Regulator News

Victorian news

WorkSafe Victoria issues Safety Alert after fatality

The VWA has issued the alert to highlight the dangers of overhanging items in storage racking, following the death of an employee in the first days of March this year. The worker, who was operating a reach forklift, was fatally injured when the forklift struck items that were stored at height and overhanging the aisle, causing the items to fall and strike him on the head.

Items stored in storage racking should not be overhanging. In the event that a forklift strikes overhanging items, the items could become dislodged or unstable, putting employees at risk of serious or fatal injuries due to falling items. 

The Safety Alert, Employee dies after overhanging items fall from storage racking, sets out recommended ways to control the risks, and reminds employers of their legal duties. 

New HSR newsletter

WorkSafe has this week issued its latest edition of the HSR newsletter. In it WorkSafe provides advice on:

  • Returning to work (after the COVID working from home measures) 
  • Infection Prevention and Control training for Disability Service Provider Workers
  • The role of the HSR vs the OHS Committee
  • HSR Support Officers 
  • WorkWell: WorkSafe’s Workplace Mental Health Guide for COVID-19
  • and more

National News 

Statement of regulatory intent - COVID-19

Last week Australia's workplace health and safety regulators updated the COVID-19 Statement of Regulatory Intent which sets out their approach to compliance during the pandemic.

The statement now includes information on the COVID-19 vaccine as an additional control measure that employers should consult their workers about to manage COVID-19 workplace risks. All Australians who can be vaccinated are encouraged to do so in accordance with the Australian Government’s COVID-19 vaccination plan.

Employers should follow the public health advice in their jurisdictions. While vaccinations are considered a high order risk control measure, employers should continue to apply all reasonably practicable COVID-19 control measures.

For the latest information and ongoing updates on what this may mean for workplaces, workers and some of the key considerations for employers:

Note that the advice from the Fair Work Ombudsman regarding mandating vaccinations is:

In the current circumstances, the overwhelming majority of employers should assume that they won’t be able to require their employees to be vaccinated against coronavirus.

There are currently no laws or public health orders in Australia that specifically enable employers to require their employees to be vaccinated against coronavirus. The Australian Government’s policy is that receiving a vaccination is voluntary, although it aims to have as many Australians vaccinated as possible.

There are, however, limited circumstances where an employer may require their employees to be vaccinated.

The document then provides more information about the factors that might warrant this.

National Fatality Statistics 

Safe Work Australia updated its statistics on fatalities on March 18, at which time they had been notified that 23 Australian workers had been killed at work in 2021; this is five more since March 4.  The five deaths were: two in Arts & recreation services one each in Construction, Electricity, gas, water & waste services, and Public administration & safety. The deaths this year have been in the following sectors:

  • 9 in Transport, postal & warehousing 
  • 3 in Arts & recreation services
  • 3 in Construction
  • 2 in Manufacturing 
  • 2 in Agriculture, forestry & fishing
  • 1 in Electricity, gas, water & waste services
  • 1 in Other Services 
  • 1 in Wholesale trade
  • 1 in Public administration & safety

These figures 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. 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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