Regulator News

Victorian news   
Warning on trailer safety  
WorkSafe has issued an alert reminding agribusinesses, farmers and workers to not ignore the dangers of riding on the back of trailers and attachments following a number of serious incidents. 

A 70-year-old worker suffered critical head injuries and later died in hospital after falling from a trailer being towed by a tractor at Woorinen South in February. This was the third life lost in a workplace incident involving falls from trailers and attachments since 2018, with a number of serious injuries also recorded over this period.

A 68-year-old worker was killed when he fell and was run over by a tractor and trailer at Somerville in 2020 and a 56-year-old farmer was killed after he was crushed while feeding stock using a tractor and trailer on a farm near Mansfield in 2018. 

In March, a worker suffered serious injuries after they fell from the trailer they were riding on during burning off work. This incident follows seven serious incidents involving passengers falling from trailers and attachments in the past four years. 

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said using trailers to carry passengers on farms or roads posed a significant risk. "There is no safe way to ride on trailers and attachments that are not designed to carry passengers; there is a huge risk of falling, being thrown off or being crushed by loads that shift and fall," Dr Beer said.

As well as providing details of the incidents over the past few years, the Alert lists recommended ways to control the risks when using trailers and attachments. Read more: WorkSafe alert

Alert: Sleeping of blasting shots in mining and quarrying  
WorkSafe has issued an alert about controlling the risks associated with sleeping shots in mining and quarry blasting operations. Such operations in Victorian mines and quarries typically involve 'load & shoot' operations where blasting is conducted immediately after loading or on the same day.

Recently, an increase in blasting delays have been reported which results in the loaded bench being slept (charged explosives remaining loaded in the blasting holes or loaded above ground) for an extended duration. These delays often occur due to breakdown of specialist vehicles, adverse weather or misfire events.

Blasting delays increase the risk to employees' and other persons' health and safety due to the explosives security, for example from uninitiated or unintentional detonation, deterioration or theft of the explosives. Read more: WorkSafe Alert.

Reminder: New rights and protections for labour hire workers 
From March 22, labour hire workers  have additional rights and protections with the commencement of amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act).

The definitions of 'employer' and 'employee' have been amended 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 that host employers owe all the same duties to labour hire workers under the OHS Act as they do to any other employee; and labour hire workers 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. Read more on WorkSafe's website here.

National News  
NSW: WHS Regulations made for gig economy platforms  
In a first, the NSW Government has made the Work Health and Safety Amendment (Food Delivery Riders) Regulation 2022 which require gig economy platforms that engage food delivery riders, on bicycles and motor bikes, to provide these workers with high-visibility personal protective equipment and induction training.

The PPE includes retroreflective outer clothing items and food and drink bags or containers comprised of retroreflective materials and devices, which comply with the relevant Australian Standards.

The induction training is defined as a course provided by the food delivery platform that covers: hazard and fatigue management; general road safety; the selection, fit, use, testing, storage and maintenance of hi-vis PPE; and the WHS duties that apply to food delivery riders and food delivery platforms.

Bodies corporate could be fined up to nearly $36,000 for failing to comply with the PPE and induction requirements, and more than $7,000 for failing to keep proper records of its PPE and training processes. Riders too could face fines of up to about $1,500 for failing to wear or use their hi-vis equipment or make their training verification records available for inspection when requested by a safety inspector or a police officer. Source: OHS Alert

NSW: Speak Up Save Lives app a success  
SafeWork NSW says the ‘Speak Up Save Lives’ app is making workplaces across the state safer for all employees by allowing workers to anonymously raise safety concerns with SafeWork NSW. The regulator says that last year there were 560 reports which triggered interventions in high-risk safety issues. The app has helped SafeWork NSW prevent injuries and deaths, with 1,297 reports since its inception two years ago. Read more: SafeWork NSW media release

Minister for Fair Trading Eleni Petinos said anonymity is a major concern for workers, who fear speaking up could lead to punishment or even the loss of their jobs. 

Safe Work Australia Fact Sheet: WHS duties in a contractual chain 
This new fact sheet provides information for persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) who are working as part of a contractual chain.  

A contractual chain refers to the situation where, in relation to the same project or work matter, there are multiple contractors and subcontractors.  A contractual chain can form in any industry but is a common way of conducting business across the economy, for example in industries such as building and construction, road transport and events management.  

It provides guidance on duties under the model WHS laws and examples of how contractual relationships fit within the model WHS framework. This includes individual contractors and self-employed persons, who may be both a PCBU and a worker in a contractual chain. 
Download the factsheet here.

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. 

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