$1.36 million dollars is not much …

916120-kate-mathews.jpgwhen you have endured two years of offensive remarks or conduct, including a rape threat and has not been able to work since July 2010.

It’s taken 5 years, but Kate Mathews was successful with her Victorian Supreme Court Case.

In the words of Maurice Blackburn senior associate Holly Pinnis

“Kate was subject to behaviour no one should ever have to endure. The fact that this happened at her workplace under her employer’s nose makes it all the more shocking.”

“This case puts all employers on notice. If you have an employee being harassed and bullied, you can’t sit on your hands. “

Further reading

Kitchen sinks

I’m not talking about my house sharing experiences here*, but work places.

It’s a problem.  People think that the cleaners, their mum or even magic elves will magically clean up after them.

Apparently not.

Dirty dishes are not stored in the sink
Caution.  Clean dishs and cutley can be beneficial to your health.

* – a future post.

They are already suffering a greater punishment than any of us could administer with judgement.

rbftag.jpgIt’s the distractions which harm or kill us.  Consider the following:

The link between all these, is the distractions which occurred.

A study published in June 2002 titled “The Stressed Hippocampus, Synaptic Plasticity and Lost Memories” concludes in part

“Stress, a naturalistic factor that contributes to memory impairments, constitutes a significant problem in today’s increasingly populous and long-living society.”

Or to put it another way:

‘The important factors that keep showing up involve a combination of stress, emotion, lack of sleep and change in routine, where the basal ganglia is trying to do what it’s supposed to do, and the conscious mind is too weakened to resist. What happens is that the memory circuits in a vulnerable hippocampus literally get overwritten, like with a computer program. Unless the memory circuit is rebooted—such as if the child cries, or, you know, if the wife mentions the child in the back—it can entirely disappear.’
– Professor David Diamond in a March 2009 Washington Post article

What lessons can be learnt?

  1. Remember that making a mistaking or error can happen to anyone, including you.
  2. Tiredness is your enemy.  If you are tired, you are more likely to make a mistake.
  3. Be aware of distractions.  Eliminate distractions as much as possible.
  4. Use memory aides, or checklists, as needed.
    (I’m a great believer in “Remove Before Flight” streamers.


The blog post title was borrowed from a post at On The Floor @Dove.

On having a Mind Like Water and STOPing

125314079_art-poster-print---zen-moment---artist-colin-anderson--- As part of the Getting Things Done methodology, David Allen talks about the martial arts concept of having a Mind Like Water.  I was talking to a friend the other day about it.  I mangled the quote at the time Jules, so here is the actual quote:

Imagine throwing a peddle into a still pond.  How does the water respond?  The answer is, totally appropriately to the force and mass of the input; then it returns to calm.  It doesn’t over-react or under-react.
– David Allen

Zendictive has a better version of the parable.  And some advice on controlling feelings.

From Zen Psychiatry, the STOP acronym:
Stop when you realise you’re about to get hijacked by your reaction.
Take a Breath
Observe how your body is reacting.
Proceed when you’ve done the first three (STO)

Tamper evident seals on fire extinguishers

Tamper seal I like tamper evident seals on fire extinguishers, I really do.  It allows for a quick visual check to see if someone has grabbed a fire extinguisher, used it and put it back without telling someone.

Particularly in the case of CO2 fire extinguishers, where the complimentary use of them is “cooling beer cans” .

Fire extinguishers in Australian Office Buildings

NCC 2013 - Cover - Volume 1 Spent the morning looking at the number of fire extinguishers needed in an Australian office building (ie. a Class 5 building).

Here’s the process I followed  as a Health and Safety Representative:

First I grabbed a copy of the Building Code of Australia.  It’s also known as the National Construction Code Series.  From that I find out that:

  1. Part E1.6 – Portable fire extinguishers
    Portable fire extinguishers must be provided as listed in Table E1.6 and must be selected, located and distributed in accordance with Sections 1, 2, 3 and 4 of AS2444
  2. Table E1.6 Requirements for extinguishers talks about the types of extinguishers required, not the number.
  3. So we need to open a copy of Australian Standard 2444 – Portable fire extinguishers and fire blankets – Selection and location.
    Section 4 – Distribution of portable fire extinguishers in buildings is the section I need.

And that’s where things start to get rubbery.

  • Is the fire risk a Class A risk or a Class B risk?
  • What is the fire hazard level?
  • Is the fire extinguisher(s) the primary protection or a complementary protection?
    Complementary protection is “where fire extinguishers are provided to complement a fixed automatic fire suppression system complying with the requirements of AS 2118 (all parts) or AS 4214 (all parts), extinguishers shall be distributed in accordance with Table 4.x”

So we look at the relevant Table to see what we need:
Table 4.1

Yes, I’ve blurred the details out.  Go buy your own copies of the relevant Australian Standards.

AS 1851-2012 Routine service of fire protection systems and equipment
AS 2444—2001 Portable fire extinguishers and fire blankets—Selection and location
National Construction Code Series – Building Code of Australia

Australian Standards and Occupational Health and Safety.

I was looking though some OH&S training notes, and this explanation of how Australian Standards are used with OH&S laws in Victoria, seems quite useful:

Australian standards outline the minimum requirements that assist any organisation to achieve it’s minimum regulatory requirements.  They are vehicles for communication between producers and users, establishing a common language, which defines quality and establishes safety criteria.

There are over 6000 Standards maintained by approximately 9000 volunteer experts serving on around 1700 technical committees, supported by a full-time staff of 280.  Standards give you extra information related to health and safety in the workplace that are not included or detailed in either regulations or codes of practice.”

-CGU Safety and Risk Services – 5 Day HSR Course 2012

OH&S question: “Are there limits on what we’re allowed to lift?”

Which, is often followed by “I thought there was a 15kg limit”.

Long story, short (in Victoria Australia), there isn’t any.

But ….

However, the Regulations require the employer to identify any task which involves hazardous manual handling, and then take actions to either eliminate or reduce the hazard and/or the associated risks. The Regulations include any task requiring the ‘application of high force’ as hazardous manual handling.
OHS Reps @ Work: Weight limits – what are the legal limits for lifting?

The following references might also be useful:

A guide to Handling large, bulk or awkward items
Code of Proactive for Manual Handling, Part 3
Manual Order Picking  (talks about "safe" lift zones)
Moving and Lifting Objects
Children’s Services – OH&S Kit

Western Australia:
OHS in Commercial Laundries and Drycleaners