COVID-19 updates

How to clean and disinfect your workplace – COVID-19
Safe Work Australia: 27 August 2020
This document provides guidance on routine cleaning, and cleaning and disinfection following a case or suspected case of COVID-19 in a non-healthcare workplace.   More...

COVID-19 Information for workplaces
A reminder of the information for workplaces on the SWA website – for specific industries, case studies, how to do risk assessments, and much more.   More...

Join National Safe Work month and support WHS through COVID-19
Safe Work Australia is pleased to launch the theme for this year's National Safe Work Month: Work Health and Safety through COVID-19 and associated campaign kit (27 July 2020).   More...

Allowing workers to remain in abattoirs while awaiting Covid test results 'encourages screening'
Infectious diseases expert Prof Peter Collignon says new public health guidelines encourage high-risk workplaces to test employees regularly (21 August 2020).   More...


Untangling COVID-19 workplace requirements
The coronavirus pandemic has increased the complexity of workplace laws. It gets more confusing if your business is based in multiple states (25 August 2020).   More...

Office of the Safety Commissioner: COVID-19 Update – revised OFSC audit arrangements in Victoria
Considering current medical advice and having reviewed safety risks to workers of accredited companies and to Federal Safety Officers, I advise that the OFSC will further modify its audit activities in Melbourne and across Victoria until COVID-19 restrictions ease (07 August 2020).   More...

Business Victoria: Construction sector guidance
Sector guidance for construction business under Melbourne's Stage 4 restrictions
Includes: Stage 4 restrictions; Permitted Work Premises; Business Operating Reductions – Construction; Application (08 August 2020).   More...

In the media

Hunter construction sites fail compliance blitz
82 notices and six on-the-spot fines have been issued following a construction site safety blitz across 54 commercial and residential projects in the Hunter last week (25 August 2020).   More...

Inquiry examines why gas issues keep happening at Queensland coal mines
Inquiry hears of desires to increase coal production despite persistent safety issues. The inquiry is also looking at the use of labour hire in the sector and the fear casual workers will lose their jobs if they speak out or raise concerns. (23 August 2020).   More...

Farmers urged to buckle up
The NSW Government has launched a new campaign urging farmers using side-by-side vehicles to wear seat belts following a spate of deaths across the state (20 August 2020).   More...

Qld prosecutes its first individual for industrial manslaughter
For the first time since the offence was enacted in Queensland in 2017, a business owner is facing industrial manslaughter charges following a July 2019 death (19 August 2020).   More...

Published – articles, papers, reports

Safe Work Australia Fatality statistics
As at 13 August, there have been 104 Australian workers killed at work in 2020.  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 NSW: General diving work – qualifications
The newly issued an exemption for the general diving work qualifications requirements of clause 171(1) of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017. This exemption is granted until 31 December 2022. People who are qualified under AS 4005.2 – 2000 will need to complete three additional units of competency by 31 December 2022 to be legally qualified to undertake general diving work in NSW.   More...

NSW Resources regulator: Practising certificates required from 1 October 2020
From 1 October 2020 this year, individuals will only be able to exercise a statutory function at a mine when they hold a practising certificate. The  transitional arrangements that have allowed holders of certificates of competence to exercise statutory functions will end on 30 September 2020. Click  here for further information on practising certificates, including how to apply.

NSW Resources Regulator: Four mining compliance priorities
The Resources Regulator has published its  July - December 2020 Compliance priorities document which sets out the key compliance priorities for the next six months. Publishing this document serves to increase transparency, community and industry confidence in regulatory activities and increase levels of voluntary compliance.
Between July and December this year the Regulator aims to complete four compliance priorities targeting:   Respirable dust (revision to the exposure standards); Progressive rehabilitation; Subsidence management and Non-reporting of incidents.


Methane ignited by friction generated during rib bolting | Business Queensland
20 August 2020: Mines safety alert 375
Mines Safety Alert from an event where methane ignited due to friction generated during rib bolting
Contamination; Fires; Gases; Ventilation.   More...

WorkSafe Qld: Electrical safety awareness sessions in regional Queensland
Ahead of Electricity Safety Week (7-11 September), a series of electrical safety awareness sessions have been scheduled around regional Queensland to coincide with local home shows (12 August 2020).   More...


VTHC l psychosocial health standard
Many modern workplaces have a number of hazards that put at risk the psychosocial health - or psychological health - of workers. As is the case for other workplace hazards and risks, the employer has a duty to identify these and then take action to eliminate, or if this is not reasonably practicable, minimise them. The VTHC has issued a Psychosocial Health Standard.  More...

August edition of Safety Soapbox
Many electrical contractors and their employees have entered the solar installation market. The editorial says that there has already been one fatality where an employee of a solar installer fell from a ladder while climbing down from the roof of a house. Access the August 2020 edition of Safety Soapbox  here – the summaries of reported incidents can be downloaded from the page.

Worksafe Victoria Safety Alert: Electrician electrocuted working at a domestic property
WorkSafe is issuing an alert about the risk of installing cables in older domestic properties where the electrical supply has not been de-energised and/or the integrity of existing electrical cable is not known (26 August 2020).   More...


SafeWork NSW v Bullock MFG Pty Limited  [2020] NSWDC 457
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 – capacity to pay – appropriate penalty COSTS – prosecution costs OTHER – lack of adequate training in the operation of a die press machine provided to inexperienced worker – no formal induction – worker had not operated the press before the day of the incident – limited supervision – press guard not functioning correctly – worker's hand became caught in moving parts of the press causing serious crush injuries and partial amputations – incident would have been prevented if finger guards had been appropriately adjusted.

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.