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

Last Updated: 1 September 2019
Most Read Contributor in Australia, October 2019

In the media

Meat processor fined $90,000 after hand amputation
JBS Australia Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court to a single charge of failing, so far as is reasonably practicable, to provide a safe working environment that was without risk to health (15 August 2019). More...

Conviction for assaulting WorkSafe inspector
A man has been convicted and fined $3,500 for assaulting a WorkSafe inspector at an Elwood construction site. The court heard the offending was prolonged, aggressive and humiliating, and in contravention of section 125 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (13 August 2019). More...

LakeCoal Pty Ltd fined $180,000 for WHS breach
The NSW Resources Regulator has welcomed the conviction of LakeCoal Pty Ltd for failing to comply with a health and safety duty under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (13 August 2019). More...

Fruit company fined for sliced finger incident
Shepparton company SPC Ardmona Operations Ltd has been fined $25,000 without conviction after a worker's finger was partially severed by moving machinery. The fruit processor pleaded guilty to one charge for failing to ensure guarding prevented access to a dangerous area of the plant (08 August 2019). More...

Demolition company fined $75,000 after worker's fall
Simcat Enterprises Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court on 1 August to one count under the Occupational Health and Safety Act of failing, so far as is reasonably practicable, to provide and maintain a working environment, plant and systems that are safe and without risks to health (08 August 2019). More...

Hammering Down on Safety with New Augmented Reality Construction Safety Guide
NSCA Foundation, Civil Contractors Federation Victoria and the National Safety Council of Australia (NSCA) Foundation has released their latest editions of the Augmented Reality VIC Construction Site Safety Guide, distributed free of charge throughout Victoria (05 August 2019). More...

Mt Arthur Coal Mine to fund $1 million of improvements after safety breach
The NSW Resources Regulator has accepted an Enforceable Undertaking from Mt Arthur Coal Pty Limited valued at $1,090,750 following its investigation into a serious safety incident at the Mt Arthur Coal Mine near Muswellbrook in August 2017 (06 August 2019). More...

Published – articles, papers, reports

Safe Work Australia Fatality statistics
As at 1 August, there have been 83 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

Updating the GHS under the model WHS laws consultation summary
An online consultation for the proposal to adopt an updated edition of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) under the model WHS laws was conducted in July 2019 (14 August 2019). More...

SafeWork Australia: National Safe Work Month – campaign kit now available
The campaign kit for this year's National Safe Work Month campaign is now available. Using the campaign kit, everyone can support a safety culture at their workplace and promote best practice work health and safety initiatives (07 August 2019). More...

Australian Standards

AS 1940:2017/Amdt 1:2019
The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids. More...

NSW

NSW Resources Regulator: Safety Alerts
SA19-03 Flight bar ejects hitting worker while installing a conveyor chain

NSW Resources Sector Safety Bulletins – 14 August 2019
SB19-09 Lack of bunding on accessible edges

Queensland

WorkSafe Queensland: Switchboard arc flash burns prompt urgent safety warning
Following yet another arc flash injury caused by failing to test a circuit before work started in a switchboard, the Electrical Safety Office is issuing an urgent callout to electrical workers. If there is a safety risk associated with working near energised electrical parts, a written risk assessment should be conducted to determine the risk level and decide on appropriate risk control measures (05 August 2019). More...

WorkSafe Queensland: Worker injured by collapsed roof
Many of the hazards associated with major demolition works are relevant for manual demolition as well. To manage the risk of unexpected collapse, the condition of roofs, walls and floors should be assessed by a competent person before commencing demolition work. Risk management must be completed and safe systems of work in place before starting any demolition work (15 August 2019). More...

WorkSafe Queensland: Fatal forklift incidents
Forklift operators and pedestrians are at risk of serious crush injuries caused by falling loads and the forklift itself.
PCBUs must ensure the provision and maintenance of safe plant. Effective risk management starts with a commitment to health and safety from those who operate and manage the business or undertaking. Higher order risk controls include designing plant to be without risks to health and safety (08 August 2019). More...

WorkSafe Queensland: Worker seriously burned in vehicle gas tank fire
Gas systems are commonly installed in vehicles, trailers or boats. They are also used in gas cookers and fridges in caravans, mobile homes and food vans. PCBU's should consider implementing higher order risk controls when installing, removing, or decommissioning an LPG gas tank for a motor vehicle. This includes a safe system of work aligned to requirements of Australian Standard 2746:2008 'Working areas for gas-fuelled vehicles' (07 August 2019). More...

WorkSafe Queensland: How to minimise manual handling injuries
Risk factors that cause these injuries include repetitive movement, sustained or awkward postures, high or sudden force, repetitive or sustained force; long duration and vibration. Use the Manual tasks risk management worksheet to help guide you through the steps of identifying, assessing, controlling and reviewing potentially risky tasks (06 August 2019). More...

WorkSafe Queensland: Farmer fatally injured by fallen hay bale
Bales can be small rectangular, large rectangular or large round and consist of plant material that has been compressed, tightly bound or baled together (including wrapped round silage bales). There are serious health and safety risks working with bales. A concise risk management process should be completed and safe systems of work should be in place before any work with hay bales is started (06 August 2019). More...

Cases

SafeWork NSW v Spectra Plumbing Pty Ltd [2019] NSWDC 415
CRIME – prosecution – work health and safety – duty of persons undertaking business – duty of employers – risk of serious injury – worker injured
SENTENCING – mitigating factors – objective seriousness – general deterrence – no record of previous convictions – good prospects of rehabilitation – plea of guilty – assistance to law enforcement authorities – remorse WORK HEALTH AND SAFETY – lack of employee training – no documented safe work procedure – risk control measures available at low cost COSTS – prosecution costs OTHER – work at heights – plumbing – installation of copper pipes – high voltage power lines – electric shock.

Orr v LakeCoal Pty Limited (In Liquidation) (No. 3) [2019] NSWDC 402
CRIMINAL LAW – prosecution – work health and safety – duty of persons undertaking business – risk of death or serious injury – SENTENCE – objective seriousness – mitigating factors – aggravating factors – general deterrence – specific deterrence – appropriate penalty – COSTS - prosecution costs – OTHER – underground coal mine – collisions between transport vehicle and roof infrastructure – resulting fracture of W-strap – driver of transport vehicle injured by damaged W-strap.

Victorian Prosecution Result Summaries and Enforceable Undertakings
The Geo Group Australia Pty Ltd Sale Magistrates' Court
Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 Section23(1) Outcome 08 Aug 2019
A.Alderton Plumbing Services Pty Ltd Moorabbin Magistrates' Court
Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 Section21(1) & Regulation 44 Outcome 07 Aug 2019
Atholl Robertson Melbourne Magistrates' Court
Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 Section125(1)(a) & 125(2) Outcome 07 Aug 2019
CEM International Pty Ltd Broadmeadows Magistrates' Court
Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 Section21(1) & 21(2)(a) Outcome 07 Aug 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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