Australia: Workplace Relations & Safety - Whats News – 29 March 2017

Last Updated: 31 March 2017
Article by Charles Power, Benjamin Marshall, Stephen Trew, Michael Selinger, Rachel Drew and Justine Ansell

Most Read Contributor in Australia, July 2017

In the media

Proactive work health and safety interventions increasing
Work health and safety regulators have increased proactive workplace interventions in recent years according to new data from Safe Work Australia. The 18th edition of the Comparative Performance Monitoring (CPM) report shows that in 2014/15 there were almost 190,000 workplace interventions by jurisdictional work health and safety regulators (24 March 2017). More...

Third tractor incident in a week claims another life
WorkSafe is calling on all workplaces to prioritise safety following the death of three workers in separate incidents all involving tractors (24 March 2017). More...

Warrnambool abattoir operator pleads guilty to two WorkCover breaches
Warrnambool's Midfield Meat has been fined $47,000 after the platform on robotic storage equipment fell, causing a severe head injury to a worker. Magistrate Cynthia Toose said the case involved a "very significant" incident, but was not dealing with compensation issues, only with Midfield Meat as an employer (23 March 2017). More...

Government wins appeal to increase fine for work safety breach
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland has successfully appealed what it argued was an inadequate fine imposed on a company over the death of a worker removing gas struts in 2013. In the Brisbane District Court on 17 March 2017, Judge Ian Dearden upheld the appeal, increasing the original $90,000 fine to $125,000 (23 March 2017). More...

NQ dive company pleads guilty to safety breach after death of inexperienced diver
A north Queensland dive company has pleaded guilty to breaching its duty under the Safety in Recreational Water Activities Act 2011 following the death of a U.K. tourist during an introductory scuba dive near Hayman Island two years ago. At a hearing in the Proserpine Magistrates Court on 17 March 2017, the Airlie Beach based charter boat operator was fined $160,000, plus professional and court costs of $1,089.40 (23 March 2017). More...

NSW Ambulance investigates paramedic who raised patient safety concerns
A paramedic who warned the safety of patients could be at risk after a decision affecting the rescue helicopter in his area is under investigation for potentially breaching the media policy of NSW Ambulance (23 March 2017). More...

Don't know, Don't dig worker safety campaign launched
NSW electricity networks and SafeWork NSW have joined forces to launch a new safety campaign to protect construction workers from digging into live electricity cables (22 March 2017). More...

QBCC cancels more licences of builder charged with deaths of two workers at Eagle Farm last year
Queensland's construction watchdog has revoked three licences, including concreting, joinery and carpentry, which had been granted to a builder facing charges over the deaths of two workers (21 March 2017). More...

GoldlinQ launches independent investigation after Gold Coast trams shut down for more than four hours
A network engineer has been called in to examine the issues and review the entire communications system. The trams were stopped about 10am yesterday when GoldlinQ became unable to monitor where the trams were, creating a safety issue (21 March 2017). More...

'Secret medicals' on public servants ruled unlawful
Public service bosses cannot obtain medical reports on their workers without their knowledge or consent, the Commonwealth workplace authority has ruled (16 March 2017). More...

New initiatives keeping Queensland healthcare workers safe
Queensland hospitals are now much safer for staff, patients and their families thanks to strong action-based solutions in response to key recommendations from the Occupational Violence Oversight Committee (14 March 2017). More...

Published – articles, papers, reports

Comparative Performance Monitoring Report 18th Edition
Safe Work Australia: 24 March 2017
The Comparative Performance Monitoring (CPM) reports provide trend analysis on work health and safety and workers' compensation schemes operating in Australia and New Zealand. The report also enables benchmarking across jurisdictions and the identification of best practice to support policy making. See the report, supplementary reports and fact sheets here. More...

New report about measuring and reporting on work health and safety
Safe Work Australia has published a new report that explores processes for gathering and communicating work health and safety performance information. The Measuring and reporting on work health and safety report provides an evidence-based framework for: identifying appropriate WHS key performance indicators; designing useful WHS reports, and considering WHS performance data in a way that adds value to business decisions (15 March 2017).

Safe Work Australia Fatality statistics
As at 24 March, 43 Australian workers have been killed at work in 2017. The numbers and industries may vary as Safe Work receives more detailed information (to check for updates and full figures for 2016, go to the Safe Work Australia Work-related fatalities page).

In practice and courts

Senate Inquiry Update
Non-conforming building products
Status: Accepting Submissions; Date Referred: 11 October 2016; Submissions Close: 01 December 2016; Reporting Date: 25 May 2017.

Workcover Queensland: New smoke alarm laws now apply in Queensland
The safety checklist has been revised for installation work. The heat stress page has information and safe work procedures and the work at heights page has more information (22 March 2017).

SafeWork focus on tree work industry safety
SafeWork NSW has launched a project with the tree work industry in an effort to improve safety, and better protect workers and consumers (21 March 2017). For information on working safely with trees or how to select a qualified tree work business, visit or

WorkSafe Victoria: OHS Regulations Reform The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007 (OHS Regulations) and Equipment (Public Safety) Regulations 2007 (EPS Regulations) will expire in June 2017. WorkSafe is required to review and remake these regulations by this date.

WorkSafe Victoria: Safety Soapbox
Also in this edition is a round-up of prosecutions and incidents here and around Australia. Access the March 10 Safety Soapbox online, including the link to the list of reported incidents.

Dangerous Goods Operations conference 2017
The Marcus Evans Dangerous Goods Operations (DGO) conference will take place in Melbourne on March 16 – 17 2017, exploring the best safety management and DGO practices across a range of industries.

Safety Standards released

DR AS 4431:2017
Safe working on new lift installations in new constructions. Standards Australia.

AS/NZS 60079.10.1:2009 Rul 1:2017
Explosive atmospheres - Classification of areas - Explosive gas atmospheres (IEC 60079-10-1, Ed.1.0 (2008) MOD) (Ruling 1 to AS/NZS 60079.10.1) Standards Australia.


Grant v BHP Coal Pty Ltd [2017] FCAFC 42
INDUSTRIAL LAW – appeal against primary judge's dismissal of challenge to decisions of the Fair Work Commission – whether dismissal was harsh, unjust or unreasonable –whether the Coal Mining Safety and Health Act 1999 (Qld) provides authority for employer to direct employees to attend medical appointments – obligations of coal mine workers to discharge their safety and health obligations – whether legislature clearly intended to abrogate or suspend a right, freedom, or immunity – whether employer has implied contractual right to direct employees to attend medical examinations – whether privilege against self-incrimination applies in the sphere of employment – appeal dismissed.

Williamson v VH & MG Imports Pty Ltd [2017] QDC 05
CRIMINAL LAW – APPEAL AND NEW TRIAL – APPEAL AGAINST SENTENCE – GROUNDS FOR INTERFERENCE – SENTENCE MANIFESTLY EXCESSIVE OR INADEQUATE – where the respondent was found to have breached s 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld) for failing to comply with a health and safety duty under s 19(1) of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld) – where the respondent was fined ninety thousand dollars – where no conviction was recorded – where employee was exposed to an unacceptable risk of death or serious injury – where the risk of injury was avoidable – whether the learned acting magistrate fell into error – whether the fine was manifestly inadequate – whether a conviction should be recorded.

Legislation – Commonwealth

Statement of Expectations for the Board of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority for the Period 27 March 2017 to 30 June 2019
23/03/2017 - This instrument puts in place a new Statement of Expectations (SOE) which serves as a notice to the Board of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) under Section 12A of the Civil Aviation Act 1988 (the Act). This new SOE outlines in a formal and public way, the Government's expectations concerning the operations and performance of CASA.

Legislation – New South Wales

Proclamations commencing Acts
Criminal Legislation Amendment (Organised Crime and Public Safety) Act 2016 No 16 (2017-95) — published LW 24 March 2017.

Legislation – Victoria

Bills Introduced and Second Read in the first House – 24 March 2017
Crimes Legislation Amendment (Public Order) Bill 2017
WorkSafe Legislation Amendment Bill 2017

Access Victorian legislation from

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
Justine Ansell
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