Festive Season Workplace Safety Warning Issued by WorkSafe Victoria

WorkSafe Victoria is reminding all workers and employers, across all industries to put safety first as 2018 comes to a close.

The safety watchdog said this time of year is usually marked by a spike in workplace injuries and fatalities. Typically the 2 month period between November and December account for 22.3 per cent of all workplace fatalities.

Between 2008 and 2017, there were 53 workplace fatalities.

Workers and employers were reminded not to let busy work schedules and tight deadlines cause them to compromise on safety. Also don’t allow the festive feeling to allow you to relax when it comes to safety.

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/11/victorian-workplaces-reminded-stay-safe-lead-festive-season/#.W_uY9uIlE1k

When The Weather Requires You to Down Tools

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An interesting post on Abc.net.au highlights the dilemma facing all  tradies working on construction sites outdoors, when are the weather conditions enough to down tools?

As tradepeople interviewed point out, deciding when to stop work due to the weather can be tricky given that you also still need to get paid.

Each state has its own workplace health and safety regulations, but often it is up to the person to decide whether it is safe to work in weather conditions. While there are a number of factors to consider such as time frame, type of work etc, ultimately it comes down to safety. If it’s not safe, it’s not worth continuing.

Read the article at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-08-16/how-to-mange-weather-in-construction-jobs/10083870

Operator Fined After Driver Killed in Quarry Accident

Following the tragic death of a dump truck driver in 2016, a quarry operator has been fined $230,000.

The driver was killed when the vehicle he was operating rolled on a stockpile.The man was in his sixties at the time.

The court heard that the vehicle flipped over the edge of a stockpile at the Plumpton quarry and slid down the other side.

The company was found guilty after it was revealed that the company contravened section 26 of the OHS Act by failing to ensure a safe workplace without risk to health and safety.

The quarry operator failed to complete a risk assessment and a Safe Work Method Statement for the work being carried out. The investigation also found the company failed to take the reasonable steps to eliminate or remove the risks including ensuring the perimeter of the stockpile was adequately walled. The operator failed to engage a qualified engineer to assess the stability of the stockpile.

Read more at http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/12/quarry-operator-fined-following-death-worker/#.XD5Sec0lE1l

Construction Safety Update for 2019

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So far in January (January 24, 2019) according to Safe Work Australia, there have been 5 workplace fatalities in Australia.

In 2018, there were 152 workers killed at work, an improvement from the previous year when 190 workers were killed on the job.

Of the 5 workers killed in 2019, 2 were from the construction industry, as compared to last year this time when only 1 construction worker had died on the job. The agriculture, fishing and forestry industry was responsible for 2 deaths this year as well, with the transport industry claiming one life.

For the construction industry, we haven’t had a very good start to the year however it’s not too late to make a change. There’s still time to turn things around and make safety the first priority, beginning with construction safety training.

Read more at https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/statistics-and-research/statistics/fatalities/fatality-statistics

Canberra Light Rail Workers Forced to Labour in Extreme Heat

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Construction workers on Canberra’s light rail network recently had to work in near 40 degree heat, despite the construction union pushing for a deal for workers to stop working when temperatures reach 37 degrees.

Workers had to endure 39 degrees recently while working on the government funded light rail project, in attempts to stop delays to completion of the first stage of the project from Gungahlin to the city.

This comes just days after WorkSafe ACT Commissioner Greg Jones went on the radio and urged businesses and employees to take of each other and themselves as temperatures soared. He highlighted the construction industry in particular as well as other exposed sectors.  See more https://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/act/canberra-light-rail-workers-on-shift-in-near-40-degree-heat-20190116-p50rqj.html

Help Available for NSW First Time Workers

As many young people enter the workforce in 2019, it’s important that they have access to help and advice to face the challenges of life on the job site, particularly for those entering trade fields.

Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean recently announced the SafeWork Young Workers eToolkit which he said is a resource to help more than 500 000 young workers across the state of NSW.

As Mr Kean highlighted, it can be daunting starting work for the first time especially for young people who are inexperienced and eager to please. Young people often don’t know their rights when it comes to workplace health and safety issues like harassment or bullying, that is why the toolkit can prove so helpful.

The toolkit is a free-to-access tool which also has real life stories and advice for young workers.

Mr Kean explained,

“It’s often hard enough for older workers to have confidence when dealing with workplace health and safety issues, let alone young people entering the workplace for the first time.

Source: https://www.miragenews.com/help-and-advice-for-first-time-young-workers/

Some of the issues that the toolkit covers includes bullying, abuse by customers, injuries at work and mental health issues.

The toolkit is important because this group of workers has been identified as ‘at risk’. In 2017 there were six fatalities involving people under the age of 25 in NSW.

In the 2015-2016 more than 13,000 temporary disability and 3 permanent disability claims were made by young workers.

“These statistics are devastating. We want to make sure young workers, their supervisors and employers have the best information possible to avoid tragedies in the workplace,” Mr Kean said.

“The last thing we want to see is new workers being put in dangerous situations, especially if it’s the first job they’ve ever had.

“It’s essential that businesses provide refresher training and adequate supervision all year round. This should include things like induction programs and safety training, so young workers understand safety policies and procedures.

Source: https://www.miragenews.com/help-and-advice-for-first-time-young-workers/

For those entering the construction industry for the first time, whether young or old, it’s important not only that they are supervised until they are more at ease and comfortable with the work involved, but that they are adequately trained. Training for the construction industry is not just task specific or site specific, while these are important – general construction induction training is mandatory for all workers.

General construction induction training or how to work safely in the construction industry training is a basic requirement mandated by the federal government in 2012 when workplace health and safety laws were unified. It’s important that employers ensure all workers, are in possession of a white card, the proof that they have completed this induction safety training. For more visit www.whitecardonline.com.au

Advice for Handling Bullying on the Job

An interesting article on PerthNow.com.au discussed what to do when you are being bullied on a work site and in particular what to do when that bullying comes from your boss.

Workplace bullying is described as the repeated and unreasonable behaviour that creates a risk to the health and safety of employees.

Workplace bullying can occur between anyone at work, it is even more complicated when it involves an employee and their manager or supervisor.

In this regard recognising what is unacceptable and inappropriate behaviour is very important.

The article’s writer provided a  list of red flags that employees can look for if they suspect their boss is bullying them including verbal abuse, threatening and inappropriate behaviour. If they regular yell, swear or make jokes at your expense on a regular basis, this constitutes bullying. Behaviour like this in front of co-workers can make people feel humiliated.

Bosses who bully also usually invade personal space and try to intimidate their employees.

Sometimes more sinister tactics are employed involving work, such as setting unrealistic deadlines or undermining work performance or even setting tasks that you don’t have the knowledge or skill to complete.

Isolating and excluding people from key meetings or team gatherings may also constitute bullying.

Some bosses may even spread malicious rumours to make co-workers shun the victim of their abuse.

Once you recognise that you are being bullied, you must decide what course of action to take. To learn more read the article on https://www.perthnow.com.au/business/workplace-matters/what-to-do-when-your-boss-becomes-a-bully-ng-b881088582z

NSW Government Take Aim at Dodgy Building Certifiers

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The NSW Government announced a crackdown on dodgy building certifiers, saying any corrupt certifiers would be barred from the industry.

The recent debacle involving Sydney’s Opal Tower, when a crack was discovered in a precast concrete panel inside the building, a full investigation was launched by government. Fears that the building was unstable prompted evacuation, at a time when the government is under pressure to ensure safety of buildings in Sydney.

Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean warned dodgy certifiers that they will be found and have the book thrown at them.

Under a new disciplinary policy, corrupt certifiers will be immediately kicked out of the industry, Kean warned. Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/01/crackdown-dodgy-building-certifiers-way/#.XFgfQ80lHQV

How Toxic Work Stress Can Affect Your Health

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Everyone experiences some form of stress at some time in their lives but toxic stress left unchecked can have devastating effects on our mental and physical health.

Experts have warned about the danger of toxic stress. Safe Work Australia said that 92 per cent of serious work related mental disorder claims can be attributed to mental stress.

In a 2015 study, Stanford University organisational behaviour professor Jeffrey Pfeffer found that poor management in the USA was responsible for almost 8 per cent of annual health costs and 120,000 deaths annually.

He argued that mental health and stress in the workplace is not being addressed, but rather only the physical health and safety of workers was being focused on.

Signs of Toxic Stress:

According to US Clinical psychologist Monique Reynolds from the Centre for Anxiety and Behavioural Change, the first sign of a destructive job is loss of sleep. These people will likely wake up in the middle of the night thinking about their to-do list.

If you have a pattern of insomnia, it could be a sign of unhealthy job stress.

Another sign is chronic tension in the neck and shoulders which also causes migraines and tension headaches. Dr Reynolds said that because our nervous systems are constantly on edge in these toxic jobs, we are constantly waiting to react to that unpleasant boss or co-worker.

If you have had previous bouts of mental illness, this can cause you to “cross the clinical threshold”, experts warn.

Research also shows that chronic stress can affect your immune system and make you sick more often.

Read more at: https://www.news.com.au/finance/business/stress-from-toxic-working-conditions-can-cause-serious-health-risks-and-lower-sex-drive/news-story/a364f34172e34cd6ddb0b2a11d75daec