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06 Feb 2014

Don’t do the wrong job

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A worker who was injured while doing a job no-one had asked him to do has had his damages appeal dismissed. 

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Published in National Safety magazine, August-September 2013.

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06 Feb 2014

Long way to fall

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Copping abuse is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to preventing and responding to falls.

Despite improvements in safety, falls continue to be a significant problem in Australia.  Falls from height were the cause of 23 deaths in the period from January to October 2012, says Safe Work Australia’s monthly notified fatality report 2013.

But the statistics tell only part of the story.  Intimidation, accidents waiting to happen, poor communication, changed lives and ruined relationships also take their toll.

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Published in National Safety magazine, June-July 2013.

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06 Feb 2014

Boss Escapes Injury Liability

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An employer has escaped being held vicariously liable for an employee’s car accident injuries.

In September 2008, a Gradco Pty Ltd employee was being driven to work by a co-worker in a car owned by their employer when the vehicle ran off the road and he was injured. The employee sued the co-worker for damages, claiming his injuries had been caused by the co-worker’s negligent driving.  In the Supreme Court of Tasmania, the employee obtained a judgment against his co-worker.

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Published in National Safety magazine, June-July 2013.

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The Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program was established last week and its terms of reference released.

As reported in an earlier e-bulletin the commission is one of the Coalition Government’s election promises.

The terms of reference include how the Australian Labor Government made decisions about identifying, assessing and managing work health and safety (WHS) risks and whether the Government had sufficient regard for such risks.

Also included are whether the deaths of the four men, Matthew Fuller, Rueben Barnes, Mitchell Sweeney and Marcus Wilson, could have been avoided if the Labor Government had taken a different approach to identifying, assessing or managing WHS risks, the program’s effects on the victims’ families and the program’s effects on pre-existing home insulation businesses.

Ian Hanger AM QC has been appointed as the Royal Commissioner; he is a dispute resolution practitioner and an Adjunct Professor at the Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Queensland.

Hanger will report the commission’s findings and recommendations on or before 30 June 2014.

For more details, visit the Royal Commission and the full terms of reference.

Published on 19 December 2013 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

19 Dec 2013

NZ CEO escapes charges: unions shocked

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The dropping of safety charges against former Pike River CEO Peter Whittall has alarmed unions.

Whittall was the CEO of Pike River Coal Limited when an explosion at the company’s mine in the South Island of New Zealand killed 29 miners in November 2010.

He was charged with 12 safety breaches at the mine, following the explosion. This was in addition to the prosecution of the company.

The New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) told the Christchurch District Court late last week that “it intended to offer no evidence on the 12 charges and asked that Mr Whittall be discharged”.

MBIE Health and Safety group acting Deputy Chief Executive Geoffrey Podger said the likelihood of obtaining a conviction was low and it was not in the public interest to continue with the case.

Podger said an offer made by Whittall’s legal team was also taken into consideration. “Subject to charges being withdrawn, he [Whittall] would meet the Pike River families.

“Each of the Company’s directors would be asked by Mr Whittall to attend.

“The proposal also included a voluntary payment on behalf of directors and officers of the company at the time of the explosion of $3.41 million to meet the reparation ordered by Judge Farish at the Pike River Coal Limited sentencing.”

However, Podger reinforced it was the low likelihood of a conviction and not being in the public interest that led to the charges being dropped.

Pike River Coal Limited (In Receivership) has already been successfully prosecuted and fined.

The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (CTU) says the decision to withdraw the charges is wrong.

“It is insufficient for the Department to say the charges could not be successfully proven,” said New Zealand CTU President Helen Kelly.

“The Royal Commission of Inquiry extensively documents the areas where Mr Whittal, in his CEO role, did not take all practicable steps to keep the men safe, and if it is correct that the charges could not have been proven there must have been errors in the range of charges laid.

“The timing of the decision and the lack of time for other parties to investigate the legitimacy of this proposition before charges were withdrawn suggests the Department did not want scrutiny of this decision.”

For more details, visit the Ministry and the Unions.

Published on 19 December 2013 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.


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