Information-exchange laws that help WHS regulators target employers exposing workers to existing and emerging occupational health risks have passed NSW Parliament, with important amendments. NSW has also made regulations for injured workers whose earnings are affected by COVID-19.
The NSW WHS Act will be amended to impose new duties on PCBUs that "provide food delivery services", if an Opposition Bill (which forms part of a broader safety strategy for gig workers) passes Parliament. Meanwhile, Tasmanian employers have been told to "stay COVID safe" as border restrictions ease.
This article examines all the must-know workplace safety, workers' compensation and COVID-19 developments from July, August and September 2020, with highlights including a new WHS Code for the pandemic, the Dreamworld judgment, a record double-fatality fine and gross negligence cases.
While direct employers are often considered more culpable for employees' injuries than overseeing contractors, a court has found a principal is as responsible as a subcontractor for a six-metre fall, and fined it $180,000.
A contract worker who sustained spinal injuries, which led to his death, in a fall from a scissor lift, should have been more closely supervised, given his and his colleague's limited experience at the incident site and their "insufficiently defined" work method, an investigation has found.
A PCBU that failed to enforce the use of hi-vis clothing or establish an exclusion zone for mobile plant has been handed a high mid-range WHS penalty, after a 16-year-old worker was run over by an excavator, and survived through the "minor miracle" of being pressed into muddy soil.
An employer has failed to overturn its $300,000 WHS fine by claiming the trial judge failed to address the extent to which it controlled a workplace or whether it was obligated to implement the measures identified by the prosecution.
A PCBU's WHS breaches, which led to the hydrogen sulphide deaths of two workers and put a third in mortal peril, were in the high range of culpability and warranted a near maximum pre-discount penalty, a judge has ruled.