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2014
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The federal government’s bill to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner (ABCC) is before another Senate Committee for further scrutiny.

The Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Bill 2013 was initially vetted by a Senate Committee late last year.

On 2 December the Committee’s government members recommended that the bill pass the Senate. However, the ALP and Greens members concluded that the bill should be rejected.

Among the ALP’s concerns was the bill’s proposal to extend the reach of the ABCC’s powers to picketing, offshore construction and the transport and supply of goods to building sites.

“This proposal would subject industries beyond the building and construction industry to unnecessary legislation and judicial complication, which could in theory lead to disengagement of the logistics industry from the building and construction industry proper,” the ALP’s dissenting report said.

The Greens also recommend rejecting the bill. “The [first] ABCC was biased in its work as it was driven by an ideological attack on construction workers and unions,” the Greens’ dissenting report said.

“Further, in recent years Australia’s construction industry laws have been condemned by the International Labour Organization six times. For these reasons the Australian Greens reject the bills in their entirety.”

Since then the bill has been re-referred to another Committee to re-examine the government’s approach to re-establishing the ABCC.

According to the second Committee’s terms of reference, this includes assessing “the extreme and heavy-handed proposed powers of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, including coercive powers, conduct of compulsory interviews, and imprisonment for those who do not cooperate”.

The bill was referred to the second Committee on 4 December. Submissions are due tomorrow, with the committee expected to report on the last sitting day in March.

For more details, visit the second Senate Inquiry.

Published on 16 January 2014 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

Fourteen more fatalities have been added to the official work-related death toll, according to the latest figures from Safe Work Australia.

The monthly notifiable work-related incidents report shows that eight workers and six bystanders—13 men and one woman— died in September 2013.

This brings the death toll to 152 for the first 9 months of 2013. (Preliminary statistics reveal that an estimated 184 people died in 2013.)

In September, three of the fatalities involved vehicle crashes on public roads and another three involved vehicles not on public roads.

Also, a pedestrian died after being hit by a vehicle on a public road, and another person died after being hit by a moving, unattended vehicle not on a public road.

Two other people died from falls from a height, and one person each died from being trapped in machinery, being hit by a falling object, electrocution, and a bee sting.

For more details visit the September 2013 fatality figures and the preliminary statistics.

Published on 16 January 2014 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

A British company has been prosecuted after an employee was dragged into a machine and injured.

The employee was standing on rollers, cleaning the inside of the machine, when it started unexpectedly. “His left leg was pulled in by the rollers … and he suffered broken bones in his left foot and ankle,” said the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The company, AMR Textiles Limited, was investigated and prosecuted by the HSE.

At the time of the incident the employee’s “colleague inserted an override key to test another part of the equipment but the rollers the worker was standing on also started rotating, pulling in his left leg up to the knee,” the HSE said.

The investigation found the company had given keys to its supervisors to override the interlock guard on the machine, the guard had not been maintained and the guard wasn’t working at the time of the incident.

Since the incident the company had taken the override keys from the supervisors and replaced the machine, said the HSE.

The company pleaded guilty in the Trafford Magistrates’ Court to breaching the UK Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

The company was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £10,103 in prosecution costs.

For more details visit the UK HSE.

Published on 16 January 2014 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

An investigation is underway into the first work-related death reported in South Australia (SA) for 2014.

An Anglicare worker died at work on 6 January. SafeWork SA is conducting the investigation into the incident.

SafeWork SA executive director Bryan Russell described the incident as a “tragedy for the woman, her family and her co-workers and clients”.

“This is unfortunately the first workplace fatality in 2014. One fatality is one too many,” Russell said.

Meanwhile, a number of new work health and safety regulations took effect in SA on 1 January.

Some of these regulations include establishing safe work method statements for high-risk construction, having management plans for dealing with naturally occurring asbestos, and implementing new competencies for diving work, including qualifications and a dive plan.

For more details visit SafeWork SA.

Published on 16 January 2014 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

Australia must undertake a new body-sizing survey if designers are to meet their obligations under the model work health and safety laws, says a recent report.

According to the report ‘Sizing up Australia – the next step’, “… whilst there is a regulatory thrust to embed work health and safety into the design process, designers do not have available to them key data about the population for which they are designing.”

The report says the gap in the data “can only be filled by a well-constructed and well-executed anthropometric measurement survey of a representative sample of Australian people”.

Australia must develop the scientific parameters to conduct this survey, which could then be used as a national resource, the report adds.

As the cost of such a survey would be significant, the report suggests two user-pay models to fund it. “They combine the allocation of a set number of measurements that would be determined by general consensus between all stakeholders, regardless of their level of funding contribution, with a second and larger allocation of measurements that survey sponsors can determine,” the report says.

“The number of measures that a funding stakeholder could determine would be directly proportional to their level of contribution.”

A third funding model would involve the Australian Government funding the “basic survey and a consortium of partners concurrently [contributing] funding to the user applications”, the report adds.

For more details visit the report.

Published on 16 January 2014 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.


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