Regulator news

Victorian news

New laws protect safety of contractors and gig economy workers
Laws designed to provide safer and fairer working conditions for owner drivers and operators, including gig economy cyclists, have passed Victorian Parliament, introducing fines of up to $16,500 for hirers and brokers who fail in their obligations to these workers.

The Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Amendment Bill 2019, to commence on a day to be proclaimed or 1 May 2020 at the latest, will benefit owner operators that are contractors rather than legal employees and supply and operate up to three vehicles, including bicycles used to deliver goods for online platforms like Deliveroo and Uber Eats, State Industrial Relations Minister Tim Pallas said. 

A recent review found many companies that hired or brokered for these operators were breaching their duties to properly record contractual arrangements or provide the applicable rate and costs schedule to contractors before their engagement, exposing operators to safety and income risks, the Minister said. The State Government announced a review of the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act 2005 in late 2016, claiming economic pressures had "forced some drivers into unsafe practices", and the issue was exacerbated by the abolition of the national Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, which was established to disincentivise speeding, driving while fatigued or overloading vehicles. Source: OHSAlert

Clare Amies to move on
After more than 10 years at WorkSafe, including four and a half as Chief Executive, Ms Clare Amies has resigned.  Last week the Victorian Minister for Workplace Safety announced that Ms Amies will be leaving the organisation to take up a new role with the Department of Justice and Community Safety, where she will be leading work examining regulatory arrangements. She will, however, stay on at WorkSafe until the Government and Board appoint a new Chief Executive.

Ms Amies said, "Leading WorkSafe has been a true privilege and I feel very fortunate to have been able to play a role in helping Victorians stay safe at work, and supporting those who have been injured, for so long.  I know that I am leaving the organisation in the highly capable hands of people who are committed to the safety and wellbeing of all Victorian workers."

Ms Jill Hennessy, the Minister for Workplace Safety said, "On behalf of the Victorian Government, I want to thank Ms Amies for her tireless leadership of WorkSafe as chief executive and in other positions over the past decade. She has held a number of critical roles protecting the health and safety of workers across the state." Read more: Government media release

Reminder: Health and Safety Month, October 2019
WorkSafe Victoria has launched its program of events for this year's Health and Safety Month, which will be taking place October 2 - 31. There are over 20 events being run on topics, for a range of industries all across the state. Download the event program here, and register for an event.  Remember though, if you're an elected HSR, your event will be the VTHC HSR Conference.

Win $3000 by hosting your own event
WorkSafe is running a competition and you can win! The regulator wants more people to be involved in Health and Safety Month even those who either can’t make it to one of thei scheduled events or for those who also want to run their own. Host your own safety focused event and go in the draw to win $3000 ( awarded through a Coles Group and Myer gift card valued at $3,000) for your workplace. Find out how to enter the competition here.

NT: Industrial manslaughter bill

A bill that aims to overhaul industrial manslaughter laws in the Northern Territory is to be introduced into parliament. The Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Amendment Bill 2019 will ensure all businesses will be penalised for reckless or negligent conduct leading to workplace fatalities. Currently, only individuals can be charged with industrial manslaughter with no equivalent penalties for corporations. Introducing industrial manslaughter laws – with maximum penalties of life imprisonment for individuals and about $10 million for bodies corporate – was one of 27 recommendations from former ACTU assistant secretary Tim Lyons' best practice review of the Northern Territory's WHS regime. Sources: SafetyCulture OHS News; OHSAlert

Safe Work Australia

New guidance on Silica

Safe Work Australia has released new guidance: Working with silica and silica containing products. The guidance is particularly aimed at any person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU - or employer in Victoria) who has workers (including themselves) that work with silica or silica containing products. Silica containing products include:

  • manufactured solid stone products such as composite (engineered) stone benchtops
  • asphalt
  • cement, mortar and grout
  • concrete, concrete blocks and fibre cement products
  • brick
  • drywall and some plasterboards, and
  • pavers and tiles including roof tiles.

This guide explains what employers and PCBUs must do to keep workers safe from the risks of respirable crystalline silica (silica dust). Everything in this guide is covered by the model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws

Fatality Statistics

Safe Work Australia has again updated its fatality statistics: as of September 12, there were 111 fatalities notified to the national body. This is 11 more than the last update on August 29. Three of these were in the Transport, postal and warehousing sector, two in Construction and in Arts & recreation services, and one in Admin & support services. The workers killed came from the following industries: 

  • 37 in Transport, postal & warehousing
  • 25 in Agriculture, forestry & fishing
  • 16 in Construction
  • 7 in Mining
  • 6 in Public Administration & safety
  • 6 in Electricity, gas, water & waste services
  • 4 in Manufacturing
  • 2 in Professional, scientific & technical services
  • 2 in Wholesale trade
  • 2 in 'Other services'
  • 2 in Administration & support services
  • 2 in Arts & recreation 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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