.

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.

Court Ruling following fatality

A sole trader operating an amusement ride business has been fined a record $80,000 after a worker was fatally crushed by an amusement ride at Collingwood Park State School’s Christmas Carols in 2014.

In the Ipswich Magistrates Court recently, the defendant pleaded guilty to breaching the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 after staff worked on a dangerous component of a chair-o-plane ride with little action to remove or minimise risk. This prosecution followed the death of a casual worker on 9 December 2014, when the worker was told to climb the chair-o-plane and remove bolts from the centre pole, even though he had no training on the ride. As the 20-year-old removed the last of the bolts, the centre pole dropped and the young man was trapped by the pole and chains attached to it. Despite attempts to remove the centre pole and chains from the man, he died at the scene from traumatic asphyxiation.

The court found the defendant did not ensure the health and safety of his workers by not identifying hazards or putting in controls for hydraulic failure during set up and dismantling, and no adequate training or information was provided for the victim to identify possible danger and risk. Head of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland Dr Simon Blackwood said this was a tragic reminder to always assess risk. “If you expect staff to work with or around dangerous machinery, then you must identify risk and manage it to keep workers safe at all times. That includes setting up, operating and packing up,” Dr Blackwood said.

NB: The $80,000 fine was the largest penalty issued to an individual in Queensland under work health and safety laws. He was also ordered to pay court costs of $3,174

Breach-An Emerald earthmoving company has been fined $75,000 after a trench collapsed and trapped a worker, causing serious injuries. The incident occurred while workers were excavating a trench to lay sewer pipes. A second trench was adjacent to the one they were excavating, with the spoil along half the length of the north side of the trench. A worker was instructed to pass a tool from another worker inside the trench to the excavator operator on the side of the trench. As he approached the excavator, the trench collapsed, engulfing him in the spoil and side of the trench. Emergency services took some time to release him and he sustained fractures to his ribs, back and pelvis, a displaced shoulder, an injury to his sternum and right wrist, an eye haemorrhage, a collapsed lung and nerve damage to his back. The defendant company pleaded guilty in the Emerald Magistrates Court to having failed to meet its work health and safety duties. Magistrate Clarke fined the defendant $75,000 and ordered professional and court costs totalling $1500.The court acknowledged it was clear the defendant had not followed relevant codes of practice and had relied on the principal contractor’s systems. In mitigation, the defendant’s support of the injured worker through financial contributions and fundraising events, and loss of local council contract were considered.

Asbestos, becoming more prevalent- An organisation has pleaded guilty and been fined $175,000 for breaching its work health and safety duties and exposing six workers to asbestos. Head of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, Dr Simon Blackwood said the breach happened over five months during repair works to the Ripley Bridge in Ipswich in 2012. “The defendant certainly cooperated with the investigation, demonstrated remorse and took extensive remedial action which cost millions of dollars,” Dr Blackwood said. “But people’s lives have been put at risk. These six workers now have a lifetime of wondering if they will develop an asbestos related disease. “They were not informed the bridge contained asbestos, nor given appropriate protective gear and yet were required to use power tools which generated significant dust, exposing them to respirable asbestos fibres,” he said. In sentencing, Magistrate Virginia Sturgess noted this was a very serious offence and there was a significant failure at the hands of the defendant. She highlighted there was no identification of asbestos, no testing, no safety plans and no mention or consideration of the presence of asbestos. Her Honour also stated that the community had an expectation workers’ health and safety would be cared for. However, in this instance the defendant failed to meet this expectation. The defendant was fined $175,000 with court costs of $8643.74. No conviction was recorded.

NB: Asbestos related diseases have long latency periods which can be up to 30 years. Workers who have been exposed to asbestos fibres during their work can lodge a notification only workers’ compensation claim with WorkCover Queensland as a record of this exposure should it be needed at a later date.

Another asbestos case- A Brisbane roofing company has been fined $100,000 and convicted in the Brisbane Magistrates Court for failing to handle and safely dispose of asbestos. Roofmasters Pty Ltd was engaged in 2015 to remove a storm damaged roof at a building leased by Trade Tools, when a number of people were exposed to asbestos dust. Head of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland Dr Simon Blackwood said the extent of asbestos contamination throughout the main showroom was widespread and notices were issued to clean-up the site. “Trade Tools closed their doors to the public for two months and spent lots of money on remediation work to fix the problem,” Dr Blackwood said. “However, Roofmasters unnecessarily exposed their own workers, Trade Tools employees and members of the public to asbestos because they didn’t do things properly.” This exposed individuals, including its own employees to potentially serious illness. The court also noted there was a serious lack of training in the handling and removal of asbestos, which went against the defendant. His Honour found that general deterrence was a paramount consideration in this case. He also noted the delay in proceedings, particularly where the company went into voluntary administration soon after prosecution proceedings commenced.

Falls- Several recent falls from height at the Gold Coast serve as a sharp reminder for employers that this is the leading cause of death in the construction industry. It is three times more common than in any other industry, with 1.03 deaths per 100,000 workers. The incident which occurred on 11 July 2017 in Ashmore resulted in a worker falling through non-structural, non-weight bearing polycarbonate sheeting (alsynite) from a roof to the floor 4m below. Fortunately, he was not seriously injured. Corrugated polycarbonate sheeting is not usually of structural grade nor suitable to walk upon and it can be further weakened by ultra-violet light. Falls from heights is the leading cause of death in the Australian construction industry – on average 25% of all fatalities – and accounts for 15% of injuries. “In addition, 12% of deaths involve being hit by a falling object, which when these two are combined, 37% of all construction deaths are the result of a failure to control the risks associated with work at heights. In Queensland, each year there are about 1700 falls from height causing serious injury. Despite representing less than 10% of the Queensland workforce, the construction industry accounts for more than 20% of these injuries with around 400 per year.

Fatality- WHSQ currently has a matter before the court following its investigation into the death of 62-year-old roofer Whareheepa Te Amo, who was working on an industrial shed at Lake Macdonald in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland in July 2014. Just four days into the job, Mr Te Amo fell almost six metres to his death while working on the edge of a roof without protection. Two family-owned businesses and their respective directors, brothers Peter Raymond Lavin and Gary William Lavin, are now involved in criminal proceedings. If found guilty of contravening Section 19 (2) and/or s20 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, the Lavins face possible fines of up to $600,000 each and maximum jail terms of five years. Their companies could be fined up to $3 million. These are Queensland’s first category 1 prosecutions under work safety laws.

Will keep you informed of the outcome.

New on the spot fines- Prompted by nine serious electrical incidents in the past 12 months, two new electrical safety on the spot fines have been introduced to make sure employers take steps to keep workers safe around powerlines. Four people were killed in 2016 while working around powerlines, and others suffered significant electric shocks and burns. Tragically, all of these incidents were preventable. Statistically, construction workers, tree loppers, billboard and signage installers, and those working on the land are most at risk. As part of its response to tackling these appalling statistics, the Queensland Government has amended the State Penalties and Enforcement Regulation 2014 to include two new infringement notices for working near overhead or underground powerlines. Inspectors can now issue on the spot fines of up to $3000 to businesses which fail to identify risks and implement appropriate control measures.

I hope that you found something through this update to pass onto the team or assist you in the undertaking of your work.

As always, if you need to discuss any of the points we have raised through this update, please feel free to contact us as we are happy to discuss further.

Until next time.

Stay safe and well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

     

 

Workplace Health & Safety Consultants

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

Worplace Health & Safety Training and Audits

WH&S Services:

  • Safety Officers
  • Fire Safety Advisors
  • Risk Assessments
  • 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

 

PBC&S Accept Credit Cards