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Your 2020 WorkCover premium

Last week, 2020/21 WorkCover Premium Renewal notices were made available through WorkSafe’s Online Employer Services. In our experience, many employers simply pass the Premium Notice on to accounts for payment without reviewing the detail on the Notice or exploring the potential to reduce the amount they pay – now or down the track. This year, with so many businesses having employee’s income subsidised by JobKeeper, or having employees stood down and receiving JobKeeper payments – we felt it was particularly important to share some pointers to help you review your Notice to ensure you’re not paying too much. But first, it’s…

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The new manslaughter legislation is no cause for panic, preventing injuries remains key

Understandably, many businesses are nervous about the implications of the workplace manslaughter legislation which comes into effect in Victoria on 1 July 2020. But, if you are actively identifying and monitoring hazards and implementing appropriate risk control measures – there really is no need to be concerned. Under the amendments to the Victorian OHS Act, workplace manslaughter will become a criminal offence with maximum penalties of $16.5 million and 20 years jail in the event of a workplace fatality. While those convicted of workplace manslaughter face hefty fines and jail time, the legislation’s aim is to prevent workplace fatalities by further strengthening…

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A risk management based approach to returning to workplaces

As restrictions start to ease and we’re all excited to step outside the 4 walls of our homes, sensible employers are starting to plan for a staged return to work for their workers. As with most other workplace decisions, we recommend a risk-based approach. Reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission In order to achieve a safe and healthy work environment, you might like to start by first thinking about what working environment delivers the optimum outcomes for your business. Reducing the likelihood of transmission is still a key consideration, so if tasks can be completed remotely, it’s well worth workers…

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COVID-19 and your OHS responsibilities

We’re starting to see some workers compensation claims related to injuries sustained from people working at home as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. As a result questions are being asked about employers OHS requirements when it comes to staff working from home. For many employers, having any staff work from home is new, let alone the majority of their workforce. Literally overnight businesses across the country have had to implement remote working arrangements. In the process they’ve had to tackle a multitude of different challenges and considerations – from technology, to processes, connectivity and productivity. However, there is one…

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You are responsible for employee safety, even when they are working from home

With more and more Australians working remotely to minimise the spread of COVID-19, we’re finding many employers don’t realise their responsibility for ensuring a safe work environment still applies – even when staff are working from home. As an employer, you are responsible for the safety of your employees, wherever they are working. Even when they’re working from home you have a duty of care to ensure that their work environment is safe. If one of your employees is injured while working from home, whether that be as a result of poor ergonomics, or simply tripping and falling while on the…

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Corona virus COVID-19 How Australian Businesses should be preparing

Yesterday the Australian Federal Government activated it’s Emergency Response Plan. While the virus is yet to hit our shores, the likelihood of a world-wide pandemic is increasing every day. Now is the time to plan and prepare Australian employers need to be planning and preparing for a potential Coronavirus outbreak here in Australia – determining exactly how you will respond to and manage the impact, and how you will respond to your staff’s questions, concerns and requests. Where to begin Some Australian businesses may have a Pandemic or Infectious Diseases Plan in place, that sets out how the business will manage…

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WorkSafe Victoria releases new code for working with engineered stone

Last week WorkSafe Victoria released a new compliance code, designed to protect people working with engineered stone from potentially deadly exposure to silica dust. The new compliance code provides a clear cut set of safety requirements and obligations for working with engineered stone. It comes on the back of a complete ban of uncontrolled cutting, grinding and polishing engineered stone in August last year. Workplace Safety Minister Jill Hennessy said in a statement last week that ‘this code of conduct has been developed by the experts – all employers should be using it to reduce the risks of their workers of contracting deadly silicosis’….

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Mental health at work

It’s 2020 – we need to take workplace mental health seriously Here in Australia, employers do a pretty good job of managing the physical aspects of workplace health and safety, for the most part. However, our legislation requires employers to ensure workplaces are both physically and mentally healthy for all employees. Mental health is something that has touched all of us at some stage. This year, we want to focus on helping employers support employees struggling with mental health issues and assist them in creating mentally healthy workplaces – because half of us are going to struggle with a mental health…

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Australia to adopt GHS Hazardous Chemical Labelling

Bringing Australia’s Hazardous Chemicals Management into line with Global Standards Last Friday 10 January 2020, Safe Work Australia agreed to adopt the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) Revision 7 under the model WHS laws for workplace hazardous chemicals.   The two most significant changes will be: Updated precautionary statements – which appear on product labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDS). Removing the requirement for the label of a hazardous chemical to disclose the identity and proportion of each ingredient. Changes will take effect from 1 July 2020 Manufacturers and importers will have a two year…

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7 Reasons you should outsource Workers Compensation Claims Management

Workers Compensation premiums are a significant cost for many businesses. The complexity surrounding premiums, injury and claims management, and return to work programs often means it ends up costing many businesses more than it needs to and taking up valuable time and resources. While it all sounds very simple in principle, in practice Workers’ Compensation claims management is anything but. For employers, it can be confusing and costly to get claims submitted on time, paid correctly and reimbursements processed in a timely manner and many employers end up paying more in claims costs and premiums than they needed to! This…

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Silica Safety Management – Discovering Stone magazine

The latest edition of Discovering Stone magazine – Safeguarding Against Silicosis – features Lana Rubinstein explaining why a silica safety management system is essential for protecting your people and your business. Discovering Stone Magazine| Issue 35 |October 2019

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Uncontrolled cutting of engineered stone banned in Victoria

Last week WorkSafe announced immediate changes to the Victorian OHS regulations relating to cutting, grinding and polishing engineered stone with power tools. Under the new regulations – which are already in effect – anyone cutting engineered stone with a power tool must ensure it is fitted with either an: Integrated water delivery system (on-tool water suppression) that supplies a continuous feed of water. Using a hose or other handheld device to direct water to the cutting point isn’t acceptable – an integrated delivery system needs to be interlocked with the power tool. On-tool dust extractor that is attached to a HEPA filtered dust…

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Managing Contractor Safety

It doesn’t matter what business you’re in – whether it’s construction, aged care, transport, or financial services – at some point you’re likely to engage an independent contractor. And, their safety, is your responsibility. Protecting contractors. Protecting your business. Time and time again, one of the biggest gaps we see in Safety Management Systems is Contractor Safety. Many employers fall into the trap of thinking that health and safety is the sole responsibility of the contractor. But, according to health and safety legislation any individual, corporation, partnership or association that conducts a business or undertaking (PCBU) has a duty to…

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Franchisees, are you meeting your OHS responsibilities?

Who is and isn’t responsible for workers Health and Safety is especially complex when it comes to franchises. And, the reality is that many franchisees and franchisors don’t understand the legislation and how it applies to them. As a franchisee, you are the employer You hire people to work in your business and are responsible for their health, safety and welfare when they’re at work. Generally speaking you have the same OHS responsibilities as any other business. But… the franchisor often dictates processes, procedures and equipment This is where it gets complicated. Typically, an employer is ultimately responsible for ensuring…

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Are office ergonomics all they’re cracked up to be?

Almost any office worker will tell you –  good ergonomics are essential to preventing back and neck pain. After all, if you’re sitting at a desk, staring at a screen for hours upon hours a day you need to make sure you’re sitting right… Right? Office injuries are costing us big bucks Over the last three decades as the number of us who spend our days sitting at a desk has grown, so has the ergonomics industry. Back and neck pain, carpal tunnel and a host of other ‘office injuries’ are a reality of office life and responsible employers are…

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Worksafe fines Victorian Employer $60,000

Victorian employer fined $60,000 John’s Nuts Operations Pty Ltd has been convicted for failing to meet the requirements of the State Workplace Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2013. Why? The employer made the mistake of: Waiting to receive funds from its Workers Compensation Insurer before paying the injured worker his weekly benefits – for five weeks in a row. Failing to consult with the employee and plan for their return to work. As a result John’s Nuts Operations was convicted and fined for breaching sections 104: Plan Return to Work and 105:Consult about the return to work of a worker, and for contravening…

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Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS)

The do’s and don’ts of a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) By definition, a SWMS is a Safe Work Method Statement for high risk construction work,  not ALL work.  The various State OHS / WHS Regulations are explicitly clear in their definition of when a SWMS is required – it may surprise some to learn, that there are less than twenty activities identified in the legislation as high-risk tasks requiring the preparation of SWMS. Before embarking on the time consuming and costly exercise of developing a suite of SWMS documents, you should ask yourself one simple question. “Am I in the…

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Safety Software

– Essential? Nice to have? Or not necessary? Are you a multi-site business? Is your Safety Manager’s desk covered in paperwork and their inbox is full? Are your Line Managers drowning in spread sheets? Have you been considering purchasing safety software or thinking there must be a better way? You’re not alone. Many other organisations are weighing up their options. To invest in software or not – that is the question. Why you get safety software Safety software is designed to facilitate the roll out of your safety system. This means that your safety processes are supported by software. Incidents…

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ISO45001 What you need to know

Based on current information from Standards Australia, ISO 45001 will be adopted in October 2018. ISO45001 is the new international standard for safety management systems. Published in March 2018 it will replace OHSAS18001 by March 2021. This standard will focus more on identifying and controlling the safety risk when compared to the OHSAS 18001 and AS/NZS 4801. Organisations already certified to OHSAS 18001 have three years from the 12th of March 2018 to migrate to the new ISO 45001 standard. Your existing certification body will send you information about the migration but you can expect additional audit days to be added to…

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WorkCover Are you paying more than you need to?

All employers in Victoria will be receiving their WorkCover premium renewal notices early next month. Many will simply pass it on to accounts for processing without getting past the first page. Some may be surprised by the cost, while others will be wondering how best to fund the payments. Very few will look closely at the details. And even fewer will question if there is the potential to reduce the amount they pay. In this article we explain what the Notice means, the sections to refer to for information about how your premium is calculated and what you can change…

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Yet to transition to ISO9001:2015? This is your opportunity to improve your business

You have until the 14th September 2018 to transition to the 2015 standard. Failure to transition will put your certification at risk. Organisations that are certified to ISO9001 are (or should be) aware of the requirement to transition to the new 2015 version of the standard. If you are yet to transition, now is the time to approach your certifying body to schedule the transition audit. More importantly, the transition presents an opportunity to review your business. What are your goals? What do you see as ‘success’? How would achieving ‘success’ benefit your clients? How do you (or should you) go about…

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The clock is ticking for App Delivery Contractors

Over the last few weeks some App Delivery Co ‘contractors’ have gone to the media and voiced their concerns about their safety and conditions.  As a result, the industry is now under scrutiny – from the public, unions and Fairwork Australia. Risk Strategies has worked with some of the majors in this field to ensure they’re doing the right thing. As a result, their selection, induction, assessment and training of riders is thorough and locally based to ensure their contractors have a clear understanding of road rules. The riders’ clothing and equipment, be it bikes or e-bikes, is assessed and…

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National work health and safety guidance material for supply of plant released

On the 4th of July this year Safe Work Australia released a national guidance material package for Safe design, manufacture, import and supply of plant to support the model Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act and WHS Regulations. They clearly set out the onerous nature of expectations of suppliers under WHS legislation. In particular they de-bunk the belief that some suppliers have that “generic” plant hazard reports suffice. The national material provides practical advice for persons conducting a business or undertaking on how to manage risks at the workplace. The material includes information sheets to assist small businesses and workers…

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Private corporations to access Comcare scheme

Moratorium Lifted – allowing Private corporations to access Comcare scheme There has been a moratorium on new Comcare licences since December 2007 and the announcement by Minister for Employment, Senator Eric Abetz on Monday 2nd December 2013, that the Government will lift the moratorium on private corporations seeking to become self-insurers under the Commonwealth workers’ compensation scheme has been met with enthusiasm from many large multi state companies. Reduces compliance costs The ability to have a single workers’ compensation arrangement nationally under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 reduces compliance costs for businesses operating across several states. “The decision…

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Ensuring Compliance: Asbestos Registers and Management Plans

Due to its strength, durability and resistance to fire and water, asbestos was used in a wide range of building products and materials up until 1986. Products that may contain asbestos include vinyl floor tiles, cement roof sheeting and wall lining, lagging and jointing material, electrical switchboard backings, and fire blankets. The use of all forms of asbestos in new installations and applications has been banned in Australia since the end of 2003. The ban doesn’t apply to asbestos in place prior to this date. A legal obligation Employers and owners of commercial buildings have a legal obligation to identify…