WorkSafe urges Victorians to 'stay safe'
After the storms which hit Victoria last week - and the aftermath which many Victorians are still dealing with, WorkSafe Victoria has urged people to stay safe. The regulator says that unstable or partially collapsed structures, fallen or damaged trees, fallen powerlines and floodwaters are among the common health and safety risks following the destructive weather across the state.
Many property owners and volunteers will also be using potentially hazardous equipment that they may be unfamiliar with or use infrequently, such as power tools and ladders.
WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said it was critical to fully consider how each task could be done safely before getting started. "It is not just those who are working on the clean-up who could be at risk but also friends and family, emergency service workers, vehicles, neighbouring properties and public infrastructure," Ms Nielsen said. Read more: WorkSafe media release
June 29: Free Webinar - Asbestos in Demolition
Do you think you know where asbestos is lurking?
WorkSafe is holding a FREE webinar (29th June - 1-2pm) where you will be able to hear from a WorkSafe Inspector and Occupational Hygienist about asbestos removal in demolition and a recent prosecution case study.
The webinar is open to Employers, HSRs and workers. Learn about how you, your employer and your fellow workers can manage asbestos safely in demolition. Register here today - remember, it's free!
Return to work campaign: "The sooner, the better"
WorkSafe's new Return to Work campaign, “The sooner, the better”’ focusses on the importance of early, genuine communication between employers and injured workers. The regulator says that HSR and employers are probably aware that long-term absence from work has been proven to have a negative impact on physical and mental health.
WorkSafe also says that research shows that if contact is made within the first three days of injury occurring, return-to-work outcomes increase by 63 per cent for psychological injuries, and up to 26 per cent for physical injuries.
WorkSafe understands there are often barriers stopping employers from reaching out to an injured worker due to not knowing what to say, or fear of saying the ‘wrong’ thing. But there is value in a phone call to simply ask ‘how are you? WorkSafe has developed a conversation guide to help, and is available to download here.
For more information on the above items, and a reminder of the duty on employers to consult with HSRs, go to the June edition of WorkSafe's HSR newsletter. The new edition also has tips for HSRs, and the contact details for WorkSafe's Health and Safety Support Officers.
Reminder: Proposed Workplace facilities, amenities and work environment compliance code out for public comment
One of the most important Compliance Codes has been redrafted and updated by a tripartite committee and has been released for public comment.
The proposed Workplace facilities, amenities and work environment compliance code (proposed code) was made available for public review and comment until close of business on Monday 28 June 2021.
There is a dedicated webpage for public comment on the Victorian Government’s consultation platform, Engage, to allow employers, employees, other interested parties and members of the public to view materials online and provide online submissions. Submissions can also be lodged by email or via post.
If HSRs have any comments they would like to send through to the VTHC, we will consider it and if agreed, include it in our submission. Send these through to [email protected].
SA: Guidance on right of entry
New information and guidance about Entry Permit Holders (EPH) has been published on the SafeWork SA website. SafeWork SA has identified a lack of understanding relating to the rights and obligations of EPH, unions, and businesses.
Information developed covers topics including:
- Entry requirements
- WHS requirements
- Suspected contravention
- Rights of EPH and businesses
- Dispute resolution
Although the guidance applies to the SA WHS Act, the requirements under the Victorian OHS Act are very similar, and so the guidance would be useful for Victorian workplaces also. Read more: Information for Entry Permit Holders
Updated information on Psychosocial health and safety and bullying in Australian workplaces
The 6th annual Psychosocial health and safety and bullying in Australian workplaces statement has been published on the Safe Work Australia website. The statement identifies data trends in accepted workers’ compensation claims arising from mental stress, and specifically those arising from workplace bullying and harassment.
The data are accepted workers’ compensation claims caused by mental stress. This mechanism of injury or disease is assigned to claims when an employee has been exposed to one of a range of stressors e.g. harassment or bullying, traumatic events or unreasonable work pressure, that has caused an injury or disease. Mental stress claims provide a source of information on the psychosocial health and safety status of Australian workplaces.
Mental stress includes a subcategory of claims for harassment and/or bullying. These data provide a reasonable match to the accepted definition of workplace bullying, which is repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety.
The data shows that:
- the frequency rate (claims per 100 million hours work) of mental stress claims declined from 2002-03 to 2015-16, before rising again in recent years.
- the rate for harassment and/or bullying claims (a subset of mental stress) has increased over the same period reaching 17.5 claims per million hours worked in 2018-19 (preliminary data).
For more, see the statement and an accompanying graph, on the Safe Work Australia website.
National Fatality Statistics
Safe Work Australia updated its statistics on fatalities on June 10, at which time it had been notified that 43 Australian workers had been killed at work this year, nine more than the previous update on May 13. The nine fatalities were in the following sectors: three each in Construction and Manufacturing, one each in Agriculture, forestry & fishing, Electricity, gas, water & waste services, and Mining. The total numbers of fatalities have been in the following sectors:
- 15 in Transport, postal & warehousing
- 7 in Construction
- 5 in Manufacturing
- 4 in Agriculture, forestry & fishing
- 3 in Arts & recreation services
- 2 in Mining
- 2 in Other Services
- 2 in Electricity, gas, water & waste services
- 1 in Wholesale trade
- 1 in Public administration & safety
- 1 in Accommodation & food services
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, consequently sometimes the numbers of deaths in each sector change. 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.