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Drug and alcohol testing will be mandatory on large Commonwealth-funded building projects from late October.

Before leaving the Federal Employment portfolio this week, former Minister Eric Abetz signed off on changes to the Building Code that allow for the new testing measures to be introduced.

The Building Code (Fitness for Work/Alcohol and Other Drugs in the Workplace) Amendment Instrument 2015 stipulates that testing take place on the following building projects: where the Commonwealth’s contribution to the building project is at least $5 million and represents at least 50 per cent of the total construction project value, or the Commonwealth’s contribution is at least $10 million, irrespective of the proportion of its investment in the project.

Contractors will be required to implement a policy that tests for alcohol and other drugs, including opiates; THC; cocaine; benzodiazepines; amphetamines; and methamphetamines.

A comprehensive policy setting out how the testing will be conducted and the procedures to be followed in the case of a positive test are also mandatory.

Fair Work Building and Construction will audit building sites to ensure they are complying.

For more details, visit the regulation

Published on 24 September 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.

Bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment are rife among surgeons, according to a recent report from the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.

“Now that the extent and impact of these issues is clear, there can be no turning back,” said Hon. Rob Knowles AO, Chair, Expert Advisory Group (EAG) on discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment advising the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.

“We have been shocked by what we have heard. The time for action has come.”

EAG research has found that 49 per cent of Fellows, trainees and international medical graduates report being subjected to discrimination, bullying or sexual harassment. Bullying is the most frequently reported issue in 71 per cent of hospitals.

Part of the problem is attributed to unhealthy working conditions. There is an expectation that trainees should endure the same work practices that their supervisors had to put up with when they were training.

Some of those surveyed for the research complained of supervisors demanding unpaid overtime to ‘toughen up’ trainees.

Others pointed to grossly inappropriate comments, such as “you can join us in theatre – not to do anything, just for eye candy” and “I was told I would only be considered for a job if I had my tubes tied”.

A key finding of the Discrimination, Bullying and Sexual Harassment Survey was “that ‘known bullies’ are untouchable [by the College/societies and in the workplace] and that bullying has become normalised as a culturally accepted behaviour”.

For more details, visit the EAG report

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

To help bring down the billion-dollar cost of work-related injury, a new electronic information kit has been launched in the lead-up to National Safe Work Month in October.

Work-related injury and illness cost employers, workers and the community $60.6 billion annually.

Each work-related injury or illness costs about $99,100, and motor vehicle incidents continue to be the most common cause of workplace fatalities.

The free online kit contains posters, banners, statistics, fact sheets, logos and other collateral needed to build work health and safety awareness in the workplace.

The kit’s material can be printed and displayed around the workplace.

National Safe Work Month runs through October. This year’s theme is “Be safe. Be healthy. Because…”

For more details, visit National Safe Work Month

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

02 Oct 2015

New safety Minister appointed

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A new Federal Minister responsible for work health and safety has been appointed this week.

Senator Michaelia Cash was appointed as the Employment Minister following the recent change in the Australian Prime Ministership and subsequent Federal Cabinet reshuffle.

Senator Cash replaces Eric Abetz, who had held the portfolio since the election of the Coalition in 2013.

Before stepping into the Employment portfolio, Senator Cash was the Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women.

In addition to Employment, she has also been appointed to the reinstated portfolio of Minister for Women, and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service.

Before entering parliament, Senator Cash worked as a Senior Associate for law firm Freehills from 1999 to 2008. She holds an Honours Degree in Law from the University of London and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the University of Western Australia.

For more details, visit the Parliament of Australia

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


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