OHS Toolbox

How to leverage the OHS Essentials program amidst rising WorkCover premiums

As we approach the new financial year, organisations across Victoria face an important consideration: the WorkCover premium rate increase for 2023/24. The increase presents significant implications for businesses, underscoring the need for proactive occupational health and safety (OHS) measures. At Action OHS Consulting, we understand the challenges this may pose to your organisation. In this blog post, we explore the impacts of the premium rate increase and how WorkCover insurance policy holders (who meet the criteria) can benefit from WorkSafe Victoria’s free OHS Essentials program.


The WorkCover premium rate increase


WorkCover premium rates play a vital role in ensuring the financial sustainability of the workers’ compensation scheme in Victoria. While the specific rate increase for 2023/24 may vary based on individual business circumstances, it is crucial for business owners and managers to be aware of the potential impacts. The increased premium rates can place additional strain on budgets, affecting the bottom line and limiting the financial resources available for other essential business operations.


Impacts on business owners


  1. Financial Burden: The increased premium rates can directly impact a business’s financial resources, potentially leading to reduced profitability and restricted growth opportunities.
  2. Cost Management Challenges: Business owners may need to re-evaluate their budget allocations, making it essential to identify cost-saving opportunities without compromising employee safety.
  3. Compliance Pressure: Higher premiums emphasize the need for robust OHS management systems to minimise workplace incidents and injuries. Failure to meet compliance requirements can result in additional penalties and increased premiums in subsequent years.


Leveraging the OHS Essentials Program


Amidst the premium rate increase, it will be crucial for business owners and managers to take advantage of the resources and support available to them. WorkSafe Victoria’s OHS Essentials program offers a valuable opportunity to enhance workplace safety practices while minimising the impact of premium rate increases. As an approved provider of the OHS Essentials program, Action OHS Consulting is well-equipped to guide businesses through this process.

OHS Essentials is free to Victorian-based small and medium businesses (up to 60 workers). If you are eligible, one of our consultants will guide you through a process of setting in motion health and safety best practices to assist you to boost your safety performance.


The program includes:

  • 3 visits over a 12-18 month period
  • 2-hour (approx) long visits
  • Safety Action Plan created on first visit


While the WorkCover premium rate increase for 2023/24 may present challenges for business owners, it also serves as a timely reminder to prioritise occupational health and safety within the workplace. By partnering with Action OHS Consulting and leveraging the free OHS Essentials program, businesses can proactively mitigate risks, reduce incidents, and optimise their premiums.


Reach out to us to discuss how your business can benefit from the OHS Essentials program.


If your business doesn’t qualify for the OHS Essential Program, contact us for advice on how to prepare for the upcoming changes. Our consultants can work with you to provide a tailored and cost-effective solution suitable for your business.

Newly released health and safety codes – May 2021

Safe Work Australia

Model WHS Regulations

Safe Work Australia has updated the model WHS Regulations and its guidance on the meaning of “person conducting a business or undertaking”.

Meanwhile, the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS 7) has been made a reference. The Commonwealth jurisdiction and most states and territories started the two-year transition from GHS 3 to GHS 7.

Outdated standards relating to pressure equipment and lasers used in the building and construction industry have been removed.

The model WHS Regulations and any changes made to them don’t apply in a jurisdiction until they are made in the jurisdiction.


Workplace Traffic Management

Safe Work Australia has updated its guidance on workplace traffic management to include information on working on or near public roads. To ensure the safety of workers and the public when managing traffic on a public road, actions could include installation of barriers and warning devices to ensure workers and vehicles stay separated.



Statement of Regulatory Intent – COVID-19

The statement on the approach to WHS compliance during the COVID-19 pandemic has been revised by WHS Regulators. The Statement of Regulatory Intent – COVID-19, developed by the Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities (HWSA), sets out principles Work Health and Safety (WHS) regulators use to guide their approach to ensuring compliance with WHS laws during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To ensure the Statement remains current and relevant, revisions have been applied including addition of new information on COVID-19 vaccines. The Statement does not apply to the WHS regulators in the Australian Capital Territory and in Victoria.



COVID-19 vaccine WHS guidance for workplaces

Safe Work Australia has published new information about work health and safety and COVID-19 vaccines. Employers have a duty under the model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws to eliminate, or if that is not reasonably practicable, minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace.

The new guidance provides information about rights and obligations under the model WHS laws and how they relate to COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccine work health and safety information is available for employers, small business and workers in 37 different industries.



Preventing workplace sexual harassment, violence and aggression

New national work health and safety guidance has been developed by Safe Work Australia providing practical guidance to businesses to help them prevent workplace sexual harassment, violence, aggression and domestic violence.

Preventing workplace sexual harassment

The new Guide: Preventing workplace sexual harassment is the first comprehensive WHS guidance in Australia to focus on preventing sexual harassment. The guidance supports business and organisations to meet their WHS duties with practical steps to identify risks and prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.


Preventing workplace violence and aggression

The Guide: Preventing workplace violence and aggression provides information for persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs), such as employers, on how to manage the risk of violence and aggression in the workplace, including gendered violence.



Inspecting and maintaining elevating work platforms

Safe Work Australia has published new guidance for inspecting and maintaining EWPs. Employers are responsible for keeping workers safe and this includes ensuring that plant equipment is inspected and maintained. Employers must also ensure that workers are given the necessary information, training, instruction and supervision to use EWPs safely.



South Australia

HSRs for work groups of multiple businesses

New information on how the work health and safety law allows multiple persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) and their workers to establish work groups if workers are carrying out work for different PCBUs. A HSR can represent workers across multiple businesses or undertakings by agreement between all relevant parties. The information provides guidance on establishing multiple-business workgroups through negotiations with workers and the shared responsibilities of each business.



Positive anti-harassment duty imposed on employers

A legislation has been introduced imposing a positive duty on employers to eliminate sexual harassment, discrimination and victimisation in workplaces under the State Equal Opportunity Act 1984. The new duty was recommended by the South Australian Equal Opportunity Commission’s review of harassment in the legal profession.



Quad bike safety

Work is being done to make changes to the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012 to improve quad bike safety. The changes will require employers to provide workers with a helmet when using a quad bike, require quad bike users to wear a helmet and to undertake training and prohibit the carrying passengers, except where the quad bike is designed and appropriate for that purpose. These changes are supported by changes to the Road Rules 2019; and plans to implement safety measures on public land under the National Parks and Reserves Management Act 2002 and the Crowns Law Act 1976. It is anticipated that these changes will be implemented by 30 June 2021.


OHS Legislation – https://worksafe.tas.gov.au/topics/laws-and-compliance

OHS Codes of practice – https://www.worksafe.tas.gov.au/laws/codes


Environment Protection Act 2017

The Environment Protection Act 2017 will come into effect on 1 July 2021. The Victorian Government undertook a public inquiry into EPA and released its final conclusions in 2016. When the amended Act comes into force, EPA will have enhanced powers in preventing risks to the environment and human health. It will also be able to issue stronger sanctions and penalties to hold environmental polluters to account.

The general environmental duty (GED) is a centrepiece of the new laws as it applies to all Victorians. Risks must be understood if one conducts activities that pose a risk to human health and the environment. One must also take reasonably practicable steps to eliminate or minimise them. In an Australian first, the GED is criminally enforceable.



New industry standard for elevating work platform safety

WorkSafe has launched a new industry standard for elevating work platforms (EWPs) to provide operators and employers with practical safety advice to prevent serious injuries and deaths. The new standard provides a comprehensive understanding of the most important safety issues for using EWPs including who has a duty to ensure the health and safety of workers, selecting the appropriate EWP for the task at hand and the different types of EWP available. The standard also covers EWP training and licensing requirements and how to ensure EWPs are properly maintained and inspected for use.



Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Amendment (Arbitration) Bill 2021

The Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Amendment (Arbitration) Bill 2021 allows the Accident Compensation Conciliation Service (ACCS) to hear and make binding determinations on disputes not resolved by conciliation.

The proposed laws give workers the choice to have their matter arbitrated by the ACCS, who must commence a hearing within 30 days of the dispute being referred. Once an application for arbitration commences, a hearing will generally conclude within 60 days, with a determination made within two weeks of the hearing concluding. This will ensure these disputes are resolved within four months – which is less time than it takes to resolve most court proceedings.



New COVID check-in rule for businesses

New rules for workplaces announced by the Victorian Government while issuing a warning against poor compliance with COVID-19-related check-in regulations. From 28 May, all venues and businesses required to undertake electronic record keeping must use the Victorian Government QR Code Service through the Service Victoria app.



New fines for non-compliance with COVID-19 rules

New on-the-spot fines for intentional breaches, as well as fines for repeated breaches, were introduced in response to poor rates of compliance with COVID-19 rules for businesses. Businesses can also be prosecuted in court for continued, blatant or wilful non-compliance with the Chief Health Officer’s pandemic rules on check-ins and other matters.



Education and Training Reform Amendment (Protection of School Communities) Bill 2021

The new proposed legislation aims to improve school safety by giving Victorian schools the power to ban aggressive and violent parents from entering school grounds, to protect students and staff. The Bill arose as a result of a recommendation from the Protective Schools Ministerial Taskforce, established in 2018. The Taskforce recommended legislative changes to in order to address threatening or aggressive conduct towards staff.


New South Wales

New exposure standards for coal dust and diesel particulate matter

The new worker exposure standards for respirable coal dust (1.5mg/m3 of air) and diesel particulate matter (0.1mg/m3 measured as sub-micron elemental carbon) commenced on 1 February 2021.




New guidelines to boost delivery driver safety

Draft guidelines have been released for industry consultation to provide better protection for workers in the food delivery industry. The guidelines outline existing hazards in the industry, such as poorly maintained bikes, fatigue and extreme weather conditions, and the actions that must be taken by delivery platforms, drivers and restaurants to mitigate these risks.

Strategies have been developed in partnership with industry to help food delivery operators, drivers and restaurants understand their obligations under NSW Work Health and Safety Legislation.



Accommodation guide

The SafeWork NSW Accommodation guide is a practical guide that helps persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) understand and meet their obligations under the NSW work health and safety laws when designing or choosing the form of accommodation provided for workers during work undertaken away from home.

It includes useful information and advice on what accommodation should include, as well as considerations when choosing accommodation and maintenance requirements.



Managing WHS at events

The Managing WHS at events guide helps event organisers understand and meet their obligations under Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws when managing events.

It includes useful information and advice on planning, managing and monitoring an event to ensure the health and safety of workers, volunteers and the visiting public.


OHS Legislation – https://www.safework.nsw.gov.au/legal-obligations
OHS Codes of Practice – https://www.safework.nsw.gov.au/resource-library/list-of-all-codes-of-practice

Australian Capital Territory

OHS Legislation – http://www.legislation.act.gov.au
OHS Codes of Practice – https://www.accesscanberra.act.gov.au/app/answers/detail/a_id/4201


Codes of practice updated

National safe work codes of practice have been reviewed and updated in line with a nationwide agreement in 2015 that all Australian work health and safety regulators will review the codes of practice every five years. 21 Queensland codes of practice that are based on national codes of practice have been updated and approved for the state. The new codes commenced on 1 March.



Updated Codes

Abrasive blasting code of practice 2021

Confined spaces code of practice 2021

Demolition work code of practice 2021

Excavation work code of practice 2021

First aid in the workplace code of practice 2021

Hazardous manual tasks code of practice 2021

How to manage and control asbestos in the workplace code of practice 2021

How to manage work health and safety risks code of practice 2021

How to safely remove asbestos code of practice 2021

Labelling of workplace hazardous chemicals code of practice 2021

Managing noise and preventing hearing loss at work code of practice 2021

Managing risks of hazardous chemicals in the workplace code of practice 2021

Managing risks of plant in the workplace code of practice 2021

Managing the risk of falls at workplaces code of practice 2021

Managing the work environment and facilities code of practice 2021

Preparation of safety data sheets for hazardous chemicals code of practice 2021

Safe design of structures code of practice 2021

Spray painting and powder coating code of practice 2021

Welding processes code of practice 2021

Work health and safety consultation, cooperation and coordination code of practice 2021

OHS Legislation – https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/laws-and-compliance/workplace-health-and-safety-laws/laws-and-legislation
OHS Codes of Practice – https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/laws-and-compliance/workplace-health-and-safety-laws/laws-and-legislation/codes-of-practice


Northern Territory

OHS Legislation – https://worksafe.nt.gov.au/laws-and-compliance
OHS Codes of Practice – https://worksafe.nt.gov.au/forms-and-resources/codes-of-practice


Western Australia

OHS Legislation – https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/worksafe/legislation
Codes of Practice – https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/worksafe/approved-codes-practice

All you need to know about building an effective Safety Management System

What is a Safety Management System (SMS, or also known as an Occupational Health and Safety Management System or OHSMS)? Well, it’s is a set of policies, procedures and plans that systematically manages the health and safety of your workplace.

It covers crucial organisational structures and reporting lines, key accountabilities, and all your health and safety policies and procedures. The great thing about safety management systems is that they are not one size fits all. They are scalable and therefore can be tailored specifically to the size and complexity of your own workplace.


Why do you need a Safety Management System or OHSMS?

A well-implemented Safety Management System helps minimise the risk of injury and illness due to workplace operations, and that should be front of mind for any business, right? The other great thing is that you shouldn’t have to start from scratch. Your organisation most likely has some elements of a SMS already in place. The key is to link these elements into a coordinated overall system to improve work health and safety performance.


Key components of a Safety Management System

The universally accepted framework for SMSs includes the main components listed below. These components represent the minimum requirements that need to be met when implementing your system for it to be recognised as a Safety Management System:


  • Safety policy and objectives
  • Management commitment and responsibility
  • Safety accountabilities
  • Appointment of key safety personnel
  • Coordination of emergency response planning
  • Safety Management System documentation
  • Safety risk management
  • Hazard identification
  • Risk assessment and mitigation
  • Safety assurance
  • Safety performance monitoring and measurement
  • The management of change
  • Continuous improvement of the Safety Management System
  • Safety promotion
  • Training and education
  • Safety communication


So keep this handy as you begin. You can then take the next step and have your Safety Management System certificated against ISO 45001.


What is ISO 45001?

ISO 45001 is an International Organisation for Standardisation standard for management systems of occupational health and safety. Its goal is the reduction of occupational injuries and diseases, including promoting and protecting physical and mental health. An ISO 45001 certification can be obtained by any organisation regardless of its size, type and nature.


In addition, having your Safety Management System certified as ISO 45001 can lead to recognition for having achieved an international benchmark, and in turn, will influence potential clients who are concerned about their social responsibilities to choose you from your competitors. They will be reassured when they know they are dealing with an organisation that has internationally recognised safety standards. So it really is win-win.


What does building a Safety Management System look like?

Even before you get down to the nitty-gritty of documenting those all-important policies and procedures, there are a few initial steps you should consider taking when implementing your SMS. These steps will ensure that you effectively contextualise your health and safety program to your own specific workplace needs as they currently stand, and so you are not distracted by past manuals or that old workplace saying, “the way you have previously done things”.



First of all, set up a working group, who will drive the implementation of your Safety Management System. Ideally, this group should include a mixture of management and employees that represent the breadth of all facets of your organisation. It would also be ideal to have a subject matter expert from the industry from which your organisation is part.


Controlling hazards is the key

Effective implementation of health and safety management within your workplace should result in hazards being controlled. Hazard control is achieved either by reducing the impact or by reducing the likelihood of exposure to the hazard.


Once your working group is established consider all the actual “work” that that is completed by your teams and the potential hazards that come with this work. This includes within your office, as well as within your production arm and employees out in the field.


It is important to not just focus on hazards that you perceive as higher-risk. You want to create an overall organisational context for your Safety Management System and to take into account all risks and opportunities, not just those obvious ones. This will ensure you are implementing a system with a holistic view.



Once you have a clear understanding of context and hazard controls, begin by documenting them within your Safety Management System. This will enable your organisation to begin to improve its safety performance by:


  • Ensuring documented health and safety policies and objectives reflect the work that you do actually do, not the work you imagine is done.
  • Increasing the awareness of your health and safety risks. Your documented Safety Management System will provide a single source of truth.
  • Allowing you to evaluate your health and safety performance against the processes as documented and allow you to more easily identify “breaks in the process” when moving down the path of continuous improvement.
  • Documenting key responsibilities, to ensure both management and workers can take an active role in health and safety matters.


What are the challenges with implementing and maintaining a Safety Management System?

It is important to be aware of some of the challenges that can be faced when implementing your SMS:


  1. Getting Started

Like anything to begin with, it can be hard to get started. Too often companies advise that they are not ready, as they want everything to be perfect before they begin the process. However, your Safety Management System should always be considered an ongoing and ever-evolving process that will never be perfect, so the key is to begin.


  1. Setting Goals

 Companies building an SMS should set realistic goals. A company knows its capabilities and limitations which should be referenced when implementing health and safety targets. If you set too an unrealistic goal, your team could get disheartened and lose interest in implementing your system further.  


  1. Problem Solving

If you don’t know what your potential organisational health and safety risks are, you won’t be able to confidently begin implementing your safety management system. That is why it is important to have people from across the breadth of your workplace operations to help you identify these risks.


Most workplaces find that once they take time to explicitly understand and document their health and safety hazards and then agree on how the hazards are controlled; building and implementing the Safety Management System is relatively simple.


  1. Self-Management

 Safety Management Systems require ongoing input and update and consequently, their success mostly depends on the enthusiasm of your working group overseeing your system. If you don’t ensure continuous improvement and input, your system and the health and safety of your workplace can suffer.


Software platforms such as Safety Champion Software can help. They can ensure that implementation activities are planned for and scheduled. They prompt workers when tasks that they are responsible for approaching their due date, and where required escalate to management if tasks are not completed. This will help with the momentum and help keep you on track.


  1. Transparency

Ensuring the correct information is shared with all employees is another major challenge when implementing a Safety Management System. Often crucial and timely safety information can get lost within an organisation’s traditional reporting system. However, software platforms that specialise in safety management and compliance, such as Safety Champion Software again, can play a role here.


The cloud-based nature of most safety management software products ensures that workers have access to the most current policies and procedures, chemical registers, and training documentation. It can allow employees to report incidents and hazards in real-time and communicated to all stakeholders instantaneously.


Why make building your Safety Management System a focus?

When implemented well, building and implementing a Safety Management System has immense value. The obvious positive outcome is to the health and wellbeing of your employees. These benefits should also be kept front of mind to keep up the momentum when establishing your Safety Management System:


  • You will improve your organisation’s ability to respond to regulatory compliance issues
  • You will reduce the overall costs of incidents
  • You will reduce downtime and the costs of disruption to operations
  • You will reduce the cost of insurance premiums and risk of prosecution
  • You will reduce absenteeism and employee turnover rates


By taking action today and organising a coordinated, holistic and internationally recognised system to improve your workplace health and safety performance, your business and your employees are the real winners. If you get the setup right, the benefits to health and safety, as well as to other areas of your operations, are sure to follow.


For more support with designing and implementing an effective Safety Management System, reach out to our team today. Our OHS consulting team have vast experience when it comes to OHSMS development and would be pleased to help.

Key considerations to support a safer return to office

In recent months, Victorians who have been working from home have been able to make a partial and optional return to work facilities. Without doubt, this represents different challenges for businesses that value employee and visitor health and wellbeing. 


A number of factors will impact the success of organisations looking to transition a portion of their workforce (either small or large) from their home working environment and back to the office or other physical work site. It is therefore important that organisational leaders carefully plan this return, and when doing so, that they keep the health and safety of their workforce, customers and visitors front of mind.


In this article, we will outline some considerations to help you make this transition as smoothly as possible. 



Auditing new or changed workplace conditions


Given the potential impact of COVID-19 as a workplace hazard, and acknowledging the ever-changing nature of guidance and advice around COVID, businesses are strongly encouraged to stop and reflect. It may be time to consider an audit.


By auditing the new and/or changed conditions within a workplace, you will support a level of certainty that the proposed controls you put in place are practicable and being implemented well.


Physical distancing will remain an important consideration. Businesses should be looking to identify ways to increase the physical distance between people when at work (i.e., workstations, meeting rooms, etc) and continue to monitor the number of people in enclosed spaces.



Due to the physical distancing and hygiene considerations in place, you may even need to redesign the layout of the workplace and your workflows so you can meet the COVID safe guidelines.


Below is a list of WHS considerations that businesses should evaluate, as they return their workforce to the traditional work site;


  • Inspect and evaluate any new physical hazards. Any change of floor plans or layouts on your premises may change or increase the risk of slips, trips, and falls. Consider changes that may impact worker movement through aisles, using stairs, and opening and closing doors. 


  • Consider your evacuation plans. Again alterations of the physical spaces may impact your current emergency plans. Consider your emergency meeting points and routes – are they still accessible? Also consider your fire safety signage – this must remain in place alongside the any new COVID-19-specific signage. 


  • Think about the new requirements in terms of maintenance and operation of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment. 


  • Carefully consider all new hygiene and cleaning requirements – does this extend beyond the bathroom and kitchen and include workstations and all shared spaces. 


  • Review processes that may lead to cross contamination. For example, door handles, joint equipment, or practices that encourage shared pens (e.g., visitor sign-in at reception). How can multiple points of contact be eliminated, or reduced if elimination isn’t possible?


  • Revise and update WHS Policies and Procedures to encompass any change. You should consider the development of a plan that details how you will control exposure to COVID-19, and provide an overview as to how you will manage and respond to a potential outbreak in your work site.


Remember, COVID-19 rules and restrictions differ across states and territories, industries, business sizes, and types of premises. Plus, these rules change continually. So, if you are unsure, or not sure where to look, please seek clarification from your state regulator or reach out the to the Action OHS Consulting Team. 



Consulting and communicating with workers

Returning to the workplace after a long period will no doubt bring about some level of disruption and challenge. The process does involve diligence and preparation, along with great communication from management to workers.


safety secondments


It is important to note that it’s highly possible this process of change may lead to increased anxiety or distress in your workers. It is also possible that you may experience resistance or other reactions to this change.


As such, here are some health and safety pointers to include when planning the return to work;


  • Consult with your workers. Understand their concerns, preferences and motivations about coming back to the workplace. Consider discussing any concerns as a team or with individuals to help manage concerns.


  • Embed an attendance control system. Capture and retain vital records of all attendance from workers, contractors, and visitors who visit your work sites. Should an exposure occur, this will allow you to easily identify close contacts and to ensure potential future exposures can be limited. Consider software products like Safety Champion Software support contactless sign-in and sign-out of your workplace location.


  • Establish a cleaning and disinfection plan. An essential way you can protect workers and their families from the risk of exposure to COVID-19 is by implementing cleaning and disinfecting measures at the workplace before having them return to it. Plus sharing the details of your cleaning regime will help alleviate anxieties workers may feel when returning to the work space. Again, using software like Safety Champion Software, will allow you to manage your cleaning and disinfection plan.


  • Set clear expectations and directions about hygiene practices. Everyone is responsible for good hygiene. This will require effort from workers, visitors, customers, and others in the workplace. But again, when these directions are clearly communicated to all workers you will have a better chance of increasing comfort levels amongst your team.



Monitoring your progress on an ongoing basis


Safety measures that are in place are at their best when they are being regularly monitored and reviewed. For this reason, business leaders should place emphasis on ensuring that OHS stays on the agenda or top of mind.


Are workers are aware of safety measures? Are practices being followed? Are the measures that are in place still relevant? Do they need to be improved?


Remember, COVID guidance and workplace requirements can change at any moment. The virus itself might present new variants and, with those, new health risks to workers. Therefore, the employer or other OHS duty holder must be vigilant.


Long emphasised by OHS professionals, there is a real need to constantly monitor current controls and preventative actions to ensure they remain effective and appropriate.


Indeed, the situation is uncertain and complex. However, if you are unsure about how to proceed you can access a wealth of support and guidance from Safe Work Australia, the state regulators and OHS professionals. If you need any assistance, do reach out to us today.

Shining a light on ‘health’ in work health and safety.

Australian workplaces are acutely aware of the importance of matters of health and safety for their employees. From staff inductions to workplace signage, anyone who has ever been employed knows health and safety is an integral part of any positively functioning workplace.


Yet, historically, OHS measures have placed a heavier emphasis on the ‘safety’ arm of the health and safety umbrella.


Indeed, when we think of OHS, we tend to consider physical safety first, such as how to ensure employees can avoid physical injury when undertaking the duties of their roles.Additionally, despite being essential in every workplace, we often consider safety procedures as more important in high-risk industries, such as mining or construction.


But then good old 2020 arrived. The coronavirus pandemic forced habitual ways of thinking about OHS guidelines to drastically change.


While workplace ‘safety’ within either a physical or virtual environment was and will always be of high importance, the COVID-19 outbreak brought the ‘health’ in workplace health and safety into sharp focus. And this has only been a good thing for every worker.



Rapid change in the traditional workplace

In one of the most challenging and impactful moments the traditional workplace has seen for some time, businesses had no choice but to change the way they operated.


The unprecedented health implications a pandemic could have on an organisation’s workforce, and consequently, its potential impact on business operations, saw swift measures implemented across industries.


Employees were forced to pack up laptops, pot plants and post its and begin working from home. Essential workplaces and their staff had to develop new ways of working around social distancing laws, whilst maintaining productivity through increased use of enabling technologies.


These changes were solely made to mitigate the risk of their employees contracting the virus.


In an ever-changing environment where the only thing that stayed constant was a daily State Premier press conference, standard OHS procedures needed to become adaptable.


work from home


Employers had to, and indeed continue to, pivot to address new information and changing restrictions to keep employees healthy and business operations running. It became a reality that OHS compliance activities were a shared responsibility across organisational hierarchies, with constant communication, critical to ensure the health of all.


Safe Work Australia and the state regulators rose proactively to the task at hand. They worked collaboratively to prepare and share online resources, provide advice and equip businesses across Australia with the tools to assist them with COVID-safe management for their staff.



An important reminder of the importance of WHS

Whether employees were getting their heads around video calls at home or having to remember to maintain an adequate physical distance from colleagues on-site, this transparent and flexible implementation of new COVID-safe OHS procedures ensured many companies could continue to function to a high standard.


Most workplaces, if not before the pandemic, certainly now understood the integral role they played in protecting their employees from unnecessary risk to their physical health. Had Victorian workplaces in particular not been proactive in ensuring the health of their employees was paramount, possible impacts of the spread of the coronavirus could have been much more severe.


Consequently, COVID-19 – whilst being as welcome as a rude uncle at Christmas – genuinely also had a positive impact on how we tackle the health aspect of OHS procedures in our workplaces.



Worker health – both physical and mental health – comes into focus

The focus on illness prevention has become essential to all OHS matters as we continue to grapple with the effects of the pandemic today.


Face masks and hand sanitiser bottles have quickly become our welcome new employees, and we will continue to see a stronger emphasis on the prevention and protection from physical illness in the development of OHS practices.



In addition to physical health, mental health has been a growing area of focus in OHS over the past 10 or so years, with government advertising campaigns focusing attention on this key area in efforts to reduce the stigma employers and employees may experience when facing mental health issues.


2020 also saw a wonderful opportunity for workplaces to become much better at discussing mental health openly with their employees, and specifically about the psychological impacts the coronavirus pandemic may be having on them.


The impacts of COVID-19 have taught us that mental health risks must be properly managed just like any other physical health risk. With continued and constant change and uncertainty, organisational leaders are rightly concerned about the health and wellbeing of their employees.


We still do not know what the longer-term mental impacts 2020 will have on not only our employees, but on their colleagues, and also the people they love. This has broadened our thinking when it comes to workplace mental health and has assisted in putting OHS measures in place to address these potential impacts.



Worker health for business health

We understand at a deep level that a healthy and functioning workforce is critical to a functioning organisation. Common mental health concerns originating from the COVID-19 outbreak, whether staff are working virtually or physically, include an increased fear and anxiety around their employment status, as well as relationship and financial pressures.


There is a growing need to provide the support that addresses the impact these fears and anxieties have on an employee’s ability to report to work or focus on the job at hand.


Many companies have been proactive in seeking feedback on what can help employees mitigate their mental health challenges.


Having taken the time to talk to them face to face, conduct surveys or provide confidential psychological support, many organisations have flagged workplace flexibility, adequate technology, continuous health and safety training, and regular virtual learning opportunities as crucial to supporting their employee’s mental health.


By addressing these areas in OHS practices, businesses will be able to adequately support their most valuable asset as they navigate through ongoing change.



Taking a consultative approach toward better health

Indeed, information gathered directly from their employees is golden for businesses when used to implement a healthy workplace for the future.


By nurturing their employees, conducting regular check-ins, and encouraging them to talk about their mental health concerns, relationships are strengthened. With deeper levels of trust, issues can become more rapidly identified.


While many of the circumstances of the pandemic can be seen as negative, the increased visibility and action taken to put employee health – both physical and mental – and their needs at the forefront of OHS implementation is something to celebrate across workplaces at large.


And we are certainly due a celebration after the year we’ve had.


Companies that build and maintain effective systems to protect not only their employee’s safety but also their physical and mental health will be well-positioned to succeed during the economic recovery ahead.


After all, healthy and well workers make healthy and well workplaces.


In our ever-changing ‘new normal’, the renewed emphasis on staff health and wellbeing has been one of the more positive outcomes of this pandemic. This momentum must continue.


As workplaces in Australia and indeed across the world commit to a deeper and more holistic focus on the health of their employees, this will not only benefit the wellbeing of our most valued assets – our colleagues – but also will see our businesses succeed well into the future, whatever it may hold for us.


If you are seeking health and safety guidance or support for your workplace, our team of safety consultants would be happy to assist. Please reach out to us today

Newly released health and safety codes and legislation – January 2021

Critical Incident Response for Aged Care

A Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS) for residential aged care and flexible care services was introduced in December through The Aged Care Legislation Amendment (Serious Incident Response Scheme and Other Measures) Bill 2020 (Cth).

The amendments are intended to begin from April 2021 and see a two-stage reporting process introduced for certain incident types, like the notifiable incident processes required for workplace safety.


GHS7 Chemical Labelling
Australia officially began the transition from GHS 3 to GHS 7 on 1 January 2021. The transition period is for two years and will end on 31 December 2022.

GHS 7 introduces several changes to classification, labelling and safety data sheet requirements for workplace hazardous chemicals. In addition to these changes, the definition of ‘hazardous chemical’ has been clarified to ensure it captures all Category 2 eye irritants.

South Australia

A number of changes to the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012 (SA) came into effect on 1 January 2021. This includes changes to air monitoring during asbestos removal work, chemical labelling, references to Australian Standards for lasers and pressure equipment, and minor updates for diving work.

Air monitoring for asbestos removal
WHS Regulations have been amended effect from 1 January 2021, making permanent the long-standing requirement in South Australia for independent licenced asbestos assessors to conduct air monitoring for asbestos removal under both Class A and Class B licences.

GHS7 chemical labelling
With the transition from GHS 3 to GHS 7 beginning on 1 January 2021, the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012 (SA) have been amended to update references to the GHS and the transition period.

Lasers and Pressure Equipment
Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012 (SA) will incorporate amendments to update, and include, references the current Australian Standards for lasers and pressure equipment, effective from 1 January 2021, as follows:

Regulation 223 will reference:

  • AS 2397:2015 Safe use of lasers in the building and construction industry in place of AS 2397:2003 Safe use of lasers in the building and construction industry.
  • Schedule 5 Part 1 and Part 2 will reference:

  • AS 4343:2014 Pressure equipment – Hazard levels instead of AS4343:2005 Pressure equipment – Hazard levels
  • AS1200:2015 Pressure equipment instead of AS1200:2000 Pressure equipment.

    Diving Work
    From 1 January 2021, the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012 (SA) will incorporate amendments to remove redundant standards referenced, improve clarity and correct minor errors.

    Updated Codes
    • First Aid in the Workplace: Code of practice 2020 (June)
    • How to Manage Work Health and Safety Risks: Code of practice 2020 (June)
    • Labelling of Workplace Hazardous Chemicals: Code of practice 2020 (June)
    • Managing Electrical Risks in the Workplace: Code of practice 2020 (June)
    • Managing Noise and Preventing Hearing Loss at Work: Code of practice 2020 (June)
    • Managing the Risk of Falls in the Workplace: Code of practice 2020 (June)
    • Managing the Work Environment and Facilities: Code of practice 2020 (June)
    • Work Health and Safety Consultation, Co-operation and Co-ordination: Code of practice 2020 (June)
    • Abrasive Blasting: Code of practice 2020 (June)
    • Confined Spaces: Code of practice 2020 (June)
    • Demolition Work: Code of practice 2020 (June)
    • Excavation Work: Code of practice 2020 (June)
    • Hazardous Manual Tasks: Code of practice 2020 (June)
    • How to Manage and Control Asbestos in the Workplace: Code of practice 2020 (June)
    • How to Safely Remove Asbestos: Code of practice 2020 (June)
    • Managing Risks of Hazardous Chemicals in the Workplace: Code of practice 2020 (June)
    • Managing the Risks of Plant in the Workplace: Code of practice 2020 (June)
    • Preparation of Safety Data Sheets for Hazardous Chemicals: Code of practice 2020 (June)
    • Spray Painting and Powder Coating: Code of practice 2020 (June)
    • Welding Processes: Code of practice 2020 (June)

    OHS Legislation – https://www.safework.sa.gov.au/
    OHS Codes of practice – https://www.safework.sa.gov.au/workplaces/codes-of-practice


    OHS Legislation – https://worksafe.tas.gov.au/topics/laws-and-compliance
    OHS Codes of practice – https://www.worksafe.tas.gov.au/laws/codes


    Proposed Amendments for Provisional Payments for Workers’ Claim on Mental Injury

    The Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Amendment (Provisional Payments) Bill 2020 (the Bill) was introduced into the Legislative Assembly in November 2020.

    Following the release of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, the government made a promise to implement changes to reduce the delay in workers receiving support for mental health injuries that was extending out, on average, to 13 weeks.

    The Bill seeks to introduce a 3-day notification requirement for mental injury claims and aims to provide workers with support within 2 days of the claim being submitted; a vast improvement from the average 13 weeks.


    Lead Regulation Amendments
    Amendments to Part 4.3 (Lead) of the OHS Regulations came into effect on 5 June 2020.

    Adjustments were made to the following:
    • airborne lead exposure standard
    • definition of lead-risk work
    • frequency of biological monitoring
    • blood lead level thresholds for removal from, and return to, lead-risk work.

    OHS Legislation – https://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/laws
    Codes of Practice – https://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/compliance-codes-and-codes-practice

    New South Wales

    Updated Codes
    • Formwork Code of Practice 2020
    • First Aid in the workplace code of practice 2020
    • Excavation work code of practice 2020

    OHS Legislation – https://www.safework.nsw.gov.au/legal-obligations
    OHS Codes of Practice – https://www.safework.nsw.gov.au/resource-library/list-of-all-codes-of-practice

    Australian Capital Territory

    Updated Codes
    • Work Health and Safety (Abrasive Blasting Code of Practice) Approval 2020
    • Work Health and Safety (First Aid in the Workplace Code of Practice) Approval 2020
    • Work Health and Safety (Hazardous Manual Tasks) Code of Practice Approval 2020
    • Work Health and Safety (How to Manage Work Health and Safety Risks) Code of Practice Approval 2020
    • Work Health and Safety (Managing Electrical Risks at the Workplace Code of Practice) Approval 2020
    • Work Health and Safety (Managing Noise and Preventing Hearing Loss at Work) Code of Practice 2020
    • Work Health and Safety (Managing the Risk of Falls at Workplaces Code of Practice) Approval 2020
    • Work Health and Safety (Managing the Work Environment and Facilities) Code of Practice Approval 2020
    • Work Health and Safety (Confined Spaces) Code of Practice Approval 2020
    • Work Health and Safety (Demolition Work Code of Practice) Approval 2020
    • Work Health and Safety (Excavation Work Code of Practice) Approval 2020
    • Work Health and Safety (How to Manage and Control Asbestos in the Workplace Code of Practice) Approval 2020
    • Work Health and Safety (How to Safely Remove Asbestos Code of Practice) Approval 2020
    • Work Health and Safety (Labelling of Workplace Hazardous Chemicals Code of Practice) Approval 2020
    • Work Health and Safety (Managing Risks of Plant in the Workplace Code of Practice) 2020
    • Work Health and Safety (Managing Risks of Hazardous Chemicals in the Workplace Code of Practice) Approval 2020
    • Work Health and Safety (Preparation of Safety Data Sheets for Hazardous Chemicals Code of Practice) Approval 2020
    • Work Health and Safety (Preventing Falls in Housing Construction Code of Practice) Approval 2020
    • Work Health and Safety (Safe Design of Structures Code of Practice) Approval 2020
    • Work Health and Safety (Spray Painting and Powder Coating Code of Practice) Approval 2020
    • Work Health and Safety (Welding Process Code of Practice) Approval 2020

    OHS Legislation – http://www.legislation.act.gov.au
    OHS Codes of Practice – https://www.accesscanberra.act.gov.au/app/answers/detail/a_id/4201


    Updated Legislation
    • Safety in Recreational Water Activities Act 2011
    • Safety in Recreational Water Activities Regulation 2011

    Updated Codes
    • Electrical safety code of practice 2020 – Electrical equipment rural industry
    • Electrical safety code of practice – Works
    • Working near overhead and underground electric lines – Electrical safety code of practice 2020

    OHS Legislation – https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/laws-and-compliance/workplace-health-and-safety-laws/laws-and-legislation
    OHS Codes of Practice – https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/laws-and-compliance/workplace-health-and-safety-laws/laws-and-legislation/codes-of-practice

    Northern Territory

    Updated Legislation
    • Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Regulations 2011 as in force 29 July 2020
    • Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority Act 2012 – As in force 28 June 2020
    • Waste Management and Pollution Control Act 1998 as in force at 28 June 2020
    • Water Act 1992 – As in force 20 November 2020

    OHS Legislation –https://worksafe.nt.gov.au/laws-and-compliance
    OHS Codes of Practice – https://worksafe.nt.gov.au/forms-and-resources/codes-of-practice

    Western Australia

    Silica Health Surveillance
    Businesses that expose workers to crystalline silica will be required to provide a low-dose HRCT scan, supervised by an appointed medical practitioner, instead of the previously required chest X-ray once the amendments to the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 come into effect on 15 April 2021.

    Work Health Safety Act & Regulations
    The Work Health and Safety Bill 2019 was passed by Parliament on 3 November 2020 and is awaiting royal assent. Work to develop the regulations will continue into 2021, and the WHS Act will not be operational until these have been completed.

    OHS Legislation – https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/worksafe/legislation
    Codes of Practice – https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/worksafe/approved-codes-practice

    NDIS Worker Screening Check
    A nationwide new worker screening process commenced from 1 February 2021 after Wester Australia passed the National Disability Insurance Scheme (Worker Screening) Bill 2020 (WA) in December.
    Amendments to the following were made because of this Bill being passed:
    • Spent Convictions Act 1988
    • Working with Children (Criminal Record 19 Checking).
    These changes allow the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (NDIS Commission) to introduce, and manage, a nationally consistent Worker Screening Check (NDIS Check) and the NDIS Worker Screening Database.
    All new workers, and current workers, are required to be checked through the system, with the transitional phase completed over December 2020 to 1 February 2021.
    The checks and register look to determine if the worker has been excluded to work in any industries, and if they may pose a risk to work with a person with a disability.


    How to host a COVID safe end-of-year celebration at your work

    Around this time of year, we find that many businesses seek OHS guidance about how they can host a safe Work Christmas Party or end-of-year celebration. Our advice is more or less the same each yearWe recommend you conduct a safety risk assessment at your chosen party location, manage alcohol carefully and the related hazards, and communicate clearly with your team about appropriate conduct and the rules of the event, to name a few. 


    Read about more key considerations for work parties here.  


    Whilst this safety guidance is still certainly relevant, this year there is a new consideration. You guessed it, COVID-19. From a work health and safety management and compliance perspective, you must take deliberate action to ensure you are hosting a COVIDsafe party for your team this year.  



    What are the key COVID considerations for your party this year? 


    Physical distancing 

    Physical distancing is still an important component of our ability to control the spread of coronavirus within the community. As such, you must ensure you pick a venue that allows for space – much more than usual that is. Venues will no doubt guide you in the number of patrons they can have in a space – but also be proactive about this and ask.  

    To help, ask your team to RSVP and stick to that RSVP so that you don’t have more people than you intended show up on the day/night.  


    Location & size 

    Leading on from physical distancing, you may also like to consider the size and location of your party. If you’re struggling to find a venue that will keep everyone in the same room, suitably safe and distant, without breaking the budget, consider having multiple smaller events or hosting an outdoor event this year. The likelihood of the coronavirus spreading outside vs inside is around 10 to 20 times less likely – so it’s a great plan if you can. 

    Consider having team-based celebrations instead of an “all staff” one. Think about outdoor venues like parks, the local footy oval, beaches, Botanical Gardens, or lawn bowls.  


    A COVID safe Christmas Party or Work Event in Australia



    Cleanliness & sanitisation 

    Maintain a clean and sanitised work place for your team is a big part of any COVID safe plan out there. We’ve all become used to the concept of sanitising our hands or workspaces, and being mindful of touching our faces/then surfaces or people around us. It is no different at your end-of-year party.  

    First, ensure the space is clean and sanitised when you start – and, if possible, arrange for surfaces to be cleaned throughout the duration of the party. Second, ensure you have hand sanitiser and appropriate signage around the part space to remind people.  



    Work events are often stand-up cocktail parties or bbqs, at which we might touch multiple glasses and plates throughout the night. There’s also commonly shared food at such events. However, this year, be mindful that it may be best to discourage the sharing of food, drinks, plates, cutlery and glassware, or touching multiple items, multiple times 

    Consider ways that everyone can keep hold of their glass and reduce shared items. Perhaps a little charm around your glass, or people may bring their own. You may also choose a sit-down event, in which people use the items in front of them and eat a plated meal. 


    Lay the ground rules 

    With each and every one of these considerations, the most important thing is to ensure they are well communicated and understood by all attendees. Consider communicating this in a few ways, and request acknowledgement that your colleagues have read and understood the rules for the day/night 


    Before the event, ensure you brief everyone (in person and/or in writing) on proper conduct and let them know about the rules for the event. At the event, use posters to remind people what you’ve already outlined. 



    Management of COVID-19 as an OHS hazard 


    At the end of the day, COVID-19 is a hazard that needs to be managed like any other in your workplace or at work-related events. When you conduct your risk assessment of the location of your work event, ensure that COVID is a top consideration.  


    Think about every possible way you can avoid the spread. Consider the points above as you plan what you will do, where you will go, how many people will be there, and how you can adhere to the relevant government and regulatory guidance.  


    Certainly, this is one end-of-year celebration we’ll all be pleased to attend – particularly for Victorians as they come out the other side of a longer lock down than most. We all need some time to rejuvenate, reconnect and relax, together as work mates and teams, after such a stressful and tumultuous year. 


    From the team at Action OHS Consulting to your team – happy end of year celebration! We made it! 


    If you need assistance with your COVID safe planning as we round out the year or perhaps as you plan to re-open and welcome your workers back, we’re here to help. Reach out to our team of OHS professionals today. 

    Prosecutions: 2019 Summary of VIC and NSW Data

    Workplace prosecutions are something that health and safety practitioners, and business leaders should maintain current awareness of. Why? Because you have a legislative duty to acquire and keep up-to-date knowledge of work health and safety matters relevant to the nature of your operations.

    In addition, the terminology reasonably practicable, means that you should consider the likelihood and degree of harm a hazard or risk could have. Whilst there may not have previously been an incident at your workplace, if a significant incident has occurred across your industry, it is something you should be aware of.

    For the fifth year in a row, Action OHS Consulting has taken some time to collate and review the data available from WorkSafe Victoria and SafeWork NSW.

    Used effectively, the provided information should support you to influence key stakeholders within your organisation, and assist your business to make informed decisions with respect to their health and safety program.

    This article provides an overview of the prosecutions from 2015 through to the 2019 calendar years.

    Prosecutions: Numbers and Related Legislation

    Calendar Year 2019 saw a total of 137 prosecutions against the Victorian health and safety legislation, whilst in NSW the number of prosecutions was 37.

    ***Note at the time when this report was produced, zero (0) prosecution had been listed on the SafeWork NSW website – should this change, this report will be updated accordingly***

    When compared to the previous year, there has been a 4% increase in Victoria and a 22% decrease in NSW. With respect to NSW, the prosecution in the current calendar year, align with the number of prosecutions in calendar year 2016 and 2017 where there were 35 and 27 prosecutions respectively.

    Within Victoria:

    • 121 prosecutions were recorded against the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 only
    • 1 prosecution was recorded against the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 only
    • 15 prosecutions involved both the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017
    • Unlike previous years, no prosecution involved the Dangerous Goods Legislation.

    Zero prosecutions were against the 2007 version of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations which were updated in 2017.

    Within NSW:

    • 34 prosecutions were recorded against the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 only
    • 2 prosecution was recorded against the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017 only
    • 1 prosecution involved both the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017

    Following the last prosecution against the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 being in 2016, and with their being no prosecutions since 2017, this signals a complete transition in NSW to prosecutions against the harmonised legislation.

    Note the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 was superseded as of 1 January 2012.

    Prosecution Timeframes

    The timeframe for the prosecution’s outcomes from 2018, when measured against the date of the offence have been listed in the table below.

    Table 1: Timeframe between date of offence and the prosecution outcome, for the 2018 prosecution outcomes reported by SafeWork NSW & WorkSafe Victoria. Bracketed numbers represent the increase / decrease from 2017.

    Health and Safety Fines

    Year on year, the average fine and median fine decreased in Victoria, and increased in NSW. In Victoria the median fine has been relatively stable over the last 5 years. The average and median fines were greater in NSW, when compared to Victoria. However, there were approximately 4 times more prosecutions in Victoria, compared to NSW.

    In NSW each prosecution resulted in a monetary fine. In Victoria 124 fines were issued (91% of prosecutions).

    In addition to the fines, WorkSafe Victoria issued 8 Enforceable Undertakings in 2019 which equates to 6% of prosecutions. This is compared to the 6 (7%), 7 (8%), 10 (7%) and 6 (5%) Enforceable Undertaking issued in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively. An enforceable undertaking is a legally binding agreement between WorkSafe Victoria and the employer. The employer is obliged to carry out the specific activities outlined in the agreed undertaking. EU’s will typically guide and direct the business being prosecuted to improve its health and safety program.

    Health and Safety Fines: Maximum Issued

    With respect to fines, the maximum fines for both Victoria and NSW decreased year on year.

    The maximum fines issued to a business were associated with the following events:

    • Victoria: Bradken made heavy metal components by casting. The castings weighed between 200 and 270 kg and were used in mining, excavation and transport. On 22 July 2014 the castings being manufactured were end blocks for excavators. The manufacturing process commenced with moulds being formed with sand and chemically bonded to make the block. The leading hand then made a core to go inside each mould (to create cavities), and the mould was then placed on a line (like a miniature railway) to move the moulds into the furnace. Inside the furnace molten metal was heated to about 1580° Celsius. The metal was poured into each mould. Each end block casting weighted approximately 270kg at pour; the casting and mould together weighed about 800–900kg. A pneumatic arm pushed the mould along the line and the mould with the castings still inside was left for approximately two hours to cool. After about two hours, the casting was removed from the sand mould. The casting was taken to a cooling bin and the sand was removed from the area and stockpiled to be on-sold for roadmaking. At the time of the incident, the castings were moved using a skid steer loader which had been used in this procedure since its purchase in June 2012. The windscreen of the skid steer loader was fitted with 6mm toughened glass, with an industrial film placed over the outside. Mr. Watson was tasked with removing the castings from the mould and then placing the casting in the cooling bin. This process was known as “knocking out” ie knocking out the castings from the sand moulds. The process also included “knocking off” any remaining sand. The process was undertaken by an employee using the skid steer loader. The mould was tipped off the conveyor onto the concrete floor. The casting temperature was still (on average) about 580°C at this time. The tipping process usually broke the mould from around the casting; otherwise the skid steer operator was required to use the lip of the bucket to break the mould. The operator then picked up the casting using the bucket of the skid steer loader, knocked off any remaining sand, and moved the casting to the cooling bin. There were no eyewitnesses to the event which led to Mr. Watson’s death. A fellow Bradken employee saw the skid steer loader on fire about 100 metres from where he was working. When he ran over he saw Mr. Watson was seated in the cabin of the loader and the casting was resting on him. Mr. Watson was not moving and was charred by the fire. Police and paramedics attended the scene. It took a considerable time for the fire to be extinguished and the casting to cool sufficiently to allow access to Mr. Watson’s body. The cause of death was recorded as “effects of fire”.
    • NSW: On 25 October 2016, a 55-year-old carpenter suffered fatal injuries when he fell from the exposed edge of a partially constructed formwork deck under construction and was impaled through the chest on a reo bar, at Ryde. After a SafeWork NSW investigation, the defendant, Truslan Constructions Pty Ltd, was charged with a breach of section 32/19(1) of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. On 12 July 2019, the defendant was convicted by the District Court and fined $450,000

    It is not just businesses that are being prosecuted in relation to health and safety breaches

    If you were of the understanding that health and safety prosecutions were limited to corporations – think again. In 2019, 13% and 19% of prosecutions were issued to workers in Victoria and NSW respectively – equating to 18 and 7 prosecutions respectively.

    Prosecutions: What is the Cause and where are the Gaps?

    With respect to the criteria/codes that lead to the prosecution – the criteria that was associated with 10% of the prosecutions in 2018, as defined by WorkSafe Victoria, are outlined below.

    These criteria are relatively consitent since 2015. In 2019 there was an increase in “guarding-related” prosections, highlighted by the increase in “Guarding”, “Unguarded plant” along with the “Failure to provde and maintain plant”.

     “Failure to provide a safe system of work” continues to places a clear duty on all workplaces to understand their operations, the hazards associated with their work, and ensure that the established controls are implmented.

    Other criteria noteworthy to report on includes reductions in prosecutions related to failure to conduct risk/hazard identification or risk assessment:

    The Complimentary Support

    Action OHS Consulting continues to observe a rise in inbound calls for support, associated with businesses wanting guidance, on how they can best manage their legal obligations associated with health and safety.

    Action OHS Consulting is on a panel of providers endorsed by WorkSafe Victoria which provides complementary OHS Review’s for Victorian-based businesses with less than 60 workers across a period of 12-months. If you would like to find out more about this program, please contact us – Contact Us.

    The Takeaway

    Due diligence is all about collecting information to better understand health and safety impacts associated with a business’s operation, to allow better and more informed decisions being made.

    The intention; is to protect workers, contractors, customers and visitors from harm. It is the duty that is placed on senior managers and businesses under the health and safety legislation, and their for is a duty that all businesses must be aware of.

    With respect to the Health and Safety Legislation, it adopts a risk-based approach. This means that business and their senior managers are required businesses to understand and manage the hazards associated with their operations (due diligence). Put simply, this leads to a requirement for workplaces to actively:

    • Ensure that your safety program easy to access and understand, and importantly relevant to your operations. Strongly consider implementing safety software such as Safety Champion, to help ensure that scheduled tasks are completed, and that workers can easily report incidents and/or hazards. Ensuring that you have visibility and read access to this information, will assist you to proactively prevent incidents from occurring in the future.
    • List all the ways your workers could get hurt, and document what you have put in place to stop this from happening. Start by listing the “Top 5” hazards – focusing on those which could cause the most serious harm. Do this in consultation with a selection of workers who hold different roles within your business. If you identify things that you could improve and/or do better, this is not bad, in fact, it is the point of the exercise.
    • Continue to consult. Have regular structured and unstructured conversations with your team regarding the controls you have established.
    • Build competency. Ensure that you have an induction program that includes an overview of your safety program and the operational activities that the worker will undertake. Consider assigning a “buddy” to “new” and/or “young” workers.
    • Ensure your safety program is sustainable. Don’t rely on just one person. Spreadsheets and folders can be effective if you are organised, however, are difficult to maintain visibility when tasks are due – or more importantly, when tasks are missed. Software programs like Safety Champion Software will support visibility of your health and safety program, guide and remind you when deadlines and key milestones approach.
    • Considering safety when engaging contractors. Workplaces often engage contractors to support processes that the workplace is not familiar with, which often means new hazards are introduced to the workplace. Prior to engaging contractors, along with price, seek information from the contract to understand how they will help you maintain a safe working environment when they are onsite.
    • Consider safety as part of your procurement process. Before you buy anything, consider the safety implications. Don’t limit this to equipment, machinery, computers – extended this to services as well. Don’t make safety an afterthought.

    We would be interested to hear your thoughts, questions or fears.

    If, like us, you would like to interrogate data, we would be more than happy to share an unlocked copy of the data with you – simply Contact Us.

    Newly released health and safety codes and legislation – January 2020

    Workplace Exposure Standards

    Safe Work Australia has been working to review and update the workplace exposure standards (WES) for airborne contaminates.

    Recent updates include:

    • Respirable crystalline silica dust has been reduced to 0.05 mg/m3 as a time-weighted average (TWA) airborne concentration over 8 hours.
    • Respirable coal dust will be reduced to a time weighted average (TWA) of 1.5 mg/m3

    Each jurisdiction needs to decide when the exposure standards will be introduced.

    Check out Safe Work Australia’s progress with the full review here:


    Updated GHS Revision

    The adoption of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) Revision 7 has been agreed by Safe Work Australia Members at their November 2019 meeting. The GHS Revision 7 ensure Australia is adopting best practice.

    The replacement of GHS Revision 3 is expected to take place from July 2020 with a 2-year transition period to the GHS Revision 7.

    Check out Safe Work Australia’s website for more information:


    Return to Work Strategy

    Safe Work Australia has released a national 10-year action plan to ambitiously improve return to work outcomes across Australia.

    See more about this plan here:





    Concrete Pumping | Code of Practice | December 2019:


    Electrical Safety Works | Code of Practice | January 2020:


    Electrical Safety – Electrical Equipment Rural Industry Code of Practice | Code of Practice | January 2020:


    Electrical Safety – Working Near Overhead and Underground Electric Lines | Code of Practice | January 2020:





    Victoria has introduced the Workplace Safety Legislation Amendment (Workplace Manslaughter and Other Matters) Bill 2019. This amendment will commence in July 2020,  but may commence earlier at the government’s direction.

    A duty holder will be guilty of a proposed offence if the relevant conduct: 

    • is “negligent” 
    • constitutes a breach of an existing duty under the OHS Act, and 
    • causes the death of a person at or near a workplace. 

    Conduct being an act or omission of an act that occurred before of after the amendment to legislation. Conduct is negligent when there is a great falling short of the standard a reasonable person would have taken and the conduct involves a high risk of death, serious injury or serious illness.

    The Bill – click here

    Explanatory Memorandum – click here

    Workplace Exposure Standards

    Silica: The exposure standard for respirable crystalline silica dust has been reduced to 0.05 mg/m3 as a time-weighted average (TWA) airborne concentration over 8 hours. Effective from 17 December 2019


    Western Australia


    The Work Health Safety Bill 2019 was introduced to the Legislative Assembly on the 27th of November and is expected to be implemented by mid 2020 along with updated Work Health Safety Regulations. The Legislative Assembly next meets on 11 February 2020

    The Bill is based on the national Work Health Safety Act. The Bill contains provisions for Industrial Manslaughter, Prohibition against insurance from monetary penalties and Duty of Care provisions for WHS service providers.

    The WHS Bill will replace three current acts:

    • the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984
    • Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994; and 
    • Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Safety Levies Act 2011

    The Bill as introduced – click here

    Explanatory Memorandum presented in the Legislative Assembly – click here


    Northern Territory


    The Northern Territory passed the Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Amendment Bill 2019 on the 27 November 2019. The Bill amends the legislation to include the offence of industrial manslaughter. There has been no

    The Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Amendment Bill 2019:



    New South Wales


    Amendments to the Work Health Safety Act have been proposed through the Work Health and Safety Amendment (Review) Bill 2019 which, if passed, they will address a number of the recommendations from the Boland report.

    The key amendments include:

    • The prohibition of insurance against WHS fines.
    • Include an alternative fault element, lowering the required degree of a breach from reckless to gross negligence.
    • Maximum penalties increase, through the adoption of a penalty unit system.
    • A added note to make it clear that a workplace death may also constitute manslaughter under the Crimes Act 1900 and may be prosecuted under that Act.
    • Provisions for the sharing of personal information between Health and Safety Regulators across jurisdictions, in relation to incident investigations.

    Want to have a say?

    A public comment period is currently open to provide views and submissions for the committee to consider:


    In addition, amendments to the Work Health Safety Regulation were effective from 15 November 2019. See the details here:


    Explanatory statement – click here


    South Australia

    Workplace Exposure Standards

    The exposure standard for respirable crystalline silica dust has been reduced to 0.05 mg/m3 as a time-weighted average (TWA) airborne concentration over 8 hours. Effective from 1 July 2020.



     No updates.


    Australian Capital Territory

    No updates.


    For past updates to codes and legislation through 2018-2019, review this blog;


    OPINION | From Little Things Big Things Grow – Measuring the Return on Safety Investment

    By Stephen Pehm | Senior Consultant

    The unfolding bushfire situation across the eastern seaboard of Australia has been devastating for many.

    One thing to emerge has been that a significant number of people who were impacted by these fires were not adequately prepared for their severity. Hence these people lost a significantly greater amount possessions and property.

    Yet, we can draw lessons from this and other disasters. The lesson is undoubtedly about being better prepared for the unexpected.

    Start planning and preparing

    How can we move from not planning, to planning for scenarios, and then building strategies to manage the consequence?

    Undoubtedly, the question that should, and will be, asked is:

    How will this preparation add benefit to the bottom line of our business?

    Yes, it can be hard to justify expenditure when there is no readily discernible benefit.

    However, to quantify such a benefit, we should consider the direct costs associated with a workplace incident.

    Direct costs can include:

    • Workers compensation payments – premium increases from direct claims costs/estimates and poorer insurance performance;
    • Medical expenses;
    • Civil liability damages – civil law claims payments made by victims of the accident
    • Litigation expenses
    • Property / damages losses

    On top of this, the indirect costs can be significant, and occur due to:

    • business disruption
    • lowered worker moral
    • loss of experience and skills.

    A survey of financial decision makers whose organisations had experienced an injured worker(s) was undertaken in the USA in 2011. Results showed that the average indirect cost was $2.12 for every $1 spent on direct injury related costs.

    In developing a business case for safety expenditure, the indirect incident related costs should be considered.

    Safety expenditure can indeed take many forms

    These can range from:

    • Structural spending: required by all businesses to attain adequate protection from generic hazards such as emergencies
    • Specific expenditure: to identified areas of potential risk before that harm eventuates (for example addressing faulty equipment, worker mental health, etc.).

    Expenditure can include (but not be limited to) purchase of safety equipment, development of safe working procedures, or implementation of associated training.

    Benefits to the business from safety expenditure are often hard to quantify

    In attempting to quantify this the timeframe of the expenditure return need to be considered (e.g. return in 1 year, or 2 years, etc.).

    Multiple studies have estimated a savings return, from safety expenditure. These include:

    In 2018, the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine published an economic analysis of 19 randomised, employer-driven interventions outlined in studies from 2005 to 2016. Results showed that 11 were cost-effective. Of the interventions identified as not cost-effective, a majority focused on individual – and not organisational – levels (J Occupational Environmental Medicine. 2018 Feb; 60(2): 147–166).

    A summary report produced by Safe Work Australia in 2014 concluded that, in broad terms, research supports the proposition that investments in stronger WHS practices will provide a positive return on investment. This is said to occur through reduced costs associated with poor WHS outcomes and improved productivity, or other outcomes that add value to the business (Safe Work Australia: Workplace Health and Safety, Business Productivity and Sustainability). 

    In the area of positive worker mental health programs, recent research by Deloitte in Canada revealed that the median yearly ROI on mental health programs was CA$1.62 among companies that provided at least three years’ worth of data. With companies whose programs had been in place for three or more years providing a median yearly ROI of CA$2.18. (Deloitte Insights (2019). The ROI in workplace mental health programs: Good for people, good for business A blueprint for workplace mental health programs).

    Clearly much time and attention has gone into estimating the financial impacts of health, safety and wellbeing initiatives.

    Whilst this work may indicate the willingness of industry to partake in such activities stemming from the bottom line and not from a position of care and responsibility for their people, it is nonetheless a useful thing to understand.

    The long and the short of it is; We can – and must – be better prepared to confront the safety challenges we face in our places of work. If only to ensure that our people, our peers, and our friends remain healthy and safe at work.

    Silicosis; what you need to know, and do, to prevent it

    There is good reason for the increased attention in the news over the past few months about the lung disease Silicosis. Not to be taken lightly, the disease has afflicted a number of people in a wide range of industries throughout Australia and around the world, and has even caused death.


    Certainly, it is time for businesses in the mining, tunnelling, quarry and stonemasonry industry to get a clear understanding of their legislative obligations, as soon as possible. There are many practical actions you can take now to start working towards preventing this disease in your workplace.


    A great starting point is to first learn about the nature of the disease, in terms of the hazards and risks, which predispose workers to the condition. It is important to understand that silicosis is entirely preventable.



    What is silicosis?

    Silicosis is a lung disease caused by breathing tiny airborne particles of silica – also known as silica dust – into the lungs.


    As the particles are inhaled they have the potential to penetrate and scar the lung tissue, causing it to become stiffer over time dependent on the duration of exposure and intensity of silica exposure (in terms of the workplace). This prevents the lungs from transferring oxygen into the blood stream properly and can lead to a number of health impacts, including irreversible lung damage, autoimmune disease and premature death.


    Yet silicosis is a very varied disease, with different levels of risks and health complications. It can develop after a few weeks or even up to a few years after exposure to silica dust. Indeed, different types of silicosis – such as acute silicosis, accelerated silicosis, or chronic silicosis – all develop in different ways and exhibit different symptoms.



    The risk of developing silicosis – with faster progression – increases as the intensity of exposure intensifies.



    Additionally, it should be noted that there are a variety of other diseases and health conditions related to exposure to silica, such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema, lung cancer and tuberculosis.


    It is important to remember that there are often no symptoms at all in the early stages of the disease. So, it’s not wise to believe that simply because no one is coughing, everything is fine.


    Over time, shortness of breath and coughing are signs of the disease, or another related disease as listed above, may be developing. This can continue to deteriorate over time, impacting a person’s ability to work, perform simple and low impact activities of daily living and to breath at all.



    Who is at risk?

    Silica dust finds its way into the lungs of workers in a variety of industries, as they perform many of the most common and everyday tasks related to those job roles.


    Cutting, grinding, crushing, drilling, sawing, excavating, chiseling, paving, surfacing, polishing… if you use any of these types of words to describe what you or your workers do, it might be time to consider the risks associated with silica dust in your workplace.


    You might think of those cutting artificial stones first following the media attention, or people working in mining. Certainly people in these industries are at risk. Yet, consider other industries that regularly perform these tasks that you may not think of initially – landscaping, building, stone masonry, or pottery and ceramics.


    Clearly, the possibility of silica dust affecting the workforce can be widespread across more than one industry.



    Where can silica be found?

    Make no mistake, this issue is not only related to workers that cut composite stone for a living. Silica is found in all kinds of stone – natural or otherwise – concrete, mortar, brick, tilers and some plastics.


    Despite what many people think, silica (SiO2) is actually a naturally occurring mineral. It is the main component of sand and 95% of natural rock. But it is also used to make a variety of artificial or engineered stone products.


    The significant hazards and risks associated with manufacturing and/or working with artificial or engineered stone is the high crystalline silica content (i.e. greater than 85%).


    The table below lists the common stone products and their typical crystalline silica content.

    Reconstituted stone (eg, Caesarstone, Quantum Quartz, Smartstone) More than 90%
    Sandstone 70% to 90%
    Granite 25% to 40%
    Slate 20% to 40%
    Marble Less than 5 %

    Source: WorkSafe Victoria



    Practical controls you can put in place

    Silicosis is an entirely preventable disease. As such, the controls and measures that each of us put in place in our workplaces have the potential to make significant positive impact to ensure that this disease does not continue to impact Australian morbidity and/or mortality rates in the workforce.


    Prevention is key. Starting at the top of the hierarchy of controls, here is some practical advice:

    Substitution Source composite stone with a lower percentage of crystalline silica
    Isolation Enclose areas with dust generating tasks and implement suitable extraction systems that reduce dust exposure in the workplace. Use automation where possible.

    Minimise the risk of exposure to generated silica dust, with local exhaust ventilation, water suppression (wet cutting), and/or using the correct tools which have inbuilt extraction and water generating capacity.

    Should a risk still remain after implementing substitution, isolation, and engineering controls, consider;
    Administration Ensure site rules, policies and procedures are suitable and appropriately implemented and managed in your workplace – consider shift rotations and effective training and induction processes.
    PPE Ensure that all personal protective equipment is fit for purpose; respiratory equipment (minimum of a P2 efficiency half face respirator) with fit-test processes in place and work clothing that either does not collect dust, or is appropriately laundered or disposed of in the workplace.


    Additionally, regular and thorough dust monitoring and worker health surveillance is an important and critical part of the process.


    Action OHS Consulting Pty Ltd can support businesses to identify the degree of the problem in their workplace(s) and support the contextualisation of suitable and appropriate risk control measures to address the hazards and risks in the workplace.


    Plus, WorkSafe Victoria has compiled some invaluable resources with industry-specific advice about Silicosis. Have a read: https://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/crystalline-silica


    What are your legal responsibilities?

    It goes without saying that as an employer, you must provide a safe workplace. What does this involve?

    • Appropriate pre-employment checks;
    • Health surveillance for workers with potential exposure to silica dust;
    • Worker consultation and communication;
    • Implementation, monitoring and review of suitable and appropriate risk controls in accordance with the hierarchy of controls and contextually relevant to the specific hazards and risks in the relevant workplace.




    Victorian Amendments 

    In Victoria, the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 were amended 20 August 2019 to provide greater protection to Victorian employees working with engineered stone.

    Engineered stone as manufactured composite stone that contains resins and has a crystalline silica content of at least 80 per cent. Engineered stone is commonly used as kitchen, bathroom and laundry bench tops.

    These amendments now prohibit uncontrolled cutting, grinding and abrasive polishing of engineered stone with power tools.

    What does this really mean?

    It means that all controls must be properly designed, installed, used and maintained so they stay effective at reducing exposure to crystalline silica dust.

    What are the controls you must be across?

    1. Under the amended regulations, it does not matter if you are an employer, self-employed person or person who manages or controls a workplace must ensure a power tool is not used to cut, grind or abrasively polish engineered stone, unless the tool:
    • has an integrated water delivery system that supplies a continuous feed of water (on-tool water suppression). Note: A hand held hose (or other hand held water delivery device) to direct water at the cutting point is NOT considered to be an ‘integrated water delivery system’. An integrated.
    • is fitted with on-tool extraction attached to a HEPA filtered dust class H vacuum cleaner (or similar system that captures the dust generated).

    If these controls are not reasonably practicable, the use of power tools must be controlled through local exhaust ventilation (LEV).

    1. It also means that people cutting, grinding or polishing engineered stone with a power tool must be provided with respiratory protective equipment that:
    • is designed to protect the wearer from the inhalation of airborne contaminants entering the nose, mouth and lungs
    • complies with AS/NZS 1716 – Respiratory protective devices.

    Air and health monitoring – yes or no?

    Employers continue to have an obligation to carry out air monitoring if they are not sure if their employees are exposed to levels of silica dust that are above the exposure standard – i.e. 0.02 mg/m3 a time-weighted average (TWA) airborne concentration over 8 hours.

    With respect to this monitoring, employers should carry it out on a regular basis to ensure employee exposure is controlled.

    Employers should carry out health monitoring in all workplaces there is exposure to airborne silica, unless air monitoring data shows that exposure is less than 0.02 mg/m3 as a time-weighted average (TWA) airborne concentration over 8 hours.

    If you don’t comply?

    If you are not able to comply with the requirements for cutting, polishing or abrasively polishing engineered stone with power tools, the work cannot be done. Failing to control risks of dry processing may be a criminal offence.

    If you require assistance

    You should call us. As a Victorian-based Health and Safety Consulting business, we have the knowledge and capability to support you manage your regulatory needs. If you are a business with less than 60 workers, the OHS Essentials Program is something you should consider to ensure that you remain knowledgeable about silica and your legislative duty. Register your interest here.


    8 big safety considerations for the Work Christmas Party

    In most legal contexts, the work Christmas party is considered part of the work environment. Do you know what that means? Yes, the workplace continues to have a duty to provide a safe work environment.

    Indeed, employers have been held liable under both the health and safety legislation, and the workers compensation legislation for incidents that have happened at work Christmas parties.

    Whilst recognised as a time to celebrate, it is also a time your organisation should consider and manage the risks involved.

    Learn more about “How to host a COVID safe celebration” here


    Eight of the big ones to consider

    Listed below are eight workplace health and safety considerations, which may help you to manage some of the more common health and safety hazards associated with your upcoming end of year celebration. 


    1. Risk assess.

    Involve your Health and Safety Representatives or Health and Safety Team in the event planning. Document a OHS risk assessment that identifies all foreseeable health and safety hazards and their defined control/s. Your safety risk assessment should consider an inspection of the site prior to the event. No Health and Safety Representatives or Health and Safety Team? That’s fine, just ensure that health and safety is a consideration of the team planning the event. How could people get hurt? Then, what can we do to prevent this.


    2. Remind your employees of your expectations.

    In the days prior to the Christmas event, remind staff (by email or memo) about the expected standards of behaviour and the disciplinary consequences that may take place. This should see you reinforce your workplace’s WHS policy, EEO policy and Code of Conduct to all attendees.


    3. Be clear with when the event will finish.

    Clearly set out defined start and finish times for the event and ensure that these are stated on the invitation. Realise that arranging or paying for drinks at an “after event” or “after party” will most likely extend your liability.


    4. Travel.

    How will workers travel to and from the function? Remember that in some jurisdictions, your workers compensation obligations do not just cover the employee’s time at work, but also extends to the journey to and from work – in this case the Christmas or end of year event.


    5. Manage alcohol.

    Needless to say, consumption of alcohol is likely to be a key health and safety risk. Consider restricting the amount of drinks or the strength of drinks that are available. Always have non-alcoholic alternatives available.


    6. Provide food.

    A meal or finger food has been shown to slow down alcohol consumption.


    7. Supervise!

    Someone should be nominated to monitor health and safety hazards such as wet floors, loose cables, behaviour, and manage incidents that may occur during the event. Is there a first aid officer, or emergency warden nominated? Supervision should include monitoring the controls identified within your pre-event health and safety risk assessment.


    8. Debrief

    In the days following the event, review the pre-event health and safety risk assessment and evaluate the effectiveness of the identified health and safety controls. Good documentation at this end will support your planning for next year. Fantastic!


    What if an incident does occur?

    Should an incident occur, it is important that you follow your workplaces incident reporting and investigation process. After managing the incident; consider, if possible, to avoid commencing the incident investigation until people are (sober and) back at the workplace.



    How do you manage the Christmas rush?

    Rushing to meet deadlines?

    Whilst workers are most often trying to do the right thing by their employer, rushing to meet deadlines will often result in workers cutting corners, making bad judgements or ignoring the controls that have been established to provide a safe working environment.

    Management and supervisors should ensure that safety is actively monitored and inspected during this period so that it remains a key focus – let your employees know that “safety” is not entitled to Christmas leave.


    New or Novice Employees

    If Christmas is a period where new employees are hired, or temps engaged to cope with your increased demand, how do you ensure that they are appropriately trained, before letting them loose into the hustle and bustle of Christmas?

    Workers have told us that they are less likely to ask questions during this time as they “do not want to cause more work” for their colleagues – this unfortunately often leads to injury.

    We have identified that some businesses introduce office based workers into the “shop-front” to support the Christmas rush. Whilst this may bring a united spirit between the office and the shop-front – it is important that the employees who come from the office are appropriately trained and competent.


    Of course, the end of year work party is supposed to be a fun time. So keep it that way. But actively working through this list and putting measures in place to prevent anything bad from happening is important as well. After all, we all want to spent our end-of-year holidays safe, happy and healthy, with our family and friends. 


    To learn more about hosting a “COVID safe” end-of-year celebration for 2020 – read this blog next.

    Newly Released Codes & Legislation – October 2019

    Please find below a compilation of the latest legislation and codes, as of October 2019. Below this, you will see a list of all updates we have been tracking over time. Feel free to reference these as and when you need.


    Safe Work Australia


    First aid in the workplace | Model Code of Practice | August 2019





    Managing respirable crystalline silica dust exposure in the stone benchtop industry | Code of Practice | October 2019




    Legislation Amendments

    Victoria has introduced new requirements for working with engineered stone.

    The Occupational Health and Safety Amendment (Crystalline Silica) Regulations 2019, applies to Part 4.1 (Hazardous substances) of the OHS Regulations.

    In addition to current requirements all power tools used with engineered stone must:

    • have an integrated water delivery system that supplies a continuous feed of water (on-tool water suppression), or
    • be fitted with on-tool extraction attached to a HEPA filtered dust class H vacuum cleaner (or similar system that captures the dust generated).

    If these controls are not reasonably practicable, the use of power tools must be controlled through local exhaust ventilation (LEV).

    In addition, it is mandatory to provide Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) and associated training to anyone who is cutting, grinding or abrasively polishing engineered stone with a power tool.

    Other requirement around air monitoring and health monitoring still apply.


    The amendments come into effect on 20 August 2019.

    See link for more details



    Western Australia

    Proposed Legislation Changes

    Public Consultation on Work Health and Safety Regulations for Western Australia is currently open, opportunity for comment ends 26 November 2019.  



    Northern Territory

    Legislation Amendments

    NT WorkSafe has introduced amendments to blood lead removal levels in the WHS (National Uniform Legislation) Regulations 2011 in line with the 2017 national agreement. The new levels will become mandatory from July 2021.

    Please see the link for more details.



    New South Wales

    Legislation Amendments

    SafeWork NSW has made amendments to the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) and Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017 (WHS Regulation), these changes came into effect on 1 July 2019.

    The WHS Act was amended to included Rural Workers Accommodation Provisions (The RWA Act 1969 was repealed).

    The WHS Regulations had amendments in the following areas:

    • Adjustment of fees
    • Definitions changes
    • Hazardous chemicals to align with the updated GHS requirements
    • Lead definitions, thresholds and monitoring to align with National Review findings
    • Diving for work

    Further details:




    Draft Formwork | Code of Practice


    SafeWork NSW has adopted the model codes of practice updated by Safe Work Australia throughout 2018. Mostly the updates are to improve readability and use, although there was a specific change made to the transport of asbestos waste in the Code of Practice: How to safely remove asbestos.

    Abrasive blasting | Code of Practice | August 2019



    Confined spaces | Code of Practice | August 2019



    Construction work | Code of Practice | August 2019



    Demolition work | Code of Practice | August 2019



    Excavation work | Code of Practice | August 2019



    First Aid in the workplace| Code of Practice | August 2019



    Hazardous manual tasks| Code of Practice | August 2019



    How to manage and control asbestos in the workplace | Code of Practice | August 2019



    How to manage work health and safety risks | Code of Practice | August 2019



    How to safely remove asbestos | Code of Practice | August 2019



    Labelling of workplace hazardous chemicals | Code of Practice | August 2019



    Managing electrical risks | Code of Practice | August 2019



    Managing noise and preventing hearing loss at work | Code of Practice | August 2019



    Managing the risk of falls at workplaces | Code of Practice | August 2019



    Managing risks of hazardous chemicals in the workplace | Code of Practice | August 2019



    Managing the risks of plant in the workplace | Code of Practice | August 2019



    Managing the work environment and facilities | Code of Practice | August 2019



    Preparation of safety data sheets for hazardous chemicals | Code of Practice | August 2019



    Managing the risk of falls in housing construction | Code of Practice | August 2019



    Safe design of structures | Code of Practice | August 2019



    Spray painting and powder coating | Code of Practice | August 2019



    Welding processes | Code of Practice | August 2019



    Work health and safety consultation, cooperation and coordination | Code of Practice | August 2019



    South Australia

    Legislation Amendments

    SafeWork SA have introduced the Work Health and Safety (Blood Lead Removal Levels) Variation Regulations 2019 that came into operation on 1 July 2019. This change reduces the notification levels of the allowable blood lead levels in workplaces (by 2021), as agreed nationally.

    Further information: https://www.safework.sa.gov.au/licensing/notifications/lead-risk-work

    Dangerous Substances

    Amendments to the Dangerous Substances (Dangerous Goods Transport) Regulations 2008 (SA) (DGT Regulations) came into effect on 1 July 2019.

    These amendments ensure consistency across associated legislation including Edition 7.6 of the Australian Code for the Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road and Rail (the Code).

    Further information: https://www.safework.sa.gov.au/business-industry/transport/hazards-risks/transport-dangerous-goods



    Newly Released Codes of Practice – June 2019

    Here you will find the latest Codes of Practice documents as of June 2019. Below this, you will see a catalogue of updates for your reference on an ongoing basis.


    Safe Work Australia

    Review of the model WHS laws: Final report

    The review of the model WHS laws was conducted in 2018 and was released publicly in February 2019.

    Ms Boland made 34 recommendations for the improvement of the implementation of the model WHS laws. Here is the final report to see the full findings and discussions: 

    Review of the Model WHS Laws – Final Report


    Northern Territory

    Best Practice Review of WHS in NT

    The Northern Territory has also been reviewing their management of WHS. Please find here the review and recommendations from by Mr Tim Lyons.

    Best Practice Report Final Report 10 January 2019




    Construction and operation of solar farms | Code of Practice | May 2019



    Electrical Safety Regulation | Minor Changes

    • Modified educational requirements of a “qualified business person” (QBP) and raised the experience requirements of a “qualified technical person” (QTP) from one year to two years under the ES Regulation. Effective 1 January 2019.

    WHS Regulation | Minor Changes

    • Time period for Health and Safety Representative (HSR) training to occur reduced from six months to three months after election, with provision for a longer period if the training course is not reasonably available within three months. Effective 1 February 2019.
    • Making explicit that the Regulator can cancel the registration of a design or item of plant for non-compliance with a condition of registration. Effective 1 January 2019.
    • Enabling the sharing of information with other agencies that is necessary for those agencies to administer or enforce their legislation, namely the Biosecurity Act 2014, Exhibited Animals Act 2015, Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017, Planning Act 2016 andProfessional Engineers Act 2002

    Further details:

    WHS and Other Legislation Amendment Regulation 2018




    WHS Regulations | Minor Changes

    Division 2 – General diving work – Fitness and competence of worker | Changes Effective 1 January 2019:

    • Regulations 168, 169 and 170 regarding medical fitness to undertake general diving work;
    • Regulations 178 and 179 requiring a dive plan to be prepared and to be complied with, when general diving work is carried out; and
    • Regulations 180 and 181 requiring a dive safety log to be kept and retained for at least one year after the last entry.

    Further details:



    South Australia 


    Abrasive Blasting | Code of Practice | March 2019 – Click here for updates

    First aid in the workplace | Code of Practice | March 2019 – Click here for updates

    How to manage work health and safety risks | Code of Practice | March 2019 – Click here for updates

    Managing risks of hazardous chemicals in the workplace | Code of Practice | March 2019 – Click here for updates

    Managing the risks of plant in the workplace | Code of Practice | 2019 – Click here for updates

    Managing the work environment and facilities | Code of Practice | 2019 – Click here for updates

    Preparation of safety data sheets for hazardous chemicals | Code of Practice | March 2019 – Click here for updates

    Welding processes | Code of Practice | March 2019 – Click here for updates

    Work health and safety consultation, co-operation and co-ordination | Code of Practice | 2019 – Click here for updates


    Western Australia


    Concrete and masonry cutting and drilling | Code of Practice | March 2019




    Newly Released Codes of Practice – January 2019

    Here you will find the latest Codes of Practice documents as of January 2019. Below this, you will see a catalogue of updates for your reference on an ongoing basis.


    Tasmania Codes

    Work Health and Safety Consultation, Cooperation and Coordination Code of Practice, Effective 5 Dec 2018

    Welding Processes Code of Practice, Effective, 5 Dec 2018 

    Spray Painting and Powder Coating Code of Practice, Effective 5 Dec 2018

    Safe Design of Structures Code of Practice, Effective 5 Dec 2018

    Preventing Falls in Housing Construction Code of Practice, Effective 5 Dec 2018

    Managing the Work Environment and Facilities Code of Practice, Effective 5 Dec 2018

    Managing the Risks of Plant in the Workplace, Effective 5 Dec 2018

    Managing the Risk of Falls at Workplaces Code of Practice, Effective 5 Dec 2018

    Managing Risks of Hazardous Chemicals in the Workplace Code of Practice, Effective 5 Dec 2018

    Managing Noise and Preventing Hearing Loss at Work Code of Practice, Effective 5 Dec 2018

    Managing Electrical Risks in the Workplace Code of Practice, Effective 5 Dec 2018

    Labelling of Workplace Hazardous Chemicals Code of Practice, Effective 5 Dec 2018

    How to Safely Remove Asbestos Code of Practice, Effective 5 Dec 2018

    How to Manage Work Health and Safety Risks Code of Practice, Effective 5 Dec 2018

    How to Manage and Control Asbestos in the Workplace Code of Practice, Effective 5 Dec 2018

    Hazardous Manual Tasks Code of Practice, Effective 5 Dec 2018

    First Aid in the Workplace Code of Practice, Effective 5 Dec 2018

    Excavation Work Code of Practice, Effective 5 Dec 2018

    Demolition Work, Effective 5 Dec 2018

    Confined Spaces Code of Practice, Effective 5 Dec 2018

    Abrasive Blasting Code of Practice, Effective 5 Dec 2018


    SA Codes

    No new or updated codes


    NSW Codes

    No new or updated codes


    NT Codes

    No new or updated codes


    QLD Codes

    No new or updated codes


    Victoria Codes

    No new or updated codes


    Safe Work Australia

    Stayed tuned for the public release of the 2018 Review of the model WHS laws: https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/law-and-regulation/model-whs-laws/review-model-whs-laws


    Newly Released Codes of Practice – October 2018

    The past year has seen a substantial increase in the number of safety codes released for public review and now many have been adopted by the regulators. Safe Work Australia worked hard to released ten Model Codes of Practice that we are beginning to see local regulators adopt. Below is a list of clickable newly released codes of practice state-by-state, as of 21 November 2018.


    Model Codes of Practice

    Safe design of structures Code of Practice, October 2018  

    Preventing falls in housing construction, October 2018

    Spray painting and powder coating, October 2018 

    Hazardous manual tasks, October 2018 

    Confined spaces, October 2018 

    Managing noise and preventing hearing loss at work, October 2018

    Managing the risk of falls at workplaces, October 2018 

    Labelling of workplace hazardous chemicals, October 2018 

    How to safely remove asbestos, October 2018 

    How to safely remove asbestos, October 2018 

    Abrasive blasting, May 2018 

    Construction work, May 2018 

    First aid in the workplace, May 2018 

    How to manage work health and safety risks, May 2018 

    Managing the risks of plant in the workplace, May 2018 

    Managing the work environment and facilities, May 2018 

    Managing risks of hazardous chemicals in the workplace, May 2018 

    Preparation of safety data sheets for hazardous chemicals, May 2018 

    Work health and safety consultation, cooperation and coordination, May 2018 

    Welding processes, May 2018


    WA Codes

    Western Australia has released a CODE OF PRACTICE Emergency management for Western Australian mines 

    Draft Code: Mentally healthy workplaces for fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workers in the resources and construction sectors 


    NSW Codes

    Managing risks in stevedoring, December 2017 


    QLD Codes

    Managing risks in stevedoring, March 2018 

    Managing the risk of falls at workplaces Code of Practice, July 2018 

    Recreational Diving, Recreational Technical Diving and Snorkelling Code of Practice, Feb 2018 


    TAS Codes

    Abrasive blasting, August 2018 

    Construction work, August 2018 

    First aid in the workplace, August 2018 

    How to Manage Work Health and Safety Risks, August 2018 

    Managing risks of hazardous chemicals in the workplace, August 2018 

    Managing the work environment and facilities, August 2018 

    Managing the risks of plant in the workplace, August 2018 

    Preparation of Safety Data Sheets for Hazardous Chemicals, August 2018 

    Welding Processes, August 2018 

    Work Health and Safety Consultation, Cooperation and Coordination, August 2018 


    ComCare Codes

    Managing risks in stevedoring, November 2017 


    NT Codes

    No new compliance codes


    VIC Codes

    WorkSafe Victoria has been working hard over the past year to review the Victorian Codes of Practice and Compliance Codes to bring them in line with current legislation and industry practice. While the Compliance Codes will be very similar to Model Codes of Practice they have been specifically designed to support Victorian Workplaces to meet their legislated duties.

    Confined spaces, March 2018 

    Demolition, May 2018 

    Excavation, May 2018 

    Facilities in construction, March 2018 

    Hazardous manual handling, March 2018 

    Hazardous substances, July 2018 

    Noise, March 2018 

    Plant, March 2018

    Managing asbestos in workplaces, October 2018

    Removing asbestos in workplaces, October 2018

    Prevention of falls in general construction, October 2018

    Prevention of falls in housing construction, October 2018




    new and updated health and safety codes of practice

    We will endeavour to keep this list of newly released codes of practice updated on a regular basis.

    OPINION | Managing mental health in the digital world

    By Mary Kikas | Senior Consultant


    From a wellbeing perspective we (I mean the collective, worldwide ‘we’) are further isolating each other with our submission to technology in order to be more efficient, get ahead, cram more into our overflowing working days and lives.


    Outside of professional realms we take on the world with our likes and dislikes through social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter. 


    Within these arenas, we continue to seek immediate reinforcement and gratification that we are great, up-to-date, and conforming to our societal obligations in life, love, politics and the like.  In the meantime, our psychological and emotional wellbeing is being further compromised behind the constructs of our technological age.


    And for what, a deteriorating mental health epidemic! What else can we do to drive meaningful communication and connection in order to enhance our personal and professional life?


    Research demonstrates a strong correlation between social isolation and the health and wellbeing of older adults.


    Across the world social isolation is one of the strongest predictors of health outcomes including morbidity and mortality rates. Attitudes and beliefs are divided as to whether technology improves our social connectivity or drives a firm wedge between our true selves and our digital alter egos.


    Regardless, the fact of the matter is that deteriorating mental health is on the rise and this has been declared as a national emergency in not only Australia but also around the world.  



    So where to from here you might ask? 

    Each and every one of us has a role to play. Firstly, organisational policy should be informed by the fact that we are social beings and since the beginning of time we have levitated to each other for support (in terms of family, friends, peers and leaders) and guidance with the intention to learn, grow and evolve.


    Nothing has changed and in fact our gauge of job satisfaction is very much influenced by peer and management support. Therefore, the approach to consider is one that is informed by our values and our genuine desire to care for and support each other.



    So how does technology fit in to this picture?

    There are various technologies that have demonstrated how they positively impact levels of social isolation by way of increasing communication and connectivity between individuals and groups of people.


    We need to carefully navigate the use and application of mobile technologies, internet and communication technologies, to enhance communication in order to lead to higher levels of connection with others and decreased feelings of isolation and loneliness, which may increase the risk of deteriorating mental health.


    Clear rules and standards of workplace conduct including working remotely from a satellite office or from home must inform our attitudes and practices on how we perceive and traverse the digital world. 


    Opportunities for face-to-face open and collaborative communication and consultation is integral and mandatory in the process.


    What does this look like you might ask?

    Workplace forums must allow, for a safe space to encourage and empower the workforce to share thoughts and ideas in a respectful forum without judgement.

    Furthermore, there must be a communication loop that informs the workforce of how their input has made positive change to the workplace whether in terms of informing policy and/or workplace culture.

    Regardless, it is clear that our power and the true representative of ourselves is often best realised in the collective and not just the individual.


    Get workplace safety happening this National Safe Work Month!

    Every year, October marks National Safe Work Month in Australia. This month is all about encouraging businesses to focus on getting some great workplace health and safety practices up and running.
    This year’s theme is ‘Be a Safety Champion’.
    The purpose of this theme is to inspire and empower every worker, to be a champion for health and safety, no matter their occupation or industry. This makes sense, because it is everyone’s responsibility to uphold strong safety practices.
    In workplace safety, businesses often have good intentions. They are aware that they have a legal obligation to ensure they have safety practices in place. However, it is not always easy to know where to start.
    During National Safe Work Month, you can find some fantastic resources – many of them free – to give you some direction. At Action OHS Consulting, we provide the following advice to any organisation looking for guidance in safety.


    1. Look at your operations.

    Start by making a list of how you think people might get injured or hurt in your workplace. Then make a list of the things you are doing (or could do) to prevent these injuries/harm from occurring. This is essentially a fantastic beginning for a great safety program.


    2. Talk to your people.

    Set-up a meeting with your workforce – or better still coordinate a lunch or coffee. Invite them to share “anything that makes them feel unsafe”, or “how they think things could be done in a safer way”. Then listen. At the end of the meeting, discuss how future hazards and incidents can be reported and establish some processes so your people know what to do.


    3. Seek guidance.

    Start by going to the Safe Work Australia or WorkSafe Victoria websites this National Safe Work Month, and find great guidance materials or local events you can attend to learn more.
    PLUS, there are many freely available resources available to all Victorian small and medium sized organisations. These are fantastic starting points for any business looking to establish strong safe practices and keep their people safer at work.
    • OHS Essentials Visit through WorkSafe Victoria. For businesses with less than 60 workers, this program involves 3 x 2-hour visits by a qualified OHS consultant over a 12 month period for free. Get some great guidance on workplace safety specifically for your needs through this program.
    Register for your free visit here
    • Free cloud-based OHS Software. Our sister organisation, Safety Champion, launched its “Go Free” Plan. This is a forever free version of Safety Champion Software and is perfect for small and medium sized organisations wanting to keep safety processes on track on an ongoing basis. 
    Learn more about what software can do for you here
    Remember – safety doesn’t have to be as hard or as complicated as you might think. So, follow the steps above this National Safe Work Month to learn how you can be a safety champion in your workplace today.