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Industrial Relations

Holders of temporary working visas have the same safety rights and responsibilities like everyone else, says SafeWork SA.

“Work health and safety is anything but temporary and all workers need to know that they have the right to safe working conditions, to refuse unsafe work, to report unsafe conditions as well as receive fair pay,” said SafeWork SA Acting Executive Director Marie Boland in a media statement.

“It is also important for workers to understand that they are required to take reasonable care to keep themselves safe, and not adversely affect the health and safety of others at work.”

Temporary workers have a right to be shown how to work safely – it’s not just down to common sense.

SafeWork SA has released a fact sheet outlining a number of steps employers should take to ensure the safety of workers on temporary visas.

Some of these steps include showing temporary workers how to use the equipment they will be operating; providing workers with safety gear and showing them how to use and wear it; introducing workers to their immediate supervisor, health and safety representative (HSR) and the people they will be working with; telling workers about the safety policies and procedures; and being clear about everyone’s role and responsibility for safety.

For more details, visit the SafeWork SA fact sheet.

Published on 10 October 2013 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

Work health and safety (WHS) charges must include more detailed particulars about the alleged offences, a Queensland appeals court has ruled.

In June 2007, NK Collins Industries Pty Ltd was found guilty in the Industrial Magistrates Court of Queensland for breaching the Queensland Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995 after one of its workers was killed.

Initially, the company tried unsuccessfully to appeal the ruling, arguing that the WHS charges levelled against it had failed to include specific acts or omissions.

It then took its case to the Supreme Court of Queensland – Court of Appeal.

The company based its appeal on Kirk v Industrial Relations Commission; Kirk Group Holdings Pty Ltd v WorkCover Authority of New South Wales (Inspector Childs) [2010] HCA 1 (3 February 2010).

In line with the Kirk ruling, the Court of Appeal found “it was incumbent on the prosecution to identify the measure or measures which should have been taken to ensure workers’ safety from the risk …

“That would in turn clarify what the risk was… It would then fall to the applicant to make out its defence…”

The Court of Appeal has ordered that earlier appeal and review orders be set aside and the case be sent back to the Industrial Court to be determined according to the law.

For more details, visit the NK Collins case and the Kirk case.

Published on 1 August 2013 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

The New South Wales authority charged with preventing bullying in the workplace is now the focus of an inquiry into allegations of bullying among its ranks.

Last week, the NSW Upper House agreed to an inquiry into allegations of bullying at WorkCover NSW.

The inquiry follows a motion put to the Upper House by Greens MP David Shoebridge.

The motion referred to a recent case before the NSW Industrial Relations Commission, which found that WorkCover had bullied one of its employees out of his job, and to previous investigations into WorkCover’s conduct.

In the case referred to in the motion, NSW Industrial Relations Commission deputy president Rodney W Harrison said in his ruling: “I find this conduct by the organisation [WorkCover] to be shabby and disgraceful. It lacks any objectivity and has the characterisation of institutional bullying.”

The motion recommended that the Upper House General Purpose Standing Committee No. 1 inquire into the culture of WorkCover, WorkCover’s role as State Regulator of workplace bullying, recommendations to address issues raised, and any other related matters.

The motion was carried.

Submissions to the inquiry close on 23 August 2013.

For more details, visit the NSW Parliament, the Case and The Greens.

A South Australian magistrate has fined a company director $200,000 and criticised him for taking out indemnity insurance to cover criminal work health and safety penalties.

Director Paolo Maione and his company, Ferro Con (SA) Pty Ltd, pleaded guilty in the Magistrates Court of South Australia to breaching the South Australian Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Act 1986.

The prosecution followed a SafeWork SA investigation into an incident in which a worker died at the company on 16 July 2010.

The investigation found that a crane was lifting a 1.8-tonne, 14 metre-long steel beam when the sling supporting the beam broke, causing the end of the beam to drop onto the worker’s head.

The worker was knocked unconscious and died a short time later.

“No risk assessment or job safety analysis had been undertaken for this type of lift, and no safe working procedure had been devised to take account of the particular hazards of the task,” Industrial Magistrate Stephen Lieschke said in his ruling.

Maione and the company were each convicted and fined $200,000. Maione was ordered to pay $20,000 in compensation to the worker’s family.

He was also ordered to publish notices of the conviction and penalty to the employees of the companies of which he was the responsible officer on the date of the judgement (27 June 2013).

In addition, the notice was to be published in the Saturday Adelaide Advertiser, The Weekend Australian, and the journal of the Master Builders Association.

Magistrate Lieschke said that the Court was unable to challenge the company’s “general insurance policy, which apparently included indemnification of its Director for fines imposed for his criminal conduct”.

Lieschke was scathing of such indemnity. “In my opinion Mr Maione’s actions have also undermined the Court’s sentencing powers by negating the principles of both specific and general deterrence.

“The message his actions send to employers and Responsible Officers is that with insurance cover for criminal penalties for OHS offences there is little need to fear the consequences of very serious offending, even if an offence has fatal consequences.

“As for specific deterrence Mr Maione has not said he no longer has such insurance for his current businesses.”

For more details, visit the case and SafeWork SA.


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