August Newsletter - developments in OHS and Workers Compensation

Comrades

It is a long time since the last Newsletter but there are numerous developments in the year so far:

  • We made submissions to Safe Work Australia about the draft regulations - see what we said on http://meatiesohs.org/;
  • The Model Work Health and Safety Regulations were then prepared by the after considering the public comment - see it at http://meatiesohs.org/content/model-work-health-and-safety-regulations/;
  • The Workplace Relations Ministers’ Council (WRMC) held in Sydney on 10 August 2011 saw the majority of Ministers endorse “in principle” the draft model Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations and the first stage Codes of Practice (copy of WRMC Communique attached);
  • We were in working groups with WorkSafe Victoria regarding Compliance Codes about to Return to Work after being injured or become ill in the course of employment. As of 1 April 2011 they apply. If your employer complies with they are considered to be complying with the Return to Work obligations under the Accident Compensation Act (Victoria)
    • Providing employment, planning and consulting about return to work;
    • Return to Work Coordinators;
    • Return to Work Information;
    • Cooperating with labour hire employers about return to work;
  • The Australian Government is currently conducting a review of how asbestos is dealt with in Australia.  It’s a huge problem. The Asbestos Management Review which is calling for submissions.
  • Many States have adopted the Model Work Health and Safety Act (found at http://meatiesohs.org/content/model-work-health-and-safety-act/) with some differences. Victorian parliament is apparently going to consider it soon but we have not seen it yet. We don’t know exactly what it will look like.

National Workers Memorial design competition open

A national memorial is to be established in Canberra to honour, and pay tribute to workers who have lost their lives through work-related injuries or disease.

The National Workers’ Memorial invites members of the public who are interested in design and workers’ health and safety to participate in the competition.

The Memorial is to:

  • Serve as a reminder of the importance of workplace safety and the need to continue to improve health and safety performance and prevent work-related injury and disease.
  • Honour and pay tribute to all of the working Australians who have lost their lives to work- related incidents and/or disease.
  • Provide a place to reflect and remember the sacrifice of all such workers who have lost their lives.
  • Recognise and celebrate the vital contribution and significant achievements of Australia’s workers to the building of this nation.
  • Provide a focal point for the national commemoration of Workers’ Memorial Day.

Competition registrations close on 29 September 2011.

We urge Health and Safety Representatives who are interested to think about entering the competition. Find out more about the National Workers’ Memorial at http://www.nationalcapital.gov.au/nwm/

Health & Safety Penalties Indexed

As you know Penalty Units are indexed every year. Remember that the Vic OHS and Comp laws don’t have $ Fines they have Penalty Unit Fines.

As of 1 July 2011, One Penalty Unit equals $122.14

The figures over the last 5 years has been:

Financial Year Penalty Unit
2005 - 2006 (1/7/05 - 30/6/06)
$104.81
2006 - 2007 (1/7/06 - 30/6/07)  
$107.43
2007 - 2008 (1/7/07 - 30/6/08)     $110.12
2008 - 2009 (1/7/08 - 30/6/09)   
$113.42
2009 - 2010 (1/7/09 - 30/6/10)    $116.82
2010 - 2011 (1/7/10 - 30/06/11)   $119.45
2011 - 2012 (1/07/11 - 30/06/12)   $122.14

Remember the maximum Fines in the OH&S Act are:
Personal    1800 penalty units
Corporate    9000 penalty units

Maximum Fines are now:
Personal                $219,852
Corporate              $1,099,260

Compensation weekly payments indexed

Weekly payments are capped. As of 1 July 2011 the maximum WorkCover Weekly Payments are:

Injuries before 5 April 2010     $1,420
Injuries after 5 April 2010         $1,930

Remember it is paid at 95% of Pre Injury Average Weekly Earnings for the first 13 weeks and then 80% of Pre Injury Average Weekly Earnings to the maximum amounts listed above.

Gwynnyth Evans
Health & Safety/WorkCover Officer
Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union
Phone: 03 9662 3766
Fax: 03 9662 9549