New strategy for health care workplaces
Improving health and safety outcomes for health care and social assistance workers is the focus of a new WorkSafe strategy for the state’s fastest growing industry. The sector employs more Victorians than any other, accounting for almost 15 per cent of the state's workforce, with most of those workers in frontline roles.
According to the safety regulator, the industry is also among the state's most dangerous, accounting for the most claims for workplace injuries in both 2018 and 2019, and recording six workplace fatalities in the past six years. WorkSafe says its Health Care and Social Assistance (HCSA) Industry Strategy 2020-23 aims to drive industry wide cultural change to make workplaces healthier and safer, reduce injuries and illness, and improve support for injured workers. The strategy will specifically focus on the high risk sectors, hospital, residential care and home-based care, and the issues causing the most harm, hazardous manual handling, fatigue and occupational violence and aggression.
WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said WorkSafe and industry stakeholders had worked collaboratively to develop the strategy which puts the health, safety and wellbeing of workers on par with the protection and care of patients and clients. Read more: WorkSafe media release
WorkSafe urges farmers to 'take a break'
The regulator last week sent out emails regarding the need for farmers and farm workers to prioritise taking breaks through the day, pointing out that while this can be hard on farms, breaks might be good for the farm’s bottom line. WorkSafe says breaks help reduce fatigue, meaning improved reaction times and memory.
The regulator is asking farmers to commit to taking regular well-deserved breaks, and are offering a safe-tea break pack to assist. The pack includes:
- a thermos
- box of Yarra Valley Tea
- cooler bag
- bag tag
- a fridge magnet and pen to communicate your breaks and working location with family or friends.
WorkSafe asks that once the pack has been received, the farmer sends a photo or short video of themselves enjoying a well-deserved break - and go in the draw to win a years’ supply of Yarra Valley Tea. Order the pack here. For more tips to avoid fatigue on the farm, visit this WorkSafe webpage.
Reminder: employers must notify WorkSafe of any positive COVID-19 cases in the workplace
As of July 28, 2020, employers and self-employed persons must notify WorkSafe immediately after becoming aware that:
- an employee, independent contractor, employee of the independent contractor or self-employed person has received a confirmed diagnosis of coronavirus (COVID-19) and;
- the employee, independent contractor, employee of the independent contractor or self-employed person has attended the workplace within the relevant infection period.
Immediate notification to WorkSafe is to be done on this number: 13 23 60. WorkSafe will then lodge details of the incident, email the employer a link to an online incident notification form,and advise whether an inspector will attend, and whether the incident scene can be disturbed before the inspector's attendance.
The online incident notification form must then be completed and lodged within 48 hours - employers will then receive a confirmation email with a copy for their records. Failing to notify WorkSafe under section 38 of the OHS Act can lead to fines of up to $39,652 (240 penalty units) for an individual or $198,264 (1200 penalty units) for a body corporate.
Safe Work Australia
Reminder: National Safety Month theme - Work Health and Safety through COVID-19
Safe Work Australia has launched the theme for this year’s National Safe Work Month: Work Health and Safety through COVID-19. It also launched a campaign kit.
The national body says that this year’s theme acknowledges and reflects the impacts of COVID-19 on work health and safety. It recognises that every Australian workplace has been affected by the global pandemic and that workplaces have had to adapt their practices and procedures to reduce the WHS risks associated with the disease. This year’s campaign kit resources are digitally focused and include web graphics, social media tiles and document templates which can be customised to appeal to a broad range of organisations and industries.
Safe Work says that over the coming months, additional resources will be made available on the National Safe Work Month website, including animations and information sheets on COVID-19 work health and safety.
COVID-19 Information for workplaces
A reminder of the information for workplaces on the SWA website - for specific industries, case studies, how to do risk assessments, and much more. Check it here.
National Fatality Statistics
Safe Work has updated its statistics since the last edition of SafetyNet. As of July 30 there had been 100 worker fatalities notified to the national body - this is five more than the previous update. The fatalities this year have been in the following sectors:
- 33 in Transport, postal & warehousing
- 19 in Agriculture, forestry & fishing
- 16 in Construction
- 11 in Public administration & safety
- 9 in Manufacturing
- 5 in Mining
- 2 in 'other services'
- 1 in Arts & recreation services
- 1 in Accommodation & food services
- 1 in Retail trade
- 1 in Administrative & support services
- 1 in Electrical, gas, water, & waste services
To check for updates, and for more details on fatalities since 2003, go to the Safe Work Australia Work-related fatalities webpage.