The Office of the Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate will replace the Office of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) affecting the building and construction industry.

The bill is known as the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Amendment (Transition to Fair Work) Bill 2012.

The new inspectorate retains coercive powers to compulsorily obtain information or documents relevant to investigations. Some safeguards, however, will be put in place, such as the right to have a lawyer present and the right to refuse to give information on the grounds of legal professional privilege and public interest immunity.

A full council meeting of the State's peak union body will tonight consider applying an interim Green Ban to work on a former James Hardie site riddled with asbestos at Camelia, in Sydney's west.

ACT Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe has advised that a prohibition notice has been issued for work to cease at an ACT construction site following safety concerns. 

A company has been convicted and fined $170,000 after pleading guilty to two workplace safety charges that led to the collapse of a scaffold in a busy inner Melbourne suburb.

The New South Wales Government has announced intentions to cut spending to WorkCover after a PriceWaterhouseCoopers audit report found the agency was over $4 billion in deficit. The audit found that the agency had recorded a $1.7 billion blowout in its debt in the past six months.

Safe Work Australia has released a draft framework of the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022 for an eight-week public comment period.

The Transport Workers Union has publically backed the passage of the Federal Government’s Road Safety Remuneration Bill through Senate, saying that the legislation will save the lives of both truck drivers and the public.

The Australian Industry Group (AI Group) has urged the Federal Government to move cautiously as it establishes a Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate to take over the work of the now defunct Australian Building and Construction Commission.

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\"Now that Parliament, despite strong opposition from industry, has passed the Government\'s construction industry bill and road safety remuneration bill, the Government needs to address industry concerns in implementing the new legislation,\" Ai Group Chief Executive Heather Ridout said.

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Ms Ridout has suggested that the Government reassure industry by ensuring that:

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  • The existing Australian Building and Construction Commissioner, Deputy Commissioners and staff will transfer seamlessly to the new Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate; 
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  • The existing level of ABCC funding will be maintained for the Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate; 
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  • Industry will be consulted on the appointment of the Independent Assessor, who will have the power to switch off the Inspectorate\'s compulsory interrogation powers for particular projects; and 
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  • Industry will be consulted on the appointment of members of the Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate Advisory Board.
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Ms Ridout also urged the Government to act prudently with the implementation of the Road Safety Remuneration Act by:

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  • Consulting with representatives of the road transport industry and representatives of the industries which use road transport, on the appointment of Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal Members; 
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  • Ensuring that Members of the new Tribunal have strong industry experience, not only in the road transport industry but in industries which use road transport.
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\"Ai Group opposed both of these Bills which addressed key claims of the construction unions and the Transport Workers Union. We maintain our concern about both pieces of legislation, but now that the legislation has been passed by Parliament it is essential that the Government work with the Australian Industry Group and other key representative bodies to ensure that the new arrangements are workable and not damaging to industry,\" Ms Ridout said.

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A WorkSafe Victoria study of 6898 workers in Victoria’s Hobsons Bay has found that over a third of employees are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

A building company has pleaded guilty to two breaches of workplace laws in Melbourne’s Magistrate’s Court.

Plans for a new $3 million National Workers Memorial have been revealed in Canberra, with the Federal Government funding the memorial to pay tribute to all Australians who have lost their lives to work related accidents and diseases.

WorkSafe Victoria has handed out 117 notices requiring businesses to act on breaches after the agency conducted a blitz on the Bendigo area.

Safe Work Australia has released two research reports on occupational skin diseases, finding that they cost up to $33 million per year.

The Federal Government has passed the Road Safety Remuneration Bill through the House of Representatives, and it is expected to pass comfortably through the Senate with the support of the Greens.

The South Australian Liberal opposition and Family First party have indicated they intend to block nationally harmonised workplace safety laws in the South Australian upper house.

WorkSafe Victoria has announced results for the first half of 2011-12, with the key indicator of health - performance from insurance operations (PFIO) returning $118m, up from $61m in the previous corresponding period.

The Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute has published research that shows workers, drivers and call centre staff who sit for protracted periods of time could improve their health by breaking up their sitting time with frequent activity breaks.

WorkCover NSW has launched a Small Business Rebate Program that offers rebates of up to $500 to help small business owners and sole traders purchase and install safety improvements.

General Manager of WorkCover’s Work Health and Safety Division, John Watson, said the program would help small businesses implement solutions to workplace safety problems.

“The Small Business Rebate Program will help more NSW small businesses implement safety improvements, leading to safer workplaces and reductions in injury and illness rates across the State. 

“The Program covers a broad range of safety solutions, providing small businesses with the flexibility to fix specific risks in their workplaces while focusing on solutions to the most common risks in NSW workplaces; manual handling, slips, trips and falls, injuries from moving objects, chemical and hazardous goods and hazardous noise.”

The Small Business Rebate Program aligns with WorkCover’s flagship programs which aim to improve health and safety in the State’s highest risk industries.

The Small Business Rebate Program is open to NSW small business owners and sole traders with 0-20 full-time employees or equivalent and replaces the Safety Solutions Rebate Program. To be eligible for a rebate, small businesses must attend a WorkCover safety workshop, webinar, program, event or receive a workplace advisory visit. Applications must be lodged within six months of attending a WorkCover event with rebates provided after the purchase or implementation of an eligible safety improvement.

For more information on the Small Business Rebate Program and a list of eligible safety solutions, call WorkCover NSW on 13 10 50 or visit www.workcover.nsw.gov.au

Safe Work Australia Chair, Tom Phillips, has announced the release of a new publication on the Safe Handling and Use of Carbon Nanotubes.

WorkSafe Victoria has announced it will hold a free two-hour workshop aimed at providing employers the tools and information they need to assist injured workers remain motivated during the return to work process.

Applicants from Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia have been awarded grants under the Comcare Asbestos Innovation Fund.

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