OHS Regulator News

Victorian news
WorkSafe: comment on s76 prosecution

In a media release on the successful prosecution of Patrick Stevedores Holdings Pty Ltd (PSH) in relation to six counts of engaging in discriminatory conduct contrary to section 76 of the OHS Act, Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said threatening workers who raise health and safety concerns will not be tolerated.

As reported in the January 23 edition of SafetyNet, the port operator convicted and fined $475,000 after threatening workers who raised safety concerns. The court heard four employees were threatened by PSH's Westernport Port Manager on 11 and 12 March 2009 after they raised health and safety concerns about the proposed use of a forklift to lift heavy steel coils.

The regulator said the matter had been before the courts for a long period of time because it was heavily contested and a previous trial was abandoned when the jury was unable to reach a verdict. Read more: WorkSafe Media release

Regulator 'urges more care'
WorkSafe issued a media statement yesterday urging employers to make sure they do everything they can to protect their workers in 2019 after 23 people died as a result of workplace incidents last year.  (This is the official WorkSafe tally - but we believe the number is higher).

Julie Nielsen said failure to identify and manage hazards was an ongoing concern, especially on farms and where vehicles and plant were involved: "We urge every employer to consult with their workers about health and safety and to do all they can to make their workplace a safe one in 2019."

Ms Nielsen said high-risk sectors, including construction and agriculture, would continue to be the target of WorkSafe inspectors, who made more than 48,000 visits to workplaces across the state in 2018. "WorkSafe will not hesitate to prosecute those who fail to adhere to these life-protecting laws," she said. Source: WorkSafe Media release

SA: New farm safety videos
South Australia's regulator, SafeWorkSA, has issued a series of farm safety videos:

  1. Child safety: Every year around 20 children under 15 years die on Australian farms. The major cause of fatal injuries are dams, farm vehicles and machinery.
  2. Near misses:
  3. Tractor safety:
It says that agriculture is one of the most dangerous industries due to the nature and type of work being carried out. In South Australia 4.5% of the total workforce are employed in agriculture, yet almost 19% of workplace deaths occurred on farms between 2015 and 2017. "We understand that farms are more than workplaces: they're also the family home. Our farm safety video series will help farmers, their families and workers address common risks and help keep everyone safe." The videos can be downloaded and viewed on this page of the SafeWorkSA website.

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NT: Fishing fatality leads to safety program 
A new program has been developed to improve safety in the NT fishing industry, following the death of 20 year old Ryan Donoghue on a fishing vessel in the Gulf of Carpentaria in November 2013.

The SeSAFE program was developed to raise safety awareness, and deliver training and education to an industry that is one of the highest risk industries in Australia. Fatalities are approximately twenty five times higher than the mining and construction industries. The most 'at risk' group are young fishers and aquaculture workers between the ages of 20 to 24 years, followed by those aged 45 – 54 years. The FRDC Marine Safety Initiative seeks a 50% reduction in fatalities and accidents in this industry by 2023.

The main component of the SeSAFE program is a learning management system (LMS) made up of multiple training modules designed to deliver work health and safety information to fishers and aquaculture workers prior to working on the water.

As part of their enforceable undertaking with NT WorkSafe, Austral Fisheries provided additional funding to make the SeSAFE modules available to organisations involved in the training and education of workers in the NT fishing industry. Additional program funding was provided by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC).  
Find out more about the SeSAFE program here

John Holland; two contractors charged
Charges have been laid against construction company John Holland and two contractors over an incident that injured a worker on the $1 billion NorthLink road project in Perth's east.

A load of steel posts were being moved with a telescopic handler on February 1, 2017 when a worker who was attempting to stabilise the load was struck in the leg by the machine, suffering severe fractures. The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions has filed a total of four charges in the Magistrates Court of WA against John Holland, Omega Constructions and Universal Reo. Source: The West Australian

Safe Work Australia news
Guidance on Work-related psychological health and safety updated
SafeWork Australia has updated its national guidance on work-related psychological health and safety. The national body says: "Work-related psychological injury is expensive - it's estimated that poor psychological health and safety costs Australian organisations $6 billion per annum in lost productivity. This guidance material provides a step-by-step process for managing psychological injury, intervening early and for taking preventative action to prevent your workers becoming ill or sustaining a psychological injury." Download the document from the SWA website: Work-related psychological health and safety: A systematic approach to meeting your duties

Fatality statistics
The SWA website has not been updated since the 24 January, at which time there had been five fatalities reported by the state authorities. The workers killed have come from the following industries:

  • 1 Transport, postal & warehousing
  • 2  Agriculture, forestry & fishing
  • 2 Construction

To check for updates, and for more details on fatalities since 2003, go to the Safe Work Australia Work-related fatalities webpage and in particular, here.

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