WHS News

Workplace Health & Safety News

23 Oct 2019


Workplace injury rate in Victoria remains at near record low
The rate of workplace injuries in Victoria rose last year but remains at a near record low, data contained in WorkSafe’s 2018/19 annual report reveals.
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Gayle's Law regulations rejected in SA Parliament after criticism from nurses and family
Regulations aimed at ensuring the safety of remote nurses in South Australia have been overturned after being criticised by nurses and the family of murdered outback nurse Gayle Woodford.
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Quad bike safety overhaul backed by grieving families
Families that have lost loved ones in quad bike accidents have backed changes to safety standards for the popular farm vehicles.
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Charges laid after assault on youth justice worker
WorkSafe has charged the Department of Justice and Community Safety for alleged health and safety breaches.
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Company fined $120,000 for unsafe worksite
Sandarra Electrics Pty Ltd has been fined $120,000 for exposing workers to risk of serious injury on a residential construction site in Geelong.
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NSW - New initiatives protect workers using sandstone and silica products
Workers involved in the cutting of manufactured stone, sandstone and building products will be better protected from dust diseases with the NSW Government announcing a range of new measures to prevent exposure to silica dust.
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NSW - Power in workers hands to 'Speak Up. Save lives'
Reporting dangerous work practices and risks to workers’ safety is now easier than ever with the NSW Government’s new mobile reporting system ‘Speak Up. Save Lives’. Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation, Kevin Anderson, said the new mobile reporting tool will make it easy for workers who see workplace risks which could lead to injury or death to send photos of dangerous conditions they see straight to SafeWork NSW.
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Worker killed after tyre explosion
In September, a truck driver was killed while inflating a tyre. Initial indications are the transport firm employee sustained fatal injuries when the tyre he was inflating exploded.
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Young worker seriously injured by meat slicing machine
In August 2019, a young worker suffered serious hand injuries after an incident at a meat processing workplace. Early enquiries indicate he was operating a guillotine style slicing machine used to cut frozen meat.
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Should workplace bullying be treated as a health hazard?
Researchers at the University of South Australia have developed an evidence-based solution to recognise and prevent bullying in the workplace. Abusive behaviour stems from complex conditions and cannot always be blamed solely on individuals, according to Uni SA’s Associate Professor Michelle Tuckey.
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Why focusing on employee wellness is good for business and how to create a healthy culture in the workplace
Paul Henshall, CEO of ActionCOACH New Zealand and Australia, says that there are associated costs for business owners when they, or their employees, suffer from stress or mental health conditions related to it.
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Workers feel more stress and anxiety than ever before. We need to talk about this
Whether they’re slogging endlessly or just barely scraping by, people feel like they’re drowning. Why?
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3 Sept 2019



WA to introduce industrial manslaughter penalty into WHS law
The McGowan Government will introduce a new Work Health and Safety Bill that will modernise workplace safety laws, better protect workers and hold those responsible for any workplace deaths. One of the main features of the legislation is the introduction of two new offences of industrial manslaughter
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Health and safety officials under investigation for allegedly giving confidential information to CFMEU
Queensland's corruption watchdog has ordered an investigation into "serious allegations" senior government workplace safety officers have passed confidential information to the construction union and helped its officials target a Brisbane manufacturer.
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WA industry's workplace death law fears lashed as 'corporate arrogance'
As the WA government prepares to introduce industrial manslaughter laws, the mother of a teenage worker who died in a Perth CBD construction site in 2017 has rubbished calls from the state's peak industry bodies to vote against the proposal, saying it's "the essence of the self-serving corporate arrogance".
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Man dead after Bootu Creek mine wall collapse, unions call for industrial manslaughter laws
Current and former Bootu Creek mine workers have contacted the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU) with concerns about the mine, said NT organiser Kane Lowth.
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Health, Safety Breaches In The Workplace Are Never 'Trivial' Matters
It might at the time seem like a ‘bit of fun’ but two recent workplace incidents highlight why employers and employees – especially in the extractive industry – should be mindful about safety.
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Men's club boss cops $116k fine for bullying staff
The head of invite-only men’s club The Brotherhood and his security company have been fined more than $116,000 for operating with an ‘‘entrenched’’ culture of bullying that left some staff with psychological damage.
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What is silicosis? And why is this old lung disease making a comeback?
Now one of the fastest growing occupational groups we are seeing with silicosis are people who make and install engineered stone products, the type of benchtops and tiles you might find in your kitchen or bathroom.
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Can virtual reality better train miners on safety measures in Australia?
“TELL ME and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn,” said Benjamin Franklin. To involve people and train them effectively, new-age educators believe virtual reality (VR) is the right tool.
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19 August 2019

Her son was the first known victim of a deadly workplace disease, now Di White is speaking out A new wave of silicosis is affecting workers across Australia. The mother of the first known victim says her son needed a ventilator to breathe and "really didn't have a life" for 16 months before his death.
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WA primary schools put on notice over 'worrying levels' of workplace safety issues WorkSafe has put a number of WA primary schools on notice after inspections revealed “worrying levels” of compliance with hazardous substance regulations and workplace safety laws. The inspections were carried out at 53 primary schools, and saw 239 improvement notices handed out to different schools throughout the state.
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Workplace safety trainer fined $200,000 for dodgy certificates The court heard ATTA gave students certification for completing a two full-day course – when in reality each day had finished by lunchtime. ATTA's certification also stated certain mandatory topics had been covered, even though evidence from students suggested this had not taken place.
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Construction worker ‘spat on safety inspector’ A Victorian construction worker has been fined in court for “assaulting a WorkSafe inspector”, during which it was claimed the inspector was spat on and sworn at after asking workers to get down from an unsecured ledge.
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SAI Global reveals the seven workplace hazards commonly overlooked by employers Can you guess what they are?
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'Lunch in their cars': Workers battle stress and trauma in their jobs Almost half of 25,000 working people say they have experienced trauma or distressing situations at work, a survey has found. And just under a third (31 per cent) said they had experienced violence after being abused, threatened or assaulted by clients, customers or co-workers.
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Hydro Tasmania wins national mental health award Expanding its workplace health program to put a greater focus on mental health has netted Hydro Tasmania a national award. Hydro Tasmania won the Workplace Life Award for its A New Mindset program at the 2019 National Suicide Prevention Australia Conference.
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2GB radio host reveals former producer is taking him to court over bullying claims Sydney radio broadcaster Ray Hadley has revealed a former colleague who previously accused him of bullying is pursuing legal action.
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Passenger safety at risk from ‘putrid’ air traffic control workplace culture
A damning report into Australia’s air traffic control centres has found the workplace culture to be so bad it could compromise passengers’ safety.
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29 July 2019

OH&S Training organisation fined $200,000 for fraud
An occupational health and safety training organisation has been convicted and fined $200,000 for falsifying scaffolding and forklift training records. An assessor employed by the company has also been fined $25,000 without conviction
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Construction site supervisor who set fire to apprentice pleads guilty in tribunal
An Adelaide construction site supervisor who doused an apprentice in flammable liquid and set his clothes on fire has pleaded guilty to breaching the Work Health and Safety Act.
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Queensland takes action following string of mining accidents
The resources industry responded by calling for a safety reset at mines and quarries across Queensland by the end of August. Queensland mining’s reset is intended for discussions between management, operational staff and union representatives on risks and safe practice covering all workers.
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New resource to protect outdoor workers from skin cancer
In Australia, skin cancer accounts for around 80% of all newly diagnosed cancers each year and UV radiation from the sun is one of the leading causes of skin cancer. With high UV radiation year-round in many parts of Australia, people who regularly work outside face a higher risk of developing cancer from sun exposure.
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Taskforce to clean up additional dangerous goods site
The WorkSafe-led taskforce overseeing the removal of waste chemicals in the northern suburbs will clear another site in Campbellfield. The outdoor site was initially discovered during joint inspections with Environment Protection Authority Victoria earlier this year. It was assessed as containing mostly industrial waste and 24-hour security was put in place.
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WHO recognises emotional state is key to healthy workplaces
In its recent 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), The World Health Organisation recognised the serious effects of burnout, defining it as a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.
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Foundry fined $650,000 after worker’s death
A foundry and metal casting business has been convicted and fined $650,000 following the death of an employee at the company’s Wodonga foundry. Bradken Resources Limited was fined in the Melbourne County Court today after last month being found guilty by a Wangaratta County Court jury of failing to provide and maintain safe plant following a 10 day trial.
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Tradesman convicted in relation to bullying young workers
SafeWork NSW is encouraging businesses to remember mental health at work after a Hunter tradesman was convicted of failing to take reasonable care that his actions did not adversely affect the health and safety of two young workers.
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$150,000 fines imposed after deadly duck farm fall
The trustee of a duck farm operator and a maintenance contractor have each been fined $75,000 following the death of a worker at a property near Nhill. The pair were convicted and fined on 27 June at Melbourne County Court following the March 2016 death of a man who fell from the bucket of a front end loader.
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Fine imposed for high-pressure clean of asbestos roof
A recent ruling in the Southport Magistrates Court has highlighted the dangers of cleaning asbestos roofs and that codes of practice must be followed. A company which operates childcare centres was fined $3,500 for a breach of section 446 of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011.
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29 January 2018


Trench collapse deaths result in charges against construction company Pipecon
WorkSafe has charged civil construction company Pipecon over the deaths of two Ballarat workers who were killed when the trench they were working in collapsed on March 21 last year. Charlie Howkins, 34, was laying pipes in the Ballarat suburb of Delacombe when the trench he was working in gave way, killing him instantly and trapping his 21-year-old colleague Jack Brownlee.
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Victorian junkyard owner Maria Jackson sentenced to jail over employee's death
A South Gippsland woman has become the first person in Victoria to be sentenced to jail under Worksafe Victoria duty laws for recklessly endangering a worker. Maria Carla Jackson, 72, was convicted and sentenced to six months' jail in December last year after the death of a man at her scrap metal yard in Foster, 174 kilometres south-east of Melbourne.
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Canberra's recycling plant in Hume shut down over concerns for worker safety
Canberra's recycling facility has been shut down after numerous threats to worker safety were found at the Hume site. The Materials Recovery Facility in Hume was issued several prohibition notices by Worksafe ACT on Thursday evening, after an inspection discovered electrical issues, problems with fuel and gas supply, missing fire extinguishers and piles of rubble blocking safety exits.
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Truck driver dies collecting rubbish skip
A truck driver died yesterday after being struck by his own truck while collecting a hire rubbish skip bin at a workplace in Kew. The driver, 55, had left the cabin of his vehicle when the truck moved and struck him before it crashed through a side fence and into a garage on an adjoining property.
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Young worker electrocuted on roof
A young worker has died in an incident at a home in Melbourne's outer-west yesterday evening. It is believed the 19-year-old man was electrocuted while installing an air-conditioner on the roof of the two storey Plumpton dwelling.
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Court urges employers to take care of young workers
As thousands of youngsters prepare to kick start their careers this time of the year, a recent court case in Brisbane is a stark reminder of the responsibilities employers have with rookie employees. Workplace Health and Safety Queensland's Tony James said employers must be aware that young workers will often take risks if they are anxious to please their bosses - and they must be protected against this blind enthusiasm.
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New and improved `Claims & return to work' pages
WorkCover Queensland and the Office of Industrial Relations have worked together to update the content previously found under the `Rehab & claims' section of this website, with the goal to improve your experience by making information easier to find and understand. We are pleased to announce that the outworking of this project-the revamped Claims & return to work section-is now live.
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Test before you touch
As we start the New Year it is a good time to remind all electrical workers to always test before you touch. Treat every circuit or piece of electrical equipment as live until tested and proven not to be live. When you correctly test before you touch, you can identify any faults that exist with the circuit connections of the installation or electrical equipment, before you commence working on it.
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Audiometric testing exemption
SafeWork NSW has issued a further two year exemption for the audiometric testing requirements of clause 58(2) of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011. This exemption is granted until 31 December 2020. This exemption is to ensure persons conducting a business or undertaking in NSW are provided with an appropriate time frame to prepare for the implementation of audiometric testing of workers who are frequently required to use personal protective equipment (PPE) in workplaces with noise levels that exceed the 'exposure standard for noise'.
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A lack of capacity to work can be a manifestation of a mental disability
Employers need to exercise caution when managing employees who have medical conditions or similar issues. Particular attention needs to be paid to ensure action is not taken because of a manifestation of the condition, such as side-effects of mental illnesses. A recent Federal Court decision saw Western Union Business Solutions fall foul of section 351 of the Fair Work Act because of this scenario.
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7 December 2018

Fishing fatalities prompt warning amid revelation working on boats more dangerous than mining
The owner of the largest fleet in Australia's most valuable prawn fishery has called on industry to tackle its safety problems amid revelations fishing is about 25 times more dangerous to work in than mining and construction. Arthur Raptis said a "culture of acceptance" had led many to believe a series of fatal and other serious accidents in recent years was "just part of fishing".
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Push for industrial manslaughter laws in the NT as grieving families are being 'left in the dark'
It's been more than a year since the death of her husband in a workplace accident, but Terry Delaney says she's still being left in the dark by authorities. Carl Delaney was working for a subcontractor on the INPEX Itchthys LNG Project when he was killed on the night of Wednesday, 29 November 2017.
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Three workers crushed in accident on Gold Cost Jewel development site
Three men have been crushed in a workplace accident at the site of the $1 billion high-rise Jewel development on the Gold Coast. The CFMEU said the accident happened about 8:45am when a steel tray carrying electrical cables collapsed. Queensland Ambulance's Gavin Fuller said the three men, aged 27 and 28, were working in a lower car park of the building when the cabling conduit fell two-and-a-half metres onto them.
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Labourer dies after falling from ladder
A 21-year-old labourer has died after falling from a ladder at a residential property in Bendigo on Friday. It is believed the man was on a ladder placed against the outside of a single storey property in the suburb of Kennington, when the incident occurred at about 12.30pm. He died in hospital later that day. WorkSafe is investigating.
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Carnival ride operator charged following child's death
The operator of an amusement ride has been charged by WorkSafe Victoria following the death of a child who fell from a ride at Rye Easter Carnival last year. The six-year-old boy received critical head injuries after falling from the Cha Cha ride on 17 April 2017, and died later in hospital.
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Father and son drown at beach lagoon
In October 2018, a father and his son who were on holidays from overseas drowned at Airlie Beach lagoon. It appears they got into difficulty in deeper water. Both were pulled from the water but could not be resuscitated. Investigations are continuing.
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Protecting bodies and minds against pre-holiday stresses
With the end of year fast approaching, ensuring your workers stay physically safe and mentally healthy is critical to avoiding unnecessary and costly injuries. Whether you're employing temporary workers to cover for a busy trading period or delivering complex projects to a tight deadline, ensuring a safe workplace and focussing on positive mental health care is a duty of care all employers share.
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$80,000 fine imposed after workplace incident results in amputation
Inadequate supervision and training for a young worker has been blamed for a workplace incident which resulted in an inexperienced labourer having his hand amputated. On Monday, the Rockhampton Magistrates Court heard the incident occurred while the worker had been employed as a pipeline labourer for a consortium near Biloela.
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Failure to protect young worker costs timber company dearly
A timber company has been fined $60,000 for failing to protect a young inexperienced worker who lost a thumb and three fingers following a workplace incident on 7 October 2015. At a sentence hearing in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on 4 December 2018, the company was found to have failed its obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 as a duty holder to protect the teenage employee.
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Queensland abattoir fined $200,000 following death of labourer
An Queensland abbatoir has been fined in the Maryborough Magistrates Court after it failed to ensure the health and safety of a worker and exposed him to the risk of death. The company was fined $200,000 for the death of a worker who suffered fatal injuries in 2017 when he was struck by a ramp while unloading a triple-deck truck laden with pigs.
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Safest NSW workplaces awarded
Riding for the disabled was a SafeWork Award winner. Riding for the Disabled, the University of Sydney and a number of innovative construction businesses are just some of the workplaces recognised as the safest in NSW for 2018. Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean congratulated the winners of the 2018 SafeWork Awards, which are setting the benchmark for providing safe workplaces around the State.
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22 October 2018

King call for changes to Australia's workplace safety laws
IT is clear that sweeping change is needed in Australia's workplace safety regime after the handing down of a report in the Senate this week says Ballarat Federal MP Catherine King. Ms King comments come after a 120-page Education and Employment Committee's report was released in the Senate this week detailing 34 recommendations for the future of workplace safety in Australia.
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How to ensure your Workplace Safety Inspections can Identify Issues
What's worse than finding a safety issue at your workplace that could have potentially injured someone? Not finding the issue. Every workplace is different; organisations that have several locations will even sometimes have separate OH&S procedures and safety inspection documentation for each location. What's important is that your working environment has the best safety inspection system in place possible. Too often organisations and firms are relying on free mobile applications or simple paper check sheets that get put in that drawer somewhere - both of which are unreliable and inefficient systems.
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Canberra mental health nurses warn their lives are at risk from patient assaults
A nurse at Canberra's forensic mental health unit has warned "somebody is going to die" in her workplace unless staff conditions improve. It comes after a series of assaults on staff by one patient in July which left some nurses seeking treatment at the emergency department.
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Crane driver suffers suspected spinal and leg injuries after fall at Melbourne construction site
A crane driver is being treated for suspected spinal and leg injuries after he fell about 2 metres inside a tower crane on a construction site in Melbourne's CBD. Emergency crews were called to the Lonsdale Street site about 8:30am after the worker fell while he was climbing up a ladder inside the crane to the driver's cabin.
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Apprentice dies in confined space
A 20-year-old apprentice has died while working inside an open-ended tank at a Cranbourne West business. It is believed the man was working with power tools when he was overcome with fumes in the confined space, about 10am.
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WorkCover Queensland wins two national PIEF awards
WorkCover Queensland has been recognised for outstanding performance in managing serious injuries and for digital innovation in injury management at the national 2018 Personal Injury and Disability Management Awards.
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Worker injured in wall collapse
In September 2018, a worker received serious head, back and chest injuries while attempting to jump off a trestle to avoid the collapse of a 2.8 metre high block wall. He and another worker who was not injured were constructing the block wall. In August 2018, a five metre high core filled block wall collapsed at a separate construction site, although in this case there were no injuries. Investigations are continuing into both incidents.
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Worker's lower leg amputated as forklift strikes bollard
In September 2018, a forklift operator's lower leg was amputated when the forklift he was driving struck a bollard. Initial investigations suggest he was driving the forklift around a corner of a packing hall onto an exit ramp and his foot may have been outside of the manufacturer's designated operating position. Investigations are continuing.
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Worker severely injured by failed towing equipment
In September 2018, a truck driver suffered severe abdominal injuries when a chain failed during a semi-trailer recovery operation. The chain was being used with other heavy vehicle recovery equipment including a pulley (snatch block), winch rope and hook to move the jack-knifed semi-trailer.
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Ceiling space wiring - is your work compliant?
Ceiling spaces are high risk work locations where there's a risk of an electrical shock from contact with damaged or exposed live wiring or equipment. Electrical safety inspectors are currently auditing new and existing ceiling space wiring installations, as well as mid-construction, to check compliance with the Wiring Rules (AS/NZS 3000).
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