Australia: Inside track: Work Health and Safety - In the media, in practice and courts, and cases

Last Updated: 9 August 2019
Most Read Contributor in Australia, August 2019

In the media

Tragic reminder of dangers of working near powerlines
Head of ESO Victoria Thomson said if work had to be done near powerlines then employers needed to conduct a site-specific risk assessment, develop a safe system of work before starting, keep workers and contractors informed about electrical safety, and importantly, avoid going into exclusion zones (31 July 2019). More...

Mackay reappointed as chair of Mining and Petroleum Competence Board
The NSW Government has announced the re-appointment of Ms Ruth Mackay as Chair of the Mining and Petroleum Competence Board. The board aims to improve mine safety by contributing to the development of world leading competence standards. It does so as part of an overall strategy to improve mine safety and performance (31 July 2019). More...

WorkSafe Victoria: New guidance for working alone on farms
To support National Farm Safety Week, a new guidance was released to help you stay safe while working alone. The guidance includes information about check-in systems, personal locator beacons and, if an incident does occur, effective emergency procedures (30 July 2019). More...

BMA gets on front foot with QLD safety reset
BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) will take part in a Queensland-wide safety reset following three fatalities at its sites in the past five years (29 July 2019). More...

Gold miner fined $150,000 over third worker's death across six-year span
The owners of the mothballed Central Norseman gold mine in WA have been fined over the death of a worker fatally crushed in 2016 (26 July 2019). More...

Builder fined $75,000 over worker's life-changing injury
The company pleaded guilty in the Toowoomba Magistrates Court to breaching the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and was fined and ordered to pay professional and court costs. In sentencing, the court agreed the young worker had been given no instruction or supervision in the safe operation of the saw (26 July 2019). More...

New inspectors ready to boost construction safety
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland is ready to roll out a new crop of construction inspectors to ensure workers can go home safely at the end of each day. The new inspectors will work with the construction industry to improve its injury and fatality rates (26 July 2019). More...

Joint agency blitz targets high rise construction safety breaches
A two-day operation in June on the Gold Coast by ten local, state and federal government agencies found a significant number of work safety breaches at construction sites. The Gold Coast is a hive of construction activity, with current building work valued at more than $10 billion, and another $5 billion in the pipeline (26 July 2019). More...

Site protection failings lead to track worker safety breach
The driver of an empty passenger train had to apply the brakes and sound the horn to alert track workers in the 'danger zone' to move to safety due to the inappropriate use of 'Lookout Working' safety measures, a new ATSB investigation has highlighted (25 July 2019). More...

Tradesman convicted in relation to bullying young workers
SafeWork NSW is encouraging businesses to remember mental health at work after a Hunter tradesman was convicted of failing to take reasonable care that his actions did not adversely affect the health and safety of two young workers. The $6,000 fine and order to pay costs is a reminder for workplaces to address mental health as part of their work health safety procedures (25 July 2019). More...

Chemical classification boosted
A new chemical information service, the Hazardous Chemical Information System (HCIS) includes 4500 chemicals classified in accordance with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals. However, Safe Work Australia issued the following warning to those using the database to identify chemicals: "Please be aware that HCIS is not a comprehensive database of all chemicals". More...

Published – articles, papers, reports

Safe Work Australia Fatality statistics
As at 8 July, there have been 77 Australian workers killed at work in 2019. The numbers and industries may vary from one report to the next, as Safe Work receives more detailed information. More...

In practice and courts

WorkSafe releases new web updates on mental health
WorkSafe have updated their website to contain a new summary of mental health safety basics (02 August 2019). More...

SafeWork Australia: Consultation regulation impact statement: Recommendations of the 2018 Review of the Model WHS Laws
Safe Work Australia (SWA) is calling on stakeholders to provide feedback on recommendations for improving the model work health and safety (WHS) laws. Before implementing the recommendations, SWA is calling for anyone who may be affected by them to provide feedback via their Engage page. More...


Enforceable Undertakings – 24 July 2019
Boral Cement Pty Ltd
Alleged breach - Contravention of section 19(1) of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
This undertaking has a total expenditure of $1,045,000. More....


WorkSafe Queensland: Vehicle loading crane (crane truck) audits extended
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland and the Department of Transport and Main Roads will extend an audit campaign to improve safety for vehicle loading cranes after a significant number of breaches were identified. WHSQ will hold workshops for owners and PCBUs in September and for inspection stations in October (26 July 2019). More...

WorkSafe Queensland: Risk from battery powered devices mounted near electrical equipment
Battery powered devices such as energy monitoring systems, timeclocks or communication equipment, if not maintained, can leak an alkaline substance onto equipment located below, creating a potential electric shock hazard and damaging equipment. The ESO is currently advising electricity meter installers and retailers they should not install meters below battery powered devices (26 July 2019). More...


WorkSafe Victoria Alert: Farm worker killed by falling tree
An alert highlighting the importance of maintaining a no-go zone and effective communication when felling trees and branches.
Industries: Agriculture (30 July 2019). More...

ESV Update: Application date – AS/NZS 3010:2017 Electrical installations – generating sets
ESV has published an update to the application date for AS/NZS 3010:2017 Electrical Installations – Generating Sets. This new 2017 edition of AS/NZS 3010 will be mandatory from date of publication of Amendment 1 (25 July 2019). More...


Orr v LakeCoal Pty Ltd (In Liquidation) (No. 2) [2019] NSWDC 360
CRIMINAL LAW – prosecution – work health and safety – duty of person undertaking business – risk of death or serious injury –PROCEDURAL – elements of offence – whether defendant owed a health and safety duty – whether there was a failure to comply with that duty – whether that failure exposed workers to the risk of death or serious injury – PROCEDURAL – reasonable practicability – likelihood of the risk – knowledge of the risk – what the defendant ought reasonably to have known – OTHER – vehicles in underground coal mine made contact with roof of roadway, causing fracture of W-strap – broken W-Strap made contact with canopy of vehicle, entering operator cabin space causing serious injury to worker – need for audit of roadways to assess operational roof clearance of vehicle over road surfaces – need to train workers to report damage to roofs or W-Straps.

Victorian Prosecution Result Summaries and Enforceable Undertakings
Simcat Enterprises Pty Ltd Melbourne Magistrates' Court
Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 Section21(1) & 21(2)(a)Outcome01 Aug 2019
PB Construction Services Pty Ltd (in liquidation) Ringwood Magistrates' Court
Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004,Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017
Section21(1); 21(2)(a) & 327 Outcome01 Aug 2019
Spotlight Pty Ltd Werribee Magistrates' Court
Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 Section26 Outcome31 Jul 2019
SPC Ardmona Operations Ltd Shepparton Magistrates' Court
Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004,Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017
Section21(1) & 99 Outcome31 Jul 2019

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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