Industry Issues

By on September 29, 2006

Victoria & New South Wales WorkCover Schemes to Slash Red Tape

Victoria and New South Wales have joined forces and announced historic reforms in their state WorkCover systems to harmonise key areas and cut red tape.

NSW Minister for Commerce, John Della Bosca and Victorian Minister for WorkCover, John Lenders said consistent rules and processes would make it easier for businesses which have operations spanning the two states.

“Our two states have a common commitment to upholding existing safety standards, while streamlining our systems and reducing complexity for employers and employees,” Mr Della Bosca said.

Some of the first issues to be tackled by the two states are:

  • Mutual recognition of construction induction certificates prior to implementation of the national standard
  • Mutual recognition of plant and equipment
  • Common guidance material for business
  • Common forms for workers compensation claims and premiums

The Ministers said the two Governments were demonstrating that you can have greater uniformity and still preserve the integrity of the schemes and improve service standards.

“We are aligning key areas to make it easier for businesses to deal with WorkCover authorities and ensure that benefits and support for injured workers are protected,” Mr Lenders said.

The majority of these initiatives will be implemented over the next year.

As part of the new joint approach, NSW and Victoria have agreed to share their expertise in areas like the regulation of major hazard facilities.

Some common approaches regarding safety performance audit tools and a consistent claims dispute approach in the field of state based self insurance will form par of the bilateral action plan.

Mr Lenders said the States’ plan also protected the small business community.

“By employers, unions and constructive regulators working together we can lower costs, reduce injuries and make workplaces safer.”

For a full copy of this report please contact the Secretariat.

First Working Hours Code for All

In a first of its kind targeting fatigue across industries, WA’s working hours code of practice came into effect on July 26. “There has been lots of work done on fatigue in the mining and other sectors but this is the first time there has been an all embracing code on working hours,” WA WorkSafe Director of Policy and Education Gail McGowan said.

“The code is unique in that it sets out for the first time a risk management approach to working hours. It recognises that fatigue is an OHS issue.” “The code relies on a “continuum” approach taking into account “the interaction of risk factors”, McGowan said. “Fatigue is a “complex issue” and dealing with it should involve a “consultative approach” between workers and managers”, she said.

The code flowed from an inquiry instigated by the WA Government in 2003. It has been developed by a tripartite committee and is endorsed by the WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry, industry groups, unions and experts in the area, McGowan said.

“It is not always easy to neatly identify fatigue factors in work-related incidents but WorkSafe will be looking at a range of strategies to gauge the code’s effectiveness and its take-up.”

The code is available from www.worksafe.wa.gov.au
Supplied by Occupational Health News, Issue 696

$24,000 Fine for Crushing Injury

A South Australian company has been convicted and fined $24,000 after a worker had his arm crushed in an excavator bucket that detached from its boom.

The Court was told the worker had jumped into a trench being dug by the excavator while the operator, who did not know the worker was in the trench, paused to change buckets. The operator lifted the excavator boom to resume work but the 500kg bucket dropped and rolled down the trench, hitting the worker. The site supervisor was standing above the trench and saw the excavator operator resume work but did not warn the worker in the trench.

Industrial Magistrate Stephen Lieschke said the company had “few safety rules in place” and only limited verbal instructions had been given on safety during the trench operation.

The company “should have done more by specifically considering the worker’s safety in the pit posed by some error by the excavator’s operator. This is likely to have been achieved, had a proper hazard identification and risk assessment been carried out”.

The company pleaded guilty and an initial $30,000 fine reduced by 20%. Since the incident, the company has set up a system where excavator drivers have to change buckets behind their work area and test that they are secure by shaking them.

Supplied by Occupational Health News, Issue 702

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