Regulator News

Victorian News

Proposed OHS Amendment (Crystalline Silica) Regulations 2021

Public comment on the proposed Occupational Health and Safety Amendment (Crystalline Silica) Regulations 2021 (proposed Regulations) and associated Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) is now open.

The proposed Regulations aim to improve risk assessment and information relating to the control measures for reducing exposure to respirable crystalline silica dust. They will also maintain a ban on uncontrolled dry-cutting of engineered stone and includes a licensing system for workplaces that use engineered stone - currently banned under the interim regulations introduced in May 2019. These had been due to expire on August 20, 2019, but were extended to allow the development of the current proposed amendment, and public comment. WorkSafe Victoria invites workers, HSRs, unions, employers and members of the public to review and make comment on the proposed Regulations and RIS. Public comment closes at 5pm, Thursday 18 February 2021
Find out more here

New Safety Alert

In December last year WorkSafe Victoria issued a safety alert about the risks associated with operating plant with inadequate guarding.

Two employees received crush injuries and amputations to their hands after working with unguarded power presses. The guarding was not interlocked with the power press, so the employees were able to continue operating the press without any guarding.

At another workplace an employee was operating a power press to cut out metal parts for manufacturing. The employee was able to use tools to disable the mechanical interlock and operate the press with guarding in the open position. The plant also had an electrical interlock switch which was not operational. The employee placed their hand in the press area of the plant during operation where three fingers were amputated and a fourth finger was partially amputated.
Check the Safety Alert here. 

National news 

Preventing workplace sexual harassment, violence and aggression

New national work health and safety guidance has been developed by Safe Work Australia. The new resources provide practical guidance to businesses to help them prevent workplace sexual harassment, violence, aggression and domestic violence.

Under Australia’s model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws, employers must proactively manage risks to health and safety arising from work. This includes both physical and mental health. The new information provides guidance to anyone who has a WHS duty to protect the health and safety of workers.

1 - Preventing workplace sexual harassment 

The Australian Human Rights Commission’s report on sexual harassment in Australian workplaces highlighted how prevalent sexual harassment is and the harm it is causing. Employers can and must do much more than just respond to complaints. WHS duties require employers do everything they reasonably can to prevent sexual harassment from occurring at work, just like other risks to health and safety.

The new Guide: Preventing workplace sexual harassment is the first comprehensive WHS guidance in Australia to focus on preventing sexual harassment. The guidance supports business and organisations to meet their WHS duties with practical steps to identify risks and prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.

The guide is supported by information sheets for small businesses and workers:

For more information, go to the Workplace sexual harassment web page.

2 - Preventing workplace violence and aggression 

The Guide: Preventing workplace violence and aggression provides information for persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs), such as employers, on how to manage the risk of violence and aggression in the workplace, including gendered violence.

The guide is supported by information sheets for small businesses and workers:

The information sheet Family and domestic violence has been developed to provide PCBUs with guidance on managing the risk of family and domestic violence at the workplace. The information sheet provides guidance on how businesses can help provide a safe environment for workers and where to seek more advice.

For more information, go to the Workplace violence and aggression web page.

Public comment sought on exposure standards 

Safe Work Australia is calling for public comment on the remaining 168 workplace exposure standards for airborne contaminants. SWA is reviewing the Workplace exposure standards for airborne contaminants (WES) to ensure they are based on high quality evidence and supported by a rigorous scientific approach.

Comments are requested on 168 draft evaluation reports from paraffin wax to zirconium compounds (release 15). 

Each draft report includes:

  • a recommended WES value
  • information about the basis of the recommendation, and
  • a summary of the data relied upon to make the recommendation.

Feedback is sought on the WES values and technical comments regarding:

  • the toxicological information and data that the value is based upon, and 
  • the measurement and analysis information provided.

The review will result in the development of a list of health-based recommendations for the workplace exposure standards in Australia. This includes recommendation on the workplace exposure standards values, notations and the list of chemicals.

To provide your comment, go to the Workplace exposure standards review on Engage. For more information go to the Review of the workplace exposure standards web page.

Work health and safety and workers’ compensation scheme performance in 2018–19

Safe Work Australia has released the latest Comparative Performance Monitoring report, providing trend analyses on the work health and safety (WHS) and workers’ compensation schemes operating in Australia and New Zealand.

This report facilitates the improvement of work health and safety, workers’ compensation and related service outcomes in Australia and New Zealand by:

  • monitoring the comparative performance of jurisdictions over time, and
  • enabling benchmarking across jurisdictions and the identification of best practice to support policy making.

The report is divided into 3 parts: 

  1. Focuses on work health and safety performance
  2. Focuses on WHS compliance and enforcement activities
  3. Compares the workers’ compensation premium rates, entitlements and scheme performance of jurisdictions across Australia.

National Fatality Statistics 

As at 4 February, 9 Australian workers were killed at work in 2021. In 2020, 173 Australian workers were killed at work compared with 183 workers in 2019.

The 2020 and 2021 figures listed in the table on the SWA website are based mainly on initial media reports and provide a preliminary estimate of the number of people killed while working. Once the appropriate authority has investigated the death, more accurate information becomes available from which Safe Work Australia updates details of the incident. Updated information is used to publish Safe Work Australia’s annual Work-related Traumatic Injury Fatalities report which includes finalised work-related fatalities from 2003 onwards.

The deaths this year have been in the following sectors:

  • 3 in Transport, postal & warehousing
  • 2 in Agriculture, forestry & fishing
  • 1 in Arts & recreation services
  • 1 in Construction
  • 1 in Manufacturing 
  • 1 in Wholesale trade

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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