October 2013 Newsletter

Hello to you all.

I hope this finds you and the team safe and well. Our apologies for not sending through anything to you all before now, I really do not know where this year has gone. They say that the older we all get the faster the time goes!!!!! Anyway into the area of updates and what is happening in the world of WHS.

There have been a number of updates in the area of compliance since we last sent out a newsletter and I will follow up with another one before we all break for the “silly season”.

As you have probably read we have had some Work Cover changes here in Queensland been passed in recent weeks. I have detailed in bullet points the “glaring changes” that affect the business world.

The Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 was passed in the Queensland Parliament on Thursday night, despite being hotly contested. The Bill makes a number of changes to the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (Qld) that will benefit employers, which include:

  • requiring a prospective worker to disclose a pre-existing injury or medical condition, if requested to do so;
  • allowing employers access to a prospective worker’s claims history in particular circumstances; and
  • increasing the threshold for compensable psychiatric or psychological injuries.

Notification of previous injuries and medical conditions

When requested to do so in writing by a prospective employer, a prospective worker will be required to disclose all pre-existing injuries of which they are aware of, that could reasonably be aggravated by performing their employment related duties.

The prospective employer will need to provide the prospective worker with information about the nature of the duties the subject of the employment for this purpose. Prospective employers will also be required to advise prospective workers that, if they do not comply with the request or supply false or misleading information, they will not be entitled to compensation or damages under the Act for any event that aggravates the non-disclosed pre-existing injury.

If a prospective worker is engaged prior to the disclosure (or before being requested to make the disclosure), their rights will unaffected by these changes.

Allowing access to claims history

Prospective employers may now request a prospective worker’s claims history summary from the proposed new regulator (for an administrative fee), provided that they have the prospective employee’s consent. There is no requirement under the Act for prospective workers to provide such consent.

The prospective employer must not disclose the contents of, or give access to, the document to anyone else.

Psychiatric and psychological injury

A worker will now need to show, in order to be eligible for workers’ compensation, that an injury resulting in a psychiatric or psychological disorder (or an aggravation of an existing disorder) arose out of, or in the course of, employment and that the employment is the major significant contributing factor to the injury or aggravation.

This amendment makes it more difficult for workers to access compensation for a psychiatric or psychological disorder.

A word of caution!

While these changes will provide prospective employers with more information about a prospective worker, it is important that employer:

  • comply with the specific provisions of  the Act to obtain this information lawfully;
  • clearly and accurately articulate the nature of the duties the subject of employment so as to make any disclosure meaningful; and
  • be careful not to fall foul of the discrimination legislation when making decisions based on this information.
  • As any unlawful conduct in this area is likely to have serious consequences, we recommend that employers obtain advice and assistance before implementing these changes.

So I hope this gives you a quick “overview” of the changes in the Bill. When there is more information out there we will post it on our web site for you to refer back to.

Also there have been a number of fatalities in the workplace over the past few months.

  • Workplace Health and Safety Queensland is investigating a fatal incident that occurred on Monday 28 October 2013 at a shade sail business in Townsville. A man died after falling while fixing an anchor point for a shade sail to a 5.25 metre high roof.
  • Workplace Health and Safety Queensland is investigating a fatal incident that occurred on Tuesday 8 October 2013 at Paradise Point on the Gold Coast. A welding explosion on a boat killed the welder and seriously burned the boat’s owner.
  • Friday, 20 September 2013 A roofing company and its Director have been fined a total of $100,000 (plus more than $2200 in costs) over an incident in which a worker was seriously injured when he fell through a roof. The Mallon Company Pty Ltd – trading as Frontline Roofing – and Director Michael Moore pleaded guilty to failing to provide a safe work environment and, by that failure, causing serious harm to a contractor and were fined in the Perth Magistrates Court today. The company was fined $70,000 and Mr Moore $30,000. In August 2010, the Mallon Company Pty Ltd was engaged to replace the roofing of commercial premises in Osborne Park after it was damaged in the March hailstorms. However, Mallon then engaged Debri Pty Ltd to perform the re-roofing work and Terry’s Crane Hire to provide a crane to land the new roofing and lift down the removed roofing.”

So as you can see unfortunately the issue of work injuries and fatalities remains a real problem, and sometimes these type of actual cases are good to share with the team so they “understand” it happens in all different industries and addresses!!

So there are a few points for you to catch up with. There are more changes coming to Queensland re the WHS Act and I will give you a run down on these when I send out the next Newsletter (which will be November…I promise!)

Also you will note we have made some changes to our web site and we have moved to the world of YOU TUBE and are working with a great local business to start and develop training material (including inductions) for our faithful clients like yourselves. Please let us know if you are interested in hearing more about what we have in store in this area, as we would welcome suggestions and topics so that it becomes a useful tool for everyone to use!

So until next month stay safe. Remember if there is anything you need assistance with, you know who to contact!!!

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