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.

Workers in NSW will no longer have to submit urine samples for drug testing, as part of an Australian-first ruling by Fair Work Australia.

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.

The Australian Government is calling on interested organisations and individuals to provide feedback on purchasing arrangements for Employment Support Services delivered through Disability Employment Services.

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.

Federal, state and territory members of Safe Work Australia met in Sydney last week to discuss progress on implementation of the Model Work Health and Safety laws.

British psychiatrist Dr Sam Harvey has been appointed to the first dedicated clinical research post into workplace mental health in an Australian university.

 

Dr Harvey joins the University of New South Wales from the Institute of Psychiatry in London, which is Europe’s largest mental health research facility.

 

The new position, funded by the NSW Ministry of Health, is based at UNSW’s School of Psychiatry and the Black Dog Institute. Dr Harvey’s initial research will focus on NSW Emergency Workers.

 

Within Australia, six million working days a year are lost due to depression, which translates into an annual financial cost of $12.3 billion through lost work, reduced productivity and increased staff turnover.

 

More importantly, the occupational impact of mental illness means sufferers endure the additional stigma of worklessness, social isolation, impaired career trajectories and financial pain. 

 

“Despite the size of the problem, there is much still to be learnt about the relationship between work and mental health,” Dr Harvey said.

 

“As our understanding of these issues increases, we aim to develop a series of workplace-based interventions that will be able to increase workers’ resilience and prevent disorders. We also hope to develop systems and pathways to help aid early identification and promote rapid recovery when problems do occur.”

 

Head of UNSW’s School of Psychiatry Professor Phil Mitchell said: “This is a very timely appointment as workplace managers are becoming increasingly aware of the impact of mental illness in their work settings. This new workplace mental health research program represents an exciting new collaborative venture between the state government, UNSW and the Black Dog Institute".

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.

Nominations have opened for Comcare’s inaugural Work Health and Safety Awards. The awards recognise and reward excellence in workplace health and safety, rehabilitation and return to work achieved by individuals and organisations covered under the Comcare scheme.

The Victorian Essential Services Commission has been asked by the state government to conduct a review of the WorkCover Authority and the Transport Accident Commission.

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