Most employers are conscious of their health and safety obligations for when employees are at work, but what about employer obligations to employees travelling to and from work?  A recent New South Wales decision highlights the importance of employers taking a holistic approach to fatigue management both within and outside of the workplace.

Safe Work Australia has recently revealed that the number of serious workplace injuries related to bullying and harassment has nearly doubled in Australia since 2009.  Mental health-related  claims that involve workplace harassment or bullying are skyrocketing, with about a quarter of all psychological claims based on allegations of workplace harassment or bullying.  In the 2019/20 financial year, over 1,800 people were compensated for a workplace injury sustained through workplace bullying or harassment.

In light of these numbers, WHS regulators around the country have become increasingly focussed on prosecuting individuals for bullying-related breaches of the national harmonised WHS law.

Highlighting the significant risks for employers, Tad-Mar Electrical Pty Ltd (Tad-Mar) was this month fined $15,000 ( the maximum penalty is $500,000) after pleading guilty to the Category 3 offence of contravening section 33 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA) (WHS Act).

The decision follows successful category 1 convictions of both of the individual employees involved in the incident.  This decision is significant as it represents the first conviction for a bullying-related prosecution under the national harmonised WHS law.

Since 2015, Queensland’s resources industry has been shaken by the re-emergence of dust lung diseases, largely among the State’s large coal mining workforce.  So far, more than 130 workers have been diagnosed with incurable forms of lung disease across Australia, resulting in 6 Queensland deaths in the past 12 months.[1] The State Government has responded to the outbreak with a raft of reforms designed to identify the risk, support affected workers and enhance prevention, detection and reporting.

With a range of reforms implemented, Queensland has now turned to ongoing regulation of the industry with the introduction of the new Resources Safety and Health Queensland Bill 2019 (RSHQ Bill) into the Legislative Assembly.

The introduction of the RSHQ Bill stems from 68 recommendations made by the Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis Select Committee in Queensland.  During the review, other deadly dust diseases were identified as also requiring a regulatory response.

The Committee made a range of recommendations, including that the Queensland Government should establish an independent regulatory body to regulate the Workplace Health and Safety in the resources sector.  Currently, this responsibility rests with the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (DNRME) and sits separately from the Regulator under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld) (WHS Act).  The Committee’s recommendation, which will be implemented by the RSHQ Bill, seeks to implement a degree of independence in the area of safety and health regulation, from other government functions.