OHS Regulator News

Victorian news
Mental health support for vulnerable workers
WorkSafe has announced an initiative which it says will benefit thousands of Victorian workers whose jobs put them at increased risk of mental injury. The WorkSafe WorkWell Learning Networks, a knowledge sharing network, will connect mental health experts with employers and workers to share the latest thinking on the best ways to boost mental health and safety at work.

WorkSafe has granted initial funding from the $5 million program to seven organisations to develop plans for the networks, which will link more than 2000 workplaces to collaborate on practical steps to prevent mental injury.

WorkSafe Health and Safety Executive Director Julie Nielsen said the networks would help create new ways to improve the lives of thousands of working Victorians. "Learning Networks will bring workers, experts and industry groups together to build workplaces that promote positive mental health and safety for all workers but especially those who are most vulnerable," Ms Nielsen said. Read more: WorkSafe media release 

WorkSafe winter safety tips
Our regulator sent out a bulletin this week with winter tips 'at home, commuting, and at work'. The topics covered are:

  1. Preventing the spread of flu - as reported in a previous SafetyNet, this is a bad year for the flu, with 31 Victorians have died, and another 18,600 have been diagnosed with the flu so far. For more information, see: Influenza on our site, and the Victorian Better Health Channel website.
  2. Winter Safety on work sites: WorkSafe says that winter and the cold, wet and windy weather brings numerous hazards which can increase workplace risks, especially on work sites.
    With falls from height the leading cause of death and serious injury in the construction industry, slippery conditions are particularly concerning for those working at height.  Check out WorkSafe's information on preventing falls on construction sites.
  3. Fog and winter driving: Dense fog and wet weather during the winter months, creates situations of low visibility, which can lead to increased hazards on the roads and on work sites - especially roadside work sites. WorkSafe says it's important for employers to include site conditions in safety evaluations. If you are working or commuting in areas that experience fog or snow, it's important to understand how to safely drive in these conditions.  There are links to information on snow and winter driving and using fog and headlights on the VicRoads website.
  4. Safety at home: in particular safe use of electrical appliances equipment, with a link to safety information on the EnergySafe website.

Challenge to quad bike safety notices withdrawn
An application to have WorkSafe improvement notices requiring that safety measures be taken in relation to the use of quad bikes at a workplace has been withdrawn from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal (VCAT). Larneuk Stud Pty Ltd had applied to VCAT to have three improvement notices overturned after they were issued at a horse stud near Euroa in 2018.

The notices required the employer to eliminate the risk of a quad bike overturning as far as reasonably practicable. If this was not reasonably practicable, the employer was required to reduce the risk of a quad bike overturning so far as reasonably practicable.

The notices indicated that the employer could achieve compliance by measures including, but not limited to:

  • Retrofitting an appropriate operator protective device to the quad bikes, or
  • Using alternative vehicles that were appropriately fitted with rollover protection, such as side-by-side vehicles or utility vehicles.

Larneuk Stud withdrew the application on day four of the VCAT hearing on June 14, after the Tribunal had heard evidence from three WorkSafe witnesses, including an independent expert engineer.

After the hearing, WorkSafe Director of Enforcement Paul Fowler said employers needed to do everything they could to prevent workers from being injured if there was a risk of a quad bike rolling over. "Safety regulations for quad bikes require employers to do everything reasonably practicable to control the risk of workers being injured," Mr Fowler said.

This is an important outcome, as too many people have been killed or seriously injured in quad bike incidents, and all the experts agree that the best way to minimise the risk is by fitting operator protective devices, or rollover protection to the vehicles. 
Read more: WorkSafe media release

WorkSafe events
A reminder of two upcoming events which will provide an opportunity to meet the WorkSafe Agriculture Practice Team. Anyone with farm safety issues should 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

.

Safe Work Australia news
Fatality statistics
There was still no update to the notified fatalities on the Safe Work Australia site: as of June 6, there had been 64 fatalities notified to the national body. This is eight more in the time since its last update on May 16 The workers killed came from the following industries:

  • 23 in Transport, postal & warehousing
  • 15 in Agriculture, forestry & fishing
  • 11 in Construction
  • 7 in Public Administration & safety
  • 4 in Electricity, gas, water & waste services
  • 2 in Mining
  • 1 in manufacturing
  • 1 in 'Other 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.

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