Safe Work Australia – National Safe Work Month

Safe Work Australia have launched this year’s National Safe Work month that aims to improve awareness of work health and safety, encourage discussion about safety at work and share positive workplace stories from across Australia.

Safe Work Australia are continuing to support the National Safe Work Month with a range of resources for businesses, by hosting workplace participation reward programs and sharing stories and statistics about work health and safety.

You can be involved in this special initiative by

– Attending events in your workplace or in your local area.

– Downloading the resource kit to help promote the month in your workplace.

– Sharing the National Safe Work Month messages through your online channels.

– Entering the Workplace Participation Reward and showcase your workplace.

– Watching the Safe Work Month video messages.

– Watching free online seminars showcasing the latest thinking, research, developments and best practice in work health and safety, available from October at seminars.swa.gov.au

– Connecting on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to find out about local events and to share your safe work month workplace stories. Use the hashtag #safeworkmonth to join the conversation.

Be Part of Safe Work Month and assist in raising awareness about work health and safety within your organisation.

WHS Act and Reg Amendments are now in force.

Amendments to Queensland’s Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws commenced today. The amendments implement findings from the Queensland Government’s review of national model WHS laws which commenced in Queensland on 1 January 2012.

Changes to the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) include:

  • Requiring WHS entry permit holders to give at least 24 hours, but not more than 14 days, prior notice before they can enter a workplace to inquire into a suspected contravention. This will align with other entry notification periods in the WHS Act and the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth);
  • Increasing the penalty for non-compliance with WHS entry permit conditions and introducing a new penalty provision for failure to comply with the WHS entry permit holder notification requirements;
  • Requiring at least 24 hours, but not more than 14 days, prior notice before any person assisting a health and safety representative can have access to the workplace;
  • Removing the power of health and safety representatives to direct workers to cease unsafe work. Workers will continue to have a right to cease unsafe work;
  • Removing the requirement for a person conducting a business or undertaking to provide a list of health and safety representatives to the WHS regulator. An up-to-date list of health and safety representatives must still be displayed at the workplace; and
  • Allowing codes of practice adopted in Queensland to be approved, varied or revoked without requiring national consultation. Consultation about proposed codes of practice with local stakeholders will continue.

The Electrical Safety Act 2002 is amended to increase the maximum penalty that can be prescribed for offences in the ElectricalSafety Regulation2013to 300 penalty units. This ensures consistency with maximum penalties in the work health and safety laws and ensures that nationally consistent penalties can apply to offences in the electrical safety regulation.

Changes to the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 include:

  • Replacing mandatory audiometric testing requirements with guidance in the noise code of practice;
  • Streamlining Class B asbestos removal licensing requirements, including supervisors requirements;
  • Changes to who can carry out clearance inspections following Class B asbestos removal work;
  • Changes to asbestos register requirements for workplace buildings i.e. an asbestos register is not required if the building was constructed after 31 December 1989 (rather than after 31 December 2003);
  • Removing mandatory requirements for rollover protective structures on earthmoving machinery;
  • Amending various provisions in the WHS Regulation so that notifying WHSQ of certain things does not have to be done in writing but can be done by phone instead;
  • Allowing WHSQ to publish an online register of high risk work licence holders and accredited assessors;
  • Amending the maximum penalty for breaches of various provisions in the ES Regulation 2013;

Codes of practice

The following codes of practice will be updated in the near future to reflect amendments to the WHS Regulation 2011:

 Managing Noise and Preventing Hearing Loss at Work Code of Practice 2011 will be amended to include guidance about audiometric testing;

  • Foundry Code of Practice 2004 (an amendment is required due to a reference to audiometric testing);
  • How to Manage and Control Asbestos in the Workplace Code of Practice 2011; and
  • How to Safely Remove Asbestos Code of Practice 2011.

More information about the amendments is available at http://www.deir.qld.gov.au/workplace/index.htm. Please phone WHSQ on 1300 269 915 if you have any queries regarding the amendments.

Dangerous Goods App

Have you downloaded our Dangerous Goods App for iPhone covering the Segregation of Dangerous Goods Requirements yet? It’s Free!

Not all Dangerous Goods can be stored together, many are incompatible. They may need to have sufficient distances between them to eliminate the risk of fire, explosion, or accumulation of toxic gases from a leak or spillage, etc. This tool minimizes the risk associated with chemical storage by providing practical advice on what can be stored together and what needs to be segregated using internationally recognized guidelines. Make your workplace a safer place to work and comply with the safety laws.

This free segregation chart is provided to assist persons who are responsible storing dangerous goods to better minimise the risk of storing incompatible goods. Follow the link below to the Apple Store where you can access more info and download our App today!

DOWNLOAD FREE HERE

Director Charged

First Senior Manager Charged in Relation to death of a worker in Australia

Courtesy of Canberra Times

The ACT Industrial Court has cleared a path for criminal proceedings against a construction company over the death of a contractor at a Canberra worksite.

Gunning truck driver Michael Booth, 48, was electrocuted while working for Kenoss Contractors at Turner in 2012.

The company and an acting director, Munir al-Hasani, also known as Allan Hassani, both face allegations they breached their duties under the Work Health and Safety Act, putting Mr Booth at risk of serious injury or death.

Lawyers appeared on behalf of liquidators for Kenoss Contractors in the ACT Industrial Court on Tuesday.

The company went into voluntary liquidation in October last year.

It sparked confusion about whether legal proceedings could still be brought against it, or whether the Director of Public Prosecutions required a grant of leave from the ACT Supreme Court.

Prosecutors had argued that requirement only applied to civil proceedings, not criminal proceedings, and should not get in the way of the case.

Kenoss Contractors was charged over a failure to maintain safe work systems and a safe work environment without risks to health and safety.

Mr al-Hasani faces similar charges.

He is the first senior manager to be charged in relation to the death of a worker in Australia, under new nationally harmonised work health and safety legislation.

Under the new laws, the company could be fined $1.5 million and Mr al-Hasani could have to pay $300,000 if found guilty.

The court heard the liquidators for Kenoss Contractors, RSM Bird Cameron, didn’t have the funds available to defend the charges and it was possible no-one would appear on their behalf of the company if the prosecution went ahead.

Defence lawyers told the court the company had followed a standard process for a creditors’ winding up.

Prosecutor James Walker said the legal requirement for criminal prosecution to proceed did not hinge on whether the company had been voluntarily wound up by members or by creditors.

Mr Walker told the court that documents showed Kenoss Contractors had made payments which totalled about $1.9 million to related companies after it went insolvent in December 2012, and there could be money available if a fine was imposed.

He said the payments raised concerns about those companies and how they were operating.

Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker told the court she was satisfied that leave to prosecute was not required.

She said the company would next be required to face court with Mr al-Hasani later this year.

A hearing will begin on December 17.

Read more: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/court-clears-way-for-prosecution-of-kenoss-contractors-over-workplace-death-20140617-zsaa0.html#ixzz3AQbkbr4l

Remote or Isolated Work Solutions

Technical Options

1.      Man Down App

http://mandownapp.com/

iTunes – $1.99

Android – $1.89

The ManDown App sends immediate alerts in case of an emergency or injury. Enter the contact information for your family, friends and colleagues – if you have an emergency, they’ll get notified via text, phone or e-mail.

Once the Mandown app is activated, it continuously monitors the phone’s movement. The default setting is that if the phone is motionless for 30 seconds, then a pre-Alarm warning will start. If the phone is not moved within another 30 seconds, then the Full Alarm mode is activated. In the Full Alarm mode the phone sends out a local, audible alarm. The phone will also send out a text, email and phone call to selected recipients. This message will also contain the GPS location of the person in distress.

2.      Safety app to keep an eye on lone workers – Free (iPhone only)

https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/lone-worker-lite/id582132420?mt=8

An innovative iPhone app is helping organisations improve the safety of their workers out in the field.

The Lone Worker app was developed by iota, the commercial arm of South East Water, and was recently launched for free download on iTunes.

Lone Worker works by sending an SMS or email to colleagues, or an operations contact centre, if a worker is not moving or responding. It also sends GPS details of a worker’s last known mobile phone location to ensure they can be located quickly

3.      Click2BSure

http://click2bsure.com/C2personalsecurity.php

https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/click2bsure-emergency-alert/id434081583?mt=8

Click2BSure Personal Security Alert is the fastest way to contact friends, family, security, and 000 during a crisis situation. With Click2BSure you can call, text, and email an alert message to all of your key contacts with the touch of a button.

4.      inReach

http://www.alwaysinreach.com.au/   ($399 + mobile plan)

The DeLorme inReach™ satellite communicator is the first affordable, two-way, satellite communications device ever. It’s about the size and weight of a smartphone, but much, much more durable. Choose inReach SE to send and receive messages to Mobile numbers, email addresses and social networks from the palm of your hand. Choose the original inReach to keep it simple – it floats too!

5.      SafeTCard

http://www.safetcard.com.au

100% Verified Audio or Visual Emergency Duress Alarms with discreet design as your I>D. Card holder, thus continuing to facilitate easy wear and discreet use whilst giving peace of mind to both the user and employer alike. The SafeTCard solution is the most efficient way for a lone-isolated remote and high risk worker to receive appropriate assistance in the event they suffer verbal abuse, attack or “man down” due to a trip, slip or fall.

Training material

Actsafe: Working Alone

http://youtu.be/Gqdi17YObkU

Public Course Dates 2015

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2016-Course-Schedule2-300x35

button-download-enrolment

DRA Safety Specialists are a Registered Training Organisation who offer a range of Nationally Accredited Courses including Functioning as a Work Health & Safety Advisor (WHSA), Fire Safety Adviser (FSA), Work Health & Safety Representative as well as BSB41412 Certificate IV in Work Health & Safety and BSB51312 Diploma of Work Health & Safety.  DRA Safety Specialists also deliver and assess CPCCOHS1001A Work Safely in the Construction Industry (White Card).

DRA Safety Specialists offers a wide range of expert non-accredited training programs including legal responsibilities, hazardous chemicals management, risk management, fire safety and fire warden training, work at heights, confined space and asbestos awareness training.  We can develop and deliver individualised work health and safety training to address your specific business requirements.  Our highly experienced consultants are available to deliver customised training at your premise for groups of employees, or alternatively training is available on public courses held throughout the year.

To enquire about a public course or to inquire about how DRA Safety Specialists can tailor a training and development program specifically for your business,  please contact our office for more information on 07 5573 6199 or email: rtomanager@drasafety.com.au

Victorian WorkCover Authority

Are you aware that presentations from this year’s event are now available for download from the VWA Health and Safety Week website. You’ll also find a complete list of available presentations below

Understanding Australia’s Ageing Demographic and the Implications for Business View
The Challenges of Managing an Ageing Workforce View
Preventing and Responding to Workplace Violence View
Manual Handling Basics View
Mentally Healthy Workplaces View
Managing Musculoskeletal Disorder Risks Associated with Handling Bariatric Clients View
Engaging Workers in Return to Work View
Leadership and Culture in Health and Safety View
A Practical Tool to Measure OHS Leading Indicators View
Agent’s Role in Supporting Return to Work View
One Second is All it Takes View
Integrated Approaches to Workers Health, Safety and Wellbeing View
Managing Asbestos in the Workplace View
Practical Plant safety from First Principles View
Inventing the Award-Winning SafePanel System View
Workplace Wellbeing Following an Injury View
Optimising Alertness and Workplace Performance through Fatigue Risk Management View
An Employer’s Perspective on Manual Handling View
CodeSafe Solution: Bridging Communication Barriers View
Best Practice in Risk Management View
The Health Benefits of Safe Return to Work View
Best Practice in Disability Services View
Understanding the Worker Injury Illness Experience View
Considering Safe Design When Purchasing Machinery View
Improving Return to Work Outcomes View
What Works (and Doesn’t Work) for Return to Work View
The Virtues of Engaging Health and Safety Representatives View
How Inspectors Can Help you Understand your Role and Responsibilities View

Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Legislation Amendment Bill 2014

Changes to Comcare’s workers compensation and self-insurance eligibility laws have passed the House of Representatives and are now in the Senate

The proposed changes will see a significant streamlining of WHS obligations for businesses that operate in more than one of the country’s states or territories. As things stand under current laws, few organisations are able to satisfy the legislative requirements to obtain self-insurance under the Comcare scheme and coverage under the Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Act.

If the SRC Bill becomes law the “competition” test will be abolished in favour of a new “national employer” test. This entails a corporation being required to meet obligations under workers’ compensation law in at least two Australian jurisdictions, being a self-insurer, or being a self-insured employer in at least two Australian jurisdictions. Multi-state employers which are able to satisfy this test will be eligible to self-insure under the Comcare scheme (subject to other financial thresholds and standards being met) and be covered by the Commonwealth WHS Act irrespective of the locality in which they are operating.

Under the bill, Comcare will no longer pay workers compensation for injuries that occur during recess breaks away from an employer’s premises. Nor will it pay compensation for death or serious and permanent impairment if the person killed or injured engaged in serious and wilful misconduct.

The bill also removes the need for the Minister of Employment to declare a corporation’s eligibility to be granted a self-insurance licence. Corporations can go straight to the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission (SRCC) to apply for the licence.

Let’s hope the Senate passes the legislation soon, but with the Senate currently rejecting everything, I won’t hold my breath.

Work in Isolation or in Remote Locations

Do you have workers who work alone or in isolated situations?  The WHS Regulations 2011 S48 require you to manage this identified risk, and although there are many methods available, one of the most effective is the SafeTCard. This device was demonstrated at a recent SIA meeting, and has recently undergone further refinement. To ensure you are kept up to date on the latest technology that may assist you with meeting your duty of care in this area of risk, go to www.mandownduressalarms.com.au to review their new products.

Attempted murder in the workplace

A foreseeable and not insignificant risk?

A host employer’s duty of care tested.

This very recent case is a timely reminder of the extent of the duty of care owed by a host to its labour hire employees.

The New South Wales Supreme Court recently delivered a decision in the matter of Wright v Optus Administration Pty Limited*, awarding over $3.8 million in damages to an injured worker. The Court found that the host employer, Optus, breached its duty of care to the Plaintiff to take reasonable care in devising and instituting a system for the management of the behaviour of another employee, in order to safeguard the Plaintiff from any foreseeable and not insignificant risk of assault.

The Facts
The worker, Glen Wright, was employed under a labour hire arrangement undertaking call centre training with host employer, Optus. Nathaniel George was undertaking the same training course but was employed by a different labour hire agency.

On 15 March 2001 Mr George attempted to throw Mr Wright over a 4th floor balcony railing in an attempt to murder him. When his attempt was foiled by Mr Wright’s reaction to cling to the railing, Mr George started attacking Mr Wright, punching him in the face.

This incident was predicated by a series of events in the hours prior in which Mr George displayed incoherent and alarming behaviour.

The Duty of Care
While it was disputed by Optus, the Court found that Mr Wright was under the care, control and supervision of Optus. As a result, it was held the Optus owed Mr Wright a duty of care to:

“take reasonable care in establishing, maintaining and enforcing a safe system of work in the sense of safeguarding him from unreasonable risks in the methods by which the work was to be undertaken, extending to taking reasonable care to protect him from the criminal acts of others in the workplace.” (Campbell J at paragraph 77)

In the circumstances of this specific event, the duty was to devise and institute a system to deal with Mr George where there was a foreseeable and not insignificant risk that he would assault Mr Wright.

You may ask, “But how was the employer to know that Mr George would attempt to murder Mr Wright?”

The Court determined that Mr George’s behaviour led supervisors to form the view that he presented a risk to the personal safety of others. Mr George’s behaviour was observed by multiple Optus supervisors, who considered that he may be under the influence of drugs. The events were unfolding on a large balcony area on the 4th floor of the building. Mr George was unresponsive to questions asked of him. The Optus supervisors were apprehensive about leaving Mr George alone and one even ensured that he was accompanied to the balcony by another Optus supervisor who he considered would be able to physically capable of assisting him. Yet during this period of incoherence and aberrant behaviour, Mr George showed a continued interest in the whereabouts of Mr Wright.

Incorrectly, Optus supervisors deduced that Mr George and Mr Wright must be friends and that Mr Wright would be able to assist them in determining the cause, or managing the behaviour of, Mr George. Mr Wright said to an Optus supervisor that he did not really know Mr George and was not his friend. Yet Mr Wright was encouraged by an Optus supervisor to accompany them to the balcony where Mr George was pacing.

In effect, Optus put Mr Wright in a position where he was alone with Mr George after Mr George demonstrated aberrant behaviour over a period of time that alarmed Optus.

On these facts, the Court found that Optus exposed Mr Wright to a risk of harm that was foreseeable as a real possibility being neither far-fetched nor fanciful.

In considering whether the risk was “not insignificant”, the Court considered that had the Optus supervisor made reasonable enquiries he would have determined that there was no relationship between Mr George and Mr Wright. However, the Optus supervisor failed to make these enquiries and permitted Mr Wright to be introduced to Mr George’s presence on the balcony.

On a practical level, the Court considered that there was a reasonable system of management of the situation open to Optus. It was considered common sense that Optus should have escorted Mr George from the premises and/or called the Police.

Conclusion
This case clearly demonstrates that a host employer is not completely absolved of its duty of care because a labour hire employee commits a serious criminal act.  This case also illustrates that although a host employer may not be an employer of an injured labour hire employee, the duty of care imposed on a host employer is onerous, and analogous to the duty of care owed by an employer to an employee.  In this case, it was the absence of a system to manage the unusual behaviour of an employee that was the host employer’s undoing. Incidents in the workplace can occur as a result of a multitude of circumstances never contemplated by the host employer. It is not the position of the Court that an employer must contemplate every possible situation that might arise and have in place a policy or system to manage it. Instead, it was determined that a host employer must have in place systems to ensure that any event can be managed and employees working under there overall direction are not exposed to harm.

*Full citation: Wright by his tutor Wright v Optus Administration Pty Limited [2015] NSWSC 160

Copyright © 2015 Kaden Boriss Brisbane, All rights reserved

Article Authors – Kaden Boriss Brisbane

Hamish Broadbent                 Jennifer Davis                                   

Partner                                            Solicitor

E: hamish@kadenborissbrisbane.com.au                           E: jennifer@kadenborissbrisbane.com.au