Regulator News

Victorian news  
REMINDER: Proposed Occupational Health and Safety Amendment (Psychological Health) Regulations

A reminder that public comment on the proposed Occupational Health and Safety Amendment (Psychological Health) Regulations (proposed regulations) and associated Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) is now open.

The proposed regulations will strengthen the occupational health and safety framework and will recognise that hazards that pose a risk to psychological health are no less harmful to workers’ safety and wellbeing than physical hazards.

They will also provide clearer guidance to employers on their obligations to better protect workers from mental injury.

We urge HSRs to take a look at the draft regulations and provide comment. We believe these regulations will make a real difference to workers' psychological health.

Public comment closes at 5pm, Thursday 31 March 2022. Find out more here.  Keep your eyes on SafetyNet, as we will be developing some material to encourage HSRs to send in their views. 

WorkSafe Awards Dinner  
A reminder that due to the number of COVID-19 infections still being relatively high, WorkSafe has postponed its Awards Dinner to April 21. It's a terrific night - particularly for the finalists of the HSR of the Year Award - and for their workmates, colleagues and for their union. More information and to buy tickets.

National news 
QLD: Safety alert after carbon monoxide fatality 
With the ongoing heavy rains and floods in Queensland now and in the past few weeks, WorkSafe Queensland is reminding businesses that there are a range of risks when cleaning up after storms. 

Tragically, a man recently died from carbon monoxide exposure while laying carpet in a Toowoomba store. A generator was being used in a poorly ventilated space.

The regulator acknowledges that generators can be useful in flood clean-ups, but they must be used in a safe way. It says atmospheres in enclosed spaces should be monitored using a suitable air monitoring device (e.g. gas detector) where plant and equipment exhaust is generated, and that exhaust gases are ventilated to prevent the build-up of contaminant exhaust gases, including CO. Read more: Queensland alert, Carbon monoxide.

SA: New guidance on RPE 
SafeWork SA has released new guidance on respiratory protective equipment (RPE). Recent compliance audits relating to crystalline silica and licensed asbestos removal highlighted the need for greater education on the selection and use of RPE.

SafeWork SA has issued 162 statutory notices associated with RPE in the past 3 years. Of these, 78 per cent of prohibition notices and 48 per cent of improvement notices were issued to the construction industry. Many of these notices were issued for the incorrect selection of RPE providing inadequate protection for the wearer, poor fit or failure to train wearers in the use of RPE when working with hazardous substances such as asbestos and silica dust. These substances can cause serious health conditions if breathed in by a worker. 

In South Australia, as in many other jurisdictions, any PPE, including RPE, that a worker is expected to use must be provided and paid for by the employer (PCBU). Check out the new guidance here, and more information from the SA regulator hereMore information on PPE.

National Fatality Statistics 2022  
Safe Work Australia last updated its statistics on fatalities on February 17, at which time it had been notified that 20 Australian workers had been killed at work this year - this is eight more since February 3. The fatalities have been in the following sectors:

  • 10 in Transport, postal & warehousing 
  • 4 in Agriculture, forestry & fishing
  • 2 in Electricity, gas, water & waste services
  • 2 in Public administration & safety
  • 1 in Construction
  • 1 in 'other 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. To check for updates, and for more details on fatalities since 2003, go to the Safe Work Australia Preliminary worker deaths webpage. 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.  

 

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