OHS Regulator News

Victorian news

WorkSafe target falling object dangers
Over the next few weeks WorkSafe inspectors will be focusing on the risks of falling objects at building sites. Falling objects are a leading cause of death and serious injury in the construction industry and pose a risk not only to workers, but also to passersby. There have been five deaths and 721 injuries caused by falling objects at construction sites in the past five years.

In January, there were several serious incidents involving falling objects including:

  • at Southbank a piece of timber fell 22 floors after it snapped in half while being lifted to a loading bay;
  • on Little Latrobe St, a piece of MDF sheeting fell 63 floors to the ground through an open window; and
  • at a site in Clayton a tower crane dropped a concrete slab weighing about 11.5 tonnes.
It was sheer luck that no one was injured in these incidents. In September last year a 48-year-old man died and another worker was seriously injured when they were struck by a kibble full of concrete which fell from a crane at a Box Hill construction site. 
Read more: WorkSafe media release

Safe Work Australia news
Fatality statistics
As of 17 February, 18 fatalities had been notified by the state authorities to Safe Work Australia. This is twelve more since the previous update on 24 January - a tragic number. The workers killed have come from the following industries:

  • 6  Agriculture, forestry & fishing
  • 5 Transport, postal & warehousing
  • 4 Construction
  • 2 Public Administration & safety
  • 1 Electricity, gas, water & waste services

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.

NICNAS: Risk-based bills passed
The six-Bill package establishing Australia's new risk-based regulatory scheme for industrial chemicals has passed the Senate with tighter-than-planned rules for "introducers". The six industrial chemicals Bills passed the Federal Senate after the Government agreed to add the tighter rules, and non-Government Senators responded by withdrawing their proposed changes.

The Government amendments require those introducing (through importation or manufacture) very low-risk chemicals, known as "exempted chemicals", to make a once-off declaration to the new Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme (AICIS), with criminal or civil penalties for failing to do so.

The Bills previously allowed manufacturers or importers to introduce exempted chemicals without providing any advice to the AICIS, but the ACTU, the VTHC, the Cancer Council and other groups raised serious concerns about new chemicals entering the country without the Government being able to track them. While the amendments make the legislation better, the VTHC believes they do not go far enough and the health of many workers and the public, will be at higher risk.

The amendments, which need to be formally endorsed by the Lower House, also cement recent plans to postpone the scheme's start date to 1 July 2020. They similarly confirm that bans on using newly developed data derived from animal testing when categorising or assessing industrial chemicals for cosmetics won't commence until July next year.  Source: OHS Alert

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