Regulator news

Victorian news

August 25: Maintaining mental health at work through COVID-19

A webinar is being run at 7pm on August 25 with the Minister for Workplace Safety, Jill Hennessy and Chief Executive of WorkSafe Victoria, Colin Radford. 

COVID-19 has seen many Victorian workplaces close or change and challenged all of our mental health like never before. Anyone who is interested is invited to join Ms Hennessy and Mr Radford as they discuss the importance of maintaining positive mental health throughout this crisis and how we can ensure we have mentally healthy workplaces now, but also on the other side of it. Mr Radford will also participate in a Q&A session with Kashif Bouns, General Manager of the Western Bulldogs Community Foundation. 

Ms Hennessy said, “We need to talk about mental health in the workplace, a conversation that's incredibly important during COVID-19. But it's also a conversation that we need to keep having. This pandemic will end one day, but the need for workplaces to be safe won't.

The webinar is free, but those wishing to participate must register here.

Safety Alert

WorkSafe Victoria last week issued a new Safety Alert: Ensuring the safety of dangerous goods in the event of a shutdown or reduced operations due to coronavirus (COVID-19)  about the importance of having a plan to manage the risks of dangerous goods when temporarily shutting down or reducing the extent of your operations due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Farmers: have you got your safe-tea break pack? 

Too often farmers and farm workers don't end up taking adequate breaks through the day. WorkSafe says even though this may be hard on farms, breaks are not only good for health and safety, but also for the farm’s bottom line. Breaks help reduce fatigue. ' WorkSafe urges farmers to commit to taking regular breaks, and is 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 breaks and working location with family or friends. 

WorkSafe asks that once the pack has been received, the farm/farm worker 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.  Find out more and 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.

The regulations are already accessible in both word and pdf format on the Victorian Legislation website, here. Read more: WorkSafe media releaseMore information on the WorkSafe website

Safe Work Australia

Report published: Occupational lung diseases in Australia

Last week Safe Work Australia published Occupational lung diseases in Australia 2006-2019. The report gives an overview of occupational lung diseases in Australia and identifies industries and occupations where workers may be at risk, such as the construction, mining and quarrying industries, and those working with engineered stone.

The report highlights several significant trends, including:

  • a substantial increase in:

    • pneumoconiosis, especially coal workers pneumoconiosis, and
    • silicosis from working with engineered stone

  • a decline in workers’ compensation claims for asbestos-related occupational lung diseases, such as asbestosis
  • an increase in the understanding of the role of occupational exposure and the risk of developing coal workers pneumoconiosis, and
  • an apparent decline in work-related asthma cases as evidenced by fewer compensation claims.

The report shows that occupational lung diseases continue to be a health concern in Australia and substantially contribute to the burden of lung disease. It was was prepared by the Monash Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health. Read more on this page, where you can also download a copy of Occupational lung diseases in Australia,2006 - 2019.

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 not updated its statistics since the last edition of SafetyNet. As of July 30 there had been 100 worker fatalities notified to the national body. 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.

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