White card update unions concern over asbestos exposure
White Card Update: Unions Concern over Asbestos ExposureAccording to a recent report in TheAge.com.au Unions are pushing for the establishment of aNational Asbestos Authority. The initiative is being spearheaded by lifelong asbestoscampaigner Paul Bastian of The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union.TheAge.com.au had this to report in the issue:UNIONS will push for the establishment of a National Asbestos Authority to protect people andto remove asbestos from homes and public and commercial buildings. The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union acting national secretary, Paul Bastian, will meetthe Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and the Workplace Relations Minister, Bill Shorten, thisafternoon to push the case. He is a lifelong campaigner against asbestos.Mr Bastian says more Australians have died from exposure to asbestos than in World War II.Surely weve had enough people die now, enough heart-wrenching diseases and enough legalacknowledgment that this must stop, he said.The unions solution is a federally funded authority to find, educate, remove and protect peoplefrom the dangers of asbestos.The authority would educate and raise awareness within the community of the existence ofasbestos in private homes, businesses and public buildings.As part of the authority, an urgent audit and plan for the removal of asbestos from allgovernment premises is required. State governments regularly report low levels of compliance with asbestos regulations and wecall on the federal government to treat its removal as a national issue of critical importance -including asbestos in schools.Mr Shortens spokesman said it was a critical issue for the government.Which is why we commissioned the asbestos management review - the minister and thegovernment look forward to receiving the reports recommendations, he said.
The Herald understands the review will be handed to the government later this week and islikely to recommend some form of national authority.Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/political-news/unions-call-for-asbestos-authority-20120626-210i0.html#ixzz1yzBvJl2YThe most alarming fact is that Australia has the highest death rate from mesothelioma in theworld, and the death toll continues to rise. A startling estimate that up to 18,000 moreAustralians will die from mesothelioma by 2020 highlights the need for the action plan to beimplemented as soon as possible. Contractors and employers undertaking construction on oldsites need to be more aware of the presence of asbestos and undertake the necessary testsprior to work beginning on the siteThe call from unions comes in the wake of a suspected asbestos contamination on a BHPBillington mining site. According to CFMEU spokespeople workers at the company’s Jimblebariron ore mine are using construction materials contaminated by asbestos.A report by Abc.net.au has more:The material, used to bed pipes and make concrete, appears to have come from a Newmanquarry. Steve McCann, Safety Officer for the CFMEUs WA Branch, says despite the quarry beingclosed, material thats been shipped to the mine hasnt been isolated. "Theres no more material coming out of that quarry, but the material thats been stockpiled onthis site, Jimblebar, is still being used."A spokesperson for BHP Billiton disagreed with the union, saying the material has beenquarantined and its handling by the workforce at Jimblebar has ceased.Source: http://www.abc.net.au/rural/wa/content/2012/06/s3534237.htm?site=&source=rss Reasons why Asbestos Poses such a ThreatAccording to the unions asbestos has killed more Australians than World War 2, withmesothelioma, pleural disease and asbestosis being the most dangerous of the side effects.Here we discuss each of these diseases associated with asbestos poisoning.Mesothelioma is another type of cancer that could occur as a result of asbestos exposure. It iscancer of the pleura and may only occur 20 to 40 years after the exposure occurs. This diseasegrows and spreads quickly before the symptoms appear which makes early diagnosis andtreatments harder. The average survival time after diagnosis is only 6-18 months. A very smallexposure to asbestos can be enough to trigger the cancer, however only a small percentage ofpeople exposed to asbestos develop mesothelioma.
Pleural disease is another dreaded disease associated with asbestos. This is when the outerlining of the lung, called the plura becomes irritated and inflamed. This outer lining then stiffensand thickens and can become filled with liquid, which can hamper normal breathing and restrictoxygen intake.Asbestosis is when lungs become scarred causing airways to become inflamed and scarred,retricting the flow of oxygen to the lungs and into the blood. The lungs become stiff andinelastic, making breathing more difficult. Symptoms include tightness in the chest, dry cough,and in the later stages, a bluish tinge to the skin caused by lack of oxygen. Asbestosis is usuallyseen in former asbestos miners, asbestos manufacturing workers and insulation workers. Thescariest part about this disease is that it can take up to 10 years for symptoms to show up,which makes diagnosing harder.To view this article online, go to: http://www.whitecardaustralia.com.au/blog/white-card- update-unions-concern-over-asbestos-exposure/
Most Common Injuries on Construction SitesSome of the most common causes of injury on a construction site involves falling hazards,electrical hazards, working with cranes and machinery and working from scaffolding. Falling HazardThe most common occurrence of incidents on construction sites involve workers fallingaccording to statistics provided by authorities. This type of hazard also causes the most seriousinjuries. Extreme caution must be administered when working from a height, especially a heighthigher than 2 meters. Workers need to be aware of your surroundings and take note andcaution of slippery boards on scaffolds and walkways, missing guardrails, openings in floors andpenetrations that are not correctly protected. Report all openings or missing railings so they canbe corrected as soon as possible.Relating to the hazard of falling is the issue of scaffolding work. When work from heights cannotbe eliminated, the use of scaffolding is necessary. To comply with the applicable scaffoldingregulations, all persons erecting or altering scaffold must be competent and certified to do so.All scaffolds must be erected in compliance with statutory regulations and such scaffold andaccessories must conform to regulations. Any damaged planks must be removed, kickboardsmust be secured in place and guardrails installed.Mobile scaffolds present their own hazards, in that they are frequently used and must beerected as per regulations. They should be fitted with wheel locks which must be in placewhenever people are working on the scaffold so that it doesn’t roll causing a fall.All scaffolds should have an internal ladder for access. Climbing of scaffolding standards shouldnot be allowed and tools and equipment should not be left lying around unattended on scaffoldsas they tripping hazard they present can be compounded by a fall from a height.Personal Protective Equipment is the form of Safety helmets must be worn at all times whenworking from a scaffold. Workers must be provided with a safety helmet which must be worn atall times.
Electrical HazardThe occurrence of electrocutions on construction sites is a prevalent danger that requiresattention. This is a hazard that can be minimised if workers follow the correct safety andpreventative procedures as most cases of electrocution are caused by a form of negligence.As far as electrical installations are concerned on sites a qualified electrician must carry out allrepairs to equipment and electrical installations, including repair and replacement.The basic rules to remember are to keep electrical leads off the ground and on stands and donot hang leads from scaffolding. Do not use double adaptor fittings or overload adaptors.Replace all damaged leads, wiring, equipment or installation and report faults immediately.During rainy weather covers must be provided for equipment exposed to the elements, if coverscannot be provided then equipment must not be used as electrocution can result.Workers should not touch wires or cords that they are unfamiliar with especially if they don’tknow whether it is live or not. Explosive-Powered ToolsThe very nature of this tool makes it a hazard. These tools use an explosive charge to firefixings into concrete, steel and timber, and, like a firearm and therefore they are potentiallylethal. These can only be operated by trained persons, who are wearing the correct safetyglasses and hearing protection. Signs must be placed in the area of operation of this equipmentto warn passers-by of the danger they present. These tools should not be left unguarded andespecially not in a loaded condition. All explosive-powered tools must be inspected andmaintained on a regular basis as all machinery should be. They should be locked away whennot in use, they are dangerous and are a loaded weapon in the wrong hands. CranesJust last week another worker was crushed by a crane on a construction site. This occurrence isonly too common of late. It is important that only authorised certificated operators will bepermitted to operate cranes. Crane Operators and Doggers must work in close terms with eachother, each should know what the other is doing, and they need to co-operate and communicatein order to avoid dangerous situations. Crane Doggers should be directing crane operators only.Irresponsible behaviour m,ust be avoided such as riding the load which is strictly prohibited.Slings, ropes and chains are to be checked on a daily basis and monitored for any signs ofwear. Workers must keep their hands clear of pinch points and away from slings on loads, asthey can easily become caught. Loads must be correctly slung and workers should never standunder loads, this is another reason workers get crushed by the load. Crane and mobilemachinery operators must check clearance of electrical power lines when setting up oroperating as the danger of electrocution is very prevalent. Any defects with cranes, machineryand associated gear must be reported to those in charge immediately.
By following a few simple rules, workers on construction sites can minimise the risks associatedwith this dangerous work. White Card and Site specific training is the most important tools in thearsenal of construction employers in ensuring that their workers are aware of the hazards andknow how to respond to them successfully.To view this article online, go to: http://www.whitecardaustralia.com.au/blog/white-card- update-most-common-injuries-on-construction-sites/?preview=true
White Card Update: Trench and Excavation SafetyAll construction industry workers are aware that the industry is one that holds many dangers aswell as many rewards. In order to succeed in this dynamic and ever changing industry, workersneed to value safety above all else. One of the major hazards construction workers face ispresented by Trenching and Excavation. Although workers will receive the necessary training,we will refresh workers with the basics in this post.In order to work safely in the vicinity of trenches or excavations employers and employees needto identify hazards associated with trenching and excavation work, assess risks and eliminate orminimise those risks before, during and after the performance of work.Prior to commencement of work a site investigation should be carried out, in which as muchinformation as possible is obtained about the ground conditions.The duty of an employer according to WH&S legislation is to provide safe systems of work,instruction, training and supervision to ensure that employees are safe from injury.When deciding on a system of ground support for an excavation or trench consider the nature ofthe ground, weather conditions an proximity of in-ground services. Employers who ignore thisstep often find themselves in the middle of incidents that result in injury.Examine the area where the work is to be carried out, conduct a risk assessment andimplement appropriate control measures.Excavations of more than 1.5 metres in depth require an engineer to assess the site conditionsand prepare an engineer’s report which will be used to implement safety control measures.Many factors can influence the stability of trenches or excavations. These include static anddynamic loads, including the spoil pile, adjacent buildings, ground vibration and wet or dryconditions. Safe systems of work must be used to ensure the conditions at the site are safe. Thesite must be left in a safe condition when work is not in progress.Inspection should be carried out daily in order to ascertain that the trench or excavation isstable. This includes surveillance of trench walls, support systems and excavations should becarried out frequently and recorded. During these inspections the following should be observed:
both the trench and excavation walls are not undercut. supports are not overstressed. ground is not fretting or beginning to collapse. look out for tension cracks along the trench or excavation surface. the trench or excavation walls do not sag under the increased pressure from plant or equipment.Persons should not work alone in a trench due to the danger involved. Workers in the vicinity ofthe trench must wear the appropriate PPE, including hard hats, safety boots, safety vests,safety glasses and gloves. The appropriate equipment should be determined as part of the riskassessment.Signage and barricades are also important around the hazardous area to warn workers andothers of the dangers of the hazard.It is important for construction workers to remember the golden rule of any Confined Spaceincluding trenches and excavations: Do not attempt to enter a confined space unless you arefully trained and know what you are doing!Confined space entry and exits are a particularly important area to address.Tunnels, shafts and trenches present a major safety hazard and the importance of having entryand exit openings that are large enough for a properly equipped person to pass through shouldbe understood. The size and number of openings also have an impact on the ventilation.Confined space entry is a specialised field and requires training and thorough understanding ofthe appropriate work and safety products.Workers entering a confined space should be trained in:• The nature of hazards associated with confined spaces• Necessary precautions that need to be taken• Proper use of PPE• Emergency case procedures• Personnel must be adequately trained in rescue and first aid• Follow defined entry procedures –Steps for working in Trenches, Excavations Or other confined spaces: 1. Perform a review determining whether working in the space is absolutely necessary 2. Consider substituting work with less hazardous work activities 3. Gain authority to enter the confined space 4. Ensure all workers wear PPE 5. Ensure engineering controls are in place to separate other workers from the hazard
6. Determine if there is a need to set up additional training, maintain supervision, develop rosters and do whatever is reasonably necessary to ensure safety in the confined space. 7. By working together and keeping communication open workers and employers can ensure safety when working in confined spaces is upheld.To view this article online, go to: http://www.whitecardaustralia.com.au/blog/white-card- update-trench-and-excavation-safety/
Tragedy Hits Construction Site - Worker crushed by CraneAn incident in The USA recently has cast a dark cloud over the use of cranes in construction. Acrane operator was killed when the crane he was operating collapsed, trapping him in the cabinfor over 5 hours. A report by Abclocal.go.com had this to say:A construction worker who was using a crane to lift a large cement wall was killed after thatcrane collapsed. It happened at the old Garden Ridge on I-45 near The Woodlands which wasdestroyed by an arsonist last October.Crews worked all afternoon to lift the large crane from its side. The operator had been trappedin the machines cab for several hours.Its a disturbing image of a crane toppled over that had a group of worried spectators watchingand waiting several hours for help at a construction site near The Woodlands.Sgt. Joe Smart with the Conroe Police Department said, "It looks like it pinned the cab wherethe operator sits under the weight of the crane."Emergency workers who rushed to the scene couldnt immediately rescue the crane operator,who has been identified as Luis Ruiz. Police say the man was among a group of contractors onthis site rebuilding the Garden Ridge that burned down last year.Deena Nicholson of The Woodlands said, "Its really, really sad. It just seems like help is takingso long."Eyewitnesses told police something just went wrong."It looks like he was lifting one of these concrete walls to begin construction of this building, andIm told it was the first wall of the new building," said Sgt. Smart.The crane operator was trapped inside the cab for nearly five hours before help finally arrived.Police say they were waiting for large trucks and heavy equipment to lift the machine. As for thecrane operator, sadly investigators say this accident appears to be tragic.Family members tell me the operators been in construction for about 40 years. They call him adevoted husband and father.
OSHA investigators are on the scene.Source: http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=news/local&id=8718021Sadly it is too late for this operator and his family but other operators on construction sitesaround Oz do not need to suffer the same fate. No matter how dangerous crane work may be,workers can minimise the risk involved by being alert and complying with safety regulations.A crane is a powerful tool used for shifting heavy loads to and from a vehicle. Many fatalitieshave occurred where workers were crushed by cranes, either when the load shifts unexpectedlyor a malfunction occurs.Employers have a responsibility to ensure that they provide a safe work environment, safesystems of work and plant and substances are in a safe condition.Any operator needs to be certified to do so and be in possession of appropriate certificates ofcompetency for Crane operation and Dogging.Employers must ensure that a hazard identification and risk assessment is carried out and thatsafe systems of work are implemented as control measures for all operations. They must alsoensure that all crane operators are qualified and certified to operate the cranes. Operators mustalso be trained in the safe operation procedure for the crane being used.Another problematic area is when operators accidentally bump levers causing unintendedmovements. Controls should be clearly and permanently marked and all bump bars/guardsshould be installed around the controls to prevent this inadvertent lever operation which canoften prove fatal.Operators carry great responsibility and need to be aware of the danger zones on site that is theareas where the operator may be hit by the load or the boom section of the crane and avoidentering the danger zones while operating the crane. Operators are also responsible formonitoring the load stability and adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions in operating thecrane.Problems may arise from load slinging. These situations can be controlled successfully byconsulting with the workers and planning safe work strategies.As with all risks on construction sites, the hazards of cranes can be controlled and managed toavoid injury with a little planning by employers. Operators can assist by remaining alert behindthe control and remembering their safety training whenever they are at the controls.To view this article online, go to: http://www.whitecardaustralia.com.au/blog/white-card- updatetragedy-hits-construction-site-as-worker-is-crushed-by-a-crane/