WHS Update 07/20
July WHS Updates include the following articles:
- Serious Electrical Incident Alert
- Air conditioning and ventilation during bushfires and the coronavirus outbreak
- $3.4 million fines, 5 years Jail and no insurance cover in the new WHS Bill
- SafeWork kick-off construction compliance blitz
- Interested in triple ISO Certification?
- HSEQ systems for ACT, NSW, QLD & TAS NECA Members
- NECA WHS Redbook
NECA can confirm that SafeWork NSW is responding to a serious electrical shock incident that occurred late last week in Western Sydney.
It has been reported to us that the worker came into contact with energised conductors at a data centre and became unconscious. He was revived by fellow workers with the help of a defibrillator and was taken to hospital via helicopter.
A spokesperson for SafeWork NSW has reported to NECA “SafeWork NSW is investigating an incident on June 26 where an electrician was injured while undertaking testing of transformers prior to commissioning. SafeWork visited the site and issued an improvement notice. SafeWork’s investigation is ongoing”
The collective thoughts of the NECA Group are with the worker and their friends and family. We all hope they make a full recovery.
Pre-Coronavirus, air quality was a high priority issue with bushfires and dust. We were told to protect ourselves by staying indoors with windows and doors closed and avoiding outdoor exercise. We were also told to adjust our air conditioning systems to recirculate the air and shut off fresh air supplies. Air quality in Canberra recently reached more than 22 times the hazardous rating. While in December, some Sydney suburbs had air quality of more than 10 times the hazardous amount.
Fast forward a few months, and our new Coronavirus reality, the advice is to improve ventilation. Where possible, consider ways to increase the supply of fresh air, for example, by opening windows and doors. Additionally, using ceiling fans, desk fans or opening windows, for example, will assist in improving the circulation of outside air, and prevent pockets of stagnant air in occupied spaces. It is also recommended that you turn off recirculation and use a fresh air supply in your mechanical ventilation systems.
The risk of air conditioning spreading Coronavirus in the workplace is low. You can continue using most types of air conditioning system as normal. However, if you use a centralised ventilation system that removes and circulates air to different rooms, it is recommended that you turn off recirculation and use a fresh air supply.
You do not need to adjust air conditioning systems that mix some of the extracted air with fresh air and return it to the room as this increases the fresh air ventilation rate. Unless of course, you have to re-adjust the settings to turn the fresh air supply back on after the bushfire season. Also, you do not need to adjust systems in individual rooms or portable units as these operate on 100% recirculation.
Good ventilation can help reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus, but it can also lower indoor air quality during the bushfire season, back burning operation or dust storms. There has never been more demand to be able to adjust and control fresh air settings of indoor spaces.
To have maintained the best possible indoor air quality, operators and duty holders of indoor spaces on the East coast should have shut off the fresh air back in October 2019 when the bushfires were prevalent. Afterwards, between February and March, reopened the fresh air.
Lastly, with backburning planned in the coming months, operators ought to prepare early and consider how and when you shut off the fresh air. Additionally, it is possibly wise to discuss with your HVAC technicians on adjusting the fresh air settings in relation to the outdoor air quality and the risks created by the pandemic. Although, adjustments may need to be made daily.
An Amendment Bill significantly increasing WHS fines and making it easier to secure category 1 convictions has passed in NSW Parliament. At the same time, the State Government has also created a new WHS offence for silica work.
The NSW Work Health and Safety Amendment (Review) Bill 2020, introduces a penalty unit system with the value of a unit being set at $100 for 2019-20 and increasing every year to reflect changes to the consumer price index. The maximum fine for a category 1 WHS breach will instantly increase from $3 million to $3,463,000, with the Bill setting a maximum monetary penalty of 34,630 penalty units for this offence. The maximum fines for category 2 and category 3 contraventions, will instantly increase from $1.5 million to $1,731,500, and from $500,000 to $577,000, respectively.
The Bill also creates an offence of entering into, providing or benefitting from insurance or indemnity arrangements concerning the payment of penalties for offences under the WHS Act, and makes officers of a body corporate liable for the offence.
Most of the Bill's provisions were recommended by Marie Boland's national review of the model WHS laws. However, in contrary to Boland’s recommendations to create the offence of industrial manslaughter, NSW has instead included a clause in the Amendment Bill clarifying that in certain circumstances, the death of a person at work can constitute manslaughter under the State Crimes Act.
NSW Better Regulation Minister, Kevin Anderson, stated in November that this change is needed because recklessness is difficult to prove, hampering prosecutions and resulting in a lack of category 1 convictions across the harmonised jurisdictions. Additionally, Anderson’s Government decided to fast-track the changes to improve workplace health and safety in NSW, instead of waiting for Safe Work Australia to develop a decision regulation impact statement to put to Australia's WHS ministers, as part of the review process.
Click here to view the Work Health and Safety Amendment (Review) Bill 2020.
NECA recommends to its members to check the status of their insurance with their brokers or contact NECAGuard to clarify that your current professional indemnity insurance complies to the WHS Act. For more information on NECAGuard or to speak to a representative, contact the NECA Group Contact Centre on 1300 361 099 or Ask a Question here.
Construction sites across north-western Sydney can expect a visit from SafeWork Inspectors this week, who will be targeting unsafe working systems across all building trades.
Minister for Better Regulation, Kevin Anderson, said following several incidents on worksites throughout the state, inspectors will be on the ground focusing on high-risk activities, to ensure workers on construction sites are kept safe.
“Inspectors will be undertaking a compliance blitz on construction sites to make sure those most at risk from a workplace injury are protected by safe systems of work,” Mr Anderson said.
“Far too often our inspectors identify concerns with the way scaffolding is set up and other dangers involving working from heights so we will be targeting this area in particular.
“Falls from heights are the number one killer on NSW construction sites with most people who are seriously injured or killed falling from a height of four metres or less,” Mr Anderson said.
Following the NSW Government’s introduction of the strongest workplace legislation in the country earlier this month, hefty on-the-spot fines will be issued to anyone who puts workers’ lives at risk through unsafe or unlicensed work activities.
“We’re lifting workplace safety in NSW by making it everyone’s responsibility and sending a clear message that those who put workers at risk can now face jail time,” Mr Anderson concluded.
ISO certification certifies that a management system or documentation procedure has all the requirements for standardisation and quality assurance. Triple certification is the achievement of being certified to:
• AS / NZS ISO 45001:2018 Occupational health and safety management systems
• ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management Systems
• ISO 14001:2015 Environmental management systems
There are two reasons why electrical contractors want to achieve triple certification for the above standards:
- Electrical contractors can prove to their clients they fully understand the process and can do what they say they do. It helps them with tendering, audits, and job creation.
- Electrical Contractors want to implement a structured approach to managing their organisational risk.
NECA’s WHS team has developed a new integrated system and implementation process to create the most straightforward pathway for electrical contractors to achieve triple certification. Our system is entirely digital and paperless, saving you from hours of non-ending meetings and review processes of spreadsheets. The system will send you autogenerated emails each week letting you know what you need to do and when to do it.
NECA’s WHS Team can:
- Set you up with a tailored Integrated System Procedure specific to your company
- Help with Data collection and importing
- Training on the system for administrators
- Roll out & induction to workers
- Gap analysis Audit
Why choose NECA as your ISO Certification Partner? NECA understands that some of your current legal requirements can be utilised as evidence for ISO certification. For example, your certificate of completed electrical work can be used as an ISO 9001:2015 Quality inspection. This reduces the amount of duplication and unnecessary paperwork other systems would demand.
Want to learn more? Call us for a free consultation - see details below.
NECA understands that each business is different and have contrasting challenges when it comes to safety management. Our clients are both small domestic service style businesses and large, complex multi-state operations. Some of our clients want to meet minimum compliance, and others want to set the standard.
NECA has enhanced and develop a choice of 3 systems to suit your budget and style of management. From free access to Safety STAR through NECA’s Technical Knowledge Base. Members will also have available to them two new digital HSEQ systems, Safety ELITE and Safety GEN to enhance member businesses. Overall, more bandwidth to provide a better customer experience.
For more information on our WHS resources, get in touch with the NECA Group Contact Centre on 1300 361 099, or Ask a Question here.