The NSW Work Health and Safety Amendment Bill 2018 has commenced, allowing the state’ safety regulator together information from other jurisdictions for its investigations. This may mean access to a company head office located in another state, or a remote workplace.
The Bill also allows inspectors to record interviews without seeking the interviewee’s consent (as long as they are notified in advance that the recording will be taking place). The Bill also gives the Attorney-General the power to commence WHS prosecutions.
Under the amendments, police officers and their chain of command are exempted from WHS prosecutions if prioritising public safety over WHS duties.
In March, more than 90 dairy farmers from across the South Coast participated in tailored quad bike training aimed at improving safety on their farms.
SafeWork NSW said the training aimed to reduce the risk of injuries from using quad bikes on farms. Quad bikes are a leading cause of death on Australian properties, with more than 230 deaths since 2001 and thousands, more people seriously injured, the regulator said.
The course was delivered over a week so that the farmers could complete the training without it interfering with their farming duties. The course is part of SafeWork NSW’s Quad Bike Safety Improvement Program, which helps participants operate quad bike safely and to carry out routine checks and maintenance.
More information is available at www.safework.nsw.gov.au
Airbourne contaminants, like dust, gases, vapours or fumes can be found in many workplaces and can affect a worker’s respiratory health – sometimes permanently. Physical activity will increase worker’s breathing rate even more and can have an even greater impact on the worker’s health. Inhaling airbourne contaminants may immediately injure the respiratory tract and cause acute systems, such as shortness of breath, cough and chest tightness, and require emergency medical care – or it could lead to prolonged symptoms due to the development of irritant-induced lung disease. SafeWork NSW says the extent of injury will depend on the type and dose of exposure. A new guide on managing workers’ respiratory conditions, include asthma, is now available in the News section at www.safework.nsw.gov.au
SafeWork NSW has expressly exempted PCBUs that use, handle or store agricultural and veterinary chemicals that are manufactuered or imported prior to 1 January 2018 from the new GHS labelling rules (see above).
NSW has also exempted manufacturers and importers of agricultural and veterinary chemicals from the labelling requirements in clause 335 (1) until 31 December 2017.
An information sheet has been released by Safe Work Australia (SWA) on how Australian Standards interact with the WHS laws. There is also available a Q&A on how changes to Standaards affect the management of plant and equipment risks.
The information sheet advises that Australian or AS/NZ Standards are not laws, and that only a 16 of them (quite a small number) are referenced in the model WHS Regulations.
In Western Australia, however, State OSH Regulations referenced and gave direct statutory effect to 50 Standards or sets of Standards.
The SWA advice is that apart from a number of WHS Regulations requiring compliance with a Standard, “there is nothing else that requires or mandates conforming a Standard in relation to WHS”.
However, a Standard may still be relevant to a court when determining whether a duty holder has compiled with the WHS laws.
SafeWork NSW and the NSW Wine Industry Association have launched a new safety guide for the NSW wine industry aimed at keeping safe the thousands of workers in the industry.
This was launched at Tyrell’s Winery in the Hunter Valley today with representatives from industry and local wineries in attendance.
SafeWork NSW Group Director, Regional Operations and Sector Initiatives, Tony Williams said the ‘Guide to managing risks in wineries provides practical guidance on how businesses and workers can manage work health and safety in wineries.
The most common injuries reportedly include trips, slips and falls, and musculoskeletal injuries from hazardous manual tasks.
The guide is said to be relevant to everyone working in a winery, including wine production, bottling, packaging, storage, sales and distribution. It should be read in conjunction with other codes of practice relevant to wine production.
In the past 5 years there have been more than 1200 reported employment injuries at a cost of $15 million to the NSW Workers Compensation System.
The NSW State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) is reviewing public comments on proposed regulations to replace the Worker’s Compensation Regulation 2010 later this year.
The current regulation will be repealed on 1 September 2016. The consultation draft, Workers Compensation Regulation 2016, proposes repealing an “unused” provision that allows two or more employers to establish shared return to work programs.
A draft accompanying the regulatory impact statement says that no employers have an approved shared return to work program, and that in the past 5 years, SIRA has not received any applications from employers to approve shared return to work programs.
The draft regulation also updates definitions for prescribed medical tests and results relating to brucellosis, Q fever and leptospirosis.
Injured workers in NSW who wish to return to work now have a financial incentive to help them. As part of the NSW Government 2015 insurance and regulation reform packed, injured workers who return to work with a new employer can now access a $1,000 new employment assistance payment, designed to help cover expenses like childcare, work clothes, transport and tools.
Also, up to $8,000 is available to workers with a permanent impairment of more than 20% who have been receiving compensation for a at least 78 weeks. This benefit, which covers course with a registered training organisation or higher education provider, is accessible under the new education or training assistance program.
According to NSW Innovation and Better Regulation Minister Victor Dominello, there are approximately 11,500 workers who qualify for the new employment assistance benefit, while around 4,000 can apply for the training assistance benefit.
“Many injured workers want to return to work, but find it challenging for a range of reasons. These new benefits provide them with additional assistance that will help address some of the barriers to re-entering the workforce.” Mr Dominello said.
More details about the benefits can be found at www.insuranceforms.nsw.gov.au!
The following three codes of practice were updated on 1 April 2016:
- Managing the Risk of Falls at Workplaces
- Labelling of Workplace Hazardous Chemicals; and
- Managing Noise and Preventing Hearing Loss at Work
- Exploring for petroleum;
- Extracting petroleum, and
- Injecting petroleum into the ground
On 1 February 2016, the Work Health and Safety (Mines and Petroleum Sites) Regulation 2016 commenced. The NSW Work Health and Safety (Mines) Act 2013 (NSW Mines Act) is also being renamed the Work Health and Safety (Mines and Petroleum Sites) Act 2013.
These amendments extend the NSW Mines Act to also regulate petroleum sites (in addition to mines) and help to further harmonise work health and safety laws in NSW.
A petroleum sites includes any fixtures, fittings, plant or structures used for petroleum operations, which include:
For more information about the legislation, refer to www.resourcesandenergy.nsw.gov.au/miners-and-explorers/safety-and-health/legislation/whs-mines
- Insurance and Care NSW (ICare) now deals with workers’ compensation insurance;
- The State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) now handles workers’ compensation regulations; and
- SafeWork NSW now holds the functions of the NSW health and safety regulator.
The functions of WorkCover NSW will now be assumed by three difference organisations:
This step has been taken so that each of these organisations can focus on their areas of speciality, with an aim to make the particular roles of these separate elements clearer to the public.
New regulation to benefit workers’ compensation claimants
A new regulation in the Worker’s Compensation Act 1987 (NSW) will allow workers who have made a claim for worker’s compensation prior to 19 June 2012 to make a further claim if their condition deteriorates. There is no time limit or minimum increate in impairment required. Approximately 6,000 claimants may be eligible to make a new claim under the regulation.
Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation, Victor Dominello, said that aim is to make the Workers’ Compensation Act “fairer, more equitable and more sustainable”.