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“New research published by Safe Work Australia shows the death toll from falling objects on Australian worksites have nearly doubled in recent years.”

In the report, Key Work Health and Safety Statistics, Australia 2014, published by Safe Work Australia, deaths from falling objects have increased from 18 in 2009-10 to 30 as of 2011-12. The alarming rise in deaths from falling objects place Safety Professionals under more pressure to control falling object hazards. Controlling hazards caused by falling objects are compounded by the range of potential hazards from lifting operations, to hand held tools and equipment coupled with the propensity for human error.

Controlling all the factors that can lead to a falling object requires a comprehensive program for both large and small objects. Large falling object hazards may arise from building structures, large objects stored at heights, lifting operations, transfer and removal of materials. While many falling object programs control large objects at heights, for smaller objects used by workers, such as hand held tools and equipment, controls are not as widely known.

Small objects such as PPE, portable communication equipment, materials, parts and tools can all become a potential falling hazard if proper controls are not in place. Even a 1kg spanner dropped from a height of 4 metres will hit the ground travelling at over 30km/hr. A small falling object can damage property or tools, increase lost time recovering or replacing tools, and in the worst cases causes injury or fatality.

In the publication, “Managing the Risk of Falls at Workplaces: Code of Practice”, Regulation 34-38 of the Workplace Health and Safety Act 2011, requires employers to implement controls to minimise risks so far as is reasonably practicable. Although this is the case, the Code does little in the way to account for hazards posed by small falling objects. In contrast, Safe Work Australia’s “Falling Objects Fact Sheet” does provide some guidance to control small falling object hazards, for example requiring all tools and materials be tethered or otherwise secured while working at heights.

To help employers manage risks associated with small falling objects, safety and wellness solutions provider Pryme has partnered with specialist safety technology developer Ergodyne® and HSE Consultants, to develop a best practice Small Falling Objects Prevention Program. The program consists of a number of materials from risk assessment, to toolbox training sessions, policies and procedures coupled with guides to aid in the selection of the latest in falling object prevention technologies to build your program.

Pryme’s Small Falling Objects Prevention Program is due for launch later this month. Click on the Follow button, to follow the Pryme Linked In page and receive these materials and regular updates as soon as they launch. For enquiries and any further information, please contact us at sales@pryme.net.au


Are unacclimatised FIFO and DIDO workers at a higher risk for dehydration and heat stress illnesses?

Fly in Fly out (FIFO) and Drive in Drive out (DIDO) workers form a significant part of the Australian industrial workforce. Often travelling long distances frequently to tough, hot environments can increase environmental heat stress. Studies show that a worker performing heavy manual work in the heat can take up to 10 days or more to safely adapt to the work conditions1.

In hot humid conditions, workers can sweat 1-2 litres of sweat, and in the process lose fluid as well as important nutrients like electrolytes. Consumption of diuretics and soft drinks can further exacerbate the problem by increasing frequency of urination. Replacing fluid and electrolytes like sodium is important to keep the worker hydrated and prevent symptoms of dehydration like lack of co-ordination, low reaction time, fatigue, dizziness and headaches. Excessive sweating also reduces the body’s ability to cool down, increasing risk of increased core body temperature and heat illnesses. Not replacing this fluid loss can crease risk of injury, reduce productivity and cause long-term health problems.

Heat Accclimatisation is the body’s natural coping mechanism for adaptation to changes in environmental temperatures. Studies show that a fully acclimatized worker loses less sodium in sweat and is at lower risk of fluid imbalances2. A variety of factors including, rosters, shift lengths, regional or seasonal climatic changes and job role changes can affect acclimatization levels in the workplace.

Studies show that acclimatised workers have higher levels of productivity than unacclimatised workers, and have higher thirst sensations, helping them consume more fluid to stay hydrated. It is recommended that a comprehensive approach to managing thermal hazards at the workplace, take acclimatization into account for reduced risks, higher productivity and safe working conditions for workers.

A sodium enhanced drink, which is low in carbohydrates, can help workers replace fluid and electrolyte losses. Electrolyte drinks like Sqwincher are available in both sugar and sugar free options and are formulated for higher palatability to help increase fluid consumption.

“For the first two weeks I was in hospital three times. I wasn’t drinking enough water; I was only consuming 600mL of water a day. I was severely dehydrated. I had cramps, headaches and I felt drained and run down. I was losing lots of salt as well, my clothes started turning white and I started getting rashes. I had to go on a saline drip when I was in hospital. I was about to head home because I wasn’t surviving up there, however, I was recommended to use an electrolyte replacement drink called Sqwincher®. Sqwincher® really saved my life. ” Stephan Thelan, Mine Site Worker, Port Hedland, Western Australia

Sources –

1 Sweat Rate and sodium loss during work in the heat by Graham P Bates and Veronica S Miller http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2267797/

2 A quantitative method for aseessing the impact of acclimatisation in the workplace by Rick Brake – Principal Consultant , Mine Ventilation Australia