Employer fined $90,000

Posted on 18/08/2019, 8:37 PM by Gary Willcox
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 A $90,000 penalty has been imposed on a company after an employee had his hand amputated due to a workplace incident.

 
The Melbourne Magistrates' Court this week handed down the fine on JBS Australia Pty Ltd after the company pleaded guilty to one charge related to not providing a safe work environment.
 
The court heard the staff member was working on a production line that removes the skin from sheep carcasses that were missed by a machine.
 
The man had a chain wrapped around his wrist, which became entangled in the backup machine, dragged him in, and amputated his left wrist and hand.
 
"This worker suffered a horrific, life changing injury while operating hazardous machinery because a safe system of work was not in place," said WorkSafe Victoria executive director Julie Nielsen.
 
Just before the incident the main skinning machine had missed a number of carcasses, the court heard, and JBS staff quickly attached chains and straps to the backup machine – all while the machine was still running.
 
The injured employee testified that this was common procedure when work was busy.
 
After the incident, JBS deactivated the back-up machine and bought new machinery.
 
Nielsen said there was no reason to put workers at risk by not switching off machines when necessary or continuing to run unsafe infrastructure.
 
"Employers must ensure the safety of their workers is always their first priority."
 
Source: Yahoo Finance

Young girl crushed to death in horror accident

Posted on 14/08/2019, 10:54 PM by Gary Willcox
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 A child has died after a horror workplace incident in western Queensland.

 
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHS) were alerted to the death of a girl at a workplace incident in Roma at 8.50pm Tuesday.
 
It is understood she was a seven-year-old girl who was crushed by a tyre in a storage shed while she was playing.
 
A Workplace Health and Safety Queensland spokesman said the girl’s death was reported at 8.50pm last night.
 
“It doesn’t mean it is when the accident happened, it’s when we were identified.
 
“We’re now making inquiries and will prepare a report for the coroner,” he told The Courier-Mail.
 
A Queensland Police spokeswoman said Queensland Police were assisting WHS.
 
Both WHS and Queensland Police would not confirm any more information about where the incident took place and the circumstances around the girl’s death.
 
Tributes are pouring in for the family on social media, describing the girl as a "beautiful little gem".
 
"RIP beautiful girl," one said.
 
"It's something that isn't fair to have happen to you," another wrote. "My heart aches for you."
 
“God that’s sad so sad for the family,” one woman said.
 
“Thinking of the girl’s family. Rest in peace,” another commented.
 
A Queensland Fire and Emergency Services spokeswoman said they were not called to the incident.
 
Source: The Weekly Times

Man fined for assaulting WorkSafe inspector

Posted on 14/08/2019, 12:46 AM by Gary Willcox
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 A man has been convicted and fined $3500 for assaulting a WorkSafe inspector at a construction site in Elwood, Victoria.

 
The 51-year-old man pleaded guilty to spitting on the inspector and hindering him in the course of his duties.
 
The inspector was driving past the site in October 2018 when he noticed that workers were working close to an unprotected edge more than two metres above the ground. He directed the workers to return to the ground for their own safety before asking for details. The man refused to identify himself to the inspector while swearing and pacing around him. He then spat on the inspector twice. He also hit the inspector’s notebook from his hand and attempted to take his identification.
 
WorkSafe Executive Director Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said they will never hesitate to prosecute anyone who assaults an inspector.
 
“Our inspectors can attend any workplace at any time and obstructing them from doing their job to protect workers from unsafe practices will not be tolerated under any circumstance,” said Ms. Nielsen.
 
“Everyone has a right to be safe from violence and aggression while on the job, including WorkSafe inspectors.”
 
Source: WorkSafe Vic.

Man dies after fall from ladder

Posted on 12/08/2019, 11:33 PM by Gary Willcox
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 A subcontractor has died after falling from a ladder at a residential construction site at Rutherglen, in Victoria’s north-east.

 
WorkSafe is investigating the incident.
 
The fatality brings the number of workplace deaths this year to 15, two more than at the same time last year.
 
Source: WorkSafe Vic

Serious injuries not just physical

Posted on 11/08/2019, 9:52 AM by Gary Willcox
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 More than 100,000 serious workplace injuries still occur every year.

 
These range from mental stress, to trips and falls, to collisions with objects.
 
"Contrary to a common perception that compensation claims largely occur in physically labour-intensive workplaces, the latest data from SafeWork Australia reveals that 40 per cent of claims have been made by employees in administration, professional services, sales, community work and management.
 
Overlooked workplace practices that are risking the health and safety of their employees include:
 
 1. Heavy workloads and high stress levels: Work-related stress is the second-most common compensated illness or injury in Australia. It can lead to physical symptoms such as headaches and fatigue, psychological symptoms such as anxiety, sleep loss and depression, or behavioural symptoms such as mood swings. These can contribute to long-term health complications such as sleep loss and even diabetes. 
 
2. Concealed bullying and harassment: Most of this behaviour is among junior-to-mid-level employees, contractors and even external suppliers. Bullying and harassment includes hurtful remarks, playing mind games, making one feeling undervalued, assigning pointless tasks that have nothing to do with a person’s job, giving impossible KPIs or jobs, changing work schedules to make it difficult for the employee, or being required to do humiliating things to be accepted in a team. Being at the receiving end of bullying and harassment can cause emotional trauma and lead to mental health injuries.
 
3. Basic clutter: Do staff need to meander around stacked boxes, plants, bags on floors or courier deliveries placed in access areas? These present trip or collision risks for anyone on the workplace, especially when they are distracted, carrying items or turning corners. Regular workplace ‘housekeeping’ or inspections can identify potential obstacles that might create hazards.
 
4. Blocking fire safety equipment: Are shelves or other items blocking fire exits, sprinkler heads, fire hoses or fire hydrants? These can obstruct the use or efficiency of fire safety equipment in the case of an emergency. Management should ensure fire safety equipment has one-metre-clear zones marked by signage, workplaces have regular safety inspections, and there is preventative maintenance in place for essential services.
 
5. Non-adjustable desks, chairs and monitors: Think height adjustable desks are a bit of a fad? Not so. Desks, chairs and monitors that can’t be adapted to employee needs can lead to injuries. Research led by the University of Sydney found that lower back pain accounts for a third of all work-related disability. While employers might be reluctant to incur the expense of ergonomic equipment, the cost of compensation claims as a can far outweigh the investment.
 
6. Extreme workplace temperatures: Are desks positioned beneath air-conditioning vents, or in drafts? Or is direct sunlight causing ‘hot spots’ in the office in summer? Employee complaints related to temperature are common. Ideally, interior workplaces should be a comfortable even temperature of 22 degrees in summer and 24 degrees in winter. Heat and cold stress can impact health. An employee falling ill because they were forced to work in uncomfortable conditions can lead to days off work, and even a workers compensation claim.
 
7. An employer’s lack of commitment to safety: If you can’t remember seeing a company WHS policy, you have a major employee safety issue. You still have an issue if your company does have a WHS program, but not every person working under the organisation – including contractors, volunteers and interns – is included and consulted into it. When staff are not educated about potential workplace hazards, risks and good safety practices, injuries and illnesses are more likely to occur.
 
 
Not complying with the Workplace Health and Safety Act can result in thousands of dollars in litigation costs, a drain on resources, potential loss of time, illness an injuries, increased WorkCover claims, a damaged brand reputation – and, of greatest concern, potential fatalities.
 
Source: Holding Redlich

Farms are some of the most dangerous workplaces in Australia

Posted on 07/08/2019, 8:46 PM by Gary Willcox
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 Official workplace fatality figures from 2017 showed there were 43 deaths in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector that year, just three fewer than the 46 deaths in the transport and warehousing industry — yet agriculture employs half the number of people.

 
Eight of the 23 workplace deaths in Victoria last year occurred on farms, with the youngest a 12-year-old who was killed in a tractor accident.
 
This year, the Victorian figures are little better, with 14 workplace fatalities so far including four deaths on farms.
 
Among them was a two-year-old child who died in an accident involving a spreader attachment at Naringal on January 2.
 
Victorian Farmers Federation president David Jochinke said the statistics were unacceptable.
 
“We can’t accept the numbers we have had in the past,” Mr Jochinke said.
 
“Everybody in agriculture is important. Safety should be our No. 1 priority,” he said.
 
The VFF is supporting a campaign by WorkSafe Victoria aimed at improving the statistics.
 
QUAD CONTROL
 
Mr Jochinke said mobile machinery, such as tractors, quad bikes and slashers, were particularly dangerous.
 
Farmers should take safe operation of machinery seriously “to make sure everyone gets home safe”, he said.
 
Vehicles and mobile machinery were responsible for more than 60 per cent of on-farm deaths and 60 per cent of non-fatal on-farm injuries across the nation last year, with quad bikes involved in six deaths and 26 injuries, according to figures from Aghealth Australia.
 
No surprise that ATV safety is a firm focus for the WorkSafe campaign, supported by the VFF.
 
“The centerpiece of that is running the rebates for alternative crush protection devices,” Mr Jochinke said.
 
“What we are seeing is a lot of children being involved in farm accidents, especially around quad bikes.
 
“We have to get that message out there about how dangerous those bikes are.”
 
The State Government pledged $6 million for the scheme in 2016, and grants remain open until September 30 this year.
 
The rebate offers up to $1200 for the purchase of an alternative vehicle, such as a side-by-side, or up to two operator protection devices for ATVs.
 
Of the 128 fatalities involving quad bikes in the past eight years, 77 were the result of a rollover and 78 happened on farms.
 
Mr Jochinke said rollover protection would not prevent rollovers, but could reduce the chances of injury or death if one occurred.
 
National policy body Safe Work Australia also focuses campaigns on educating quad bike owners and employers about the safety risks of quad bikes and duty of care they have for employees and family members.
 
Guided by recommendations from coronial inquests, the group suggests rollovers should be managed through crush protection devices, training and wearing protective equipment including helmets.
 
SAFE MOVES
Tractors and motorbikes are also high-risk machines, with tractors involved in nine deaths and 21 injuries on farms reported in the media last year, while motorbikes were involved in five on-farm deaths and 21 on-farm injuries across Australia.
 
“Tractors can be extremely dangerous,” Mr Jochinke said, citing the recent death of a man who was hit by a post-hole digger attachment on a farm near Bendigo.
 
“There are some good practices that you should be maintaining or adhering to — that is making sure that the machine is maintained, the guards are in place, the operator understands how the tractor operates and how to switch it off safely.”
 
He emphasised the most important thing was for farmers to mitigate risk.
 
He said business owners should assess workplace behaviours, procedures and maintenance, and make improvements where needed.
 
Other high-risk activities include working at heights greater than 2m, working in contained spaces such as silos and vats, overhead power lines and working with animals.
 
“We are seeing loading ramps becoming a huge issue, particularly if you are working with bulls,” Mr Jochinke said.
 
Finally, he said farmers and workers should be aware of the risks of working alone and in harsh environmental conditions, such as wet, cold, heat and wind.
 
“None of us are getting any younger,” he said. “It’s making sure we understand our limitations and making sure we work within those limitations.”
 
Source: The Weekly Times

OHS training organisation fined $200,000

Posted on 31/07/2019, 11:32 PM by Gary Willcox
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 ATTA Quality Training Pty Ltd was convicted in Sunshine Magistrates Court after it pleaded guilty to 14 charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 of knowingly providing false information. It was ordered to pay an additional $22,581 in costs.

 
ATTA assessor Vincent Marino was also fined $25,000 after pleading guilty to five charges that mirrored those against ATTA. Marino, who was a director of ATTA at the time of offending in September and October 2016, was ordered to pay an additional $5000 in costs but was not convicted.
 
ATTA was a WorkSafe Victoria approved and registered training organisation (RTO) that conducted a range of OHS training courses, including those required to obtain high-risk work licences. The Court heard that ATTA falsified notices of assessment for students attending basic scaffolding and forklift courses by certifying that students had attended a full two-day course when they had actually finished at lunchtime each day.
 
It also heard that the notices certified that various mandated components of the courses had been completed when the evidence from a number of students was that those components were not covered. All affected participants were allowed to either show evidence of their competency or undergo reassessment.
 
WorkSafe Victoria became responsible for registering independent assessors in 2017 in addition to its existing role of registering the training organisations, as a result of the issue.
 
Julie Nielsen, WorkSafe Health and Safety Director, said certified training for operators of certain types of equipment was critical for their health and safety.
 
“Without certified training, inexperienced and possibly incompetent workers operating machinery would pose a potentially deadly risk to themselves and all around them,” Nielsen said. “Registered trainers have a legal responsibility and a community obligation to train workers property and WorkSafe will not tolerate assessors or organisations who cut corners or fail to play by the rules.”
 
WorkSafe Victoria added that people must not do high-risk work unless they hold an appropriate licence in relation to that work. These include scaffolding, rigging, crane, hoist and forklift licences.
 
Training for a high-risk work licence must be provided by a WorkSafe Victoria RTO and assessments must only be undertaken once RTOs are affiliated with a WorkSafe Victoria-authorised individual assessor and the affiliation is acknowledged by WorkSafe Victoria.
 
Source: NSCA Foundation

Man crushed to death

Posted on 29/07/2019, 10:40 PM by Gary Willcox
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 A horror death at Western Meat Exporters in Charleville has sparked a Workplace Health and Safety investigation.

 
Paramedics rushed to the Charleville goat and sheep abattoir when they received a call at 1.08pm that a 46-year-old employee and local had suffered critical injuries in a machinery incident.
 
Police arrived on the scene about 1.30pm and confirmed the employee died about two hours later.
 
It is understood the worker was killed in a machine designed to remove pelts from goats.
 
Police officers have cordoned off the meatworks and have locked down the site until the investigators arrive tomorrow.
 
The Charleville-based processing plant is Australia's largest goat abattoir and processes tens of thousands of animals each week.
 
Source: News.net

One dead, two in hospital after crane hits powerlines

Posted on 28/07/2019, 10:51 PM by Gary Willcox
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 A 49-year-old Gordonvale man has died and two men are in hospital after a crane came into contact with powerlines at a workplace in Far North Queensland.

 
Critical care paramedics responded to the incident on a narrow road surrounded by sugarcane, at Little Mulgrave near Goldsborough, south of Cairns, about 9:00am on Sunday.
 
Paramedics said one man suffered fatal burns and a second man with critical burns was transported by ambulance to Cairns Hospital a short time later.
 
A Queensland Ambulance Service spokesman said a third man was taken to hospital for emotional distress.
 
A spokeswoman from Cairns Hospital said the two men in hospital were aged 63 and 54 and were in a stable condition.
 
The 63-year-old man was expected to be transferred to Brisbane.
 
Witness 'heard screams' from site
A resident from nearby, who responded in the moments after the accident, said she heard screams before rushing to the site to try to administer CPR.
 
"We came home and I saw the crane there and our power cut out when I was cooking breakfast and my son had yelled out that they're hurt," the woman, who wished only to be identified as Mel, said.
 
"I heard screams. I went straight down there and we commenced first aid, CPR, the best we could do but unfortunately, the tragic accident happened."
 
Mel said she believed the men had been laying tracks at the time of the accident when the crane came into contact with a powerline.
 
"I think there was one man guiding the train tracks carried by the crane, from my point of view of what we'd heard and seen," she said.
 
"He [the crane driver] had a shock from when the crane had hit and the other man had gone to his rescue and received the other shock."
 
Inspectors from Workplace Health and Safety Queensland and Electrical Safety Office are conducting inquires in relation to this matter.
 
Source: ABC News

Company fined for falsifying WHS training records

Posted on 20/07/2019, 12:39 AM by Gary Willcox
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 A training organisation, one specialising in workplace health and safety, has been fined $200,000 after it was found to have falsified training records for high-risk safety certifications.

 
WorkSafe Victoria revealed that ATTA Quality Training Services Pty Ltd was handed the penalty after it pleaded guilty to 14 charges of providing false information, in breach of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
The company was also ordered to pay $22,581 in costs.
 
Vincent Marino, an assessor at the business who was also a director at the time the offences were committed in September and October of 2016, also pleaded guilty to five charges and was ordered to pay $5,000 in costs, SafeWork said in a public statement.
 
According to the safety regulator, ATTA had been an approved registered training organisation, including for the provision of licences for high-risk workplace activities.
 
The court, it said, heard allegations that ATTA had falsified assessment notices for students of basic scaffolding and forklift licences, by stating they had attended a full two-day course, when they had only done half days, finishing up at lunchtime each day.
 
Furthermore, WorkSafe said “a number of students” gave evidence that various mandated components of the course had not been covered, despite their certifications’ notices stating they had been completed.
 
Affected students were given the option to either undergo re-assessment or show evidence of their competency in the relevant areas.
 
“The matter was a catalyst for changes in 2017 that saw WorkSafe become responsible for registering independent assessors in addition to its existing role of registering the training organisations,” WorkSafe said in its statement.
 
Julie Nielsen, the agency’s health and safety executive, said the training requirements are in place to ensure workers return home safely at the end of every work day.
 
“Without certified training, inexperienced and possibly incompetent workers operating machinery would pose a potentially deadly risk to themselves and all around them,” she said.
 
“Registered trainers have a legal responsibility and a community obligation to train workers properly and WorkSafe will not tolerate assessors or organisations who cut corners or fail to play by the rules.”
 
Source: MyBusiness