Safe Work Explains new Hazardous Chemical Labelling Requirements

To help smooth the transition to the globally harmonised system  (GHS), Safe Work Australia has announced that chemicals manufactured or imported before January 1st, 2017 will not need to meet Work Health and Safety Regulations’ labelling requirements before being supplied.

Safe Work’s CEO Michelle Baster explained that the concerns raised by chemical suppliers in the lead up to Australia developing a GSH for chemical labelling had been heard, which resulted in the new approach.

The new approach will help avoid unnecessary burden on suppliers to re-label existing chemical stock.

Find out more

Return to Work Safely

The holidays are over and it’s almost time for most of us to get back to work which is why WorkSafe WA has issued a reminder to everyone returning to work to ensure safety when doing so after the long festive break.

Unfortunately this time of the year is usually one filled with workplace accidents, possibly due to the complacency people tend to show towards safety as they return from their holiday. But WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch is urging employers and workers not to become complacent.

McCulloch pointed out that this financial year we have seen way too many fatalities – nine to precise. Nine Australians have died in work related accidents this financial year already and even one death is one too many.

The Commissioner said that people who return to work after the holidays should be mindful of workplace risks and even appealed to people at work to “remain vigilant and aware” of the risks associated with their work.

WorkSafe also warned management and safety and health representatives to begin conducting pre-start inspections of workplaces and construction sites that were shut down over the festive period. This is to ensure that risks are minimised and no hazards are missed.

McCulloch also mentioned the tendency of many workers to “remain in holiday mode” even after returning to work from the festive break. Sometimes workers demonstrate this by not paying the proper attention to the task at hand, particularly on high-risk sites such as building sites. He warned that the consequences of such an attitude toward safety could be fatal.

McCulloch appealed to every employer and worker in the state to “reacquaint” themselves with the safe methods of work that apply to their workplace and the tasks they undertake before beginning the new year.

We want to start the year off well and hope for it to be a prosperous and safe year which is why we need to keep safety in mind especially when working in the construction industry because losing focus and averting our attention from safety can be deadly.

According to McCulloch in 2010/11 in WA there were 21 traumatic work related fatalities and in 2011/2012 it dropped to just 17. In 2012/2013 the number of fatalities was at 18, this is in addition to the 18,000 Western Australian workers who are injured each year and subsequently take time off work.

It is also important that as construction sites reopen, we are all aware of the importance of adequate training. It is the duty of employers as well as individual workers to ensure that they have completed general construction industry induction training and obtained their White Card as proof of doing so. Without this training they cannot legally work on any construction site, anywhere in Oz. They will also be more vulnerable to workplace injuries and accidents because of a lack of knowledge about general construction site safety.

So if you haven’t yet completed the training, make sure you start the year off right and get your White Card!

The ACT tops country’s most dangerous construction jurisdictions

As the ACT Work Safety Inspectors begin a 3 week blitz, the ACT’s work safety commissioner, Mark McCabe announced that the states serious accident rate make it the most dangerous construction jurisdiction.

Although the state has begun a trend towards safer construction sites, figures indicate a 17 per cent increase in serious accidents on local sites between 2011 and 2012. According to an article on, during this time The Act recorded 30.5 serious accidents (which required workers compensation claims and a week or more off work), for every 1000 workers on the job in the same period as compared with only 24.5 the year before. This is much higher than the national average which was 18.7.

Ultimately 363 construction workers were seriously injured in The ACT in 2011-2012 as compared with only 321 the previous year.

These figures and more relating to safety in the state as compared with other states will be published by Safe Work Australia in October in their “Comparative Monitoring Report”. The Report highlights workers compensation claim comparisons for various industries across Oz.

Read the following excerpt from an article on which explains more about the report and its findings:

web13IncidenceRatesGraph_Page1-620x349Tasmania had been slightly ahead of the ACT in 2010-11 for injuries requiring a week or more off work, but Mr McCabe said he could not imagine the ACT would not eclipse Tasmania with a 17 per cent increase.

When accidents requiring 12 weeks or more off work are tallied, the ACT already leads the nation with 9.5 accidents for every 1000 workers in 2010-11. This is well above Tasmania, on 5.6 accidents, with the national average 5.2.

While the ACT’s construction workforce has remained fatality-free for the past 12 months, just last month Mr McCabe warned of a spate of serious accidents including two worksites being shut down over dangerous scaffolding and one investigation into a metal pipe being dropped from a scaffold that pierced an electric cable and narrowly missed a gas pipe.

Read the full post at

This week also sees the start of a safety blitz by inspectors across Canberra where residential construction sites will be targeted. Inspectors are also authorised to issue on-the-spot fines of up to $3600 for breaches ranging from work from height violations, signage, fencing, amenities, housekeeping, scaffolding, electrical testing and tagging, personal protective equipment and checking that all workers are in possession of their White Card – so contractors beware!

In order to avoid on-the-spot fines or even worse, prosecution (because of accidents and negligence caused by a lack of knowledge about safety precautions), ensure that all workers on site have completed their White Card Construction Safety Training – this is proof that they are trained on general construction safety and can be trusted to work safely on a construction site without endangering themselves or others onsite. Site controllers should also remember that regardless of whether a worker is experienced or simply an apprentice, they should be in possession of this qualification because it is a mandatory legal requirement.