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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: http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/AboutSafeWorkAustralia/WhatWeDo/Media/Documents/2011%20Media%20Releases/MR210311NHEWS_Biomechanical_Demands.pdf
Safe Work Australia, 21 March 2011 http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au
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 http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/AboutSafeWorkAustralia/WhatWeDo/Media/Documents/2011%20Media%20Releases/MR210311NHEWS_Wet_Work.pdf
Safe Work Australia, 21 March 2011 http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au
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 http://www.ermanz.govt.nz
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 http://www.environmental-expert.com
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).
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