COVID-19 updates

Safe Work factsheet to beat COVID contagion
Safe Work Australia has produced a fact sheet on improving ventilation in indoor workplaces, especially in relation to possible exposure to the COVID-19 virus. In a statement, Safe Work Australia gave the example of ensuring heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems were well-maintained and operating properly and turning off or limiting air recirculation (26 February 2021). More...

Safe Work Australia: New COVID-19 vaccine information for workplaces
Safe Work Australia has published new information about work health and safety and COVID-19 vaccines.
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 and is accessible via the dropdown menu tool on the SWA site (19 February 2021).

MCA reveals priority groups in vaccine delivery
The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) has mapped out sub-groups in the resources sector who will be given priority COVID-19 vaccinations (25 February 2021). More...

In the media

Solar panel installers on notice in safety blitz
Installers of rooftop solar panels can expect an unannounced visit from SafeWork's inspectors as the work health and safety regulator targets heightened risk associated with a boom in demand. Minister for Better Regulation, Kevin Anderson said a new workplace safety guide for the industry has been developed. View the SafeWork NSW Solar installation safety and Guide to Safe Solar Panel Installation (26 February 2021). More...

People at Work tool launched across Australia
Australia's only validated psychosocial risk assessment tool, People at Work, is up and running on a new free, digital platform thanks to work health and safety regulators and leading researchers.
Note: People at Work is free for Aussie businesses and workplaces to help them identify and manage work-related psychosocial hazards and factors (26 February 2021). More...

New standard for SafeWork investigations
The NSW Government has launched a new service standard for handling workplace incidents in order to improve transparency and communication with impacted parties (23 February 2021). More...

Eight charges laid over apprentice jockey's death
WorkSafe has charged a turf club and trainer following the death of an apprentice jockey who was thrown from a horse during trackwork. The club has been charged with three alleged breaches of section 23(1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act for failing to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, people other than employees were not exposed to risks to their health and safety (22 February 2021). More...

NSW drafts safety guidelines to protect food delivery riders
A SafeWork NSW taskforce has issued draft guidelines to food delivery companies and riders, to improve the safety and protection of food delivery riders (22 February 2021). More...

Charges laid over fatal wall collapse
WorkSafe has charged a contractor following the death of a worker at a residential building site in Ballarat. Horsham Back-hoe Hire Pty Ltd has been charged with two alleged breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act for failing to provide a safe working environment (17 February 2021). More...

Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions files charge
Construction company John Holland is facing prosecution and fines of up to $1.5 million, after a dangerous incident at a prison development in New South Wales (17 February 2021). More...

SafeWork to blitz North Coast construction sites
Construction sites across the NSW North Coast from Ballina to Tweed Heads can expect a visit from SafeWork Inspectors this week who will be targeting unsafe working systems across all building trades. SafeWork Inspectors will be focusing on site housekeeping, height safety, falling objects, electrical, moving plant operations, and controlling risks related to silica and asbestos (16 February 2021). More...

Sydney developer's plans for old James Hardie site suffer setback
The state government has further frustrated Sydney property developer Charlie Demian's plans to redevelop the heavily contaminated former James Hardie asbestos factory site near Parramatta. The refusal is based on the grounds that the department wants to develop a "place strategy" for Camellia and Rosehill so it can resolve the complexity of re-mediating highly contaminated land (15 February 2021). More...

Published – articles, papers, reports

Safe Work Australia fatality statistics
As at 18 February, 11 Australian workers had been killed at work in 2021. The numbers and industries may vary from one report to the next, as Safe Work receives more detailed information (to check for updates and more details on fatalities since 2003, go to the Safe Work Australia Work-related fatalities webpage).

In practice and courts

Safe Work Australia: New workplace exposure standards: Public feedback
Australia is calling for public comment on the remaining 168 workplace exposure standards for airborne contaminants. Safe Work Australia is reviewing the Workplace exposure standards for airborne contaminants to ensure they are based on high quality evidence and supported by a rigorous scientific approach.
You will be able to provide feedback for Release 15: Paraffin wax to Zirconium compounds until 30 July 2021 after which time feedback and recommendations will be finalised. More...


SafeWork NSW: General diving work – qualifications
The newly issued an exemption for the general diving work qualifications requirements of clause 171(1) of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017. This exemption is granted until 31 December 2022. People who are qualified under AS 4005.2 – 2000 will need to complete three additional units of competency by 31 December 2022 to be legally qualified to undertake general diving work in NSW. Read the exemption.

Gig economy roles and responsibilities in WHS: Research Update
The Centre for Work Health and Safety's research into the food delivery in the gig economy is currently underway. Phases 1 and 2 have been completed.
Phase 1 full report Work health and safety of food delivery workers in the gig economy
Phase 2 full report: Work health and safety perceptions of food delivery platforms in the gig economy
New research will establish a better understanding of the WHS perceptions and behaviours in the Australian gig economy context by focusing on food delivery services Project commenced: February 2020. Project completion: October 2021. More...

Centre for WHS: Real-Time silica detection – commencing December 2020
Phase two will now focus on expediting the larger monitor to market: Commercialisation of fixed and transportable unit Completion date: December 2021: Delivery of a market ready, transportable real time RCS detection unit and accessories. Supporting documents:
Centre for Work Health and Safety Research Blueprin t
Hazardous chemicals and materials exposures baseline reduction strategy
Work Health and Safety Roadmap for NSW 2022

NSW Resources Regulator
Mine Safety News is an online newsletter regularly published by the NSW Resources Regulator designed to inform, educate and promote the enhancement of the health and safety culture of NSW mining. Previous editions of Mine Safety News are available below:
18/02/2021 - Mine Safety News


Safety Alert: Use and application of Polyurethane Resin (PUR) in underground coal mines | Resources Safety & Health Queensland
19 February 2021 | 387
PUR in underground coal mines Subject:Chemicals; Explosions; Fires; Hazardous materials or substances; Strata failure. More...

WorkSafe Qld: Changes to asbestos regulation
From 1 May 2021, low density asbestos fibre board (LDB), also known as asbestos insulating board, will be classified as a friable material in all circumstances. This means LDB can only legally be removed by a class A asbestos removal licence holder. If you're a class B asbestos removal licence holder and want to be able to remove LDB after 1 May 2021, you will need to apply to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland for a class A asbestos removal licence. More...


WorkSafe Victoria safety alert: Employees seriously injured from falls when using ladders
Where there is a risk of a person falling from a height of two metres or more, employers must eliminate or reduce the risk according to the prevention of falls hierarchy of control set out in Part 3.3 of the OHS Regulations (23 February 2021). More...

WorkSafe Victoria safety alert: Explosions when cutting used fuel tanks and metal drums
The Dangerous Goods (Storage and Handling) Regulations 2012 also sets out legal duties for occupiers of premises where dangerous goods are stored or handled. The Code of Practice for storage and handling of dangerous goods provides practical information on how to comply. AS1674.1-1997 – Safety in welding & allied processes, Part 1: Fire (22 February 2021). More...

WorkSafe Victoria: Safety Soapbox newsletter
17 February 2021 Safety Soapbox January 2021

Proposed OHS Amendment (Crystalline Silica) Regulations 2021
Public comment on the proposed Occupational Health and Safety Amendment (Crystalline Silica) Regulations 2021 (proposed Regulations) and associated Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) is now open.
The proposed Regulations aim to improve risk assessment and information relating to the control measures for reducing exposure to respirable crystalline silica dust. HSRs, unions, employers and members of the public to review and make comment on the proposed Regulations and RIS. Public comment closes Thursday 18 February 2021. Find out more here.

Energy Safe Victoria: Safety alert regarding underground cables
Following a potentially serious electric shock received by a person from a street sign that had damaged underground electrical cables when it was installed, Energy Safe Victoria is issuing a safety alert about the risk to workers and the general public of driving street signs and other objects into the ground in road reserves and footpaths (25 February 2021). More...



Subordinate legislation as made
No 12 Electrical Safety (Codes of Practice) and Other Legislation Amendment Notice 2021 - 23/02/2021
No 10 Industrial Relations (Tribunals) Amendment Rule 2021- 18/02/2021
26 Amendment of r 90 (Application for WHS entry permit—Work Health and Safety Act 2011)


Statutory Rules

Occupational Health and Safety Amendment (Crystalline Silica) Interim Regulations 2021, S.R. No.8/2021
16/02/2021 SG (No. 74) 16/2/2021 p. 1 16/02/2021: GG 18/2/2021 p. 386

Victorian legislation can be accessed here

This publication does not deal with every important topic or change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named individuals listed.