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An expert panel has been established to review and recommend changes to Victoria’s work health and safety (WHS) laws.

The Victorian Government has appointed Dr Claire Noone, Cathy Butcher and Margaret Donnan, among others, to the panel. Noone, Butcher and Donnan have significant policy, regulatory, advocacy and industry experience between them.

The panel will examine WHS compliance, enforcement and promotion. Stakeholder consultation will be undertaken as part of the process.

A report on the panel’s findings is due to the Victorian Minister for Finance, Robin Scott, by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, WorkSafe Victoria has launched a new public awareness campaign about WHS aimed at employers.

“While the majority of employers understand why it is important to maintain a safe workplace, there are still far too many fatalities and injuries occurring every year,” said WorkSafe Chief Executive Clare Amies in a media statement.

“Our campaign shows an employer dealing with the consequences—telling the family, supporting traumatised employees and dealing with a WorkSafe investigation.

“The campaign reminds employers that inspectors visit workplaces anywhere, any day, any time, and the message is a blunt one: If your workers aren’t safe, then neither are you.”

Amies added: “Last year, 20 Victorians lost their lives at work and more than 26,000 workers were hurt seriously enough to receive compensation. Already this year there have been four workplace deaths.”

For more details, visit the Victorian Government and WorkSafe Victoria

Published on 25 February 2016 in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin enewsletter – available free every fortnight direct to your email. Subscribe online today

Significant changes to New Zealand’s safety laws will take effect in April next year, following the passage of the Health and Safety Reform Bill through the New Zealand Parliament.

The laws are based on the Model Work Health and Safety laws in Australia and will be called the Health and Safety at Work Act.

However, before being given the New Zealand parliamentary green light, the Reform Bill was amended. This included exempting small businesses with fewer than 20 workers in low-risk sectors from the requirement of having a health and safety representative—even when requested by workers.

Also among the amendments, an officer of an organisation is now defined as a person who has a very senior governance role in the organisation: for example, a chief executive. In an attempt to make the role clear, the bill excludes those who advise or make recommendations to an officer.

Regulations and guidance material are being created to support the new Act.

For more details, visit the new laws

Published on 8 October 2015 in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin enewsletter – available free every fortnight direct to your email. Subscribe online today.

Employers have been barred from obtaining the workers compensation claims history of prospective employees, among a number of changes under new laws passed in the Queensland parliament last week.

The Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 prevents employers obtaining a copy of a prospective worker’s compensation claims history from the Workers’ Compensation Regulator.

In other changes, the new laws allow workers with than less than 5 per cent impairment to seek workers compensation damages under common law.

The new provisions also permit workers prevented from making damages claims between October 15, 2013 and January 31, 2015 to seek additional compensation payouts.

Meanwhile, firefighters diagnosed with a deemed disease will have their injury automatically deemed a work injury under the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation (Protecting Firefighters) Amendment Bill 2015. This law also passed in the Queensland parliament last week.

The deemed diseases include the following cancers: brain, bladder, kidney, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, leukaemia, breast, testicular, prostate, ureter, colorectal, oesophageal and multiple myeloma.

For more details, visit the laws

Published on 24 September 2015 in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin enewsletter – available free every fortnight direct to your email. Subscribe online today.

Some workers compensation benefits in NSW will be restored, WorkCover NSW split up and the Dust Diseases Board changed in proposals announced by the NSW Coalition government.

The changes are part the NSW Workers Compensation Amendment Bill 2015 and the State Insurance and Care Governance Bill 2015.

The NSW Government is restoring some of the workers compensation benefits removed in 2012, now that the scheme is in the black.

Changes to medical benefits payments are among amendments. For those with up to 10 per cent permanent impairment, medical benefits will be provided for two years from when weekly payments stop (or from the date of injury if no weekly payments were made). Those with 11 to 20 per cent impairment will receive benefits for five years from when weekly payments stop (or from the date of injury if no weekly payments were made). Those with 20 per cent impairment will receive benefits for life.

Among other changes, workers’ weekly payments will be paid for up to 12 months past retirement age.

Employers’ workers compensation premiums will also be discounted by between 5 and 20 per cent for employers who maintain safe work places and help injured employees return to work.

The reforms also see WorkCover NSW split into three entities: SafeWork NSW will be the work health and safety regulator; Insurance & Care NSW (icare) will deliver insurance and care services; and the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) will oversee all state insurance schemes.

Also, the Dust Diseases Board will become the Dust Diseases Authority. “As part of the broader insurance reform package, the Dust Diseases Board will become the Dust Diseases Authority, with all existing functions, expertise and staff retained,” said Dominic Perrottet, NSW Minister for Finance, Services and Property, in a media release.

“The Board of the Dust Diseases Board will become an Advisory Committee, providing expert advice to the new Insurance and Care entity.”

For more details, visit WorkCover NSW and the workers compensation changes

Published on 13 August 2015 in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin enewsletter

Thousands of pages of explosives regulations are now under review in Australia.

Safe Work Australia has released the ‘Explosives Regulation in Australia: Discussion Paper and Consultation Regulation Impact Statement’. The aim is to find out what industry and other stakeholders think about the current state of explosives regulation in Australia and if changes are needed.

The discussion paper notes that each state and territory currently has its own extensive explosives regulatory system, and in 2009 more than 4000 pages of regulations governed explosives across Australia.

Pre-empting feedback from industry stakeholders wanting to see the introduction of nationally consistent regulations, Safe Work Australia also wants to know how stakeholders would like this to be achieved. The discussion paper includes suggestions, such as referring state powers to the Commonwealth, implementing national applied laws where legislation enacted in one jurisdiction is applied in others, or using a national model law.

Submissions are open until 10 September.

For more details, visit the discussion paper

Published on 13 August 2015 in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin enewsletter


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