Australia: Work Health & Safety - What's News - 3 February 2015

Last Updated: 10 February 2015
Article by Charles Power, Stephen Trew and Michael Selinger

Most Read Contributor in Australia, September 2016

In the media

DVA: Easier access to mental health support for veterans
Under new arrangements, veterans and eligible current and former members of the ADF who are diagnosed with these conditions by vocationally registered general practitioners and clinical psychologists will also be able to access these non-liability health care arrangements (29 January 2015). More...

NSW govt probes AGL fracking site
The state government has ordered an internal investigation into a NSW mid north coast gas project after the detection of dangerous chemicals in a water storage tank. AGL Energy has suspended operations at the Waukivory pilot project near Gloucester until a full review of the sample results have been completed (28 January 2015). More...

Ship detained at Newcastle Port for safety breach
A bulk carrier ship has been detained in Newcastle after crew members were forced to unlash cargo while at sea. In accordance with Australian Health and Safety law and section 94 of the Navigation Act, cargo may only be unlashed by qualified Australian stevedores once the ship is berthed in port, with a charge for those services and moving the cargo (28 January 2015). More...

Rogue truckies on notice: Increased "on road" safety checks this year – NSW
Minister for Roads and Freight has provided a hard warning to trucking operators who choose to flout the law that 2015 was not the year to test the boundaries, with even more safety operations taking to the road (28 January 2015). More...

Australian Government delivers first stage of $1 billion Mr Fluffy loan
The first instalment of the Australian Government's $1 billion concessional loan to help remediate ACT homes affected by "Mr Fluffy" loose-fill asbestos will be paid tomorrow following the signing of the loan agreement between the Australian and ACT governments (28 January 2015). More...

Mr Fluffy asbestos: First loose-fill asbestos home identified in NSW Government testing program
The first house to test positive for potentially deadly loose-fill asbestos as part of the NSW Government's free testing program has been identified. The Loose Fill Asbestos Insulation Taskforce has also been established to look at the best way of tackling the clean up, and will its findings in May (28 January 2015). More...

Quad bike safety warning for young Queenslanders
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland's Agriculture Strategy group head says that while quad bikes had become a staple of working life on many rural properties, farmers and others in control of rural workplaces have a responsibility to provide safe systems of work for workers and visitors (27 January 2015). More...

Tragedy prompts low-flying warning
An aircraft accident that resulted in the fatality of a child passenger is a reminder to all pilots about the dangers of unauthorised and unnecessary low-level flying, according to the ATSB. A copy of the investigation report ( AO-2014-068) into this accident is available on the ATSB website. Low-level flying is one of the ATSB's top safety concerns for general aviation pilots (29 January 2015). More...

Public input sought on options to improve heavy vehicle roadworthiness
The National Transport Commission (NTC)has released four packages of options designed to improve the roadworthiness of the heavy vehicles that use Australia's road networks. The latest statistics showed that 213 Australians died in crashes involving heavy vehicles in the past 12 months (27 January 2015). More...

Latest statistics disturb Victorian industry organisation
The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) has responded with concern at its state's disappoint recent showing in fatal truck crash results. VTA CEO notes the general downward trend is promising but says any increase must be tackled at several levels (28 January 2015). More...

Worksafe Restored Because Workplace Safety Matters in Victoria
The Minister for Finance announces that Victorian WorkCover Authority will immediately return to the WorkSafe banner. Since it was launched in 2001, WorkSafe has made its mark through powerful awareness and advertising campaigns and highly-visible presence of Inspectors who make over 40,000 workplace visits every year (23 January 2015). More...

Urgent steps to fix mine fire safety and keep valley safe
Premier Daniel Andrews joined Minister for Resources to announce that there are new requirements for mine operators to carry out risk assessments and develop fire management plans that will be fast tracked (23 January 2015). More...

CFMEU official allegedly directed work to stop on $163m Barangaroo site
CFMEU official Luke Collier is facing court after he allegedly directed work to stop at a $163 million Barangaroo project. FWBC also claims Mr Collier refused to obey occupational health and safety laws on site while conducting a right of entry visit (21 January 2015). More...

Australia Post worker's back pain not result of 'sneezing fit', tribunal rules
Australia Post attempted to argue a worker's back pain was not caused by hours of overtime spent lifting heavy mail trays, but instead by a "sneezing fit" he'd had while driving. But the company failed to convince the AAT that the worsening of the employee's existing spinal condition was not work-related, and is liable to pay compensation (21 January 2015). More...

Cancer cluster led to 16 deaths at Fiskville CFA training centre
Exposure to chemicals and contaminated water at the Country Fire Authority training centre in Fiskville contributed to higher rates of cancer and 16 deaths, a study has found. When compared to the Victorian population there was found to be a significantly higher risk of cancer for full-time workers at the site (21 January 2015). More...

UK: TUC feature on fracking and worker health The UK's peak union council, the TUC has released a briefing paper - Fracking and workers' health and safety - on health and safety issues relating to hydraulic fracking for shale gas. It says that while many are the same as for any gas extraction, there are key differences. For example, both in Australia and in the UK, most gas extraction has been off-shore while it is likely that most fracking will be on land (January 2015).

Another quad bike fatality
The VTHC questions how many more quad bike fatalities have to occur before regulatory action is taken. While local police issued a warning to parents to ensure that helmets and protective gear are worn, the reality is that these bikes are extremely dangerous and children should not be riding them at all (20 January 2015). More...

Push for remote-area phones
The Transport Workers Union wants employers to provide all workers travelling to remote areas with a satellite phone and emergency positioning beacon, saying lessons have not been learnt from past tragedies. Current laws that required companies to supply workers who operated alone with an "up-to-date" means of communication in case of an emergency are considered too ambiguous (20 January 2015). More...

Father of truck driver who died in remote WA calls for drivers to carry emergency equipment
A truck driver's death has raised questions about the safety equipment given to truckies driving in remote regions. Under current laws, employees who work in isolated areas must be provided with a means of communication to get help in the event of an emergency. But the law does not specify what sort of equipment should be used (23 January 2015). More...

BITRE: Fatal crashes improvement hits speed bump
A period of reduction in articulated vehicle fatalities failed to be sustained last year, the latest the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics figures show. The rolling quarterly statistics for July to September last year show fatal articulated truck crashes rose 13 per cent for the 12 months to September (22 January 2015). More... More...

MSR Transport cops $100,000 whack for 18 counts of overloading
The South Australia Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) has welcomed a $100,000 fine imposed against a Hamley Bridge-based transport company that was found to have repeatedly overloaded a B-double during the 2011/2012 grain harvest (20 January 2015). More...

Queanbeyan Council offers Mr Fluffy asbestos checks for prospective homebuyers
The New South Wales Government is looking at laws to force vendors to tell buyers if their house had loose-fill asbestos insulation installed in the roof. The mandatory disclosure rule would be part of a suite of measures designed to deal with the toxic Mr Fluffy legacy in NSW (19 January 2015). More...

Published – articles, papers, reports

Fiskville Firefighters' Health Study
Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine; Monash University
Workers were exposed to flammable chemicals, foams and recycled firewater, had high rates of melanoma and testicular cancer. But the report said the mortality rate for the entire cohort was smaller when compared to the rest of the Australian population, which could be due to the healthy worker effect (January 2015). More...

SafeWork Australia: Quad bike fatalities 2015
Since 1 January 2015, there has been two quad bike fatalities, one in Tasmania and one in New South Wales. In 2014, fifteen people were killed in quad bike related incidents. Nine of these deaths were the result of a roll over. There were 21 quad bike related fatalities in 2013, 19 in 2012 and 20 fatalities in 2011. More...

ATSB: Aviation Short Investigation Bulletin - Issue 38
The Aviation Short Investigation Bulletin covers a range of the ATSB's short investigations and highlights valuable safety lessons for pilots, operators and safety managers (27 January 2015). More...

In practice and courts

Heavy Vehicle Roadworthiness Program: Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement
National Transport Commission (NTC), released January 2015
Interested parties should consider the document and respond before March 25. After stakeholder consultation, the NTC will present its final recommendations to the country's transport ministers in July. More...


Paul Feeney Group—Extracell Charger by Elcart - 28th January 2015.

Mitre 10 Australia Pty Ltd—MiPro 1.8 Metre Dual Purpose Aluminium Ladder - 27th January 2015.

Tabcorp Holdings Limited—M Spa Lite Inflatable Spa - 27th January 2015.

Masters Home Improvements Pty Ltd—Task Force Heavy-Duty Recovery Strap - 22nd January 2015.

Nissan Motor Co. (Australia) Pty Ltd—Nissan J10 Dualis and J10 Dualis+2 - 19th January 2015.

Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific Pty Ltd—Mercedes-Benz U400 and U500 - 19th January 2015.

Explosives Security Alert 17 - Poor explosives stock control (unaccounted for explosives)
During a monthly stock take at an explosives magazine, it was identified that a quantity of explosives was unaccounted for. Initial investigations indicated the explosives may have been incorrectly loaded with a quantity of explosives to be transported offsite for destruction (27 January 2015). More...

NSW WorkCover: Risk of falls when using tower cranes: Safety alert
This safety alert was developed by WorkCover NSW, Master Builders Association and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union to provide guidance to designers, manufacturers, suppliers, installers, operators, and persons with control of sites on how to minimise the risk of falls when using tower cranes (released 21 January 2015). More...

Australian Radiation Incident Register (ARIR)
Summary of radiation incidents reported to the ARIR in 2013 (16 January 2015). More....

FSANZ: Consultation on proposed approach to next stage of a review on micro limits
FSANZ has released a consultation paper on the proposed approach to the next phase of a review of microbiological limits in the Food Standards Code. The aim of the review was to ensure the limits are practical and clear for both industry and enforcement agencies and consistent with contemporary practices. The closing date for submissions is 27 February 2015 (January 2015). More...

Weekly Update - Independent Investigation into Loose-Fill Asbestos
A licensed asbestos assessor can advise on whether living spaces are well sealed and asbestos hazards are appropriately controlled. More... More...


Ermel v Duluxgroup (Australia) Pty Ltd (No 2) [2015] FCA 17
INDUSTRIAL LAW – whether applicant dismissed because of temporary absence due to illness in contravention of s 352 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) – whether adverse action taken against the applicant in contravention of s 340 of the FW Act because the applicant exercised various workplace rights – whether s 21 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) conferred a "workplace right" upon the applicant – whether the making of complaints was an operative factor in the decision to dismiss the applicant – whether the applicant's absence from work due to illness was an operative factor in the decision to dismiss him – whether a contravention of s 352 of the FW Act, and of s 340(1) in combination with s 97(a) of the FW Act, requires satisfaction that a reason for the adverse action (or dismissal) was the employee's absence due to illness, or whether absence per se is a sufficient reason – whether Jones v Dunkel inference should be drawn by respondent's failure to call witness to corroborate direct testimony from decision-maker – application dismissed. Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) s 21; Workplace Relations Act 1996 (Cth) ss 170CK(2)(a), 659(2)(a). More...

Ellery v Sunsail (Australia) Pty Ltd [2014] QDC 285
TORTS – NEGLIGENCE – DANGEROUS PREMISES – INJURIES TO PERSONS ENTERING PREMISES – where plaintiff stepped backwards and fell down steps on chartered catamaran – whether injuries caused by negligence of defendant. More...



Statutory Rules

No. 1: Road Safety (Drivers) and (General) Amendment (Alcohol Interlocks) Amendment Regulations 2015
Date of Making: 20/01/2015 Commencement: 20/01/2015 Not yet in operation: N/A Sunset Date: 20/01/2025.

Radiation Regulations 2007 (SR 89/2007) and Radiation Act 2005 (Act 62/2005)
Amended By [Draft] Radiation Amendment Regulations.

Victoria Government Gazette No. S 16 28 January 2015 - Subordinate Legislation Act 1994 - Proposed Radiation Amendment Regulations
Proposed Specification of Security Standards; Proposed Specification of Additional Matters to be Included in: Security Plans and Transport Security Plans; Proposed Guidelines for the Verification of Identity and Notice that a Regulatory Impact Statement has been prepared in relation to the proposed Radiation.

Amendment Regulations and three legislative instruments, the proposed specification of security standards; the proposed specification of additional matters to be included in security plans and transport security plans; and the proposed guidelines for the verification of identity. 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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