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Inside track: Work Health & Safety

29 April 2020

#Workplace Relations & Safety

Inside track: Work Health & Safety

COVID-19 updates

Media Statement: Prime Minister announces nationally-consistent work health and safety guidelines for COVID-19
National Cabinet agreed to develop nationally-consistent, industry-specific work health and safety guidance on COVID-19, accessible via a central hub provided by Safe Work Australia.The guidance will be developed and endorsed through Safe Work Australia, working with its members (the Commonwealth, states and territories, employer groups, and unions). The guidance will be housed on a revamped Safe Work Australia website.
Australian workplaces will be able to use this central hub of WHS guidance and tools to help manage health and safety risks posed by COVID-19. The Media Statement is accessible here.
To support the development of nationally-consistent guidance, National Cabinet agreed the ‘National COVID-19 Safe Workplace Principles’ (Attachment A).

Rail construction continues with safe work practices
The Australian Government has welcomed additional public health and safety measures implemented by the Australian Rail Track Corporation and its contractors to protect the health and safety of workers and the local community mean we can continue to deliver projects, such as the transformational Inland Rail (24 April 2020).  More...

Resources sector launches national COVID-19 campaign
Resources sector councils have joined forces to deliver a national television and digital campaign to spread the sector’s coronavirus safety protocols (20 April 2020).  More...

Farmers go out on a limb to protect workers' health, food security during crisis
Despite official regulations not requiring self-isolation for essential workers such as farm staff, some Queensland farmers are laying down their own protocols (18 April 2020).  More...

Slashed licence fees a big win for business
Up to 200,000 licence holders operating across the trades and construction sectors will not have to pay up to $50 million worth of licence fees, thanks to the NSW Government (15 April 2020).  More...

Expert urges caution on healthcare worker cloth mask use
Workers should ensure they understand the current evidence and make an informed choice before choosing to work with inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE), while the sector should use evidence and provide clear guidance to workers, especially when alternatives are selected in situations where appropriate PPE are stretched or unavailable, Professor MacIntyre said (15 April 2020).  More...

OFSC: COVID-19: Information and practical guidance for accredited companies
Federal Safety Commissioner, David Denney, has published practical guidance for accredited companies on minimising the spread of COVID-19 onsite in line with the requirements of the Work Health and Safety Accreditation Scheme.  More...

SafeWork NSW: Regulatory approach to NSW work health and safety legislation - COVID-19
This statement sets out the enforcement approach that SafeWork NSW will take to ensure compliance with the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic (31 March 2020).

Icare: Maintaining mental health during a pandemic
Whether you’re working from home or from your office, there's no doubt that your life has been impacted by COVID-19. Our Risk Education eXpress online learning platform is creating a raft of new best practice resources on topics including mental health and working from home (21 April 2020).  More...

WorkCover Qld: Coronavirus (COVID-19) workplace risk management
It doesn’t matter if you’re a worker or someone who is responsible for workers, you must identify and manage work health and safety risks including the exposure to COVID-19. Businesses should also plan to respond to cases of COVID-19 at work in line with advice provided by Queensland Health. (23 April 2020).  More...

In the media

CFMMEU Tas assistant secretary hit with personal payment order for latest breach
The Federal Court ordered CFMMEU state assistant secretary Richard Hassett personally pay a $10,000 penalty for the latest in a series of right of entry breaches. The Court concluded he must have known that he could not enter site under a State occupational health and safety right (21 April 2020).  More...

Concrete pump operator fined $375,000 in relation to workplace fatality
A Sydney concrete pumping company has been fined $375,000 by the NSW District Court while its director has been fined $10,000 after a worker sustained fatal head injuries when he was struck by an unsecured hose attached to concrete pumping equipment at a Fairfield building site (14 April 2020).  More...

Charges laid over Campbellfield chemical fire
WorkSafe has charged Bradbury Industrial Services Pty Ltd over an explosion and chemical fire at a Campbellfield warehouse in April 2019 (14 April 2020).  More...

Published – articles, papers, reports

ABCC Industry Update - April 2020 edition
The April edition of Industry Update features the latest information from the ABCC in response to COVID-19: FAQs, information on how to keep your worksite safe and more (15 April 2020).  More...

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

ARPANSA Radiation at work explained
A new suite of occupational exposure factsheets have been designed to keep you informed about the type of radiation you may be exposed to, any possible health effects and how to adequately protect yourself (20 April 2020).  More...

New Standards

AS 4399:2020
Sun protective clothing - Evaluation and classification
Standards Australia.  More...


ESO warns unlicensed electrical work is potentially lethal
With household budgets squeezed at the moment, Queensland’s Electrical Safety Office is reminding everyone not to take risky and illegal shortcuts with home electrical jobs. If you are wanting to get electrical work done, you can check the person has the right electrical license here. Notify of suspected illegal electrical work or advertising, contact the ESO (15 April 2020).  More...


WorkSafe Victoria
Released 21 April 2020.  More...


Australian Building and Construction Commissioner v Hassett [2020] FCA 498
INDUSTRIAL LAW – penalties – contraventions of s 494(1) of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) – quantification of penalties for admitted breaches – personal payment order
Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) s 4AA; Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) ss 484, 494(1), 500, 512, 539(2), 546(2), 550, 793
Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 (Cth) Ch 8 Pt 3; Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (Tas)

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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