OHS Regulator News

Exclusion from work function wasn't bullying says Fair Work Commission

A worker who was excluded from a work function has been told that management preventing her from joining the work Christmas lunch last December; rejecting her leave request for Australia Day this year; and falsely telling her she had to work on all public holidays does not amount to bullying.

The woman's employer, SECUREclean, stated that, they sent warning letters to the worker about her arriving late, taking long breaks, bringing her children to work and allowing them on site for whole shifts.

The woman became unable to work and lodged a mental health based WorkCover claim, which was disappointingly rejected as it as found that the actions taken by the employer were reasonable and within the companies guidelines. The Fair Work Commission stated that Whilst the argument could be raised that the employer communicated and handled the situation ineptly, it does not suggest the conduct exposed amounted to bullying with respect to the Act."

Currently, the Boland review into WHS legislation is recommending righter controls around psycho social injuries.

Safe Work Australia news
Fatality statistics

These are the most up to date numbers as of August 1st.

  • 28 in Transport, postal & warehousing
  • 19 in Agriculture, forestry & fishing
  • 12 in Construction
  • 6 in Public Administration & safety
  • 5 in Electricity, gas, water & waste services
  • 5 in Mining
  • 2 Professional, scientific & technical services
  • 2 in Wholesale trade
  • 3 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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Asbestos News

Largest Ever Asbestos Payout

A record $3 Million payout has been awarded to a worker, working with asbestos materials who contracted asbestosis, and has been given a three year life expectancy.

Matthew Werfel was first exposed to asbestos as a teenager while working for a fencing contractor in Adelaide between 1994 and 1997.

This is a landmark case, that highlights the ongoing risk to the public of working with asbestos. Many workers, especially younger tradesmen who were not working in the space when the use of the material was at its peak, are still not aware of the high risk of working with asbestos.

A solicitor who worked on the case stated "Unlike the people who were exposed to asbestos during mining, manufacturing or construction, many home renovators have no idea they were exposed to asbestos until years later when they are diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease,"

The solicitor went on to state that clearly, not enough work has been done by the manufacturer of products containing asbestos to create awareness around the health risks their products create.

"This case confirms that James Hardie's (the employer) duty of care didn't end when it sold those products. It continues even decades later as tradespeople, homeowners and others are exposed to those building materials."

Full details on the court proceedings can be found here:

www.ohsalert.com.au/files/2019/Werfel%20v%20AMACA%20v%20The%20State%20of%20South%20Australia%20[2019]%20SAET%20159

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