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A West Australian scrap metal business has been prosecuted after a Chinese national who spoke little English was crushed to death by an 800kg metal slab.

The incident happened in November 2011 when the worker was directed to remove a large bucket from an excavator using an oxy-cutter. WorkSafe said he was given no instructions for carrying out this task, or supervision, and was working alone.

“At some time between 8am and 9am, the worker was crushed when an 800kg piece of the upper part of the bucket he was cutting broke away from the main structure and fell on him,” WorkSafe said.

Before the incident, the worker had been with the company for nine months. He initially received general induction training, then a few hours of formal training followed by “three months working under the supervision of another relatively inexperienced Chinese oxy-cutter with very limited English”, according to WorkSafe.

“During this time, he was shown how to assess the risk of falling pieces of metal, safe cutting, leaving ‘tags’ and where to position himself when cutting overhead.”

Nevertheless, the worker had no formal training or experience in oxy-cutting or metalwork generally before starting this job, WorkSafe added.

Since the worker’s death changes have been made at the workplace. “Subsequent to the death of this worker, the employer has reassessed the risks at the yard, and individual risk assessments, methodology, JSAs and detailed cut plans must now be undertaken for any cutting job where there is a risk of pieces falling,” WorkSafe Commissioner Lex McCulloch said.

“An additional supervisor has been employed to carry out risk assessments, compile JSAs and instruct workers in safe cutting procedures. These are generally documented in both English and Chinese.”

The business, J & P Group Pty Ltd trading as J & P Metals, was prosecuted in the Bunbury Magistrates Court. It pleaded guilty and was fined $80,000 and ordered to pay $3000 in costs.

For more details, visit WorkSafe.

Published on 13 March 2014 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

Another 20 work-related deaths have been reported in the latest figures from Safe Work Australia.

Sixteen male and two female workers plus two female bystanders died in November 2013, says the Notifiable Fatalities Monthly Report, which was released last week.

Eight of the victims died in vehicle crashes on public roads, while three died in vehicle incidents not on public roads.

Another three victims were crushed; while two fell from a height.

The following incidents resulted in one death each: an air crash, an electrocution, being hit by a vehicle not on a public road, and being hit by an unattended moving vehicle not on public road.

Total deaths stand at 194 in the 11 months to November 2013.

For more details, visit the latest figures.

Published on 27 February 2014 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

Workers have been electrocuted, shocked and severely burnt in New South Wales.

Two workers were electrocuted and 14 received electric shocks between August 2012 and August 2013.

WorkCover NSW General Manager of Work Health and Safety Division John Watson said “businesses need to take precautions and always use a licensed electrician for all electrical installation work”.

This includes de-energising before starting work and ensuring “workers, equipment, material and plant remain at safe distances from overhead and underground electric lines”.

In one of the incidents, “a worker was installing air-conditioning at a petrol station when the wiring he was working with was still energised and he received an electric shock. Tragically, he passed away in hospital”, said Watson.

In another incident, a truck driver and a crane operator were unloading housing trusses when the crane touched 11,000 volt overhead powerlines.

Watson said the shock threw the crane operator from the controls. The truck driver was also shocked when he attempted to take control of the crane and became stuck to the electrified controls.

The crane operator recovered from his initial shock but was shocked again when he tried to pull the truck driver off the controls. Nevertheless, he recovered again and used a crane sling as a lasso to drag the driver off the controls.

Watson said the crane operator then suffered a heart attack, but he was resuscitated; he also sustained severe electrical burns and part of his left foot had to be amputated.

The truck driver was also burnt.

WorkCover successfully prosecuted the company – which was fined $65,000 for breaching the Occupational Health & Safety Act 2000.

For more details, visit WorkCover NSW.

Published on 30 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.

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.


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