Regulator News

Victorian news

WorkSafe's HSR newsletter

The February edition of WorkSafe's HSR newsletter was posted this afternoon. It has a number of items which should be of interest to HSRs, including a new fact sheet on hazardous manual handling, advice on trench operations, and more. If you haven't subscribed yet, do so. Here's the latest edition.

WorkSafe is recruiting for inspectors

The regulator is advertising for and recruiting a number of inspector positions - both general and specialist construction - in various Victorian locations. WorkSafe is holding a number of virtual information sessions on the positions, to provide applicants with an opportunity to learn more about the organisation, culture, the Inspector role and recruitment process. These are optional and do not form part of the application.  Applications close on February 14.  

In our view, experienced and passionate HSRs would make fabulous inspectors. So take a look at this page if you're interested.

Guidance on Diesel Exhaust

In June 2012 the World Health Organization's (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified diesel engine exhaust as a Group 1 carcinogen – that is, carcinogenic to humans.

This week WorkSafe Victoria released new guidance: Controlling the risk of exposure to diesel exhaust. The guidance helps employers eliminate or reduce the health risks associated with diesel exhaust. It is very thorough, and covers the following topics:

  • What is diesel exhaust
  • Workplaces likely to have diesel exhaust
  • Health risks
  • Identifying hazards and assessing risks
  • Control the risks
  • Workplace exposure standards
  • Air monitoring
  • Health monitoring

Read more: Diesel - a declared carcinogen; and Exhaust fumes 

WorkSafe Victoria: Horticultural industry event: Safe harvests

WorkSafe, Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, and Labour Hire Authority are hosting a free online information session to help ensure farmers are aware of the latest health and safety requirements, COVID-19 employer obligations and their responsibilities towards seasonal workers.

Representatives from Agriculture Victoria and Victorian Farmers Federation will also attend to provide information on seasonal workforce support and general farm safety.

The virtual event gives growers a chance to seek advice on anything they're unsure about in a relaxed setting, whether that be how to best control OHS risks, COVID-19 isolation rules or the legal responsibilities of labour hire hosts and providers.

After the online event, inspectors and authorised officers from WorkSafe, Labour Hire Authority and the Department of Justice and Community Safety will visit local farms to conduct compliance checks and offer advice on how to tackle health and safety hazards. 

The online information session will be held on Wednesday 9 February 2022 at 5-6pm. Register here.

OHS Essentials for the construction industry

Construction is one of the state's most high-risk industries. On average, nine people every day were injured working in construction last year and sadly, 33 lives have been lost in the industry since 2019, including 12 last year alone. 

The industry accounted for about 14 per cent of all accepted injury claims in Victoria in 2021, with the 3222 construction claims accepted by WorkSafe, the third highest of any industry. The most common injuries were musculoskeletal (1004), wounds, lacerations and amputations (717) and tendon, muscle and ligament trauma (591). The leading causes of injury last year were body stressing (1084), slips, trips and falls (1007) and being hit by a moving object (731).

WorkSafe's OHS Essentials program is available to help make construction workplaces safer. It provides independent consultants who give free, confidential and tailored safety advice for small to medium businesses.

David Woollands, who runs a small construction and commercial maintenance business in Melbourne's north-east, said the program had been invaluable to improving his business and the safety of his workers. "What we don't want to see with our employees is ongoing repetitive injuries that are going to cause them issues," Mr Woollands said. "What's great when you come out of a program like this is knowing that you've done everything you can to make sure your employees are safe."

To find out more about the OHS Essentials program and to watch David's story, go to this pageRead more: WorkSafe media release 

National news

Alert on ladders from South Australia

After one worker was killed and two seriously injured in recent ladder incidents, SafeWork SA has issued an Alert telling PCBUs that under the hierarchy of controls for preventing workplace falls, working from a ladder "should be the last option" and they must, where practicable, eliminate height risks by performing tasks on the ground or from a solid construction. 

Other high-level controls include performing height work on passive fall prevention devices like scaffolds, safety mesh or elevating work platforms.

The death occurred in January, with a worker falling from a ladder and sustaining fatal head injuries while installing ceiling joists in a warehouse. 
Read more: Three serious falls from ladders in six weeks. SafeWork SA Safety Alert

New resources from Safe Work Australia

Safe Work Australia has developed two new infographics:

  1. Workplace sexual harassment statistics and 
  2. What to do if you are sexually harassed at work 

as part of its suite of materials which complement the workplace sexual harassment guidance materials published last year.

The materials provide guidance to anyone who has a WHS/OHS duty to protect the health and safety of workers.

Under Australia’s model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws, PCBUs have a positive duty to do everything they reasonably can to prevent sexual harassment from occurring at work, just like other risks to health and safety. This includes both physical and mental health. The same duty applies to employers under Victoria's OHS Act. 

The infographics are useful tools to support PCBUs, employers and small businesses to promote the importance of managing sexual harassment at work and can help start a conversation about managing WHS hazards in relation to sexual harassment. For more information, go to the workplace sexual harassment web page. Read more: The right to a workplace free of discrimination and sexual harassment 

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