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Archive for: October

Legislation has been introduced into the New South Wales parliament to ensure work health and safety (WHS) prosecutions aren’t thrown out on a technicality.

The Work Health and Safety Amendment Bill 2013 clarifies that the District Court and the Local Court have jurisdiction over WHS prosecutions brought under the repealed Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act 2000.

The OHS Act 2000 was repealed and replaced with the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act 2011 in January 2012.

Under transitional arrangements, serious prosecutions brought under the OHS Act were to be dealt with in the District Court instead of the Industrial Court, where they were previously heard, said NSW Minister for Finance and Services Andrew Constance in the bill’s second reading speech.

The bill also clarifies the validity of the WHS Regulations 2011 and that proceedings may be brought and prosecuted by a legal practitioner representing a WorkCover inspector or the regulator.

The District Court’s jurisdiction and the other matters had been challenged in the following cases:

Empire Waste Pty Ltd and Dean Baldwin v District Court of NSW and Inspector Steven Brock; Australian Native Landscapes Pty Ltd v Inspector Nathan McDonald and District Court of NSW; and Attorney General for the State of NSW v Built NSW Pty Ltd and Air Conditioning Engineering Services Pty Ltd.

The amendments aim to prevent such challenges in the future. They also allow prosecutions that were terminated on the technicalities addressed in the bill to be recommenced, said Constance.

For more details, visit the second reading speech and the bill.

Published on 24 October 2013 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

The Federal Government wants a zero tolerance approach to safety breaches and for judicial bodies to rethink the direction of their decisions.

Federal Employment Minister Eric Abetz delivered this news in his keynote address at the 2013 NSCA/GIO National Safety Awards of Excellence last week.

He acknowledged the “huge” social as well as economic dimensions of safety, and said the Government would be taking a zero tolerance approach to safety.

He said the chances of achieving zero injuries and deaths were unlikely, but the Government would set out to reach this goal.

The Government would also be looking at the regulatory regime and encouraging judicial and other bodies to consider the direction their decisions have been heading.

He referred to a Fair Work Commission decision that ordered the reinstatement of a worker who had been dismissed for not wearing protective equipment.

After his speech he said the Government had no plans to change the Fair Work Act in response.

He also repeated the Government’s line of wanting to reduce red tape and employer costs and to take a practical and common-sense approach to safety. However, he was unable provide any details at this stage.

He said bringing Victoria and Western Australia into the harmonisation tent was on the agenda. But again no detail was available about how he would do this.

During his speech, he also acknowledged the good work of the outgoing Safe Work Australia CEO Rex Hoy, noting that Hoy did more than warm the seat.

Barwon Water Alliance has won top honours at the 2013 NSCA/GIO National Safety Awards of Excellence.

The winners of the 21st annual safety awards were announced at a ceremony held in Sydney last week.

Barwon Water Alliance beat seven other contenders to win the pinnacle award, GIO Workers Compensation Award for Excellence in WHS.

Finalists for the pinnacle award comprised the eight category winners:

• Tenix Group, ManpowerGroup Best Continuous Improvement of a WHS Management System

• Equipment Safety Systems Pty Ltd, The Mac Best Solution of a WHS Risk – small business

• Namoi Cotton Co-operative Ltd, The Mac Best Solution of a WHS Risk – medium to large business

• RSPCA Queensland, SGS Best WHS Training Program

• Metro, Safe Work Australia Best Communication of a Safety Message

• Daniel Smith, Royal Automobile Club of Western Australia (Inc.), Ian Chisholm Award for the Best Individual WHS Achievement

• Hydro Tasmania, Ansell Best Health and Wellbeing Program

• Barwon Water Alliance, Brookfield Multiplex Constructions Best Safety Leadership Program/Initiative

The NSCA Member of the Year was also announced. This award went to Interface Landscapes.

For more details, visit award winners.

Published on 24 October 2013 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has released preliminary findings into the death of a man who fell from a safety harness while being winched into a helicopter.

The 65-year-old man had injured his ankle at Macs Cove in Victoria’s northeast in late August, and an Air Ambulance Victoria helicopter was called to rescue him, as reported in an earlier e-bulletin.

The man was being winched to safety in a rescue/retrieval harness (known as a strop) in a double-lift extraction with a paramedic, when the incident occurred.

Despite the helicopter crew’s efforts to prevent the man from slipping out of the strop, he fell to the ground and died as a result of his injuries, according to the ATSB’s preliminary investigation report.

It also stated the winch and rescue equipment were in working order and the crew qualified to perform the task.

The investigation is ongoing and will assess the rescue strop’s design and potential limitations, potential medical issues associated with winching patients in strops, the operator’s rescue procedures and protocols and certification procedures for helicopter winching rescue equipment.

For more details, visit the preliminary report.

Published on 24 October 2013 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

Licensed removalists must clean up fire-damaged asbestos in the wake of ongoing and recent bushfires.

Despite WorkCover NSW waiving the five-day asbestos removal notification timeframe to allow for the immediate clean-up of fire-damaged asbestos, the need to use licensed operators remains.

Also, the waiver only applies to fire-damaged properties, and removalists still need to notify WorkCover of the material to be removed.

Only those holding a Class A asbestos removal licence are permitted to remove the fire damaged material.

“Residents are being urged to seek out information on the potential risks of being exposed to asbestos and how to safely manage asbestos when cleaning up after the fire,” said WorkCover NSW Work Health and Safety Division General Manager John Watson in a media statement.

“As firefighters and other emergency services workers assess the damage, and residents begin to repair or rebuild, we want to make people aware of the danger of asbestos.”

For more details, contact WorkCover NSW.

Published on 24 October 2013 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.


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