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Insights from practitioners in Information Management

Issue 7 – Occupational Health and Safety

In this issue we will be looking at the very real concerns over Occupational Health & Safety and the changes to the legislation under which we all have to work, but more specifically the issues of OH&S and the Labour Hire Industry.  As an employment agency we are under immense scrutiny to ensure that the people that we place in a work situation are not compromised in any way shape or form. Whilst Worksafe appears to be focussing on those industries with a high degree of risk, eg., construction and mining etc, the duty of care that we as an employment agency have towards you and every placement that you undertake for us is paramount, and has been assessed to ensure that you are not placed in an unsafe work environment and that steps are taken to minimise the risks.

Because of the importance of this subject we are going to be trialing a fortnightly e-mail bulletin on OH&S issues.  But we need your feedback.  Could you please let us know if this is of use and benefit to you in your day-to-day activities.  If you currently receive this newsletter in a printed format and would like to receive both the newsletter and OH&S bulletin in electronic form, then please email us at training@iea.com.au with your details.   For those of you who do not have an email address – this information will be provided in printed format and will be sent out with the newsletters.  If you do not have an email address and would like one – then FREE email addresses are available through a number of service providers, for example hotmail (www.hotmail.com) or Yahoo (www.yahoo.com.au).

With the large number of work related injuries and deaths that occur in Australia, it is vital that we re-visit this important subject.  If you have any questions about any of the subjects raised please telephone the office on 08 9335 2533 or send an email to training@iea.com.au and we will answer any questions that you may have. 

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In this issue…
We will be looking at:

• Risk Assessment and Management
• Minimising the Risks
• Common Hazards
• Overtime can be deadly
• A Thought to Ponder
Risk Assessment and Management
A Risk Assessment is the determination and presentation of the potential hazards and the likelihood and the extent of harm that may result from them.

Managing the risks, is an organisations ability to reduce the risk, and informing interested parties of the policies and actions that are required in order to show how the threat can be reduced.

Minimising the Risks
Minimising the threat of risks should be an ongoing commitment by everyone involved in a work environment.  Including the managers and CEO’s, the agencies that place workers in an organisation and the workers on the shop floor.  We all have a degree of responsibility towards ourselves and each other to ensure that any potential threats are minimised or removed completely.  Did you know that should the unthinkable happen, then we can all be held responsible?  We cannot “contract out of” our responsibilities. 

So how do we as an employment agency minimise the risks?
• By providing ongoing training in Occupational Health & Safety.  There are quite a few people currently on contract through IEA who have not yet been on our Induction programme.  It is vital that you attend one of these sessions as this protects you.  We give you the information that you need, which means that if you see a hazard you then know what the steps are in order to minimise the risks to yourself and your work colleagues.

If you have not attended the IEA induction, the next course dates are:
Thursday 27th March 10.00 am – 12.00 noon
Tuesday 8th April 6.00pm – 8.00 pm

Site Visits to clients (host employers) premises: The reasons for doing this are many.  To counteract the effects of any specific problems that have been highlighted.  To ensure that the work that you are currently doing is that which you have been employed to do, to take the opportunity to speak to both client and contractor in a work setting and to conduct a risk assessment of the clients premises.

What is a Hazard?

“A hazard is anything that may cause injury or harm to a person.”

Common hazards include:
Falls – Including falling objects, people falling from height and slips and trips.  In WA, 2 people die each year after falling from height.  1300 people suffer serious injuries, and a further 3000 people suffer broken bones, cuts, bruises and sprains after being exposed to slippery or uneven floors. Around 30% of injuries are serious enough to keep workers away from their jobs for more than 30 days.  The cost to an employer is approximately $9,000 rising to $19,000 if the worker is off for 60 days.
Electricity – Either electrical current or lightning.  Electrocution is the most common cause of work place deaths in WA workplaces (worksafe)
Manual Handling – Through over-exertion or repetitive movement.  Over seven million work days were lost in WA over the last five years as a result of workplace injury amounting to 133,000 compensation claims at an average cost of $18,000 each.
Extremes of Temperature.  Research is currently being carried out by the National Union of Workers and the Refrigerated Warehouse and Transport Association into the problems of working in extreme cold temperatures.  Significant drops in temperature can increase the severity of OH&S issues as cold temperatures tightens muscles and stiffens joints. (CCH headlines 7 March 2003 – www.cch.com.au.)
Machinery of Equipment – Including, being hit, hitting objects and being caught in or between machinery or equipment (eg., compactus)
Hazardous substances – Acids, Hydrocarbons, Asbestos, Toner, Glue, Photocopying Fumes. Some 280 deaths or injuries have occurred over the last five years as a result of exposure to chemicals and hazardous substances.
Radiation – Microwaves, Lasers, UV or welding arc flashes.
Biological Agents – The wide spread use of terrorism as an intimidator and the use of agents such as Anthrax has become an increasingly common problem since September 11. 
Psychological Stress – Including intimidation, racial and sexual harassment, bullying, violence, conflict and time pressure are all classed as hazards in a work place situation.  The new weekly OH&S bulletins will cover these issues and other items of interest and importance, and what you can do to minimise your risk and exposure to such incidents.

Please remember that we will need your e-mail address to make sure that you receive the bulletins in a timely manner.

All figures are taken from Worksafe, which is a division of the Department of Consumer and Employment Protection.  www.docep.wa.gov.au 

There is a booklet available from www.safetyline.wa.gov.au on how to “manage common workplace hazards” to download you need to go to the Think Safe Campaign Section to access the material.

Overtime can be deadly:

It has recently come to light, that a 32 year old man who sat for extended periods at his computer terminal, died as a result of a fatal blood clot.  Deep Vein Thrombosis which has been previously linked to sitting for excessive amounts of time by people in economy class seating on long fights.  The young man had been working for periods of up to 18 hours on a regular basis, without taking adequate breaks. 

To prevent DVT, doctors suggest flexing one’s toes and ankles, drinking water and avoiding alcohol, and getting up to stretch one’s legs at least once an hour.
(CCH headlines 30 Jan 2003.  www.cch.com.au)

 
Thank you for reading, we hope you have a safe and productive day

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A Thought to Ponder
“A doctor can bury his mistakes but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines.”
Frank Lloyd Wright (1868 – 1959)
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