Regulator news

WorkSafe Victoria News

Reducing the risks of working with lead

WorkSafe is urging employers at workplaces where lead processes are carried out to follow updated guidance as a new lead exposure standard and monitoring requirements comes into force today. 

To coincide with the updated regulations, WorkSafe as released new guidance Lead: A guidebook for workplaces which replaces the former code of practice.

The guidance provides definitions and examples of lead processes and lead-risk work, has information on legal duties for both employers and employees regarding risk and control measures, and outlines obligations in relation to health monitoring of workers. It also includes tables to help employers monitor the blood lead levels of workers who undertake lead-risk work.

The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 impose legal responsibilities on employers and employees in relation to lead exposure in workplaces where lead processes are carried out, and further obligations when lead-risk work is being performed.

This includes notifying WorkSafe that lead-risk work is being undertaken, arranging health monitoring of employees, and removing employees from lead-risk work if their blood lead levels reach certain thresholds.
Read more: WorkSafe media release. Lead: A guidebook for workplaces

Webinar: Understanding Workplace Manslaughter 

From July 1 2020, workplace manslaughter will be a jailable offence in Victoria.

In advance of the new legislation coming into effect, WorkSafe held an educational webinar about workplace manslaughter and what it means for Victorians. During this webinar, a panel of WorkSafe experts spoke about what employers need to know and understand about workplace manslaughter and answered questions during a live QandA.

To catch up on an edited edition of the webinar and for further information on workplace manslaughter, please visit this page of the WorkSafe website. 

New Safety Alert

Following the death of a child in mid May after crashing a 'side by side' all terrain vehicle on a private property off Cressy-Shelford Road at Shelford, near Geelong, WorkSafe has issued a Safety Alert addressing Side-by-side vehicle safety. The alert warns: "Operating side-by-sides can pose a number of risks to drivers and passengers. When a side-by-side overturns, there is the risk of being killed if thrown from or crushed by the vehicle. People can also be thrown around inside the cabin or hit by loose objects, and receive serious or even fatal injuries."

National news  

National Fatality Statistics 

Safe Work Australia updated its workplace fatality statistics last week: as of June 4 there had been 78 worker fatalities notified to the national body - this is two more since the last update, one in Transport, postal & warehousing, and the other in Agriculture, forestry & fishing. We send our sincerest condolences to the families, friends and work mates of those killed. The fatalities this year have been in the following sectors:

  • 25 in Transport, postal & warehousing
  • 14 in Construction
  • 12 in Agriculture, forestry & fishing
  • 9 in Public administration & safety
  • 8 in Manufacturing 
  • 4 in Mining
  • 2 in Arts & recreation services
  • 2 in 'other services'
  • 1 in Accommodation & food services
  • 1 in Retail trade

To check for updates, and for more details on fatalities since 2003, go to the Safe Work Australia Work-related fatalities webpage.

Changes in chemicals regulation 

Safe Work Australia has announced that the start date for transitioning from the third to the seventh revised edition of the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS 7) has been postponed because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Australian businesses. 

SWA members had agreed to start adopting the new safety system from 1 July 2020, in part to ensure the process commenced before the European Union, a key trading partner, completed its transition to GHS 7 in October, but the new start date is 1 January 2021, followed by a two-year transitional period. This change is long overdue and should have gone ahead. 

However, while GHS 7 has been delayed, the new risk-based regulatory scheme for the introduction of industrial chemicals in Australia is still scheduled to commence in just over two weeks' time.

The scheme was established by a six-Bill package replacing the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) with the Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme (AICIS), reducing the number of newly manufactured or imported chemicals requiring pre-market safety assessments. It purports to strengthen enforcement powers to protect workers' safety - although unions have concerns with whether these powers will in fact be as effective as is claimed. The new scheme also bans most cosmetic testing on animals.

Both the ACTU and the VTHC wrote numerous submissions arguing the proposed scheme was too heavily self-regulated, giving industry too much discretion in deciding whether a new chemical was hazardous or not, and if hazardous, how hazardous. If a company assesses a chemical is 'very low risk' then it can be introduced without notification to the regulator or to the public.  As well as unions, Cancer Council Australia, public health experts, environmentalists and academics voiced their alarm about the new system in written and oral submissions, with fears it could unleash the next toxic chemical disaster on the public. Dr Mariann Lloyd-Smith from the National Toxics Network branded the changes a "disaster in the making".
Read more: The Sydney Morning Herald, the NICNAS/AICIS website for more information on the new record-keeping and categorisation requirements for imported and manufactured chemicals. Source: OHSAlert


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