Category Archives: Uncategorized

Button down before it costs you your child

Button batteries may sound harmless but in the hands of your child, they can be deadly. Around 20 young children are admitted to emergency departments in Australia each week due to a button battery related injury. This can be extremely stressful and upsetting for parents and their young ones.

Young children can’t help but be curious about their surroundings. They will explore their world by putting anything and everything in their mouths. Button batteries are the size of a small coin and they are attractive to young children as they are bright and shiny. If they get their fingers on this, they can swallow it in a matter of seconds!

If swallowed, button batteries can be extremely harmful and cause irreversible damage such as severe internal burns and bleeding (due to a chemical reaction) if not removed within 2 hours.

Do you have remote controls, electronic toys, calculators and watches in your house? If so, it’s time to button down to help keep your child safe using these simple steps:

  • Buy products/toys that don’t require button batteries or look for products that require a screwdriver to open the battery compartment
  • Keep devices that contain batteries on high shelves out of reach
  • Keep spare batteries confined in containers and out of reach of children
  • Throw away unused batteries safely outside the house
  • Spread the word to friends and family, particularly those likely to babysit, about button battery safety

If a battery is missing from its device and you notice your child is experiencing chest pain, coughing or vomiting (with traces of blood), decreased appetite, abdominal pain and general discomfort, call the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 immediately.

Button down around the house and think button battery safety so your child can explore safely!

Submitted by
Mandy Lam

The price of beauty

Straight hair has become an increasingly popular trend. Chemical hair straightening and more recently Keratin hair straightening is a popular means to tame the frizz. You as hairdressers are exposed to these chemicals repeatedly throughout the day every day as they treat one client after the other. Have you ever stopped to think about the price of your client’s beauty? Not the amount the pay but the risk it poses to your health.

It is well known that over the years that formaldehyde has received a bad wrap, several products were discontinued due to their high risk.  Formaldehyde free products have recently been marketed as safer as they are less hazardous. It has however been found that manufacturers are substituting formaldehyde with other chemicals. These are however not necessarily less hazardous. Chemicals that have been substituted include:  Methylene Glycol, Formalin, Methylene Oxide, Paraform, Formic Aldehyde, Methanal, Oxomethena, Oxomethylene or CAS Number 50-00-0 (OSHA, 2018)

Although the ingredients don’t contain formaldehyde and sound like they are ‘formaldehyde free’, when Methylene Glycol is mixed with water and exposed to high heat, formaldehyde is released into the air. This is not only inhaled by the customer but you, the stylists/ hairdressers.

Formaldehyde and similar chemicals are predominantly absorbed through the respiratory system. Even in low doses, formaldehyde poses a risk to adverse health affects. These include both acute and chronic illness. Complaints raised by hairdressers include: burning eyes and throat, watery eyes, a dry mouth, reduced or loss of smell, numb fingers, dermatitis and epiglottitis. formaldehyde has also been linked to several cancers with high levels of exposure which is most likely to effect the hairdressers (Boyer et al., 2013).

There are many ways that you can product yourself and other employees. Salon owners should implement the following hazard reduction techniques including: checking the ingredients of the product to ensure no chemicals listed above are included, ensuring employees are aware of the risks and understand data sheets It is important that there is adequate ventilation, opening a door or putting on a fan is not sufficient. Hairdressers should also reduce the heat from the hair dryer directed onto the chemical and personal protective equipment such as gloves and a mask should be provided to all hairdressers in the salon. It’s not too late to start protecting our workforce (OSHA, 2018).


Boyer, I. J., Heldreth, B., Bergfeld, W. F., Belsito, D. V., Hill, R. A., Klaassen, C., D, . . . Anderson, A. F. (2013). Amended Safety Assessment of Formaldehyde and Methylene Glycol as Used in Cosmetics. International Journal of Toxicology, 31(4).

OSHA (2018). Hair Salons: Facts about Formaldehyde in Hair Products. Safety and Health Topics.
Retrieved from:

Submitted by
Kerry Jechilevsky



A bit of housework won’t hurt you! Or could it?

I can’t recall the number of times I have heard my mum extoll the virtues (provide a lecture) of the importance of regularly cleaning your oven.  More than once, she has used the rationale that an unclean oven is hazardous, explaining potential fire and smoke risks to both the cook as well as the food.  But what are there hazards when we DO clean our ovens?

The main ingredient in commercial oven cleaning products is sodium hydroxide, commonly known as caustic soda or lye.  Sodium hydroxide is a highly corrosive chemical that can cause severe skin burns and eye damage upon contact.  It can cause serious damage to the respiratory tract if inhaled, resulting in extreme pain to the nose and throat.  And although unlikely when properly used and stored, if the product is ingested it can cause corrosion to the gastrointestinal tract.  Think about your pets and children!

Other common chemicals in oven cleaners include Diethylene glycol monobutyl ether and 2- Aminoethanol, which are classified as irritant chemicals and cause eye and skin irritation and add to the effects of the sodium hydroxide. As oven cleaners are aerosols they contain Butane gas, which is extremely flammable and may explode if it gets too hot.

The good news is that all of these harmful risks can be controlled.  Now that you are aware of the hazards, you can use the hierarchy of controls below to determine the risk control method that works best for you.  You could:

  • eliminate all the hazards by using a natural solution that doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals, such as vinegar, bi-carb soda and water.
  • substitute by using an alternative non-toxic commercial product.
  • Implement administration controls such as following the directions for use and storage e.g. Use in a well ventilated area, store appropriately.
  • Wear personal protective equipment (PPE) – long gloves, eye protection, a suitable face mask and protective clothing.


Be Safe, Be Clean and enjoy your smoke free dinner!

Submitted by Sally Hibbert

Managing patients who have been administered chemotherapy

Administration of chemotherapy may be in several ways, such as, intravenously or orally. The chemotherapy treatment will expose the caregiver with potential exposure to side effects up to seven days post administration. Guidelines have been provided from South Australia (SA) Health on management of waste post chemotherapy treatment for the caregiver, to ensure that the caregiver health is not compromised.

The waste products from the body processes means that the chemical is expelled via the hepatic and renal systems as well as through other organs, such as the skin and the gastrointestinal system such as vomitus.

Assess the risk

The hierarchy of risk control

All local institutions should process the hierarchy of risk control  when considering the use of chemotherapy in accordance with SA Health. The treatment exposes all workers with potential harmful side effects, that maybe immediate or long term.

Risk assessment is required on the safe management of waste products produced by patients, who have been administered with chemotherapy drugs and who will need to be nursed in a variety of locations. Where information not available, not a legal requirement as it is part of the therapeutic to provide information regarding the agent.

Examination of the hazards

To eliminate or replace this risk, is the first choice, however this is not possible. Therefore management of the waste will need to be part of a risk management process by isolating the individual and using appropriate and separate waste bins that will be treated differently by all, and are easily identifiable.

As patients’ waste needs to be managed by caregivers, they need to be provided with protection. Policies are created based on SA Health protocols on the reduction of exposure by providing single use personal protective equipment, such as eye glasses, purple gloves and gowns, all of which will be used on all encounters for staff to protect themselves. Ongoing training, and availability to the latest information should be available and known how to access it all times.

Submitted by Cobie George


Latex can act as potential threat not just to health workers but multiple other occupational workers like those working in hair salons, food warehouses, laundromats, toy factories, glove manufacturing units, laboratories and even affect in day to day domestic settings while dishwashing etcetera. Latex in itself has an organic origin and is extracted from trees, shrubs but the addition of certain chemicals like mercaptobenzothiazole, thiurams and carbamates with the intent of making it a stronger, stretchable and durable product acts as the hazard or in other words primary source of the allergic reactions (Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, 2018).
Research has also found that nearly 50% of the people having Latex Allergy can also have allergies to food items like tomatoes, avocados, nuts, bananas (American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, 2018). Allergy to latex can be either triggered by direct contact of latex with skin or indirect contact through inhaling airborne latex particles. Symptoms can range from rashes, blisters to runny nose, itchy eyes and throat. Asthmatic symptoms like coughing, wheezing can also be encountered in some. Severe reactions can lead to swelling of lips, face and the airways (American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology,2014).
The good news is that we can avoid it by replacing latex in settings to non-latex products (vinyl or synthetic). Other precautions include handwashing after glove removal, vacuum to clear dust and periodic screening for allergies.
Having awareness around the fact that repeated exposures can worsen the severity of episodes and cautiously carrying epinephrine pens to avoid any emergency episodes might be some other helpful tools. Important message here is to let your doctor know before a procedure (if you are sensitive) and consult an allergist or immunologist for an expert advise. Go latex-free and keep safe!!
To know more about allergy testing visit

Submitted by Priyanka Bhat

79,000 children harmed by a common household product

79,000 children were harmed by pesticides containing butane, propane and other chemicals within reach of children (EPA, 2018).
The safety data sheet of a commonly used household pesticide in Australia, Mortein, states butane and propane as the larger ingredients and identifies the product as flammable, and causing skin corrosion/ irritation (rb, 2016). In the United States of America five sudden deaths had occurred due to the inhalation of nonhalogenated hydrocarbons including butane and propane (Rohrig, 1997).
Children can be exposed to butane, propane and other harmful ingredients in pesticides either directly during play and exploration because of storing pesticides within reach in unlocked cabinets or counters following use or indirectly after entering a room where the pesticide was recently sprayed or by consuming uncovered food or using utensils which came in contact with pesticides.

Better Health Victoria (2018) advises consumers to:
When deciding to use pesticides to
• Eliminate or reduce the use of pesticides if it’s unrealistic to keep your house pest free
• Substitute the use of harmful pesticides with safer non-chemical-based control measures and if use of chemical pesticides is necessary use the least toxic, the least amount needed and the exact type necessary for the type of pest you’re targeting
• Obtain the safety data sheet for the pesticide you intend to use
When storing and handling pesticides to
• Store the pesticides in their original containers in a locked cabinet away from food stuff or utensils and follow manufacturer’s safety data sheet
• Use gloves, masks and/or other protective equipment as directed by the manufacturer when using their product
• When using the product, do not eat, drink or smoke
• Wash your hands following usage
Be ready for an emergency
• Emergency 000
• Victorian Poison Information Centre: 13 11 26
• Nearest hospital emergency unit

Contributed by Akram Bekzada

Better Health Victoria. (2018). Pest control in the home. Retrieved from

EPA. (2018). Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Pesticides’ Impact on Indoor Air Quality. Retrieved from

rb. (2016). Safety Data Sheet: Mortein Fast Knockdown Export Aerosol. Retrieved from

Rohrig, T. P. (1997). Sudden Death Due to Butane Inhalation. The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, 18(3), 299-302.

Are Spot-on Flea Treatments safe for Humans?

If you’re like me, you hate seeing your pet suffer the pain and discomfort of fleas, not to mention the fact that they bite humans too! Many vets (including the telegenic TV ones) recommend spot-on treatments sold at vet practices or veterinary specialist stores. Spot-on treatments are also widely promoted on social media so the provision of sound safety information on these platforms is of paramount importance.
I decided to road test Advantage which is a popular brand (and the one I use on my cats). Advantage contains Imidacloprid and benzyl alcohol and is classified as a hazardous substance and a dangerous good when transported by sea or air.

Flea treatments

The Safety Data Sheet indicates that Imidacloprid is harmful if inhaled or swallowed and may be irritating to the eyes. However, the instruction leaflet in the Advantage packaging does not advise that protective gloves need to be worn “under normal conditions of use” which is presumed to mean for its domestic use. The labelling contains a caution to keep out of reach of children, to read safety directions and warns that it is “for animal treatment only”.
Applying Advantage is a fiddly business given the small size of the tube and the difficulty in simultaneously holding the cat still, parting the fur to find a small patch of skin and deftly squeezing the liquid contents onto her neck. It’s quite difficult to avoid getting the product on your fingers. It is therefore extremely important to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water immediately after use.
The liquid is viscous. You often notice that the patch of fur around the squeeze site becomes damp and remains like this for some time. It may therefore be advisable to apply the product when children are out of the house or asleep. I often find myself needing to wash my hands several times after applying the product.

Care is needed in disposing of Advantage as it is classified as an environmentally hazardous substance.

Have you ever considered acupuncture or dry needling?

If so, have you thought about the possible exposure of chemicals and consequential health outcomes?

Within Australia, The Therapeutic Goods Administration regulates acupuncture needles into Class IIa medical devices in contrast to Class I, ranked the lowest risk available. Acupuncture is commonly performed in Traditional Chinese Medicine; however complementary medicine practitioners also utilize acupuncture needles for dry needling. Complementary medicine has become widely utilized within Australia with 32.3 million consultations over a 12 month period. (Xue, Zhang, Lin, Myers, Polus & Story 2008).

So what are the possible risks and consequences?
An Australian study reported (Xie, Xu, Zhang & Xue, 2014). “Significant irregularities and inconsistencies in acupuncture needle surfaces”, reporting defective tips, metal lump fragments which disappeared after insertion, contaminants such as silicone gel, oil, chromium, copper, ferrous and nickel were also detected, thereby implicating systemic contact dermatitis in susceptible or unsuspecting patients. (Yoko & Tadamichi, 2012). Findings related to silicone contamination, needle coverings have been implicated in the development of epithelioid granuloma. (Yanagihara, Fujii, Wakamatu, Ishizaki, Takehara & Nawate, 2000).
Pre-packaged, single-use, disposable acupuncture needles are commonly sterilized using Ethylene-oxide gas (EO). Regrettably (EO) has also been identified as a skin sensitizer further predisposing allergic reaction. The negative reports and study findings may reflect the patient experience (Macpherson & Thomas 2005), “pain and bruising at the site of needling in 29.7% of patients”.
Further safety, quality and performance control of acupuncture needles as a medical device has been suggested in the worldwide literature. (Xie, Xu, Zhang & Xue, 2014). Increasing practitioner and public awareness into the research will enable practitioners to report defective devices and adverse patient events, guiding safe informed practice whilst upholding patient safety.

Xue, C., Zhang, A., Lin, V., Myers, R., Polus, B., & Story, D. (2008). Acupuncture, chiropractic and osteopathy use in Australia: A national population survey. BMC Public Health, 8(1), 105-105.
Xie, Y., Xu, S., Zhang, C., & Xue, C. (2014). Examination of surface conditions and other physical properties of commonly used stainless steel acupuncture needles. Acupuncture in Medicine, 32(2), 146.
Yoko Yoshihisa, & Tadamichi Shimizu. (2012). Metal Allergy and Systemic Contact Dermatitis: An Overview. Dermatology Research and Practice, 2012, Dermatology Research and Practice, 01 January 2012, Vol.2012.
Macpherson, H., & Thomas, K. (2005). Short term reactions to acupuncture – a cross-sectional survey of patient reports. Acupuncture in Medicine, 23(3), 112-120.
Yanagihara, M., Fujii, T., Wakamatu, N., Ishizaki, H., Takehara, T., & Nawate, K. (2000). Silicone granuloma on the entry points of acupuncture, venepuncture and surgical needles. Journal of Cutaneous Pathology, 27(6), 301-305.
Hayhoe, S., Mccrossan, Smith, Ellis, Croft, & Mei. (2002). Single-use acupuncture needles: Scanning electron-microscopy of needle-tips. Acupuncture in Medicine, 20(1), 11-8.
Ethylene oxide: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Retrieved from:
Images: Taken by Andrea Ormazabal, 2017.
Written by – Andrea Ormazabal

Professor Alan Hedge presentations Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane

Professor Alan Hedge will be giving presentations in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane from July 13-20 2017.

Professor Hedge will discuss

• Why sitting isn’t so bad for you
• The latest task chair research from Cornell University
• Standing postures; how to prevent a whole new level of discomfort and injury • Why implementing an ergonomics program should be a priority strategy

The sessions will be held in Canberra (13th July) , Brisbane (17th July), Melbourne (18th July), Sydney (20th July).


Alan Hedge has over 30 years of ergonomics design and usability consulting experience and is internationally acknowledged as a leader in the field of human factors and ergonomics. His research and teaching focus on issues of ergonomic product design, ergonomic workplace design and workplace ergonomics as these affect the health, comfort and productivity of workers.

Please contact for more details/RSVP:
ph: 0409 691 727

Manicure and pedicure services and hazardous materials

Target audience:

Workers who provide manicure and pedicure services in nail salon specifically those that have not undertaken formal training such as certificate II in Nail Technology. They have little understanding of hazardous chemicals in their workplace and are often young workers who would use social media in their spare time.

Do you work in a beauty or nail salon as  a nail technician? Have you experienced any the short term effects from the table below while at work. If so, you are suffering the side effects of hazardous chemicals in your workplace.

 Some hazardous chemicals found in nail salons are:     

Ingredient Usage Short term effect   Long term effect
Acetone Nail polish removers Headaches, dizziness, nausea, and irritation of the eyes, skin, nose, mouth and throat Effects the kidneys, blood,

liver and nervous system

Butyl acetate Nail polishes Eye irritation and redness and scaling of the skin
Ethyl acetate Nail polishes Irritation of the eyes, stomach, skin, nose, mouth and throat, confusion Dermatitis


Formaldehyde Nail polishes Difficulty breathing, allergic reactions, irritation of the eyes, skin and throat Cancer, respiratory diseases, and dermatitis


Tosylamide formaldehyde resin Nail hardeners Eye and skin irritation Skin sensitization

Table 1. a list of some of the hazardous chemicals found in nail salons. Adapted from New York State Department of health (2016). Review of chemicals used in nail salon, 15-17. Retrieved from

The ways you can be exposed to these chemicals:

  • Working with nail products that do not list their ingredients on the bottle as you will not know what you are being exposed to (United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 2016).
  • If your workstation does not have good air flow such as open doors and fans, the chemical fumes will build up and be breathed in (United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 2016).
  • Not disposing of chemically saturated waste into a lidded bin immediately after use will create more fumes into the air (United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 2016).
  • Not wearing gloves when providing services can allow these chemicals to be absorbed through the skin or open sores (Department of Women, 2000).
  • Not washing hands before eating or drinking can contaminate your food and be digested (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2007).
  • Not cleaning up spills immediately can increase the amount of fumes being generated (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2007).
  • Using excessive amounts of product when performing services can increase the amount fumes generated (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2007).

If you have any of these symptoms or concerns please consult your doctor.


Department of Women. (2000). Nail Technician’s Tips for Health & Safet. Retrieved from

United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2016). Health Hazards in Nail Salons. Retrieved from

United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2007). Protecting the Health of Nail Salon Workers. Retrieved from

York State Department of health. (2016). Review of chemicals used in nail salon. Retrieved from

Pao-Chi Huang

Manicure and pedicure services

Manicure and pedicure services