OH&S Consulting News - May 2016
Ammendments to Workers' Compensation & Injury Management Regulations 1982
Taken from WorkCover WA Website April 15, 2016
A new regulation has been effected which expands the definition of ‘industrial award’ in the Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Act 1981:
Reg 3A. Instruments under Commonwealth laws prescribed for definition of industrial award in Act.
For the purposes of paragraph (d) of the definition of industrial award in section 5(1) of the Act, the following instruments are prescribed:
A fair work instrument as defined in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Commonwealth) section 12.
An award-based transitional instrument as defined in the Fair Work (Transitional Provisions and Consequential Amendments) Act 2009 (Commonwealth) Schedule 2 item 2 that continues in existence under Schedule 3 Part 2 of that Act.
The regulation confirms that workers covered by Commonwealth instruments are ‘award’ workers for the purpose of calculating weekly compensation payments. This is consistent with common practice and does not have any material impact on payments made to workers.
High rate of death & injury due to falls from ladders
Source: OHS Reps, SafetyNetJournal #352, 24 February 2016 taken from the MARCSTA Monitor Apr 2016
Research by the Alfred Hospital in Victoria has once again highlighted the high incidence of death and injury due to falls from ladders.
From 2007 to 2011, 584 Victorians were admitted to hospital after falling from ladders. Of those, 194 were major trauma cases, 58 ended up in intensive care where they relied on machines to breathe, and 15 were killed.
The number of serious ladder injuries has continued to rise in the years since the research was completed with total admissions for ladder falls nearly doubling from 100 in the year to June 2007 to 190 in the year to June 2014.
Most had fallen from less than three metres, many from two metres and one dead after falling just one metre.
Warning over exploding Lead-Acid Batteries
Source: NSW Dept of Industry, Resources and Energy, Mine Safety – Safety Bulletin SB16-02 10/05/2016
There have been four reported explosions involving lead-acid batteries in NSW open-cut coal mines since November 2015, prompting the Mine Safety Investigation Unit to issue a safety warning.
In two of these incidents, people were close to the explosion and one tradesman was sprayed with acid.
The batteries were installed in mobile and fixed plant applications — three batteries were sealed ‘maintenance free’ units and the other was a vented ‘maintainable’ battery.
Three of the events occurred while maintenance activities were in progress on the equipment. In events where the battery cases actually failed, debris was scattered up to 10 m from the equipment.
Investigations revealed several contributing factors, some of which were common to more than one of the events, including:
The batteries were not the correct size or type (one was reportedly substantially undersized when compared to the required cold cranking amps for the machine on which they were installed);
Workers with the responsibility for inspecting and testing the batteries did not have clear guidance or information on how to assess whether the battery condition was acceptable. In two events, the battery voltage was checked before the incident and the measured battery voltage provided an indication that the battery may no longer have been suitable for service;
Adequate ventilation of battery enclosures was not given to prevent accumulation of hydrogen released while a battery was being charged;
The batteries failed to be securely mounted and protected from the harmful effects of vibration.
To read the full safety bulletin and the list of recommendations refer to: http://www.resourcesandenergy.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/654615/SB16-02-Lead-acid-battery-explosions.pdf
Further evidence of the health effects of sedentary work
Source: Safety Net 356 taken from the MARCSTA Monitor Apr 2016
A literature review commissioned by SafeWork Australia and undertaken by Curtin University shows that prolonged unbroken sitting time is associated with a range of health problems including musculoskeletal disorders, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, some cancers and premature mortality.
Of particular significance in the research it was found that health problems caused by prolonged sitting remain even if a worker exercises every day, highlighting that excessive sitting and physical inactivity are separate health hazards.
Occupational interventions which include substitution and breaks to minimise the total time spent sitting and to break up periods of sitting at work are suggested by SafeWork Australia CEO, Michelle Baxter. So get up out of your chair at least every 20 minutes, move the printer away from you, spend parts of the day in a standing position, use a glass or small bottle for water, so that you have to replenish it instead of a large bottle and keep moving.
Being overweight linked to poorer memory
Source: Science Daily, 26 February 2016 as recorded in the MARCSTA Monitor Apr 2016
In a preliminary study published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology researchers from the Department of Psychology at Cambridge University found an association between high body mass index (BMI) and poorer performance on a test of episodic memory.
Its results support existing findings that excess body weight may be associated with changes to the structure and function of the brain and its ability to perform certain cognitive tasks optimally. In particular, obesity has been linked with dysfunction of the hippocampus, an area of the brain involved in memory and learning, and of the frontal lobe, the part of the brain involved in decision making, problem solving and emotions, suggesting that it might also affect memory.
However evidence for memory impairment in obesity is currently limited. The researchers say that the results could suggest that the structural and functional changes in the brain previously found in those with higher BMI may be accompanied by a reduced ability to form and/or retrieve episodic memories. As the effect was shown in young adults, it adds to growing evidence that the cognitive impairments that accompany obesity may be present early in adult life.