Regulator news

WorkSafe Victoria news

Safety alert on falls

WorkSafe has issued a safety alert after there were two fatal falls in construction over a seven day period. As reported in SafetyNet, the first fatality was at a residential construction site when a worker fell from scaffolding to the ground. He suffered severe head injuries and died in hospital two days later. The second fatality was a self-employed worker who was undertaking work on a pergola under construction at a residential site. Roof sheeting had been removed from the pergola and he fell through an opening to the ground below, suffering fatal head injuries. 

The regulator issued the alert to remind employers and workers of the potentially deadly risks associated with working from heights without adequate fall protection. Falls are a leading cause of fatalities within the construction industry, and that they often occur as a result of inadequate fall prevention or incomplete systems of work.

Where there is a risk of falling more than two metres, employers must eliminate that risk so far as is reasonably practicable. For example, by undertaking work on the ground or on a solid construction. If the risk of a fall cannot be eliminated, employers must reduce any remaining risk as far as is reasonably practicable by implementing the controls in a specific order - outlined in more detail in the alert.  Read more: Two fatal falls in construction within a seven day period

Reminder: Webinar on the Workplace manslaughter laws

This is a reminder of the WorkSafe webinar on Tuesday May 19, at 11am - 12.30pm, WorkSafe. There will be a panel of WorkSafe experts, who will explain what the introduction of the new industrial manslaughter law will mean for employers and what needs to be done to comply. Participants will be able to ask the panel questions during the live session.

The webinar will feature a panel of WorkSafe representatives:
.
  • Rob Kelly, Director, Specialist Services in Health and Safety
  • Gordon Cooper, Director, Enforcement Group
  • Dmitry Rozkin, Director, Legislation Policy and Information Services and
  • Adam Watson, Head of Operations and Emergency Management in Health and Safety

There is a limit to the number of participants, so if you are interested, register asap. To find out more and register, please click here.

NSW: warning on fake face masks

SafeWork NSW has issued a Safety Alert warning that due to the increased demand for PPE as a result of COVID-19, construction businesses (and PCBUs) and some other industries have had difficulty getting P2 disposable respirators used for protection against dusts and chemicals including silica, asbestos and lead. This extra demand is leading to fake respiratory protective equipment (RPE) entering the Australian market. The regulator recommends that before purchasing RPE, PCBUs need to make sure it meets the Australian Standard or international equivalent, especially when there is any doubt about its performance claims. Read more: Supply of fake face masks

Safe Work Australia news

COVID-19 workplace guidance

The Safe Work Australia website is continually being updated to provide a central hub of work health and safety (WHS) guidance and tools to help Australian workplaces manage the health and safety risks posed by COVID-19. 

The website gives users easy access to guidance that is directly relevant to their specific industry. It includes guidance about physical distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, workers’ compensation, how to conduct risk assessments and design emergency plans, as well as providing case studies to help explain how to manage the risk of COVID-19 in the workplace. Unions have had some input into this guidance. 

Go to COVID-19 Information for workplaces and filter the content using the new drop-down menus to find information and resources tailored for: 

  • employers, small business and workers 
  • the industry you work in, and 
  • the health and safety topic that you would like information on. 

There are 23 industries to choose from as well as general industry information if your industry is not listed.

You can also use the search bar to find specific COVID-19 WHS content or browse through the information for your industry. New information and guidance continue to be developed and the website will be updated with new information as the COVID-19 situation evolves. 

National Fatality Statistics 

Safe Work Australia has updated its workplace fatality statistics: as of May 7 there had been 70 worker fatalities notified to the national body. This is seven more than the last update on April 23. Three of these were in the Transport, postal & warehousing sector, two in manufacturing,  and one each in construction and wholesale trade. The fatalities have been in the following sectors:

  • 23 in Transport, postal & warehousing
  • 13 in Construction
  • 9 in Public administration & safety
  • 8 in Agriculture, forestry & fishing
  • 7 in Manufacturing 
  • 4 in Mining
  • 2 in Arts & recreation services
  • 1 in Accommodation & food services
  • 1 in Retail trade
  • 1 in Wholesale 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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