Serious Worker Injury Results in $90,000 Fine for Mining Company

queensland paramedic
Source: www.som.uq.edu.au

A processing firm has been slapped with a $90,000 fine for an incident that happened in 2012 which resulted in a serious injury for one worker.

The firm pleaded guilty to 2 charges of failing to provide a safe work environment following the October 2012 incident.

The worker was seriously injured after being stuck by a one tonne pipe and being swept off the stack of pipes. The worker fell 4 meters. The man was rigging the pipes to a crane before they could be unloaded from the truck when the incident happened.

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/10/company-fined-90000-providing-safe-work-environment/#.VhJex_mqqko

Company Pleads Guilty over Wayne Vickery Death

wayne vickery
Caption: Wayne Vickery killed on a worksite in 2011.
Source: CanberraTimes.com.au

The Canberra construction company that employed Wayne Vickery, a construction worker killed in a 2011 grader accident, has now pleaded guilty  to safety failings which resulted in the fatal incident.

The 45 year old worker was killed on a Macgregor site belonging to Canberra Contractors Pty Ltd.

Mr Vickery was described as a construction veteran who had been crouching down to check ground levels while building roads in a new residential housing estate when a grader reversed into him.

The company initially planned to fight the charges but changed their plea to guilty earlier this month.

Read more here.

Report to be Prepared for Coroner Following Worker Death at Catherine Field

catherine field
Source: 9News.com.au

Following the death of a 57 year old worker at a construction site in Catherine Field, NSW police have announced that a report will be prepared for the coroner.

According to initial reports the man was operating heavy machinery at the time of the accident. Emergency crews were called in when the man become trapped between pieces of earth moving equipment.

Source: NSW Police

Vic Workplace fatalities this year reach 11

So far this year fatalities on Victorian worksites have reached 11, this following the death of a 20 year old worker when part of the building he was working on collapsed onto him.

Co-workers and passers-by tried frantically to lift the rubble and remove the young man and co-worker who was also trapped by the debris during the collapse. The other worker was saved however the 20 year old man did not survive.

This post from WorkSafeNews.com.au has more:

WorkSafe is on site of an incident in Caulfield South, where it appears that part of a building has collapsed.

A 20-year-old man has died at the scene and a second man has been taken to hospital with leg injuries.

WorkSafe investigators are on site and a comprehensive investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident is now underway.

This takes the number of workplace fatalities in Victoria this year to 11.

See more at: http://www.worksafenews.com.au/component/k2/item/337-man-dies-at-caulfield-south-construction-site.html#sthash.ypJRe8nD.dpuf

Emergency crews and WorkCover investigators spent the day at the scene but will not speculate on the cause of the collapse until investigations are complete.

With workplace fatalities in Vic reaching 11 and the high serious injury rate and fatality in other states, particularly in the construction sector now more than ever employers, site controllers, supervisors, management, principal contractors, construction workers and construction firms need to focus on construction site safety.

There has been an abnormally high number of collapses recently and construction workers aren’t the only ones at risk. Earlier this year a teenage brother and sister were killed when a wall collapsed in Melbourne, they were just passing by when the bricks and debris collapsed onto them, killing them instantly.

Construction workers are faced with these types of risks every day, in addition to numerous others. It is for this reason that we need to focus more on construction safety rather than solely concentrating on productivity and the bottom line. Construction safety is afterall in the best interest of everyone involved, the construction firm, workers and the client. If workers are safe, they are healthier and happier resulting in less time off work which means a higher level of productivity and that benefits the employer and the customer.

So how do construction firms ensure that safety is being prioritised? Firstly by ensuring that each and every worker on site, whether permanently employed or temporary workers, experienced or simply a trainee have completed the general construction safety training, The White Card. Each worker must be in possession of their White Card and proof of their completion of the course should be kept on site in case inspectors visit and ask to see it. Without it not only is the worker’s safety being jeopardised but other workers on site are also being placed at risk. It is important that we remember that construction tasks are interrelated and the actions of one can have severe even deadly consequences for others on site.

 

Worker Battling Injury Turns to Drugs- Receives $820,000 Payout

Employers who fail to address safety issues on construction sites arent just failing themselves and their company but are also failing workers because in addition to the physical impact of injuries, there are ripple effects which can affect their entire lives. A recent incident which took place on a construction project in Nicholls is an example of these consequences.

A concreter who suffered injury on a job turned to illicit drugs to manage the pain sustained from the injury, subsequently the man’s entire life was affected and spiralled downhill.

The injury occured when the worker was asked to load 3 large pieces of conrete onto a truck, damaging his back in the process. The pain which started in his back then progressed into severe lower back and right leg pain.

The following excerpt from a post on www.CanberraTimes.com.au explains further:

nw-ln-backpain-20131017205045480560-300x0A concreter who turned to heroin to manage back pain suffered on the job has won more than $820,000 in damages.

Dominic Fischetti, 50, was a self-employed concreter subcontracting on a project in Nicholls when the injury occurred in 2005.

Mr Fischetti was asked to load three large pieces of concrete onto a truck, damaging his back in the process.

He reported feeling something go in his back and suffered severe lower back and right leg pain in the days and weeks after.

Read more: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/820000-payout-for-injured-worker-20131017-2vq0l.html#ixzz2iKnizQgg

Although the worker continued to work for a further 3 months, the pain did not subside and the worker was forced to seek medical treatment. This incident is a reminder to workers about the need to address injuries immediately rather than allow them to deteriorate until they become debilitating. All incidents and near misses should be reported for this reason as well.

The article on CanberraTimes.com.au went on to explain:

A scan revealed a disc protrusion and he was advised to think about a new career. But he had only ever been a concreter and was unqualified for other work, so continued in his job for another two years.

He managed the pain with painkillers for a time, but his back became steadily worse. Mr Fischetti then began using morphine tablets, smoking opium, and injecting heroin, which he found provided more effective relief.

The court heard his heroin use lasted for about eight months before he quit and joined a methadone program, which he was still on at the time of the hearing.

The defendant company became critical of the speed he worked at and, in 2008, he began to receive less work. Mr Fischetti stopped work altogether at the end of 2008 because he could not cope.

Read more: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/820000-payout-for-injured-worker-20131017-2vq0l.html#ixzz2iKnizQgg

In 2010, police took him to Canberra Hospital suffering from depression because of the incident. The previous active worker was forced to give up the things he loved so much like soccer, fishing and body building because of his injury.

The man then launched action against defendant company Classic Constructions, alleging it negligently breached a duty of care not to expose him to risk of injury but the company claimed that the man’s injury was caused by his own negligence. Ultimately the man was rewarded $822,641 but this will not make up for the pain and suffering he has sustained thus far.

 

 

Workers Responsibility in Avoiding Slips and Trips on Site

Slips, trips and falls are the most commonly occurring cause of injury on construction sites and on work sites in general which is why this aspect of OH&S requires and warrants more attention than less commonly occurring hazards. More workers are killed every year because of a slip, trip or fall than any other way on a construction site and despite being aware of risks, workers are still making mistakes which end up costing them dearly. This post attempts to recap some of the most basic duties of employees in avoiding slip, trip and fall injuries.

  1. Undergo the necessary training. Complete the general construction safety training course, White Card course which covers the basic aspects of construction site safety. Not only is it a mandatory legal requirement but it also covers important aspects of fall protection.
  2. Maintain a clean and clear work area. While you as a worker obviously do not have control over the entire site, you can control your work area. Keep it clean and clear of debris, clutter and tools which can present a tripping hazard to yourself or others. Also clean up any spills or chemicals on the ground as workers may slip on it.
  3. Utilise PPE as directed. PPE and fall protection needs to be utilised according to your training and instruction from your supervisors. Keep your PPE and equipment in good condition and store correctly to prolong its lifespan and effectiveness.
  4. Not sure, Ask. If you have any concerns regarding fall hazards left unattended or unaddressed raise these issues with a supervisor or safety rep. If you have forgotten any aspect of your safety training, ask for advice or additional training. Good communication is key in promoting safety on site and preventing careless behaviour which can contribute to falls and other hazards.

 

New Workplace Laws to Curb Tasmanian Injury Record

According to Tasmanian unions, tougher fines under the new workplace laws will help to continue a downward trend in workplace injuries and fatalities.

According to the figures released as part of the launch of WorkSafe month, we are seeing a decline in the number of Tasmanian workers injured at work.

This welcomed reduction in injuries is believed to be linked to new laws which include higher fines for OH&S breaches and offences.

According to Workplace Relations minister David O’Byrne, we saw 378 less injuries in 2012 in Tasmania than we did in 2011. He is pleased that we have now recorded less than 9000 injuries in a year and only 4 Tasmanians have died on the job in the past year.

Sadly the construction sector is lagging behind others in safety, with farming and construction recording the highest injury and fatality rates in Tasmania.

This post from Abc.net.au explains,

Workplace Relations minister David O’Byrne says there were 8,934 injury reports last year, 378 fewer than the year before.

“For the first time we’ve dipped below 9,000 injuries per year,” he said.

Four Tasmanians have been killed at work in the past year.

New workplace laws came into effect this year.

Unions Tasmania’s Kevin Harkins says they are helping combat an alarming culture.

“Tight timeframes, tight profit margins…just pushing to get the job done,” he said.

But Mr Harkins says Tasmania is still the second worst performing state behind Queensland.

Most injuries and deaths occur in construction and farming jobs.

Read more: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-07-25/fall-in-worplace-accidents-down-to-tougher-laws-say-unions/4843776?section=tas

The article goes on to offer a cautionary tale for readers about a Tasmanian worker who was injured at work. The worker explains how tedious the process of recovery from a workplace injury can be especially from more serious injuries which affect not only workers health and safety but their family lives and ability to make a living as well. In fact injury claims have gotten so common that insurance rates have skyrocketed this year. Often workers who are injured aren’t able to continue in the position they are in when the incident occurs because of a debilitating or permanent injury.

Read what the post’s author went on to state:

Last year, Chris Dornauf spent an agonising hour and a half with his arm caught in the conveyor belt of a potato grader.

He says recovering from a workplace injury is a slow process.

Cut all five nerves, or five tendons and two of the main arteries,” he said.

After eight surgeries and with more to come, he still has not regained the use of his arm.

He is now able to drive trucks instead of working the farm, but says he is more aware of what might go wrong.

“When you stand back and look at it, you think about how dangerous things are,” he said.

“It’s a big, it’s a lot different now.”

Last week, a Hobart man injured at work was awarded the state’s highest compensation payout of $7.5 million.

Read more: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-07-25/fall-in-worplace-accidents-down-to-tougher-laws-say-unions/4843776?section=tas

 

Worker Suffers Lacerations and Burns while Cleaning Machinery

An important part of construction work is engaging with all types of machinery on site. Without these machines, we wouldn’t have the sophisticated methods of construction we do today and probably wouldn’t be able to build the magnificent structures and skyscrapers that have become so common in our world. Sadly these machines which facilitate advancements in building methods also present some of the biggest hazards. One of these hazards is presented when the machines are being maintained and cleaned.

An accident which happened in New Jersey, in New York is an example of the risks associated with cleaning machinery during construction activities. A worker suffered serious injuries which required his hospitalisation after an accident involving a piece of equipment used in the road construction project.

The machinery was being used for paving a road way when the worker attempted to clean some asphalt off the machine when the accident occurred. Read an excerpt from the article on App.com which explains what went down,

bildeTOMS RIVER — A road construction worker, operating a piece of machinery Monday night at Route 70 and Massachusetts Avenue, suffered burns and lacerations to his leg and was hospitalized, police said.

Police Chief Michael Mastronardy said the construction worker, 27-year-old Ben Lugo of Toms River, had his leg pinned for about three minutes in the unspecified piece of equipment while doing paving work on Massachusetts Avenue.

A co-worker of Lugo’s, 22-year-old Jerry Bove of Brick, told police that Lugo was attempting to clean some asphalt from the machine when his feet became caught under a belt and metal, Mastronardy said.

Fellow workers were able to free Lugo by using a torch and pry bar, cutting the metal that was trapping him.

Lugo was flown by MONOC helicopter to the trauma unit at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune

Read more at: http://www.app.com/article/20130716/NJNEWS/307160014/

This accident highlighted a very important issue regarding maintenance of machinery, and cleaning in particular. Maintenance is critical to ensure continuous productivity of the machine and also has an impact on OH&S.

So good maintenance and cleaning of machinery is essential to keep machines and work environment safe and machines reliable but maintenance is in itself is a high-risk activity and therefore  it has to be performed in a safe way, with appropriate protection of maintenance workers and all those present on the site.

When conducting basic maintenance and cleaning of equipment there are certain procedures that should be followed and the manufacturer’s recommendations should also be considered and adhered to when developing these plans and procedures for cleaning of machines and equipment. A risk assessment should be carried out and workers should be involved in this process.

The work area needs to be secured by preventing unauthorised access, for example, by using barriers and signs.

If possible, guards should be designed so as to allow minor maintenance on the machines without removing the safeguards. If the guard must be removed or deactivated, then lock-off procedures should be followed.

It is also vitally important that the appropriate machinery and equipment be used for cleaning machines.

Workers involved in maintenance tasks should have the appropriate tools and equipment, which may be different from those that they normally use.

By sticking to the safe work procedures workers can avoid painful and costly accidents and ensure continuous productivity on site.

 

Memorial Service Held for Fallen Construction Worker

Last year a young Ben Catanzariti went to work as a concreter on a development construction site in Kingston only to be killed on the job when a 39 metre long concrete boom fell and hit into him. The young man didn’t stand a chance against the enormous boom and died on the scene, while 2 of his co-workers escaped with non-fatal injuries.

Sadly the young man was just 21 years old and had just begun his life and career in the construction sector. The incident sparked a public outcry about the safety (or lack thereof) on construction sites especially for inexperienced and young workers.

This excerpt from a post on CanberraTimes.com.au explains:

ng-artw-memorial-20130721220708387540-620x349Workers were using a truck-mounted concrete boom pump to pour concrete at the Dockside apartment development when the pouring boom broke away from the truck and fell to the ground.

Ben, a concreter from Griffith, was hit by the 39-metre boom. He died at the scene; two fellow workers were injured.

“It was a waste of a life and a situation that should not have occurred,” Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said at a memorial gathering for Mr Catanzariti on Sunday.

Read more: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/mothers-plea-on-wills-at-memorial-for-son-20130721-2qcy0.html#ixzz2Zz3egNPp

Now one year after his tragic death, Ben Catanzariti is raising awareness about the importance of construction safety as well as another important cause – the need for young people to have a will.

A memorial has been erected on the young man’s behalf which will serve as a reminder to young people about the importance of having a will in place because you never know what life has in store and in the event of a young person’s death, their families grief is made worse when that young person doesn’t have a will.

The young man has now been remembered by a touching memorial which also has a practical purpose. A park bench built by a friend of the family, will be placed outside the apartment complex and will bear the young man’s name as well as an inscription encouraging visitors to remember Ben. The concrete at the memorial was laid by Ben’s co-workers.

The unveiling of the memorial will also signal the launch of a national campaign to encourage young people to make a will, as Ben Catanzariti’s death has highlighted is extremely important. The young man did not have a will which has resulted in legal difficulties for his family.

The post on Canberratimes.com.au goes on to explain:

A year to the day after Mr Catanzariti’s death, about 100 members of his family, friends and officials gathered at the Kingston foreshore site for the unveiling of a memorial to the hard-working young man and talented sportsman. A park bench has been placed outside the apartment complex, as well as a bubbler with an inscription encouraging visitors to take a drink and pause to remember him. The bench was built by a family friend and the bubbler installed by a friend, Dave.

The concrete at the memorial was laid by Mr Cantanzariti’s colleagues at Belconnen Concrete who were with him on the day of the accident.

“There was a lot of things that they were going to do together,” his mother Kay Catanzariti said. “I only wish he was here.”

Read more: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/mothers-plea-on-wills-at-memorial-for-son-20130721-2qcy0.html#ixzz2Zz3egNPp

 

Avoiding Stress and Injuries on Site

Building industry workers are faced with so hazards in addition to physically taxing tasks such as having to bear heavy loads and using dangerous equipment and tools which can take their toll on a person.

Add to that the risks associated with equipment such as cranes and scaffolds which require work from heights and extra care as well as manual handling tasks which can cause sprains and strains workers are often left feeling very stressed and run down.

When workers are stressed they are not working at their optimum which can in fact cause them to neglect safety, causing injuries and possibly fatalities. So often stress and injury go hand in hand. Here some useful tips to help you avoid stress and injury on construction sites,

1. Use ergonomically correct portable and high-powered tools.Tools are meant to make your job and your life easier. Many users do not know the strain their badly designed tools are placing on them. Frequent use of poorly designed toolscould help you develop such conditions as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, white finger and trigger finger.

Power tools with their high vibration and excessive noise can also pose a risk. Employers must make sure that the power tools they choose for workers not only have lower vibration but have a long trigger. They should also consider both left-handed and right-handed workers when selecting tools.

When utilising hand tools, employers or safety coordinators should obtain tools that require as little force as possible to avoid excessive strain on the worker when they hold tools tightly.

2. Sit down when working at lower levels rather than standing and leaning over by bending your back. It is also not good to squat because you do not have good balance when you squat and this can be dangerous when using dangerous tools. Also avoid kneeling, this puts unnecessary strain on your knees especially when conducting work over longer times.

3. Keep your wrists and arms neutral. If you do not, by the end of the shift, your body will be suffering from swelling, tingling, strains and pains. Over time you can develop carpal tunnel syndrome. Any condition that exerts pressure on the median nerve in the wrist can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. Tendon inflammation resulting from repetitive work can also cause carpal tunnel symptoms, construction workers often engage in repetitive tasks which can result in this condition if workers are not careful.

4. Lift objects correctly to avoid sprains, strains and back aches. While it’s easy to get injured by carrying heavy loads, it’s not that hard to avoid this hazard altogether.Remember to always bend your knees and to avoid twisting to the side when lifting. To maintain balance, put one foot slightly in front of the other and evenly distribute your weight.

5. Balance the weight of your tool belt because although they are small, they can pull on the body and bring it out of alignment. If you find that one side of your belt is heavier than the other, then make the necessary adjustments by transferring tools to the lighter side to even the load.