Working at heights training and other OHS programs are vital for reducing the risk of injuries in Australian workplaces. A fall from height can often result in serious injuries, such as paralysis.
Because of the high rates of accidents in local businesses, some of Australia’s most inspiring athletes have signed an alliance to help increase safety awareness.
The Australian Paralympic Committee has partnered with the Safety Institute of Australia in order to deliver targeted messages directly to workers. Paralympians will be travelling the country, sharing their real-life injury experiences with workers.
It is hoped the stories these athletes can share regarding their own struggles and rehabilitation will create a more tangible impact on OHS strategies than traditional training.
Allowing those who have sustained workplace injuries to share their experiences is just one way employers can boost OHS standards. Another is working at heights training from AlertForce.
Asbestos was a common building material in Australia prior to the 1990s. Beneficial for fire, sound and water proofing, this material was used extensively when building and renovating homes and commercial properties across the country.
This means that many houses built before 1990 therefore contain asbestos materials – posing a risk for any homeowner or professional undertaking renovations or demolition.
Understanding the risk of asbestos in the home is vital for ensuring families and workers are not accidentally exposed to this deadly material. A key consideration is engaging the services of a qualified professional – who has successfully completed asbestos assessment training – to conduct testing and appraisals before any work is undertaken on older homes.
For small jobs, however, it may not be reasonable to invite a professional in your home. In these situations, it is important that you are aware of the potential risks.
If your home or a property you are renovating was built prior to 1990, here are the six key areas where asbestos materials may be present:
- The bathroom
As asbestos was often used as waterproofing and insulation, it is unsurprising that your bathroom is one of the most significant locations likely to contain this material.
The most common areas for asbestos to be present include the walls, ceilings and floors – particularly if cement sheeting was used during construction.
Another space to be aware of is the insulation around pipes and hot water heaters. In its friable form, asbestos was often sprayed onto pipes to protect against heat loss – making this a key concern for renovators and plumbers.
- Living areas
If the property contains a fireplace, this is one location that is likely to contain asbestos. The product was proven to slow the effects of flames, making it an ideal fireproofing material. However, if the product was to burn, the resulting ash and dust would be a serious risk to health and safety if inhaled.
It is also recommended to be mindful of the total fire and smoke system, including the flue pipes.
Another location to consider is underneath the floors and within the roof space, as asbestos could have been used to insulate in these areas.
As a heat and waterproofing material, asbestos was often used in the kitchen splashbacks – that is, the panels around kitchen sinks and draining boards.
Additionally, asbestos will likely be present in the roof, walls and under the flooring. If your kitchen contains vinyl flooring, the material was often used as backing – so keep this in mind if you are ripping up old tiles or vinyl.
Due to the insulating and waterproofing materials of asbestos, this product was commonly used in exterior cladding. Be mindful of walls and roofs made from imitation brick cladding, concrete and even flat, patterned and corrugated sheeting.
Fibro homes are the most at risk of asbestos exposure, as this form of building material tended to always contain asbestos in Australia. Another area to consider is the guttering around your home, as asbestos fibres can collect here following storms.
In the backyard, any fencing and sheds built from similar exterior materials are also likely to contain asbestos products. Fences were built using asbestos up until the 1990s, with many constructed using “Super Six” fencing, according to the Queensland Asbestos Management Services.
Your home is not the only area where asbestos may have been used in the past. Mechanics and vehicle owners also need to be aware of the risks in their automobile.
Asbestos was used extensively in the automotive industry, with a ban on the products not introduced until December 2003. This means that if your car was manufactured prior to 2004, you could be at risk.
You need to take care when carrying out maintenance on the brakes, clutches or gaskets in particular. Any items installed or purchased before 2004 could contain asbestos fibres, creating a significant risk to your health and wellbeing.
If these parts become damaged in any way, you should take the vehicle to a trained and qualified professional as soon as possible and inform them of the asbestos risk.
- Electric meter board
Not only could asbestos protect against water, heat and fire, it was also often used as an electrical insulation. Asbestos was added to other materials in the manufacture of electrical backing in a similar way to the creation of asbestos cement sheeting.
According to Ausgrid, electrical meter boards installed before 1988 may contain asbestos materials. Another important clue is the colour of your board, as relevant electrical boards were typically black.
The meter boards may also be stamped with one of several product names – Lebah, Ausbestos, Miscolite and Zelemite. Otherwise, it could have a caution sticker placed on or inside the box.
When employing an electrician to work on your board, it is important that you make them aware of the potential asbestos risk. You should also discuss the work that is required and how they will manage the potential risk of exposure for themselves, you and your family.
Additionally, if working as an electrician in Australia, it is important to undertake asbestos awareness training to ensure you can identify and respond to deadly materials. This online course will give skills and knowledge to understand your risks and control the hazards related to your work.
Asbestos awareness training
With asbestos such a significant threat in Australia, it is important that you are able to identify the material in all locations within the home.
For those working in any trades related to plumbing, construction and electrical work, asbestos can be a very real hazard present each time you pick up your tools. For this reason, it is vital that you and your employees complete the necessary asbestos awareness training.
This course is offered online by AlertForce and works as an introduction to this crucial section of work health and safety (WHS) standards. To obtain a basic knowledge of asbestos in Australia and confidently put measures in place to reduce your risks, you should talk to the AlertForce team today.
We all know how important occupational health and safety strategies are in Australian workplaces. In an effort to boost awareness and encourage more businesses to adopt these life-saving practices, Safe Work Australia has launched its preparations for this year's safety month.
Safe Work Australia Month will be held in October this year. The theme for 2014 is Work Safe, Home Safe, which reminds us that our families are the most important reason for OHS standards.
If you want to get involved in safety month this year, you can consider taking part in one of our OHS training programs or signing up to become a safety ambassador in your community.
For more information on the workshops and events scheduled next month, visit SafeWorkAustralia.gov.au.
Asbestos exposure is a very serious problem in Australia, with people in a range of occupations facing potential contact with this deadly material during the course of their employment.
For employers, asbestos awareness and removal training is one of the best methods of mitigating the risk of exposure in the workplace.
To help workers understand the risks, Safe Work Australia – together with Comcare – have released the third annual Australian Mesothelioma Registry report.
According to the report, 575 people were newly diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2013. More than two-fifth of these patients are male, with 80 per cent being over 60 years of age.
Asbestos exposure continues to be a problem in Australia, with 60.9 per cent of workers surveyed by Safe Work Australia having experience possible or probable exposure in 2013.
For more information on asbestos awareness training, talk to AlertForce today.
When dealing with work health and safety in the workplace, it is vital that you understand your obligations as a manager, director or officer.
The recent changes to the Work Health and Safety Act have meant that the company is no longer held primarily responsible for accidents, injuries and fatalities. This responsibility has also been extended to cover business officers and senior managers.
The ACT became the first Australian state to prosecute an individual under these new regulations. In a case involving the electrocution of a dump truck driver in 2012, the ACT Work Safety Commissioner identified a number of failings regarding the company director's responsibilities.
When the proceedings continue in December this year, the company officer is facing a potential $300,000 penalty. This shows just how important it is for directors and managers to understand their obligations, including the provision of relevant OHS training and personal protective equipment.
For more information on these or other OHS stories, check out the articles on our news feed.
August is National Tradies’ Health Month, which means now is the best time to consider the Work Health and Safety risks that face tradespeople in Australia every day.
Working at heights is a common OHS hazard among tradespeople, with many individuals required to climb ladders and enter roof spaces to complete their work in the trades. With around 10 per cent of all work-related injuries caused by a fall from height, it is easy to see how working at heights training can benefit our nation’s tradies.
And this consideration is becoming more important, as the number of tower blocks and apartment buildings being raised across Australia continues to climb. Population growth is driving demand for more space-efficient housing solutions, which is in turn influencing a need for trained construction workers.
When individuals are working above ground on any project, having the right protection in place is key. Without training and fall-arrest systems, employers risk substantial fines or even injuries and fatalities on site.
For more information on these or other OHS stories, check out the articles on our news feed.
Asbestos awareness and removal is a vital consideration in Australia, as products containing the deadly fibres are discovered each day.
The country’s extensive history with asbestos has made this material a serious threat to homeowners and employees in many industries. It is important, therefore, that Australians know what trends and discoveries are affecting buildings and work across the country.
Here are just five recent headlines that shed some light on how asbestos continues to impact on local and international operations.
NSW joins asbestos campaign
As the campaign to remove loose-fill asbestos from home in the ACT continues, the NSW government has come on board, offering free inspections to any home built before 1980 in high-risk areas.
Thus far, NSW has lagged behind the ACT in terms of addressing the “Mr Fluffy” crisis, claiming that the asbestos was safe as long as fibres were undisturbed.
However, as the campaign to demolish affected ACT homes moves forward, NSW Finance Minister Dominic Perrottet announced the state would conduct health assessments in affected homes to make a better informed decision.
“The NSW government is absolutely committed to ensuring the health and safety of all citizens in this state,” Mr Perrottet said in an August 15 statement.
“This commitment stands when it comes to the issue of asbestos.”
Fronting the campaign is the NSW Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities (HACA). This organisation is chaired by WorkCover’s Acting General Manager Work Health and Safety Division Peter Dunphy.
“While the investigation will help determine the extent of properties that may be impacted it is important to remember that the risk of exposure to asbestos in buildings containing loose-fill asbestos is likely to be very low if the asbestos is undisturbed and sealed off,” Mr Dunphy explained.
He added that sprayed asbestos insulation is a “highly hazardous” product, and should not be disturbed by homeowners or workers who have not undertaken asbestos removal training.
“Only qualified tradespeople with training in suitable asbestos control measures can work in any areas identified as containing asbestos.”
Garden mulch asbestos contamination discovered
Many locals purchased garden mulch from the Bundaberg Regional Council rubbish tip. Unfortunately, a resident last month discovered small pieces of asbestos present in the product.
After sending the product away for testing, the tip continued to sell the mulch until the results were returned. This meant that dozens of residents had time to purchase and use the contaminated product.
A spokesperson from the council explained to NewsMail that residents who had bought the mulch were being contacted and offered assistance. The council planned to send a qualified professional to each home to test gardens and undertake any necessary decontamination.
Since the incident, measures have now been put in place to obtain contact details for those purchasing the council’s mulch, as well as improving monitoring of what is being dumped. Asbestos products are not normally allowed in the affected tip site, which means that material has likely been incorrectly disposed of.
Anyone concerned about their garden should contact the Bundaberg Regional Council on 1300 883 699.
Drive for education in Wollongong
The Wollongong City Council has pushed for increased asbestos education for residents. In addition to publishing a list of approved and licenced removalists, the council will also release an asbestos education program.
Developed by the Asbestos Education Committee, these measures will ensure that local residents are aware of their responsibilities regarding asbestos assessment and removal.
“All of the councillors were unanimous in expressing their concerns about the effects of asbestos on people’s health and believed council should and could do more to protect the health of Wollongong residents,” Councillor Jill Merrin told the Illawarra Mercury on August 10.
Unlicensed asbestos removal results in fines around the world
A number of recent court cases have seen unlicensed removalists be landed with heavy fines. While these trials were located overseas, they each demonstrate the serious nature of unauthorised asbestos handling.
In particular, an American man from Woodbridge, New Jersey has been given five years in prison for undertaking unlicensed asbestos removal in schools, homes, churches and pre-school centres.
The man came under investigation after authorities discovered asbestos dust and material had been left in a day care facility he had been charged to clear.
“[He] exhibited tremendous greed and callousness with his unlicensed and unsafe asbestos removal, putting the health of young children at risk so that he could turn a profit,” acting state Attorney General John Hoffman said in a statement.
Another case in the United States has seen a man from Lebanon, Oregon fined more than US$13,000 for allowing an unlicensed individual to undertake an asbestos project on his home.
Issued by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, fines regarding unauthorised asbestos work are handed out regularly to property owners and businesses. This particular fine was followed by a $8,800 penalty issued to a cafe in the same area that engaged the services of an unlicensed contractor.
This shows that it is important not just for removalists to access the appropriate licences, for also for homeowners to ensure they hire the right people to undertake asbestos-related work.
Unlawful demolitions a problem in Rockdale
The unauthorised demolition of a home in Bardwell Park, NSW is just the tip of the iceberg in regards to unlicenced renovations, according to the Rockdale Council.
While the owners of this particular property were given a stop-work order and a clean-up notice, a spokesperson from the council claims there are “dozens and dozens” of homeowners who are working on their homes without approval.
These individuals are not only putting themselves at risk, but also creating hazards for the health of neighbours and workers by potential asbestos contamination.
The home in this particular instance was over 70 years old, which means it is very likely it contained asbestos products, as reported by The Leader on August 15.
A suggestion raised by locals is for approved and assessed demolitions to be given official notices to be displayed prominently on the site. This will help the community identify illegal works, and should boost the number of unauthorised projects the council is informed of and able to stop.
The Rockdale Council has reissued warnings regarding older homes, particularly those that may contain asbestos materials. Residents who are planning renovations or demolition should engage a suitably licenced individual to assess the asbestos risk and, if required, carry out the removal.
Non-compliance with the clean-up notice could result in a fine up to $1 million for a business and $250,000 for an individual.
Want to know more?
Asbestos is a serious issue in Australia. If you would like to know more about this deadly material, check out the other stories on our news feed.
To access asbestos awareness and removal training, get in touch with the AlertForce team today.
Traffic management training is a serious work health and safety consideration for businesses across almost every industry. However, some sectors are more at risk than others, according to recent headlines from around Australia.
In particular, audits of mining companies in Tasmania in recent months have revealed troubling gaps in OHS standards. With safety inspectors overworked and underpaid, concerns have been raised regarding the efficiency of monitoring and controlling hazards.
Mining vehicles often reach immense size and weight, so preventing collisions is vital to reducing the number of fatalities in the industry. Fortunately, this is where comprehensive traffic management training can help.
Another area of significant concern is forklift safety in the manufacturing and warehousing industries. A Perth company was recently fined $30,000 when two untrained employees were injured after a forklift toppled over.
Operating a forklift is a high-risk occupation, so it is important that workers access all the necessary permits and training before jumping behind the wheel.
For more information on these or other OHS stories, check out the articles on our news feed.
Confined spaces can pose many work health and safety risks, due to dangerous atmospheres and limited entry and exit points.
This is why it is important for employers to understand the hazards their workforce could be facing, particularly in relation to accidents, injuries and fatalities in confined spaces.
Unfortunately, a recent case in Victoria has seen an employer fined for a second time regarding a fatal confined spaces incident in 2010.
Originally, the company was fined $80,000 for work health and safety breaches when a worker was overcome by carbon dioxide while moving stock in a confined space. With the right level of confined spaces training, the individual may have been able to identify the hazard and vacate the area before inhaling a fatal dose.
This year, the same company now may have to pay damages to another employee, who suffered anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing the accident.
This incident demonstrates how vital it is to provide employees with a safe working environment in which to complete their duties.
For more information on this or other OHS stories, check out the articles on our news feed.
Those undertaking a traffic management and control training program may be taking the first step towards a career in road construction and surfacing. Creating quality road infrastructure is a massive local industry, worth over $280 billion, according to Roads Australia.
With more than 817,000 kilometres of road network already laid across the country, maintaining the existing roads and building new network connections takes a lot of work. This is why civil contracting roles are always in demand, with more than 70,000 individuals employed in this sector in 2012, the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed.
Unfortunately, this essential industry can pose many risks to employees’ health and safety. When working on or near public roads, there are always traffic hazards present. Vehicles are one of the leading causes of work-related injuries and fatalities, according to Safe Work Australia.
Because of this, working near traffic has been defined as a high-risk activity, under the current Work Health and Safety Act.
As with any high-risk industry, understanding and controlling the hazards is a crucial consideration. Fortunately, with the right level of training and education, workers can easily minimise WHS risks. This is particularly important for traffic controllers – who are required to work directly with both civil and public vehicles.
Understanding the risks
In regards to addressing the risks traffic controllers face, industry authority, the Australian Asphalt Pavement Association (AAPA) has published an article in the most recent Asphalt Review dispatch.
The publication highlighted the importance of workshops and training for traffic controllers, citing a number of issues that may be influencing high injury and accident rates.
There have been a number of incidents that demonstrate the high-risk nature of surfacing work, particularly in regards to traffic managers. AAPA spokesperson Robert Busuttil pointed to one tragic day in November 2010, when two controllers were killed in separate events only hours apart.
On this day, a 45-year-old worker and a 23-year-old man within his first week on the job were both struck and killed by reversing trucks. Both men were employed as traffic controllers at the time of their death.
Following these accidents, the Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities (HWSA) released a report looking into the WHS failings present in the road surfacing sector.
The key concerns identified in the 2012 dispatch included:
- A lack of hazard awareness and induction training to both controllers and the persons responsible for creating Traffic Control Plans (TCPs)
- Failing to update TCPs to specific jobs and locations
- TCPs not inclusive of indirect hazards and how roadwork activities can affect a site
These dangerous issues are causing major hazards, as traffic controllers continue to work with limited knowledge of the risks they face each day. Additionally, managing the public and internal traffic can be difficult when not given an adequate or up-to-date control plan.
Addressing these concerns is a crucial consideration for any person working in or planning to enter the road surfacing industry.
Education is the key
Traffic controllers are a vital part of any civil construction project, with their work protecting the lives of their colleagues and the public. However, it is important that individuals employed in this role do not forget their own safety.
Fortunately, increasing the awareness and understanding of personal and site-wide hazards is simple when the right training and education is in place.
In this regard, the AAPA has developed a new workshop to improve WHS outcomes on civil construction sites. The Road Surfacing Awareness for Traffic Controllers course is aimed at improving the recognition of the hazards associated with related projects.
This important training program will include competencies relevant to:
- Unique risks traffic controllers could experience – such as proximity to hot materials and working on public roads
- Factors that can affect traffic control measures – including the introduction of work-related vehicles
- Identifying issues which may compromise work quality and lead to extended project time and increased exposure to risks
Launched this month, the safety and awareness program is designed to help any worker who may be required to manage a traffic control plan. Additionally, supervisors and those responsible for approving or auditing these schemes can also benefit from the training.
Quality education from the beginning
Prior to undertaking employment in the construction, road surfacing or similar industry, individuals are encouraged to seek all necessary training. Rather than waiting until accidents and near-misses occur, undertaking a traffic control program as a preemptive measure can help mitigate potential risks.
In particular, any person who may be required to work as a traffic controller must access the mandatory traffic and pedestrian management and control training. Under state and federal legislation, all employers have a legal obligation to ensure only competent and adequately trained personnel are appointed as traffic controllers.
However, each state and territory is subject to different regulatory requirements. Understanding the specific courses and training needs in your area can be difficult. This is why it is recommended that you contact a registered training provider who can direct you to the most appropriate course for your needs.
This includes knowing when refresher training is required and which programs are needed prior to any work being undertaken. If you need any more information on traffic management and control programs, or want to access WHS training relevant to your industry, talk to the AlertForce team today.
AlertForce can help you meet your legislative requirements, as well as creating a training program that suits your role and WHS needs.
A recent spate of illegal asbestos dumpings has highlighted the need for more awareness and control over this dangerous material.
On August 12, a large amount of asbestos was discovered strewn along the side of a busy road in North Rocks, NSW. This incident required hours of dedicated work safely contain and remove the material.
Several roads were closed as the clean-up was undertaken, and Council General Manger Dave Walker explained that it was difficult to tell just how much asbestos had been dumped. It appeared likely that the material has been deliberately thrown from the back of a truck, as it was spread across a 300m distance along three separate roads.
The council were taking this incident very seriously, and a full and thorough investigation is now underway. If caught, the individual responsible could face a fine up to $1 million and seven years in prison. Alternatively, if a business is found to be the source of this material, penalties would climb to $5 million.
"Asbestos dumpers are the most inconsiderate and reckless of all illegal rubbish dumpers – they put the long-term health of innocent people at risk," Mr Walker said.
Educating individuals and businesses on safe asbestos removal
While most people should now be aware of the dangers of asbestos material, it seems that many individuals are still practising unsafe dumping and removal. Unfortunately, this is not only putting themselves at risk, but also their families, friends and members of the public.
When an untrained person attempts to remove asbestos from their home or business, it is possible that the deadly fibres could become attached to their clothing, skin or hair. If the individual then heads home without changing their outfit, they are unintentionally exposing everyone they come into contact with to the material.
This means that your family and friends could be inhaling asbestos fibres all because you failed to undertake safe removal procedures. This is just one reason why it is vital that any person who may be required to work with or near asbestos is provided with the necessary asbestos awareness training.
As we head into spring, it is likely that the warmer weather could encourage more homeowners to start DIY projects. Home renovations and amateur construction projects are a hot bed for asbestos exposure, with untrained members of the public unaware of the potential danger.
This is why a number of licensed asbestos removal contractors and disposal facilities across Australia have launched a campaign to spread awareness.
"Exposure to asbestos is very dangerous there are many risks involved in the removal but if people are given the correct procedure to follow and the right equipment to wear there will not be any problem," explained Justin Castelluzzo, part-owner of Adelaide-based waste management company, Metro Waste.
"We tell every person that comes to the yard what's involved in correct asbestos removal and disposal and we still get a number of enquiries each day regarding the process."
While educating the public regarding the danger of asbestos works to a point, it is also vital businesses dedicated to the removal of the deadly material access all the necessary licences and training.
Often, companies and individuals rely on official removalists to undertake the process of containing and disposing of asbestos in the home or worksite. If these organisations are staffed by workers who have not obtained adequate education, permits or licences then significant hazards are likely.
How to become a qualified asbestos removalist
If you are interested in working as a qualified asbestos removalist, or have launched a business with this intention, it is vital that you understand how to access the necessary qualifications and licences.
Under the Work Health and Safety (WHS) regulations, there are two key licences required by those removing asbestos products. Essentially, the Class A licence allows individuals to work with all kinds of asbestos, while the Class B is limited to non-friable material only.
These levels can be obtained by accessing the relevant asbestos removal training through a registered training provider, such as AlertForce.
Other crucial considerations are the asbestos supervisory licence and the assessors qualification. In some cases, asbestos removal projects will require a supervisor to be present at all times, while others may only need a qualified person on standby.
Conducting asbestos assessments with the intention of removal requires a person to hold specialist skills related to identification of hazards and control of air monitoring. Without the relevant Level 5 qualification, individuals should not be employed in this role.
More information on these particular obligations can be found at Safe Work Australia, or through your state's affiliate authority.
To access the necessary asbestos removal training to get yourself started in this career, talk to the AlertForce team today.
Traffic management training is an important consideration not just for employees, but also any members of the public. Vehicles of any size or shape can pose serious risks to people's health and safety, and it is the employer's responsibility to ensure these hazards are mitigated.
When contractors are engaged to carry out high risk tasks, this issue becomes even more vital. A person conducting a business or undertaking cannot safely assume that a contractor will perform the necessary hazard checks. It is therefore up to the employer to ensure the individual has received the necessary training and understands the correct risk management processes.
This was demonstrated recently when a local government council was fined after a bystander was struck and killed by earth-moving equipment on a landscaping site in Stirling, Western Australia.
Failure to keep the public safe
The accident, which occurred in November 2011, involved a contractor who has been hired by the council to undertake landscaping works outside a community centre.
In the same area, a group of individuals were clearing a shed. The contractor had repeatedly told these people to stay clear of the vicinity. Unfortunately, when the landscaping machinery was being reversed up an incline, it struck and killed a man from that group.
The Perth Magistrates Court found that the employer, the City of Stirling, had failed to ensure the contractor had completed risk assessments in the area before performing the work. Additionally, the obligation for an employer to satisfy itself that the contractor was adequately reducing risks was also not met.
Because of this, the Court fined the City of Stirling more than $20,000 in compensation and costs. This decision was reached after much deliberation, with the final order being laid on August 6.
WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch explained that the tragic death of the bystander should serve as a reminder to employers to ensure that safety measures are always in place.
"This is especially important when mobile plant such as bobcats are in use in and around public areas," he said in an August 6 statement.
"The case also provides a reminder that workplace safety is the responsibility of not only the contractor performing the work, but also the organisation that engages the contractor."
As the City of Stirling employed the contractor to carry out the landscaping work, it was then the obligation of the government officer overseeing the project to ensure a job safety assessment (JSA) had been carried out.
"It was not alleged that the City of Stirling's failure to require a JSA caused the man's death, but had the City taken these measures, the risk of harm would have been reduced or eliminated," Mr McCulloch said.
Traffic management in public areas
Traffic management and control is not only to ensure those operating vehicles and mobile machinery follow the rules onsite. This training is also vital for protecting pedestrians and avoiding preventable accidents involving members of the public.
In particular, pedestrian management is a vital component of any traffic control training course. While this is most important for projects undertaken in public areas, it can also be beneficial for on-site work to ensure visitors and bystanders are protected.
When construction, maintenance, landscaping or any other work is being carried out close to where you can reasonable expect members of the public to occupy, it is vital that pedestrian controls are in place.
In the case above, the contractor had allegedly told the bystander to stay clear of the worksite. However, if physical boundaries had been in place, for example, the accident may not have occurred.
The very best solution for preventing traffic-related injuries and fatalities is to keep pedestrians and vehicles physically separated. This can be done by simply installing temporary barriers around workspaces. In the Western Australian case, mobile fencing could have been utilised to clearly mark where the worksite began.
However, in some circumstances this is not always possible. For instance, if the landscaping work required the contractor to move across the entire community centre grounds, it would not be reasonable for the complete area to be fenced-off.
Protecting the public with traffic management training
When physical barriers are not a reasonable solution, there are fortunately other options that can be put in place. In particular, any person operating a work-related vehicle near the public should be provided with traffic management training to ensure they understand the risks to themselves and others.
Another consideration could be to have a stand-by employee checking the area is clear before machinery is moved. In the case outlined above, the accident occurred when the equipment was reversing up an incline. It is possible that the bystander did not see or hear the machinery coming towards him, and was not visible to the operator.
In this case, simply having a spotter standing nearby could have ensured that both the member of the public and the driver were aware of each other.
Alternatively, the driver – knowing that people were nearby – could possibly have chosen to turn the machinery around. By reversing, the contractor potentially cut down his own field of vision and impacted on his ability to identify the risks and stop before the accident occurred.
There are many potential factors that could have resulted in a different outcome. Understanding how these influencers relate to your own undertaking is a crucial consideration. Fortunately, you can find out more information through comprehensive traffic management training.
To improve the safety at your site, get in touch with the AlertForce team to access training for you or your staff today.
New figures from the Queensland Work Health and Safety (WHS) authority show that the number of construction-related complaints has climbed significant over the past year.
This is according to an August 3 article published in The Sunday Mail, which revealed reports concerning safety breaches on local sites climbed to 2,765 for the 2013-14 financial year. In comparison, complaints reached just 2,092 in 2012-13 and 1,764 in 2011-12.
One of the key influencers driving the increased complaints is the growing public awareness of WHS standards. While in the past, the majority of complaints were issued from internal sources, recent years have seen nearby residents and passersby become more widely represented in the figures. According to The Sunday Mail, this could be because the popularity of shows such as The Block and House Rules, which commonly feature segments outlining safety procedures and awareness.
In addition to the rise in complaints issued, a WHS Queensland (WHSQ) representative has reveals that there were 10 workplace fatalities throughout the entire 2013-14 financial year. However, the current statistics show two people have died in work related incidents within a week.
One of the individuals was killed when the trench they were working in collapsed and engulfed them, while the second died after falling six metres on a construction site.
These incidents, and the WHS breaches that result in complaints, are demonstrations of the importance of correct safety procedures in workplaces. When policies are not present or not followed correctly, businesses can be hit with substantial fines or even experience serious accidents.
Making a WHS complaint in Queensland
For any individual who discovers a serious WHS breach, informing the proper authorities is vital for protecting the health and safety of employees and the public.
WHSQ supports this important process by offering an online complaint form as well as a direct phone line for those wishing to make a report. If an individual does not wish to reveal their identity, complaints can be made anonymously. This is important for any contractor or employee who may not feel comfortable reporting on their boss or colleagues.
Once a complaint has been received, WHSQ will review the details and take action depending on the nature of the breach. In many cases, this involves sending a Department of Justice representative to the site in question and ensuring those working in the area are aware of their obligations and best practice policies.
The Department of Justice inspectors issued more than 1,300 improvement notices in Queensland in the 2013-14 financial year. Around 750 projects were forced to halt their work due to non-compliant and high-risk activity.
Although the number of fines was down on previous years, 32 employers still received penalties of between $200 and $3,600 last year. The drop in overall fines issued is largely attributed to the change in philosophy by the Department of Justice. Now, the focus has been placed on working with builders and contractors to boost compliance prior to incidents being reported – rather than responding to accidents.
Addressing the rising complaints
With the number of complaints continuing to climb across Queensland's construction sites, the Office of Fair and Safe Work Queensland has revealed plans for a 2014-17 action plan.
This initiative will target "critical risks/issues related to fatalities" within the construction industry, with a focus on traffic management, falls prevention, site supervising and mentoring of young workers.
Another important factor for employers and workers to consider is asbestos exposure, with issues related to the dangerous fibres making up more than a quarter (28 per cent) of total complaints.
Fortunately, it is not difficult to address these concerns in workplaces and construction sites across Australia. In fact, there are a few simple measures that can be put in place to mitigate the risk of serious WHS breaches and non-compliance.
What can employers do?
When responding to the high number of workplace complaints, employers working in high-risk industries – such as construction – probably already have policies in place to boost safety.
However, in some cases, a basic knowledge of the WHS standards may not be enough to avoid accidents and injuries. In particular, when employees are not continually supervised and reviewed, they could make changes to their work behaviours which fail to meet safety requirements.
This is why it is vital that employers regularly check up on their workers and keep them informed and aware of their changing WHS needs. Additionally, employers, supervisors and site managers should undertake the following standards to ensure that best practices are being followed at all times.
– Know the regulations and requirements
When you want your workers to follow correct WHS policies, it helps to hold a thorough understanding of these practices yourself.
It is therefore important that all leaders and stakeholders access the relevant education that can help boost WHS compliance. This could include contacting your local Work Safe Authority, or undertaking comprehensive WHS training.
– Educate your workers
As well as increasing your own understanding and knowledge, it is vital that you provide all relevant workers with the necessary training to protect themselves and others. By giving employees access to these qualifications, they are more likely to work within industry standards.
While some competencies may be more relevant than others, the construction industry is an area that requires a large number of skills to operate safely. For instance, most workers within the building sector will need some level of working at heights training throughout their career.
This is reflected in the high number of workplace fatalities that are related to falls and working at heights. Once an individual is working two metres off the ground, their risk of serious injury or death increases dramatically. With much in construction work involving roofs and tall structures, this is an important consideration for all industry employers.
– Have all necessary equipment available
In addition to accessing the necessary training and education for you and your workers, it is crucial that the worksite offers all necessary safety equipment and set-ups.
Many WHS complaints involve environmental and situational issues, such as ladders being set on uneven ground or scaffolding placed under live power lines. Additionally, a lack of personal protective equipment is also a common reason for complaint.
For instance, a worker climbing over a roof without a fall-arrest system in place may be grounds for an official WHS complaint. Alternatively, unstable or unsecured scaffolding may also be cause for alarm.
Addressing these issues is easy, when employers invest in the right equipment and environmental reviews. However, knowing which systems would be most beneficial and being able to identify and address potential risks is vital.
With WHS training and reviews, employers can ensure that they and their workers understand these factors – significantly reducing their risk of accidents and injuries.
If you need more information on your WHS training requirements, or how to improve safety on your construction site, get in touch with the AlertForce team today.
Another month has passed with serious asbestos revelations making headlines around the world. Staying up-to-date with asbestos-related news is an important consideration for any employer, as it helps increase awareness of the potential risks you and your employees could be facing.
With this in mind, here are four of the top asbestos-related revelations that dominated the news channels around the world in July.
Telstra terminates NBN asbestos subcontractors
Health and safety has become one of the defining features in the rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN). With various risks and hazards present across the process, companies working on this vital project are encouraged to boost safety wherever possible.
This focus has led to a number of important policies, such as the introduction of mandatory NBN safety and awareness training for individuals working in particular roles.
Recently, major NBN employer Telstra has revoked accreditation of a number of subcontractors and individual workers, according to a July 28 article from The Australian.
"This decision was made after audits showed they were not meeting safety standards we expect for this type of work. These accreditation breaches were not limited to asbestos work, but included other issues such as traffic and pedestrian management," Telstra spokesperson Nicole McKechnie explained.
Last year, the rollout was delayed due to a series of asbestos scares, demonstrating the need for NBN individuals to undertake comprehensive asbestos awareness training.
More schools closed due to asbestos scares
Asbestos exposure is a serious hazard for many workers in Australia. Unfortunately, this risk can also affect people unrelated to their occupation – such as homeowners performing renovations.
Another major asbestos hazard is the historical use of the material in schools built across the country. This means that a significant number of children could be exposed at any time.
It seems that not a month can pass without another school being closed due to asbestos discoveries – and July was no different. In particular, Willetton Senior High School in Western Australia was closed down on July 22 in response to suspected asbestos.
"We've known Willetton is an old school and has been scheduled for major work as part of the rebuilding program," David Axworthy, a spokesperson from the Education Department told ABC Australia.
"The buildings that are to be demolished later in the year are routinely monitored and checked so during that routine inspection they found some broken ceiling tiles and other residue … that contained asbestos."
There are many schools facing potential asbestos risks, according to a 2013 government report, with several institutions in WA listed as needing immediate attention.
New threat in Gaza war
Residents in Gaza are not only facing the persistent threat of mortar shells and rockets. The war-ravaged southern communities are now being exposed to a secondary danger – asbestos.
A recent media report has picked up on the increased risk of asbestos inhalation, due to structures and buildings being destroyed in the fight.
Fortunately, the local councils are working hard to replace any asbestos roofs that may be in the line of fire. However, as shells continue to drop across the communities, the threat is becoming increasingly urgent.
"The problem is mainly with front-line communities, which are most vulnerable to rocket and mortar fire," Council Head Haim Yalin said, according to Middle Eastern news publication Haartz.
"Warehouses and other buildings also have asbestos roofs, but our first priority is to replace the roofs of residential structures."
Mr Yalin revealed that there are around 700 residences with asbestos roofs located along the Gazan perimeter. This means that any initiative to replace the dangerous materials will be a lengthy and consuming endeavour.
Former BHP worker wins asbestos damages case
A landmark case concluded in New South Wales last month, with a former BHP worker awarded more than $2 million in damages.
The ex-employee claimed that he was exposed to asbestos in the early 1980s due to negligence from his employer. The plaintiff is now suffering from terminal mesothelioma as a consequence of inhaling the fibres.
On July 31, the Dust and Diseases Tribunal found BHP guilty of negligence related to work health and safety standards. The Court then decided BHP would have to pay the worker $2.2 million in compensation.
"While today's verdict is a significant victory for Mr Dunning and his family, it does not take away from the fact that he is dealing with an incurable, terminal disease as a result of BHP's negligence," Joanne Wade, asbestos lawyer with Slater & Gordon expressed.
"We are extremely pleased that Mr Dunning can now move on and concentrate on spending his remaining time with his loved ones."
For more information on asbestos in Australia, check out our news feed. Get in touch with the AlertForce team to access a range of vital asbestos training programs.
The National Broadband Network is being steadily rolled out across the country, with more Australian homes connected to the service every week.
As the project continues its campaign, regional workers may soon see job opportunities to land in their area. Overall, construction of the network is expected to employ 18,000 individuals, according to Deloitte.
The project to connect every Australian to fast broadband has started to infiltrate regional towns, with this activity expected to pick up this year. Over the past 12 months, 20,000 premises in remote and regional areas have been connected to the network. But there is still a lot of work to do.
Fortunately, those interested in taking part in the rollout, and working on sites in regional communities, can access the mandatory NBN safety and awareness training online through AlertForce.
For more information on these or other OHS stories, check out the articles on our news feed.
The health, safety and wellbeing of tradespeople in Australia is under the spotlight this month, as industry bodies launch the National Tradies' Health Month.
Throughout August, the Australian Physiotherapy Association – together with work boot manufacturer and supplier Steel Blue – will be supporting initiatives which raise awareness of the hazards in many trade industries. Of particular importance are musculoskeletal health issues, caused by lifting, slips, trips and falls.
"Too many tradies are injured on site every day, 80 per cent of injured workers in Australia are tradies and labourers," Steel Blue General Manager Ross Fitzgerald explained.
"We have been working closely with the Australian Physiotherapy Association to encourage a behaviour change amongst tradies, to make them more aware about the importance of health and safety, at work and home."
Trades can be the most dangerous occupations in Australia, with a vast and complex range of hazards present each time an individual commences work. Because of this, around 10 Victorian tradespeople are badly injured at work each day, according to WorkSafe Victoria. This means that 3,560 tradies sustain an injury that requires workers' compensation each year.
"The number of deaths, injuries and safety breaches prove that everyone – builders, contractors and workers – must do more to make sure workers get home to their families safely every night," WorkSafe Chief Executive Denise Cosgrove said.
According to Safe Work Australia, around 10 in every 100,000 workers claim compensation related to musculoskeletal disorders. Nearly a quarter of all roofers, labourers and plumbers experience back pain, muscle stress and strain from lifting equipment or slips, trips, and falls when handling materials.
"The injuries caused on sites are not always life threatening, but are often painful, costly and result in long periods off work," said Ms Cosgrove.
Unfortunately, when workers require time away from employment, mental health becomes another major issue among tradespeople. Statistics released on the official Tradies' Health website reveal that 18 per cent of injured workers sought mental health services after six months off work. After a year off, that number increased to 30 per cent.
What are the risks to tradies' health?
There are many potential risks to the health and safety of tradespeople in Australia. With these roles often playing a crucial factor in a number of industries, addressing every hazard can be challenging.
To help tradies and employers understand the risks facing tradespeople, here are five of the most common hazards.
- Working at heights
Falls from roofs, ladders, scaffolding and other heights account for around 25 per cent of all workplace fatalities, according to WorkSafe Victoria.
Many trades-related occupations can require an individual to work above the ground. Every time a tradesperson climbs a ladder, they are putting themselves in danger of a serious injury or even death.
Fortunately, simply strategies can be put in place to avoid these accidents. In particular, employers should provide all at-risk individuals with necessary fall-arrest systems and working at heights training.
- Asbestos exposure
When a tradesperson works on a building or structure that was built before 1990, there is a significant risk of being exposed to deadly asbestos fibres.
Each time a worker cuts into a wall, for example, the resulting dust could contain asbestos. If the individual was to then inhale the dust, they would forever be at risk of developing an asbestos-related lung condition.
It is important for all workers who may be working in environments that contain asbestos to access the necessary information and guidance. For instance, older buildings should have a register that indicates the presence of asbestos so workers can avoid dangerous areas.
Additionally, undertaking asbestos awareness training will ensure workers are able to monitor and identify asbestos fibres in any workplace – which is ideal for tradespeople who often move from site to site.
Electricity is a major concern for some tradespeople, as their occupation may involve working directly with wires and other electrical equipment. For others, it is less of a persistent threat but can still pose a risk when working in certain locations.
Any tradesperson who may come into contact with electricity during the undertaking of their duties can follow a few simple practices to ensure their own safety. These include personally checking wires and equipment are not live before handling them and wearing the necessary protective equipment – such as thick gloves and rubber-soled boots.
- Heavy lifting
Musculoskeletal disease is one of the most common injuries reported among tradespeople, with the culprit usually being unsafe lifting procedures.
Back pain and muscle sprains are typical results of incorrect lifting, and these injuries can seriously affect a person's ability to continue physical work. If a tradie was to permanently injure their back, they could lose their entire income due to not being able to complete the tasks they are trained for.
It is therefore crucial that practices are put in place to promote safe lifting techniques, such as warming up and stretching before undertaking any strenuous labour. Whenever possible, physical lifting tasks should be avoided – employees need to understand when a crane, forklift or wheelbarrow is suitable.
Additionally, tradies need to be encouraged to ask for help. Some individuals may believe that asking for help would make them seem weak and unable to perform their job – however, seeking assistance is recommended and demonstrates an admirable knowledge of one's own limits.
- Excessive noise
Tradespeople are often required to use loud equipment and machinery during the undertaking of their duties. For instance, an electrician may need to operate drilling equipment to access the wires in a structure.
Excess noise can also be a risk when operating a heavy vehicle or working close to other construction work. Unfortunately, once you feel pain the damage is already done, so it is important to put preventative measures in place.
Examples of this could be wearing earmuffs or plugs whenever you are using a hand drill or other loud piece of equipment. Noise-related hearing damage is permanent, so don't just put up with excessive sounds – talk to your employer or human resources department about the protection and policies you need.
How can you get involved with National Tradies' Health Month?
There are a number of ways individuals and corporations can take part in National Tradies' Health Month. A variety of events are being held across Australia, raising awareness of the hazards tradespeople face and methods to control these risks. A list of the events can be found on Tradieshealth.com.au.
Alternatively, employers and tradespeople can register to host their own event – as well as access a range of WHS resources to share with staff.
For a more unique and interactive approach to boosting hazard awareness, individuals can play the online game. The Australian Physiotherapy Association and Steel Blue have released this fun and informative game to encourage increased participation in WHS initiatives.
Need more information?
If you need more information regarding occupational health and safety in the trades, or would like to access a relevant training program, get in touch with the AlertForce team today.
If you own and operate a small business in Australia, then it is your responsibility to ensure your employees are provided with a safe working environment.
Work-related injuries and accidents are a serious issue across many industries, with a significant number of fatalities and workers' compensation claims being lodged each week.
According to Safe Work Australia, almost 100 people had died in work-related incidents in 2014 by the end of July. This amounts to nearly one fatality every second day. Reducing this number is an important work health and safety (WHS) consideration for any Australian business owner, as even one preventable death is too many.
Fortunately, SafeWork SA has released a seven step safety guide and checklist for small businesses. By following this plan, employers and owners will more effectively understand and meet their obligations regarding Australian WHS standards.
This action plan includes practical advice on how to improve safety in the workplace, with general information that can apply to a vast range of industries and occupations.
Seven steps to safety
There are many ways an employer can meet their obligations as a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU). Safe Work Australia explains that, as far as is reasonable practical, the primary duty of a PCBU is to ensure the health and safety of workers (and visitors to the workplace) is not put at risk.
In particular, it is vital that business operations and conduct does not create unnecessary hazards. This is why the seven step process is crucial for any persons launching a startup enterprise or running an existing small business.
The guide, released on July 30, encourages employers to work with their workers when addressing potential risks in the workplace. Safety improvements can be implemented more efficiently and effectively if all employees are aware of their responsibilities and requirements.
Prior to commencing the seven step process, PCBUs should compare their current operations with the WHS snapshot. This document helps employers identify where there is room for improvement and which areas should be priorities.
Once this has been completed, the seven step action plan should be put in place.
1. Set up a safe workplace
The very first action you need to take as a small business owner is to ensure the working environment is supportive of WHS standards. This includes investing in quality machinery, mitigating trip hazards and supplying any necessary personal protective equipment.
This step can generally be achieved by engaging a Safe Work representative to review your site. Once the potential hazards have been identified, policies and protection can be enacted to prevent accidents.
Other PCBU responsibilities include installing WHS information sheets and reporting procedures, to ensure workers and visitors are aware of crucial risks and practices. A common example of this is to have evacuation procedures prominently displayed in the workplace, where both employees and the public can find it.
As well as engaging the services of an official representative, employers should involve their workers in the WHS process. In South Australia, this is a legal requirement under the WHS Act (2012).
Your employees often have first-hand knowledge of the potential hazards they face during business conduct, so they can provide valuable insight into your WHS policies.
Consulting with your workers is not only beneficial for you, but will ensure that every worker is aware of the risks in the workplace. This review and discussion should take place whenever business processes and practices change, as any minor adjustments can affect potential WHS hazards – putting uninformed workers at risk.
3. Manage hazards
Once you have identified and addressed the numerous hazards in the workplace, ongoing management policies need to be put in place.
Having procedures in place will ensure that workers continue to follow WHS standards, particularly as regular reviews are made.
4. Train and supervise
Training is one of the most vital factors in improve WHS outcomes, as misinformed and untrained employees can struggle to understand and adequately address their risks.
Your WHS training requirements will vary depending on the industry in which your business operates. However, it is the duty of the employer to know and access the correct courses and programs for their staff.
For instance, any business that involves handling or working near materials that may contain asbestos could benefit from asbestos awareness training.
As well as investing in the required education, employers need to ensure that adequate supervision is provided to monitor new workers and those undertaking unfamiliar tasks. A competent supervisor will ensure that safety policies are being followed and correct procedures are in place.
5. Maintain safety
Once the required training and policies have been integrated into the business, employers need to regularly check that these processes are still being utilised and have remained relevant and effective.
Hazards and operations can evolve throughout the life of a business, which means that original WHS standards may not suffice for future risks. By carrying out regular reviews and maintenance, PCBUs can ensure best practice policies are in action at all times.
6. Keep records
Documenting injuries, incidents and near misses is an important legal requirement for any business. This includes recording any maintenance, inspections and tests you perform.
By keeping this information on file, you can respond when your Safe Work authority requests the reports – which may occur in the event of an accident. This will also make it easier for you to monitor health and safety in the workplace, so you can quickly and efficiently act when potential issues are identified.
7. Monitor and review
As your business grows and evolves, so too could the hazards. It is therefore vital that you regularly review and improve your WHS standards and policies to suit your changing business.
If you need any more information on monitoring WHS in your business, or would like to access the training your staff require, get in touch with the AlertForce team today.
Working at heights training is an important consideration in many industries across Australia, but some sectors are more dangerous than others.
In particular, the high risk forestry industry recently announced plans to continue a partnership designed to improve worker safety and awareness. The New South Wales WorkCover authority has signed an ongoing agreement with the Forestry Corporation to provide training in areas such as working at heights, traffic management and driver safety.
Within the construction sector, high winds kept workers on their toes in Victoria and New South Wales earlier this month. As bad weather swept across the country, various WorkCover bodies issued warnings regarding working at heights and the dangers of structure collapse.
As winter continues to create havoc across Australia, and spring approaches, workers in the southern states in particular need to prepare for ongoing strong winds.
For more information on these or other OHS stories, check out the articles on our news feed.
Mining is one of the most dangerous industries in Australia, with employees at every level facing a range of potential work health and safety (WHS) hazards.
In fact, approximately 3 fatalities occurred per 100,000 workers in 2013. Although this was a great result for the industry, which has seen historical fatality rates reach up to 12.35 deaths per 100,000 employees, it still highlights the dangers present in this sector.
Sustaining WHS standards is therefore a serious consideration for any employer in the resources sector. Unfortunately, mining business owners in Tasmania have their work cut out for them, according to a recent audit conducted by the University of New South Wales' School of Management.
The independent report, commissioned last year and published this month, found that serious deficiencies have led to various safety incidents over recent months. Lead study author, Professor Michael Quilan explained that Tasmania's regulatory framework is "deficient in a number of regards".
"It's imperative critical gaps in existing rules be addressed because most, if not all, are pivotal to preventing fatal accidents," he explained in the audit.
In particular, Professor Quilan investigated the training, presence and pay of safety inspectors across the industry. His findings revealed serious shortfalls in the number of mining-qualified competent persons available on a full-time basis.
The industry stakeholders surveyed by Professor Quilan commonly identified training as an area where improvements are needed. For instance, several interviewees claimed that no inspectors were available who held specific training and knowledge for the unique hazards associated with coal mining.
A lack of succession planning could be the leading cause of this issue, with no adequate training or induction processes in place when staff turnover occurs. Because of this, Professor Quilan urged Tasmanian mining employers to adopt mandatory training requirements, such as the policies currently in place in Queensland and other resource-reliant states.
The benefits of training in the mining industry
There are many reasons why training is a crucial consideration for mining employers, including the vast range of potential hazards each employee faces on every shift.
For instance, due to the complex nature of many mining occupations, a worker could be subject to risks related to confined space, traffic control and machinery entrapment all at one time.
Training individuals to recognise and address these hazards should not only help improve WHS standards, but can also lead to more efficient operations and increased profitability. This is because a decline in safety incidents will reduce the amount of time needed for injury recovery and accident investigations. In turn, this should lead to more time focused on daily operations and business-as-usual endeavours.
Because of the complexities of mining work, knowing what WHS training to access can be a challenge. To help you reach positive safety outcomes in your business, here are just four areas where training and qualifications can be beneficial to miners.
– Traffic management
Whether the mining operations are above or under the ground, traffic management training should be a vital consideration for any employer. This is because the resources industry often relies on large and heavy mobile equipment to move product across sites and through freight channels.
A particular hazard of underground mining is when these vehicles are required to enter the same shafts and confined spaces as pedestrian workers. Operating vehicles in shared tunnels can lead to collisions and crushing if adequate WHS policies are not in place.
Fortunately, traffic management training can help any employee understand the risks and avoid potential accidents. In particular, the use of vehicles in shared spaces – above or below ground – can be controlled to strict safety standards if each individual holds the necessary qualifications.
– Confined spaces
Underground mines can be dangerous environments to work in, due to the risk of poor atmospheric conditions, cave-ins and disorientation. Employers can protect their employees against these risks in a number of ways.
Workers should be provided with comprehensive confined spaces training before entering any area with limited entry points. This competency will ensure that individuals are able to monitor their environment and utilise any necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) if a hazard is present.
For instance, atmospheric testing can help employees identify whether oxygen levels are fluctuating – due to poor ventilation or an unexpected release of gas. If unsafe environmental conditions are detected, workers must be able to safely find, don and operate breathing apparatus and any other relevant PPE.
– Hazardous materials
Some mining situations can require individuals to handle or work alongside hazardous materials. In particular, explosive substances are commonly used in these situations.
Training is an important requirement which must be accessed before workers are given permission to handle such material. Unsafe or misinformed use of these items could lead to serious accidents, such as preventable fires and explosions.
Additionally, radioactive materials are sometimes present in mines – potentially creating significant health risks. Using the right PPE and protective clothing is crucial to avoid necessary exposure to unsafe materials.
– Emergency response
No matter how safe your workers are, accidents can happen. This is why it is vitally important that certain employees are trained and aware of their duties in an emergency.
If an incident was to occur on your site, having qualified workers on staff will ensure that would-be rescuers do not put themselves in danger. This is of particular importance when dealing with confined spaces, where a significant number of fatalities are related to emergency response, rather than business-as-usual operations.
If you would like more information about WHS risks in the mining industry, or want to access the relevant training, contact the AlertForce team today.
This month: Your duties in relation to Labour Hire Workers
A PCBU needs to ensure that all chemicals that are used, handled, stored or generated by the workplace have been identified in consultation with workers.
The identification of hazardous chemicals can be completed by referencing the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) (Formerly Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and the chemical labels.
Manufacturers and suppliers are obligated to:-
Provide you with a Safety Data Sheet as outlined in the legislation at the commencement of this document.
Ensure that the information contained on the Safety Data Sheet and labels are correct.
If there is any concern in regards to the accuracy of the Safety Data Sheet or label, for example the information is different or contradictory, then initial contact should be made with the manufacturer/supplier.
Information on chemicals can also be found in the Hazardous Substances Information System (HSIS) database accessed through Safe Work Australia.
What must Officers, Managers and Supervisors do?
1. Check current hazard identification arrangements.
2. Determine whether they meet the requirements of the legislation and codes of practice.
3. If legislative requirements are not being met, in consultation with workers:
a) Assess current procedures for obtaining SDS to ensure that they are provided for every hazardous chemical and are easily accessible by workers.
b) Determine whether an SDS for every hazardous chemical and for every different concentrate of the chemical is available.
c) Ensure that there is a procedure in place to review and update SDS at a minimum of at least once every 5 years.
d) Determine whether there is an effective process in place for checking SDS and labels so as identify hazardous chemicals.
e) Assess whether there are procedures in place for obtaining hazardous chemical information from other sources, such as manufacturers and suppliers.
Safety Data Sheets (SDS)
Manufacturers and importers must determine and classify the hazards of the chemical and include the information on labels and Safety Data Sheets.
Check labels in conjunction with SDS and in conjunction with the information sources outlined in Supporting Documentation section to ensure all chemical hazards are identified
Labels may not always contain all hazard information due to the small size of the label and therefore the SDS should be referred to when identifying chemical hazards and ensuring the correctness of the information.
Hazardous chemicals Generated or Manufactured in the Workplace
In some instances a chemical may not have a label or SDS, for example fumes generated in the workplace from an activity such as diesel exhaust fumes from truck engines.
The risk associated with chemicals produced or generated in the workplace must be managed.
WHS Regulation 2011
A manufacturer or importer of a hazardous chemical must prepare a safety data sheet for the hazardous chemical before first manufacturing or importing the hazardous chemical.
If that is not practicable, as soon as practicable, after first manufacturing or importing the hazardous chemical and before first supplying it to a workplace.
The manufacturer or importer of the hazardous chemical must:
Review the safety data sheet at least once every 5 years, and
Amend the safety data sheet whenever necessary to ensure that it contains correct, current information.
The manufacturer or importer of the hazardous chemical must provide the current safety data sheet for the hazardous chemical to any person, if the person:
Is likely to be affected by the hazardous chemical, and
Asks for the safety data sheet.
S.341-343 requires that the Agency ensures that the hazardous chemical, the container of a hazardous chemical or a hazardous chemical in pipe work is correctly labelled.
S.335 requires that the manufacturer or importer of a hazardous chemical must ensure that the hazardous chemical is correctly labelled as soon as practicable after manufacturing or importing the hazardous chemical.
A hazardous chemical is correctly labelled if the selection and use of label elements is in accordance with the GHS and it complies with Part 3 of Schedule 9.
This clause does not apply to a hazardous chemical if:
a) the hazardous chemical is a consumer product that is labelled in accordance with the Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons 2011 published by the Commonwealth, as in force or remade from time to time, and
b) The container for the hazardous chemical has its original label, and
c) It is reasonably foreseeable that the hazardous chemical will be used in a workplace only in: a quantity and in a way that is consistent with household use and is incidental to the nature of the work carried out by a worker.
This clause does not apply to hazardous chemicals in transit.
This clause does not apply to a hazardous chemical that:
a) Is therapeutic goods within the meaning of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 of the Commonwealth, and
b) Is in a form intended for human consumption, for administration to or by a person or use by a person for therapeutic purposes, and
This clause does not apply to a hazardous chemical that:
a) Is therapeutic goods within the meaning of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 of the Commonwealth, and
b) Is in a form intended for human consumption, for administration to or by a person or use by a person for therapeutic purposes, and
This clause does not apply to a hazardous chemical that:
a) Is therapeutic goods within the meaning of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 of the Commonwealth, and
b) Is in a form intended for human consumption, for administration to or by a person or use by a person for therapeutic purposes, and
c) Is labelled in accordance with that Act or an order made under that Act.
S.338 requires that the supplier of a hazardous chemical must not supply the hazardous chemical to another workplace if the supplier knows or ought reasonably to know that the hazardous chemical is not correctly labelled in accordance with clause 335.
For further guidance please refer to:
WHS Regulation 2011
Preparation of Safety Data Sheets for Hazardous Chemicals Code of Practice
Labelling of Workplace Hazardous Chemicals Code of Practice
Hazardous Substances Information System (HSIS)
The primary duty of care under the WHS Act is owed by a PCBU to a ‘Worker’.
The term ‘Worker’ specifically includes a labour hire worker who has been assigned by one PCBU to work for another.
If your business contracts labour hire workers (Host PCBU) or is an agency which provides services of labour hire workers (Labour Hire PCBU), the WHS Act sets out your specific health and safety obligations.
Both the Host PCBU and the Labour Hire PCBU have individual and shared duties aimed at better protecting the labour hire worker. The duty is to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of labour hire workers engaged by, or whose activities are influenced or directed by the PCBU.
Where this is the case, all duty holders who have a duty in respect of the same matter must consult, cooperate and coordinate with each other so far as is reasonably practicable. (Refer Safe Work Australia – Code of Practice: Work Health and Safety: Consultation, Cooperation and Coordination.)
Host PCBU – Work health and safety duties
As a host PBCU, you have the same health and safety duties to labour hire workers as you do to directly engaged or employed workers. It is your duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of all workers while at work. This duty requires you to eliminate or, if that is not reasonably practicable, to minimise risks to health and safety.
As a host PCBU you must also consult, cooperate and coordinate activities with the labour hire agency to ensure you meet your obligations. The WHS Act specifically provides that you cannot contract out of or transfer your work health safety obligations to another party
When engaging labour hire workers to carry out work, you should:
– Provide the labour hire PCBU with detailed information about the nature of work to be carried out including details of:
– – The work environment
– – Any plant or equipment to be used
– – Organisational and work health and safety arrangements
– – Health and safety risks associated with the work
– – Any skills and knowledge required to safely undertake the work required.
– Verify that the selected worker/s have any necessary qualifications, licences, skills and training to carry out the work safely
– Consult with the labour hire PCBU on general health and safety information about the work, the workplace and work environment and ensure that general health and safety information about the work, workplace and work environment has been provided to the worker/s
– Maintain open communication and consultation methods with the labour hire PCBU and the labour hire worker in relation to health and safety matters. This should include establishing relevant points of contact for health and safety between the organisations as well as agreed means and frequency of communication.
– Provide labour hire workers with a site specific safety induction which would outline specific work health and safety duties they are to comply with, workplace policies and procedures, safe work practices, training requirements etc.
– Provide adequate information, instruction, training and supervision of labour hire workers to ensure that work is being performed safely
Labour Hire PCBU – Work health and safety duties
As a labour hire PBCU, it is your duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers during their placement with a host PCBU. It is your duty to eliminate or, if that is not reasonably practicable, minimise risks to health and safety a labour hire worker may encounter. In some circumstances, this might mean not placing workers in a workplace while you believe there is a risk to their health and safety or where risks have not been adequately controlled.
Before you place labour hire workers, you should:
– Review information about the host PCBU’s safety record and the workplace including the work environment, organisational arrangements, health and safety risks associated with the work and any skills and knowledge the worker will require to safely undertake the work
– Assess the workplace for any risks to health and safety. Where risks are identified,
– consult with the host to ensure they are eliminated, or if that is not reasonably practicable, minimised
– Verify that the host PCBU will provide site-specific and task-specific induction, training and PPE to labour hire workers
– Ensure that workers have the necessary qualifications, licences, skills and training to safely carry out the work
– Ensure the host PCBU obtains your approval prior to transferring a labour hire worker to
– new task
– Consult with the host PCBU and workers to ensure you and the workers understand and are confident in your understanding of the work health and safety policies, procedures and practices of the host PCBU
– Establish communication methods so workers can use to contact you if they consider there is any risk to their health or safety or if the worker is unsatisfied with the host PCBU’s response to a safety concern.
– Ensure workers have the means to identify and take action in an unsafe situation at the host workplace, such as stopping work or bringing it to the attention of the host PCBU or a health and safety representative
– Provide workers with a general work health and safety induction and training covering any risks you have identified in the host workplace and consultation methods you have established with workers and the host PCBU
– Ensure that you have a documented system in place for the management of work health and safety including trained staff.
While your workers are placed with the host PCBU, you should continue to:
– Consult with the host PCBU and labour hire workers on any changes which may affect their health and safety.
– Monitor the workplace for new risks to health and safety and consult with the host PCBU about how they might be addressed. (e.g. regular visits to the host workplace)
– Take effective action when the worker or host PCBU identifies risks or raises concerns about health and safety
– Encourage workers to maintain contact with you and to provide feedback on health and safety matters in the host workplace.
Whether your business contracts labour hire workers (Host PCBU) or is an agency which provides services of labour hire workers (Labour Hire PCBU), you should ensure your workers are aware of their duties, and highlight the duties which are shared between the host PCBU and the labour hire PCBU, and those that are not.
All workers have the same right to expect a safe workplace.
You can obtain further information regarding your duties via your local Work Health and Safety Regulator or directly from Safe Work Australia. (www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au)
Safe Work Australia developed the HAZARDOUS MANUAL TASKS Code of Practice in December 2011 to assist PCBU’s to control the risks associated with hazardous manual tasks – formerly known as manual handling and ergonomics.
Hazardous manual tasks are inherent in most industries and a risk management approach should be adopted by PCBU’s to ensure all hazardous manual tasks and ergonomic hazards are appropriately identified, controlled and reviewed in consultation with workers. Records should be maintained of all assessments, control measures and review processes. Best practice would be to review these at least once every three (3) years or sooner if circumstances dictate.
A key component in the management of hazardous manual tasks is to eliminate where possible or minimise the risk where it cannot be eliminated. The use of mechanical and other aids should be emphasised and recognised as the next option. The PCBU must, so far as is reasonably practicable, achieve risk control by means other than team lifting.
In order to ensure hazardous manual tasks in the workplace are appropriately managed, the following steps as prescribed in the Hazardous Manual Tasks Code of Practice [Safe Work Australia December 2011] must be followed.
1. Identify hazardous manual tasks by:
- Consultation with workers
- Review of information such as workplace injuries/incidents, inspection reports, ergonomic self-assessment checklists and claims data
- Identifying trends or common problems
- Direct observation
Hazardous manual tasks and ergonomics potential hazards will need to be considered when there are:
- Any changes that have resulted in new manual tasks or change in existing tasks
- Tasks involving tools, machinery or equipment that do not work properly or are difficult to use
- The introduction of new or modified plant/tools/equipment
- Redesign, refurbishments or renovation of the work premises and/or environment
- Changes to work practices and/or systems of work
2. Assessment of Risks
When assessing risks, by following the Risk Management Process for Manual Tasks from the Hazardous Manual Tasks Code of Practice [Safe Work Australia December 2011], the PCBU will ensure appropriate risk factors and controls are considered.
During the risk assessment stage, managers in consultation with workers must:
- Evaluate the likelihood and severity/risk of injuries/illnesses occurring in relation to the hazard
- Review available health and safety information relevant to the hazard
- Consider the following risk factors:
a) Repetitive movement – as a general guideline, ‘repetitive’ means a movement or force which is performed more than twice a minute.
b) Sustained or awkward posture – as a general guideline, ‘sustained’ means a posture or force which is held for more than 30 seconds at a time.
c) Duration of the task – as a general guideline, a task of long duration is one which is done for more than a total of 2 hours over a whole shift or continuously for more than 30 minutes at a time.
d) Forces (especially high or sudden forces) exerted by a worker and on the worker e.g. restraining a person.
e) Exposure to vibration e.g. frequent or prolonged use of hand powered tools
- The source of the risk must also be considered. The main sources of risk are the:
a) Work area design and layout e.g. height or work benches
b) Nature, size, weight or number of things handled in performing the manual task
c) Systems of work e.g. pace and flow or work across the shift
d) Environment where the manual task is performed e.g. working in areas where the floor may be slippery
3. Control of Risk
In the first instance, if reasonably practicable, the manual task should be eliminated. If the task cannot be eliminated, the risk should be minimised as far as practicable by:
- Substitution e.g. replace heavy items with those that are lighter
- Isolation e.g. remove worker from vibrating machine by using independent seating
- Engineering e.g. use mechanical aids
When controlling hazardous manual tasks/ergonomic risks, the following should be considered:
a) Changing design or layout of work areas
- Workstation design e.g. adjustable work surfaces
- Working height e.g. tasks involving keyboard use should be performed at just below elbow height
- Working position e.g. avoiding prolonged sitting or standing during task
- Work space e.g. enough space for workers to be able to manoeuvre equipment safely.
b) Changing nature, size, weight or number of items handled
- Handling loads e.g. reducing the size of containers handled
c) Using mechanical aids
Mechanical aids should be:
- Designed to suit the load and the work being performed
- As light as possible
- Easy to use
- Located close to work area
- Be appropriately maintained
- Introduced with appropriate instruction and training
When purchasing equipment to eliminate or minimise hazardous manual tasks, consideration must be given to the design, handling, delivery, storage and vibration specifications as they can all have an impact on the manual/ergonomic task performed.
d) Handling of people
When people are being handled, the controls selected and applied should take into account all of the sources of risks. Controls may include the following:
- No worker should fully lift a person (other than a small infant) unaided i.e. without assistance from equipment, assistive devices or another worker
- A mobility risk assessment: Maximise the person’s ability to assist in the move through the use of appropriate advice, mechanical and/or assistive devices.
- Moving the person to a place that does not constrain the movement of the worker performing the task, for example, using a shower trolley to bathe a patient
- Where handling is required, assessing the needs of the task including the specific type of mechanical aids and personnel needed and planning it in a manner that avoids the hazardous manual task
- Where the use of a hoist requires two or more people provide adequate supervision and resources to eliminate the risk of workers being under time pressure and attempting the task on their own
- Planning how to handle a person attached to medical or other equipment
- Ensuring the location and storage of mechanical aids and assistive devices allows easy access
- Providing training for the safe use of mechanical aids and assistive devices.
e) Changing the system of work
- Workload and pace of work e.g. minimise double handling
- Task designs e.g. take into account range of human capabilities such as age, height and weight
- Resources and support e.g. ensure there is enough equipment which is accessible to workers
f) Changing work environment
- Vibration (whole body and hand/arm) e.g. select appropriate tools to eliminate the need for vibrating equipment
- Cold, heat, humidity and windy conditions e.g. providing fans or air conditioning
- Lighting e.g. increase/decrease number of lights
Administrative controls do not directly address the risk factors for hazardous manual tasks, or the source of those risk factors. This type of control is used to attempt to reduce exposure to the risk. Examples include:
- Job rotation
- Rest breaks
- Team handling
- Information, instruction and training – Training in lifting techniques must not be used as the primary means to control the risks associated with hazardous manual tasks. Ideally workers should participate in competency based hazardous manual tasks and Ergonomic theory and (practical) training relevant to their role. Training should occur at orientation and reinforced annually.
4. Review of Risk control Measures by:
- Consultation with workers on effectiveness of control
- Evaluating/assessing changes in incidents/accidents/injuries and associated costs
- Consultation and discussions with WHS professionals
- Evaluations of effectiveness of information, instruction, supervision and training
Our training satisfies all State WHS Act/Regulation duty of care requirements and State WorkCover Authority Audits. It is ideal for refresher training for health care and aged care workers as well general awareness training for office and warehouse workers.
You are encouraged to visit the Safe Work Australia website and download the Code of Practice for further guidance.
Asbestos is a generic name that is given to a group of fibrous silicate materials that occur naturally in the environment.
- Construction Industry
- Car Manufacturing
- Textile Industry
- Aerospace Industry
- Marine and Rail Transport industries
- Mining or milling asbestos
- Manufacture and repair of goods using raw asbestos fibres, such as brake linings
- Using products containing asbestos, for instance in building and construction, heating, shipyards, power stations, boiler making and plumbing
- Alteration, repair or demolition of buildings or other structures containing asbestos
- work involving the removal of asbestos or ACM (Asbestos containing material)
- Class A asbestos removal work or Class B asbestos removal work as outlined in Part 8.10 of the WHS Regulations.
For all jurisdictions that have adopted the Model WHS Act, Section 19 details the “Primary duty of Care”.
The principal duty holder is a ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’ (PCBU). The PCBU has an absolute duty to take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure the health and safety of workers and other persons impacted by the business or undertaking.
The duties imposed on a PCBU are probably the most significant conceptual change from previous OHS Acts. The change is aimed at ensuring that the WHS Act coverage extends beyond the traditional employer/employee relationship to include new and evolving work arrangements and risks.
The significant reform requires the officers of a PCBU to show leadership with regard to health & safety in order to influence health & safety outcomes and the safety performance of the organisation. Health and safety commitment and leadership from the top levels of the business or undertaking is critical to health and safety outcomes.
The PCBU needs to provide a work environment that is without risk, the provision of appropriate safety resources, provision of safe systems of work, ensuring safe use, handling and storage of plant, structures and substances, provision of adequate facilities for the welfare of workers, provision of information, training, instruction and supervision, and monitoring to ensure prevention of injury and illness.
Officers, including company directors have high level obligations for work health and safety. Officers have a duty to exercise due diligence to make sure that their business or undertaking fulfils its health and safety obligations under the Act. (Section 27- WHS Act). This is a positive duty in that it is allocated to the officer in his or her own right.
A PCBU can show its commitment to actively managing WHS through comprehensive policies and procedures that link directly to the corporate objectives and values whilst complying with legislative requirements.
Policies and procedures should outline WHS responsibilities, the PCBU’s commitment to WHS improvement and include provisions for consultation, cooperation and communication on WHS matters between the PCBU, workers and/ or HSRs.
Managers have a key role in ensuring staff understand policies and procedures and enforcing the standards they set, consistently and fairly. The most important responsibility of managers, and their most valuable contribution to ensuring that the standards set out by policies and procedures are implemented, is to lead by example.
One such policy that links the corporate objectives and values is a ‘Code of Conduct’.
The intent of a Code of Conduct is to provide a framework consistent with the PCBU’s vision, mission and principles to promote ethical day-to-day conduct and decision making. A Code of Conduct cannot cover every possible situation that can arise in a workplace, however it provides general guide.
A Code of Conduct assists with building a positive workplace culture based on the organisation’s core values of collaboration, openness, respect and empowerment. The code is a set of principles that a PCBU defines as necessary for maintaining a safe and ethical work environment.
A Code of Conduct will generally include:
- Introductory message from the PCBU outlining the core values
- Purpose – why do we have a Code
- Scope – Who the Code applies to
- Responsibilities under the Code
- What happens if there is a breach of the Code
- What to do if you are concerned about a breach of the Code
- Protection for people who raise concerns about a breach of the Code
The code would provide details requiring staff to adhere to standards such as:
- Promote a positive work environment
- Work Health and Safety
- Demonstrate honesty and integrity
- Personal and Professional conduct – acting professionally and ethically
- Use official resources lawfully, efficiently and only as authorised
- Maintain the security of confidential and/or sensitive information
- Equal Opportunity
- Acceptance of gifts and benefits
- Conflict of Interest
- Maintain professional relationships with colleagues and clients
Senior management (officers) must model the behaviours of the Code of Conduct if they are to hold the rest of the organisation accountable.
Where a Code of Conduct is in place, there can be no doubts about the standards of ethical and professional conduct that is required of everyone within the PCBU.
Generally the PCBU will require workers to sign a declaration acknowledging they have read and understood the standards of responsibility and ethical conduct outlined in the Code of Conduct.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AlertForce Raises Almost $5000.00 in Charity Auction
POTTS POINT, NSW- Australia’s Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) and environmental training
company, AlertForce (AF) helped raising money for a charitable organisation by auctioning off certified OHS training courses.
Six AlertForce training courses were offered and ALL subsequent proceeds were donated to The Very Special Kids Foundation. Successful participants of the auction will have the opportunity to become; certified, safety-conscious individuals while supporting a good cause. While individuals may typically participate in OHS courses for their safety or the safety of the employee; participants in this auction had the opportunity to help people outside the industry and beyond.
The organisation successfully raises nearly five thousand dollars when they offered the following courses in the auction:
- AlertForce offer the Cert IV in WHS (Online)
- AlertForce offer the Cert IV in WHS (Face-to-Face)
Successful completion of these courses will enable participants to enroll in the BSB41412 Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety. The online method of taking the courses will allow individuals to engage the courses according to their own comfortable pace and convenience. Participants can enroll in this courses for approximately $1400, while the ‘in-person’ option will be available for approximately $1700. The combination of all six-courses represent a value in-excess of $10,000.
Engaging in these courses will benefit participants in the following ways :
- Making a positive change to your life now with instant access
- Creating the best job opportunities for you – with the course that is the future of OHS employment
- Boosting your CV with the bonus online training to the value of $200
- Choosing what’s best for you: accelerated Face-to-Face training or online (distance) learning
- When do you want to start your new job? Pace your training to suit your career goals (Face -to-Face courses must be completed within a 12-month period)
- Recognising and subsequently– enhancing your exisiting knowledge and skills
Each course should take under an hour depending on the individual user and time spent exploring
additional resources. Participants have 5 days to complete the in-person courses and daily lunch meals will be provided.
Brendan Torazzi, the founder of AlertForce says, “I am ecstatic that were able to raise so much through our participation in this charity auction! I feel like it really shows our company’s commitment to helping others — not only in a professional capacity but worldwide as well! ”
AlertForce (http://alertforce.com.au) specialises in delivering fast, competency-based, interactive
short online and face to face OHS & E courses to mitigate risk and health and safety & environmental
hazards in Australian workplaces.
For more information please contact Brendan Torazzi – CEO AlertForce. Ph: 1300 627 246
During 2012 Work Health and Safety changes occurred in most jurisdictions within Australia. We had the introduction of the new Work Health and Safety Act and Regulations 2011 and we also saw the introduction of the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012 – 2022, which replaced the National Occupational Health and Safety Strategy 2002-2012
In 2002 the Workplace Relations Ministers’ Council, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry endorsed the National Occupational Health and Safety Strategy 2002-2012 to provide a framework for a broad range of national activities to improve the health and safety of workers in Australia. The current Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022 builds on the previous National OHS Strategy.
The purpose of the Australian Strategy is to drive key national activities to achieve improvement in Work Health and Safety; it promotes the vision of healthy, safe and productive working lives and sets four outcomes to be achieved by 2022.
Reduced incidents of work-related death, injury and illness achieved by
– Reduced exposure to hazards and risks using
– Improved hazards controls and supported by
– An improved work health and safety infrastructure
In order to achieve the outcomes, a systematic management of risks must occur at the workplace level and a concerted effort be made by duty holders and those who support them.
The Australian Strategy includes national targets and performance indicators that are used to measure the success of national actions. The number and incidence rate of fatalities, injuries and disorders are important indicators of health and safety performance.
The targets to be achieved by 2022 include:
– A reduction in the number of worker fatalities due to injury of at least 20%
– A reduction in the incidence rate of claims resulting in one or more weeks off work of at least 30%, and
– A reduction in the incidence rate of claims for musculoskeletal disorders resulting in one or more weeks off work of at least 30%
1. Health and safety by design – the most effective and durable means of creating a health and safe working environment is to eliminate hazards and risks during the design process.
– Structures, plan and substances are designed to eliminate or minimise hazards and risk before they are introduced into the workplace.
– Work, work processes and systems of work are designed and managed to eliminate or minimise hazards and risks.
2. Supply chains and networks – industry leaders within supply chains and networks need to be champions of health and safety.
– Supply chain and network participants understand their cumulative impact and actively improve the health and safety of the supply chain.
– Commercial relationships within supply chains and networks are used to improve work health and safety.
– Industry leaders champion work health and safety in supply chains and networks.
3. Health and Safety capabilities – Every person requires the capabilities, the knowledge, skills and resources to fulfil their role in relation to work health and safety.
– Everyone in a workplace has the work health and safety capabilities they require
– Those providing work health and safety education, training and advice have the appropriate capabilities
– Inspectors and other staff of work health and safety regulators have the work health and safety capabilities to effectively perform their role.
– Work health and safety skills development is integrated effectively into relevant education and training programs
4. Leadership and Culture – leaders promote positive workplace cultures.
– Communities and their leaders drive improved work health and safety
– Organisational leaders foster a culture of consultation and collaboration which actively improves work health and safety
– Health and safety is given priority in all work processes and decisions
5. Research and evaluation – a nationally-coordinated and cooperative approach is required to promote the efficient and effective use of Australia’s research resources.
– Build a national picture of work health and safety performance
– Evaluation and effectiveness and cost of work health and safety legislative changes.
– Better understand current hazard exposures, the effectiveness of controls, and attitudes towards health and safety.
6. Government – Governments can promote and influence work health and safety with Australian organisations and in the community.
– Work health and safety is actively considered in the development, implementation and evaluation of government policy.
– Governments use their investment and purchasing power to improve work health and safety
– Governments exemplify good work health and safety.
7. Responsive and effective regulatory framework – Regulators are encouraged to work collaboratively.
– Legislation, policies and regulatory practice are reviewed and monitored to ensure they are responsive and effective
– Relationships between regulators and all who have a stake in work health and safety are effective, constructive, transparent and accountable.
Even if your jurisdiction has not adopted the new WHS Act, we encourage you to follow the link to the Safe Work Australia Website for a full copy of the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022. The strategy details the priority industry groups and priority disorders which have been identified as national priorities for prevention activities.
HO! HO! HO! ‘TIS THE SEASON TO BE CAREFUL…..
The Work Christmas Party Is Coming!!!
We all like to think the annual Christmas party is a time to celebrate and reflect on the years’ achievements; however we also need to be aware that these gatherings can be fraught with risks. Some such risks could be physical Work Health and Safety (WHS) risks at venues such as slip, trip and fall hazards, or security, occupational violence, sexual and/or racial harassment, bullying and more broadly for your organisation; reputation risks.
When we look at our legal obligations, the work Christmas party will be considered part of the work environment, and having a connection with the employment of workers, therefore the duty to provide a safe workplace will continue to apply for the duration of the function. This vital point needs to be considered when arranging such events.
Christmas and end of year functions are great for team-building and rewarding staff. However, when workers let their hair down in the spirit of the season – especially when alcohol is involved, anything can happen – and sometimes does!
In the past there have been cases where employers (PCBU) and employees (Workers) have been liable under Work Health and Safety laws for incidents that have occurred at work Christmas parties and other work related functions.
– In South Australia, a worker was injured at a Christmas function at her workplace and was granted Workers’ Compensation
– Four Victorian workers were prosecuted after they were found to be playing around with chemicals at the work Christmas party resulting in one worker receiving severe burns
– In NSW a drunken worker who injured himself after work drinks was granted Workers compensation – the NSW Workers Compensation Commission ruled that socialising with the clients was in the course of his employment.
– A Queensland worker injured her back while helping out at the work Christmas party – she was entitled to compensation as she sustained the injury in the course of her work
This serves as a warning that although Christmas parties are usually outside normal working hours, employers (PCBU’s) are still responsible for the health and safety of their workers.
The rules that apply in the workplace also apply to work functions, including Christmas parties, even if the function takes place off-site. Therefore your policies and procedures relating to discrimination, sexual harassment, drugs and alcohol and Work health and safety still apply.
PCBUs should have up-to-date workplace policies, procedures and a clear complaints resolution process. You may wish to consider a specific code of conduct for work functions, or ensure conduct at work functions is clearly defined in your existing code of conduct, stating that failure to comply with the code can result in a worker facing disciplinary action or losing their job. A simple email reminding staff about appropriate behaviour and responsible alcohol consumption, and attaching the code of conduct document to the party invitation, can be effective.
If you organisation already has appropriate processes in place, you may only need to remind workers of their responsibilities. However if your workplace has in the past, not recognised that work functions carry risks; although leaving it very late, you should assess your proposed function and venue now.
PCBUs have a duty of care under the WHS legislation for their workers and that duty extends to the Christmas party or at other work related functions whether or not they are held off-site or on-site.
As an employer (PCBU), you need to perform a risk assessment. You must identify the hazards, assess the risks and implement controls and you need to be able to show you conducted your due diligence in keeping the risks as low as reasonably practicable.
– Risk Assessment – Inspect the site (venue) – document a risk assessment that identifies all foreseeable hazards and their defined controls.
– Manage Alcohol – Excessive alcohol consumption is a major contributing factor to dangerous and inappropriate behaviours and is always a key risk – ensure that there are non-alcoholic alternatives. Even if your workplace does not provide alcohol at the function and patrons purchase drinks, you must ensure that consumption is managed.
– Remind workers of their obligations and your expectations regarding responsible behaviour – reinforce policies and procedures regarding WHS, EEO and your company’s Code of Conduct.
– Provide food – less alcohol will be consumed if a meal or finger food is provided.
– Set reasonable start and finish times for the event.
– Supervise the event – ensure someone is supervising the event. This person should monitor safety hazards such as slip trip and fall hazards, wet floors etc., and monitor behaviour, including alcohol consumption.
– Travel – how will your workers travel to and from the event? Some organisations provide Cab vouchers; provide a courtesy bus or other transport means. Do not allow workers to drive home from the event if they have been consuming alcohol. Discuss this with workers prior to the event to allow them to make arrangements for collection etc. If transport is provided by the PCBU this can be included as a control measure in your risk assessment.
While we are looking at the Christmas party, the same risk management approach should be taken all year round for all work functions. Organisations need to look at their risk management programs to ensure that control measures, policies and procedures can effectively manage these risks.
This process needs to be ongoing to enforce safe behaviours and a safety culture all year round both at the workplace and at work related functions.
Wishing you all a very Safe and Happy Festive Season
- substitute the hazard with plant or processes that are quieter
- modify plant and processes to reduce the noise using engineering controls
- Isolate the source of noise from people by using distance, barriers, enclosures and sound-absorbing surfaces.
- those workers who may be exposed to hazardous noise or other agents that may contribute to hearing loss
- their managers and supervisors workplace health and safety committees and health and safety representatives
- the health and safety responsibilities of each party at the workplace
- how hearing can be affected by exposure to noise
- the detrimental effects hearing loss and tinnitus have on the quality of life, both at work and socially
The following table lists some common noise sources and their typical sound levels which can be used to compare whether noise in the workplace sounds as loud as, or louder than the 85dB(A)
Legal Limits for Noise
- Exceed an eight hour noise level equivalent of 85 dB – Whether the exposure standard of 85 dB(A) averaged over eight hours is exceeded depends on the level of noise involved and how long the workers are exposed to it.
- Peak at more than 140 dB – Peak noise levels greater than 140 dB(C) usually occur with impact or explosive noise such as sledge-hammering or a gun shot. Any exposure above this peak can create almost instant damage to hearing.
- competent person
- industrial association, insurance company or risk assessor, or
- Acoustical consultant
- when the risks arising from exposure to noise cannot be eliminated or minimised by other more effective control measures, as an interim measure until other control measures are implemented
- where extra protection is needed above what has been achieved using other noise control measures.
FIRST AID FACILITIES
A risk assessment will assist in determining the type of first aid facilities. This could simply be a quiet, clean and private area within a workplace or it may identify that a first aid room or a health centre is required in certain workplaces.
A First Aid Room is recommended for:
Low risk workplaces with 200 or more workers
High risk workplaces with 100 workers or more
The contents of the first aid room should suit the hazards that are specific to the workplace.
A Health Centre located at a workplace is staffed by a registered health practitioner such as a doctor, nurse or paramedic and is equipped to provide emergency medical treatment to cater for the types of hazards in high risk workplaces such as a large mine site.
EYE WASH AND SHOWER EQUIPMENT
Eye wash and shower equipment may be permanently fixed or portable, depending on the workplace. Eye wash equipment should be provided where there is a risk of hazardous chemicals or infectious substances causing eye injuries.
A PCBU must ensure that an adequate number of workers are trained to administer first aid at the workplace or that workers have access to an adequate number of other people who have been trained to administer first aid.
As a minimum, the following ratios are recommended regarding the number of first aiders.
Low risk workplaces – one first aider for every 50 workers
High risk workplaces – one first aider for every 25 workers
FIRST AID TRAINING
First aiders should hold nationally recognised Statement/s of Attainment issued by a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) for the nationally endorsed first aid unit/s of competency.
Apply First Aid provides competencies required to recognise and respond to common life-threatening injuries or illnesses, including life-support using cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and to manage the casualty and incident until the arrival of medical or other assistance. In low risk workplaces, first aiders are sufficiently trained if they can perform CPR and treat minor illnesses and injuries.
Apply Advanced First Aid – provides additional competencies required to apply advanced first aid procedures. This type of training is suitable for some high risk workplaces.
Manage First Aid in the Workplace (Occupational First Aid) – provides competencies required to apply advanced first aid procedures and to manage a first aid room.
Provide First Aid in Remote Situations – provides the competencies required to administer first aid in a remote and/or isolated situation, including preparing for aero-medical evacuation. This type of training is suitable for high risk workplaces that are likely to have a major delay in accessing emergency services.
First aiders should attend training on a regular basis to refresh their first aid knowledge and skills and to confirm their competence to provide first aid. Refresher training in CPR should be undertaken annually and first aid qualifications should be renewed every three years.
First aiders may also need to undertake additional first aid training to respond to specific situations at their workplace. For example, first aiders should be trained to respond to anaphylaxis if this topic has not been covered in previous first aid training.
In Summary, you should:
- Develop and implement emergency plans and first aid procedures to ensure that workers have a clear understanding of how emergencies and first aid is managed in their workplace.
- Regularly review your first aid arrangements in consultation with your workers to ensure they remain adequate and effective.
- Ensure that your first aiders remain appropriately trained
- Regularly check the contents of all first aid kits
- Maintain first aid treatment records in a confidential manner
- Display well recognised First Aid signs to assist workers and other persons easily locating first aid equipment and facilities.
Further information and guidance is available in:
First Aid in the Workplace – Code of Practice
Work Health and Safety Consultation, Cooperation and Coordination – Code of Practice
Managing the Work Environment and Facilities – Code of Practice
AS1319 – Safety Signs for the Occupational Environment
AS4775 – Emergency Eye Wash and Shower Equipment
In July 2012 the First Aid in the Workplace – Code of Practice was approved under section 274 of the WHS Act. The approved code of practice is a practical guide to achieving the standards of health, safety and welfare required under the WHS Act and the WHS Regulations
Codes of Practice (COP) are admissible in court proceedings under the WHS Act and WHS Regulations. Courts may regard a COP as evidence of what is known about a hazard, risk or control and may rely on the COP in determining what is reasonably practicable in the circumstances to which the code relates.
An inspector may refer to an approved code of practice when issuing an improvement or prohibition notice
Under the WHS Act a PCBU has the primary duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that workers and other persons are not exposed to health and safety risks arising from the business or undertaking.
The WHS Regulations place specific obligations on a PCBU in relation to first aid,
- Provide first aid equipment and ensure each worker at the workplace has access to the equipment
- Ensure access to facilities for the administration of first aid
- Ensure that an adequate number of workers are trained to administer first aid at the workplace or that workers have access to an adequate number of other people who have been trained to administer first aid
A PCBU may not need to provide first aid equipment or facilities if these are already
provided by another duty holder at the workplace and they are adequate and easily
accessible at all times that the workers carry out work.
Officers have a duty to exercise due diligence to ensure that the PCBU complies
with the WHS Act and WHS Regulations. Officers must take reasonable steps to
ensure that the PCBU uses appropriate resources and processes to eliminate or
minimise risks to health and safety.
Likewise, workers have a duty to take reasonable care for their own health and
safety and must not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons. Workers
must comply with any reasonable instruction and cooperate with any reasonable
policy or procedures relating to health and safety at the workplace, such as
procedures for first aid and for reporting injuries and illnesses.
Providing immediate and effective first aid to workers or others who have been
injured or become ill at the workplace may reduce the severity of the injury or illness
and promote recovery. In some cases it could mean the difference between life and
DETERMINING THE FIRST AID REQUIREMENTS FOR YOUR WORKPLACE
The first aid requirements will vary from one workplace to another, depending on
the nature of the work, the type of hazards associated, the size and location, as
well as the number of people at the workplace. You need to use a risk management
approach to tailor first aid that suits the circumstances of your workplace, while also
providing the appropriate number of first aid kits, ensuring the contents of the first aid
kits and the number of trained first aiders is appropriate.
Is your workplace a high risk workplace where workers are exposed to hazards
that could result in serious injury or illness and would require first aid? Examples
where workplaces may be considered high risk are ones in which workers:
- Use hazardous machinery (e.g. mobile plant, chainsaws, power presses and lathes)
- Use hazardous substances (e.g. chemical manufacture, laboratories, horticulture, petrol stations and food manufacturing)
- Are at risk of falls that could result in serious injury (e.g. construction and stevedoring)
- Carry out hazardous forms of work (e.g. working in confined spaces, welding, demolition, electrical work and abrasive blasting)
- Are exposed to the risk of physical violence (e.g. working alone at night, cash handling and having customers who are frequently physically aggressive)
- Work in or around extreme heat or cold (e.g. foundries and prolonged outdoor work in extreme temperatures)
A low risk workplace is a workplace where workers are not exposed to hazards that
could result in serious injury or illness such as offices, shops or libraries. Potential
work related injuries and illnesses requiring first aid would be minor in nature.
Using a risk management approach, you need to:
- Identify hazards that could result in work-related injury or illness
- Assess the type, severity and likelihood of injuries and illness (reviewing accident and injury data can assist in this process)
Consult with your workers and other business operators within the workplace if you
share your workplace with other businesses to work out what first aid arrangements
are needed, such as:
- The number, location and contents of first aid kits and other equipment
- The type of first aid facilities that may be needed
- First aid procedures
- The number of first aiders
Certain work environments have greater risks of injury or illness due to the nature
of work being carried out and the nature of the hazards at the workplace. For
example, factories, motor vehicle workshops, and forestry operations have a
greater risk of injury that would require immediate medical treatment than low risk
environments such as offices. Therefore high risk work places require different first
- The size and location of the workplace also needs to be considered.
- The distance between different work areas
- The response times for emergency services
The number and composition of workers and other people at the workplace also
needs to be taken into account. When considering your workforce, you should also
include any contractors, subcontractors, and volunteers that you engage. You should
also consider any particular needs of workers who have a disability or a known
A large workplace may require first aid to be available in more than one location.
First aid equipment and facilities should be located at convenient points and in areas
where there is a higher risk of injury or illness occurring.
In minimising the risks to health and safety associated with remote or isolated areas,
you must provide a system of work that includes effective communication with the
worker. This would assist in enabling an immediate emergency response.
Now that we are well into 2012 and the new Work Health and Safety laws which
introduced the role of Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) in N.S.W., we
thought we would cover Health & Safety Representatives (HSRs) in more details.
If a worker makes a request to the PCBU to facilitate the conduct of an election to
appoint HSRs, then the PCBU must facilitate the determination of one or more work
A work group is determined by consultation between the PCBU and the workers
who will form the work group. Negotiations in relation to work groups must be
commenced within 14 days of a request for elections. The PCBU must notify workers
of the outcome of the negotiations as soon as practicable. If there is a failure in the
negotiation process, any person can request an inspector to attend and resolve the
Election of HSRs
A worker is eligible to be elected as a HSR if he/she is a member of the work group.
The new legislation also allows for Deputy HSRs to be elected.
The workers in a work group determine how an election of an HSR is to be
conducted and the PCBU must provide resources, facilities and assistance that
would be reasonably necessary or prescribed to enable elections to be conducted.
All workers in a work group are entitled to vote. Although an election is not required if
the number of candidates equal the number of HSR vacancies.
The term of office for a HSR is 3 years unless they resign, cease to be a worker in
the work group, or are disqualified or removed by the majority of the work group
Health and safety representatives (HSRs) are entitled to:
represent workers in health and safety matters;
monitor the measures taken by the PCBU;
investigate complaints relating to health and safety; and
enquire into anything that appears to be a risk to health or safety.
To date, WorkCover NSW has developed two approved HSR training courses. A 5-
Day Initial HSR Course and for 2012, a 1-Day Bridging course which is available for
all HSR’s who have previously attended the OHS 4-day Consultation Course.
PCBUs must allow HSRs to attend an approved course if the HSR requests training.
The PCBU must pay the course fees and allow HSRs the time to attend the training
and must also pay the HSR their normal pay during any time off to attend the
Powers of HSRs
inspect the workplace or any part of the workplace after giving the PCBU
reasonable notice, or immediately without notice if an incident involves
serious risks to the health and safety of any person;
accompany an inspector during an inspection;
be present at an interview concerning safety with an inspector and a worker
request that a health and safety committee be established; and
request the assistance of any person, including a union delegate, whenever
Additional powers apply to HSRs who have attended the approved training:
HSRs have the power to direct any unsafe work to cease. This is limited to
directing workers in their own work group unless the HSR for another work group
is unavailable and there is a serious risk to health or safety or a member of that
group asks for their assistance.
HSRs may also issue provisional improvement notices (PIN). A PIN is a
notice requiring the PCBU to remedy, in the opinion of the HSR, a breach of the
WHS laws. It can only be issued after consulting with the PCBU first.
Note: If a PIN has been issued and the PCBU wishes to have the PIN reviewed
by an inspector, the PCBU can request a review. If no request for review is
made, the PIN must be complied with. Failure to comply with the PIN can result in
PCBU duties in relation to HSRs
A PCBU must:
- consult on safety matters with any HSR;
- allow any HSR to have access to information relating to health and safety;
- allow the HSR to be present in interviews;
- provide any resources, facilities and assistance that is reasonably necessary;
- allow a person assisting an HSR to have access to the workplace; and
- permit a HSR to accompany an inspector and allow a HSR to spend such time as is reasonably necessary to exercise their powers and functions.
For further information, Safe Work Australia has developed the ‘Worker
Representation and Participation Guide’.
PCBU & Officers – Duty Holders Further Explained
Primary Duty of Care
The Primary Duty of Care belongs to the person conducting a business or
undertaking (PCBU) as set out in Section 19 of the WHS Act. It requires duty holders
to ensure that, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers
engaged or caused to be engaged by the person and workers whose activities are
influenced or directed by the PCBU are not put at risk.
This duty includes:-
the provision and maintenance of a safe work environment,
the provision and maintenance of safe plant, structures and systems of work;
the provision of adequate facilities and the provision of any information,
training, instruction and/or supervision that is necessary to protect persons
from risks to their health and safety arising from work carried out as part of the
business or undertaking.
The primary duty of care also requires a PCBU to ensure, so far as is reasonably
practicable, that the health and safety of other persons is not put at risk from work
carried out as part of the conduct of the business or undertaking.
A ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’ and a ‘worker’ are broadly defined.
A person conducts a business or undertaking whether they conduct the business or
undertaking alone or with others and whether or not it is conducted for profit. Sub-
contractors and self-employed persons would be considered to be conducting a
business or undertaking and as such a sub-contractor would be both a worker and a
PCBU for the purposes of the WHS Act.
A ‘worker’ includes employees, a contractor or sub-contractor, an employee of a
contractor or sub-contractor, an employee of a labour hire company, an outworker,
an apprentice or trainee, a student gaining work experience and volunteers.
The application of Section 19 of the WHS Act means that all workers are owed
exactly the same primary duty of care. This is the case regardless of how they are
employed or engaged and irrespective of whether or not they are a duty holder in
their own right and they in turn owe a primary duty to their workers (i.e. Contractors
and their workers)
The primary duty of care in the WHS Act is subject to the qualifier ‘so far as is
reasonably practicable’. Section 18 of the WHS defines ‘reasonably practicable’.
In the WHS Act, reasonably practicable, in relation to a duty to ensure health and
safety, means that, which is or was at a particular time, reasonably able to be done
in relation to ensuring health and safety, taking into account and weighing up all
relevant matters including:
the likelihood of a hazard or the risk concerned occurring, and
the degree of harm that might result from the hazard or risk, and
what the person concerned knows, or ought reasonably to know, about:
o the hazard or risk, and
o ways of eliminating or minimising the risk, and
the availability and suitability of ways to eliminate or minimise the risk, and
after assessing the extent of the risk and the available ways of eliminating or
minimising the risk, the cost associated with available ways of eliminating or
minimising the risk, including whether the cost is grossly disproportionate to
From this definition, we can see that to take reasonably practicable steps involves
gathering the above information and using that information to determine what steps
can be taken to remove or reduce health and safety risks. You are then required to
take those steps unless the cost would be grossly disproportionate to the risk.
A PCBU’s officers must take reasonable steps to ensure that the PCBU is
complying with its duties, in particular that the PCBU is taking all reasonably
practicable steps to eliminate or minimise risks. In order to do this, an officer must
have the relevant knowledge and understanding of the above matters to make the
relevant decision or action (to meet their due diligence requirements).
Officers taking reasonably practicable steps…
What are considered reasonable steps for a particular officer will depend on the
specific circumstances of that officer, i.e. the role and influence able to be exercised
by that officer. Again, it is a question of what the officer is reasonably able to do at
Where officers sometimes rely on information from other people and the activities of
others, the officer must be able to demonstrate that this reliance is reasonable – this
could be achieved through testing of the information and/or advice they receive to
ensure it is appropriate.
There are some challenges in demonstrating compliance with these duties.
Key points in determining what is reasonable is
Ensure you have gathered all the information upon which you can make an
educated and informed decision about the particular situation.
Ensure that the information gathered is accurate and you are able to
demonstrate that consultation with the appropriate people in the business has
occurred which helped form the decisions made.
OHS for VISITORS, VOLUNTEERS & VOLUNTEER ORGANISATIONS
Since the introduction of the new Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws, there has
been some confusion about the responsibilities of visitors and volunteers.
This summary may help to clear up any misunderstanding or confusion in relation to
visitors and volunteers.
Most importantly, a PCBU whose activities include the management or control
of workplaces, fixtures, fittings and plant must ensure, so far as is reasonably
practicable, that the workplace and anything arising out of it are without risks to
health and safety
Duties under the WHS Act now include ‘Others’ – a visitor to your workplace falls
under this category.
Visitors, clients, customers, friends and family at a workplace all have work health
and safety (WHS) responsibilities and must:
Comply with any reasonable work health and safety instructions at the
Take reasonable care to not put themselves or others at risk.
A visitor to your business’ workplace must take reasonable care for their own health
and safety at the workplace and take reasonable care that their conduct does not
adversely affect the health and safety of others at the workplace.
Visitors must comply, so far as they reasonably are able to, with any reasonable
instructions given by your business.
Visitors can be prosecuted for a breach of this duty.
Duty owed to visitors
It is important to remember that as a PCBU, you have a duty to anyone who is at
your place of business – If they’re on your premises – YOU have safety obligations.
No ifs or buts.
Just like your workers, you have to ensure that so far as is reasonably practicable,
that the workplace and anything arising out of it are without risks to health and
VOLUNTEERS AND VOLUNTEER ASSOCIATIONS
Not all volunteering activities and organisations are subject to the new WHS laws.
Only volunteer organisations that employ paid staff are subject to the work health
and safety laws. Organisations that are ‘volunteer associations’ are not covered by
the new work health and safety laws.
If you are a volunteer, or the association you manage includes volunteers, you
should be aware of the following:
A volunteer means a person who is acting on a voluntary basis, irrespective of
whether the person receives payment for out-of-pocket expenses. Payments for
direct out of pocket expenses, such as travel, meals and incidentals, incurred directly
when carrying out volunteer work are not regarded as wages or salary.
However, payments for carrying out volunteer work would constitute a wage or
salary and mean that the person is not a volunteer.
Volunteers who carry out work for PCBUs are required to take reasonable care for
their own health and safety and not to create risks to others. Like any other duty
holders who do not comply with their duties under the WHS Act, workers, including
volunteer workers, can be prosecuted for failing to comply with their duties.
As a volunteer you have the same duties as ‘workers’ to take reasonable care for
health and safety.
Duty owed to volunteers
It is important to remember that volunteers are owed health and safety duties under
the WHS Act if they carry out work for a PCBU. Therefore if your business is a PCBU
that utilises volunteers, it will owe the same duty to volunteer workers as it does to
Workers Compensation and Insurance for Volunteers
The WHS Act does not address workers’ compensation for any workers, volunteers
or otherwise. Workers’ Compensation is regulated by separate Commonwealth, state
and territory legislation. Just because you’re a ‘worker’ for the purposes of the WHS
laws does not mean you’re a ‘worker’ for workers’ compensation laws.
The WHS legislation does not require volunteers to take out their own personal
accident or public liability insurance. It is the duty of the volunteer organisation (in
essence the PCBU) to obtain or retain such insurance for volunteers.
Volunteer Directors and Officers of a PCBU
A volunteer who is an officer of a PCBU must exercise due diligence which means
taking reasonable steps to ensure the PCBU is complying with its duties.
For example, a volunteer officer serving on the board of a PCBU such as a not for
profit organisation is considered an officer of that organisation. As an officer, they
must exercise due diligence to ensure the organisation complies with its work health
and safety duties.
A volunteer officer cannot be prosecuted for failing to comply with their officer duties
under the WHS Act. This immunity from prosecution is designed to ensure that
voluntary participation at the officer level is not discouraged.
A volunteer officer can however, be prosecuted in their capacity as a worker if they
fail to meet their duties as a worker.
A volunteer association is a group of volunteers, working together for one or
more community purposes, that has no employees. It may be an incorporated or
Volunteer associations without paid workers do not have WHS duties for their
volunteers under the WHS Act as they are not considered a PCBU. For example,
a local sporting association that coaches or referees a junior sports match on a
Saturday morning does not have WHS duties if it does not employ the coaches or
Volunteer associations are excluded from the definition of a PCBU for the purposes
of the Act. Because of that fact, there cannot be any ‘officer’ (as defined under the
new laws) as there is no PCBU. So if a person holds a voluntary position in which he
or she leads a volunteer association, he or she will not be an ‘officer’ under the WHS
If the association, or one of its volunteers, employs someone then the association
will not be a volunteer association for the purpose of the exemption. Rather, the
association will be a PCBU and have duties of care imposed on it.
Emergency Services Organisations
Emergency service organisations previously owed general duties to their
workers and others under the former OH&S legislation. The new WHS laws
do not alter those duties. The ability of emergency services to respond to
incidents will not be affected as long as they continue to ensure, so far as is
reasonably practicable, the health and safety of their workers and others.
The primary health and safety duty under the new WHS laws is placed on
PCBUs. Emergency service organisations are PCBUs. Therefore emergency
services have a duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health
and safety of their workers and others.
Under the new WHS laws, volunteer emergency service workers who carry
out work for a PCBU are ‘workers’. This means they have the same duties as
paid workers. It also means they have a duty to exercise reasonable care in
carrying out their work.
Safe Work Australia have produced a Volunteer Assistance Package to assist
volunteers, volunteer associations and PCBU’s in understanding duties owed to and
The package can be downloaded here: http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/
This month we are looking at requirements for notifying serious and/or dangerous incidents
to WorkCover. We will cover:
What is a serious injury or illness
What is a dangerous incident
Who has to report
When to report
How to report
The focus of the WHS Legislation in relation to incident notification is that PCBUs are
required to notify WorkCover of incidents that are serious and/or dangerous in nature.
If a death, serious injury or dangerous incident occurs at your workplace, you may be legally
required to notify WorkCover NSW about what has happened.
A PCBU must notify WorkCover of a Notifiable incident immediately after becoming aware
An incident has occurred
That is has arisen out of the conduct of the PCBU’s business or undertaking
Incident notification and inspections
Notification of an incident is a statutory obligation outlined in section 35 of the WHS Act.
Timely incident notification informs WorkCover about current and potential health and
safety issues and whether or not to conduct an inspection. Specific incidents types requiring
notification are outlined under sections 36 & 37 of the WHS Act.
Notification must be made by the fastest possible means, which in NSW would be by
phoning 13 10 50.
Note: For after-hours notification the 13 10 50 number will provide details for you to
be transferred to WorkCover’s after-hours emergency service.
The duty to notify sits with the PCBU and is not transferable; more than one PCBU may
concurrently have a duty to submit an incident notification to WorkCover regarding the same
safety incident. The PCBU may arrange for another entity or person to submit notifications
on their behalf. This could be:
The person with management or control of the workplace
The supervisor of the injured worker
Any other person with identified responsibility to notify
Any failure by that person or entity to submit a notification on behalf of the PCBU may result
in liability for a breach of section 38 of the WHS Act accruing to the PCBU which holds the
duty to notify.
Serious Injury or Illness
Section 36 of the WHS Act states that a serious injury or illness of a person is an injury or
illness requiring the person to have:
Immediate treatment as an inpatient in a hospital
Immediate treatment for:
o The amputation of any part of their body
o A serious head injury
o A serious eye injury
o A serious burn
o The separation of their skin from an underlying tissue (such as de-gloving or
o A spinal injury
o The loss of a bodily function
o Serious lacerations
Medical treatment within 48 hours of exposure to a substance
The following prescribed illnesses
o Any infection to which the carrying out of work is a significant contributing
factor, and the infection can be reliably attributable to carrying out work:
That involves providing treatment or care of a person
That involves contact with human blood or body substances
That involves handling or contact with animals, animal hides, skins,
wool or hair, animal carcasses or animal waste products.
The following occupational zoonoses contracted in the course of work involving the handling
or contact with animals, animal hides, skins, wool or hair, animal carcasses or animal waste
Section 37 of the WHS Act sets out that a dangerous incident is an incident in relation to a
workplace that exposes a worker or any other person to a serious risk to a person’s health
and safety emanating from an immediate or imminent exposure to:
An uncontrolled escape, spillage or leakage of a substance
An uncontrolled implosion, explosion or fire
An uncontrolled escape of gas or steam
An uncontrolled escape of a pressurised substance
The fall or release from a height of any plant, substance or thing – this includes falls
into open trenches or pits by people
The collapse, overturning, failure or malfunction of, or damage to, any plant that is
required to be authorised for use in accordance with the regulations
The collapse or partial collapse of a structure
The collapse or failure of an excavation or any shoring supporting an excavation
The inrush of water, mud or gas in workings, in an underground excavation or tunnel
The interruption of the main system of ventilation in an underground excavation or
Preserving the site
The person with management or control of a workplace at which a Notifiable incident has
occurred must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the site where the incident
occurred is NOT disturbed (unless that disturbance is for a ‘prescribed reason’- see below),
until a WorkCover inspector arrives at the site, or directs otherwise (whichever is earlier).
The site includes any plant, substance, structure or thing associated with the Notifiable
incident. This duty is designed to preserve any evidence that may assist an inspector to
determine the cause of the incident.
A ‘prescribed reason’ can include one of the following circumstances to take action for an
incident site to be disturbed:
To assist an injured person
To remove a deceased person
To make the site safe or to minimise the risk of a further Notifiable incident
To facilitate a police investigation
A WorkCover inspector has given permission – a direction that a site may be
disturbed may be given in person or by telephone
Section 38 of the WHS Act requires a PCBU to keep a record of each Notifiable incident
for at least five (5) years from the date WorkCover was notified. Penalties of up to $25,000
apply for failing to do so.
WorkCover NSW has produced a ‘Guide to Work Health and Safety Incident Notification’
which provides practical guidance on how to decide whether you need to notify WorkCover
of an injury, illness or dangerous incident under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
If a serious injury or illness or a significant incident has occurred at your workplace and
you are unsure if it requires reporting, we recommend you contact WorkCover as soon as
practicable for clarification on 13 10 50.
WHS Act 2011 – Sections 14, 16, 35, 36, 37, 38, & 39
WHS Regulation 2011 – Clause 699 (part 11.3)
WorkCover Publication – (Catalogue No. WC03621) – Guide to Work Health and Safety
Welcome to AlertForce’s third monthly newsletter. In our very first newsletter for
2012 we asked the question – Are you prepared for WHS Consultation, co-
operation and co-ordination on safety and welfare issues?
This month’s newsletter focuses on establishing workgroups, electing Health &
Safety Representatives (HSRs) and establishing Health & Safety Committees
To recap, the WHS Act specifies consultation is required in relation to the following
health and safety matters:
When identifying hazards and assessing risk to health and safety arising from
the work carried out or to be carried out by the business or undertaking
When making decisions about ways to eliminate or minimise those risks,
When making decisions about the adequacy of facilities for the welfare of
When proposing changes that may affect the health and safety or workers
When making decisions about the procedures for:
o Consulting with workers, or
o Resolving work health or safety issues at the workplace, or
o Monitoring the health of workers, or
o Monitoring the conditions at any workplace under the management or
control of the PCBU, or
o Providing information and training for workers, or
o When carrying out any other activity prescribed by the regulation for
the purposed of this section.
To facilitate the consultation with your workers, you should engage them in helping
to decide what would be the most effective way your business can consult with your
workers. Who better to ask, than the workers themselves?
If a request is made for a HSR, the PCBU (includes employer) must facilitate the
determination of one or more work groups of workers.
Work groups are workers represented by a health and safety representative (HSR).
Usually these workers perform similar types of work and have similar health and
safety concerns and conditions within the workplace.
Work groups allow workers’ interests to be represented effectively and conveniently.
Decisions about establishing work groups must be made by consultation and
agreement between the PCBU and the relevant workers. When agreement on the
work group/s has been reached, the PCBU must notify the workers of the outcome of
Request for election for a Health and Safety Representative (HSR)
A worker who carries out work for a PCBU may ask the PCBU to facilitate the
conduct of an election for one or more HSRs to represent workers.
When agreement on the number and type of work groups to be represented has
been reached along with the number of HSRs (and deputy HSRs if applicable),
the PCBU must provide any reasonable resources, facilities and help to enable an
election to be conducted.
After the nominations have been called, an election can be conducted. The members
of the work group can determine the election procedure however, there are minimum
requirements prescribed in the Work Health and Safety Regulations. These
procedures include that the person conducting the election ensures:
Each PCBU in which a worker in the work group works is informed of the
election date as soon as practicable after the date is determined
All workers in the work group being given an opportunity to:
o nominate for the position of HSR
o vote in the election
All workers in the workgroup and all relevant PCBUs are informed of the
outcome of the election.
A PCBU must not unreasonably delay the election of an HSR.
Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs)
The role of a HSR is to facilitate the flow of information about health and safety
between the PCBU and the workers in their work group.
The powers and functions of a HSR are to:-
Represent workers in a work group on work health & safety (WHS)matters
Monitor WHS actions taken by the PCBU
Investigate WHS complaints from workers of the work group
Look into anything that might be a risk to the WHS of the workers they
If the HSR has completed approved HSR training, they can exercise additional
To direct unsafe work to stop when they have a reasonable concern that
carrying out the work would expose a worker to a serious risk
To issue a ‘Provisional Improvement Notice’ (PIN) when they reasonably
believe there is a contravention of the WHS Act.
Health and Safety Committees
Health and safety committees bring together workers and management to assist in
the development and review of health and safety policies and procedures for the
The functions of the health and safety committee are:
• To facilitate co-operation between the PCBU and workers in instigating,
developing and carrying out measures designed to ensure the health and
safety of workers
• To assist in developing standards, rules and procedures relative to health and
• Such other functions prescribed by the regulations or agreed between the
PCBU and the committee i.e. monitor progress of your WHS Action Plan,
monitor hazards inspections, monitor incident records etc.
The effective operation of a health and safety committee is dependent upon
everyone fulfilling their role.
A health and safety committee (HSC) must meet at least every three months and at
any reasonable time when requested by at least half the members of the committee.
Establishment of health and safety committees
The PCBU must establish a health and safety committee within two months after
being requested to do so by:
• A health and safety representative (HSR), or
• Five or more workers at the workplace.
A health and safety committee may be established for workers who carry out work at
one or more locations or for those who do not have a fixed place of work.
A PCBU can also establish a health and safety committee on their own initiative.
The constitution of the health and safety committee may be agreed to between
the PCBU, HSR and workers at the workplace. If agreement is not reached within a
reasonable time, any party may ask WorkCover to appoint an inspector to decide the
Health and safety committee membership
The makeup of the committee can be agreed to between the workers and the PCBU.
The PCBU can only nominate up to half of the members.
A HSR is a member of the committee if they consent. If there are two or more HSRs
at a workplace, then they can choose one or more who consent to be members of
Other Agreed Arrangements
Other agreed arrangements are flexible alternatives for establishing
agreed consultation arrangements that meet your business needs and improve
decision making, especially where there is no health and safety representative
(HSR) or health and safety committee (HSC).
Some examples of ‘Other Agreed Arrangements’ could include:
regular scheduled meetings
team meetings (where work health and safety is always an agenda item)
tool box talks
face to face discussions
Some workplaces may need a mix of HSRs, HSCs and / or other agreed
consultation arrangements tailored to suit the workers and the work environment.
More detailed information can be accessed via the Work health and safety
consultation, cooperation and coordination Code of Practice.
Welcome to AlertForce’s first monthly newsletter which will focussing on OHS
Harmonisation. This will give you a snapshot of the major issues at hand.
1. WHS Consultation
Are you prepared for WHS legislation consultation, co-operation and co-
ordination requirements? What’s changed?
It could be said that nothing has changed and workplaces have always been
required to consult, co-ordinate and co-operate on safety and welfare issues.
Key differences from 1 January 2012 are:
• The positive and holistic approach to participation by all workers in
health and safety matters; and
• Business (or PCBUs) must consult, so far as is reasonably practicable,
with workers who carry out work for the business and who are, or are
likely to be, directly affected by a health and safety matter.
The approach to effective consultation will differ for each workplace, but
the time to plan for and achieve this should not be underestimated. See
the AlertForce website for a checklist to help you develop your consultation
strategy. Visit at alertforce.com.au/ohs-harmonisation-checklist
Businesses of all shapes and sizes should undertake a detailed analysis of:
• Do we interact with and do business with other WHS duty holders?
• Who needs to be consulted?
• How do we currently consult with each stakeholder or group?
• Are the current consultation mechanisms effective? Has our safety
management system improved under our current practices?
• Are our workers, health and safety representatives and committee
members competent at consulting, co-ordinating and co-operating on
work health and safety matters?
• What internal and external resources and support services do we have
to achieve compliance?
• Who has responsibility for developing / improving and implementing
our consultation mechanisms?
• Do we have consultation and communication charter and standards?
• How will the effectiveness of our consultative arrangements be
2. Transition arrangements – Yes or no?
Safe Work Australia (SWA) developed transition principles for the Model Act
and Regulations. What does this mean in practical terms, particularly the
Regulations Principle A – “where a duty under the model WHS Regulations is
the same or very similar and has the same critical elements as a duty under
pre-harmonised regulations, the WHS Regulation should apply immediately”
(each set of principles are at the SWA website)?
The application of the transition principles is unclear, so in the best interest
of your business, we recommend that you plan for a commencement date of
1 January 2012. This will also help to maintain the momentum many of you
have already generated.
3. ‘Harmonised’ Resources
The main object of the WHS Act is “to provide for a balanced and nationally
consistent framework to secure the health and safety of workers and
In keeping with this approach, Codes of Practice and other guidance material
are underway. The best of existing Codes of Practice and other documents
and are being further improved and developed into national guidance
The first round of Codes are very close to finalisation and available from Safe
Work Australia. Follow the progress of these and other material at the SWA
website (safeworkaustralia.gov.au/) or join our free weekly online OHS news
service at alertforce.com.au.
4. Non-Compliance Penalties
WHS non-compliance may cost in more ways than one. Businesses and any
individual worker may face penalties, jail and fines if there is reckless conduct
or reasonable WHS due diligence processes are inadequate or not complied
with. They can be imposed for near misses or inadequate systems – not
just for injury or harm to people or property. A guide to financial penalties for
individuals and corporations is:
Category 1 $300k to $3m
Category 2 $150k to $1.5m
Category 3 $50k to $500k
5. WHS Training
The WHS Act specifies that PCBUs (businesses) have a primary duty to
provide as far as reasonably practicable any information, training, instruction
or supervision that is necessary to protect all persons from risks to their health
and safety arising from work carried as part of the business.
In practice, different training methods are needed for different situations and
learning styles. AlertForce can provide online accredited and awareness
training as well as face to face training for your workers, volunteers and
contractors. Contact us for more in
6. Volunteers – don’t let them slip through the cracks….
Businesses and society as a whole benefit greatly from the unpaid work of
volunteers. Under WHS law, any person carrying out paid or unpaid work
for and on behalf of a PCBU is classified as a worker and is owed a primary
duty of care duty. Volunteers must be involved in consultation, training and
instruction, developing and implementing risk controls and all other activities
that apply to paid workers. Contact AlertForce for information on our volunteer
7. Due Diligence – you know the term – do you know what to do?
Officers of a PCBU have an obligation to ensure a due diligence framework is
implemented. There are six key elements:
- Understand the nature of the operations, risks and hazards
- Have adequate knowledge of health and safety matters
- Timely response to incidents and issues
- Legal compliance
- Allocate resources and processes
- Verify resources and processes – monitor and audit.
Further information on applying due diligence will be available in coming
8. WHS for Councils
The diversity of local government and the direct relationship with communities
means councils face unique challenges in addressing WHS compliance.
Despite the exemption of elected members under the WHS ‘officer’ definition,
the influence (directly of indirectly) they have on health and safety matters
should be understood by officers and workers responsible for safety systems.
Councilors must also be aware of their duty of care and should have an
understanding of the WHS legal framework that their council and constituents
operate in. We suggest elected members are fully briefed on the changes and
updated on council’s progress with compliance.
Karen Glover, who was responsible for rolling our the Statecover sessions, is
now working for AlertForce. If you need help or advice, please call Karen on
0409 886 673.