Regulator News

Victorian news

WorkSafe issues warning after fatality and multiple incidents

WorkSafe this week called on employers to manage the risks of working from height after one death and a spike in serious incidents. The death of a 23-year-old carpenter follows 11 serious incidents involving falls from height since 24 July, including:

  • A worker who suffered serious injuries after falling about 4.5 metres while removing ceiling panels at a Reservoir factory.
  • An apprentice who fell about six metres from a ladder at a construction site at Oakleigh, suffering broken bones and suspected internal injuries.
  • A worker who sustained serious injuries after falling about 3.5 metres from the roof of a Kensington property while installing solar panels.
  • A worker who suffered chest and facial injuries after falling about three metres from an unloading dock in Thomastown. 

Sadly, some incidents have also involved children, including a toddler who suffered head injuries after falling from a scissor lift.

WorkSafe Acting Executive Director of Health and Safety Andrew Keen said falls from height were preventable yet remained one of the biggest causes of death and serious injuries in Victorian workplaces. "We want every workplace to reassess the effectiveness of their fall prevention measures and don't assume that just because you haven't had an incident that your business is operating safely." Read more: WorkSafe media release 

August 31: Webinar on mentally healthy workplaces

The second webinar in WorkSafe's WorkWell series, 'Creating Mentally Healthy Workplaces Where Young People Thrive', will focus on the role of leaders in creating workplaces where young people can do their best work, so that everyone benefits. Industry leaders and mental health specialists will share what they have learnt.

Creating workplaces where young people can thrive and contribute is important because young workers are particularly vulnerable to injury at work. Employers and managers make a big difference to the mental health and wellbeing of their staff.

The webinar will look at:

  • why preventative strategies are needed to improve mental health in the workplace
  • how to create psychologically safe environments where conversations can be started and continued
  • how leaders can make a difference for young people

When: Tuesday 31 Aug 2021 at 10:00am to 11:00am.
Where: Online webinar event. Register now by going to this page on the WorkSafe website.

National News

ACT: Manslaughter Bill passes

Legislation transferring the offence of industrial manslaughter from the ACT's Crimes Act to its WHS Act, and increasing the maximum fine by 1,000 per cent, has passed the Capital Territory Parliament, and will commence three months after it receives notification (assent).

The Work Health and Safety Amendment Bill 2021 repeals the industrial manslaughter provisions of the Crimes Act 1900 and creates the offence in the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, with maximum penalties of 20 years' jail for officers or PCBUs that are individuals, and $16.5 million for bodies corporate, up from about $1.62 million under the Crimes Act offence.

The changes also broaden the circumstances where industrial manslaughter charges may be laid to include, for example, cases where actions or conduct causes the death of a member of the public, a subcontractor, visitor, or employee of another employer. Source: OHS Alert

Clean air, clean lungs

Once the dusts, fumes, gases and vapours that may be present in the workplace, have been identified, the employer/PCBU must protect workers from breathing in hazardous air and potentially developing an occupational lung disease. This can be done by using appropriate control measures to eliminate or manage these risks.

Safe Work Australia has developed guidance to help employers and PCBUs in high-risk industries manage the risks of exposure to hazardous workplace dusts, fumes, gases and vapours. The guidance includes:

  • case studies
  • information sheets (including translations)
  • checklists, and
  • animations. 

National Fatality Statistics  

Safe Work Australia updated its statistics on fatalities on August 5, at which time it had been notified that 67 Australian workers had been killed at work this year. This is 7 more than its previous update on July 22.  The total numbers of fatalities have been in the following sectors:

  • 26 in Transport, postal & warehousing 
  • 10 in Construction
  • 6 in Manufacturing 
  • 6 in Agriculture, forestry & fishing
  • 5 in Arts & recreation services
  • 3 in Electricity, gas, water & waste services
  • 2 in Mining
  • 2 in Other Services 
  • 2 in Public administration & safety
  • 1 in Wholesale trade
  • 1 in Accommodation & food services
  • 1 in Education & training
  • 1 in Retail trade 
  • 1 in Administrative & support 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

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