WorkSafe to introduce "On the spot fines"
In line with a Victorian Government 2018 election promise the Andrews Labor Government is introducing on the spot fines and provides an immediate alternative to prosecution, for those employers who do the wrong thing.
The proposed Occupational Health and Safety Amendment (Infringements and Miscellaneous Matters) Regulations 2021 (Infringement Regulations), which will be made on July 20, will contain 54 prescribed offences. From that date, WorkSafe inspectors will be able to issue infringement notices with penalties of up to $1,817.40 for certain offences, such as working without a required license, registration, qualification, experience or supervision, or the use of equipment or substances that are not licensed or registered. Infringements can also be applied to individuals or businesses failing to meet duties relating to the removal and storage of asbestos and failing to keep required records.
It is important to note that the OHS Act has allowed for the introduction of such a scheme for decades. Employers need to understand that under the infringement notice scheme their obligations do not change. Duty holders must continue to do everything that is reasonably practicable to provide a workplace that is free from risks to health and safety. The Minister for Workplace Safety Ingrid Stitt said, “This is about making sure every worker gets home safely – and making sure those who are doing the wrong thing face the consequences.” Read more: Victorian government media release; WorkSafe Victoria statement.
Infringement Notices Webinar: WorkSafe will be holding a webinar where you can find out more information about infringement notices and take the opportunity to ask questions.
When: Thursday 22 July 2021
Time: 10am - 11am
Register now - The link to the webinar will be provided via email closer to the event date.
Joint agency 3-day inspection program at Robinvale
WorkSafe inspectors visited Robinvale late last month to ensure growers were complying with occupational health and safety regulations, staying COVID-safe and supporting vulnerable workers. The inspectors issued 28 improvement notices to duty holders at eight of the 27 properties they inspected.
Regional Operations Director Western Region Trevor Butler said among the most common safety issues were improper guarding on tractor power take-offs and other machinery; a lack of rollover protection and maintenance on quad bikes; and inadequate labelling and storage of chemicals.
Department of Health inspectors visited 11 properties as part of the joint agency program, issuing four improvement notices.
Labour Hire Licensing Commissioner Steve Dargavel said the Authority visited 21 properties with a focus on education, checking providers had COVIDSafe plans and looking at their licence status and conditions for labour hire workers. "By working with growers and labour hire providers to ensure they are meeting their obligations, we are helping to ensure this region is a safe and fair place to work," Mr Dargavel said. "Our compliance and enforcement officers were well received by growers who provided information about their labour hire providers." Source: WorkSafe media release
New Grants for workplace safety
The WorkSafe grants support initiatives that deliver outstanding workplace safety and education projects in Victoria. Last week the latest round of grants valued at up to $2 million opened for applications. Grants will be awarded across three tiers of funding - up to $50,000, $50,000-$500,000 and more than $500,000.
Applicants must be a community group or local organisation, an employer, or employer or employee representative group and have an ABN.
WorkSafe Executive Director, External Affairs Sam Jenkin said WorkSafe's grants focus on nurturing safety and recovery support innovation in the workplace. "Innovative programs can make a lasting difference to the lives of many Victorian workers and their families and play a lead role in improving safety in many workplaces," Mr Jenkin said. "That is why we are delighted that organisations can now seek the resources to turn their ground breaking safety and recovery ideas into sustainable workplace improvements."
Grant applications can be submitted online until Wednesday, 18 August. More information on how to apply for a grant.
Decision not to mandate retrofit of quad bikes fatal
The decision to not retrofit mandatory roll bars on thousands of quad bikes has proven fatal as Australians continue to be killed in tragic incidents at a rate of one every two weeks. At least 164 people have been killed by quad bike over the last decade. Most of those fatalities occurred on private properties, so 24 of those killed last year, ranging in age from 2 to 78, were not counted in the official road toll. This year four people have been killed.
In October 2019 the Federal Government announced a raft of new safety regulations, including that quad bikes sold in Australia had to have a sticker warning of the degree of slope before they overturn. Bikes had to be tested for stability and meet either European or US standards for brakes and suspension. After the October 10 deadline, quad bikes can only be sold without roll bars by dealers if they were ordered before July 1 and delivered by December 31: however this leaves potentially tens of thousands of unsafe bikes still in use. Experts have also reignited calls for helmets to be mandatory and a ban on drivers under 16 years of age.
Chairman of Farmsafe Charles Armstrong said that despite several states offering rebates to fit crash protection devices (roll bars), only a small proportion of the estimated 250,000 - 300,000 quad bikes in use have them fitted. Source: SafetyCulture news
National Return to Work Strategy 2020-2030
Safe Work Australia (SWA) has published a report on its progress in the first year of the National Return to Work Strategy 2020-2030.
The Key achievements and scorecard report captures baseline national measures based on the Measurement Framework as SWA strives towards achieving the National Return to Work Strategy 2020-2030 vision and outcomes over the 10 years.
The report indicates that implementation of the Strategy is on track with SWA progressing several early initiatives that will inform later projects and action areas.
Publication of the report enables SWA to meet progress reporting commitments outlined in Strategy. The Agency will publish further reporting in 2023, 2026, 2028 and 2030; with a more detailed mid-term report will occur in 2025. For more, see the National Return to Work webpage.
National Fatality Statistics
Safe Work Australia updated its statistics on fatalities on July 8, at which time it had been notified that 58 Australian workers had been killed at work this year, seven more than the previous update on June 24. The fatalities were: 4 in Transport, postal & warehousing; 1 each in Construction, Arts & Recreation, Public administration & safety. The total numbers of fatalities have been in the following sectors:
- 23 in Transport, postal & warehousing
- 9 in Construction
- 6 in Manufacturing
- 4 in Agriculture, forestry & fishing
- 4 in Arts & recreation services
- 2 in Mining
- 2 in Other Services
- 2 in Electricity, gas, water & waste services
- 2 in Public administration & safety
- 1 in Wholesale trade
- 1 in Accommodation & food services
- 1 in Education & training
- 1 'unknown'
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.