COVID-19 updates

Business shut down due to COVID-19 after trying to force staff to work
A laundry company that tried to force its staff to come back to work after an outbreak of coronavirus has its business shut down by health authorities, with all staff working at the business for the past month ordered to self-isolate and be tested for coronavirus (31 July 2020). More...

Hospitality venues told to play it safer after weekend crackdown
Ten hospitality businesses will be fined after weekend compliance activities conducted by the Department of Customer Service found a host of serious breaches of the public health orders in NSW (30 July 2020). More...

'Guys rely on these': Fake face masks exposing miners to black lung risk amid pandemic
The demand for P2 and N95 masks since the COVID-19 pandemic has put pressure on industries, like coal mining, that routinely use them to protect workers from dust-borne diseases like black lung (30 July 2020). More...

Employers must notify WorkSafe of COVID-19 cases
Employers are now required to notify WorkSafe immediately when they become aware a worker has received a confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) diagnosis in Victoria, effective from 28 July 2020. Failing to notify WorkSafe under section 38 of the OHS Act can lead to fines of up to $39,652 (240 penalty units) for an individual or $198,264 (1200 penalty units) for a body corporate. More...

Inspector numbers boosted ahead of COVID safety crackdown
Inspector numbers have been boosted and their powers increased under the NSW Public Health Act 2010 in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19. Venues found to be flouting the NSW Government's new COVID safety measures face fines, and could even be shut down, as part of a joint operation between Liquor & Gaming NSW, SafeWork and Fair Trading (25 July 2020). More...

VBA: Face masks now compulsory for the building and plumbing industry
If you live or work in metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire, you must wear a mask or face covering when travelling to and from sites and, most importantly, while you are on site. The VBA recommends wearing a correctly fitted N95, P2 or KN95 mask if working in close proximity with others (24 July 2020). More...

In the media

Safer health care workplaces a priority in Victoria
Improving health and safety outcomes for health care and social assistance workers is the focus of a new WorkSafe strategy for the state's fastest growing industry (30 July 2020). More...

New research triggers crane compliance blitz in NSW
Crane operators are being put on notice with SafeWork inspectors conducting a compliance blitz across the state next month. Minister for Better Regulation, Kevin Anderson, said inspectors will be on site checking safe slinging and load movements and issuing on-the-spot fines to anyone operating a crane without a valid high-risk work licence (30 July 2020). More...

Qld Worker guilty of hindering WorkSafe investigation
The Alice Springs Local Court has convicted and fined a worker $4,000 for hindering a NT WorkSafe investigation into a serious incident at Ambalindum Station in Central Australia (30 July 2020). More...

Dreamworld operator Ardent Leisure pleads guilty over Thunder River Rapids ride deaths
The operators of Dreamworld have pleaded guilty to three charges relating to the deaths of four people in 2016 at the Gold Coast theme park. A coronial inquest into the four deaths made findings of a series of failures at the park, including safety and maintenance systems (29 July 2020). More...

Hire company fined after worker's death
An equipment hire company has been convicted and fined $85,000 following the death of a worker at its Braeside headquarters, Victoria (27 July 2020). More...

$50,000 grants to create mentally healthy workplaces
Minister for Customer Service said the Recovery Boost program, administered by the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA), would fund projects that promote seeking assistance early, supporting an individual's recovery and reducing stigma around mental health (27 July 2020). More...

Resources Regulator maps out mining health, safety risks
The NSW Resources Regulator has released a list of compliance priorities to improve safety in the mining, extractive and petroleum industries (24 July 2020). More...

Farm safety training goes viral
With the majority of NSW's farming events being postponed or cancelled due to COVID-19, the NSW Government has launched a new virtual platform to ensure agricultural workers have access to safety training (24 July 2020). More...

Farm safety on the national agenda as Vic gets dedicated council
Victorian Minister for Agriculture has established a Farm Safety Council, to provide advice to the Victorian Government and agricultural sector about reducing injuries and deaths of people on farms in Victoria. The Council will also provide guidance on the activities that could be prioritised by government to make farms safer (24 July 2020). More...

Published – articles, papers, reports

Safe Work Australia fatality statistics
As at 16 July, there have been 95 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

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...


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.


WorkCover Qld alert: Fake disposable respiratory protective equipment
The purpose of this safety alert is to assist businesses in identifying fake (non-certified) respirators and highlight the risks associated with using them. In Australia, most disposable respirators and filters that give protection against dusts and other particles are classified and marked as P1, P2 or P3, in accordance with the Australian Standard AS/NZS 1716:2012. View a comparison of equivalent respirator certification standards for further information (29 July 2020).

WorkCover Qld alert: Falling tree fatality
In June 2020, a man died after being struck by a tree he was cutting down with a chainsaw.
These findings are not yet confirmed and investigations are continuing into the exact cause.
Preventing a similar incident -. Manual felling of trees should only be carried out by workers with appropriate training (e.g. arborist or industry-based qualifications), experience and competence for the particular tasks involved (22 July 2020). More...


Worksafe Victoria Safety Soapbox
In this edition, the editorial is on scaffolding safety awareness. The edition also reminds employers and workers of the safety issues of working on roofs, and links to WorkSafe guidance. Access the 28 July 2020 edition of Safety Soapbox here


Prosecution Result Summaries and Enforceable Undertakings
G & I Developments Pty. Ltd
Melbourne Online Magistrates' Court (Moorabbin)
Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 Section21(1) Outcome 30 Jul 2020
Seascape Constructions Pty Ltd
Melbourne County Court
Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004,Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017
Section23(1) Outcome 28 Jul 2020
Diamond Valley Pork Pty Ltd
Werribee Magistrates' Court
Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 Section21(1) & 21(2)(a) Outcome 23 Jul 2020
Austin Health
Heidelberg Magistrates' Court
Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 Section21(1) & 21(2)(a) Outcome 22 Jul 2020
United Access Pty Ltd
Melbourne County Court Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 Section21(1), 21(2)(a) & 23(1)
Outcome 22 Jul 2020



Statutory Rules

No 78 Occupational Health and Safety (COVID-19 Incident Notification) Regulations 2020
28 July 2020 - The objective of these Regulations is to further the objects of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 by—(a) improving the information available to the Authority to reduce the risks to health and safety in the workplace arising from COVID-19; and(b) prescribing requirements for employers or self-employed persons to notify the Authority immediately after becoming aware that an employee has been diagnosed with the disease COVID-19.

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.