Australia Wide 1300 453 555 | International +613 9510 0477 info@safetydimensions.com.au
Working in air pollution – what are an employer’s obligations?

Working in air pollution – what are an employer’s obligations?

If your job requires you to work outside, the recent bushfires and dust storms may put your and your staff at risk of exposure to air pollution. As an employer you need to be aware of your legal obligations.

Under the Work Health Safety Act 2011, employers have a duty to, so far as is reasonably practicable, ensure health and safety by eliminating or minimising risks – this is not only for their employees but also for subcontractors.

Smoke from bushfires is made up of very small particles and gases. These particles in the air can irritate your eyes, nose and throat, causing itchy/burning eyes, runny nose, headaches, irritate the throat or sinuses and cause shortness of breath. The particles are so small they can also penetrate deep into the lungs. In healthy people these symptoms may be temporary, however those with a lung or heart condition may experience a worsening of their condition, leading to a more severe response such as an asthma attack or heart attack.

So how do you keep people safe and meet your obligations?

First you should check your local air quality index to determine the level of air quality and risk where you are working.

You can check your states environment protection authority website for the most up to date readings:

NSW

Victoria

Queensland

South Australia

Western Australia

Tasmania

Northern Territory

Australian Capital Territory


According to Safe Work Australia, dust and smoke may:

  • reduce air quality and impact visibility
  • settle onto equipment and impact the functioning of plant and grip of surfaces
  • irritate the airway, nose and eyes.

You must talk to your workers and their elected Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) and take their views into account when deciding on control measures to eliminate or minimise WHS risks at your workplace, including measures to eliminate or minimise risks from air pollution.

Your workplace must have measures in place to manage the risks to health and safety caused by working outdoors when air quality is reduced, including:

  • working indoors (where possible)
  • rescheduling outdoor work until conditions (e.g., visibility and air quality) improve​
  • ensuring plant is functioning correctly and has not been affected by dust or debris
  • cleaning any dust and debris off outdoor surfaces
  • providing personal protective equipment such as eye protection and correctly fitted P2 rated face masks.


Safe Work Australia has published guidance on ‘Managing the risks from air pollution: Advice for PCBUs’:

https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/doc/managing-risks-air-pollution-advice-pcbus

 

References:
Safe Work Australia https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au
Health NSW https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/air/Pages/bushfire-illness.aspx

Ready to train your people in risk management, hazard identification and subcontractor management?

We have a range of programs to train your people in risk management, hazard identification  and subcontractor management which can be tailored specifically to your industry and organisational needs. Training can be delivered as individual modules or as part of one of our accredited programs.

You can see our full program suite here >> or see some relevant units below:

Risk Assessment & Hazard Identification

This program helps you identify and describe the difference between a hazard and a risk, and introduces a way of thinking about hazard identification and risk management as an everyday activity. 

It will also enhance the skills and capabilities of leaders in the areas of hazard identification, risk analysis and identification and how to implement appropriate risk controls.

Download the course outline>>

Subcontractor Management

Learn to effectively manage WHS site risks and performance by learning how to effectively select, manage and monitor the complex and difficult world of subcontractors.  It also covers the WHS obligations regarding subcontractors, stepping through the various stages of effective subcontractor management, including assessing, evaluating safety history, attitude and managing expectations of performance and reporting.

Download the course outline >>

BSB41415 Certificate IV in WHS

The BSB41415 Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety is a nationally accredited program which will teach you how to identify hazards in the workplace, assist with responding to incidents, assess and control risk and consult on work health and safety issues. This program is most suited to those in a Safety Officer or Health and Safety Representatives role, or those currently in leadership roles wishing to shift their career into Health and Safety.

Read more about this program >>

Want to find out more about how we can customise our programs to your industry and organisation?
Let's talk!
Call us on 1300 453 555, email info@safetydimensions.com.au or use our contact form here.

More from our blog

Subscribe Now! >>

What happens in an unsafe work environment? (Video)

What happens in an unsafe work environment? (Video)

In this brief video, Simon Sinek looks at what a psychologically safe work environment looks like and what happens to people when we don't create a safe place at work. People need to feel safe enough to share their honest feelings with the confidence that their bosses...

read more
Qantas safety video a trip down aviation memory lane

Qantas safety video a trip down aviation memory lane

The new Qantas in-flight safety video ‘A Century of Safety’ spans 10 decades and showcases some of the moments that have made Qantas the world’s safest airline. The video takes passengers on a trip down memory lane, recreating the aircraft , uniforms and music from...

read more

What Do Van Halen & Brown M&M’s Have To Do With Safety?

What Do Van Halen & Brown M&M’s Have To Do With Safety?

Van Halen’s Brown M&Ms – Their Key To Rock and Roll Safety

There’s a long tradition of musicians and actors adding in absurd demands in their performance contracts just because they could.

Van Halen, the American hair rock band of the 80’s were infamous for this inclusion in their contract, Article 126, “There will be no brown M&M’s in the backstage area, upon pain of forfeiture of the show, with full compensation.”

For years this clause was seen as a frivolous and ego-maniacal expression of the rock and roll lifestyle.

In his book, Crazy From the Heat, original front man David Lee Roth explains that the request was actually a quick safety assessment. With tonnes of stage equipment, high powered electronics, pyrotechnics and large crowds, the humble brown M&M was a warning signal to see if the stagehands had been paying attention to each detail of the written contract to ensure the safety of the band, crew and audience.

Watch the David Lee Roth speaking about the Van Halen Brown M&M clause:

Lee Roth writes:
“Van Halen was the first band to take huge productions into tertiary, third-level markets. We’d pull up with nine eighteen-wheeler trucks, full of gear, where the standard was three trucks, max. And there were many, many technical errors, whether it was the girders couldn’t support the weight, or the flooring would sink in, or the doors weren’t big enough to move the gear through. The contract rider read like a version of the Chinese Yellow Pages because there was so much equipment, and so many human beings to make it function.

mm1So just as a little test, in the technical aspect of the rider, it would say ‘Article 148: There will be fifteen amperage voltage sockets at twenty-foot spaces, evenly, providing nineteen amperes…’ And article number 126, in the middle of nowhere, was: ‘There will be no brown M&M’s in the backstage area, upon pain of forfeiture of the show, with full compensation.’

So I would walk backstage, if I saw brown M&M’s in that bowl…..well, line-check the entire production. Guaranteed you’re going to arrive at a technical error. They didn’t read the contract. Guaranteed you’d run into a problem. Sometimes it would threaten to just destroy the whole show. Something like, literally, life-threatening”

Dan and Chip Heath’s book, Decisive, How to make better decisions in life and work they summarise that “David Lee Roth was no diva; he was an operations master. In Van Halen’s world, a brown M&M was a tripwire.”

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/clender/7239011350/

Ready to train your people in risk management, hazard identification and subcontractor management?

We have a range of programs to train your people in risk management, hazard identification  and subcontractor management which can be tailored specifically to your industry and organisational needs. Training can be delivered as individual modules or as part of one of our accredited programs.

You can see our full program suite here >> or see some relevant units below:

Risk Assessment & Hazard Identification

This program helps you identify and describe the difference between a hazard and a risk, and introduces a way of thinking about hazard identification and risk management as an everyday activity. 

It will also enhance the skills and capabilities of leaders in the areas of hazard identification, risk analysis and identification and how to implement appropriate risk controls.

Download the course outline>>

Subcontractor Management

Learn to effectively manage WHS site risks and performance by learning how to effectively select, manage and monitor the complex and difficult world of subcontractors.  It also covers the WHS obligations regarding subcontractors, stepping through the various stages of effective subcontractor management, including assessing, evaluating safety history, attitude and managing expectations of performance and reporting.

Download the course outline >>

BSB41415 Certificate IV in WHS

The BSB41415 Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety is a nationally accredited program which will teach you how to identify hazards in the workplace, assist with responding to incidents, assess and control risk and consult on work health and safety issues. This program is most suited to those in a Safety Officer or Health and Safety Representatives role, or those currently in leadership roles wishing to shift their career into Health and Safety.

Read more about this program >>

Want to find out more about how we can customise our programs to your industry and organisation?
Let's talk!
Call us on 1300 453 555, email info@safetydimensions.com.au or use our contact form here.

More from our blog

Corporate Manslaughter: what is it and could it bring justice for Grenfell Tower victims?

Related posts: Queensland Industrial Manslaughter: New Laws


File 20170616 545 1s6gzod

Ioannis Glinavos, University of Westminster.

The disaster at Grenfell Tower has been described by David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham, as a case of “corporate manslaughter”. According to English law, companies and organisations can be found guilty of corporate manslaughter as a result of serious management failures, resulting in a gross breach of a duty of care.

Amid calls for arrests, it’s time to consider whether the failings that led to the Grenfell disaster could possibly justify the use of the label “corporate manslaughter” – and what this would mean for victims who seek justice.

Prosecutions for this offence are of a corporate body (defined broadly enough to include public authorities) and not individuals – so we probably won’t see any pictures of executives being led away in handcuffs. That said, directors, board members and others may still be liable to prosecution under health and safety law or general criminal law. The offence also covers contractors and sub-contractors, so long as they owe a duty of care to the victims.

A duty of care is an obligation, whereby an organisation must take reasonable steps to protect a person’s safety. Legally, it is broadly understood as avoiding negligence by not placing people in danger. These duties also exist in relation to workplaces and equipment, as well as to products or services supplied to customers. This suggests that when an entity exercises control over people and spaces it has a responsibility to protect them.

The corporate manslaughter offence uses the same definitions of duty of care as the common law offence of gross negligence manslaughter. This means that the threshold for the offence is high – the way that activities were managed or organised must have fallen seriously far below reasonable standards.

The consequences

Any organisation convicted of this offence would face a fine of anywhere between £180,000 and £20m (though there is no hard maximum limit). They would also be handed a publicity order, which requires them to publicise the conviction, along with certain details of the offence, as specified by the court. The court can also set a remedial order, requiring the organisation to address the cause of the fatal injury, which in this case could have consequences for similar tower blocks.

While there is no direct precedent for this kind of tragedy – involving massive loss of life for non-workers – to help us estimate penalties, some indications can be gleaned from the fines imposed on rail operators for train accidents. In 2003, Thames Trains and Network Rail were fined over £2m and £4m respectively, in relation to the health and safety breaches that led to the 1999 Ladbroke Grove train crash, which killed 31 people. And in 2006, Network Rail was fined £3.5m and Balfour Beatty an eventual £7.5m (following an appeal) for faults leading to the fatal derailment of a train near Hatfield in 2000.

It’s also possible for an organisation to be charged with both corporate manslaughter and health and safety offences in the same proceedings. In these circumstances, if an organisation is convicted of corporate manslaughter the jury may still be asked to return a verdict on the health and safety charges if the interests of justice so require, which can have further consequences for individuals.

Potential defendants

Corporate manslaughter is an extremely serious offence, reserved for the very worst cases of corporate mismanagement leading to death. Even before knowing the full extent of the Grenfell disaster, it’s safe to say that it is likely to fall in this category.

Potential defendants in this case – should one eventually be brought – would probably include the building’s management company, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO), and possibly also contractors involved in the tower’s recent renovation.

But advocates for the victims are likely to be looking further than that, seeking to challenge the behaviour of public authorities and political decisions about spending on improvements to social housing in London. Prosecutions of public authorities would have far-reaching political consequences.

If the defendant is a public authority, exemptions may apply to decisions about public policy. For example, strategic funding decisions and other matters involving competing public interests, cannot be challenged in criminal proceedings. But decisions about how resources were managed are not exempt, which means that deliberate under-investment in maintaining safety could lead to prosecutions.

According to the law, the offence is concerned with how an organisation’s activities were managed or organised. So, courts will look at management systems and practices across the organisation in question, and investigate whether an adequate standard of care was applied. A substantial part of the failing must have occurred at a senior management level for a conviction to be successful.

Juries would be required to consider the extent to which an organisation was in breach of health and safety requirements, and assess how serious those failings were. They would also consider wider cultural issues within the organisation, such as attitudes or practices that tolerated health and safety breaches. What’s more, it would not be necessary for the management failure to have been the sole cause of death, so a tenant’s actions in starting this fire would not exonerate those responsible for inadequate safety measures.

The ConversationFor now, London is in mourning. But when the immediate phase has passed, the law will turn its attention to those who may be responsible, and see that justice is carried out.

Ioannis Glinavos, Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Westminster

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Our COVID-19 Response from LDN CEO Melissa Williams

As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, our first and foremost focus is on the physical and mental health and wellbeing of our people, our clients, their staff and the wider community we all live in.Updated March 30, 2020.  (LDN will regularly update its...

Train your staff at home with LDN Interactive (LDN-i) – helping organisations train and develop staff while isolated

Safety Dimensions, Leadership Dimensions & Workplace Dimensions programs are now available through a facilitator-led, real-time, interactive training environment – via computer. We don’t offer pre-recorded online programs – just the same experience of our...

How to talk to kids about COVID-19 with resources for parents and children

How can parents and carers manage the questions, fears and concerns from children about COVID-19? We’ve put together some ideas, videos and a free downloadable resource for kids under 7 to help. With the world in the grip of the COVID-19 response, parents and carers...

Leading through uncertain times – how to be a leader through the COVID-19 response.

How can leaders make things feel as normal as possible to support ‘business as usual’ when we’re certainly not in a ‘business as usual’ environment?  So here we are at the beginning of a seismic disruption to workplaces all around the world with the COVID-19 response....

Which industries have the highest rates of work-related harassment and bullying claims?

On February 28, 2020, Safe Work Australia released the 2019 ‘Psychosocial health and safety and bullying in Australian workplaces’ annual statement. Psychosocial health is the physical, mental and social state of a person. The nationally accepted definition of...

What happens in an unsafe work environment? (Video)

In this brief video, Simon Sinek looks at what a psychologically safe work environment looks like and what happens to people when we don't create a safe place at work. People need to feel safe enough to share their honest feelings with the confidence that their bosses...

Qantas safety video a trip down aviation memory lane

The new Qantas in-flight safety video ‘A Century of Safety’ spans 10 decades and showcases some of the moments that have made Qantas the world’s safest airline. The video takes passengers on a trip down memory lane, recreating the aircraft , uniforms and music from...

Dreamworld Coroner finds leadership culpable

On 25 October 2016, a tragic incident occurred on the Thunder River Rapids Ride (TRRR) at Dreamworld Theme Park, claiming four lives.   The 30-year-old TRRR ride was a water based family orientated ‘moderate thrill ride’ where patrons simulated white water...

Industrial manslaughter to become law in Victoria

Victoria has made Industrial Manslaughter a criminal offence and will now have the highest safety fine in the country with maximum penalties of $16.5m and 20 years jail. Victoria is the third state after ACT and Queensland to legislate to make Workplace Manslaughter a...

What our learners say about our programs

The National Centre for Vocational Education Research surveyed graduates of our nationally recognised Vocational Education and Training (VET) programs. This report provides a summary of the outcomes of students who completed nationally recognised VET programs during...

Do You Have Your Fire Safety Plan For Summer? CFA Fire Safety Kit

life-863149_640CFA’s Fire Ready Kit

The Fire Ready Kit has been designed to help you understand fire and plan for survival, beginning with the basics of preparing before the fire season, through to planning what to do if fire is in your area and you cannot leave. 

Download the Complete Fire Ready Kit – (PDF 3000k) | Text only version (DOC 96k) or in separate sections on the CFA website.

Tourism operators – see the Tourism Business Fire Ready Kit (PDF 1000k)
Business operators – see the Business Fire Ready Kit (PDF 3000k).


Source: Country Fire Authority http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/plan-prepare/fire-ready-kit/