SafeWork Licence Register: making it easier to do business

Following an amendment to the WHS Regulation, the NSW Government published a register of individuals who hold asbestos, high risk work and demolition licences as well as holders of general construction induction training cards (otherwise known as white cards).

The register includes the licence holder’s name, licence number and type, the licence status, the licence expiry date (if any), licence conditions, prosecution summaries and information about penalty notices issued in connection with the licence.

The register enables better protection for workers and the community by providing licence information via a single online portal, and makes it easier for businesses and consumers to check the validity of the licences/cards and make informed decisions regarding the contractors they engage.

The changes are consistent with the NSW Government’s objective to provide a single and accountable point for the administration of business regulation schemes, which in turn provides greater business confidence while maintaining appropriate levels of consumer protection.

For more information about the changes, visit our website.

Get it right: ask an inspector

Based in St. Mary’s, Enviro Pallets manufactures timber pallets. It’s a small business, with just six full time workers – plus a handful of labour hire workers from Ability Options, an agency that supports people with disabilities.

Manufacturing pallets is a high risk industry and, following a request for service, a SafeWork inspector visited the premises and met with Mark Duffin, the factory manager, to offer some health and safety advice.

‘The workplace had a number of safety hazards,’ said Cris Jelley, Assistant State Inspector.

‘These included issues relating to poor housekeeping, machine guarding, traffic management, forklift safety, and handling and storage of hazardous chemicals.’

‘I issued numerous improvement notices,’ said Mr Jelley.

Regardless the severity of the notices, Mr Duffin saw it as a wake-up call and, over the next three months, he encouraged and welcomed further interactions with Mr Jelley.

Mr Duffin organised a massive clean-up of the workplace, fixed his chemical issues, fitted and improved guarding on machinery, improved traffic management, made walkways for pedestrians, issued personal protective equipment to everyone and, most importantly, sought his workers’ input on safety improvements.

‘The improvements have made my business safer and more productive,’ said Mr Duffin.

‘I have realised through your help, Cris, that it is more beneficial to be proactive than reactive, and I thank you for that – never too old to learn.’

A roadmap in action

The Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service employs roughly 100 staff, who spend hours above the skies to save more than 1000 lives per year from its bases in Newcastle and Tamworth.

While their brave jobs are frequently in the spotlight, it’s the tireless role of the 950 volunteers that work behind the scenes that is perhaps less known.

These volunteers are crucial to the future of the service so it’s absolutely vital that the organisation looks after not only the safety of their rescue staff, but also their great volunteers.

“We need to ensure that not only our staff, but also our volunteers go home in the same shape that they came to work in,” said Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service, Community Liaison Officer and WHS Committee member, Mick Wilson.

When they started to develop a new plan this year to ensure the safety of their volunteers, Mr Wilson said his organisation turned to SafeWork NSW’s Work Health and Safety Roadmap for NSW 2022 (Roadmap) for inspiration.

Launched in August, the Roadmap is a six-year strategy aimed at protecting workers from harm, reducing unnecessary compliance costs and securing safety standards in NSW workplaces.

Mr Wilson said that the Roadmap had provided his organisation with a clear outline in terms of how to improve safety outcomes for their staff and volunteers.

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“The fact that it highlights a need to reduce musculoskeletal injuries and illnesses was a big influencer for us. The work our staff and volunteers do involves a lot of manual handling and we all know simple things can become long term injuries if they’re not addressed in a safe manner. The support from Safework NSW to assist has also been amazing.” Mr Wilson said.

Since its launch in August, SafeWork NSW has already started a wide range of activities that are contributing to the goals of a 20 per cent decline in worker fatalities, a 30 per cent decline in serious injuries and illnesses and a 30 per cent reduction in serious musculoskeletal injuries and illnesses by 2022.

In a little over three months since the Roadmap launch, SafeWork NSW has already accomplished a significant amount as well as planning and development of new activities and initiatives to support the Roadmap.

To help ensure that businesses can embed a health and safety landscape into their workplaces, SafeWork NSW has developed the Talking to your workers about safety webinar, and has started work on a Supply Chain and Network Guide as well as a Consultation@Work Strategy.

SafeWork NSW is also focused on prioritising high risk sectors, harms and workplaces. Work has started on drafting sector profiles to provide data on risks, issues and demographics for high risk sectors identified in the Roadmap. The NSW quad bike safety improvement program and forklift safety initiatives will also continue well into 2017.

SafeWork NSW recognises the cost and impact of mental disorders and is currently reviewing and engaging with stakeholders on our Mentally Healthy Workplaces Strategy 2022. Our approach to targeting serious musculoskeletal injuries and illnesses is also under review with a new strategy planned for early in 2017.

Finally, SafeWork NSW is focused on building exemplar regulatory services. Further details can be found in Our Approach to WHS Regulation.

The recent release of the SafeWork NSW Strategic Business Plan 2016-17 aligns with the Roadmap and provides details on the four strategic focus areas of SafeWork NSW for 2016/17.

For more information on the Roadmap, or to get involved, click here.

Work health and safety laws made simple

Research tells us that many NSW businesses, particularly those in high risk industries like construction and manufacturing, are subject to about 75 regulations, which equates to some five hours of compliance work each week. That’s a costly and time-consuming burden on any business, even more so for a small business with few resources.

Some reports suggest that saving NSW businesses just half an hour each week on compliance tasks will save the state’s economy around $800 million a year.

Even more alarming for us: the majority of regulations related to work health and safety issues, so we had good reason to be concerned that we were exacerbating the problem.

When we asked small businesses what information they most wanted from us, the response was crystal clear: simple content that is engagingly written and task-oriented.

‘I want to get straight to the point and not read hundreds of pages if someone can condense it into a framework for me’, was a typical response.

After reviewing over a thousand sections and clauses of the work health and safety laws, we identified 30 obligations that NSW businesses need to comply with – everything from providing first-aid facilities to properly labelling cleaning liquids and providing hard hats to construction workers.

We then summarised and simplified these laws into plain English, added some practical tips, and outlined the must do’s that would enable NSW businesses to do the right thing and understand how simple safety can be.

Simple safety, check it out now!