Ask Safety Shay! Shay is our resident health, safety and workers compensation expert and is always keen to lend a hand. He'll answer any safety or workers compensation questions you might have.

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Click here to send an email with any safety or workers compensation questions you might have.

The question should be brief and may be published with removed details for the benefit of other interested people on the internet. The advice will be of a general nature, and may differ based on different circumstances and you should seek expert legal/medical assistance prior to acting on the answer to these questions.

 

Workers Compensation

Shay

I got injured last year hurting my shoulder, and then turned 65 a few weeks later. The insurer cut off my income support on my birthday under workers compensation despite me not being back at work 5 days a week. Can they do this?

Sam

 

Sam

Sam, unfortunately Mike Baird’s workers compensation changes in 2012 meant that if you get injured before the statutory retirement date as governed by the Commonwealth Social Security legislation (65 currently), you only get income support up to your 65th birthday. So if this was a few weeks before your birthday then you would have only got a few weeks of income support. If you get injured after your 65th birthday you get a whole year of income support. This is UNFAIR and places too much of the burden of continuing working on older workers when the treasurer is encouraging everyone to work until they drop. You should be able to access medical expenses for a further year which includes rehabilitation and vocational assessments and training if necessary, but medicals do not pay the bills.

Safety Shay

 

 

Health and Safety

Shay,

I work in respite in the “caring industry” and I regularly am assaulted by the clients. I have raised this with my employer but they say that it is part of the job and why aren’t I able to manage the client better. I work in a respite centre with 6 clients with challenging behaviours often as a solo worker, and often feel that if I survive the shift is a victory let alone managing the client’s progression on a care plan.

Cass

 

Cass,

This is a really common problem in the “caring industry”, and often workers are encouraged to not report these incidents to police as this reduces the providers capacity to maintain a good reputation with clients and accreditation boards. Although this act of violence does not meet the definition of assault usually under the Crimes Act, as your clients will not be proven as have the “mens rea” or criminal intent element of the offence due to their disability, the employer has a duty of care under WHS laws in the conduct of their business or undertaking to ensure you do not get assaulted at work.

There seems to be a number of issues involved with your workplace which probably requires a thorough investigation rather than the brief response that I am going to provide. Controls for violence tend to be better designed out than managed through behavioural controls. Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) is a stream of  safety that looks at the preventative mechanisms of designing work to be safe from violence. This may mean a raft of controls may be necessary rather than simply blaming you for not managing the previously unmanageable clients (they would not be in respite if they were easy). It starts with and continues with consultation with the staff. The workplace structure should be designed to enable you safe areas, areas isolated from the client, and where you can relax and see clients coming and where clients cannot enter. The client profile should be such that you and your colleagues will not be put at risk, nor the client. I have come across a number of scenarios in the “caring industry” where no care has been taken to do a risk assessment of individual clients or a group of clients leading to harm to other clients or staff. The costs of an incident are more than the costs of providing an extra staff. The staffing should be adequate to enable you to react to multiple issues at once or support you, if a client or you are being assaulted for instance. There also needs to be training for staff in violence de-escalation and escape such as PART or Non Violent Crisis Intervention Training.

We are aware that the privatised NDIS funding model (being trialled) may not enable all this too happen at once but it is surely in the interests of clients families to also not have regular unreported assaults so that the client can be properly assessed and given the right level of care and funding.

Safety Shay

 

 

Health and Safety

Shay,

With recent storms in the Hunter we have moved a lot of my workshop into a container as the workshop is stormed damaged. The workshop has not been repaired yet and I am concerned as there is no light, crap air, power chords running over the muddy soil, rodents and all the equipment piled up in the container.

John

 

John,

Containers can be deadly. There were two workers killed a few weeks ago in Sydney when they were crushed inside by objects and could not be rescued in time, other have drowned in shipping containers and other workers have created explosive environments. In almost all aspects a shipping container resembles a confined space similar to a gas tank, with difficult access/exit for rescues, contained atmospheres, narrow confines, metal construction being a good conductor. It sounds like you have a number of hazards such as the electricity line likely to become live, the lack of air flow, possible ignition sources and combustible materials, risk of being trapped by the work equipment etc.. This is when there is only one exit and path ways without adequate space for clear passage.

Whilst there are controls that can be retro fitted it is likely to be a better approach to fix your damaged workshop. I would definitely not recommend working in the container until a thorough inspection and plan has been addressed to eliminate or minimise the risk from all hazards and then only if it is safe to do so. You may also want to not undertake any work in there at all and simply use it as an organised store room. I am unaware of what work you do but if you have power tools they are an ignition source and containers can contain levels of fumes that if they do not suffocate you can ignite even at ground level. The electrical chord cannot be submerged and should not be passed over with traffic (human or otherwise).

Safety Shay

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