24 How to deal with suicide

from home
A challenge for
OHS regulations
How to
deal with
an employee
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You may have noticed that we have reinitiated our
series on ethics and moral issues through the articles
on Eliminating Workplace Bullying, both in the
magazine and newsletters.
I find it saddening that the Safety Industry has
more that its fair share of people wavering along the
moral path. Two recent incidents have reminded me
of how entrenched this problem is.
In the first, I was advised by an officer of another
safety organisation that “many people just don’t
care” which to me was as much an indictment on the
organisation as it was on the members.
The second incident occurred in a company where
the safety officer was so engrossed in his own self
importance that he had not met the obligations of
his employment, resulting in a less than satisfactory
safety management program being installed.
When challenged by his employer, his stance
resulted in the position becoming vacant. In a happy
ending for the company, the newly appointed safety
officer was ethically motivated and quickly became
popular among the employees and held the respect
and support of the general manager through visible
improvements to their safety program.
These are not isolated stories and can be heard
all too frequently as I visit workplaces. It would be
easy to dwell on the past and ask who is to blame
for achieving such a position in a field dedicated to
eradicate it.
However, that will not remove the
problem and it is my firm belief that the
past belongs to those who don’t care,
while the future of safety resides with
those who do. Our new SIWA has been
created as an organisation for members
who do care and who are serious about
caring, sharing and learning.
Readers should remember and reflect
that the entire world-wide safety regime
was built from the history of experience;
so where people “just don’t care” about
the safety organisation they belong
to, it’s programs, it’s directions and it’s
managers, then they are very much
demonstrating little or no interest in the
future of safety holistically.
Each and every person’s contribution
must be encouraged, heard and
integrated before there can be a clear
positive forward movement in holistic
I hear our regulators state that new
directions must be found because our
safety improvements are plateauing!
The answer to their problem is staring
them in the face.
The sought-after improvements
will never be achieved while as an
industry, the safety fraternity allow and
enable and engage in the continuance
of practical and political policies that
divide, fragment and segregate attention
to safety and health in the workplace.
I was recently pleasantly surprised
from an unexpected quarter, by another
complement that this magazine is
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Safety in Workplaces Australia
Dear Members and Friends,
Call for Papers
Safety in Workplaces Australia Limited
Invites you to apply to speak at our WA Safety Conference
7th – 9th August, 2012, Parmelia Hilton Hotel, Perth
Building on the successes of 2008 and 2010, Safety in Workplaces Australia (SIWA Limited) is pleased to again
bring you another professional Safety Conference opportunity. As a leading occupational safety and health
organisation, SIWA Ltd is again helping delegates maximise and enhance their career investment through this
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event analysis, research and training experiences enhancing sustainability in businesses through the real life experience
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enforcement directions
and good governance
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If you wish to present a paper, please submit an abstract in no more than 150 words & noting your preferred
stream to [email protected] by December 20th, 2011.
Aug, 2011
Safety one - Safety all
Safety in Workplaces Australia
Application & Abstract
Call for Papers
Safety in Workplaces Australia, welcomes your submission on any of the listed themes, for consideration as a
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from home
A challenge for
OHS regulations
Is a home considered a workplace if an employee works from it?
Should employers have OHS visit employees’ homes to check safety issues?
Karlo Milosevic (OHS Manager, Victoria, Gallagher Bassett Services Workers Compensation Vic
Pty Ltd) makes the point that working from home does come under OHS regulations.
Because of the challenges many businesses face in
being able to retain skilled, experienced workers more
employers are being proactive in developing flexible
working arrangements with working from home an
This is occurring within many organisations with work
ranging from computer work to clothes making and other
While working from home can provide a flexible
solution to both worker and employer, the home is likely
to be classified as a ‘workplace’ and therefore, health and
safety laws apply to those parts of the home in which
workers carry out approved work.
It is important to remember, that workplace health and
safety laws apply wherever a worker is engaged in the
course of work.
Creating and implementing some basic steps to identify
and control hazards, whatever the environment, represents
the minimum level of protection an employer should be
General employer duties relating to hazard identification,
risk control and workers’ welfare are likely to apply in this
situation so it’s worth asking:
• What are the strategies you have in place for
working from home arrangements?
• Do you have a policy on working from home?
• Is the ability to work from home subject to
• Does approval involve a process of hazard
• Has electrical equipment been tested and tagged?
National Safe Work Australia Week
Safe Work Australia is encouraging
businesses to get involved with Safe
Work Australia week, held October 2329.
Now in its seventh year, the week is held annually in
October to raise awareness of workplace safety.
The Week aims to encourage all working Australians to
get involved in and concentrate on safety in their workplace
to reduce death, injury and disease.
You can get involved by:
• becoming a Safe Work Australia Week Safety
• taking part in Take [email protected]
• planning your own activities and events - a range
of Safe Work Australia Week information and
resources are available to assist you.
• participating in activities and events organised by the
work health and safety authority in each state
The organisation is keen to have Safety Ambassadors,
people who have a passion for health and safety and are
dedicated to making workplaces safer.
In previous years Safety Ambassadors have included
Ministers, CEOs, health and safety representatives,
managers and employees from a wide range of industries
The role of a Safety Ambassador is to promote the
importance of safer workplaces, primarily during Safe
Work Australia Week. They set safety examples, drive safety
messages and continually emphasise everyone’s right to
return home safely from a day’s work.
Safe Work Australia has a Safety Ambassador of the
Year Award which is presented to the Safety Ambassador
who demonstrates the most creativity, commitment and
participation in Safe Work Australia Week.
Information can be obtained email [email protected]
Safety Ambassador Information sheet
( PDF 327kb | DOC 435kb)
Worksafe Forum to cover key topics
for safety managers: Effective
communication and workplace fatigue
The Perth Worksafe
Forum being held
October 17 in the
Burswood Convention
Centre will have two
key speakers, Margot
Halbert speaking on
Margot Halbert
‘Tools for Talking –
Stepping up the Safety Conversation’
and Isobel Boylan discussing the
management of fatigue in workplaces.
Margot Halbert, a communication and influence expert
from Positive Persuasion, has worked extensively with
industry leaders to help them create and craft engaging
safety presentations.
She said : “Health and Safety representatives play a
significant role in changing behaviours and influencing
decisions to achieve better safety outcomes.
“To be effective they need to be able to get the ideas from
the team on where the issues are and how they might be
solved, and then be able to elevate these to management
confidently and persuasively”.
Margot will work closely with delegates to inspire,
encourage and ignite their confidence in the way that
they communicate and influence to achieve better safety
Creating a
lead-free solder
presents a challenge
Demand for lead-free
solder alloys is increasing
as a result of legislation
designed to protect
manufacturing workers,
consumers and the
environment from the welldocumented hazards of
According to ‘Lightspeed’ the newsletter
of the Australian Synchrotron, Kazuhiro
Nogita (pictured) from the University of
Queensland is developing new lead-free
soldering alloys for use in a broad range of
He recently used powder diffraction (PD)
at the Australian Synchrotron to investigate
how trace levels of nickel influence the
processing and service properties of a
popular type of lead-free solder: neareutectic tin-copper alloys.
Kazuhiro first began working with
tin-copper-nickel alloys in 2003, when he
undertook a small consulting job for Nihon
Superior Co. Ltd, an international supplier
of solder alloys based in Osaka, Japan.
Nihon’s unique tin-copper-nickel alloy
has been used in more than 1.5 billion
circuit boards since 1999 and the market
continues to grow strongly due to consumer
demand for electrical goods and the
need to introduce lead-free alternatives
into products previously exempt from
“The move to lead-free products is
relatively recent and there is significant
research still to be done for the
development of products suitable for
specific applications,”
Kazuhiro said. “Neareutectic tin-copper alloys
with trace levels of nickel
perform better during
production and product
service life than nickel-free
The work at the Australian
Synchrotron has helped
establish how nickel
improves the performance
of soldered joints containing
the Cu6Sn5 intermetallic
Kazuhiro and his
colleagues used powder
diffraction under controlled
temperature conditions
to study how various
transformations in the
process vary with time and
Being able to
do this work
in Australia
has allowed us to
expedite some of our main
research priorities,”
Kazuhiro said.
“The PD beamline at the Australian
Synchrotron is a leading international
facility, and the ability to control
temperature and atmospheric conditions
has helped us ascertain the fundamental
mechanisms behind the behaviour
of our materials. We have also done
complementary experiments at synchrotron
facilities in Japan.”
Kazuhiro plans to use the Australian
Synchrotron for ongoing investigations
of the stability of the solder alloys and
the intermetallic reaction layers that form
between solders and their substrates.
He particularly wants to look at how
substrates and solder composition influence
texture formation, phase stability at low and
high temperatures, and stress generation.
He is an associate professor and principal
research fellow in the School of Mechanical
and Mining Engineering at the University
of Queensland and a Queensland
Government Smart Futures Fellow.
Cover Story
How to deal with
an employee
By David Broadbent
Safety Psychologist
In the last couple of weeks I’ve heard
a number of news stories concerning
suicide - some of which either
occurred in the workplace, or it has
been indicated that workplace stressors
have been a key contributor to that
most awful of outcomes.
In my clinical practice I am working
with a 33 year old male ambulance
(EMT) officer. I often think that
these guys must see, in their daily
work, visions that exceed our worst
nightmares. Why is he consulting me in
my other life as a Clinical Psychologist?
In the last five years he has lost over
half a dozen colleagues to suicide.
His question to me - “I’m a
professional health worker, I should
have seen it coming?” Feelings of
responsibility, guilt, and even just plain
old uncertainty are common following
becoming aware of a suicide.
The following are some thoughts
with regard to what you might do if
you think/feel that someone you know
might be thinking about suicide.
Suicide is a significant
cause of death in Australia,
far larger than the official
figures indicate.
Many single vehicle car accidents are
thought to be “suicide by tree”.
Though there are differences in
suicide rates, based on such factors as
age, gender, and ethnicity, a person from
any background can commit suicide,
or go through a period of seriously
contemplating it. Even the person
who appears to be highly functional,
in control, and successful can commit
suicide. No-body is immune
People considering suicide often have
been “worn down” by stressors and
problems or actually or expected loss,
especially a love relationship.
The suicidal person is frequently
lonely and without a solid support
system. Sometimes this is a long term
characteristic of the person; in other
cases a geographic move, death, or
a divorce may deprive an individual
of personal ties that were formerly
Listen carefully to what your
employees say.
People thinking about suicide often,
though not always, give hints about
their intentions. Talking about not
being present in the future, giving away
prized possessions and making funeral
plans are examples of possible hints of
suicidal intent.
If you hear such talk, question it.
Express your genuine concern for the
person; you won’t make the situation
worse by clarifying it, and an open
conversation with you may be the
person’s first step toward getting well.
Be alert to changes in behaviour.
A deterioration in job performance,
personal appearance, punctuality, or
other habits can be a sign of many
problems, including suicidal concerns.
If an employee admits thinking
about suicide:
You’ll want to arrange professional
help. The way you approach the issue
can have an impact on the employee’s
willingness to receive professional help.
Your genuine respect and concern for
the employee can contribute to the
healing process.
First offer your own personal concern
and support. Let the person know you
care; the employee is both a unique
human being and a valued member of
your team.
Show understanding of the employee’s
pain and despair, but offer hope that,
with appropriate help, solutions can be
found for the problems that are leading
the person to feel so desperate.
Keep away from the “I know just
how you feel” statements. Whether you
have been in that “same place” or not,
does not matter. As far as the person is
concerned you don’t!
Ask whether any of the employee’s
problems are work related, and, if
so take initiative in attacking those
problems. For example, the employee
Get Help:
As a general rule, anyone feeling enough pain to be
considering suicide should be referred to a mental health
professional, at least for evaluation. Make it clear that you want
the employee to get the best possible help, and that some types
of assistance are outside your own area of competence.
Usually, the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is the
referral source for mental health assistance; if your organisation
has one. If not, then the employee’s General Practitioner. If
the employee consents, call the GP yourself, emphasising that
the situation is serious and needs timely attention. Arrange
an appointment and firmly offer to drive the employee to the
If for some reason the EAP or GP is not immediately
available, turn to your community’s Crisis Intervention or
Suicide Prevention resource. These are normally listed with
other emergency numbers in the telephone book, and available
on a 24 hour basis. Offer to sit with the employee, whilst they
make the call.
may feel improperly trained for key
responsibilities, or may be having
difficulties with leave or some similar
issue without having made you aware
of it. If you can act as an advocate in
remedying some of these problems, you
will help in three ways:1. Removing one source of pain,
2. Showing concretely that someone
3. Offering hope that other problems
can also be solved.
Do not question the employee about
personal problems, as the individual may
wish to keep them out of the workplace,
but listen with empathy if the employee
chooses to share them.
Do not offer advice, but acknowledge
the problems are real and painful.
Protect the employee’s privacy
with regard to other employees. This
will require thought and planning,
as questions are sure to arise. When
dealing with higher management, you
need to think clearly about what they
actually need to know, e.g., that the
employee is temporarily working a
reduced schedule on medical advice
as opposed to what they don’t need to
know, e.g., intimate personal information
that the employee may have confided in
you as the immediate supervisor.
Without hovering over the employee,
show your continued support and
interest. Make it clear that the individual
is an important part of the team, and
plays a key role in the ongoing life of
the workplace.
Cover Story
Follow Up:
Once your employee is involved in a treatment
program, try to stay in touch with the program. This
does not mean that you should involve yourself
with specific personal problems that the employee is
discussing with a therapist.
What you do need to know, however, is how you
can work with the treatment program and not at
cross-purposes to it.
1. Does the employee need to adjust work hours
to participate?
2. Has the employee been prescribed
medications whose side effects could affect
job performance?
3. Should you challenge the employee as you
normally do, or temporarily reassign the
person to less demanding duties?
This kind of communication will occur only
if the employee permits it, since mental health
professionals will not, for ethical reasons, release
information without the employee’s consent. If you
make it clear to the employee and treatment team
what your goals are:• to support them,
• not to delve into the employee’s private
you will probably have no difficulty getting cooperation. A meeting involving you, the employee,
and the counsellor can be particularly helpful
in clarifying relevant issues and ensuring that
your supervisory approach is consistent with the
employee’s treatment. Remember you only want
to be focused upon how you can assist with the
resolution of any influencing workplace factors.
Take Care of Yourself.
Working with a suicidal person is highly stressful,
and you should take positive steps to preserve your
own mental health while you help your employee.
You should not hesitate to get support for yourself,
either from your own supervisor or from a
professional counsellor.
David Broadbent is an internationally qualified trauma
recovery expert. He runs a series of specialised workshops
titled ‘When trauma strikes’ designed to prepare
organisations and individuals for handling traumatic events
in the workplace.
The workshop covers
• stages of trauma response
• effective management of organisational trauma
• How to deal with workplace fatalities
• How to design a trauma recovery program
• How to communicate with traumatised employees.
He also provides a DVD–ROM packed with useful
He can be contacted via
[email protected]
Remote site, water
quality management –
A West Australian perspective
By Ryan Milne – Director Ecosafe International
Being part of the
‘developed world,’
there is anticipation
that our water
is safe, of good
quality and fit for use.
Although this is the case within the large
scale, scheme supplied water systems, the
reality is often different within remote
self extracted, treated and managed water
systems typical to West Australian mining
and other remote sites.
There is a need to ensure adequate
awareness and rigour, together with
a holistic, risk based approach to the
management of self extracted, treated and
managed water systems.
Reasons for increased risks
There are a number of reasons for the
increased risks typically associated with
remote site water systems. These can be
summarised as follows:
Reduced awareness / training
Lack of defined roles and
responsibilities associated with the
management of the on-site water
systems (programs typically inherited
and high personnel turnover
associated with remote sites)
Lack of adequate system knowledge
Often lack of suitable ‘source /
catchment risk assessments’ and
associated water quality management
False sense of security due to
presence of water treatment plant /
Insufficient microbiological / water
quality monitoring
Ineffective results interpretation and
lack of trend analysis
Lack of suitable ‘out of spec’
Provision of water to local
Challenges surrounding water reuse
Presence of conditions suited
to microbiological proliferation
(particularly the temperature profiles
associated with the majority of water
systems in north West Australia)
Reliance on periodic ‘end point
An holistic risk based approach, which
includes the verification of the selected
treatment program, is required to ensure
effective management of water borne
pathogenic microorganisms.
The degree of risk management should
be determined by the quality of the source
water, the size and complexity of the
distribution network as well as the number
of consumers or individuals potentially
An important consideration in
determining the risk mitigation strategy
should include the practicality of
implementation, maintenance and ongoing management associated with any
management program.
Additional insight into the approaches to
identifying, quantifying and managing risks
associated with remote self managed water
systems will be provided in future articles.
What risks?
Additional Information
Risks are potentially present within both
the potable / domestic systems as well as
the process or miscellaneous water systems
and can include exposure to unsuitable
quality drinking water as well as exposure to
water borne pathogens such as Legionella
bacteria and other pathogens.
Systems that pose potential risks include:
• Potable / domestic water systems
(including domestic showers)
• Cooling systems
• Dust suppression systems
• Vehicle wash systems
• Other spray systems.
Additional information pertaining to
effective Legionella / potable water hygiene
management can be obtained from Ecosafe
International direct:
Email: [email protected]
Plea for road
transport industry to
‘look up
and live’
Queensland: Workplace Health and
Safety Queensland has recently carried
out a publicity campaign to encourage
road transport operators and workers
who move high loads to be more
conscious of the risk of coming into
contact with overhead power lines.
Incidents of workers coming into contact with power
lines and receiving fatal electric shocks while transporting
containers, using cherry pickers, mobile cranes etc have
been occurring regularly throughout Australia.
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland says power
lines could be avoided so preventing injury or death to
workers and damage to vehicles if companies carried out
route assessments more often.
It said that if the route assessment identifies a risk of
coming within the minimum distance (exclusion zone) of
power lines during transport, loading and unloading, then
the load transport should not proceed until it is safe.
These safety principles should be adhered to:
• Treat all power lines as electrically live and
• Identify the location of power lines before starting
work and use risk treatment measures.
• Maintain the safe minimum distances (exclusion
zone) from power lines detailed in the Electrical
Safety Code of Practice 2010 – Working Near
Exposed Live Parts.
• Electricity can jump across short distances
(arcing); you do not need to directly contact a
power line to receive an electric shock.
• Workers should not allow any part of their body,
or anything they are holding or operating to enter
the exclusion zone.
Man trapped
in trench
One dead, one in
critical condition
Victoria: A young man is
lucky to have such quick
thinking workmates after
a trench collapsed in
The man had been working in the trench
about halfway down when the walls collapsed,
similar to a mudslide, forcing him to the
bottom about three and a half metres down.
The 25-year-old man had dirt up to his
ears so his workmates, jumped in and started
He was finally freed and taken to hospital
with suspected fractured ribs, a suspected
collapsed lung and leg injuries.
Victoria: A man was electrocuted and another
suffered serious injuries in July after the cherry picker
they were working in struck overhead powerlines.
The incident in Spotswood resulted in the one man aged 35 dying at the scene
while the other man aged 20 was transported to the Alfred Hospital in a critical
WorkSafe believe the men were undertaking routine maintenance work on the
roof of a building when the cherry picker struck the powerlines.
The death of the man took Victoria’s workplace death toll for the year to nine,
compared to 13 last year.
Fire retardant overalls
a danger when oil
According to an article in Saft Eng fire retardant overalls
can become a danger especially when they’re washed
frequently and become oil contaminated.
The article makes the point that there is
evidence that frequent washing reduces the
fire retardant properties of some materials,
thereby increasing risk to wearers and
compromising their safety in a fire.
Secondly, there is a problem with fires
in the laundries on offshore drilling rigs.
Overalls often become particularly badly
contaminated with oil on oil rigs.
An experimental trial has been
commissioned to investigate the possible
degradation of the fire performance of
fire protective overalls.
workplace bullying
by Nola A. Hennessy
Serenidad Consulting Pty Ltd
In our first issue on this vitally important topic we looked at what constitutes
workplace bullying – primarily the behaviours and attitudes associated. In this
issue we look closely at perceptions of workplace bullying and how these should
be managed by workers and employers alike.
What is Perception?
Perception relies on inputs to the brain from the senses
– sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell (not forgetting the sixth
sense, intuition) – and the organising and interpreting of
this information by the conscious mind, using subconscious
memories as a solid foundation. Input from the senses is
one of humanity’s survival mechanisms – without it and
memories (and past learnings) we would not have the
capability to make appropriate decisions necessary for our
survival and growth.
Perception is an active process and depends on the
body’s nervous system undertaking rather complex
physiological functions however, to us, it appears almost
effortless because the processing happens beyond our
immediate awareness.
Perception facilitates stability for the individual; a
combination of information that, collectively, allows the
best possible decision making at any given point in time.
What Can Impact Our Ability to Accurately
Ambiguous sensory messages are perhaps the biggest
threat to accurate perception. When the mind receives
‘mixed messages’ both sets of information need to be
processed until such time as the individual reaches a point
of decision - effectively making a choice as to which
messages are valid and which are not. Think of the ‘old
woman/young woman’ image:
Generally we will see either the old or the
young woman, however when the ‘other’
image is shown to us we will either (i)
accept the possibility and therefore have the
ability to see two images in the one picture,
or (ii) if our thinking is less flexible or,
conversely, our mind is ‘made up’, we will
continue to only recognise the one image
that we saw in the first place. What we see
will be largely dependent on our mindset.
Mindset, be it positive or negative, will
greatly influence an individual’s perceptive
ability. If in a negative mindset the brain
will “hear” negative and process incoming
messages with that foundation e.g. an
individual with a negative mindset may
perceive (through hearing and other senses)
a request for assistance as a criticism; an
interaction (a comment, look or movement)
may be perceived as a source of harm. A
positive mindset, by contrast, will greatly
enhance an individual’s ability to accurately
perceive. Sensory input can more easily be
discerned. The individual is less likely to
attach negative emotion responses to the
thinking process (as subconscious as the
process might be).
The importance this has for the individual
is best expressed in how a person reacts or
behaves as a result of perception.
With the power of a positive mindset as
protection, whilst an individual may be the
subject or witness of workplace bullying, it
is more likely that the incident of bullying
can be processed and dealt with by the
individual in a non-emotive manner. This
greatly enhances the individual’s personal
power, helps to strengthen their self
control, and facilitates the subconscious
mind retaining important memories
necessary for future reference.
The Perception of Being Bullied
Without doubt perceptions are real to
the person perceiving. When someone
genuinely believes they are being bullied,
has no other negative motive for making a
claim of being bullied then, to them, they
are being bullied. Make no mistake about
An individual’s perception may not reflect
the actual truth but the perception is real
to them i.e. the ‘perceived’ bully may not
consciously have chosen bullying behaviors
or know that their behaviour is wrong,
however the behaviour may, by definition,
be classed as bullying.
Employers have a legal and moral duty
of care to take all perceptions of bullying
seriously, investigate, determine root causes
and work diligently to resolve the matter for
the benefit of all stakeholders.
To leave a claim of bullying unchallenged
or unresolved may bring negative cultural
changes to the organisation that may not
necessarily be visible in the short term.
In such circumstances the bullies see that
nothing is done about wrong behaviors,
continue (and possibly nurture) the toxic
behaviors, and so the cycle continues.
When an individual’s perception of
bullying (either as the recipient of it or
in witnessing an incident) does reflect
the truth of the incident, i.e. bullying has
actually occurred, then the challenge for
employers, recipients and bullies increases
significantly. Each will have a vital role to
play in making things right. Each has an
equal obligation to make things right. Each
stakeholder is obligated to do, and not do,
everything they can to minimise risks to
others in the workplace.
In our next edition we will look closely at
how bullying can affect your work and, in
turn, the other facets of your life.
A useful reference for discovering and
then re-engineering your mindset is the
author’s award-winning “inspirational” book
No Boxing Allowed.
If there is a particular Workplace Bullying topic that you would like to see included in this column, please email the SIWA Secretary
directly, [email protected] and we will do out best to include that in a subsequent edition.
Around the Courts
Around the
Explosion costs plumbing
company and director $98,000
NSW: A plumbing company and its
director were fined a total of $98,000
in the NSW Industrial Court after two
apprentices were seriously injured
in an explosion at a Bondi Junction
apartment block in 2009.
The prosecution follows an incident in March 2009
where the apprentices received serious burns while
purging the main (natural gas) supply line to a residential
tower above Eastgate Shopping Complex.
WorkCover’s investigation found the explosion was
the result of a gas pipe-line not being fully purged in
accordance with the Australian Standard for this type of
Flammable gases from the supply line ignited when
they were released into the enclosed plant room in the
eastern tower that contained multiple ignition sources.
Surrounding apartments in the complex also sustained
extensive damage as a result of the incident.
The Court heard there was a foreseeable risk involved
with this incident and TLC Plumbing & Bathrooms Pty
Ltd was fined $80,000 and its director Michael William
Causer fined $18,000 after pleading guilty to failing to
ensure the safety of their workers.
Fall into a riverbed costs company
New Zealand: Contracting giant,
Fulton Hogan, was fined $38,400 after
an employee fell about 3 metres onto
a riverbed while repairing a bridge on
the West Coast of the South Island.
The accident happened while maintenance work
was being done on the single-lane steel and wooden
Big Wainihinihi Bridge on State Highway 73 between
Greymouth and Christchurch.
The employee stepped onto what he thought was a
steel ‘I’ beam and fell about three metres breaking his
kneecap and suffering cuts and bruising.
The company pleaded guilty to failing to take all
practicable steps to ensure the safety of its employee in
that it failed to ensure he was not exposed to a fall from
height by installing an adequate fall prevention system.
Mining maintenance company
fined $90,000 over injuries to
15-year-old apprentice
W.A. A Boulder mining
maintenance company has
been fined $90,000 (and
ordered to pay $3654.50 in
costs) over an incident in
which a 15-year-old was
seriously and permanently
Dalmain Enterprises Pty Ltd – trading
as ATS Mining Maintenance – admitted
failing to provide and maintain a safe work
environment during maintenance work on
a 40-tonne Caterpillar dump truck with
a 10-tonne tray in one of the bays at the
company’s workshop.
The employees included a qualified heavy
duty fitter and the 15-year-old apprentice.
The tray of the truck was raised into
the vertical position while the repairs
were being done. Two safety pins would
normally be inserted into eyelets at the
anchor points to keep the tray vertical,
but metal “harden” bars were being used
because the eyelets were damaged and the
usual safety pins could not be used.
The safety pins are designed to hold the
tray against its own weight, but not to hold
the tray against hydraulic pressure exerted
by the truck.
The truck had a master lock-out switch
that prevented the truck being started and
stopped the hydraulics from being engaged.
The switch had a locking cover suitable for
employees’ personal padlocks.
On the day of the incident, no isolation
tags were attached to the truck to indicate it
was being worked on.
The apprentice was tidying up tools and
rags near and on the truck when the heavy
duty fitter told him to get out from under
the elevated tray of the truck because he
was about to start it to check for oil leaks.
The apprentice moved to another
position still under the tray, while the fitter
assumed he had gone down the ladder to
the ground and was clear of the tray.
The fitter called out to other employees
to tell them to stand clear, and started the
truck. The tray began to descend under
hydraulic pressure and snapped the harden
The 10-tonne tray came down on top
of the apprentice, causing him to suffer
permanent injuries including serious facial
fractures and lacerations and leg and back
“The court found the employer did not
adequately train its employees, and that the
company’s policy did not require employees
to physically lock out machinery while it
was tagged.
Big fine for
company after
worker dies
NSW: A Coffs Harbour
construction company and
its director were fined a total
of $137,500 and ordered to
pay legal costs after a worker
received fatal head and spinal
Suncoast Formwork Pty Ltd was employed
in the redevelopment of the Grafton
Shopping World, Grafton.to construct 390
concrete columns in the centre’s car park
designed to hold the weight of the ceiling.
The incident occurred when the 33-yearold Suncoast employee, Lee Tapping was
helping remove the moulds from the dried
concrete when a mould fell over hitting him
across the head and body.
He was rushed to the Grafton Base
Hospital with fractures to the base of his
skull, face, spine and ribs, swelling on his
brain, significant damage to his spinal cord
as well as internal lacerations to his left lung,
and deep cuts to his right shoulder.
The WorkCover investigation found that
Suncoast, and it’s director Mr Garry Watt,
had failed to carry out the appropriate
safety protocols that would most likely have
prevented the injuries.
Asbestos dumper prosecuted
Victoria: Geelong man,
John Tsorotes has been
convicted and fined more
than $40,000 for two separate
incidents involving the large
scale dumping of asbestos
and industrial waste in
Mr Tsorotes pleaded guilty to a charge of
abandoning industrial waste (construction
and demolition waste) and another of
permitting the deposit of industrial waste
The Court heard that Mr Tsorotes and a
business partner took over the occupation
of a site and over the next two years
increasing volumes of industrial waste were
accepted on the site. The landowner became
increasingly concerned and requested the
waste be removed.
The EPA issued a notice and directed
the site be cleaned– the notice was never
complied with.
An industrial hygienist who attended the
site at EPA’s request, put the volume of
waste at 15 piles of building and demolition
waste measuring 35 metres circumference
by about four metres high and 15 tonnes of
separated asbestos.
Mr Tsorotes was ordered to pay
$18,539.20 in EPA costs and required by
the Court to publish a notice in newspapers
regarding his convictions. His codefendants McCormacks Demolitions Pty
Ltd and Casey McCormack were convicted
by the Court and fined on similar charges.
Bank of America
ordered to reinstate fired
employee and pay $930,000
Department of Labor’s Occupational
Safety and Health Administration has
found Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of
America Corporation in violation of
whistleblower protection provisions for
improperly firing an employee.
The bank was ordered to reinstate and pay the employee
approximately $930,000, which includes back wages,
interest, compensatory damages and attorney fees.
The findings followed an investigation by OSHA’s
San Francisco Regional Office, which was initiated
after receiving a complaint from the Los Angeles-area
The employee originally worked for Countrywide
Financial Corp., which merged with Bank of America in
July 2008. The employee led internal investigations that
revealed widespread and pervasive wire, mail and bank
fraud involving Countrywide employees. The employee
alleged that those who attempted to report fraud to
Countrywide’s Employee Relations Department suffered
persistent retaliation. The employee was fired shortly after
the merger.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower and other statutes
protecting employees who report violations of various
airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product,
environmental, financial reform, food safety, health care
reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency,
railroad and maritime laws.
Under these laws employers are prohibited from
retaliating against employees who raise various protected
concerns or provide protected information to the
employer or to the government.
Employees who believe that they have been retaliated
against for engaging in protected conduct may file a
complaint with the secretary of labor to request an
investigation by OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection
Painter falls from roof
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland is investigating a fatal incident that occurred on Wednesday
7 September 2011 at a house in Mount Louisa, Townsville.
A painting contractor died when he fell approximately 2.8m from the roof of the house onto the driveway.
Worker survives being shot
in the head by a nail gun
USA: Texas - A North
Texas construction worker
is recovering at home after
accidentally getting shot in
the head with a nail gun.
Doctors at Medical City Plano said
the man was just doing his job at a
construction site when someone handed
him a nail gun. It went off and fired a
four-inch, barbed nail into his brain.
“The skull itself stopped the nail, just
like if it was fired into wood. The head
of the nail, once it hit the skull, stopped,”
said Dr. Rob Dickerman, a Medical City
Plano neurosurgeon.
The patient underwent a risky surgery
to remove the nail from his dominant
Despite the chances of paralysis or
even death, the surgery was a success. Dr.
Dickerman expects the man will make a
full recovery.
Scaffolding firm fined after
floor collapses at wedding
UK: A couple’s wedding
celebrations went seriously
awry when the floor of a
marquee collapsed as a result
of faulty scaffolding work.
According to the UK’s Health and Safety
Executive the floor fell more than 1.2m
to send the bridal couple, 150 guests plus
tables, chairs, cutlery and glassware crashing
to the ground.
Scaffold poles also fell into the marquee,
narrowly missing guests.
The incident resulted in Court Block
Scaffolding Ltd, of Camberley, Surrey,
being fined £8,000 and ordered to pay costs
of £7,370.
The scaffolding had been installed to
counteract a slope in the lawn of the
wedding venue.
HSE Inspector Joanne Woodcock said:
“the couple’s wedding day was ruined and
guests unwittingly risked being seriously
“The fact no one was seriously injured
was solely down to good fortune.
Glimpses of the challenges
in the oil drilling fields of Siberia
Photos found on the web. Source unknown
Lighter ‘concrete
products’ improve
workplace safety
Glass Reinforced
Concrete, a much lighter
and easier to work with
material than standard
concrete is rapidly setting
the world on fire when it
comes to drainage and
plumbing installation work.
GRC is a composite of concrete and
fibreglass technologies that began to be
manufactured in Australia in the mid
The products are rated as strong as
old fashioned steel reinforced concrete
products, stronger than drycast concrete
but one tenth of the weight.
The weight saving means reduced
freight costs, reduced on site costs as
lifting equipment is generally not needed and as a result
less likelihood of injuries occurring from manhandling
heavy items.
According to Nick Taylor,principal of Mascot
Engineering, one of the leading manufacturers of GRC,
the installation savings are so great with GRC that many
contractors claim to cut installation times by about 50%
when using these pits instead of the traditional concrete
As an illustration of the difference in weight the
company transported thirty, 1200sqmm pits as well as
risers on a semi trailer truck whereas the equivalent
number of standard concrete pits would require 4 semi
And in another example: This photo shows one
hundred 450sq X 800mm deep pits being delivered from
the company’s Perth warehouse to a site following delivery
by truck from Sydney.
Mr Taylor said that if the pits had been made from
standard concrete a number of them would most likely
have been broken and to replicate this load with the old
fashioned concrete pits you would need another 6 or 7
Not only are they making drainage pits from GRC
but also concrete drain trenching, electrical pits and even
planters for office gardens.
2011 Global Workplace
Fatality Statistics
@ 31 August 2011
2011 Totals are 1866, which break down to the following:
New Zealand
Saudi Arabia
Serbia and Montenegro
South Africa
South Korea
Sri Lanka
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
United States
West Bengal
West Indies
• 1192 Incidents
• 1866 Fatalities
• 7.68 Fatalities per Day
• 53.31 Fatalities per Week
• 233.15 Fatalities per Month
Five HIGHEST Fatality
Industries are:
Five HIGHEST Mechanism
of Fatalities are:
Crushed By
Struck By
can be downloaded from:
This photo of a
worker in the USA
shows him using a
cardboard box that once
contained flammable
liquids as a welding face
shield. Source: Safteng
This bricklayers
scaffolding leaves a lot
to be desired and has
certainly not progressed
with the times. Photo –
Worksafe Victoria.
Can you prove you’re
dinkum about OH&S?
What’s the point of having
OH&S personnel if safety
issues aren’t at the forefront of
employee attention?
It’s all very well having policies and procedures
but if they’re not being regularly brought to
people’s attention you may as well not have them.
That’s why it has been found that a company
newsletter for staff that highlights various OH&S
issues is one of the best means of keeping the
message to the fore.
Evidence has shown that a professionally
produced company newsletter builds employee
interest in the company, strengthens in-company
relationships and increases company loyalty to
reduce staff turnover.
The evidence speaks for itself……
Standard & Poors investigated the
habits of 4,000 people receiving a
newsletter to discover:
92% read at least some issues of the
newsletters received; 83% read most
or some articles and 84% found the
information useful.
And in another study, PDI Global
81% of printed newsletters are read by
more than one person. On average each
newsletter gets passed along to two others,
greatly leveraging its reach.
In fact they found that a well developed
newsletter costs less per contact than any
other form of promotion.
Think about it – if you want
to reach people with a message,
a newsletter when it is created
correctly can be the one form of
promotion that people actually
Media Support Services specialises in creating
good readable newsletters.
We can write, design and either print or create
an email format newsletter for you. After meeting
with you to discuss the topics …you can leave it to
us to undertake the entire project.
If you would like to discuss the possibility of
your organisation having its own newsletter call
us on 1300 557 660 or email
[email protected]
1300 557 660