Tag Archives: health and wellbeing

Flexible working practices – helping to make work good for us


Victoria Weale, a staff member and PhD student in the Centre for Ergonomics, Safety and Health was the recent winner of the Three Minute Thesis competition at the International Ergonomics Association Triennial Congress. Congratulations Victoria!

Victoria says:

“My research looks at work life balance and its effects on the health and wellbeing of workers in residential aged care. Addressing imbalances can create work that is good for us by enhancing workers’ health and wellbeing. This can aid recruitment and retention of people into this essential, growing sector.”

Below is the script from her winning presentation:

Work life balance. If you work, it’s probably on your mind. How much you’re working, and how it’s affecting you and those around you. With changes in technology and the pressure to do more at work, it’s one of the pressing issues of our time.

My research is looking at work life balance and its effects on the health and wellbeing of workers in residential aged care. This is a growing industry sector because as a nation, we’re getting older. We want our loved ones, and ourselves, to be cared for by people who are healthy, and enjoy and are committed to their work. But as the population ages, this sector will need more workers, and how can we encourage people into this physically and emotionally demanding work, and then make them want to stay there?

We know that work can be good or bad for our health, so, we want to strive towards work that enhances workers’ health and wellbeing. This can result in huge positive impacts, not just for the worker, but also for their family and society.

The use of flexible work practices that support employees to achieve a good work life balance is one way to ensure that the work is good work, which can improve people’s health and welling. My research will identify the flexible work practices that are used in residential aged care and examine the relationships between work life balance and outcomes such as health, job satisfaction, and other indicators of wellbeing.

So far I’ve found that whilst there are lots of challenges for staff working in this sector, there are also many positives, such as the fact that many workers have significant control over the number of hours they work, and when they work them. This flexibility is highly valued by staff as it allows them to combine work with their important non-work activities, which for some people, enables them to participate in the workforce.

The next step is to analyse questionnaire data, and I’m expecting to see relationships between work life balance and indicators of health and wellbeing.

The results of my work can be used to inform policy relating to the use of flexible working practices, so that for these essential care workers, the load is lightened and difficult work is made better. By designing work to enhance workers’ health and wellbeing, people will want to come into the sector and stay there. Surely this should be a priority for us all, as it’s these hard working men and women who will to look after us and our loved ones in our last few years of life.

Everything under the kitchen sink


As OHS professionals our number one focus is creating and maintaining a safe working environment for others. A colleague of mine once said “ You must live and breathe safety’ to be successful in this industry”.

Currently on hiatus from the profession, I got to thinking: Do we use learnt principles and practices to protect the ones we love most in our own homes? Chemical storage is a huge issue in the workplace and is highly regulated but at home I’m sure we all just throw it in a cupboard without even thinking.

Take a look under your kitchen sink, how many potential hazards can you identify? My cupboard alone holds 17 different domestic and commercial cleaning chemicals none of which I have ever checked their storage requirements.

To check how non compliant I was, I searched the web for MSDS’s for all of the products I have and was in for a bit of a shock.

Did you know that a particular brand of dishwasher tablets should not be stored with some other brands of dishwasher tablets or bleach products? And Fly spray should not be stored anywhere near any heat or ignition sources? One MSDS stated ‘Do not mix with household chemicals’.

The main issues I discovered was the actual kitchen sink– storage of most chemicals is not recommended in an unventilated cupboard, under a sink (near water) or next to a dishwasher (both a heat and ignition source also).

Did you know Dish Washing liquid should be stored in a cool, dry well ventilated space and Spray N Wipe, bleach and fly spray should not be stored near any ignition source?

The other issue was finding MSDS’s without my usual resources and as a domestic user of these products would seem a near impossible task.

The information found was not consistent and at time difficult to navigate. Storage requirements range from the basic ‘Store in original container’ to a paragraph about different potential storage conditions.

If I was to comply with all of the 17 different storage requirements, I would need to re build.

I opt for the highest level of control– I’m eliminating the risk and hiring a cleaner!


Chemwatch. (2008). Kiwi Marveer Aerosol Furniture Polish.   Retrieved from http://huntind.com.au/pdf/msds/marveer_furniture_polish.pdf

Clorox Australia. (2004). Gumption Multi Purpose Cleanser.   Retrieved from http://thegoods.com.au/sites/default/files/Kimberley Clark – Gumption – msds – Exp Apr 2016.pdf

Colgate-Palmolive. (2014). Material Safety Data Sheet Ajax Professional Mould Remover.   Retrieved from http://www.colgate.com.au/Colgate/AU/Corp_v2/ContactUs/MSDS/pdf/Ajax_Professional_Mould_Remover_2014.pdf

Colgate-Palmolive. (2012). Material Safety Data Sheet Ajax Spray N Wipe Antibacterial.   Retrieved from http://statewideclean.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Ajax-Spray-n-Wipe-Antibacterial.pdf

Colgate-Palmolive. (2010). Safety Data Sheet Morning Fresh Washing Up Liquid   Retrieved from http://www.sevron.co.uk. Retrieved 23 August 2015 http://www.sevron.co.uk

Colgate-Palmolive (2011). Material Safety Data Sheet Palmolive Regular Dishwashing Liquid.   Retrieved from http://www.colgate.com.au/Colgate/AU/Corp_v2/ContactUs/MSDS/pdf/PO_DrySkin_Dish.pdf

DuPont. (2013). Material Safety Data Sheet DuPont Heavy Duty Stone & Tile Floor Cleaner   Retrieved from https://www.3eonline.com/ImageServer/NewPdf/650ad986-a4ba-4cf6-8d32-38ac21281f37/650ad986-a4ba-4cf6-8d32-38ac21281f37.pdf. 3eonline Retrieved 23 August 2105, from 3eonline https://www.3eonline.com/ImageServer/NewPdf/650ad986-a4ba-4cf6-8d32-38ac21281f37/650ad986-a4ba-4cf6-8d32-38ac21281f37.pdf

Milestone Chemicals. (2012). Material Safety Data Sheet Lemon Bleach.   Retrieved from http://www.milestonechemicals.com.au/pages/msds/

Pental. (2011). Material Safety Data Sheet White King Power Clean Bathroom Gel.   Retrieved from http://www.whiteking.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/White-King-Power-Clean-Bathroom-Gel.pdf

Proctor & Gamble. (2014). Safety Data Sheet P & G Professional 2 Fairy Professional Original.   Retrieved from http://www.pgpro.co.uk/_assets/media/msds/sds_pg_pa00185068_adw_pgp_h318_clp_gb-ir_en_pg professional 2 fairy professional original-1.pdf

How safe is your bug spray?

How safe is your bug spray?

Insect killer, bug spray, also known as insecticides and pesticides. If household bug spray can kill an insect, what damage is it doing to your pets, your family and you?

Mortein Fast Knockdown Multi Insect Killer and Raid One Shot Flying Insect Killer are commonly used household aerosols that can be bought at your local supermarket. It is important to find out the effects the chemicals may have in your household.

These products are aerosols and can affect you and your family through inhalation and skin absorption. More detail and how to use a product safely is through finding the chemical’s Safety Data Sheet (SDS). This was easily found on the Mortein website however the Raid SDS was only supplied for a similar product. Both of these state not to inhale, and to avoid contact with skin and eyes. It is important the safety directions are followed as over-exposure can lead to coughing, and skin, eye and respiratory tract irritation.

The same approach to protect humans from insect killer applies to your pets as well. However in regards to your fish, these insect killers are toxic to aquatic life therefore cover your fish tanks or reconsider using around them.

To avoid adverse effects, read and follow the labels on the aerosol can. After reviewing both insect killers they detail the relevant information in line with their SDS’s on how to use, precautions, first aid, and storage and disposal. These need to be noted as they give an indication of the harm the chemical can do.

To keep you and your family safe, before buying a new household chemical, have a think if it’s really needed and remember to follow the safety instructions.


Reckitt Bensckiser. (2012). Safety Data Sheet Mortein Fast Knockdown Multi Insect Killer Aerosol. Retrived from http://www.rb-msds.com.au/uploadedFiles/pdf/Mortein%20Fast%20Knockdown%20Multi%20Insect%20Killer%20Aero-v10-30770.pdf

Diversey. (2011). Material Safety Data Sheet Raid Commercial Insecticide Fast Kill Fly and Insect Killer. Retrieved from http://www.completecleaning.com.au/content/MSDS/Diversey/Raid_Commercial_Insecticide_Fast_Kill_Fly_and_Insect_Killer_1111.pdf


Many of us enjoy the pleasures of cooking on a gas barbeque. Some of us even spend significant time with food preparation to achieve that perfect steak or lamb chop. But are we distracted by what’s happening on the barbeque grill plate whilst being completely oblivious to the potential dangers below it? Are we aware of the related risks posed by the interaction with a hazardous chemical substance such as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG)?

These are just a few questions that need to be considered when using LPG.

This chemical substance is highly flammable, produces acrid smoke and irritating fumes. Direct contact with skin can cause cold burns and serious tissue damage. If vapors are inhaled it may cause nausea, dizziness, headaches, drowsiness and other asphyxiant (respiratory) affects. High levels of exposure can lead to loss of consciousness and nervous system issues.

LPG can form an explosive combination with air or other substances if the LPG cylinder or fittings leak.

It is critical that LPG cylinders and fittings are checked regularly. Damaged, rusty or out-of-date gas cylinders can affect the integrity of the gas supply to your barbeque and may result in serious injury or property damage.

Lui Bonadio_17953160_assignsubmission_file_Barbeque LPG Cylinder

These dangers can be avoided by following a few simple safety checks:

  • Ensure your barbecue and LPG cylinder has an Australian safety certification
  • Only use LPG cylinders in well ventilated areas
  • Check condition of LPG cylinder for damage, leaks or rust
  • Ensure LPG cylinder is in-date and stamped (must be replaced every 10 years)
  • Always have the LPG cylinder in the upright position and appropriately stored in accordance with Australian Standards
  • Ensure fittings such as regulator and hose are properly connected
  • When not in use, turned off gas supply at both the cylinder and barbecue.

These are just a few tips to ensure that the only thing that gets cooked on your next barbeque is your steak and not you!


Parents: Do your hands look like this from washing, cleaning and repeated hand washing after changing nappies?

Finger dermatitis

How many times a day do your hands get wet or come into contact with soaps detergents, cleaning products?

When handwashing with soaps or using cleaning products we are exposed to many types of substances which may lead to localised skin irritation and inflammation, called contact dermatitis.

There are 2 types; irritant contact dermatitis (often cumulative exposure to substances) and allergic contact dermatitis (may be caused by sensitisers/allergens).

It can be acute lasting for days or chronic lasting months and years.

Symptoms include red itchy skin. Sometimes papules and blisters develop and if chronic can lead to painful cracks in the skin.

Have you tried every moisturiser/hand cream on the market? What can you do to help control this dermatitis?

  1. Identify which substance is irritating the skin; the cause is often crucial to helping treat the problem. Some of these substances are acids, solvents, latex, isocyanates, acrylates, epoxy resins and potassium dichromate.
  1. Check the labels and pictograms of the products for warnings like; may cause skin irritation, skin sensitisation or skin corrosion.
  1. Remove the irritating substance and replace with a safer substance.
  1. If this is not possible, reduce exposure and limit the time your hands are wet.
  1. Protect yourself by using gloves. Gloves sometimes contribute to the dermatitis (hands become sweaty) and therefore cotton gloves underneath may be appropriate.
  1. If your hands need to get wet or be in contact with a chemical then barrier creams may be useful to apply before exposure. This makes it easier to remove some of the substances that stick to the skin.
  1. Washing hands in warm soapy and thorough drying of the skin water is recommended.
  1. Moisturising is important; sometimes your doctor may give you topical corticosteroids. If the skin is damaged preventing infection is crucial.
  1. If you are concerned seek medical advice.


Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. (2015). OSH Fact Sheet Dermatitis. Retrieved from http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/diseases/dermatitis.html

Keegel T., N. R., LaMontagne AD.,(2012). Exposure to wet work in working Australians. Contact Dermatitis, 66(2), 87-94.

Pharmaceutical Society of Australia.). Eczema and Dermatitis. Retrieved from http://www.chemplus.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Eczema.pdf

Safework Australia SA.). Personal Protection-Contact Dermatitis. Retrieved from


United States Department of Labour. (2015). OSHA Hazard Communication Pictogram. Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/Publications/HazComm_QuickCard_Pictogram.html

Are you making it easy for your child to be poisoned?

Haz Subs Pic

Across Australia each week, around 40 children are admitted to hospital for poisoning. If you have a young child in your home, are you unknowingly allowing them easy access to poisons in your home? Your cleaners, medicines, disinfectants and sprays etc. can all be harmful in the hands of your little one.

As your child grows, so does their curiosity. This leads to their little hands getting into everything and everywhere. If your child gets their hands on a product they can become sick, in some cases dangerously so. To help prevent your child becoming a statistic, it is important to take a few steps to help make your house safer.

  • Ask yourself, when was the last time you used the product, have you ever used it? If the answer is never or years ago, GET RID OF IT.
  • Next time you go shopping, try to find a less harmful product to do the job you want.
  • Do not put chemicals under the sink! Put them up high (above 1.5m), or if they must go in a low cabinet, lock it using a child safety device.
  • Taking the products outside to the shed can help, but you will need to ensure it is locked.
  • Put your medicines away! Medicines account for 70% of all poisoning cases, including your cold and flu medicines and pain killers. And if it’s out of date, throw it away.

It is important to remember if your child is staying at someone else’s house to ask the adult in charge to move their products to a suitable safe place. If they do not have a child living or staying there regularly, it may not be safe for your child to be there unattended.

If the worst does happen and you need help contact 000 or the Poisons Information Line on 131 126   7 days a week 24/7.

Further reading

Raising Children Network (Australia) Limited. (2006-2015). Preventing Poisoning. Retrieved from http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/preventing_poisoning.html

Parents beware! Paediatric poisoning through exposure to laundry detergent capsules (LDCs)

Convenient? Yes! Effortless? Yes!

But these packets of single-use concentrated liquid detergents are finding themselves in the hands of children far too often. Their colourful, squishy candy appearance, with pockets of ‘fruit juice’ in them, is clearly far too enticing for curious kids.

Pick the lollies, pick the LDC capsules

Pick the lollies, pick the LDC capsules

From the 1st January to the 31st of June 2015, the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) recorded 7,184 cases of children 5 years and younger exposed to LDCs. An LDC is the most commonly ingested household product, accounting for 70% of all ingested detergents.

If your child swallows traditional laundry powder, he or she is likely to suffer mild stomach upset. However, if your child ingests a concentrated LDC, symptoms are far worse and include excessive vomiting, coughing, chocking or wheezing; and in some cases, hospitalisation. Records have shown cases where children playing with LDCs have pierced the membrane casing, causing the contents to spray into their eyes, resulting in severe eye irritation. So parents, please remove LDCs from the hands of your children.

How to prevent LDC poisoning:

  • Step 1: If possible, substitute your LDCs with traditional laundry powder.
  • Step 2: If they can’t be substituted, seal the lid and lock your LDCs in a secondary retention. Store them on a secure shelf, out of reach of children.
  • Step 3: Ensure the secure shelf is in a dry, cool and well-ventilated place. This location should be stationary at all times. Storing on a vibrating washing machine is not recommended as the LDCs could dislodge and fall onto the ground (depicted below).
  • Step 4: If possible, educate your children on the dangers of LDCs.

First Aid Measures if your child is exposed to LDCs:

  • IF IN EYES: Rinse cautiously with water for several minutes and if eye irritation persists, seek medical attention.
  • IF SWALLOWED: Immediately drink 1 or 2 glasses of water. If they feel unwell, call a poison centre or medical physician.
  • IF ON SKIN: Rinse with plenty of water and if skin irritation occurs, seek medical attention.



American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC). (2015). Alerts: Laundry detergent packets. Retrieved from http://www.aapcc.org/alerts/laundry-detergent-packets/

Bonney, A. G., Mazor, S., & Goldman, R. D. (2013). Laundry detergent capsules and pediatric poisoning. Canadian Family Physician, 59(12), 1295–1296.

Donnelly, L. (2014, Nov 10). Parents warned over laundry capsule poisoning risks. The Telegram. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/children/11219328/Parents-warned-over-laundry-capsule-poisoning-risks.html

Fraser, L., Wynne, D., Clement W. A., Davidson, M., & Kubba, H. (2012). Liquid detergent capsule ingestion in children: An increasing trend. Arch Dis Child, 97(11), 1007. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22956626

Procter & Gamble. (2015). Safety data sheet: Tide pods – original. Retrieved from http://www.pg.com/productsafety/sds/SDS_2015/TIDE_PODS_-_ORIGINAL.pdf

The problem with laundry detergent pods. (2015, Jul 16). Consumer Reports Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2015/07/the-problem-with-laundry-detergent-pods/index.htm


Oluyomi Oluranti Omibiyi_17953172_assignsubmission_file_IMG_1981

The use of skin lightening or skin bleaching creams is fuelled by the believe that women with light skin tones have a better life—better grades, better boyfriends, better job opportunities. The general view is that these women are treated better by society in every way. What is not spoken about and publicised is the effect of the cream on the health and skin of the individual.

Skin lightening or bleaching is defined as the practice of using chemical substances in an attempt to lighten skin tone or provide an even skin complexion by lessening or inhibiting the concentration of melanin. Some creams contain hydroquinone and mercury which has been found to have adverse effect on the skin and health of the user. Though the use of both chemicals has been banned in many countries, buying from the internet and some unregulated stores are very common.

The long term effect of hydroquinone and mercury on the skin includes:

  • permanent skin bleaching and  thinning of skin
  • uneven colour loss, leading to a blotchy appearance
  • redness, rashes and scarring
  • Kidney damage
  • Skin cancer

A ban on the use of skin lightening creams by the government will help to eradicate the use of these creams. Secondly, educating and providing information of the effect of these chemicals might help to reduce the use of the creams. Another control could be the compulsory labelling of all products clearly stating the ingredients in it and making the packaging less attractive.

Oluyomi Oluranti Omibiyi_17953172_assignsubmission_file_IMG_1984

For further reading





What’s in your garage?


Look into any competitive cyclist/triathlete’s garage and it could be confused with a bike shop. Many of us have bikes for every season, terrain and riding style. We have road bikes and time-trial bikes for racing, cyclocross for inclement weather and winter racing, a retired bike for the indoor trainer, mountain bikes for some downhill fun, a single speed for cruising to the cafe, and then the old bmx from childhood we’re hoping will become a collectors item.

My point is, you have bikes for specific purposes. Is your chain lube fit for purpose too? Or do you just swing for the good old WD40 because it was in the garage anyway? It keeps my doors from squeaking and does the same trick for my chain. But did you know this ubiquitous garage item can be hazardous to our health? WD40 contains chemicals that can be hazardous to our lungs, eyes and skin.

WD40 contains the chemicals Naphtha, Trimethylbenzene and Xylene. All three of these chemicals can cause respiratory and skin irritation. And Trimethylbenzene can also cause serious eye irritation.

So, consider how many times you ride a week, and how often you clean and lubricate your chain. Isn’t it worth keeping your lungs healthy by switching to purpose made non-aerosol, bike specific chain lube?

If you MUST use WD40 make sure you use in a well ventilated area. Preferably outside or at least in a garage with the door open all the way. It’s flammable too so keep the can away from heat and sunlight. WD40 can be fatal if swallowed so keep out of reach of kids and pets .


  1. WD40 Company Australia Pty Ltd. (2014). Safety Data Sheet WD40. Retrieved 2015, from http://www.wd40.com.au/wp-content/downloads/sds-tds/WD-40_Bulk_Liquid_NZ-GHS_SDS.pdf
  2. Total Petrochemicals and Refining USA, Inc. (2015). Material Safety Data Sheet Xylene. Retrieved 2015, from http://www.totalrefiningchemicals.com/SiteCollectionDocuments/Safety%20Datasheet%20Documents/sds_us_mixed_xylenes.pdf
  3. NOVA Chemicals. (2013). Material Safety Data Sheet Naphtha. Retrieved 2015, from http://www.novachem.com/Product%20Documents/Naphtha_MSDS_AMER_EN.pdf
  4. Acros Organics. (2015). Material Safety Data Sheet Trimethylbenzene. Retrieved 2015, from https://www.fishersci.ca/viewmsds.do?catNo=AC140090010

What price will you pay for white teeth?

Home teeth whiteners

In the quest to obtain a beautiful smile, teeth whiteners bought over the counter in pharmacies or the Internet have become a popular and cheap alternative to a dental visit. These products come in many forms, from heat mouldable mouth trays with bleaching gel, prefilled trays, to whitening strips, pens and paint on peroxide gels. But what is the price of beauty?

Two common active ingredients in teeth whitening products are a clear liquid called hydrogen peroxide, or a solid called carbamide peroxide (which delivers hydrogen peroxide). Once the hydrogen peroxide infiltrates the enamel it reacts with the dentin of the stained tooth producing the desired whitening effect.

To achieve that whitening effect you may be getting more than you bargained for.

The side effects can include decreased tooth enamel strength, severe tooth sensitivity, damaged gums and blistering. High concentrations may cause severe irritations and chemical burns to skin, eyes and the inside of your mouth, with lasting effects. If the hydrogen peroxide is swallowed you may even suffer from bleeding of the stomach or oesophagus.

So how do you know that the take- home teeth-whitening product you are buying is safe?

  • The product that you buy should not contain more than 6% hydrogen peroxide or 18% carbamide peroxide
  • You should purchase the teeth whitening kit from a reputable supplier
  • Follow the instructions for use carefully
  • Seek advice from your dentist if in any doubt

An assessment of your teeth and gums by your dentist will determine if teeth- whitening is an option for you. Alternatively you can try to reduce staining agents such as coffee, tea, red wine, and curries. Simple methods such as brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing and drinking plenty of water will assist that smile to stay naturally white!


Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. (2014). What you need to know about: Safety of do-it-yourself (DIY) teeth whitening products for at home use. Retrieved from:


Australian Dental Association. (2011). How much do you really know about teeth whitening? Retrieved from:


National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (Nicnas). (2015). DIY teeth whitening kits. Fact sheet. Retrieved from: