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

Last Updated: 6 November 2019
Most Read Contributor in Australia, October 2019

In the media

Centre for WHS: To be a good leader, safety should already be part of your leadership toolkit, not an 'add-on'
Research has shown that 'good' leadership in the context of safety is driven by four different sets of behaviours and our interviews with 60 workers, supervisors, managers and safety inspectors revealed a number of 'safety leadership' behaviours that are just good general leadership (24 October 2019). More...

Federal Court decision reaffirms that union officials must comply with federal right of entry laws
The Federal Court has ruled that union officials must hold and show a valid federal right of entry permit upon request when visiting construction sites for safety reasons. The decision follows the ABCC commencing legal action against the CFMMEU and a number of officials for unlawfully entering the Bruce Highway Caloundra project site (23 October 2019). More...

Safety warning over electric shocks from hospital bed power cords
WorkSafe Victoria recently issued a safety alert about the hazards and risks associated with electric hospital bed power cords after an employee received a severe electric shock from the power cord of an electric hospital bed (22 October 2019). More...

NSW regulators put construction and resources sectors on notice
SafeWork NSW said businesses and employees have been "put on notice" about their obligations to make workplaces safer, following a number fatalities and serious injuries (22 October 2019). More...

Building company fined $47,500 over tilt-up panel collapse
The company Hanssen, was found guilty of failing to ensure that work was directly supervised by a person who had completed an approved course for managers and supervisors on a site where tilt-up work was being done, and was fined in the Perth Magistrates Court (22 October 2019). More...

BHP pledges to solve Saraji safety concern
BHP has reinforced its commitment to safety after failing to identify the cause of a fatality at BHP Mitsubishi Alliance's Saraji mine on New Year's Eve last year (21 October 2019). More...

Fire safety heating up at Glencore Mt Isa
Glencore has taken steps to improve fire safety at its Mt Isa copper operations in Queensland, updating its transformer fluid to a synthetic option (21 October 2019). More...

Tottenham fire site clean up continues
EPA and Worksafe have issued notices demanding the duty holders remove waste and chemicals from the site, contain any run-off, and render any residual dangerous goods harmless. All demolition work must comply with construction and asbestos regulations (20 October 2019). More...

Power in workers hands to 'Speak Up. Save lives'
Reporting dangerous work practices and risks to workers' safety is now easier than ever with the NSW Government's new mobile reporting system 'Speak Up. Save Lives'. To access the tool visit Speak Up on your mobile device (16 October 2019). More...

Charges laid after assault on youth justice worker
Two charges have been filed at the Melbourne Magistrates Court under section 21 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, for failing to maintain a working environment that was safe and without risks to health (18 October 2019). More...

Company fined $120,000 for unsafe worksite
Sandarra Electrics Pty Ltd has been fined $120,000 for exposing workers to risk of serious injury on a residential construction site in Geelong, convicted of failing to eliminate or reduce the risk of a fall from height, as well as failing to prepare a Safe Work Method Statement for high risk construction work (16 October 2019). More...

Published – articles, papers, reports

Safe Work Australia Fatality statistics
As at 10 October, there have been 121 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. To check for updates and more details on fatalities since 2003, go to the Safe Work Australia Work-related fatalities webpage.

In practice and courts

SafeWork Australia: Check out our safety champion resources
SafeWork have compiled many resources this year to show how workers, employers, individuals and businesses can champion WHS at their workplace. Anyone can be a safety champion and have a positive influence on WHS at their workplace (21 October 2019). More...

Safe Work Australia: Workplace exposure standards: Release schedule and opportunities to comment on draft recommendations
Safe Work Australia is evaluating the Workplace Exposure Standards for airborne contaminants to ensure they are based on the highest quality, contemporary evidence and supported by a rigorous scientific approach.
Draft evaluation reports and recommendations for each chemical will be made available for public comment throughout 2019-2020. The anticipated schedule for public comment is now available on Safe Work Australia's website.
Release 4 - Caprolactam to clopidol: 27 September 2019. Public comment is open until 11 October 2019.


Note: Safer Buildings: Parts 2 and 3a deadlines extended
Bodies corporate and building owners across Queensland have been given additional time to complete Parts 2 and 3a of the Safer Buildings combustible cladding checklist. More...

WorkSafe Queensland: New standard for renewable energy battery storage installations
Designers and installers in Queensland have a duty under the Electrical Safety Act 2002 to ensure their battery storage installs are electrically safe. The installation requirements in AS/NZS 5139 are streamlined for equipment that complies with the Practice Guide: battery storage equipment - electrical safety requirements, V1.0 2018 (23 October 2019). More...


EnergySafe magazine – Spring 2019
In this issue, we recognise the achievements of our team in leading electrical safety standards adopted internationally, announce the impending launch of a new campaign and address the increase in compliance checks and action on solar installations (17 October 2019). More...

EnergySafe Victoria: Annual Report 2018/19
The Report was tabled in Parliament on 17 October and is now available. It details ESV's progress in responding to the recommendations Independent Review of Victoria's Electricity and Gas Network Safety Framework, our oversight of bushfire mitigation measures and safety issues around gas heaters, and regulatory challenges and increased compliance. Read the Report.

Worksafe Victoria Alert: Three year old child fatally injured on Victorian farm
WorkSafe wants to highlight the importance of ensuring vehicles used on farms are suitable for the task, fitted with the appropriate operator protective devices and operated safely (16 October 2019). More...


Australian Building and Construction Commissioner v Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (The Bruce Highway Caloundra to Sunshine Upgrade Case) (No 2) [2019] FCA 1737

INDUSTRIAL LAW - where union officials entered site "pursuant to" s 81(3) of the Workplace Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld) – where union officials did not produce entry permits under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) – whether s 81(3) of the Workplace Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld) creates a "State or Territory OHS right" within the meaning of s 494 Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) – alleged contraventions of ss 494, 497 and 500 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)

Safework NSW v Proflow Plumbing and Maintenance Pty Limited [2019] NSWDC 593
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 – plea of guilty – general deterrence – specific deterrence – appropriate penalty – COSTS – prosecution costs – OTHER – plumber excavated a trench at residence and left it overnight unguarded and unfenced – death of elderly resident of house who fell into trench

Safework NSW v Kukas Brothers Pty Limited [2019] NSWDC 592
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 – plea of guilty – general deterrence – specific deterrence – appropriate penalty – COSTS – prosecution costs – OTHER – worker in pit required by supervisor to exit by riding in bucket of excavator – worker tipped out of bucket into pit – inadequate means of ingress to and egress from pit

SafeWork NSW v Miroslav DAVIDOVIC [2019] NSWDC 597
CRIMINAL LAW – prosecution – work health and safety – duty of persons undertaking a business – duty of employers – risk of death or serious injury – SENTENCE – mitigating factors – aggravating factors – fine – capacity to pay – circumstances – objective seriousness – specific deterrence – general deterrence – appropriate penalty – SENTENCE PRINCIPLES – parity – totality – community values – remorse – contrition

Victorian Prosecution Result Summaries and Enforceable Undertakings
Keech Foundry Pty. Limited - Bendigo Magistrates' Court
Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 Section21(1) & 21(2)(a) Outcome 25 Oct 2019
All in One Plumbing Pty Ltd -Dandenong Magistrates' Court
Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 Section21(1); 21(2)(a) & 21(2)(e) Outcome 23 Oct 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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