Regulator news

WorkSafe Victoria news

Latest HSR newsletter

WorkSafe has just posted out its latest newsletter for HSRs. The newsletter has items on:

  • the updated PIN form released last year - funnily enough though, the video which accompanies this item and is quite good, still features the old PIN form!
  • WorkSafe's HSR research group - an invitation for HSRs to sign up to this group (and to have the chance to win a prize!). This may provide HSRs with a unique opportunity to tell WorkSafe directly what they think and the issues they are facing
  • the importance of consultation, particularly in ensuring the employer manages heat risks in the workplace
  • using a QR code to access materials for HSRs on your phone.

Download the February 16 edition of WorkSafe's HSR newsletter here

Reminder: Public comment sought on 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) closes COB tomorrow, Thursday 18 February 2021

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. Find out more here

New Safety Alert

WorkSafe has issued an alert to highlight the dangers of the incorrect use of soft slings when lifting loads. A number of soft sling failures in workplaces have occurred recently, resulting in life threatening injuries and serious near-misses. Incorrect use of soft slings (also known as synthetic fibre slings) can result in the sudden failure of a sling, even when the load being lifted is below the working load limit (WLL) of the sling.

The Alert goes through the numerous safety issues and provides recommendations on how to control the associated risks. These include sling selection, cut protection, regular inspections and storage & handling. Read more: Safety Alert Soft sling failures due to incorrect use 

February edition of Safety Soapbox

The latest edition of WorkSafe's Safety Soapbox was posted today.  The editorial in this month's edition is on new workers and the requirements for training. This edition's absolute shocker is on the dangers of using ladders incorrectly and the high risk of falls. There is also an item which outlines the results of WorkSafe's recent Electrical Blitz on domestic and commercial construction sites with a focus on the Principal Contractor’s management of electrical risks onsite. Of the 286 visits conducted over a six week period, 59 per cent were conducted in the domestic sector and 35 per cent in the commercial sector. The good news was that they found a high level of compliance (80 - 90 per cent) in a number of areas. However, the bad news is that they found that the Residual current Device (RCD) was not appropriately restricted, inspected or appropriately maintained at over a quarter of sites visited.

As always, the Safety Soapbox has the list of incidents reported to WorkSafe: In December the construction industry reported 179 incidents to WorkSafe. Of these, 68 per cent resulted in injury. The figures for January, 2021 were 98 incidents, with 70 per cent resulting in injury. There we no fatalities. Access the February 2021 edition of Safety Soapbox here  - the summaries of reported incidents can be downloaded from the page.

Major Hazards forum

WorkSafe is hosting the National Major Hazard Facilities Forum online this year. It will be a 'virtual' two day event, to be held on May 4 and 5.  

WorkSafe says that the purpose of this event is to bring together like-minded persons from across Australia to share best practice with the aim of improving safety outcomes and reducing risk at Major Hazard Facilities. The forum will:
  • Engage Major Hazard Facility operators, safety practitioners and regulators with modern safety theory
  • Challenge existing paradigms about safety management at Major Hazard Facilities
  • Hear from guest speakers from industry, regulators, and academia as well as practical case studies and facilitated workshops
The day will be structured around the theme of Resilience Thinking: Driving better safety outcomes. 
It would be fantastic if HSRs from at facilities which have been designated as being 'Major Hazard Facilities' could also participate with their management representatives. Further event and ticketing information to be announced, but companies can pre-register their interest in attending here.
National News 

New fact sheet on Ventilation and COVID 

Safe Work Australia has released a new fact sheet with information about ventilation in indoor workplaces. Ensuring heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are well-maintained and operating properly is important for indoor workplaces to manage the risk of COVID-19 transmission. It outlines how making sure that workplace fans do not blow air from one person to another, and maintaining heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in accordance with the relevant regulations, are some of a series of steps employers should take to improve ventilation in indoor spaces and reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Download the fact sheet here: Improving ventilation in indoor workplaces – COVID-19

National Fatality Statistics 

Safe Work Australia has not updated its statistics since the last edition of SafetyNet. 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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