September Newsletter: Health & Safety Representatives Conference 19 October 2011

The Health and Safety Representatives annual conference, the biggest event held during WorkSafe Week, will celebrate the work of thousands of Health and Safety Representatives who have contributed to the safe and healthy working conditions of Victorians over the past 26 years.  It will be the LAST conference under the current Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The conference will be held on Wednesday October 19

- noting that this year's WorkSafe Week is a week earlier than usual. Registration for the Conference is not open yet, but will be in the next couple of weeks. Keep your eyes on the VTHC SafetyNet journal.

The location will be the same venue as last year, the Melbourne Convention Centre - 1 Convention Centre Place, South Wharf, 3006 (Crown side of the Yarra River) Melways reference 2EK9.

This year’s conference will continue the objective of providing HSRs with relevant information and tools to increase their skills and knowledge of specific provisions of the legislative framework. The sessions will concentrate on three crucial areas for reps. The outline of the conference is as follows:

Session One – WorkSafe Victoria Report Card

The session will be presented by Ian Forsyth, Executive Director Health and Safety, Deputy Chief Executive WorkSafe Victoria, who will provide HSRs with a 'report card' on the strategic and operational activities of the organisation since the last conference and a look forward to what will be the focus in the next 12 months.  

Session Two – New WHS law and what it means for HSRs: what's new what's different, what to do

The session will provide HSRs with an understanding of the new Work Health and Safety laws and how they impact on HSRs and other workplace parties. It will include a panel discussion involving union, employer association and WorkSafe representatives.

Session Three – What an inspector looks for and what they do when they find it

This will be an opportunity to hear from an experienced WorkSafe official on:

  • the role and scope of inspectors’ powers under the new law;
  • how WorkSafe conducts inspections and what they look for during the visit; and
  • the obligations WorkSafe inspectors have towards HSRs during workplace visits and when HSRs request assistance. 

Session Four – Bullying: new law and WorkSafe’s operational response

This session aims to provide HSRs with information on the latest legislative developments in Bullying (the “Brodie Panlock law”) and how WorkSafe deals with a bullying allegation. The session will also cover the lessons from the recent successful prosecution of a company for discrimination against an HSR and recent developments in dealing with bullying and occupational violence. 

All sessions will be presented in a panel discussion format (with union, WorkSafe and employer representatives, as appropriate) with the opportunity for a Q&A with the audience.

Session Five – Plenary session

The Plenary session will provide be a final summary of the day and activities in the future, further discussion about the relationship of WorkSafe to the role of the Health and Safety Representative, evaluation of the day and receipt of Certificate of Attendance.

Who can attend?

This exciting event is free for Health and Safety Representatives and deputies. All elected Health and Safety Representatives are entitled to attend on paid time. This is a WorkSafe Victoria approved course of training under s69 of the OHS Act 2004.

Other Information

Times - Registration from 8am, for a 9am start. Finishes at 4.30pm.
Public transport - Walk from Southern Cross Station (approx 15 min) or Flinders Street Station (approx 15 min). Trams run along Spencer, Clarendon and Flinders Sts every 6 - 8 minutes during peak times. The closest tram stop is directly outside the Melbourne Exhibition Centre.
Parking details - Undercover parking is available in the Melbourne Exhibition Centre basement car park, entry via Normanby St. Early bird rate, before 9:00am, is $12.00. Once you have parked your car please exit the carpark via Door 6 to take you to the concourse entry to the Convention Centre.
Note: Morning and Afternoon tea only will be provided (participants will have to organise or purchase their own lunch from outlets near the Convention Centre)


  1. The Act requires that you give your employer at least 14 days notice of your intention to attend - but this may be waived by your employer. To be safe, give notification as soon as possible, and if you have any problems contact your organiser.
  2. Deputy reps are invited and very welcome to attend: however they do not have the same entitlements under S69 - that is, the employer has no duty to allow attendance of deputies with paid leave. Many employers are happy to allow deputies to attend though, so ask them.

Worker Jailed for nail gun shooting which took apprentice’s eye

A roof tiler has been convicted and sentenced to four months jail after shooting an apprentice with a nail-gun causing him to lose the site in one eye.

The charge: 

Section 32 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004
Duty not to recklessly endanger persons at workplaces

A person who, without lawful excuse, recklessly engages in conduct that places or may place another person who is at a workplace in danger of serious injury is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to—
(a)     in the case of a natural person, a term of imprisonment not exceeding 5 years, or a fine not exceeding 1800 penalty units (currently $219,852) or both.

Joshua Bamford, now 21 of Rowsley near Bacchus Marsh, pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

WorkSafe told the court that on 27 May 2009, Bamford and other employees of a roofing company were working at a new housing estate in Melton.

Barrister Peter Matthews said the tool was used as a weapon and that the offending was not at the lower end of the spectrum.

In a record of interview Bamford admitted firing several nails at the apprentice who was up to 20 metres away.

He told WorkSafe he had been explicitly instructed by his employer never to fire the nail gun at anyone else.

WorkSafe’s General Manager for Operations, Lisa Sturzenegger, said improper use of nail guns had no place in the workplace. 

“Nail-guns are high-risk / high-consequence equipment which have caused 1190 injuries which resulted in workers compensation claims over the past 10 years.

“They are powerful and can help get work done more quickly, but the consequences if they are not used correctly can be extremely serious.

“Employers and supervisors have clear responsibilities to ensure equipment is well-maintained and that the people using them are trained and have a very clear idea of what can happen through misuse.

“Workers have very clear responsibilities to work in a safe way, not put others at risk while co-workers, particularly more experienced people, need to speak-up if inappropriate behaviour is going on.

“If that is done, incidents from which there is no turning back will not happen,” Ms Sturzenegger said.  

The nail guns at the site were seized by WorkSafe inspectors and tested by the manufacturer and were found to be operating correctly.