Australia: Work Health & Safety - What's News - 2 September 2014

Last Updated: 21 September 2014
Article by Charles Power, Stephen Trew and Michael Selinger

Most Read Contributor in Australia, September 2016

In the media

WorkCover health and safety probe into AFL clubs on hold
An investigation into alleged breaches of health and safety at 10 AFL clubs has slowed as the Victorian WorkCover Authority awaits a decision by the Federal Court into the Essendon supplements probe. The complainant cited the VWA's section 131 which compelled the organisation to investigate (30 August 2014). More...

Nine fatal quad bike accidents force rethink on safety regulations
Quad bikes have overtaken tractors as the leading cause of death on Australian farms and, with nine fatal accidents in Queensland leading to an inquest that could trigger changes to safety regulations even though some families of victims disagree with many proposed reforms (28 August 2014). More...

Workplace bullying: issues at common law
Crown Law has noticed a trend of a number of damages claims being brought due to alleged bullying and harassment in the workplace. These claims become problematic to defend when the employer has not taken any steps, or not taken adequate steps, to investigate any allegations of bullying and harassment (27 August 2014). More...

MUA: Employers Say Preventing Injury and Death is too Expensive
Safe Work Australia is moving a number of Codes of Practice - including stevedoring and diving - to guidance material, meaning employers will be under less scrutiny and therefore less compelled to provide a safe working environment. MUA Assistant National Secretary said it was unbelievable that the regulators would consider softer regulation in the diving industry in the wake of criminal charges being laid against Paspaley Pearling Company after Jarrod Hampton, died on his second day at work two years ago (25 August 2014). More...

Criminal charges to be laid over Canberra construction site death
Criminal charges are to be laid over the death of a Yass man on a Canberra construction site in 2011. A coronial inquest into the death has previously heard there is a reasonable belief the grader driver, his employer and supervisors on the site were criminally responsible, and court summonses are expected to be issued to one or more people (26 August 2014). More...

WorkCover and Hansen Yuncken commit to safety during hospital redevelopment
WorkCover NSW and Hansen Yuncken today signed an alliance to provide a safe workplace during the Wagga Wagga Health Service Redevelopment. The Acting General Manager of WorkCover NSW's Work Health and Safety Division said the alliance was an example of how WorkCover and industry could work together to achieve safer workplaces (26 August 2014). More...

Construction safety a focus on both sides of the border
Victorian and NSW health and safety inspectors will be active along the Victoria and NSW border this week in an ongoing campaign to promote construction site safety in the region. Inspectors from both states will work together to provide information and advice to local builders, contractors and workers about construction site safety requirements (25 August 2014). More...

Call to give Fair Work compo powers over bullies
A conference addressing the scourge of bullying has called on the federal government to give the industrial umpire the Fair Work Commission (FWC) powers to financially compensate both victims and their families for damages suffered in workplace (21 August 2014). More...

May 2014 Notifiable Fatalities Monthly Report now available
There were 19 work-related notifiable fatalities during May 2014 — 13 male workers and 4 male bystanders, and 1 female worker and 1 female bystander. Of these fatalities, 6 workers and 5 bystanders died as a result of incidents in the air or on public roads (21 August 2014). More...

Cootes faces more than $2m in fines for safety breaches
A trucking company involved in a fatal accident in Sydney last year faces more than $2 million in fines after a safety audit, a court hears. The company was originally charged with more than 300 offences including operating unsafe vehicles, fuel leaks and interstate registration matters (20 August 2014). More...

BP crash sparks first NHVR safety and compliance alert
The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has pre-empted any official findings on the fatal Wodonga tanker trailer crash for safety reasons. Now the regulator has issued its first safety and compliance alert to industry following the early observations of crash investigators (20 August 2014). More...

Published – articles, papers, reports

Australia-wide fatalities, August 2014
Safe Work Australia
As at 27 August, 117 fatalities had been reported. The fatalities: 42 in Transport, postal and warehousing; 27 in Agriculture, forestry and fishing; 14 in Construction; 11 in Mining; six in Manufacturing; five in Accommodation & food services; three in Electricity, Gas & Water Services; and Arts & recreation services; and one each in Health care/social assistance; Retail; Wholesale Trade; Public administration and safety; Government administration & defence; and 'other services'. More...

Safe Work monthly fatality report, May 2014
Safe Work Australia, 21 August 2014
The report reveals that crushing incidents have been among the leading causes of work-related deaths this year. Nineteen work-related deaths were reported to Australia's OHS regulators in May: nine workers (or bystanders) were killed in vehicle incidents on public roads, four were fatally crushed (between a moving and a stationary object, for example), and two were killed in an air crash. More...

In practice and courts

New Safety standards

DR AS/NZS IEC 62271.4:2014
High-voltage switchgear and controlgear - Part 4: Handling procedures for sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) and its mixtures. Standards Australia.

DR AS/NZS IEC 62271.105:2014
High-voltage switchgear and control gear - Alternating current switch-fuse combinations for rated voltages above 1 kV up to and including 52 kV. Standards Australia.


Hutchison and Comcare [2014] AATA 588
The decision under review, being the reviewable decision of the respondent made on 21 July 2011, is varied by amending the description of the compensable mental injury suffered by the applicant to "major depressive disorder", but is otherwise affirmed. COMPENSATION – Commonwealth employees – applicant suffered mental ailments – respondent accepted liability to pay compensation to applicant for "major depressive disorder – single episode" - respondent subsequently accepted liability to pay compensation to applicant for "post-traumatic stress disorder" – date on which applicant first suffered compensable mental injury – description of first compensable mental injury amended to "major depressive disorder"- decision under review varied. Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (Cth), s 4(1), s 4(9), s 5A(1), s 5B(1), s 7(4) and s 14(1). More...

Inspector Christensen v Lend Lease Engineering Pty Limited (formerly Abigroup Contractors Pty Limited) [2014] NSWIRComm 42
In Matter Number IRC 279 of 2011, the defendant is fined in the sum of $200,000 with a moiety to the prosecutor; OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY - fatal incident - prosecutions against two defendants - pleas of not guilty - Abigroup Contractors Pty Limited convicted of offence under s 8(2) Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 - sentencing - Abigroup now known as Lend Lease Engineering Pty Limited - name of defendant altered in proceedings - objective factors - risk of being struck by a rail panel or components of a rail panel - failure to undertake a fresh risk assessment when method of work changed - contribution of other entities to risk - risk foreseeable - systems in place prior to incident - systems inadequately implemented at the site - simple remedial measures available - maximum penalty - general deterrence - specific deterrence - offence serious - subjective factors - financial assistance to family of deceased worker - counselling assistance to injured workers - expression of regret - cooperation with WorkCover - prior offences - parity - penalty imposed – moiety. More...

This publication does not deal with every important topic or change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named individuals listed.

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Michael Selinger
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