Regulator news

WorkSafe Victoria news

Respect our health care workers! 
The regulator sent out a communication today calling for respect for health care workers. This is their message:

Right now, we’re facing extraordinary times, and our pharmacists, GP’s, healthcare, aged care and emergency workers are under more pressure than ever.

These workers support us, and the ones we love, often when we are most vulnerable.

It’s a challenging period for everyone, but there is no excuse for violent or aggressive behaviour from customers or patients and their families.

This unacceptable behaviour can have significant ongoing effects on the physical and mental health of our healthcare workers. These workers deserve our respect.

We must work together to ‘Recognise. Report. Prevent’
  • Recognise - be aware of what constitutes problematic behaviour. Recognise it within yourself and in those around you.
  • Report - if you witness or experience violent or aggressive behaviour, do not get involved. Report it immediately to someone at the healthcare facility, or to the police.
  • Prevent - recognise unacceptable behaviour and unreasonable reactions in yourself. Notice your triggers and take time out before things escalate. If you’re in management at a healthcare service, ensure you implement controls to eliminate or reduce the risks of these incidents, encourage your workers to report them, and act on issues and opportunities.

More information on the WorkSafe website It's never ok.

New complaints system introduced
WorkSafe has introduced a new centralised system for complaints about workers compensation.

The new process has been adopted to respond to one of the recommendations made by the Victorian Ombudsman in her 2019 Report into the management of complex claims for workers.  The process aims to resolve complaints as early as possible and involves regular communication with complainants.
 
The process applies to any complaints received by WorkSafe about workers compensation, and includes complaints in relation to the conduct or service provided by WorkSafe, agents, self-insurers, independent medical examiners or occupational rehabilitation providers. Premium complaints will also be managed through this process.
 
Any complaints of this nature that would ordinarily be referred to WorkSafe, should now be forwarded to complaints@worksafe.vic.gov.au
 
If an injured worker or member of the public asks how they can make a complaint, they should be directed to WorkSafe’s online complaints form or WorkSafe's Advisory line. 
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Comprehensive review of Victoria’s dangerous goods law
The Victorian Government will conduct a comprehensive review of the state’s dangerous goods laws to help put a stop on unsafe chemical stockpiling. Andrew Palmer, QC, has been appointed to conduct the review of the Dangerous Drug Act 1985 and associated regulations.

The move is just one of the latest steps that the government has done in response to chemical stockpiling after two large chemical fires in West Footscray in August 2018 and Campbellfield in April 2019. WorkSafe conducted a safety blitz following the 2018 incident to ensure dangerous chemicals were being stored correctly. Those investigations led to the discovery of waste chemicals stockpiled at 13 sites in Melbourne’s north last year.

A WorkSafe-led taskforce has so far removed over 13 million litres of the stockpiled waste chemicals, clearing four sites in Epping, three in Craigieburn and three in Campbellfield. The final three sites in Campbellfield are currently being cleared.

Tough new penalties were introduced last year. Rogue operators who recklessly manufacture, store, transport, transfer, sell or use dangerous goods in a way that places another person in danger of death will face up to 10 years in jail and fines of more than $6.4 million.

“This review will make sure dangerous goods laws remain effective and keep Victorians safe.” said Minister for Workplace Safety Jill Hennessy. A review of the Act is important to ensure our laws are up to the task of protecting the community from the unacceptable risk that stockpiling of dangerous goods poses and to deal with those who do it. A final report and recommendations are expected to be delivered to the Government next year, with opportunities for public comment and stakeholder engagement later this year. Read more: Victorian government media statement

New guidance on COVID-19

Given that building work has continued during this period, WorkSafe has issued new guidance for the construction sector: Managing the risk of COVID-19 exposure: Construction industry

Latest edition of Safety Soapbox 
The April edition of WorkSafe's Safety Soapbox arrived in our inboxes today.

In this edition, the editorial discusses a recent tragic incident in which a worker sustained a serious laceration to his upper leg while operating a circular saw, severing his femoral artery. The worker was airlifted to hospital where unfortunately he died the next day. Brian Chamberlin, WorkSafe’s Inspector and Construction industry education officer, looks at the common mistakes made when using power saws across the industry. There is also a short video clip in which Brian provides tips on the use of power saws.

In the month of March, 207 incidents were reported to WorkSafe, 67 per cent of which which resulted in injury: 51 per cent of these were significant, and 11 per cent were serious. There were four 'serious near misses' and two fatalities. 36 incidents involved young workers. 
Access the April 22 edition of Safety Soapbox here - the list of reported incidents can be downloaded from the page.

National Fatality Statistics 

There has not been an update since the last edition: As of 9 April there had been 54 worker fatalities notified to the national body. The fatalities have been in the following sectors:

  • 17 in Transport, postal & warehousing
  • 12 in Construction
  • 7 in Agriculture, forestry and fishing
  • 5 in Public administration & safety
  • 5 in Manufacturing 
  • 3 in Mining
  • 2 in Arts & recreation services
  • 1 in Accommodation & food services
  • 1 in Retail trade
  • 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.

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