In this latest edition of our long-running quarterly update series, OHS Alert reviews all the key WHS news from the first three months of 2020, including everything you need to know on the COVID-19 pandemic, the findings on Dreamworld's dismal safety systems, caselaw from all jurisdictions, and legislative changes.
The step-downs provisions of Australian workers' comp schemes are touted as a return-to-work incentives, but have been marginally successful at best, and can lead to self-sabotaging decisions by injured workers, public health experts have found.
Employers have been urged to consider workplace interventions to improve the health of workers with prescription opioid use disorder, who require significantly more sick leave than those with other types of injuries and illnesses.
Australia is unlikely to harmonise presumptive laws for first responders with post-traumatic stress disorder and other injuries, but the Federal Government has provided in-principle support for a coordinated national approach to the issue, and could make presumptive provisions under the Comcare scheme.
WHS regulators are increasingly turning to infringement notices to tackle safety breaches, while the number of prosecutions has surged in one jurisdiction following a controversial lull, according to one of four new comparison reports from Safe Work Australia. The agency has also outlined PCBUs' duties involving air pollution.
One in three Australian workers who sustain a physical injury experience serious secondary mental illnesses, but few of these people access mental health services that could accelerate their recovery and return to work, according to a study.
Safe Work Australia members have agreed to start transitioning to a new chemical safety system within six months, while SWA has released a practical guide to managing ultraviolet radiation risks and a 60-page workers' comp report, and a WHS regulator has outlined safety duties relating to poor air quality.
The vast majority of workers with disabilities, health conditions or injuries are motivated to retain, secure or return to suitable employment, but necessary work accommodations are rare, and outcomes are stymied by stigma and discrimination, according to a major report on empowering workers.