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2015
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A residential care service in New Zealand has been prosecuted and fined after a 15-year-old teenager with multiple disabilities drowned in a bath.

Nathan Booker had profound intellectual and physical disabilities. In January last year, while he was in respite care at an Idea Services facility, he drowned after being left unattended in the bath, according to WorkSafe New Zealand in a media statement.

Following the incident, Idea Services was prosecuted in the Palmerston North District Court under the New Zealand Health and Safety in Employment Act for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure no action or inaction of an employee harmed another person.

The company pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay reparation of $90,000 and fined $63,500.

“Nathan was a young man with complex needs. He was not capable of bathing himself. His care documents stated that he required ‘full support’ and his care plan said that he must be ‘supervised at all times’. He simply should not have been left alone in the bath,” said WorkSafe New Zealand’s chief inspector, Keith Stewart, in a media statement.

“If Nathan had been fully supervised and not left alone during his bath this tragedy is unlikely to have occurred. This case should serve as a wake-up call to the residential care sector to ensure that they fully assess and manage the risks of services such as bathing people with complex needs.”

For more details, visit WorkSafe New Zealand

Published on 12 March 2015 in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin.

A new study suggests that higher order hazard controls such as elimination and substitution are not being used as much as they should in the manufacturing sector.

“While over 70 per cent of manufacturing workers who reported exposure to noise were provided with a combination of PPE [personal protective equipment] and other types of controls, 20 per cent reported that they were only provided with PPE,” according to the Safe Work Australia report, ‘Work Health & Safety Perceptions: Manufacturing Industry’.

“For vibration, over 30 per cent reported being provided with only PPE and no other control measure.

“Fourteen per cent of manufacturing workers who reported exposure to airborne hazards reported that they were not provided with any control measure for this hazard.”

The study suggests one of two reasons for this: “… either that workers were not aware of higher order control measures in the workplace or that there was a considerable proportion of manufacturing workplaces where higher order control measures were not provided.”

For more details, visit the report.

Published on 12 March 2015 in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin.

The latest notifiable workplace fatalities report reveals that 16 people were killed at work in November last year.

The November figures reveal that 10 male workers, one female worker, three male bystanders and two female bystanders were killed.

Four of the fatalities involved a road crash, two fatalities each resulted from falls from a height, drowning and crushing. The other six fatalities were due to a pedestrian being hit by a vehicle, being trapped in machinery, being hit by an unattended vehicle, being hit by a falling object, insect and spider bites and stings, and being hit by a moving object other than a vehicle.

So far, total notifiable workplace fatalities for 2014 stand at 213.

For more details, visit the fatality figures.

Published on 12 March 2015 in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin.

Lifetime care and support options for people who suffer a catastrophic injury from a workplace incident are now on the table.

The federal government has released a consultation Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) to canvass the cost benefit impact of the regulatory options of introducing a National Injury Insurance Scheme (NIIS).

The RIS includes the case for introducing minimum benchmarks, retaining existing workers compensation arrangements or harmonising workers compensation schemes.

“Under the minimum benchmarks all workers will be entitled to lifetime care and support regardless of their age, and workers will not need to navigate two schemes,” according to the RIS.

“The costs of the increased entitlements would be paid by employers through increased premiums under the minimum benchmarks. Per workplace, the increase in premiums would be modest and would reflect the increased funding necessary to provide lifetime care and support.”

Under the option of retaining the existing workers compensation arrangements, workers compensation premiums would not change. “[As] a result, the incentive for employers to address workplace safety is arguably reduced,” according to the RIS.

“Governments would fund the costs of topping up the care and support levels for those who are eligible for the NDIS [National Disability Insurance Scheme]. Workers aged 65 and over at the time of their accident would be unable to have their gaps in coverage provided by the NDIS.”

The harmonisation option is referred to in the RIS as “extremely difficult”. “To the extent that jurisdictions are able to reach agreement it would likely result in a watered down scheme where fewer workers are eligible and where eligible workers are entitled to lower service levels than occur under some existing schemes,” according to the RIS.

For more details, visit the RIS.

Published on 12 March 2015 in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin.

A bill has been introduced into federal parliament to stop employers from leaving the Comcare scheme without contributing to the cost of current or future workers compensation liabilities.

The Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Legislation Amendment (Exit Arrangements) Bill 2015 enables Comcare to set and collect “exit contributions” from former Commonwealth authorities and successors of former Commonwealth authorities before they leave the Comcare scheme. In addition, it can set and collect ongoing regulatory contributions from employers or successor bodies that have left the scheme.

The bill also provides for employees who are injured before their employer leaves the Comcare scheme to continue receiving rehabilitation.

Among other amendments, the bill clarifies that premiums for current Commonwealth authorities and entities should be based on the principle that current and prospective liabilities should be fully funded by Comcare-retained funds.

For more details, visit the bill

Published on 12 March 2015 in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin


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