Workplace Standards Tasmania (WST) administers legislation including occupational health and safety, workers compensation, building standards, long service leave, shop trading hours and statutory holidays.
It also conducts accident and incident investigations, undertakes audits for compliance with legislation, and assists industry by delivering educational programs. WST also provides assistance with complaints about underpayment of entitlements and other industrial relations matters and processes dangerous goods licences and permits.
WST consists of the Inspectorate (which includes separate units for Electricity and Gas), the Information and Compensation Branch, the Policy, Planning and Services Branch (which includes Building Standards and Regulation), and a small Executive Support Unit.
Following agreement between the State and Federal Ministers, WST delivers, under contract, Federal award advice, investigation and complaint resolution services. Thus WST provides employers and employees with a one-stop shop for both State and Federal Award wages and conditions enquiries.
Development of the dangerous goods/hazardous substances/major hazard facilities packages by the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission (NOHSC) has continued to consume considerable resources. This will continue over the next year as WST overhauls the dangerous goods and hazardous substances legislation.
Much of the Inspectorate Branch activity is divided according to industry sectors. Sector OHS statistics indicate that while a downward trend in all claims frequency rate has occurred, lost time injury frequency rate did not improve over the past twelve months. The public sector in particular did not perform well.
The focus into the future remains one of improving the standard of Tasmanian workplaces through:
conducting workplace inspections, audits and investigations which contribute to the achievement of health and safety standards in the workplace;
ensuring compliance with conditions of employment matters such as entitlements in respect to workers rehabilitation and compensation, long service leave and industrial awards and agreements;
ensuring the safe transportation, storage and handling of dangerous goods;
ensuring safe construction of the natural gas pipeline infrastructure, development of licensing systems including natural gas appliance safety; and
improving electricity standards and safety and managing licensing functions.
In a rapidly changing industrial awards and safety environment, WST actively reviews and develops legislation, standards, codes of practice, licensing, registration and accreditation procedures and guidelines.
Workplace Standards key clients include the Minister for Infrastructure, the Government, employers, employees, the WorkCover Tasmania Board, unions and employer organisations.
How this Output Group is delivered
Departmental officers deliver this Output Group. There is also close liaison with other agencies, the Local Government Office, local government, relevant industry bodies and the broader community.
Achievements Against Strategies Identified for 2002/2003
Promotion of awareness with all industry parties on legislative obligations
By attending and sponsoring workplace seminars, workshops and public forums, and through publications, face-to-face contact and the telephone advice service (the Helpline), WST imparts information to industry as well as receiving information from industry representatives concerning compliance with legislation. As a result, industry awareness and motivation to meet its obligations is enhanced and the Inspectorate is able to further develop and improve the advice given. During the year a specially-designed mobile display unit was used at a number of venues around the State.
The Workplace Safe campaign, funded by the WorkCover Tasmania Board and strongly supported by the Division, has been extremely successful in increasing awareness of workplace health and safety and injury management. Research conducted during the development of the campaign identified manual handling as a very significant safety issue across all industry sectors. A manual handling kit for use at the workplace has been a focus for State-wide industry seminars and education and compliance activity across most industry sectors and was extremely well received. Early indications from statistics show that the campaign has decreased the incidence of manual handling injury.
The Dangerous Goods Storage Application and Information Kit has been reviewed and the revised document issued to applicants.
A 'Manual Handling' kit for use at workplaces to identify and minimise the risks of manual handling injury is being distributed. The kit has received good acceptance from industry.
Manual handling seminars were conducted in the three regions to raise levels of understanding on issues and requirements. A total of 350 people attended the seminars which were well received. A specific follow-up awareness campaign for manual handling across most industry sectors occurred during Workplace Safe Week.
New computer software systems were introduced to improve the processing of occupational and dangerous goods licences, registration and permit applications resulting in a more efficient service to end users.
A Report into the mining industry review stage one was completed (impact of working hours on employees and their families). A further strategy has been developed to bring about improvement.
The second stage of the dangerous goods database and the review of electrical licensing database were completed to improve internal efficiency.
Guidelines outlining the benchmark for safety management plans for the construction industry have been completed, providing transparent uniform approval criteria.
The Gas Standards and Safety Unit has implemented the certificate of competency scheme for natural gas fitters to ensure public safety standards are met.
A breach notification procedure, developed in conjunction with union groups for the construction industry, has proved an effective feedback mechanism for the Inspectorate industry sector.
Standards Unit - An employees' safety representative liaison officer now provides assistance to industry health and safety representatives with their particular concerns. A focus group, web information page and direct email access have been set up. A partial review of the Employees' Safety Representative training resource and information kit was completed.
Retail Sector - Following deregulation of shop trading, an information package was developed to assist in identifying and managing issues that may arise from deregulation within the industry
Improving electricity safety standards in the construction industry
Safety Bulletin No 44: A Guide to the Operation of Mobile Equipment near Overhead Power Line, is under review to bring the Guide in line with performance-based legislation and the amendments made to Australian Standard AS 2550.1
Electricity Standards and Safety, Gas Standards and Safety and the Standards Units are taking part in the occupational licensing project. The project is developing a proposal to combine licensing of electrical, gas and plumbing workers into one Act.
Rural Sector - Development of a manual handling presentation kit is underway. The kit will focus attention on rural issues.
Minister's Award for Excellence in Workplace Health and Safety: During 2002/2003, one Tasmanian company was rewarded for its commitment to workplace health and safety.
Electricity Industry Bulletin: a periodical publication for sharing electrical safety solutions and information.
Workplace Issues magazine: a periodical for sharing safety solutions, continues to encourage safer workplaces; its circulation and readership continue to increase.
Workplace Safe Awards: held annually to reward innovative safety programs, focus enterprises on the benefits of safe work practices and help to share workplace safety solutions.
Ensuring that non-compliant enterprises and industry sectors are encouraged to abide by the legislation
Case management of companies with high accident claims has been undertaken across a number of sectors resulting in performance improvement and a reduction in the number of workers compensation claims.
Public Sector - legislative compliance program of 17 non-government high schools was completed across the State. The program resulted in a good level of compliance being detected and a co-operative approach was established to rectifying matters requiring further work.
Construction Sector -temporary electrical installations and associated plant have been audited. A moderate level of compliance was found. Further work is to be done in this area.
Clothing Sector - labour hire compliance audits, particularly of employer/employee induction procedure, was completed. Level of compliance has been good.
Rural Sector - audits of animal stock and sale yards was completed. Compliance has generally been good.
Forestry Sector - 22 sawmills were audited revealing significant non-compliance. Six sites were temporarily closed pending rectification of significant safety issues. Compliance has been achieved at all sites.
Construction Sector -more than 25 comprehensive safety management plan desktop audits were completed. High compliance levels were detected.
A Statewide annual dangerous goods licensing program has resulted in a high level of compliance.
Projects And Audits Underway
A Statewide plant compliance program aimed particularly at ensuring registration of high hazard plant has resulted in a good level of compliance. Follow up of outstanding matters is continuing.Standards Unit - service provider activity has been audited for registered plant, plant design and hazardous equipment. A good level of compliance has been detected with follow up expected to resolve outstanding matters.
Retail Sector - industrial relations compliance program begun with a focus on the bakery industry. A poor level of compliance was detected. The industry has fully cooperated to complete remedial action required.
Mines Sector - management systems compliance audit of all mines sites is complete. This project highlights issues at some sites arising from the Heiler Report on the Mining Industry. Follow up to take place with individual mine sites on outstanding issues.
Bulk fuel road tanker inspections partially complete.
Registered plant inspector desktop audits begun.
Dangerous goods bulk driver training provider audits begun.
Electricity Standards and Safety Unit
Electrical Contractors - business audits have been initiated with a high level of compliance found so far.
Electrical testing audits of electrical workers testing procedures is continuing.
Third party certificate of competency assessors of industrial equipment are being desktop and performance audited.
Licensed asbestos removalist contractors are undergoing desktop audit for systems compliance.
Licensed restaurant industry compliance audits of occupational health and safety and employment conditions are continuing.
Retail businesses compliance audits are continuing.
Public hospitals -desktop audits are continuing.
Hazardous plant compliance program follow up is continuing.
Compliance audit of companies across most sectors with a high manual handling injury claims record.
Silica dust compliance campaign across targeted organisations in the manufacturing sector.
Compliance audit in the forestry sector to improve safety through increased compliance with fatigue management for log truck drivers.
An eye safety compliance program in the manufacturing sector aimed at reducing injury claims.
Forklift truck safety audit in the food-processing sector to minimise current claims experience.
Audit of safety management plans in the construction sector ensuring a benchmark framework to monitor and bring about improved levels of compliance.
Forest tree fallers and plant operators audit in the forestry sector, given that the activities are high risk.
Audit of noise and safeguarding in the timber processing and printing and paper area to further improve standards and reduce long-term injury claims.
Audit of hospitals in the public sector to bring about further reduction of claims in accordance with an identified black spot targeted industries report.
Compliance audit of Government high schools to further reduce injury claims.
Audit of electrical contractors to ensure competency standards are maintained.
Audit of stage 1 construction works of the natural gas distribution agreement to ensure contractor and public safety is complied with.
Poor-performing organisations targeted across a number of industry sectors to improve performance through compliance activities.
Gas Safety Standards
The Gas Standards and Safety Unit has overseen the successful implementation of the Tasmanian Natural Gas Project (TNGP) construction and operational phases of the transmission pipeline, to evolve as a regulator of gas transmission and gas installation safety standards. The unit has worked closely during the year with the gas entity, Duke Australia Operations Pty Ltd, in regulating the development of the TNGP.
The Director of Gas Safety was responsible for the acceptance of the gas entities commissioning procedures, pipeline testing and regulating the implementation of the Safety and Operating Plan for continuing operations and maintenance.
The Gas Standards and Safety Unit has now begun regulating the operations and maintenance of the gas entity by audit processes.
Successful conversion and commissioning of major natural gas appliances has been completed at the Bell Bay Power Station, Australian Bulk Minerals, Comalco Aluminium and Ecka Granules.
The Unit has begun the regulatory processes necessary for the design approvals, testing and commissioning of the proposed Stage 1 agreement between Powerco Tasmania Pty Ltd and the State Government for a natural gas distribution facility to eight major Tasmanian cities and towns.
To ensure construction, commissioning and operations standards are maintained appropriately, high acceptance processes have been implemented for the gas distribution facilities, type B gas appliances and defined complex gas installations.
Work is continuing on developing and implementing processes and systems to regulate the natural gas industry, recognising that a number of Tasmanian organisations are planning significant natural gas conversion projects in compliance with gas safety standards
Federal Industrial Relations
The third year of State and Federal industrial relations harmonisation was completed with the WST Helpline receiving 7,166 telephone calls - 123 compliance cases related to federal awards.
WST continued to service the contract with the Federal Department of Employment Workplace Relations by ensuring compliance with federal awards and agreements (246 breaches this year realised a recovery of $183,000). WST maintained a high level of service delivery, exceeding the national performance benchmarks.
Review of workers compensation arrangements
In October 2002, the Minister for Infrastructure announced a review of Tasmania's workers compensation system. The purpose of this review is to examine the impact of amendments to the Act that were aimed at balancing the social and economic objectives of the system. Terms of reference for the review were released on 5 June 2003. The main issues to be considered are:
whether changes to the benefits model is resulting in unanticipated hardship;
whether the operation of the benefits model is resulting in outcomes at variance with the key objectives of the legislation; and
any legislative or administrative changes that can be made to improve the efficiency of the system.
The Minister has appointed Mr Bob Rutherford, a senior executive of the Department, to conduct the review.
Codes Of Practice
Based on workers rehabilitation and compensation data, observation, enquiries and complaints, various industry groups and stakeholders are targeted and, when a need is established for the development and implementation of a Code of Practice, the Inspectorate Branch assists industry with the development and implementation.
The Codes of Practice for Abalone Diving, Forestry and the reviewed Safe Use of Reinforced Plastics Code were approved by the Minister for Infrastructure under Section 22 of the Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995.
Codes Of Practice Under Development
Abrasive Blasting and Protective Coatings
Construction Industry (electrical safety)
Construction Industry (induction)
Construction Industry (safety management plans)
Mining - including working hours
Sawmill (green mills, chippers, kilns and planing mills)
Note: Several of these Codes of Practice are in the final stages of preparation for Ministerial approval.
These include the feasibility of a Code of Practice for telephone call centres, the sex industry and the hair and beauty Industry. A Code of Practice is planned for Public Events.
Investigation Review Committee
The Investigation Review Committee (IRC) primarily comprises the Chief Inspector of Industry, the Regional Managers (North, North-West and South) and the Manager, Advocacy and Prosecution. The committee meets monthly to review current investigations and recommend further action to be taken after considering the investigation findings and recommendations. Such action might involve prosecution in the Court of Petty Sessions (CPS), referral to the Tasmanian Industrial Commission (TIC), a compulsory conference with the employer or employee, and/or issuance of an improvement notice or other appropriate action. All prosecutions are widely publicised and successful Industrial Commission cases encourage businesses to improve their workplaces to avoid possible prosecution.
Workplace Health and Safety - twenty cases were referred to the CPS. Thirteen defendants were found guilty, while a further three cases are still before the CPS and one is under appeal to the Supreme Court of Tasmania. Two prosecutions were dismissed and one was withdrawn.
Industrial Relations -- twenty-three cases were referred to the TIC. Five award breaches were determined and seventeen are still before the TIC. One case was resolved prior to the hearing.
Long Service Leave (State Employees) -- one dispute is proceeding before the TIC.
Long Service Leave (1976 Act) -three disputes were referred to the TIC; and all were determined.
Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation - fourteen cases were referred to the CPS. Ten defendants were found guilty, while a further four cases are still proceeding.
Industrial Relations -five cases were referred to the CPS with two defendants being found guilty and three cases still before the court.
Dangerous Goods - four cases were referred to the CPS with two being found guilty and one dismissed. One case is still before the court.
Electricity Industry Safety and Administration Act -- three cases have been referred to the CPS and are still before the court.
Long Service Leave (1976 Act) - one case has been referred to the CPS and is still before the court.
Training providers have been audited against registration performance criteria.
Content of courses audited against national benchmark criteria.
An industry-wide information program was run to inform stakeholders of the need to ensure training providers and course content are nationally accredited and recognised.
Forest industry competency-based training assessment instruments have been received from the training provider, which will enable competency standards to be compared against OHS risk assessment profiles to determine adequacy.
Integration of Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) training into the Australian National Training Authority system.
In conjunction with the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission, WST is participating in a project to facilitate the identification and inclusion of OH&S competencies in the national training agenda
Development of occupational licensing legislation for utilities, including gas, plumbing and electricity.
Development of strategies in conjunction with training providers and industry representatives for the implementation of competency-based training for auto gas fitters.
Development of competency standards for employee safety representative (ESR) training courses in conjunction with stakeholders.
Review of present arrangements used for shot firer training and assessment with the view to requiring deliverers of training to become registered and have course/s accredited through the Tasmanian State Training Authority (TASTA) process.
Undertaking a review and preparing recommendations for consideration to move the approval of ESR training courses to the TASTA accreditation process.
Ten compensable fatal industrial accidents were reported - an increase from the four fatalities recorded in 2001/2002. Safety in industry, as measured using the rate at which workers compensation claims are made, did not improve. Statistical details can be found in the WorkCover Tasmania Board's Annual Report.
Building Standards and Regulation: Major Achievements for 2002/2003
Detailed consideration of applications from groups seeking appointment as authorised bodies under the Building Act 2000 for the accreditation of building practitioners.
Introduction of Building Code of Australia energy efficiency provisions for housing on 1 January 2003.
Continued steady progress on the implementation of the Building Act 2000 through consultation with industry and stakeholders and the progressing of authorised body applications. Parliament passed the Building Amendment Act 2003 and the Building (Consequential Amendments) Act 2003.
Representation of the State on inter- and intra-government groups for building and plumbing regulatory issues including the Australian Building Codes Board, National Plumbing Regulators Forum, Builders Licensing Australia and National On-site Wastewater Regulators Forum.
Active participation in the development of amendments to the Building Code of Australia and work towards establishment of the Plumbing Code of Australia.
Electricity Standards and Safety: Major Achievements for 2002/2003
In conjunction with the Office of Energy Planning, Statutory Rules were made under the Electricity Industry Safety and Administration Regulations 1999. They introduce new requirements for energy efficiency of particular appliances. The regulations are minimal and are based on Victorian regulations.
On 19 August 2002 the Electrical Licensing Board held its 100th meeting. Industry representatives were invited to mark this milestone.
Review of the electrical licensing database is complete. Significant changes have been implemented to improve efficiency and provide better reporting.
Community Awareness Activities
Workplace Safe campaign: A review of the Workplace Safe campaign was undertaken in 2002/2003. A communications plan was developed and approved by the Board in April 2003. A new look campaign will be launched early in the 2003/2004 financial year.
Other campaign activity included the Workplace Safe Awards - 79 Tasmanian businesses entered the Awards, which were presented at a gala ceremony in October.
Tasmanian businesses were also encouraged to host a safety activity during Workplace Safe Week in October. Around 100 safety activities took place around the State, including manual handling seminars in the North, South and North-West hosted by Workplace Standards.
Workplace Standards staff also manned displays at several country shows and at Agfest.
Building Act 2000 training, including presentations, seminars, and development of training materials for local government.
Training seminars, workshops and publicity documentation on energy efficiency for housing.
A telephone enquiry service for employers and employees, the Helpline is often the first contact the public has with WST. It provides information on wages and conditions under both State and Federal awards, workplace health and safety information (including receipt of accident reports), information on long service leave, public holidays, and workers rehabilitation and compensation enquiries.
The Helpline provides support to the activities of the WorkCover Tasmania Board by being the initial contact point for Workplace Safe publications and information. This has resulted in an increasing awareness and understanding of workplace safety and injury management issues