New rights and protections for labour hire workers
Labour hire workers now have additional rights and protections with the commencement of amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act).
The Occupational Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2021 (the Act) amended the OHS Act to make the labour hire changes, which came into effect on Tuesday 22 March 2022.
The Act amended the definitions of 'employer' and 'employee' so that a labour hire worker is treated as an 'employee' of both the labour hire provider and the host employer for the purposes of the OHS Act.
This means host employers now owe all the same duties to labour hire workers under the OHS Act as they do to any other employee.
Consequently, labour hire workers now have the same OHS Act rights and protections at their host employer’s workplace as direct employees of the host.
This includes rights to representation under Part 7 of the OHS Act and protections against discrimination under section 76 of the OHS Act.
Also, a new duty in the OHS Act requires labour hire providers and host employers to consult, coordinate and cooperate with each other where they share OHS Act duties to the same worker, so far as is reasonably practicable.
The changes are in response to the 2016 Forsyth Inquiry into the Labour Hire Industry and Insecure Work, which recommended addressing gaps in rights and protections for labour hire workers.
Detailed information on the labour hire changes, including updated guidance, is available on WorkSafe’s website here.
Last chance for Public comment on the OHS Amendment (Psychological Health) Regulations
We strongly recommend that HSRs (and workers) submit comment, no matter how brief, on these extremely important regulations which are sorely needed in order to protect workers from work-related risks to their mental health. Providing comment is very easy, and you can comment on just a few specific things or make more general comments. It's very important that WorkSafe hears directly from workers and HSRs. Public comment on the regulations closes at 5pm, tomorrow, Thursday 31 March 2022. Find out more here.
Safety advice speaks directly to seasonal workers
Pacific Islander workers will receive specialised safety resources in their own language as part of a WorkSafe initiative to help them stay safe while working on Victorian farms. Co-designed with Victoria's Pacific Island community, the videos, posters and written guides will be available in five languages – Bislama, Fijian, Samoan, Tongan and English.
WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said the resources would communicate directly to seasonal workers to provide straightforward safety tips and advice. Read more: WorkSafe media release.
WorkSafe March newsletters
1 - Safety Soapbox
The latest edition of WorkSafe's Safety Soapbox was sent out last week, just as we had finalised the last SafetyNet. The editorial is on the risk of structural collapse and covers the control methods that should be implemented on Victorian worksites. Recently an incident occurred on a residential construction site, where the external timber stud frame collapsed and fell inwards.
The issue also contains:
- information on falls from heights
- recent prosecutions in the construction sector
- interstate news
- incidents reported to WorkSafe in February: 163 incidents. Of these, 62 per cent resulted in injury.
There was one fatality as a result of a fall from height.
Access the March 2022 edition of Safety Soapbox here - the summary of reported incidents can be downloaded here too.
2 - Major Hazards Matters
The March edition of this newsletter, aimed at anyone who works or is involved in major hazard facilities, considers the effectiveness of Safety Cases, required under the regulations. The article summarises the literature on the effectiveness of safety cases as a regulatory tool and presents some insights from WorkSafe Victoria’s experience with safety case regimes.
The newsletter also has items:
- on recent major hazard incidents both Australian and international
- how to use storytelling techniques to improve toolbox talks
- Electrical Equipment in Hazardous Areas (EEHA)
- Fire Rescue Victoria development of Pre-incident plans (PIP) guidance
Finally, notification of an upcoming online event: Mental Health and Wellbeing Forum. However the date and time is to be confirmed. Access the March Major Hazards Matters on the WorkSafe website.
National Fatality Statistics 2022
Safe Work Australia has not updated its statistics on fatalities since March 17, at which time it had been notified that 29 Australian workers had been killed at work this year. The fatalities have been in the following sectors:
- 15 in Transport, postal & warehousing
- 6 in Agriculture, forestry & fishing
- 3 in Public administration & safety
- 2 in Electricity, gas, water & waste services
- 2 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.