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Victorian news

Wanted: HSRs for workshops

WorkSafe Victoria is currently looking at how it can better support HSRs.

The regulator would like to talk to HSRs from the manufacturing and health care and social assistance industries to understand the barriers, frustrations and ideas for solutions.

WorkSafe is wanting to know:

  • What stops you from being effective in your HSR role?
  • What supports/training/guidance would enable you in your role?

This is a chance to help shape future HSR support programs at WorkSafe - and it wants HSRs to get involved.

WorkSafe is running virtual workshops on:

  • Wednesday 9th Dec: 12.30pm-2.30pm or 6.30pm-8.30pm (for Manufacturing HSRs) 
  • Thursday 10th Dec: 12.30pm-2.30pm or 6.30pm-8.30pm (for Health Care and Social Assistance HSRs)

Those participating will be reimbursed for their time. If you are interested and willing to be consulted as part of this work, please contact Monica Butler at WorkSafe on monica_butler@worksafe.vic.gov.au

New WorkSafe video on consultation

If you haven't yet checked out WorkSafe's new video on consultation, then do so now. Everyone should know 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. But sometimes, people forget.... So WorkSafe's new video on consultation, specifically in relation to COVID-19 is a useful tool for HSRs and workers to watch and bring 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

WorkSafe's Health and Safety Month webinars available

The regulator's Health and Safety Month series of webinars ‘Navigating through COVID-19’, are now available to download. You can catch up on any webinars you may have missed, or share the ones you liked with your team. There are 12 videos available to download that cover topics such as:

  • managing mental health through the pandemic,
  • working remotely,
  • leadership,
  • fatigue,
  • supporting injured workers,
  • and the impact on premiums.

Hear from WorkSafe and industry experts on how to manage the risks and what support is available. Go to this YouTube page where they are all accessible.

November edition of Safety Soapbox

The November edition of Safety Soapbox was posted this morning.  The editorial in this month's edition notes that there are only a few weeks until the festive season which means that builders, sub-contractors, and workers will be under pressure to get jobs completed prior to the holiday break. The pressure to get work finished often results in workers taking shortcuts and safety measures being ignored.

The editor stresses that it is important site supervisors are especially vigilant during this time to ensure site safety, and recommends extra communication such as site inductions, toolbox talks or informal chats can help keep safety top of mind, and ensure workers remain vigilant. Other issues discussed in the editorial are worker fatigue and the importance of preparing sites for being left unattended over the shutdown. 

This week's absolute shocker is a photo of a worker at a high risk of falling while working on a completely illegal 'scaffold' and comes before an update that WorkSafe is undertaking a falls prevention and scaffolding blitz.  

As always, the Safety Soapbox has the list of incidents reported to WorkSafe: In October the construction industry reported 189 incidents to WorkSafe. Of these, 59 per cent resulted in injury. There were no fatalities, but a total of 71 per cent were either 'significant' or 'serious'. 35 incidents involved young workers. The serious incidents include: a worker losing an unspecified 'bodily function' after falling from a ladder; an electric shock and head injury after a worker suffered an electric shock and fell; and a worker suffering vision impairment and eye injury, after an energised cable came into contact with a conductive material caused an arc flash. Access the November 2020 edition of Safety Soapbox here  - the summaries of reported incidents can be downloaded from the page.

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

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

NSW: trial of silica monitor 

The NSW Government has launched a trial of world-first technology to accurately monitor silica dust levels in the air that has the potential to protect NSW’s workers from contracting the deadly lung disease silicosis.

Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation, Kevin Anderson, said the innovative detector could be used by workers cutting or working with manufactured or other silica containing stone, protecting them from unknowingly inhaling dangerous levels of silica dust. He said that the new detector is one element of the NSW Government’s two-year plan to tackle dust diseases, including silicosis and asbestosis, in the state.

Under the plan the NSW Government has already taken measures to protect workers, including reducing the legal exposure standard for silica exposure and banning dry cutting of manufactured stone: measures taken also in Victoria. NSW has also made silicosis a notifiable disease and established a dust diseases register that will track, respond to, and prevent deadly dust diseases, including asbestosis and silicosis.

The NSW Dust Strategy 2020-22 seeks to coordinate SafeWork NSW’s widespread exposure prevention activities to ensure consistent application of the controls and best practice principles across NSW’s worksites.

“We’ve consulted widely with unions, employers’ associations and the building and construction sector to develop a robust and practical strategy and look forward to working with industry to implement these principles and end dust diseases for good,” Mr Anderson said.

National Fatality Statistics 

Safe Work has not updated its fatality statistics since November 5, at which time there had been 140 worker fatalities notified to the national body. 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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