Regulator news

WorkSafe Victoria news

High level of coronavirus-related queries

According to the ABC, as of last week, WorkSafe Victoria had received 647 calls requesting information about coronavirus in the workplace and 299 service requests. The calls  included workers concerned about inadequate infection controls and employers asking for advice on enforcing physical distancing requirements. 

WorkSafe Victoria has also conducted 347 coronavirus-specific workplace visits and issued 11 compliance notices as of last week. The compliance notices related to workplaces not meeting physical distancing protocols, as well as having inadequate screening, hygiene and cleaning. From the editor's point of view, this number seems surprisingly low: however, it is heartening to know that notices are being issued. 

A WorkSafe spokesperson said employees who had concerns about workplace health or safety should call WorkSafe's advisory line on 1800 136 089. United Workers Union (UWU) national secretary Tim Kennedy said calling WorkSafe was not enough and urged employees to contact their unions if their workplace was not safe. He said employers needed to be providing the appropriate equipment, adhering to social distancing guidelines, and providing resources for handwashing. HSRs who have concerns should contact their union or send a query in to Ask Renata.  Read more: ABC online

Free accommodation for hospital workers and paramedics self-isolation needed

The Victorian Government has announced that hospital workers and paramedics will get access to free accommodation if they need to self-isolate. A few days later the NSW government announced a similar scheme. 

Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos announced on Sunday that hospital workers who test positive for coronavirus, and those that have had unanticipated and unprotected contract with a person suspected of having coronavirus will be put up in hotels or apartments to self-isolate free of charge - if they so wish. This will allow health workers to self-isolate while keeping their families or housemates safe.

Healthcare workers are more likely to be diagnosed with the virus than any other workforce and are at greater risk of coming into close contact with someone infected with coronavirus.

The accommodation will be offered to clinical and non-clinical staff including cooks and cleaners at public and private hospitals that directly engage with patients, as well as frontline paramedics and patient transport staff. 
Read more: Victorian Government media release

New Safety Alert following fatality in paddock 

WorkSafe Victoria has issued a Safety Alert following the death of a arm worker after he was struck and killed by a lunch trailer. The freak incident occurred while the trailer was being moved closer to workers in a paddock. The Alert provides advice on what employers need to do in order to reduce the risks to health and safety when operating heavy equipment on farms. 
Read more: Farm worker killed by reversing trailer in a paddock

Safe Work Australia news

COVID-19 resources
Safe Work Australia is continually adding more materials on the COVID-19 situation. We reported on some last week, but here are more: 

New industry-specific information on minimising the risk of exposure to COVID-19 is also available:

A range of resources, fact sheets and infographics are also available to download in the new Business resource kit.

Safe Work Australia has also issued a Statement of Regulatory Intent for COVID-19. This statement sets out the enforcement approach that Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulators (excluding Victoria) will take to ensure compliance with Australian WHS laws during the COVID-19 pandemic.

National Fatality Statistics

Safe Work Australia has not updated its statistics since last week. As of 26 March there had been 43 worker fatalities notified to the national body - five more since the previous update on 12 March. Four of these were in the agriculture, forestry and fishing industries. 

The fatalities this year have come from the following industries:

  • 17 in Transport, postal & warehousing
  • 9 in Construction
  • 6 in Agriculture, forestry and fishing
  • 5 in Public administration & safety
  • 3 in Mining
  • 2 in Manufacturing
  • 1 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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