Biomechanical Demands in Australian Workplaces

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Bulletin Board

April 15, 2011

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Biomechanical Demands in Australian Workplaces


Safe Work Australia Chair, Mr Tom Phillips AM, recently announced the release of a report from the National Hazard Exposure Worker Surveillance Survey: Exposure to biomechanical demands, pain and fatigue symptoms and the provision of controls in Australian workplaces. The report identifies demographic and employment characteristics of Australian workers that are associated with exposure to biomechanical demands, pain and fatigue symptoms and the provision of biomechanical demand controls. Biomechanical demands, such as repetitive hand or arm movements, lifting heavy loads or working in awkward postures contribute to the development or worsening of inflammatory or degenerative musculoskeletal disorders, which are one of the leading causes of morbidity and disability in Australia and worldwide. Some of the findings from the study include:

Exposure to biomechanical demand is very common in Australian workplaces, with more than 99% of workers reporting exposure to at least one of the nine biomechanical demands surveyed.

21 per cent of workers reported exposure to all nine biomechanical demands and 22 per cent of workers were deemed to have high overall (composite) biomechanical demand exposure.

Young workers, male workers, night workers and lower skilled workers were most likely to report exposure to biomechanical demands and had the highest overall biomechanical demand exposure scores.

The reporting of pain and fatigue symptoms was highly related to the level of biomechanical demand exposure.

Workplace size and the workers’ overall level of biomechanical demand exposure were the best predictors of the provision of biomechanical demand controls. Workers in large workplaces and those with high overall exposure were most likely to be provided with controls.

Mr Phillips said work-related musculoskeletal disorders are one of the eight priority occupational diseases for Australia. They account for the largest proportion of occupational disease workers’ compensation claims in Australia and result in $361 million in workers’ compensation payments in Australia annually. Further research on biomechanical demand control provision, use and efficacy is required in order to determine the size and characteristics of the Australian working population at risk of developing work-related musculoskeletal disorders as a result of biomechanical demand exposure. The full National Hazard Exposure Worker Surveillance Report: Exposure to biomechanical demands, pain and fatigue symptoms and the provision of controls in Australian workplaces can be found at:

Safe Work Australia, 21 March 2011

Wet Work Exposure in Australian Workplaces


Recently, Safe Work Australia released a report from the National Hazard Exposure Worker Surveillance Survey titled: Wet work exposure and the provision of wet work control measures in Australian workplaces. Occupational skin diseases, such as contact dermatitis of the hands, are one of the most common work-related problems presenting to Australian general practitioners. One of the most important risk factors for occupational skin disease is wet work, which refers to exposure of the hands to liquids, either through frequent hand washing or through immersion of the hands in liquids. This report describes the employment and demographic characteristics of Australian workers who reported high levels of wet work exposure in the course of their work. The report also examines the provision of wet work controls to exposed workers. Findings of the study include:

9.8 per cent of workers reported they washed their hands more than 20 times per day and 4.5 per cent reported their hands were immersed in liquids more than two hours per day. These are both indicators of high exposure to wet work.

Workers in the Health and community services and Accommodation, cafes and restaurants industries were most likely to report exposure to wet work.

Exposure to wet work was strongly associated with dermal contact with chemicals. Those who reported skin contact with chemicals were more likely to report exposure to wet work.

Time restriction, the most effective wet work exposure control, was reported as a control measure by only 32 per cent of exposed workers. However, glove provision was very high with 75 per cent of exposed workers reporting their provision. Workers from high exposure industries or workplace settings were generally more likely to be provided with these controls than lower exposure groups.

Mr Phillips, Safe Work Australia Chair said that this study outlined the importance of time restriction as a control measure for wet work and ultimately occupational skin disease. “The information in this report will enable the development of targeted work health and safety policy and practice interventions that will lead the way in reducing occupational contact dermatitis,” said Mr Phillips. The National Hazard Exposure Worker Surveillance Report: Wet work exposure and the provision of wet work control measures in Australian workplaces can be found at

Safe Work Australia, 21 March 2011

Authority approves new pest poison


New Zealand’s Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) has approved the use of a new poison to control stoats, ferrets and feral cats. Connovation Limited applied to ERMA New Zealand to import and manufacture para-aminopropiophenone (PAPP) for ground control of pests. Field trials have shown that PAPP is particularly effective against stoats, which are estimated to kill up to 70 percent of kiwi chicks in the wild. Compared to other approved vertebrate toxic agents, PAPP is a more humane poison. It carries a reduced risk of secondary poisoning and the availability of antidotes mean there are reduced risks of irreversible adverse effects to non-target species. The approval allows the use of three products: PAPP Paste A, PAPP Paste B and PAPP Ready-to-use Bait. Strict controls have been placed on the use of all three products, including the requirement for people handling the substances to be approved by ERMA New Zealand and restricting it to use within bait stations

ERMA, 24 March 2011

China to implement globally harmonised system of classification and labelling of chemicals


On 12 March 2011, China’s State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) issued Decree 591, ‘Regulation on the Safe Management of Dangerous Chemicals,’ which concerns the safe use of chemicals. The regulation is very wide ranging in scope and ‘sets the tone’ for future chemicals legislation. As one of the more immediate impacts, State Decree 591 uses the National Standards GB 13690-2009 on the general rules for the classification and hazard communication of chemicals, and GB 12528-2009 on precautionary labelling. The National Standards are effectively technical manuals that assist in the practical compliance with Decree 591. Currently, the critical deadline is 1 December 2011, which is the implementation date of the Decree. The implementation date of the National Standards, 1 May 2011, is not of significant impact as the Decree date is the date recognised by the implementation authority. China has previously issued supplementary guidance, after promulgating final regulations, that contain transitional periods, and it is possible that the 1 December 2011, deadline will change.

Environmental Expert, 25 March 2011


Chemicals Listed Effective 22 March 2011 as Known to the State of California to Cause Cancer - MON 4660 (dichloroacetyl-1-oxa-4-azaspiro (4,5)-decane) (CAS No. 71526-07-3), MON 13900 (furilazole) (CAS No. 121776-33-8) and pymetrozine (CAS No. 123312-89-0)


The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) within the California Environmental Protection Agency is adding MON 4660 (dichloroacetyl-1-oxa-4-azaspiro(4,5)-decane) (CAS No. 71526-07-3), MON 13900 (furilazole) (CAS No. 121776-33-8) and pymetrozine (CAS No. 123312-89-0) to the list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer for purposes of the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 651). The listing of the three chemicals is effective from 22 March 2011. The listing of the three chemicals is based on formal identification by an authoritative body, the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), that the chemicals cause cancer. The criteria used by OEHHA for the listing of chemicals under the “authoritative bodies” mechanism can be found in Title 27, Cal. Code of Regs., section 25306. The documentation supporting OEHHA’s determination that the criteria for administrative listing have been satisfied for these chemicals is included in the Notice of Intent to List MON 4660 (dichloroacetyl-1-oxa-4-azaspiro(4,5)-decane), MON 13900 (furilazole), and Pymetrozine published in the 21 January 2011 issue of the California Regulatory Notice Register (Register 2011, No.3 Z).


MON 4660 (dichloroacetyl-1-oxa-4-azaspiro(4,5)-decane)

MON 13900 (furilazole)






Toxicological Endpoint




Listing Mechanism3




For a copy of the current Proposition 65 list go to:

California’s OEHHA, 18 March 2011

NIOSH publishes strategic framework for asbestos research


The US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has published its framework for a national research strategy to address current scientific uncertainties surrounding asbestos fibres and other elongate mineral particles. The NIOSH roadmap incorporates public comment with scientific reviews to outline a strategic plan to address gaps in knowledge relating to the toxicity and occupational safety of the materials. For details go to:

Chemical Watch, 25 March 2011

Start preparing for new OSHA fall protection requirements now


In an effort to curb the startling statistic that 40 workers are killed in the U.S. every year as a result of falls from residential roofs, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has set a deadline for implementation of new fall safety requirements for 16 June 2011. The new directive will require any residential builder engaged in construction projects more than six feet from the ground (or lower levels, on low-slope roofs, steep roofs, etc.) to comply with 29 CFR 1926.501(b)(13). The requirement basically calls for conventional fall protection, such as guardrail systems, safety net systems, professional fall arrest systems, or other fall protection measured spelled out in 1926.501(b). The new rules replace the 1995 Interim Fall Protection Compliance Guidelines for Residential Construction, guidelines that allowed many residential builders to ignore fall safety requirements. Three of OSHA’s Top 10 most frequently cited standards in 2010 pertained to height concerns, including scaffolding (#1), fall protection (#2) and ladders (#3), making fall-related issues cumulatively one of the most cited hazards for workplaces and work sites across America. However, there is limited flexibility. As the notice of the new fall protection rules explains, “if an employer can demonstrate that such fall protection is infeasible or presents a greater hazard, it may implement a written fall protection plan meeting the requirements of Sec. 1926.502(k).” Since the deadline for these new requirements occurs in less than three months, now is the time for residential builders to implement streamlined safety management systems to ensure they meet all the new rules.

Environmental Expert, 24 March 2011

Methyl Isocynate: Bayer Ends Use Of Infamous Chemical At West Virginia Plant


Bayer CropScience announced it will stop using methyl isocyanate (MIC) in the production of insecticides at its Institute, W.Va., plant. For 26 years—ever since the Bhopal, India, accident involving MIC that killed and injured thousands—the company has received pressure from some Institute residents to eliminate use of the intermediate. The Bhopal plant was a sister to the Institute facility. Bayer had cut back on use and storage of the chemical following a 2008 accident at the plant that killed two workers and took place near an MIC storage tank. The accident renewed concern over the chemical and led to investigations by the Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board (CSB), OSHA, and the National Research Council. Bayer had intended to phase out MIC next year after making a deal with EPA to end manufacture of aldicarb, a pesticide that requires MIC in its production. In February, Bayer planned to restart production of MIC to make aldicarb. The new unit was set to run until mid-2012. However, local residents challenged the start-up in court and gained an injunction to temporarily block production. A hearing on the injunction was set for 21 March. Bayer said in a statement that the injunction and investigations had delayed production so much that the company was unlikely to meet production demand for the 2011 growing season. Furthermore, CSB has recently released a safety video detailing the events leading to the 2008 accident.

Chemical & Engineering News, 25 March 2011

US trade association updates restricted substance list for clothing and footwear


The American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA), the US trade association representing apparel and footwear companies has released the 8th version of their Restricted Substance List (RSL). The RSL contains information on chemicals banned or regulated in home textile products, apparel and footwear globally. The latest version includes updates to the sections on flame retardants, metals and phthalate substance. A full list of changes made can be found at:

Chemical Watch, 23 March 2011


ECJ adviser backs hazard status for nickel, borates


According to an adviser to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), industry appeals against the hazard classifications of nickel and borate substances are not justified. The opinions, issued recently, clear the EU executive of any wrongdoing. The cases were brought by the Nickel Institute, an industry association, and Étimine, a subsidiary of a Turkish borate supplier. They relate to classifications made in 2008 and 2009 under the 1967 dangerous substances directive and the 2008 classification, labelling and packaging (CLP) rules, which partially supercede it. The Nickel Institute is unhappy that a process of extrapolation – known as ‘read across’ – was used to justify classification of untested nickel substances as carcinogens. The European Commission also took no account of the conditions in which the substances are used, according to the industry body. However, ECJ adviser Yves Bot says that the use of read-across is justified. The purpose of the assessment process is to identify the potential hazards of a substance not the risk it poses in particular scenarios, according to his opinion. Étimine raised similar concerns regarding read-across data used to classify borate substances as category two reproductive toxins. It thought the classification relied too much on animal test data, especially as the substance was given orally. Exposure via the skin or lungs is more likely under normal circumstances, it says. In addition, it thought the categorisation should have been a level three – or less hazardous – reprotoxin given the limited data available. A level two categorisation could be economically harmful as it brings extra responsibilities and obligations for industry. However, the court adviser thinks it is reasonable to base hazard classifications on ingestion as the substances are used in liquid products. The higher level classification is also justified on the basis of the precautionary principle, he says.

ENDS Europe Daily, 24 March 2011

European Portable Battery Industry releases the industry’s first sustainability report


The European Portable Battery Industry released its first

sustainability report titled “Looking back, looking ahead”, which covers past achievements, ongoing efforts and future perspectives of the European Portable Battery Industry. The report was launched at an event attended by representatives from the European Commission, battery recycling industry, compliance organisations, as well as battery and device manufacturers. The event included presentations from guest speakers Rosalinde van der Vlies, Deputy Head of Unit, European Commission on the European Commission’s sustainability policy and by Prof. Wim Dewulf, Leuven University on the importance of Life Cycle Assessments in the sustainability debate. Hans Craen, Secretary General of EPBA started proceedings with a brief overview of the progress made by the portable power industry in the field of sustainable production and consumption since 1985 and went on to explain the industry’s future commitments which include developing life cycle science based methodologies for measuring the environmental footprint of waste batteries collection and recycling operations, and providing consumers with practical information. “I am very proud of the achievements of our industry which are reflected in our first sustainability report. One way of looking at our success in reducing the environmental footprint of our batteries is to think of it as taking away 38 million car kilometres from our roads every year” said Patrick Hedouin chairman of EPBA, “But this report not only highlights what we have achieved in the last 20 years, it also lays out our future sustainability roadmap. Sustainability together with workable regulations and safe and high quality products is one of EPBA’s three key priorities and we are committed to continue to improve every aspect of our industry to preserve our environment for the benefit of present and future generations“. In a letter of encouragement Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: “I am glad to see from EPBA’s sustainability report that this is something you understand all too well. I commend the work you have put into the report and your foresight. It shows me that resource efficiency is already a driving force for business. It is not an academic concept, it is practice that needs further expansion. For the benefit of business, of society and of our planet.” A copy of the new report can be found at:

European Portable Battery Association, 22 March 2011

CD233 -Proposed amendment to the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR)


The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) recently released a proposal to amend the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR). This consultation sets out the amendment to regulation 3(2) of the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR) proposed by Lord Young in his report “Common Sense, Common Safety”. If adopted, the period of incapacitation after which an injury to a person at work must be reported to the enforcing authority, will change from over three to over seven days. It seeks views on the proposal itself and on the impacts that it would have if it became law. For full details of the proposal go to:

The closing date for submissions is 29 April 2011

HSE e-bulletin, 28 March 2011

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