COVID-19 updates

Can Australian businesses force customers to wear a mask? Here's what the law says
Australian law, quite simply, says that private landowners or occupiers can take reasonable steps to protect themselves, their employees and people on their property. So it would be legal for businesses - including cafes and supermarkets - to make it a condition of entry that customers wear a mask and sanitise their hands (16 July 2020). More...

NSW businesses must follow the state government's COVID safety warnings and public health orders or risk a penalty of up to $55,000
More than 117,500 COVID safety plans have been downloaded in less than a month but businesses also need to register to provide customers with confidence. Whether it's a café, construction business, cinema or sports club, all organisations must ensure the safety of staff and customers. There are no more excuses (08 July 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.

COMCARE WHS duties and notifications - 09 July 2020
Extensive guidance is available on the Comcare website to help employers and workers meet their work health and safety obligations during the pandemic. In particular, Comcare is reminding employers to notify Comcare of all confirmed COVID-19 cases that are work-related and arise from the business or undertaking. A range of advice is available to support employers and employees, including:
Comcare's approach to regulation
Incident notification
Managing workplace risks
Working from home
Workers' compensation and rehabilitation

Mass infrared scanning to tackle workplace infection
Infrared thermography scanning technology is being rolled out in three Australian states to safeguard organisations from COVID-19 and flu infection breakouts within shared office environments. More...

In the media

Employers have been put on notice – sexual harassment is an occupational hazard
Australia's high court has committed to change its internal practices, but there are millions of people in other industries who deserve safe work environments (15 July 2020). More...

Improving safety for Victorian farms
A newly established Farm Safety Council is providing advice to the Victorian Government and agriculture sector on how to reduce injuries and deaths of people on farms in Victoria (14 July 2020). More...

Worker's severe bulldozer injuries land company $375K fine
The court found that the implementation of a safe work procedure for bulldozers fitted with the winch system and the provision of information, instruction and training to workers in the procedure did not involve significant cost to the Defendant (13 July 2020). More...

Authority appoints fire safety engineer
The Victorian Building Authority has appointed Weng Poh as its Principal Fire Safety Engineer in a bid to raise the issue of fire safety among the state's 24,000 builders, building surveyors and other practitioners (13 July 2020). More...

Queensland Government cracks down on unlicensed electrical work
Unlicensed electrical work is extremely dangerous and illegal and the Queensland Government will actively pursue all available options to bring offenders to justice. Head of the Electrical Safety Office Donna Heelan said a blitz on unlicensed work being advertised and performed via online platforms has already produced results (10 July 2020). More...

WorkSafe ACT commences operations as independent entity
WorkSafe ACT commences operations as independent entity. The new and independent WorkSafe Australian Capital Territory (WorkSafe ACT) has commenced operations with the launch of the new Office of the Work Health and Safety Commissioner and the release of a Statement of Expectations from the Minister for Employment and Workplace Safety (08 July 2020). More...

Glencore executes Mount Isa remote inspections
The University of Queensland has extended the use of its remote plant inspection technology to Glencore's Mount Isa copper and zinc-lead-silver mines in Queensland (06 July 2020). More...

NSW watchdog pushes operators to raise fatigue management standard
The New South Wales resources regulator has urged mine operators to manage the risk of worker fatigue after assessing 10 underground metalliferous mines across the state (06 July 2020). More...

Published – articles, papers, reports

Safe Work Australia fatality statistics
As at 2 July, there have been 91 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 Australia: New guide: Storage of flammable liquids
Safe Work Australia has published a new guide on the storage of flammable liquids for small to medium sized businesses. The guide includes an example of a business that uses and stores flammable liquids, and provides advice about workplace placarding for businesses storing large quantities of flammable liquids. Read and download the Storage of flammable liquids guide (09 July 2020). More...

SafeWork Australia: Practical resources to reduce prolonged sitting when working from home
Safe Work Australia is proud to support BeUpstanding – a free evidence-based program designed to address the WHS risks associated with prolonged sitting (08 July 2020). More...

Fact sheet and FAQs for consumers
The new fact sheet and answers to frequently asked questions will assist people to decide whether to wear a mask in the community, and provide advice on how to use face masks safely.


NSW Safe Work: Steel girder crush fatality - 6 July 2020
A 34-year-old worker was killed after being crushed between two steel girders. As one of the girders, nearly 30 metres long and weighing almost nine tonnes, was being lifted by chain slings, it shifted, crushing the worker. Consider 'reasonably practicable' control measures to manage the risks associated with lifting large or heavy loads (06 July 2020). More...

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.


Worksafe Victoria safety alert: Rock fall hits employee during ground support activity of an underground development heading
Worksafe is issuing a reminder about the importance of managing the risks associated with rock falls whilst developing headings in underground mines (06 July 2020). More...


Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union v Melbourne Precast Concrete Nominees Pty Ltd [2020] FCA 931
INDUSTRIAL LAW – employment – adverse action – employee dismissed after being appointed as health and safety representative for the purposes of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic), making complaints to WorkSafe Victoria, and taking personal leave – whether employer proved employee was not dismissed for reasons alleged – whether decision-maker was involved in contraventions
Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) ss 12, 50, 340, 340(1)(a), 340(1)(b), 341, 341(1)(a), 341(1)(c)(i), 341(1)(c)(ii), 342(1), 360, 361, 539(2), 540(2), 540(6)(b), 550, 550(1); Federal Court Rules 2011 (Cth) rr 4.01(2), 16.07(2); Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) ss 2, 4, 7, 8.

Prosecution Result Summaries and Enforceable Undertakings
George Weston Foods Limited
Bendigo Magistrates' Court; Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 Section21(1); 21(2)(a) & 21(2)(b) Outcome 15 July 2020



Subordinate Legislation as made – 17 July 2020
No 132 Work Health and Safety (Codes of Practice) (Stone Benchtop Industry and Coal-fired Power Stations) Amendment Notice 2020

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