Australian plastics plants' poor safety records and high workers' compensation insurance premiums have prompted the Plastics & Chemical Industries' Associa-tion to launch a safety management program, PlasCare. PlasCare's first target is injection molders, where employee accident and fire records are poor. A PlasCare injection molding comittee, which includes machinery and equipment suppliers, injection molders, PACIA representatives, a member of the Victorian state government's Health & Safety Organization and insurers, has been established.
Stephen Bardsley, managing director of Melbourne, Australia-based injection molding machinery supplier Battenfeld Australia Pty. Ltd., chairs the committee. He said a pilot program to improve employee safety will be implemented at injection molders' plants. It will be followed by programs to raise safety awareness in all sections of Australia's plastics industry.
He said the committee will focus on machinery standards, particularly secondhand imports from Asia. PACIA-approved auditors will issue certificates of compliance to machinery supplied to Australian injection molders if it meets established criteria.
Bardsley said companies that have complying machinery and reach plant safety benchmarks will be able to negotiate reduced workers' compensation and asset insurance premiums. He said the current workers' compensation levy for plastic processors based in the state of Victoria is 3.26 percent of payroll, compared to 0.4 percent for other industries. In other states, plastics processors also pay higher premiums.
Property insurance rates for Australian plastic processors are between 0.5 percent and 1.5 percent of asset value, compared to 0.1 percent for other manufacturers, he said.
Bardsley said PlasCare, based on similiar programs in Europe and North America, aims to clean up the industry's safety record. Firms that ignore the program could face fines of A$10,000-A$15,000 (US$7,783-US$11,674) from state occupational health and safety authorities.
Figures from Victorian Work-Cover Authority, which regulates workers' compensation in that state, show there were 325 workers' compensation payments, worth A$835,000 (US$649,880), in Victoria's plastics industry in the 1994-1995 fiscal year. No national figures were available.