Brave new world of work

Source:     September 15, 2015 by RoSPA Training ;

Do you remember your first job? Was it bar work as a student, stacking shelves in the summer holidays or temping in a call centre? Whatever it was, you probably found it a daunting task on your first day. For many young people, the world of work is often a strange and confusing place. Inexperience and lack of trained judgement leaves them more at risk from accidents and damage to their health. In this short post, we look at the risks facing young workers and the steps you can take to protect them…

Young workers law?

Like all other workers, young people at work are protected by the Health and Safety at WorkAct and subsidiary legislation, including the Management of Health and Safety at Work (MHSW) Regulations. Regulation 19 of MHSW states that: “Every employer shall ensure that young persons employed by him are protected at work from any risks to their health or safety which are a consequence of their lack of experience, or absence of awareness of existing or potential risks or the fact that young persons have not fully matured”

Why are young workers at risk?

As discussed in ‘5 tips to engage the next generation’, there are numerous reasons why young people are more vulnerable. Common factors for this increased risk include:

  • possible physical and psychological immaturity;what-is-a-risk-assessment
  • lack of awareness of the risks involved in the work they may be asked to do;
  • ignorance of risks associated with plant, equipment and substances;
  • eagerness to impress or to please

What can I do to keep young workers safe?

  • The key to ensuring the safety and health of young people in the workplace is having a good health and safety management system that protects everyone. Here is a 12-point checklist for employers with responsibilities for young workers.
  • Has someone been appointed to be in overall charge of young workers, including those on work experience placements?
  • Where students are on a work experience placement, has effective liaison been established with the placement organisers, including arrangements for regular monitoring and reporting of accidents/incidents/ill health?
  • Have ‘suitable and sufficient’ risk assessments been carried out?
  • Have any additional control measures required for young people been clearly identified?
  • Have risk assessments taken account of any special health and safety needs, which young workers may have as a result, for example, of any physical, and learning disabilities, or health issues such as allergies, asthma and respiratory problems, heart disease, diabetes, colour blindness or use of prescription medicines?
  • Have work activities which young people should be prohibited from undertaking been clearly identified?
  • Have necessary steps been taken to isolate or make safe dangerous tools, plant, equipment or substances?
  • Have any necessary arrangements for personal safety and freedom from sexual harassment and bullying been considered?talking
  • Have parents or guardians been informed of risks and control measures?
  • Have arrangements been made for appropriate supervision and induction training?
  • Have work tasks for young people been properly defined and explained? Do young people understand what is required of them in order to protect their own safety and health and that of others? And finally…
  • Have young workers been provided with appropriate health and safety induction training? Make sure you cover issues such as the company’s policy, personal responsibilities, common hazards on site, what they need to know to protect themselves and others on day one, who to go for advice and what to do if things seem unsafe.

Professional Ethics

My questions

  • Do you have one or more of Professional certifications?
  • Do you know or remember the Code of Ethics you ticked the box for?
  • Are you applying this Code to your everyday Professional dealings including private life?

For those who have personal certifications earned because we decide to be measured against by a peak certification body and through these bodies are permitted to place their mark at the end of our name; if you are one who may aspire to this or perhaps seek to engage Professionals, this is for you.

I found a recent recertification process an opportunity to reflect on what we are saying or agreeing to with these certification bodies when we do renew. Of course there is a monetary cost but what do they ask of us before we commence or continue being certified by them.

As I renewed a few of my certifications each, right at the end of the application process, had the obligatory tick box that said something like ‘I have read and agree to abide by the [add company name here] code of ethics/conduct’.

Do I really need to read this, it’s not like I read that verbose agreement when I update my Apple products or the Microsoft information that just goes on for pages in legal double speak. But I thought that, this is personal and the link is just there. I know I read it when I applied years ago, do I need to read it again. But I was ticking that I did read it, so I should and did.

On each a simple one page, dot form document with “Perform their work and duties with integrity, honesty and equity while adhering to legal principles”. I was hooked and continued to read then saved the pages. Another dot point of note “Respect the confidentiality of the information obtained in the course of their work and only reveal such information to others with the consent of the person(s) or organisation(s) or their legal representative(s)”.

I was right, this was personal, as this certification body was putting their faith in me to represent them through the post-nominal letters you get to use. It is their mark that says you have been measured and found suitable to represent them in your Professional dealings. A mark that client’s also use as an indicator of you, your integrity and your status as a Professional.

In my profession sorry Profession, we are to be Professional with our dealings with the information and knowledge we obtain whilst performing our trade. We are often entrusted with personal, trade in confidence and sometimes legally sensitive information that we could use for our own benefit or gain. Information that we agreed when signing up for these certifications to treat amongst others things, ethically and confidentially.

Unfortunately during business dealings with clients we are sometimes met with a singular or sets of documents/procedures, presentations including training information and even photographs from working with another company that you are aware were obtained as a result of another’s Professionals dealings with a different client/employer and now redrafted into a different format and represented as their own without permission of the document owner.

It is even worse when it is a person you know and believed to be a Professional. A Professional you know should have read that simple one page of Ethics/Conduct from the certification body they so proudly put after their name. Or maybe they forgot what they signed for or unfortunately knowingly disregard.

I have printed the Codes of Ethics I downloaded during my certification process and have them beside my table on the wall to remind me of what these certification bodies expect of me being a Professional representing them. (I have also highlighted a few of the key points on the documents.)

I noted that across the Codes there is a similarity of the traits required by type of person they call a Professional:

  • Integrity,
  • Honesty,
  • Objectivity,
  • Impartiality and
  • Confidentiality

So I ask again

  • Do you have one or more of Professional certifications?
  • Do you know or remember the Code of Ethics you ticked the box for?
  • Are you applying this Code to your everyday Professional dealings including private life?

There are those I believe should find the second two questions hard to answer ‘Yes’ to and that is unfortunate but doesn’t permit a disregard for the principles you agreed to, to retain your certification. Then if you actually read this far I would suggest that you have answered ‘Yes’ to these questions anyway.

So, be Professional.

Food for thought.


Testing for Drugs in the Workplace


I have been in the health and safety field for over 20 years now and still remember seeing my first analysis tool, a glass tube and bag. Things have come a long way since then, you can buy your own breath analysis tool on line, though not exact, it can give a pretty good indication of levels in the system. External providers are used now to ensure a nonbiased approach with operators having qualifications/skills etc. to operate read and provide advice on the advanced measuring equipment in use today.

From what I have seen in recent times things have changed. It is not the ‘long lunch’ or the ‘night before’ that is of concern not even THC as much, it is the practice of ‘recreational’ drugs. Funny name, sounds like going to the park and taking the dog for a walk drug. Methamphetamines (also called meth, crystal, chalk, and ice, among other terms) and the range of workers taking the drug continue to amazed me. Managers, Supervisors, Mums, Dads and others who appear that there is no need to take any recreational drugs for whatever reason, are showing up on the random tests.

Then once identified with a measurable quantity in their system there is the complete denial that there is an issue. They are in complete control and can stop any time or the excuses “it must have been on the steering wheel from the person who drove the vehicle before and I absorbed it”, “someone must have spiked my drink” to the favorite fall back “your machine is wrong”.

What makes matters worse is the plethora of information, (web pages even) that is available providing advice, synthetic urine, hair and mouth Detox products that are supposed to beat the test. I have seen workers warn others by text or other sign in a workplace that the testing company has turned up and to hide. I have even heard the urban myth that salt and vinegar chips would beat the result. Reputable Testers are aware of these products/behaviors and change the process when they are aware of attempts to circumvent the testing process. Usually practice is to stall the test for about 20mins and leave them sit in the room while they have a ‘break’ then do the test.

The walk to the gate following these random tests with a non-negative worker is upsetting knowing that these workers have to go home and tell their spouse/parents that they were dismissed due to drugs in their system, drugs that had begun to take hold of their life. When it happens in your workplace and it is someone you would least suspect, even a workmate, you will ask the same question I always do, ‘Why?’ and ‘What could I have done as a safety professional to stop this rather than just randomly catching out workers with the drug’.

We need to provide education and support in our workplaces to stem the use of these recreational drugs in our community that spill over into the workplace. Open workplace education programs delivered before the introduction of the D&A process, followed by frank discussions supported by the Union with D&A operators present to assist in dispelling the urban myths that surround this drug.

Food for thought.

Parking the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff

I came across this at a recent training session at a client’s training room.

Yes, these two pens are different as the distinction is written on the markers in the fine print, permanent / whiteboard.

A distinction I only realized when attempting to erase some of the work on the whiteboard.

How would you go choosing the correct one of these off the whiteboard tray in your training room?

‘No big deal’ I was told, as they had the whiteboard cleaner and rag on hand for when this happens.

But surely this is like ‘parking the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff’.

So I cleaned off the whiteboard and continued this time using the whiteboard marker as one of the staff members returned the permanent marker to the tray holding all the other markers.

All set for the next unsuspecting presenter, but remember the whiteboard cleaner and rag is on hand when it does happen again.

This is a simple, yet ‘tongue in cheek’, example of when considering controls for workplace hazards that the Elimination, Substitution or Engineering controls are far better than the Administrative process of using signs, training and/or procedures.

Would a sign on the wall stating ‘please don’t use permanent markers’, have really helped?

But why leave the permanent marker there, ‘why not get rid of the permanent markers and only purchase the whiteboard type, or at least make a clear distinction between the two types’.

A simple question but it appeared easier to have the whiteboard cleaner available for when the mistake occurred because sometimes the wrong markers were either purchased or brought into the room from other areas of the business.

Then came the clincher but ‘this is how we have always done this.’


Change the words ‘whiteboard/permanent marker’ in this situation to just about any item of plant that has a particular hazard when you put a control into place.

Then ask the question ‘are you parking an ambulance at the base of the cliff?’, are you allowing the hazard to eventuate and then dealing with it using a lower level control.

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Understanding CPR signage and legislation

Hi Team,

In recent times I have been asked by a number of people why they are being told their brand new CPR sign is not compliant to pool safety regulations.

The legislation covering this area is produced below along with a section of the handbook promulgated by Housing and Public Works.


Building Regulation 2006 ( Current as at 17 August 2015)

13A (2) (e) [ CPR sign must] show information about the procedures for providing first aid, including performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation in the way stated in the document called ‘Guideline 7—cardiopulmonary resuscitation’ published by the Australian Resuscitation Council in February 2006.

Editor’s note— At the commencement of this section, the document could be inspected on the Australian Resuscitation Council’s website at <>. [Well actually no it can’t]

Guidelines for pool owners and property agents October 2015 (published by Qld Housing and Public Works)

6.4 Cardiopulmonary resuscitation signs

A CPR sign (refer to Appendix D) must be clearly and conspicuously displayed near the pool. Under the Building Regulation 2006, the sign must comply with the Australian Resuscitation Council’s Guideline 7 − cardiopulmonary resuscitation, be at least 300 millimetres by 300 millimetres in size, be made of a durable and weatherproof material and clearly state what to do in an emergency e.g. phone 000, ask for ambulance, stay with injured person, call for help and resuscitation.

Problem:  The regulation calls up a practice that is no longer supported by the Australian Resuscitation Council (ARC)and if you go to the ARC website Guideline 7, as stated in the reg, deals with defibrillation and the CPR Guideline is now number 8 and has been since December 2010.  The main difference between the two is the 2006 version calls for two rescue breaths after a person is found not breathing while the 2010 version goes from not breathing directly to compressions.  The physiological effect is significant hence the change.


The Dept of Housing and Public Works has advised thus in their guidelines for inspectors ( ):

“Since the introduction of the pool safety laws, there have been changes to the Australian Resuscitation Council guidelines, reversing the order of giving breaths and compressions during CPR. However, the practice outlined in section 13A of the Building Regulation 2006 is supported by the department and QBCC and is preferred as it provides guidance specific to immersion incidents. (p14)”


It is somewhat dubious that the Dept of Housing and Public Works and the Queensland Building and Construction Commission are authorities that can make such a statement particularly in that ARC  Guideline 7 (2006) nor Guideline 8(2010) makes any mention of immersion.  In fact immersion or drowning is covered by ARC Guideline 8.2 (2006 [obsolete]) and ARC Guideline 9.3.2 (2014).  The only hint of a caveat in the CPR procedure and a drowning victim comes in ARC Guideline 9.3.2 (2014) where it says that compression only CPR does not meet the ventilation needs of the victim whose poorly oxygenated blood is usually the primary cause of the collapse.

The drafters of the legislation call up the authority of the ARC guidelines 2006 (which are no longer available and were not available then unless a subscription was held)) and then dismiss the authority of the ARC’s best practice guideline 2010?  Calling up a document which is no longer available publicly (and certainly not at the website quoted in the regulation) is against the Government own principles of drafting legislation.  The only chance of obtaining a copy of the ARC Guideline 7 (2006) is from a ARC subscriber who kept their paper version.

So there will be the first aid trainer quite rightly (and by requirement) using the ARC as the authority  and then the trainee confused by the sign at a pool under the regulation which is different.  The one thing that first aid needs is simple straight forward process in CPR for people to feel confident and be willing to have a go.

There have been approaches to the Govt by first aid trainers to resolve this but currently as seen above the confusion stands.  While the argument above might seem pedantic it is important (although any CPR is better than none).  The information above may give you some understanding why an inspector may query a sign or  may give you the chance to talk with some knowledge to a public servant in the pool safety authority or a member of parliament in an attempt to make CPR a simple skill of a confident majority.

As always where there is confusion in legislation there are operators “flogging” “old” signs with no motivation other than financial gain but this time they have legislation their side.

Thanks for reading this epic


Eric Wilson

Risk Services Manager

Lutheran Education Queensland