Safety, Health and Wellbeing

Newsletter April 2011

Our role is to develop and assist in the implementation of the UWA safety, health and wellbeing programs in order to minimise the risk of injury, illness and property damage.

We provide consultancy and other services to promote best practice and legislative compliance in all University and related activities.

Further Information

  • UWA Smoke Free
  • Become a first aid officer
  1. Safety-related training 2011
  2. Death of undergraduate student in Yale University workshop
  3. Safe use of metal-turning lathes
  4. Safe use of angle grinders
  5. Laptop electrical hazard – power plug adaptor
  6. Developments in safety management
  7. University Safety Committee

Safety-related training 2011

  • Occupational Safety and Health training for Managers and Supervisors on Tuesday 21 and Wednesday 22 June (two half-days, 9.30 am – 1 pm each day). Enrol via OSDS.
  • Youth Mental Health First Aid (four x 3.5 hours) from Wednesday 27 April. Enrol via OSDS.
  • Chem Alert user course – Basic and Advanced sessions (two hours and 1.5 hours, respectively). Monday 18 April.

Death of undergraduate student in Yale University workshop

In the April editorial of Nature, researchers and institutions are asked to question their own attitudes to safety in the laboratory after the death of an undergraduate student in a Yale University workshop.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Michelle Dufault died when her hair became caught in a lathe, a fast-spinning machine, asphyxiating her. While investigations are continuing it appears limited training, working alone, working after hours and under extreme pressure may have been contributing factors.

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Safe use of metal turning lathes (from the October 2010 Safety and Health newsletter)

WorkSafe Victoria has produced a Guidance Note on the Safe Use of Metal Turning Lathes. This is an excellent and practical information sheet with clear drawings, photographs and tables identifying how to control associated hazards.

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Safe use of angle grinders

WorkSafe Victoria has published a guidance note on the safe use of angle grinders.

The main hazards are identified, possible consequences and recommended controls are listed in a table. The most common causes of injury to operators and nearby workers from angle grinders are lacerations from attachments that break and become projectiles, and lacerations from angle grinder kickbacks.

Advice on purchasing angle grinders is also presented.

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Laptop electrical hazard – power plug adaptor

A recent electrical incident occurred when a student's fingers made contact with the bare pins of a power plug adaptor before the plug was fully removed from the socket. The adaptor was of an old design without partial shielding of the pins. It was also very small, which brought the fingers in closer to the pins.

The pamphlet 'Electrical Safety – A user guide to the safe use of electrical equipment on UWA premises' outlines the following points which are relevant in this incident:

  • It is essential to avoid contact with electrical conductors.
  • Insulated – pin power plugs are compulsory on all new electrical equipment to prevent possible finger contact with live terminals.
  • The electrical safety of private laptop computers is the responsibility of those students, visitors and staff who bring them to UWA.
  • Laptops should be visually inspected for damage.
  • Leads must not create a trip hazard.

Laptop users with equipment originating in countries other than Australia must check with the manufacturer's requirements regarding the compatibility of plugs, power supplies and adaptors. This equipment must comply with the relevant Australian standards.

For more information on this issue, read our Electrical Safety Pamphlet.

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Developments in safety management

The Safety and Health website now provides access to a draft generic University Safety Manual that is intended for adaption to specific areas.

It contains instructions for use and addresses the policies of the University in addition to providing assistance with adaption for use in specific areas. It also provides an objectives page which prompts the steps required to implement a safe system of work including creation of safety committees.

This provides the means by which individuals can demonstrate due diligence, which is a fundamental requirement in the proposed new harmonisation legislation. This is particularly applicable to those who will be regarded as 'Officers'.

A flowchart to be used as the basis for activity or task planning is also provided as are other related pro-forma documents.

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University Safety Committee

Annual report 2010 – now available

The University Safety Committee Annual Report 2010 is now available at the University Safety Committee page.

The report provides information on:

  • incidents and injuries – by work area, types, trends, current and proposed reduction strategies
  • Employee Assistance Program – external and internal providers, usage
  • new and revised policies, procedures and guidelines – for implementation (as appropriate)
  • USC-related business – items referred and actions taken
  • safety-related training, minor works funding and internal audit program
  • safety awards – acknowledging safety and health initiatives, successful implementation of processes and outstanding service by groups and individuals.

University Safety Committee

The University Safety Committee last met on Tuesday 12 April 2011. The next meeting is on Tuesday 14 June 2011. Approved minutes from previous meetings are available from the University Safety Committee page.

Previous Safety and Health newsletters

For those who have missed out on our earlier editions, copies of previous newsletters are available. All are encouraged to share relevant safety information in each edition to the rest in your respective workplaces.

The University of Western Australia
Safety and Health M350
Phone (+61 8) 8 6488 3938
Fax (+61 8) 6488 1179

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