Regulator news

Victorian news

New WorkSafe video on consultation

Our readers will be aware that employers have a duty to consult with HSRs, and also directly with employees if they wish, in a wide range of situations. This includes when considering any changes to the workplace, the systems of work, plant and so on. WorkSafe has released a new video on consultation, specifically in relation to COVID-19. It's useful for HSRs and workers to watch it and bring it to the attention of their employers. It may also be worthwhile arranging to watch it during your next OHS Committee meeting. Check the video here

Reminder: Independent review of Dangerous Goods Act and Regs - submissions sought

A comprehensive review of Victoria’s dangerous goods laws is currently underway. The Review is part of the Victorian Government’s response to high profile incidents associated with illegal chemical stockpiling at several sites across Melbourne, and is considering issues and challenges in the management of dangerous goods. The Consultation Paper raises a number of issues which address the Review’s Terms of Reference and suggests ways in which those issues might be addressed. It also discusses Victoria’s dangerous goods landscape, the current regulatory framework and presents a list of questions to assist in making submissions.

All interested individuals and organisations are invited to share their views by making a submission. The Terms of Reference, the Consultation Paper and the list of questions can be downloaded from this page of the Engage Victoria website. The closing date for submissions is 5pm, 30 November, 2020. 

Other news

Queensland: new Safety Alert

The Queensland regulator has released a safety alert following an incident in August 2020 in which a worker suffered a chest laceration when the angle grinder he was using ‘kicked back’. The worker was apparently cutting timber and fibre glass with a 125mm angle grinder fitted with a multi-cutter blade.

In a separate incident two months later, a young apprentice suffered serious injuries to his groin, right leg, and stomach when a 9-inch angle grinder he was using kicked back and hit him. Initial investigation suggests he was cleaning a steel beam at the time of the incident.

In the alert, WHSQ emphasizes the importance of ensuring the safe use of angle grinders as serious incidents can occur when cutting and grinding discs are fitted onto hand-held power and air tools. Common injuries include amputated fingers, severed tendons, and deep cuts to the face, upper body, and legs. The safety alert lists what employers must ensure when workers are using power tools or air tools fitted with a disc or blade. 
Read more: Worker injured after angle grinder 'kick back'

Comcare: new eGuide on Psychological Safety

Comcare has continued focus on mental health safety and wellbeing by promoting the health benefits of good work. It has developed a new guide for employers and managers on Psychological Safety in the Workplace. The guide provides practical introductory tools, resources and strategies on how to identify and manage psychosocial safety risks and, help assess and make appropriate adjustments to support workers in the workplace.  

Topics include:

  • Good work
  • Legislative requirements
  • Due diligence requirements
  • Managerial responsibilities - WHS
  • Promote psychological health and safety
  • WHS psychological risk management
  • Promoting health and preventing harm
  • Resources

To access the Psychological Safety in the Workplace eGuidance, employers need to create an account or login to the Comcare learning management system Comcare LMS. It is not clear whether employers who are not under the Comcare system are able to access the guide. 

NSW: Labour hire in the spotlight for work health safety breaches

SafeWork NSW is holding labour hire companies to account after a number of serious workplace incidents that could have easily been avoided.

As a result of one of these incidents where a labour hire worker was injured by a metal turning lathe, Labourforce Impex Personnel Pty Ltd have entered into an enforceable undertaking with SafeWork NSW in lieu of a prosecution. As part of the undertaking, which will cost the company$480,990, Labourforce must:

  • employ a new national safety manager
  • conduct senior management WHS training
  • develop a bespoke electronic WHS management system
  • host an employment forum targeting the risks and issues associated with labour hire workers.

Rick Bultitude, Director Investigations and Emergency Response at SafeWork NSW, said that safety in the labour hire industry is a priority area for the NSW Government

National: COVID-19 Compensation stats

Safe Work Australia has published a snapshot of COVID-19 related workers’ compensation claims data as at 31 July 2020.

Data is provided by claim type, industry, occupation, age, gender and jurisdiction. Key findings show that as at 31 July 2020:

  • 533 workers’ compensation claims related to COVID-19 were lodged in Australia
  • 34 per cent of these claims related to mental health impacts of COVID-19
  • 34 per cent of workers’ compensation claims lodged were from the health care and social assistance industry
  • 17 per cent of workers’ compensation claims lodged were from the public administration and safety industry
  • the ‘community and personal service workers’ occupation had the highest number of workers’ compensation claims.

The data has been collected from the relevant Commonwealth, state and territory workers’ compensation authorities. It is likely that the true numbers will be much higher. Download the snapshot here.

National Fatality Statistics 

Safe Work updated its fatality statistics on November 5, at which time there had been 140 worker fatalities notified to the national body - this is nine more than the previous update on October 22. Of these, three were in Transport, postal & warehousing; two in 'Other services', one each in Public administration & safety, Manufacturing, Accommodation & food services, and in Education and training.      five were in Construction, threetwo in Agriculture, forestry & fishing,  The deaths this year have been in the following sectors:

  • 44 in Transport, postal & warehousing
  • 27 in Agriculture, forestry & fishing
  • 27 in Construction
  • 14 in Public administration & safety
  • 11 in Manufacturing 
  • 5 in Mining 
  • 4 in Accommodation & food services
  • 3 in 'other services' 
  • 1 in Arts & recreation services
  • 1 in Retail trade
  • 1 in Administrative & support services
  • 1 in Wholesale trade
  • 1 in Education and training 

Note that the figures are based on preliminary reports, and so at times will change. 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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