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Safe, productive and fair workplaces

​​​​​​​​​Committed to ensuring Queenslanders are working in safe and fair environments

We are working with the community and our industry partners to ensure compliance with health and safety, electrical safety, workers' compensation and industrial relations laws, set clear safety standards and shape a better and fairer future for all workers and Queenslanders.

In 2017-18, we focused on:​

Making Queensland safer and fairer

Figure 5: Number of trauma fatalities at the workplace for Queensland

Last year was a year of legislative and regulatory firsts, driven in part by the delivery in July 2017 of a Best Practice Review of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ). This report made recommendations for legislative and regulatory changes to work health and safety laws as well as operational improvements for Workplace Health and Safety Queensland and the Work Health and Safety Board.

Since then, major changes have been made to the work health and safety act including the introduction of a new charge of industrial manslaughter and the preparation of regulatory amendments to improve safety in the amusement ride and theme park industries. We have also reviewed and updated all Codes of Practice as recommended by the Best Practice Review.

With the largest recreational snorkelling and diving sector in Australia, Queensland is the only state to have specific legislation covering the industry. Based on expert advice from tourism operators and dive safety specialists, we also revised the Recreational diving and snorkelling Code of Practice to make recreational snorkelling safer.

Other legislative and regulatory milestones include:

  • delivering Australia’s first Labour Hire Licensing Act, to protect these workers against unscrupulous, unprofessional practices
  • greater protections to workers affected by coal workers' pneumoconiosis
  • tougher licensing requirements to strengthen electrical safety in Queensland.

Protecting workers from preventable injury

In 2017, we introduced new industrial manslaughter laws aimed at protecting Queensland workers on the job. This was one of the 58 recommendations contained in the independent Best Practice Review of Workplace Health and Safety in Queensland. We are continuing to implement all recommendations except for two that have been referred to the Workplace Health and Safety Board for further consideration.

Following reported safety concerns on the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing project, we met with senior representatives of Nexus in February 2018 to make sure safety was made a priority.

Our ultimate goal is for every Queenslander to go out to work or play each day and come home safely. Everything we do in this space - such as our Injury Prevention and Management Program, inspections and audits, notices and prosecutions, transport safety networks, workplace visits by people who have been injured at work and working with around 1,500 businesses in our Safety Leadership at Work Program - is about stopping accidents happening in the first place and achieving reductions in work-related injuries and fatalities.

During the 2017-18 period, our inspectors visited over 10,700 workplaces which involved over 27,000 individual site visits and issued over 6,100 notices for contraventions of the work health and safety legislation, predominately relating to non-compliance with workplace environment, work at heights, plant and hazardous chemicals requirements. Our inspectors also issued 220 infringement notices for non-compliance, mainly relating to construction (safe work method statements) and enforcement measures (non-compliance of improvement notices).

We received notifications of non-compliance with work health and safety laws, consisting of 5,799 incidents and 4,341 complaints. We conducted 173 investigations into serious injuries, fatalities and other high priority matters.

During the same period, we finalised 67 prosecutions, with 59 of these successful, resulting in over $2.6 million in fines and costs.

We continue to focus on high-risk industries, targeting those that have workers' compensation claim rates significantly higher than other industries. Over the five years from 2011-12 to 2015-16, significant reductions in the incidence of severe injuries were achieved in the following industries:

 
 
 
 
 

This equates to an overall reduction of 20.5% in serious work-related injuries over that period – a great result for workers, their families and businesses.

In consultation with the Interagency Asbestos Group, we again prepared the annual progress report on the Statewide Strategic Plan for the Safe Management of Asbestos in Queensland 2014-19. This report informs Cabinet on the work being undertaken by government agencies, and is available at Asbestos Queensland.

Injury Prevention and Management Program (IPaM)

IPaM is a joint initiative between Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) and WorkCover Queensland. The program assists employers to increase compliance and manage their health, safety and rehabilitation and return-to-work systems.

IPaM is a free program tailored to suit workplaces at varying levels of maturity, size, complexity, safety and workers' compensation performance offering three key services, IPaM Advance, IPaM Evolve and IPaM Small Business.

In the 2017-18 year there were 354 employers actively working in the IPaM Advance and Evolve programs, a further 134 in pre-agreement and 231 employers have exited the program during the reporting period.

Over 1,660 site visits have delivered system and hazard assessments and worker consultation predominantly in priority industries of manufacturing, construction, health care and social assistance, transport and agriculture.

There have been 159 Business Improvement Plans delivered providing over 3473 recommendations for improvement in management commitment, consultation, risk management, training, injury management and return-to-work. Small businesses are further supported through the provision of one-on-one workplace consultations and workshops.

Workers' compensation improvements recognised by IPaM employers in the last 12 months include:

 
 
 
 
 
 

Shining a light on electrical safety

 

In 2017-18, we implemented the recommendations of an independent review of electrical licensing including enhancing the requirements for electrical contractor licence eligibility.

We conducted over 2,590 proactive audits and issued 1,002 notices. Fifty matters involving electrical licence holders were referred to the Electrical Licensing Committee and found to be in breach of electrical safety legislation, with disciplinary action including fines, reprimands and licence suspension pending re-training. There were 33 serious electrical incidents across Queensland in 2017-18, increasing by 12 from the previous financial year, but no fatalities resulting from contact with electricity.

We're also continuing initiatives to support the safe introduction of smart grid and renewable technologies.

Making workers' compensation fairer

The Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 requires a review of the operation of the workers' compensation scheme at least once every five years. In 2018, the independent review found the scheme is financially sound and provides fair treatment for both employees and employers.

Queensland's workers' compensation scheme gives people injured at work the support and protection they need to return to work so they can support themselves and their families. The scheme's performance is such that Queensland has the fastest workers' compensation dispute resolution service in Australia: 86.5 per cent of disputes are resolved within three months.

Reporting on Coal Workers Pneumoconiosis

We prepared the Government's response to the Parliamentary Committee's Report into Coal Workers' Pneumoconiosis and implementation of recommendations regarding workers' compensation changes. We progressed actions in response to the Coal Workers' Pneumoconiosis Select Committee Report No.4 55th Parliament Inquiry into Occupational Respirable Dust Diseases.

Continuing to educate the community

Our advertising campaigns are an important means to get our message into the community. In 2017, we shined the spotlight on electrical safety, quad bike safety, safe work and return to work and in 2018, the North Queensland Injury Prevention and Return to Work Conference was held in Townsville.

In 2017-18, electrical safety inspectors provided engagement activities to over 2,800 organisations and more than 13,300 people. Electricity Safety Week (4-8 September) included a host of events tailored specifically for electrical contractors and workers, including the Electricity Safety Summit.

Each year, on average, 600 people need hospital treatment because of quad bikes, with approximately one-third of quad bike deaths in Australia taking place in Queensland. To raise awareness of quad bike safety, the final phase of the government's Ride Ready campaign was launched in 2017.

When it comes to getting back to meaningful work after an injury, the best results are achieved when employers encourage and support injured staff to recover at work. The Getting Back advertising campaign reminds workers, employers and medical professionals of the importance of getting people back to work.

The 2017 Safe Work and Return to Work champions were recognised at the 2017 Safe Work and Return to Work awards. The awards showcase excellence in safety or getting injured workers back to meaningful duties as soon as possible and are a highlight of Safe Work Month which runs each year in October.

A dedicated statewide advertising campaign 'It's about time', introducing the labour hire licensing scheme, ran on radio, press and social media for six weeks, raising awareness of and encouraging compliance with the scheme.

Improving industrial relations for Queensland workers

 

In response to the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Practices of the Labour Hire Industry in Queensland, the Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017 establishes a mandatory labour hire provider licensing scheme to protect labour hire workers from exploitation and restore confidence in the labour hire industry.

The passage of the Trading (Allowable Hours) Amendment Act 2017 delivered a significant reduction in the complexity around Queensland's retail trading hours regulation, providing certainty for retail shop trading hours and striking the right balance between flexibility and increased consumer shopping hours, while providing protections for retail workers and smaller retail businesses.

We prepared the Queensland Government's submissions to the Fair Work Commission Annual Wage Review and also the Queensland State Wage Case. These submissions advocated for increased wages for the lowest paid workers in the community. We also prepared the Queensland Government's submission to the Senate Inquiry into the Future of Work and Workers, which called for reform of the Fair Work Act 2009 and other relevant legislation to better recognise emerging forms of non-traditional employment, including engagement within the gig economy, to ensure that the national workplace relations system protects vulnerable workers and remains fair and equitable for all working Australians.

During 2017-18, we completed 11 enterprise bargaining agreements for the Queensland public sector and government-owned corporations. All agreements were settled within the government wages policy.​

Licence
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0) (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/au/ )
Last updated
02 November 2018