Regulator news

Victorian news

Face Masks now required for Aged care workers

An announcement that aged care staff who work in residential facilities or provide home care support across Victoria’s lock down zones will be required to wear surgical masks following recommendations from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) was made by the Federal Health Department yesterday. The latest advice for aged care workers is in addition to all other infection control and staff screening measures already in place across the sector to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

Minister for Health, Greg Hunt and Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Richard Colbeck, today said personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, would be vital in preventing the introduction of COVID-19 to senior Australians receiving aged care as well as providing protection for carers. An additional four million masks will be made available to aged care and home care providers in the areas with restrictions including Greater Melbourne and Mitchell Shires. 

Victoria reviewing anti-harassment measures across legal sector

The Andrews Government has announced separate reviews of protections against sexual harassment in the state's courts and tribunals, and in the law firms that tender to the government for legal services.

Attorney-General Jill Hennessy said the review of legal service providers would extend to working with partners to examine anti-sexual harassment training for all barristers and solicitors, and seeking internal audits and assurance on their processes.

The Attorney-General has previously noted that legal services suppliers are covered by the Government's supplier code of conduct, which commits them to a workplace free from bullying, harassment, victimisation and abuse. "Suppliers are expected not to bully workers or threaten workers with, or subject them to, unlawful or inhumane treatment," the code says. "This includes, but is not limited to, abuse and harassment which can be verbal, physical, sexual or psychological."

The other inquiry will be conducted across the State's courts and tribunals to examine practices aimed at preventing and addressing sexual harassment. The inquiry will "identify ways to build a culture that calls out sexual harassment, and give workers and others across the justice system the confidence to speak up without fear of reprisal," she said.

The review will consider measures to prevent sexual harassment, improve reporting and support for those who experience sexual harassment, raise awareness, and ensure accountability in workplaces.

It will be led by the former head of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, Dr Helen Szoke, who is also a member of the Judicial Commission and a former federal Race Discrimination Commissioner.
Source: OHSAlert

QLD: regulator cracks down on electrical licenses

Head of the Queensland Electrical Safety Office (ESO) Donna Heelan said a blitz on unlicensed work being advertised and performed via online platforms has already produced results. “Put simply, ‘unlicensed is unlawful’ and we are doing everything in our powers to stamp out this dangerous practise – those who are falsely advertising, those who are actually performing unlicensed work and those who are getting it done. You are all in the ESO’s sights,” Ms Heelan said. 

Earlier this year, a Queensland concreting business and its sole director were fined $42,500 for unsafe and unlicensed electrical practices. In a separate matter, an individual was charged with a total of nine offences relating to unlicensed electrical work and unlicensed electrical contracting and was fined $100,000.00.

Conducting electrical work without a license is an on the spot fine of $400 for an individual and for performing work without holding an electrical contractors license attracts a $500 fine for an individual and $2000 for a corporation. 
For more information on Electrical Safety, visit this page  Read more: Queensland Government cracks down on unlicensed electrical work

Safe Work Australia news

COVID-19 Case Studies
Safe Work Australia has developed a range of COVID-19 case studies for small business. These cover topics such as hygiene, physical distancing, PPE and much more. These are added to - for example this week the hand sanitiser one was added. Check them out on the SWA web page.

New materials and guidance

1 - Practical resources to reduce prolonged sitting when working from home
Safe Work correctly says that one of the most significant factors impacting work/occupational health and safety (WHS) when working from home is prolonged sitting. This year has seen an increase in desk-based workplaces transitioning to, or increasing existing, working from home arrangements to minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. Workplaces across the country have had to adapt their policies and procedures and consult with workers to ensure WHS requirements are met even if workers are at home.

As someone working from home the past few months, I heartily agree!

Safe Work Australia is supporting BeUpstanding – a free evidence-based program designed to address the WHS risks associated with prolonged sitting. Employers and businesses can sign up to the BeUpstanding trial to gain access to resources and guidance on how to encourage workers to stand up, sit less and move more.

The BeUpstanding toolkit includes fact sheets, videos and email templates which are tailored to desk-based workers working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Go to the BeUpstanding website for more information.

2 - Storage of flammable liquids
Safe Work Australia has published a new guide on the storage of flammable liquids, particularly for small to medium sized businesses. It describes the risks of flammable liquids and explains, step by step, how to manage those risks, including working out how flammable the chemicals stored are, which other chemicals they can be safely stored with, how to make sure there is proper ventilation, and ensuring there is correct fire-fighting equipment.

The guide also includes an example of a business that uses and stores flammable liquids, and provides advice about workplace placarding for businesses storing large quantities of flammable liquids. It was developed in consultation with representatives from work health and safety regulators, unions and industry groups. 

3 - Storing and rebottling hand sanitiser case study 
SWA has also published a new case study for businesses using and storing flammable hand sanitisers in response to COVID-19. The case study discusses some simple steps that need to be taken when storing or rebottling hand sanitiser, such as making sure you have the chemicals safety data sheet and making sure you store it in a safe place.

National Fatality Statistics 

There has been no update of the workplace fatality statistics: since July 2 there had been 91 worker fatalities notified to the national body. The fatalities this year have been in the following sectors:

  • 28 in Transport, postal & warehousing
  • 17 in Agriculture, forestry & fishing
  • 15 in Construction
  • 11 in Public administration & safety
  • 9 in Manufacturing 
  • 4 in Mining
  • 2 in 'other services' 
  • 1 in Arts & recreation services
  • 1 in Accommodation & food services
  • 1 in Retail trade
  • 1 in Health care & social assistance
  • 1 in Administrative & support 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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