Regulator News

Victorian news

New materials on Psychosocial health 

WorkSafe has produced two new Fact Sheets:

  1. Employee psychosocial fact sheet: Work-related violence 
    (Note: at the time of posting, there was an error on WorkSafe’s landing page indicating that employees have duties to identify and control risks - this is being corrected. The fact sheet itself, however, has the correct duties assigned to the correct duty holders) 

  2. And a version for employers: Psychosocial Hazard Fact Sheet: Work-related violence.
    This guidance provides employers with information about their duties to identify, assess, and control hazards and risks associated with work-related violence. It also provides information on preventing and responding to incidents of work-related violence.

Campaign urging employers and workers to put safety first

In its latest media release, WorkSafe makes the point that it's been another tough year for Victorians, and many of us are eager to celebrate the end of it. The regulator warns, however, that the holiday excitement is never an excuse to rush work or neglect safety regulations, which too often leads to workplace tragedy.

The end of the year is a busy and potentially dangerous time at work: the construction industry seeking to finish jobs before the Christmas shutdown, the manufacturing sector swamped with last-minute orders, the retail sector coping with a hectic end-of-year shopping period following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, and an influx of new staff to help meet demand.

From 2018 to 2020, 24 people lost their lives in workplace incidents in the final two months of the year. Injuries and work-related stress caused by factors such as increased work pressure, fatigue, bullying, abusive customers or harassment can have serious psychological and physical impacts also need to be taken into account.

So WorkSafe has launched a campaign entitled 'Let's Put 2021 Safely Behind Us' to ensure health and safety is front-of-mind this holiday season. Featuring in print, online and radio advertising, the campaign encourages employers to think about what systems and procedures are in place to protect workers and ensure they enter the New Year safely. Read more: WorkSafe media release.

Reminders: 

1 - Major Hazard Facilities Forum presentations

Recordings of 11 presentations from the National Major Hazard Facilities forum in May 2021 are now publicly available via the WorkSafe Victoria website.

Check out the presentations from the event, which brought together people from across Australia to engage with Major Hazard Facility operators, Safety Practitioners and Regulators with modern safety theory. Forum presentations

2 - Communicating OHS across languages compliance code: public comment open

The draft compliance code Communicating OHS across languages is now available for public review and comment from until close of business Monday 6 December 2021.  The draft was developed by a reference group comprising of union and employer representatives and WorkSafe staff. 

A dedicated webpage has been created to facilitate public comment on each of the proposed code via the Victorian Government’s consultation platform, Engage Victoria. This enables employers, employees, other interested parties and members of the public to view the proposed code materials online and provide online submissions. Check the draft code and provide comment here: Communicating occupational health and safety across languages compliance code

3 - Webinars on horticultural safety

WorkSafe and Agriculture Victoria, the Labour Hire Authority, the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions and the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) are holding a series of webinars to assist growers in protecting themselves and their workers against OHS risks.

These will provide an opportunity for horticulture producers around Victoria to learn more about keeping farms safe, seasonal workforce support, COVID-19 employer obligations (including vaccination requirements), and the treatment of labour hire workers.

Attendees will also learn about WorkSafe's OHS Essentials program, which links small to medium businesses with independent consultants who offer free, confidential and tailored advice on how to improve health and safety in their workplace.

The remaining virtual sessions will run from 4-5pm on 8 December 2021 and 19 January 2022. Farmers are welcome to attend all three sessions to keep up with the latest information. Register for the webinars hereRead more: WorkSafe media release 

National news 

New Workers' Compensation report: 

Safe Work Australia has published the Australian workers’ compensation statistics (AWCS) report, which provides detailed statistics about workers’ compensation claims lodged in Australia between 2000-01 and 2019-20, including preliminary data for 2019-20 and trend analysis to 2018-19. 

The statistics provide an indication of Australia’s work health and safety performance and include data broken down by gender, age, occupation, industry, nature of injury or disease, mechanism of injury or disease, and bodily location of the injury or disease. 

Key findings in 2019-20 include:

  • There were 120,355 serious workers’ compensation claims.
  • 31 per cent of serious claims were for illness and diseases. Of these, mental health conditions were the most common.

 The 3 occupations with the highest rate of serious claims were:

  • labourers
  • community and personal service workers
  • machinery operators and drivers.

 The 3 industries with the highest rate of serious claims were:

  • agriculture, forestry and fishing
  • manufacturing, and
  • transport, postal and warehousing.

Of concern is that while Australia's incidence rate of serious claims (a week or more off work) has fallen by 41 per cent since the start of the century, claims related to occupational violence have more than doubled.

The number of serious claims involving someone being assaulted increased by 128 per cent, from 1,104 in 2000-01 to 2,519 in 2018-19, according to the 63-page Safe Work Australia report. According to the preliminary data, there were about 2,900 assault-related serious claims in 2019-20. 

As with all injury and disease mechanisms and types, the median compensation paid for assault-related injuries increased significantly over the last two decades – in this case, from $6,000 in 2000-01 to $12,400 in 2018-19. 

This report complements and provides additional detail to the Key Work Health and Safety Statistics published on 25 October. The statistics should be considered in the broader context of the COVID-19 pandemic when comparing data over previous periods. The potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on this data is explored in the COVID-19 and Safe Work Australia data reportDownload a copy of the report from this page of the SWA website. SWA has also published an Infograph (in pdf format). 

ACTU: figures show health and safety is worse under the Morrison government

The ACTU is very unhappy with what the report has revealed: the peak union body says the previous downward trend of serious workplace injury or illness claims prior to 2014 has stagnated under the Coalition and has risen fast since Scott Morrison became PM. This is particularly the case in the sectors of healthcare, construction and manufacturing. 

“Health and safety is getting worse under Scott Morrison and the Liberals. After decades of progress at reducing injury and illness we are now seeing more workers seriously injured and killed since the Liberals came to power 8 years ago," said Liam O'Brien, the ACTU Assistant Secretary.

“The ACTU’s 2021 Work Shouldn’t Hurt Survey revealed that 80 per cent of workers who are injured or made ill at work do not even make a workers’ compensation claim, in the case of insecure workers this jumps to 95 per cent. This highlights that the 120,000 workers who made a claim last year is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to measuring health and safety at work. Read more: ACTU media release 

National Fatality Statistics 2021  

Safe Work Australia has not updated its statistics on fatalities since November 11, at which time it had been notified that 118 Australian workers had been killed at work this year. Fatalities have been in the following sectors:

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

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 database 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 Preliminary worker deaths webpage

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