WorkSafe Victoria News
WorkSafe has updated the “Working Alone and in Isolation” action in the WorkWell Toolkit. It has been compiled in collaboration with workplace mental health experts. It unpacks the steps employers need to take to make sure they are creating a mentally healthy workplace for employees working remotely.
Workplace manslaughter legislation just around the corner
As of July 1 Victoria will have workplace manslaughter legislation in place - the VTHC looks forward to seeing it being implemented and used in cases where the employer's negligence or lack of actions warrant it.
Last week, in Queensland, the state's first sentence for industrial manslaughter was been handed down, with an auto wrecking yard ordered to pay $3 million over a worker's death. "Tiger" Barry Willis, 58, died eight days after he was pinned between a forklift and a truck at Brisbane Auto Recycling in May last year.
Company directors Asadullah Hussaini, 25, and Mohammad Ali Jan Karimi, 23, were sentenced to 10 months imprisonment, wholly suspended, after they pleaded guilty to engaging in reckless conduct. Judge Anthony Rafter says the men's conduct led to Mr Willis's death. "I have viewed the CCTV footage. It is incredibly distressing to see Mr Willis crushed by the force of the forklift," he told the Brisbane District Court. While a conviction is welcomed, it is shameful that the men will not serve a custodial sentence.
Mr Willis’s daughter, Josephine Cleeland, has said she felt “hurt and heartache” that the company directors pretended he fell from a truck, adding it was traumatising to hear the details of her father’s death and the level of the men’s deceit. “At the time it happened I was angry and overwhelmed. Now, it is more hurt and heartache to think that people could place blame on a victim,” she told reporters outside court on Thursday.
The court heard Hussaini and Karimi had not bothered to implement safety systems to protect its workers despite operating Brisbane Auto Recycling for four years. Hussaini admitted to investigators he simply told his staff to work safely. "There was no real attempt to control the threat posed by mobile plant," Judge Rafter said. Hussaini told a triple-zero operator and paramedics that he had fallen from the truck and then maintained the mistruth to doctors, despite knowing what had actually happened. He also initially lied to investigators about which staff member was driving the forklift. The actual forklift operator was in fact an inexperienced and unlicensed worker, who has been charged with dangerous operation of a vehicle causing death. Karimi delayed handing over CCTV footage of the incident.
Read more: News.com, The Canberra Times.
Latest edition of Safety Soapbox
The June edition of Safety Soapbox was posted today. In this edition, the editorial is on the dangers of trenching. WorkSafe is warning employers and workers to take trenching safety seriously. Between 2017 and 2019, four fatalities occurred in trenching incidents at Victorian construction worksites. This highlights the significant need to address unsafe trenching practice in the construction industry.
The edition also has information for builders on the safe disposal of combustible cladding materials - as many apartment buildings are having this removed. And there's a link to WorkSafe's COVID-19 checklist for the construction industry, and more. The interstate news this edition is from Queensland: reports of falls.
Attached is a downloadable pdf summarizing the incidents reported to WorkSafe in the previous month.
In May 176 incidents were reported, 63 per cent of which resulted in injury. Of these, 55 per cent were 'significant' and 11 per cent were 'serious'. 26 incidents involved young workers, and tragically, there were two fatalities in the sector. Access the June 2020 edition of Safety Soapbox here.
ACT: Employers urged to better new silica threshold
The new workplace exposure standard for respirable crystalline silica of 0.05mg per cubic metre over eight hours in the ACT will commence in Canberra on 1 July. However, the government has urged employers to adopt even tighter limits. "Although the new nationally agreed workplace exposure standard of 0.05mg per cubic metre effectively halves the previous standard, the ACT Government is encouraging businesses to go lower as we know it is still possible at this level for workers to develop adverse health conditions such as silicosis," ACT Employment and Workplace Safety Minister Suzanne Orr said. She added: "The recommended health-based exposure standard for silica dust is actually 0.02mg per cubic metre," Orr claimed.
The Victorian Government has similarly called for employers to better the national standard - also the position of the VTHC.
Read more: Silica. Source: OHSAlert
Safe Work Australia news
COVID-19 information for small business
Safe Work Australia has released a small business planning tool - which includes an infographic - to help businesses operate safely and manage work health and safety risks from COVID-19. The tool outlines key steps and considerations for small business when operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. Go to the COVID-19 Small business planning tool.
The tool outlines key steps for safely operating your business during the COVID-19 pandemic, including:
- understanding and following public health rules and work health and safety (WHS) laws
- assessing and managing WHS risks
- ongoing review and monitoring
Safe Work Australia also has a large amount of information for specific industries and workplaces. From this page there is also information on vulnerable workers, mental health, working from home, cleaning and more. Some of the information is available in a large number of other languages - go to this page.
National Fatality Statistics
Safe Work Australia has not updated its workplace fatality statistics since last week: as of June 4 there had been 78 worker fatalities notified to the national body. The fatalities this year have been in the following sectors:
- 25 in Transport, postal & warehousing
- 14 in Construction
- 12 in Agriculture, forestry & fishing
- 9 in Public administration & safety
- 8 in Manufacturing
- 4 in Mining
- 2 in Arts & recreation services
- 2 in 'other services'
- 1 in Accommodation & food services
- 1 in Retail trade
To check for updates, and for more details on fatalities since 2003, go to the Safe Work Australia Work-related fatalities webpage.