Better mental health support for Victorian workers
Victorian workers who suffer a work-related mental health injury will soon be able to access early treatment and support, after new legislation was introduced into Parliament last week.
The Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Amendment (Provisional Payments) Bill 2020 comes after an election commitment from the Andrews Labor Government to ensure no worker has to wait to get urgent care. Under the new laws, Victorian workers who seek compensation for a mental health injury under WorkCover will receive payments to cover reasonable medical expenses while they await the outcome of their claim. Mental injury claims have grown significantly in recent years and are expected to account for a third of all workers’ compensation claims by 2030.
“These landmark reforms will ensure that Victorian workers gets the urgent support they deserve – and can get better and return to work as soon as they can,” said the Minister for Workplace Safety Ingrid Stitt. “With more and more workers seeking help for mental health injuries, it’s vital that we remove barriers that prevent people from accessing care and support as soon as they need it.” Read more: Victorian government media release.
WorkSafe Victoria news
WorkSafe urges holiday safety
The regulator says: "Don’t let the holiday rush lead to tragedy - the holiday season is fast approaching and many of us are keen to get 2020 over and done with". But WorkSafe warns that when workers are rushed to finish jobs before the holidays, the chances of errors are higher and can lead to serious, or even tragic incidents. WorkSafe says: "Slow down and stay safe, so we can all put 2020 safely behind us". The regulator has made resources available for specific industries - check out the material here.
New Safety alert on powerlines
WorkSafe has issued a safety alert about managing the risks of overhead powerlines. Over the past 2.5 years, there have been two fatalities involving overhead powerlines on farming properties. The alert goes through the safety issue, recommended ways to control the risk, and provides advice to employers. Read more: Managing the risks of overhead powerlines
Sill needed: 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 needs extra HSRs from the manufacturing sector in particular.
WorkSafe wantings to know:
- What stops HSRs from being effective in their role?
- What supports/training/guidance would enable JSRs in their role?
This is a chance to help shape future HSR support programs at WorkSafe - and it wants HSRs to get involved.
There are going to be two 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 [email protected]
National Work-related fatalities, 2019
Safe Work Australia has released the Work-related Traumatic Injury Fatalities Australia 2019 report, which provides the latest detailed national statistics on all workers and bystanders fatally injured at work.
The 2019 report shows that over the last decade, the number and rate of work-related fatalities have been gradually decreasing. In 2007, the fatality rate was 3.0 fatalities per 100,000 workers. In 2019, this rate has decreased by 53 per cent to 1.4 fatalities per 100,000 workers. The number of work-related fatalities recorded in 2018 represented an unusual decrease compared to the longer-term trends in fatality numbers.
While the number of work-related fatalities has been steadily decreasing over the last decade, any workplace death is tragic and unacceptable. Understanding the causes of injury and the industries most affected can help reduce work-related fatalities.
The report details that in 2019 62 per cent of worker fatalities occurred in the following industries:
- Transport, postal and warehousing (58 fatalities)
- Agriculture, forestry and fishing (30 fatalities)
- Construction (26 fatalities)
The most common causes of worker fatalities in 2019 were:
- Vehicle collisions (43 per cent)
- Falls from a height (11 per cent)
- Hit by falling objects (11 per cent)
The report and data is drawn from a range of sources, including reporting of fatalities in the media, notifications from jurisdictional authorities, and the National Coronial Information System. This report provides complements and provides additional detail to the Key Work Health and Safety Statistics published on 12 October 2020.
New national guidance on prevention of falls
Safe Work Australia data shows that over the past 5 years, there were 122 fatalities from falls from heights. This accounted for 13 per cent of worker fatalities. Workers most at risk were those in the construction industry, with most fatalities caused by falls from buildings or other structures.
Serious workers’ compensation claims that resulted from falls from heights declined 17 per cent between 2009-10 and 2018-19, however, during this period, falls from heights still accounted for 6 per cent of serious claims. Employers and those who manage or are in control of a workplace, have a responsibility to eliminate or minimise the risk of falls from heights.
Eliminating the risk may include working on the ground or on a solid structure. Minimising the risk may involve using:
- fall prevention devices (e.g. fences, edge protection)
- work positioning systems (e.g. an elevating work platform), or
- fall arrest systems (i.e. safety nets, harnesses).
In most cases, a combination of control measures will provide the best solution to minimise the risk to the lowest level reasonably practicable.
For practical guidance, check Safe Work Australia's model Code of Practice: Managing the risk of falls at workplaces and model Code of Practice: Managing the risk of falls in housing construction.
SWA has also published three infographics that can be downloaded and shared with workers or placed around the workplace:
National Fatality Statistics
Safe Work has not updated its fatality statistics on November 19, at which time there had been 147 worker fatalities notified to the national body. The deaths this year have been in the following sectors:
- 49 in Transport, postal & warehousing
- 30 in Agriculture, forestry & fishing
- 27 in Construction
- 14 in Public administration & safety
- 12 in Manufacturing
- 5 in Mining
- 3 in 'other services'
- 2 in Accommodation & food 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.