Around the States

Australian Capital Territory

australian1bWorkSafe ACT has accepted an enforceable undertaking from Virgin Tech, part of Virgin Australia Group, requiring it to spend $625,000 on a number of strategies to enhance workplace health and safety procedures following an incident where a staff member injured their neck in a workplace incident, Attorney-General, Simon Corbell, announced recently.

This is the first time WorkSafe ACT has accepted an enforceable undertaking for occupational health and safety reasons under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

WorkSafe ACT identified a number of issues, including a lack of risk assessment at the location and no warning devices or training relating to the opening and closing of the high speed roller doors.

On 25 November 2014 the Dangerous Substances (Asbestos Safety Reform) Amendment Bill 2014 was passed in the Legislative Assembly paving the way for the adoption of the national model asbestos laws. The Bill forms part of a legislative reform package that includes the Work Health and Safety (Asbestos) Amendment Regulation 2014, and two supporting codes of practice.
Both the Bill and Amendment Regulation commenced on 1 January 2015.

The changes will affect standards and procedures surrounding the removal of asbestos from loose fill contaminated homes, but these changes will impact asbestos assessors, asbestos removalists, builders, and surveyors, not the home owners themselves. The changes however do add clarity to relevant existing obligations under Dangerous substances legislation. For example, a new example has been added to clarify a home owner’s duty to inform workers if asbestos is present in their home.

New WorkSafe Inspectors Trained

WorkSafe ACT has engaged 12 new inspectors, with several joining the new Major Investigations Team. Furthermore, current WorkSafe inspectors received additional training in high risk sites.

Mr Corbell said the government was committed to improving safety on construction sites in the ACT. “High risk work, such as tasks involving work at height, or with or near electricity, continue to be the most dangerous activities on construction sites,” Mr Corbell said. “It is important companies and their site supervisors act with the highest level of vigilance when this type of work is carried out.”

New South Wales

new-south-wales-b

It is that time of year again when we acknowledge the high achievers of the industry in terms of businesses and individuals that have made positive changes to workplace health and safety and return to work.

The WorkCover NSW SafeWork Awards 2015 involves 6 key categories:

Best workplace health and safety management system

This Award recognises demonstrated commitment to continuous improvement of workplace health and safety outcomes through the implementation of an integrated systems approach.

Best solution to an identified workplace health and safety issue

This Award recognises excellence in developing and implementing a solution to an identified health and safety issue. Entries for this Award may include a product solution, engineering innovation, a training program, an awareness raising activity or other risk control measures that reduce the risk of work-related injury and illness.

Best workplace health and safety practices in a small business

This Award recognises excellence in developing and implementing a solution to an identified health and safety issue. Entries for this Award may include a product solution, engineering innovation, a training program, an awareness raising activity or other risk control measures that reduce the risk of work-related injury and illness for a small business.

Best individual contribution to workplace health and safety

This Award recognises individuals who have made an exceptional difference to health and safety. Two Awards are given under the following sub-categories:

    • An employee, such as a health and safety representative, who does not have formal responsibility for work health and safety (WHS) management as part of their duties;
    • An outstanding contribution by a work health and safety manager or a person with responsibility for WHS as part of their duties.

Excellence in return to work for business

This Award recognises an employer’s outstanding contribution in providing safe and sustainable return to work for injured worker(s).

Return to work achievement award for injured workers

This Award recognises a worker’s outstanding achievements in returning to work following a workplace injury. Injured workers can nominate themselves in this category or an employer can nominate an injured worker but must provide the written consent of the injured worker to do so. If an employer enters an injured worker, the entry should focus on the achievements of the injured worker.

Any NSW business, individual, not-for-profit or public sector agency can enter. It doesn’t matter whether your solution to an issue is big or small, as long as it has made a difference to safety in your workplace.

If your business or someone you know has come up with an innovative solution that reduced workplace injuries or illness,
enter today.

Entries close 5 June 2015. Further information about how to enter is available here: http://www.safeworkawards.com.au/

Queensland

queenslandKonekt is pleased to announce our re-appointment to the WorkCover Queensland panel. This was an extremely competitive tender process which saw the number of providers on the panel reduced from over 150 to 37.
The re-appointment will see Konekt continue to service the sunshine state from our broad network of offices in metro and regional locations.

If an injured individual is unable to return to their existing employment, working with an occupational rehabilitation provider, like Konekt, means that WorkCover may provide a Recover at Work (RAW) placement with a ‘host employer’ who agrees to have an injured individual at their workplace.

The Recover at Work program places injured individuals in short term host employment with appropriate employers. By matching injured individuals with employers the RAW program provides many benefits including:

  • Influencing industry premium rates
  • Being socially conscious and an industry leader/mentor for host employers
  • Retraining skilled workers on the job within the industry
  • WorkCover funded labour with no obligation to employ
  • Protection against additional claim costs

The host employment can be negotiated for 3 – 6 weeks and WorkCover continues to pay the wages when they are participating in a suitable duties program. Konekt and WorkCover will oversee the plan and ensure all stakeholders are included in the process.

At the end of the placement there is no obligation to employ, however it remains an amazing way to trial and find new and committed talent.

If you would like any further information, don’t hesitate to contact Konekt or visit the WCQLD website https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/rehab-and-claims/stay-at-work-return-to-work/how-to-return-to-work/host-employment-information-for-employers

South Australia

ReturnToWorkSA has replaced WorkCoverSA and will be responsible for implementing and managing the new return to work scheme, which will commence on 1 July 2015.

As part of the new scheme, workers and employers can expect:

  • A service-oriented approach focused on early intervention and face-to-face support for both the worker and the employer
  • By 1 July 2015 more than 100 mobile case managers will be in the field, including people who live and work in some regional centres
  • Personalised support from the start to enable the best opportunity for a fast and sustainable recovery and return to work
  • A new, simpler insurance premium that provides discounts if workers are not injured and when employers assist with successful return to work
  • Access to a variety of return to work services to help workers gain the support they need to recover and return to work
  • Lifetime support for workers with a serious injury including income support to retirement age
  • Improved lump sum compensation for workers with significant whole person impairments resulting from their injury

ReturnToWorkSA Chairman Jane Yuile has announced the scheme is now fully funded with mid-year financial results showing a $20 million net asset position. This is an improvement from the previous unfunded liability of $1.132 billion at 30 June 2014, meaning the scheme is now 100.7% funded (previously 71%).

The ReturnToWorkSA Board has dropped the 2015/16 average premium rate to 1.95% (plus WHS fee) – the lowest in the scheme’s history. Previously the average premium rate was 2.75% (plus WHS fee).

Victoria

victoriaWorkplaces urged to make safety a priority in 2015

A total of 23 people died in Victorian workplaces last year, according to provisional figures released by the Victorian WorkCover Authority (VWA). Seven of those deaths occurred in the final two months of the year.

VWA Executive Director of Health and Safety, Len Neist, said families and fellow workers of those tragically lost in 2014 face a sad start to 2015. “Our message to all Victorians is a simple one – please make workplace safety a priority,” he said.

“While the number of injuries at workplaces is declining, fatalities are still occurring with tragic frequency. So let’s all aim for a fatality-free 2015.”

Mr Neist said everyone had a part to play in making workplaces safe. “Employers can improve safety by making sure staff are trained and supervised, they have the right equipment to carry out their work, and that any risks are identified and managed appropriately,” he said.

“Approaching safety together to control exposure to hazards and manage risks is the best way to prevent serious injury or death in the workplace.”

The agriculture sector remains a priority for the VWA, claiming 10 lives in 2014. Eight of those fatalities occurred on farms.

Mr Neist said farmers were overrepresented in workplace fatalities, highlighting the potential dangers of working in agriculture.

“Farmers often work alone and are exposed to other risks such as working with heavy machinery, so it’s important that they remain vigilant.”

Nine of the workplace fatalities occurred in metropolitan Melbourne and 14 were in country Victoria.

“We want all Victorians to come home safe every day. Make sure you put safety first and make sure your employees and your workmates do the same.”

Northern Territory

northern territoryThere are proposed changes to the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Legislation as a result of the 2014 review into the NT Workers Compensation Scheme.

The review was overseen by the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Advisory Council and included considerable public and stakeholder consultation. The final report made 58 recommendations to the Government, which were all adopted, with minor variations.

The main changes covered in the first bill include:

  • Change the name of the act to Return to Work Act
  • Presumptive legislation for fire fighters and volunteers
  • Increasing the period of compensation from 26 weeks to 104 weeks for workers aged 67 years or more who are injured
  • Limiting the duration of compensation to five years for less serious injuries, with a maximum one further year for medical and other costs
  • An increase in death and funeral benefits
  • Eliminating compensation for strokes and heart attacks unless proven to be work related
  • Capping of normal weekly earnings to 250% of average weekly earnings
  • Clarifying that the 26 week period before compensation steps down to 75% of normal weekly earnings is to be in aggregate

The amendments to the legislation are aimed at improving outcomes and efficiencies in returning injured workers to work and ensure the viability of the Northern Territory Workers Compensation Scheme.
For more detailed information read the full bulletin at http://www.worksafe.nt.gov.au/NewsRoom/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=105

Western Australia

western australiaWorkCover WA has finalised and released the Program of Events for The WorkCover WA Injury Management Conference 2015. The conference is being held on 5 & 6 May. Program content is available from the WorkCover WA website.

Over the past year Konekt has invested significantly in the RTW New Employer business model and in the last 6-8 months we have seen some extremely pleasing results for WA, with return to work results well above 90% for both New Employer and Same Employer Services.

employment-statistics

The WorkCover WA Annual Report 2013/14 has been tabled in Parliament. Access the report and more information about the agency’s management of the workers compensation and injury management scheme during the past financial year at the WorkCover WA website.

Tasmania

tasmania-bWorkSafe Tasmania, with the WorkCover Tasmania Board, is undertaking a statewide project to reduce body stressing injuries in the Health Care and Social Assistance Industry.

During the 2012–13 financial year:

  • This industry recorded 611 body stressing claims, at a cost of $7.6 million
  • The most frequent injuries were soft tissue injuries
  • The back and shoulders were the most common body parts injured.

This project, which runs until December 2015 has the following objectives:

  • Reduce body stressing injuries and subsequent claims for workers compensation in this industry.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of targeted organisations’ current control measures for reducing body stressing injuries.
  • Improve industry and stakeholder awareness of the risks associated with hazardous manual tasks.
  • Provide industry-specific tools and guidance material.
  • Provide a way for the industry to network and share information about reducing body stressing injuries.

WorkSafe Tasmania will work with Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) and workers to reduce rates of body-stressing injuries in the industry. They will:

    • Interview workers who have submitted a claim for workers compensation for a body stressing injury
    • Interview organisations about their current control measures for reducing body stressing injuries
    • Provide information to the industry to help prevent body stressing injury
    • Analyse the issues in the industry
    • Do verification audits.

More information is available at http://www.worksafe.tas.gov.au/industry_ and_safety/projects/body_stressing_ injuries_project.