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Inside track: Work Health & Safety

06 March 2019

#Workplace Relations & Safety

Inside track: Work Health & Safety

In the media

Regulator welcomes court verdict on Macmahon Mining Services
The NSW Court of Criminal Appeal has upheld an appeal by the Attorney General against the inadequacy of a sentence ordered against Macmahon Mining Services Pty Ltd in 2016. The company pleaded guilty and was convicted in the District Court on 19 August 2016 for an offence under section 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (28 February 2019).  More...

Metal prop falls more than 50 levels on city building site
WorkSafe is warning construction employers about the dangers of falling objects after a large metal prop fell from the 56th level of a Melbourne CBD construction site (28 February 2019).  More...

Australian school principals attacked and threatened at record levels, report finds
Testimonies have been compiled in the latest annual Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing survey, run by the Australian Catholic University. The alarming report found 45 per cent of principals were threatened with violence in 2018, and 37 per cent were attacked — a steady rise and the highest levels since the survey began in 2011 (27 February 2019).  More...

Farm operator in rural NSW fined $180,000 after death of sheep musterer
A farm operator in rural NSW has been fined $180,000 after a worker, who was not wearing a helmet, fell off a motorbike while mustering sheep and died from injuries. The business has also had an adverse publicity order imposed, which requires a public notice to be shared in rural print and online publications (27 February 2019).  More... 

Mining resumes at Wongawilli
A section 195 notice that was issued to Wongawilli mine in the Illawarra, prohibiting all mining activity and persons remaining underground, other than a minimal number to undertake maintenance activities, has been lifted. (26 February 2019).  More...

WorkSafe Queensland: Two people electrocuted on a rural property
In December 2018, a mother and her daughter were electrocuted on a rural property after contacting a length of electric fencing type wire that was energised. Electrical incidents on rural properties can often be caused by a failure to maintain electrical equipment as well as unlicensed electrical work (25 February 2019).  More...

Review of model WHS laws report
Master Builders Australia welcomes the release of the Report of the review of model WHS laws conducted by Marie Boland which has examined model WHS Laws to ensure they are working effectively. Australian safety law is founded on the notion of sharing responsibility for safety and preventing workplace injury and illness before it happens (25 February 2019).  More...

WorkSafe to investigate the Coroners Court of Victoria
WorkSafe has launched an investigation into alleged health and safety breaches at Victoria’s Coroners Court, relating to a tumultuous period which led to State Coroner Sara Hinchey standing aside. The investigation is the second into matters which occurred during Judge Hinchey's time leading one of Victoria's most-important legal institutions (24 February 2019).  More...

Amputated thumb sees steel company fined $30K
OneSteel Reinforcing Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in the Dandenong Magistrates Court on 7 February to one charge under section 21(1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act of failing to, so far as is reasonably practicable, provide and maintain a safe working environment (22 February 2019).  More...

NSW supports national first aid code of practice
SafeWork NSW is supporting national amendments to the model Code of Practice for the provision of first aid in the workplace, to help ensure workers have access to immediate care and treatment. The amendments were released by Safe Work Australia in May 2018 and incorporate the inclusion of new emergency medications in First Aid kits (22 February 2019).  More...

Injuries caused by unsecured working at height
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has released its final report into the fall from height and serious injuries to crewmembers on board the bulk carrier Shanghai Spirit, off Queensland in January 2017 (20 February 2019).  More...

Victorian farm fined after worker crushed by crates in collision with forklift
In what is its third conviction over workplace safety, one of the biggest vegetable producers in Victoria's east has pleaded guilty over a nasty accident that left a long-term employee unable to work (15 February 2019).  More... 

Published – articles, papers, reports

The Australian principal occupational health, safety and wellbeing survey: 2018 data
Philip Riley; Institute for Positive Psychology and Education (ACU), Principal Health & Wellbeing Survey
The latest report from this longitudinal study of Australian school leaders finds that many are experiencing bullying, intimidation, and high levels of stress (27 February 2019).

Safe Work Australia fatality statistics
As at 17 February, there have been 18 Australian workers killed at work in 2019. 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

Review of model WHS laws - Recommendations on asbestos registers and competent persons
Safe Work Australia has released the final report and findings of the review of the model work health and safety laws conducted in 2018 which includes 34 recommendations designed to enhance the work health and safety framework (27 February 2019).  More...

Current inquiries

National inquiry into sexual harassment in Australian workplaces
The focus of the national inquiry is on the nature and prevalence of sexual harassment in Australian workplaces, the drivers of this harassment and measures to address sexual harassment in Australian workplaces. To assist interested parties to develop submissions to the inquiry, the Australian Human Rights Commission has also prepared a Conversation toolkit.

New South Wales

NSW WorkSafe: Amendments to the model Code of Practice
Under Work Health and Safety Regulation, a business has a duty to provide first aid equipment, facilities and training to all staff members. SafeWork’s main priority in promoting these proposed changes is to ensure the safety of workers across the State. For more information about the model Code of Practice or first aid rights and responsibilities visit SafeWork NSW (22 February 2019).


WorkSafe QLD: Unterminated cables can cause electric shock
Live unterminated cables are a serious risk to everyone, not just electrical workers. These cables are often the result of someone failing to ensure all electrical equipment in an installation has been connected. The Electrical Safety Office has a zero-tolerance approach to live unterminated cables (28 February 2019).  More... 

WorkSafe QLD Safety Alert: Narrow precast wall panel collapse
The purpose of this safety alert is to inform workers, employers, builders and designers of the risk of sideways collapse of narrow concrete wall panels (25 February 2019).  More... 

WorkSafe QLD Priority infringement notice offences (on-the-spot fines)
All duty holders must comply with their obligations under electrical safety laws to ensure workers and others are not exposed to unacceptable risks that may result in death, injury or illness. The Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Policy explains how the regulator uses regulatory enforcement measures to ensure duty holders are meeting their legislative duties, and create credible deterrents to contravening these laws (21 February 2019).  More... 


WorkSafe Victoria Safety Alert: Workers engulfed in trench collapse
WorkSafe is warning employers and workers in the construction and utilities industries to take trench safety seriously, after two plumbers were engulfed in a trench collapse. All trenches can pose a significant risk to the health and safety of workers (26 February 2019).  More...

WorkSafe Victoria Safety Alert: Employee fatally injured after fall
An alert about hazards and risk controls associated with working at heights and working with forklifts, following the death of an employee. In addition to falls, there are considerable risks when safe systems of work aren’t in place for tasks involving the use of plant, including forklift work platforms (15 February 2019).  More...


Morris McMahon & Co Pty Limited v SafeWork NSW [2019] NSWCCA 36
CRIME – Appeals – appeal against sentence – application for leave to appeal – offence under s 32 Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) – objective seriousness of the offence – whether offence fell into the mid-range of objective seriousness – whether proper account taken of mitigating matters – whether sentence manifestly excessive – increase in maximum penalty for a statutory offence – developing sentencing practices – errors not established – leave to appeal granted – appeal dismissed. 

Attorney General for New South Wales v Macmahon Mining Services Pty Ltd [2019] NSWCCA 8
SENTENCING – Appeal by Attorney General against inadequacy of sentence – failure by corporation to comply with duty under Work Health and Safety Act to ensure the safety of workers under its direction – category 2 offence – whether fine imposed manifestly inadequate – where worker suffered fatal injury – whether sentencing judge erred in his assessment of the objective seriousness of the offence – whether sentencing judge failed to apply maximum penalty or pay due regard to recent increase – whether sentencing judge failed to place due weight on general deterrence.  

SafeWork NSW v KD & JT Westbrook Pty Ltd (No 2) [2019] NSWDC 15
CRIME – Prosecution – work health and safety – duty of persons undertaking business – duty of employers – risk of death or serious injury – death of worker.
SENTENCING – Aggravating factors – mitigating factors – objective seriousness – general deterrence – specific deterrence – substantial harm, injury, loss or damage – no record of previous convictions – good prospects of rehabilitation – remorse. 

SafeWork NSW v Building Maintenance Unit Service Pty Ltd [2019] NSWDC 16
CRIME – Prosecution – work health and safety – duty of persons undertaking business – duty of employers – risk of serious injury – workers injured.
SENTENCING – Aggravating factors – mitigating factors – objective seriousness – general deterrence – substantial harm, injury, loss or damage – no record of previous convictions – good prospects of rehabilitation – plea of guilty – assistance to law enforcement authorities – remorse – capacity to pay a fine.
WORK HEALTH AND SAFETY – 10 year major inspection not undertaken.
COSTS – Prosecution costs.
OTHER – Work at heights – window cleaning – building maintenance unit – load bearing blots fractured – building maintenance unit fell 25 metres – landed on awning.

Victorian prosecution result summaries and enforceable undertakings
Hellmann Worldwide Logistics Pty Ltd Sunshine Magistrates’ Court
Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 Section 26(1)
Outcome 26 Feb 2019

Stilcon Holdings Pty Ltd Sunshine Magistrates’ Court
Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 Section Regulation 129
Outcome 25 Feb 2019

Hossein Karimi Bacchus Marsh Magistrates’ Court
Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 Section 26
Outcome 22 Feb 2019

Charles Power, Partner
T: +61 3 9321 9942

Benjamin Marshall, Partner
T: +61 3 9321 9864

Stephen Trew, Managing Partner, Sydney
T: +61 2 8083 0439

Michael Selinger, Partner
T: +61 2 8083 0430

Rachel Drew, Partner
T: +61 7 3135 0617

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 publication is accurate at the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. We are not responsible for the information of any source to which a link is provided or reference is made and exclude all liability in connection with use of these sources. 

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