Safety improvements raising the bar

An international construction contractor headquartered in Sydney has completed $400,000 of work health and safety measures as part of an enforceable undertaking entered into with SafeWork NSW.

Following an incident where a worker sustained serious injury from being hit by a steel beam, Multiplex Constructions Pty Ltd (formerly Brookfield Multiplex Constructions Pty Ltd) agreed to undertake significant business safety improvements that would also benefit their industry and the wider community.

Headlining Multiplex’s achievements is their development of the Practical guide to the safe erection of steel structures, the principles of which have since been adopted as part of the Australian standard for structural steel fabrication and erection (AS/NZS 5131:2016). The guide was developed in consultation with the Australian Steel Institute, engineers and the construction workforce to bridge the gap between documented procedures and workplace practices.

Multiplex has also spent more than $100,000 on the evaluation and distribution of the guide across its organisation and the wider steel erection industry through the Australian Steel Association and the Australian Contractors Association. A training video summarising the detailed processes contained in the guide was also produced to help deliver safety awareness training for all workers and contractors in the steel erection industry.

Since the incident in January 2013, Multiplex has also spent over $50,000 on rectifications, which included developing a tool to conduct audits on structural steel erection work and updating their steel erection checklist.

Benefits to the community from the completion of the undertakings to SafeWork NSW include the funding of graduate scholarships at Wollongong and Newcastle University for work health and safety students.

Multiplex Constructions Pty Ltd continues to promote the use of the guide to improve safety practices to benefit both the industry and wider community.

Read more about enforceable undertakings.

Exercise helps prevent depression

A study led by the Black Dog Institute has revealed that regular exercise of any intensity can prevent future depression – and just one hour can help.

The results show even small amounts of exercise can protect against depression, with mental health benefits seen regardless of age or gender.

The study involved more than 30,000 adults who had their levels of exercise and symptoms of depression and anxiety monitored over 11 years.

The study found that 12 per cent of cases of depression could have been prevented if participants undertook just one hour of physical activity each week.

According to an Australian health survey, 20 per cent of Australian adults do not undertake any regular physical activity, and more than a third spend less than 1.5 hours per week being physically active.

At the same time, around 1 million Australians have depression, with one in five Australians aged 16-85 experiencing a mental illness in any year.

To improve your physical and mental wellbeing through exercise, see the institute’s Exercise your Mood campaign.

Do you work with manufactured stone?

Over the past five years, there has been an average of nine reported cases of silicosis a year in NSW and workers in the manufactured stone industry are among those at risk.

This industry uses newer engineered stone products which contain high levels of crystalline silica, for bathroom and kitchen benchtops. Crystalline silica, which causes the lung disease silicosis, is also found in bricks, roof tiles and concrete products.

When disturbed by cutting, sanding, blasting or grinding, crystalline silica dust is released and can get into a worker’s lungs.

The disease is entirely preventable.

Effective and well maintained ventilation and dust capture systems on portable tools, wetting down stone whilst cutting, using the correct face masks, and never using compressed air to clean-up dust helps to control dust and reduce exposure.

You should also do regular air monitoring to make sure workers’ exposures do not exceed the legal exposure limit for crystalline silica dust, and offer health checks which includes lung screening to your workers.

See our Hazardous chemicals and materials exposures baseline reduction strategy.

Let’s talk safety in the supply chain

As part of our six-year work health and safety roadmap, we will focus on improving the flow of safety information to embed a safety landscape in NSW supply chains.

The transfer of work health and safety information in a supply chain includes identifying and controlling risks during the life cycle (including disposal) of buildings, products, substances, machinery and equipment. It includes transferring and consulting on work health and safety information to each of the duty holders during the design, production, supply and sale.

supply_chain2

From 2018 to 2022 and beyond, we will work with industry to identify areas to influence the exchange of health and safety information.

Our strategy is to collaborate with industry and educate supply chain stakeholders of the role they can play in improving the exchange of safety-critical information.

We want to help you understand your responsibilities and invite you to complete our short survey to provide feedback on how we can assist.

Together, we can educate everyone in the supply chain, and ensure the safe installation and supply of equipment and materials.

SafeWork Licence Register: making it easier to do business

Following an amendment to the WHS Regulation, the NSW Government published a register of individuals who hold asbestos, high risk work and demolition licences as well as holders of general construction induction training cards (otherwise known as white cards).

The register includes the licence holder’s name, licence number and type, the licence status, the licence expiry date (if any), licence conditions, prosecution summaries and information about penalty notices issued in connection with the licence.

The register enables better protection for workers and the community by providing licence information via a single online portal, and makes it easier for businesses and consumers to check the validity of the licences/cards and make informed decisions regarding the contractors they engage.

The changes are consistent with the NSW Government’s objective to provide a single and accountable point for the administration of business regulation schemes, which in turn provides greater business confidence while maintaining appropriate levels of consumer protection.

For more information about the changes, visit our website.

If it’s not safe, speak up!

A recent survey of more than 2000 workers found that one in five have made a complaint about a workplace safety issue that was never fixed.

One in 10 workers were too afraid to report safety issues because they might be fired and one in 20 have been demoted after making a safety complaint at work.

The survey also found that 37 per cent of workers have witnessed a colleague not reporting their injury at work for fear of losing their job.

Consultation is a good way to use the knowledge and experience of your staff to achieve a safer and healthier workplace.

Through talking about safety, you can become more aware of hazards in the workplace and workers can provide suggestions about how the work could be done safely.

This short video outlines the basics of consultation at work and is available in Arabic, Mandarin, Cantonese and Vietnamese.

Two of a kind

Brendan Edwards, a mechanical fitter at Komatsu, and Bill Coulter, a self-confessed dreamer and problem solver, are two of a kind. Both are passionate about workplace safety and, fittingly, both were finalists in the 2017 SafeWork NSW Awards.

Brendan has initiated myriad safety solutions at the Moss Vale manufacturing facility where he works.

According to Hicham Merhil, Brendan’s supervisor, ‘he has never met an individual that is as hands-on about health and safety as Brendan.’

He has been responsible for introducing anti-slip grip tape on steps and anti-slip floor plates at machines; installing safety solutions for gas cylinders and shelves to reduce manual handling; streamlining traffic management systems and ensuring compliance with personal protective equipment; and on and on it goes.

Brendan generally makes about eight safety observations every month, identifying improved work processes and discussing changes with his co-workers.

Bill Coulter, on the other hand, has retired from a long career in sawmilling and logging, yet he was determined to find a safer way for tree workers to work at heights and avoid manual handling injuries.

After much research, information-gathering and stargazing, Bill bought a truck and crane, a hydraulic grapple and a cutting attachment – and called it ‘Safe Treez’. Using a remote control, it removed trees in less than half the time taken using traditional methods, eliminated the need to work at heights and significantly reduced the amount of manual handling.

If you’re one of a kind, enter the 2018 SafeWork NSW Awards.