City Services officer run over by their own work partner on the job
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City Services officer run over by their own work partner on the job

A City Services contractor ran over a fellow employee who was picking up litter on the side of the road when he was supposed to be looking out for them, but instead was using his phone behind the wheel.

The May 2018 accident was one of a litany of workplace safety incidents reported to Transport Canberra and City Services.

The TCCS employee was run over while they were picking up rubbish from the side of a Canberra road.

The TCCS employee was run over while they were picking up rubbish from the side of a Canberra road.Credit:Sylvia Liber

It was one of more than 400 safety risks recorded in 2017-18, 49 of which resulted in compensation being paid out due to injuries.

Other incidents included a bus driver being stabbed with a syringe by a passenger, a Roads ACT contractor receiving an electric shock from a light pole and another Transport Canberra and City Services employee getting an electric shock from a power board in the directorate's Northbourne Avenue office.

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A further 45 incidents were lodged involving hazardous substances such as asbestos or biological material. One involved a Roads ACT contractor being exposed to potential asbestos in a damaged Telstra pit.

Documents released under freedom-of-information laws showed the litter officer was run over by a City Services contractor driving a vehicle shadowing the officer on Yamba Drive.

The driver bent down to pick up his mobile phone before accidentally accelerating forward over the officer. The officer was taken to hospital, and the driver was fired.

The directorate wouldn't disclose what injuries the worker sustained but said they were not serious.

A Roads ACT contractor received an electric shock during a shift.

A Roads ACT contractor received an electric shock during a shift.Credit:Andrew Sheargold

The officer returned to work the following month and an alert was issued to all staff about not using mobile phones while driving.

A review was held into the operating procedures for picking up litter by directorate staff.

In another incident, a worker mowing grass in a public area was thrown from their ride-on mower in December 2017 when another worker crashed into them.

In a separate incident, a worker riding a lawnmower was hit by a car on a street in Ngunnawal, rupturing the mower's fuel tank, after the car attempted to overtake.

Due to the crash, all new mowers were fitted with equipment to make them more visible to passing drivers, and officer training was updated.

Another City Services officer was taken to hospital and required multiple stitches after cutting their wrist with a chainsaw while removing a tree.

Two cases were lodged in the first half of 2018 of Domestic Animal Services workers being bitten by dogs, resulting in one worker being taken to hospital, while the other suffered a punctured left hand.

A report stated suspected asbestos was also dumped at the Mugga Lane tip.

A report stated suspected asbestos was also dumped at the Mugga Lane tip.Credit: Graham Tidy

Directorate reports for animal services between June and September 2017 revealed $12,000 worth of protective clothing for staff was ordered, as existing uniforms did not provide adequate protection against animal bites or scratches.

Members of the public were also included in the directorate's incident reports, after one person was locked inside the Mitchell Resource Management Centre after the facility was closed for the night.

New protocols at the site were implemented as a result of the incident, including the facility's contractor doing more thorough checks before locking the gate.

A separate report revealed a staff member reported a member of the public who was suspected to have dumped asbestos at the Mugga Lane tip.

However, the allegations could not be proved as the dumped material had already been sent to landfill before inspectors arrived.

Documents showed 790 accident reports were lodged in the 2017 calendar year, a three-year high, and a further 358 reports were made in the first half of 2018.

A spokeswoman for Transport Canberra and City Services said the increased rate of reported accidents lodged showed a greater awareness of safety risks.

"An increase in the number of incidents lodged is a reflection of Transport Canberra and City Services workers being better educated on the requirement to report all incidents, near misses and hazardous situations," the spokeswoman said.

"Incident reports provide us with valuable information about the activities our workers undertake and which of those activities cause harm."

The directorate spokeswoman said they had set up a safety and wellbeing branch to focus on workplace safety issues such as musculoskeletal injuries.

Quarterly meetings of safety practices was also established for all employees last year, with this year's meetings focusing on occupational violence.

"Ensuring the safety of our employees and the citizens of Canberra is a high priority for [the directorate]," the spokeswoman said.

"A wide variety of competency based training programs, including courses for temporary traffic management, asbestos awareness, chainsaw operation and chemical safety are provided to support the development and maintenance of practical skills."

Andrew Brown is a journalist at the Sunday Canberra Times. Andrew has worked at the Canberra Times since 2016.

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