Regulator news

First aid in the workplace compliance code available for public comment

WorkSafe is inviting comment on the proposed First aid in the workplace compliance code (First aid code).

The code includes proposed changes to streamline content and to bring it into line with the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 and Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017.

Members of the public can view the public comment materials online at a dedicated webpage on the Victorian Government’s consultation platform, engage.vic.gov.au, and provide online submissions.   Submissions can also be lodged by email or post.

Supporting information including a copy of the proposed Frist aid code, a summary of changes, and frequently asked questions is also available from the webpage.

The public comment period ends on close of business Tuesday 18 February 2020.  The VTHC participated in the working group and we encourage HSRs and other to provide comment. If you feel very strongly about any particular issue, please send your comment through to Renata: rmusolino@vthc.org.au, and we will consider including it in the VTHC comment.

WorkSafe Victoria warns of 'hidden hazards'

WorkSafe is urging Victorians affected by the recent devastating fires to be alert for unexpected hazards if undertaking clean-up and recovery work. Asbestos, fallen powerlines, fallen or damaged trees and unstable structures are among the risks to health and safety facing those working on fire-affected properties.

Employers and property owners in areas where it has been 'safe to return' must consider the risks involved in each task before commencing any clean-up activities. The regulator says that occupational health and safety hazards that may arise after fires include:

  • Unstable trees and overhanging branches, which have been weakened by heat and fire.
  • Fallen powerlines, or damaged internal wiring, which may be live.
  • Unstable structures, such as free-standing chimneys and fire damaged retaining walls or underground water tanks, concrete septic tanks and pits which may be at risk of collapse.
  • LP gas tanks and cylinders, which may have been damaged by fire and heat.
  • Decomposing livestock and wildlife that may present biohazards.
  • Asbestos containing materials which have been ruptured or damaged, causing fibres to become exposed, as well as asbestos which has crumbled (that is, become friable) due to exposure to extreme heat.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said people needed to carefully plan clean-up work. "Cleaning up after a fire poses a set of risks that you may not be expecting, so we urge anyone who is unsure of how to handle a particular hazard, to seek advice," she said.
Read more: WorkSafe media release.

Safety Alert: Employee killed after accidental operation of remotely controlled crane

WorkSafe last week issued a reminder about the use of plant or equipment, after an incident involving the death of an employee. The man was killed after a bridge crane collided with a raised mobile elevating work platform (MEWP) he was working from, when he inadvertently activated the remote control for the bridge crane he was operating. This resulted in the MEWP overturning. The Safety Alert contains recommendations on how to control the risks in these situations.

New Asbestos Codes

Since the last edition of SafetyNet the Minister for Workplace Safety, Jill Hennessy, approved minor amendments to the Managing asbestos in workplaces compliance code and the Removing asbestos in workplaces compliance code made under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act). The codes came into effect on 19 December 2019.

The amendments to the codes were made to reflect amendments to section 35 and 36 of the OHS Act (Duty to consult) made by the Treasury and Finance Legislation Amendment Act 2018 and to improve style and branding consistency across existing codes. The amendments do not alter the substance or meaning of any guidance.

National Fatality Statistics
the final update to the national statistics for the number of workers killed around Australia in 2019 is available on the SafeWork website. The final number of fatalities notified to national body was 166. The workers killed last year were from the following industries: 

  • 60 in Transport, postal & warehousing (eight more since the last update)
  • 33 in Agriculture, forestry & fishing
  • 24 in Construction
  • 10 in Public Administration & safety
  • 9 in Mining
  • 8 in Manufacturing
  • 7 in Electricity, gas, water & waste services
  • 6 in 'Other services'
  • 4 in Arts & recreation services
  • 2 in Professional, scientific & technical services
  • 1 in Wholesale trade
  • 1 in Administration & support services
  • 1 in Healthcare & social assistance

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.

Australian Workers’ Compensation Statistics 2017–18 Report

The report provides the latest workers’ compensation data, including occupation and industry data.

Key findings in 2017-18 include:

  • The total number of serious workers’ compensation claims was 107,335
  • The three occupations with the highest rate of serious claims (per million hours worked) were:
    • Labourers
    • Community and personal service workers
    • Machinery operators and drivers.

The three industries with the highest rate of serious claims (per million hours worked) were:

  • Agriculture, forestry and fishing
  • Manufacturing.
  • Transport, postal and warehousing

To find out other interesting statistics, read the full Australian Workers’ Compensation Statistics 2017–18 report.

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