OHS Regulator News

Victorian news
Infringement notices on the way!
According to news service OHSAlert Victoria's Workplace Safety Minister Jill Hennessy has announced a $16.6 million package to expand the specialist capacity of WorkSafe inspectors and allow the introduction of infringement notices offences. The package was included in the 2019-20 state budget, delivered earlier this week.

The new on-the-spot fines are likely to apply to OHS breaches such as failing to:

  • allow a health and safety rep to access certain information;
  • notify WorkSafe of asbestos removal work;
  • keep an SWMS for the duration of high-risk construction work;
  • keep a record of the results of atmospheric monitoring; or
  • have signs in the immediate vicinity of a confined space.

Infringement notice offences were recommended by a 2016 and 2017 review of OHS compliance and enforcement in Victoria, and promised by the Labor Government in the lead up to last year's State election. Source: OHSAlert

Other OHS-related budget measures
The Victorian Labor Party's budget has also made provisions for the following OHS-related initiatives:

  • $8.5 million to improve the mental health of police and emergency services workers, including  establishing a provisional acceptance payment scheme for workers claiming compensation for a mental injury, allowing them to obtain medical and similar expenses while their claim is being assessed;
  • $120.6 million over four years to boost mobile road camera hours by 75 per cent and crack down on dangerous driving in the heavy vehicle transport industry; and
  • according to the Victorian Farmers' Federation, funding to employ two additional Farm Safety Officers, to increase health checks for farmers, and to deliver a new campaign to raise greater workplace safety awareness.

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LAST CHANCE to nominate for the 2019 WorkSafe Awards! 
Urgent: nominate your HSR now - entries for the 2019 WorkSafe Awards are open but close at the end of the month. There are also other categories you/your workplace might be interested in putting in nominations for... 

Now in their 31st year, the awards celebrate the achievements of businesses and individuals that improve health and safety in the workplace and support workers who have been injured on the job.  They're also a great way for workplaces to share their success and show how they are leading the way.

Of greatest interest to us is the Health and Safety Representative of the Year Award - if you've got a great HSR, then nominate them now to show how much you appreciate what they do! Entries close May 31st - so there's not a lot of time to think about it. Enter here.

WorkSafe events
There are two events coming up which will provide an opportunity to meet the WorkSafe Agriculture Practice Team. If anyone has any farm safety issues they would like to discuss, try to get along to one of these. The team at the WorkSafe stand is keen to have a chat, hear about approaches to managing on-farm safety and about any new and innovative safety solutions. There will be information and guidance materials for people to take away.

  1. Mallee Machinery Field Days
    When:
     Wednesday 31 July - Thursday 1 August, 8:30am to 5:00pm
    Where: 
    Speed Airport, 2574 Sunraysia Hwy, Speed VIC 3488 
  2. Sheepvention 
    When: Sunday 04 Aug 2019
    Where: CRT Innovations Hub, Hamilton Showgrounds, Shakespeare St, Hamilton

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Queensland news
Manager jailed after fatality 
The manager of a quarry where a worker was crushed to death on-site in central Queensland has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for safety breaches. The 21 year old worker was killed after he became entangled in a running conveyor belt at the South Moranbah Quarry, north-west of Rockhampton in central Queensland, in June 2012.

MCG Quarries was charged with three counts of breaching health and safety obligations, while its managing director William McDonald and senior executive Tony Addinsall were also charged with multiple safety breaches. The conveyor belt did not have guard panels for protection and management should have known about the issue. McDonald was ordered to serve six months of his sentence behind bars before being eligible for parole in November 2019. However, he was released on bail, pending an appeal. Addinsall was fined $35,000, but no conviction was recorded. The company, which is now insolvent, was fined $400,000 for breaching health and safety obligations. The young worker's father said his son's death was something no parent should have to endure. "It is a life sentence of misery and constant torment … there is no escape from grief," he said.

The company that made the conveyor belt, Global Crushers and Spares, was convicted in 2017 of failing to discharge their health and safety obligations for not installing guard panels.  Read more: ABC News online

Safety Alert after fatality
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland has issued a Safety Alert after a worker was killed after being trapped in a conveyor belt at a recycling facility. The Alert urges employers to apply the hierarchy of controls to plant, which it says is a major cause of workplace death and injury. "The elimination of potential hazards at the design or planning stage of a product enables a greater scope to design out hazards or incorporate risk control measures that are compatible with the original design and function requirements," the regulator says. Read more: Worker fatally trapped in conveyor

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Safe Work Australia news
Attorney-general: IR, WHS and Industrial manslaughter 
It's being reported that Christian Porter, is likely to become the next Minister for work health and safety matters and agencies like Comcare and Safe Work Australia, after being reappointed Attorney-General and and also given the Industrial Relations portfolio in re-elected Prime Minister Scott Morrison's cabinet. Porter's IR role will include "creating fairer workplaces and enforcing the rule of law in industrial relations, particularly through the Australian Building and Construction Commission", Morrison said in announcing his second ministry this week.

One of Porter's first major WHS tasks will be to meet with state and territory ministers later this year to discuss the recent recommendation, from Marie Boland's review of the national model WHS laws to introduce the WHS offence of industrial manslaughter – a policy the Coalition Government is opposed to. Source: OHSAlert

Fatality statistics
There has not been an update to the notified fatalities on the Safe Work Australia site: as of May 16, there had been 56 fatalities notified. The workers killed have come from the following industries:

  • 20 in Transport, postal & warehousing
  • 15 in Agriculture, forestry & fishing
  • 9 in Construction
  • 7 in Public Administration & safety
  • 3 in Electricity, gas, water & waste services
  • 2 in Mining

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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