COVID-19 updates

Safe Work Australia: New COVID-19 work health and safety guidance for workplaces
Guidance for managing risks from COVID-19 is now available for:
Accommodation services
Mobile consultants and client engagement services
Tertiary education
Guidance for the Retail industry has also been expanded with additional information for shopping centres.
A new Small business planning tool is now available, outlining key steps and considerations for small businesses operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information and resources, view COVID-19 Information for workplaces (18 June 2020).

Transport and freight businesses urged to register as COVID safe
The NSW Government has launched a new suite of guidance materials to help all types of businesses manage the risk of COVID-19. The transport, freight and rideshare plan can be tailored to variables such as how many people are needed to assist with deliveries, numbers of passengers and where points of contact occur (01 July 2020). More...

Improving COVID safety on NSW construction sites
The NSW Government has launched a new suite of guidance materials to help all types of businesses manage the risk of COVID-19. Common misconceptions in construction and trades are that only one person can travel in a personnel lift or construction hoist or you can't share tools on the worksite (30 June 2020). More...

Hotels urged to register as COVID safe
The NSW Government has launched a new suite of guidance materials to help all types of businesses manage the risk of COVID-19. The hotels and accommodation plan can be tailored to reflect an individual business' response to the risks that may arise in their workplace (29 June 2020). More...

Improving COVID safety at regional workplaces
The NSW Government is helping businesses return to normal trade, through the launch of a new suite of resources to guide businesses as they manage the risk of COVID-19 (25 June 2020). More...

Safe Work Australia: New COVID-19 work health and safety information hub for small businesses
The new Small Business Hub has tailored information and tools to help businesses manage risks from COVID-19 and keep people safe at the workplace. The hub has guidance and resources for businesses transitioning back to usual operations as restrictions ease, as well as businesses that have been able to stay open safely (29 June 2020).

In the media

New workplace exposure standard for silica dust
Australian workers are being protected against the harmful effects of silica dust by reducing the workplace exposure standard (WES) for respirable crystalline silica from 1 July this year. Under the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 (Cth), the exposure standard will be halved from an eight-hour time-weighted average of 0.1 mg/m3 to 0.05 mg/m3 (01 July 2020). More...

NSW ahead of the curve in silicosis prevention
From July 1, the NSW Government's Silicosis Reduction Strategy will come into effect, introducing the most comprehensive series of reforms in Australia to stamp out the deadly lung disease. NSW will be also one of the first states to introduce a new minimum silica workplace exposure standard of 0.05mg/m3 (eight-hour time-weighted average) to protect employees on site, a significant drop from the previous level of 0.1 mg/m3 (30 June 2020). More...

New era for workplace health and safety
Employers have a strong new reason to make health and safety their first priority as workplace manslaughter laws come into effect. WorkSafe Chief Executive Colin Radford said workplace manslaughter laws would play a crucial role in making Victorian workplaces safer (01 July 2020). More...

Safety net tightens for resources workers
Australia's toughest mine safety laws take effect from 1 July 2020 with executives facing up to 20 years' jail if Queensland resources sector workers die because of their criminal negligence. A new independent statutory body – Resources Safety and Health Queensland – also exists from 1 July 2020 (01 July 2020). More...

Serious Resources Safety and Health Prosecutions now sit with WHS Prosecutor in Queensland
From 1 July 2020, serious Resources Safety and Health (RSH) prosecutions will be referred to the independent Work Health and Safety Prosecutor, Mr Aaron Guilfoyle. This follows the proclamation of recent legislative amendments. Mr Guilfoyle welcomed the new arrangements (01 July 2020). More...

ABCC commences Federal Circuit Court action against CEPU and official
The ABCC has commenced Federal Circuit Court action alleging the CEPU and its official Daniel Bessell acted in an improper manner and failed to comply with site occupational health and safety requirements during a visit to a Buddina construction site in Queensland in July 2018 (29 June 2020). More...

SafeWork kick off construction compliance blitz
Construction sites across north-western Sydney can expect a visit from SafeWork Inspectors this week who will be targeting unsafe working systems across all building trades (29 June 2020). More...

Causes of Bengalla accident revealed by NSW regulator
A fatal accident involving a tyre fitter at the Bengalla coal mine in New South Wales in late 2018 has highlighted the importance of conducting a risk assessment on wash bays (22 June 2020). More...

Contractors appointed to clean up fire site
WorkSafe has completed its public tender process to appoint a suitably qualified provider to clean up the site of the 2018 chemical fire at Tottenham, near West Footscray (19 June 2020). More...

Negligent senior mining officers to face five years' imprisonment
New amendments to the New South Wales work health and safety laws now include gross negligence under a category one offence (19 June 2020). More...

Published – articles, papers, reports

Human Factors and Ergonomics Society of Australia (HFESA: Position paper on Musculoskeletal disorders
The association recommends that a "holistic systems-based approach be taken to establish the workplace WMSD risk profile". It says the risk management strategies need to be comprehensive and include identification and then control of physical and psychosocial hazards. Read more: Work-related musculoskeletal disorders resource page. The Position paper and a short summary version can be downloaded from this page.

Safe Work Australia Fatality statistics
As at 18 June, there have been 86 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

Updated formwork code of practice to help protect workers
The NSW Government has launched a new Code of Practice to provide clear and practical industry advice on how to safely work with formwork in NSW (26 June 2020). More...

Safe Work Australia: Translated guide for working with silica now available
The working with silica guide has been translated into six languages and will help protect those who work with silica or products containing silica. View the guide here (30 June 2020).

Protecting worker mental health amid technology-driven change
The University of Sydney Business School research paper synthesises existing studies on how technology-driven changes at work will impact workplace mental health and employee wellbeing, reviewing more than 100 studies to examine the positive and negative ways that technology can impact workers and businesses (24 June 2020). More...


ICARE: Employer toolkit supports NSW workplaces in COVID-19 recovery
ICARE has produced a COVID-19 Recovery Employer Toolkit that offers practical steps to identify operational needs and provides protective strategies NSW workplaces can utilise in the current phase of the COVID-19 recovery. ICARE has also produced a new checklist: Psychosocial Ergonomic Checklist (01 July 2020).

Safework NSW: Traffic control work
Information on the changes to the Work Health and Safety (Traffic Control Training) Regulation was made on 20 December 2019, with the the Traffic Control Training scheme transitioning from Transport for NSW to SafeWork NSW. The new regulatory scheme will commence from 1 July 2020. More...


WorkCover Qld Identifying and assessing chronic disease workplace risks
New free online tools help identify and assess work health and wellbeing risks that can cause poor physical health. They are backed by industry professionals and based on current health guidelines. The tools include: Healthy workplace audit tool and Healthy workers survey (02 July 2020).

WorkCover Qld: Reduce the risks of falls on stairs at your workplace
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland's new Safe design and use of stairs guidance provides practical guidance on what to check and fix to reduce potential falls on stairs and steps at your workplace. The guide includes how to get it right from the very beginning: The design and construction of stairs in a workplace (30 June 2020).

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland
From 1 July 2020 in Queensland, the workplace exposure standard for respirable crystalline silica will be halved from a time-weighted average airborne concentration of 0.1 milligram per cubic metre (mg/m3) to 0.05 mg/m3.
You should review current work practices — you may need to improve dust control measures to meet the new standard. Visit our website to find out more and for practical controls for workplaces.

WorkCover Qld: Restructuring your electrical contracting business? You may need a new licence
New licence applications require a nominated qualified technical person (QTP) or qualified business person to meet new training requirements introduced on 1 July 2018. QTP nominees will also need to hold a current Queensland electrical work licence.
You will also need to have public liability insurance which meets the requirements of section 51 of the Electrical Safety Regulation 2013 in the name of your company (22 June 2020).


Offence of workplace manslaughter in Victoria
The Victorian legislation attracts the highest financial penalty nationwide, with a maximum fine of $16.5 million for employers, whereas prison terms for company officers of up to 20 years are the same as other jurisdictions (Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory [ACT]). Unique to Victoria is that the offence applies to anyone who is owed a duty under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, which extends to members of the public. More...

ESV Continuing professional development for builders and plumbers
DELWP has prepared a Consultation Paper outlining three high-level options for introducing CPD requirements in Victoria, with a particular focus on the possible CPD training content that could form part of the scheme. The Consultation Paper is available on the Engage Victoria website. The public consultation period will close 24 July 2020.

Worksafe Victoria Safety Alert: Fatalities and injuries as a result of high pressure hose whip
WorkSafe is issuing a reminder about the importance of controlling risks to employees caused by high pressure hose whip (01 July 2020). More...

WorkSafe Victoria Safety Alert: Precast pile falls from piling rig while being pitched
WorkSafe is issuing a reminder about the importance of managing risks associated with precast piling operations (17 June 2020). More...

WorkSafe Victoria
17 June 2020 More...


SafeWork NSW v Can Do Projects Pty Ltd; Safework NSW v Yekta [2020] NSWDC 338
CRIME – prosecution – work health and safety – duty of persons undertaking business – duty of employers – risk of death or serious injury – death of worker SENTENCING –objective seriousness – deterrence – aggravating factors – mitigating factors COSTS – prosecution costs.



Work Health and Safety Amendment (Silica Workplace Exposure Standards) Regulations 2020
26/06/2020 - This regulation amends the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 to lower the enforceable exposure standard for crystalline silica, to align with the exposure standards for crystalline silica set out in the Workplace Exposure Standards for Airborne Contaminants, dated 16 December 2019 and published by Safe Work Australia (SWA). Commences 01 July 2020


Crimes Amendment (Manslaughter and Related Offences) Act 2020 (Vic)
Sections 1 to 27 of this Act came in by forced commencement 1 July 2020 s.2(2)
Act Number: 16/2020 Date of commencement: 1 July 2020
Division 6—Amendment of Occupational Health and Safety Act20049 – 21 Workplace manslaughter and 22 New Division 3 of Part 15 inserted

Workplace Safety Legislation Amendment (Workplace Manslaughter and Other Matters) Act 2019 (Vic)
Part 2 and Part 4 of this Act came in by forced commencement 1 July 2020 s.2(2)
Act Number: 50/2019 Date of commencement: 1 July 2020

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.