Regulator news

Victorian news

Charges laid over Tottenham fire

WorkSafe has charged a Harkness man with endangering people at a workplace following a 2018 chemical fire at Tottenham.

Graham Leslie White, 59, has been charged under sections 32 and 26 of the OHS Act for recklessly engaging in conduct that placed or may have placed people in danger of serious injury and for failing to ensure that the Tottenham site, and the means of entering and leaving it, were safe and without risks to health. This is one of the few prosecutions ever taken by WorkSafe under s32 of the Act. If found guilty, then White could face up to five years in jail. 

They are among 26 charges under the OHS Act and sections 31 and 31C of the Dangerous Goods Act, (which relate to four warehouses at which it is alleged that dangerous goods were stored – the Tottenham warehouse and three sites in Campbellfield). The matters are listed for a filing hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court on 14 September. 
Read more: WorkSafe media release

New COVID-19 related resources from Victoria's regulator 

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

A reminder of the WorkSafe webinar 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.

Reminder: employers have increased duties due to COVID-19

In extending Victoria's state of emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic by four weeks, Premier Daniel Andrews this week reminded employers that they could be fined $100,000 for failing to comply with social distancing, isolation or worker-permit requirements.

"[The pandemic] is far from over and our best weapon against the spread of this deadly virus is limiting movement. In Melbourne, that means following Stage 4 restrictions and not leaving your house during the curfew hours of 8pm to 5am, unless it is for work, medical care or caregiving," the Premier said yesterday. "Only permitted workers can attend work premises," he said.

Melbourne employers in industries allowed to continue operating under the current restrictions must have in place COVIDSafe plan and comply with the Permitted Worker Scheme, which involves providing a permitted worker permit to employees required to attend a work site, and these employees carrying their permits when travelling to and from work. 

In addition, the notification requirements changed in late July: 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, which must be completed and lodged within 24 hours, and advise whether an inspector will attend, and whether the incident scene can be disturbed before the inspector's attendance. 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.
Read more: WorkSafe media releaseMore information on the WorkSafe website

Tradie Health and Safety Month

WorkSafe has announced that it's Tradie National Health Month. It tells employers that "now more than ever your workers' physical and mental safety should be top of mind. Get the right tools for the job by taking advantage of free programs that offer support for small and medium businesses - just like yours." WorkSafe has a webpage with tips and tools for employers and tradies. Check it out here.

Advice for farms on workplace manslaughter

WorkSafe Victoria reminds farmers that workplace manslaughter is a criminal offence under occupational health and safety laws. Farm owners, managers and directors must ensure a safe and healthy workplace. WorkSafe says: "if someone dies on your farm, you could be prosecuted under the new law."

It stresses that the new law does not create additional responsibilities; it just introduces tougher penalties. It says, "If you're already complying with your work health and safety duties, and continue to, you're doing the right thing. If you're not complying, and not thinking about workplace risk, the consequences can be much tougher."
Go to this page to download general tips for ensuring the farm is a safe and healthy workplace. 

Safe Work Australia

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 this page for the range of information and resource.

National Fatality Statistics 

Safe Work updated its statistics on August 13, at which time there had been 104 worker fatalities notified to the national body - this is four more fatalities since the last update on July 30. The fatalities this year have been in the following sectors:

  • 34 in Transport, postal & warehousing
  • 21 in Agriculture, forestry & fishing
  • 16 in Construction
  • 11 in Public administration & safety
  • 10 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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