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2014
Archive for: December

A New Zealand farmer has been ordered to pay $152,000 after a farm worker was crushed to death.

The worker was crushed between an excavator and tree stumps while helping to clear scrub at the Orepuki farm in Southland, said WorkSafe New Zealand in a media release.

Farmer Frederick McCullough was prosecuted in the Invercargill District Court in November for breaching the New Zealand Health and Safety in Employment Act.

McCullough was ordered to pay reparation of $100,000 and was fined $52,000 for the death of the worker in August 2013.

“McCullough should have identified a ‘safe area’ on site and ensured the employee was in it before driving or slewing (turning) the excavator. Safe areas are a simple but important way to protect workers,” said Keith Stewart, WorkSafe New Zealand’s chief investigator, in a media release.

“The excavator could also have had rear-vision mirrors and a travel alarm that warns people when the machine starts to move.

“This case is a sad reminder of the risks faced by people who work around heavy vehicles and in uncontrolled settings. Those risks have to be managed and minimised.”

For more details visit WorkSafe New Zealand

Published on 4 December 2014 in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin

A Grocon subsidiary has been fined $250,000 following a wall collapse in March 2013 that killed three bystanders.

The Victorian WorkCover Authority prosecuted Grocon Victoria Street Pty Ltd for its part in the wall collapse at the company’s Swanston Street building site in Melbourne.

Late last month, Grocon pleaded guilty in the Magistrates Court to breaching Victoria’s work health and safety (WHS) laws.

Following sentencing, Daniel Grollo, executive chairman of Grocon, said in a media statement: “I personally, along with all of the directors and employees of Grocon, today reiterate our deep regret at the tragic and untimely loss of Bridget and Alexander Jones and Marie-Faith Fiawoo.”

The CFMEU said the fine was “a slap on the wrist”.

“Our thoughts are very much with the families of Alexander and Bridget and Marie-Faith, and all those whose lives have been scarred forever,” said John Setka, CFMEU secretary, in a media statement following sentencing.

Late last month, Aussie Signs Pty Ltd was committed to trial for its part in the incident. It had been contracted to attach hoarding to the wall.

For more details visit Grocon and the CFMEU

Published on 4 December 2014 in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin

The NSW Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities (HACA) has been testing homes and commissioning an independent investigation in an effort to uncover the extent of the Mr Fluffy loose-fill asbestos risks in NSW.

WorkCover NSW, which chairs HACA, has been conducting the tests. As of 27 November, 285 homes have been tested and all have returned negative results to loose-fill asbestos, according to a WorkCover NSW media statement. The testing is ongoing.

NSW HACA has also commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers to investigate the extent of the problem.

“The Chief Health Officer has considered the [recent] ACT Taskforce Report [into Mr Fluffy contamination in that jurisdiction] and confirmed the need to wait for the results of the current NSW investigation,” WorkCover NSW said.

Residents whose homes were built before 1980 can contact WorkCover to see if they are eligible for free testing; phone 13 10 50.

For more details visit WorkCover NSW

Published on 4 December 2014 in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin

Smarter work design, better work cultures and building individual resilience are the top three ways to create a mentally healthy workplace.

According to the report, ‘Developing a Mentally Healthy Workplace: A review of the literature’, smarter work design means improving flexibility of working hours, encouraging a better work culture through a safe and positive work climate, and building individual resilience by providing coaching and mentoring, among other activities.

The report says three other key workplace mental health initiatives include promoting and facilitating early help-seeking, supporting recovery, and increasing awareness of workplace mental health issues.

Importantly, the report notes that to establish and maintain a mentally healthy workplace, there must be commitment, leadership and support from management, a situational analysis to determine what works, identification and implementation of a workplace mental health strategy, and a review of the outcomes.

Earlier this week, the Chair of the National Mental Health Commission, Professor Allan Fels, commented on the release of the report.

“The opportunity cost of not promoting good mental health at work, and not supporting people who have mental illness or care for others who do is … very, very high,” he said in a media statement.

“Nonetheless, almost all of us have witnessed people and practices in the workplace that ignore the needs of individuals or sometimes the whole team, and the resulting impacts such as staff turnover, absenteeism, low productivity and poor morale.”

For more details visit the report and Professor Fels

Published on 4 December 2014 in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin

Changes to Comcare’s workers compensation and self-insurance eligibility laws have passed the House of Representatives and are now in the Senate.

As reported in an earlier Safe-T-Bulletin, the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Legislation Amendment Bill 2014 was introduced into the House of Representatives in March this year.

In May the bill was referred to the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee, where in July the Government members recommended that the bill pass and the ALP and Green members rejected it.

Following debate in the House of Representatives last week, the bill was passed and is now being debated in the Senate.

As indicated in the earlier e-bulletin, under the bill, Comcare will no longer pay workers compensation for injuries that occur during recess breaks away from an employer’s premises.

Nor will it pay compensation for death or serious and permanent impairment if the person killed or injured engaged in serious and wilful misconduct.

The bill also removes the need for the Minister of Employment to declare a corporation’s eligibility to be granted a self-insurance licence. Corporations can go straight to the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission (SRCC) to apply for the licence. Nevertheless, the Minister can still direct the SRCC.

Corporations that are operating in two or more jurisdictions, and meet the workers compensation obligations in these jurisdictions, can apply to join the Comcare scheme. Also, group licences can be granted to related corporations.

Corporations granted a self-insurance licence will also be covered under the Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

For details visit the bill

Published on 4 December 2014 in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin


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