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Inside track: Work Health & Safety

12 May 2020

#Workplace Relations & Safety

Inside track: Work Health & Safety


SafeWork Australia: National COVID-19 Safe Workplace Principles
On 24 April 2020, the National Cabinet agreed to the National COVID-19 Safe Workplace Principles. Recognising that the COVID-19 pandemic is a public health emergency, that all actions in respect of COVID-19 should be founded in expert health advice and that the following principles operate subject to the measures agreed and implemented by Governments through the National Cabinet process. The ten Principles can be found here (28 April 2020).

SafeWork Australia safety tools and guidance to help workplaces through COVID-19
The Safe Work Australia website has been updated to provide a central hub of work health and safety (WHS) guidance and tools to help Australian workplaces manage the health and safety risks posed by COVID-19. 
The website gives users easy access to guidance that is directly relevant to their specific industry. It includes guidance about physical distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, workers’ compensation, how to conduct risk assessments and design emergency plans, as well as providing case studies to help explain how to manage the risk of COVID-19 in the workplace.
Go to COVID-19 Information for workplaces and filter the content using the new drop-down menus to find information and resources tailored for:

  • employers, small business and workers
  • the industry you work in
  • the health and safety topic that you would like information on.

There are 23 industries to choose from as well as general industry information if your industry is not listed.
The SWA website brings together all the information businesses and workers need into one centralised hub, providing users with fast and easy access to detailed guidance that is directly relevant to their specific industry (04 May 2020).  More...

Businesses told to create ‘COVID-safe workplaces’ ahead of green light
Pubs and gyms have been given some good news as the Federal Government urges businesses to start prepping for a long-awaited green light. Specified different businesses, like cafes, restaurants, gyms and offices, will need to tailor their workplace plan based on their “individual circumstances” (02 May 2020).  More...

Global unions statement on recognition of COVID-19 as an occupational disease
On the occasion of International Workers Memorial Day 20201, the global trade union movement calls upon governments and occupational health and safety bodies around the world to recognise SARS-CoV-2 as an occupational hazard, and COVID-19 as an occupational disease (28 April 2020).  More...

Qld COVID-19 Respiratory assaults, app, restrictions monitored
Heavy penalties will apply for deliberately coughing, sneezing or spitting on officials and workers, as three new cases are confirmed, and the number of tests approaches 100,000 (27 April 2020).  More...

Mining companies can share safety supplies, says ACCC
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has given the green light for resources companies to source and share essential safety supplies so they can continue operating through the coronavirus pandemic (27 April 2020).  More...

WorkSafe Victoria safety slert: Changes to medical examinations and health monitoring due to COVID-19
WorkSafe is aware that changes to the availability of spirometry testing may impact health monitoring for those working with hazardous substances (such as crystalline silica and isocyanates) and medical examinations in the asbestos removal industry (28 April 2020).  More...

In the media

New app to save lives on site
Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation, Kevin Anderson, has announced the launch of SafeWork NSW’s new app, Speak Up, Save Lives which allows workers to anonymously report workplace health and safety issues (07 May 2020).  More...

Minister demanding answers after Moranbah coal mine explosion
Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham flags a possible inquiry into Queensland mine safety after five workers sustained critical injuries during an explosion at Anglo American's Grosvenor coal mine at Moranbah (07 May 2020).  More...

Man dies in fall incident
A self-employed builder has died after he fell about three metres at residential property at Mead, near Kerang on Monday. The death brings the workplace fatality toll to 23 for 2020 (06 May 2020).  More...

'Shocked the whole site': Man dies in Port Kembla steelworks accident
A 59-year-old worker is killed in an accident at Port Kembla steelworks, south of Sydney, with BlueScope shutting down the site while his death is investigated (06 May 2020).  More...

ABCC alleges CFMMEU officials ignored safety directives at Westconnex Stage 2 site
The ABCC has filed Federal Circuit Court proceedings against the CFMMEU and two of its officials alleging they ignored a safety request and acted in an improper manner at the Westconnex Stage 2 site in Sydney in 2019 (05 May 2020).  More...

BMA calls for transition to automated haul trucks following incident
BHP Mitsubishi Alliance’s (BMA) focus on introducing automation has increased after two dump trucks collided at an intersection on the main haul road at the Saraji mine in Queensland on ANZAC day (04 May 2020).  More...

Two dead in workplace incidents
Two people have died as a result of separate incidents during a tragic 24 hours for Victorian workplaces. The deaths bring the number of workplace fatalities to 22 for 2020 (01 May 2020).  More...

Free SMS mental health service for NSW regional workers
Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation, Kevin Anderson, has announced additional funding for a free SMS service providing mental health counselling to 3 million workers in NSW’s rural and regional areas (29 April 2020).  More...

Companies in debt take more work health and safety risks
Firms with debt are more likely to seek short-term financial gains and sacrifice workplace safety, research reveals – and such instances may worsen amid COVID-19 (28 April 2020).  More...

Published – articles, papers, reports

Safe Work Australia fatality statistics
As at 23 April, there have been 63 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


IAEA consultation: IAEA SSG-27 - Criticality Safety in the Handling of Fissile Material
21 Apr 2020 – 15 May 2020
The purpose of SSG-27 is to provide recommendations on how to meet the specific safety requirements for ensuring sub criticality when dealing with fissile material in the handling, processing, storage, transport and disposal of these materials and for planning the response to criticality accidents.  More...


Work Health and Safety undertakings
28 April 2020 - Maules Creek Coal Pty Ltd - WHS undertaking proposal - Final investigation report and Decision.

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 (TCT) scheme transitioning from Transport for NSW (TfNSW) to SafeWork NSW. The new regulatory scheme will commence from 1 July 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 (29 April 2020).  More...

WorkCover Qld: Fibreglass ladder failure
The purpose of this safety alert is to highlight the potential for degradation of fibreglass ladders that can lead to a structural failure. It is important to: inspect the ladder before use and store the ladder correctly, following the manufacturer’s recommendations (01 May 2020).  More...

WorkCover Qld Newsletters
eSAFE - April 2020 Issued on 30 April 2020

WorkCover Qld: Choose the right safety switch for the job
Electrical contractors are responsible for selecting and installing a suitable safety switch for the equipment connected to the circuit. AS/NZS 3000 indicates, where required, the installer must seek guidance from equipment manufacturers to ensure a suitable safety switch type is installed. For more information on your electrical contractor duties, visit (29 April 2020).  More...


EnergySafe Victoria safety alert: Apprentice plumber receives electric shock
This safety alert is for all workers reminding them that due to age and weathering, cables may have deteriorated insulation that could result in them being live, and there are safety processes to undertake before carrying out any planned work. Read the Safety Alert (28 April 2020).

WorkSafe Victoria safety alert: Fire hazards when manufacturing or storing alcohol-based hand sanitiser
An alert about the risks associated with highly flammable substances being used to meet an increased demand for hand sanitiser. The specified formulation contains very high percentages of either ethanol or isopropyl alcohol, both of which are dangerous goods (30 April 2020).  More...


SafeWork NSW v NSW Bricklaying Pty Ltd [2020] NSWDC 160
CRIME – prosecution – work health and safety – duty of persons undertaking business – duty of employers – risk of death or serious injury – workers injured

Victorian Prosecution Result Summaries and Enforceable Undertakings
Solar 2.0 Pty Ltd - Bendigo Magistrates’ Court
Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 Section21(1) Outcome 01 May 2020

The information in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, we do not guarantee that the information in this newsletter is accurate at the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future.

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