Regulator news

WorkSafe Victoria news

Webinar on Workplace Manslaughter

WorkSafe ran an extremely informative and interesting webinar yesterday on the upcoming workplace manslaughter legislation. The all male panel consisted of:

  1. Rob Kelly, Director, Specialist Services in Health and Safety
  2. Gordon Cooper, Director, Enforcement Group
  3. Dmitry Rozkin, Director, Legislation Policy and Information Services and
  4. Adam Watson, Head of Operations and Emergency Management in Health and Safety

The discussion and Q & A which followed emphasised that the new provisions place no extra duties on duty holders. If employers and other duty holders are following the current OHS requirements now, then they will be come come July 1, when the workplace manslaughter laws take effect. What the laws will change are the consequences: if the negligence of a duty holder leads to the death of a worker (or other person), then the potential consequences of being charged with and found guilty of workplace manslaughter will be up to 20 years in prison for an individual or $16.5 million in corporate fines.  (for more information on the details of the law, go to this page on the WorkSafe website). 

The discussion clarified a number of issues:

  • WorkSafe will work with Victoria Police when investigating workplace related deaths; the WorkSafe investigative team will also work closely with the Office of Public Prosecutions
  • other charges relating to breaches of the Act may be laid, irrespective of whether a charge of workplace manslaughter is laid
  • cases of work-related suicide could be investigated as workplace manslaughter - for example if there has been workplace bullying
  • there is no exemption for small business or farm businesses, and nor should there be, because the duties apply to all equally, and all workers (and those affected, eg visitors to the workplace) deserve equal protection
  • workplace manslaughter and 'common law' manslaughter are two very different things: workplace manslaughter relates directly to the duties under the OHS Act, but makes the consequences more serious. 

WorSafe has indicated that the webinar will be available to view from WorkSafe's website soon. 

New Safety Alert

WorkSafe has issued a reminder about the risks with using unsuitable flexible hose assemblies at dangerous goods facilities following two recent incidents that resulted in loss of containment, and injury to one worker. The incidents were caused by the selection and use of hose assemblies that were not suitable for the intended purpose, with respect to temperature and chemical compatibility, construction materials and inappropriate couplings and fittings. Read more, including information on how to control the risks: Safe selection and use of flexible hose assemblies

Latest edition of Safety Soapbox

WorkSafe sent the May edition of its construction and utilities e-bulletin out today. The editorial, by Kate Maheras, Acting Director, Hazardous Industries and Industry Practices, begins:

"It was only a few weeks ago on the 28th April that we stopped to recognise International Workers’ Memorial Day. The day provides an opportunity to pay respects to those who have died at work, and acknowledges the pain and grief of those they left behind. Sadly, since that day we have lost a further two construction workers, in separate falls from height and it is a sobering reminder that working at heights remains a leading cause of fatalities within the construction industry. There have been nine fatal incidents within the last three years and often they occur as a result of inadequate fall prevention or incomplete systems of work." 

The editorial is well worth reading.

Also in this edition is:

  • advice on COVID-19 and the construction industry, with links to updated guidance. Attached to the bulletin is a document detailing the number of notified incidents during April: 160 incidents were notified to WorkSafe. Of these, 67 per cent resulted in injury.
  • links to Safety Alerts
  • advice that Worksafe has recently become aware there are organisations offering white card through on-line delivery and who are providing what appears to be a white card. These are not genuine, but fake.
  • Interstate news
  • and more. 

Download the May 20 edition of Safety Soapbox.

Safe Work Australia news

COVID-19 workplace guidance

As we keep noting, 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.  This week there is new information for:

Go to the COVID-19 Information page to check for a number of industries, and also general information.

Also check out the SWA COVID-19 Resource Kit, which has information on topics such as how to clean and disinfect the workplace, workplace checklists, and more. A new addition is COVIDSafe App guidance - which makes it clear that a person (including an employer) must not require a worker or other person to download or use COVIDSafe. This includes requiring workers to download COVIDSafe onto work issued and private mobile phones.

National Fatality Statistics 

Safe Work Australia has not updated its workplace fatality statistics since last week: as of May 7 there had been 70 worker fatalities notified to the national body. 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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