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Safe, fair and productive workplaces and communities

We know that what will make our businesses thrive tomorrow is different to what they need to succeed today. That is why we strive to keep pace with technology and the changing world of work, and diverse ways of working, to ensure that workplaces are fair and productive, drive our economy and deliver shared economic and social prosperity.

We are committed to overseeing the ongoing delivery of legislative reforms and regulatory improvements to the state's industrial relations, workplace health and safety, and electrical safety systems—to ensure that Queenslanders stay safe in their homes and workplaces.

In 2018–19, we focused on making Queensland the best place to live, work and be active by:

Safe workplaces and homes

Best Practice Review of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland

In response to tragic fatalities at Dreamworld and an Eagle Farm worksite in 2016, a Best Practice Review of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland was undertaken.

A key recommendation of the review was delivered in March 2019, with the appointment of an independent Work Health and Safety Prosecutor, Mr Aaron Guilfoyle.

The new prosecutor role focuses on workplace health and safety and electrical safety prosecutions, and provides a strong framework to deliver an independent and robust workplace prosecution system that Queenslanders can have confidence in.

New safety regulations for amusement rides and theme parks

Coinciding with the appointment of the new independent statutory office, stricter safety regulations for amusement rides and theme parks have been introduced, while we await the final report and recommendations from the coronial inquest into the 2016 Dreamworld tragedy.

After consultation with key stakeholders, the new, stricter requirements commenced from 1 May 2019 (with a transition period of up to 2-years for certain matters) and mean that rides and theme parks in our state are subject to world's best practice safety standards.

Under the previous regulation, regular inspections of amusement rides were already required. The new regulations build on existing work health and safety laws to:

  • mandate major inspections of rides by qualified engineers every 10 years (with a qualified engineer taking a ride offline for a number of weeks to conduct a major inspection involving a thorough examination of critical components and, if necessary, stripping down the device)
  • improve competency and training of ride operators
  • mandate proper recording of inspections, maintenance and operator competency
  • mandate a new Safety Case and Licensing System for major amusement parks.

Three additional engineers have been employed within Workplace Health and Safety Queensland to oversee these strict new requirements.

To prioritise safety, the changes have been made before the outcomes of the current coronal process are known. The coroner's final report and recommendations will be closely examined on release to see if further changes are required.

Nation's first dust-related disease register starting in Queensland

In September 2018, we committed $25 million across 2-years to deliver more reforms that protect workers' health and safety. We delivered a national first, with changes to the Public Health Act 2005 and Public Health Regulation 2018 that ensure Queensland workers, including coal workers and stonemasons, have better workplace health and safety protections.

From 1 July 2019, pneumoconiosis, silicosis and other occupational dust diseases will be recorded on the Queensland Health Notifiable Dust Lung Disease Register. This register will enable us to monitor dust lung diseases like silicosis and pneumoconiosis, and incidences of other dust lung diseases from working environments where workers are exposed to inorganic dust, and identify and address any emerging workplace health issues.

Silicosis response

We have played a crucial role in uncovering and responding to a very troubling rise in the incidence of the deadly silicosis disease in the stone benchtop fabrication industry. Inspectors conducted auditing of all known stone benchtop fabrication workplaces across Queensland and worked with the technical teams to identify the critical control measures that need to be in place to prevent exposure, including emphasising the prohibition on uncontrolled dry cutting.

The Queensland Government is dedicated to protecting the health and safety of these workers and has committed resources to the development of a code of practice to clarify the minimum standards to control exposure to silica in this industry. We are also engaging with suppliers and importers of engineered stone products to ensure they fulfil their responsibilities for informing the public of the risks associated with their products, so that they are not endangering the health and safety of workers and others. We are also working closely with WorkCover Queensland and medical practitioners to provide guidelines on diagnosing, treating and supporting workers affected by exposure to silica dust. This includes funding free health screenings for current or former workers from this industry.

Ride Ready campaign

We continued our Ride Ready campaign to build on our plan to improve quad bike safety in Queensland.

While a useful tool on our farms, and a lot of fun if ridden safely, Queensland has the highest number of quad-related deaths in the nation, with one in five deaths on quad bikes involving a child.

Our Ride Ready advertising campaign, including the Ride Ready app, highlights the importance of basic safety such as wearing a helmet, keeping kids off adult bikes and ensuring you do not double or overload the bike, and advocates formal training in safe riding.

In April 2019, we complemented the campaign with a Workplace Health and Safety Queensland promotion, which gave entrants the chance to win one of 50 quad bike helmets by participating in three challenges via the Ride Ready game app.

Independent market research across a number of years indicates the campaign is driving positive changes in attitudes towards quad bike safety.

All workplaces are fair and productive

Regulating labour hire licensing

We oversaw the introduction of the Labour Hire Licensing Scheme that is ensuring labour hire workers in Queensland have increased protection in a regulated industry where employers are held to account for doing the wrong thing.

The scheme was established following extensive consultation with stakeholders and sets minimum standards for labour hire providers, who are now required to be licensed in Queensland. Businesses who need to hire labour must only use licensed providers.

In the 15 months from the scheme's commencement in April 2018, 3,191 providers have been licensed—far exceeding expectations. These laws enhance Queensland's reputation as a great place to work and are leading the way in the fight to ensure some of our most vulnerable workers are not subject to exploitation and mistreatment.

Supporting building and construction workers

In May 2019, we called for public submissions on proposed changes to Queensland's portable long service leave scheme for workers in the building and construction industry, aimed at ensuring the scheme's long-term financial viability. The scheme supports workers to accrue long service leave even if they change employers or work interstate.

We also requested industry stakeholder feedback on a proposed small increase to the workplace health and safety levy to enhance support for mental health and suicide prevention in the building and construction industry. This is in response to suicide rates, particularly among younger workers, which are 2 to 3 times higher than in other industries.

The proposed levy increase would complement existing work, including $1 million in funding this year for Mates in Construction to expand its suicide prevention program to rural and remote areas of the state.

Fair day's pay for a fair day's work

Wage theft takes many forms—affecting around 437,000, or 1 in 5, Queensland workers and costing more than $1 billion every year.

The report of the parliament's Education, Employment and Small Business Committee inquiry into wage theft in Queensland was tabled in February 2019, with the committee making 17 recommendations aimed at eliminating wage theft and ensuring a fair day's pay for a fair day's work.

Six recommendations sit within the Queensland Government's jurisdiction, relating to better public information and education, ensuring our procurement policies allow for action against employers underpaying workers, and taking action to ensure that wage recovery processes are simple, quick and low-cost.

We will consult with stakeholders on the committee's recommendation that deliberate or reckless cases of wage theft be criminalised at a state level, a recommendation supported by many employer and union stakeholders at the Inquiry.

Supporting our front line

First responders play a vital role in our community, and the Queensland Government is dedicated to ensuring these workers are supported in their duties. Due to the nature of their work, they are often exposed to traumatic and distressing incidents that may impact their psychological wellbeing.

To ensure frontline Queensland workers receive the support they need, we undertook an independent review of current workers' compensation arrangements for first responders suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health conditions.

The review acknowledged numerous commendable practices within Queensland's workers' compensation scheme that provide assistance, support, assessment, treatment and rehabilitation to workers who have made a claim for a psychological injury.

To progress the outcomes of the review, a stakeholder reference group is being established to discuss and develop an action plan for improving the workers' compensation experience and mental health outcomes for first responders.

Number of traumatic fatalities at the workplace for Queensland

Year Fatalities
2011-1245
2012-1339
2013-1442
2014-1525
2015-1634
2016-1728

Effectiveness measures

Service standards
Industrial Relations

2018-19

Target/Est

2018-19

Actual

2019-20

Target/Est

Notes

Overall client satisfaction with inspectorate's effectiveness and professionalism

85%

97%

90%

 1

Overall client satisfaction with the services and advice provided on public sector industrial relations

85%

100%

90%

2

Cost of Industrial Relations services per Queensland worker

 $3.40

 $3.14

 $3.14

 3

Cost of public sector industrial and employee relations per Queensland public sector worker

$6.50

$6.72

$6.71

4

Service: Administration of the Industrial Court and Commission system  
 

Percentage of matters resolved at conference

65%

54%

65%

 5

Percentage of matters filed with the Industrial Registry and processed within 24 hours

95%

91%

95%

 6

Service: Work health and safety services        

Overall client satisfaction with inspectorate's effectiveness and professionalism

 85%

 87%

 90%

 7

Cost of WHSQ services per worker covered by the workers' compensation scheme

 $30.95

 $32.83

 $33.11

 8

Service: Electrical safety services      
 

Reduction in the number of reported serious electrical incidents on a 5-year rolling average

10%

1%

10%

9

Overall client satisfaction with inspectorate's effectiveness and professionalism85%91%90%
7
Cost of electrical safety services per person in Queensland$3.95$4.20$4.2610
Workers' compensation services      
 

Cost of Workers' Compensation Regulator service per worker covered by the workers' compensation scheme

$9.80

$9.64

$9.80

 11

Cost per workers' compensation disputation

$2,800

$3,000

$3,100

12

Notes:

  1. The objective of the Industrial Relations Client Satisfaction Survey is to assess the satisfaction of employers and employees who had interactions with an industrial relations inspector in the previous 12 months. Industrial relations inspectors provide compliance and information services on Queensland's industrial relations laws for state and local government, long service leave, child employment, trading hours and holidays. They also deliver services to protect vulnerable labour hire workers and promote the integrity of the labour hire industry in Queensland.
  2. The survey measures overall client satisfaction with the effectiveness and professionalism of the public sector industrial relations team. The team leads and advises on public sector enterprise bargaining and other industrial relations matters on behalf of the Queensland Government.
  3. The cost is calculated by dividing the total cost of service by the Queensland labour force. (ABS Cat 6202.0 Labour Force, Australia). The decrease in the 2018–19 Estimated Actual and 2019–20 Target/Estimate is due to the implementation of the Labour Hire Licensing scheme.
  4. The cost is calculated by dividing the total cost of service by the Queensland public sector labour force. Public sector (including local government) total employed series (ABS 6291.0.55.003 - Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly). The increase in the 2019–20 Target/Estimate over the 2018–19 Target/Estimate is a consequence of additional resources used to support preparation for sector wide bargaining in 2018–19.
  5. This measures the Industrial Court and Queensland Industrial Relations Commission's effectiveness in resolving matters lodged in Queensland's industrial relations jurisdiction. The variance between the 2018–19 Target/Estimate and 2018–19 Estimated Actual is due to a reduction in the number of matters successfully resolved through conciliation conferences.
  6. The percentage of matters filed with the Industrial Registry and processed within 24 hours is determined by the time the matter is filed via email, post or over the counter to the time that the matter is entered into the Case Management System.
  7. The primary objective of the Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) survey is to assess the satisfaction of persons who had a visit from a Work Health and Safety or Electrical Safety inspector in the previous 12 months. WHSQ Inspectors enforce work health and safety laws, investigate workplace fatalities, serious injuries, prosecute breaches of legislation and educate employees and employers on their legal obligations. Electrical Safety Inspectors provide advisory and enforcement activities, promote compliance with electrical safety laws and standards, information, education and training activities to help reduce the risk of death or injury from electrocution, fire and explosion and improve electrical safety.

Licence
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0) (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/au/ )
Last updated
28 October 2019