Queensland Council of Unions
Submission to the
Model Work Health and Safety Regulations and
Codes of Practice
The Queensland Council of Unions is the peak union body in Queensland, representing 34
affiliate unions. The QCU and its affiliates have been extensively involved in OHS both on the
workplace level and on the level of input to state and commonwealth government OHS
authorities. We understand the challenges regulators face is providing a legislative
framework for OHS, but, more importantly, we have ongoing exposure to the impact of
poor OHS practices at the workplace level.
As noted by the First Report of the National OHS Review, Australia’s level of injuries and
disease remains unacceptably high. This is certainly the case in Queensland, particularly
given this state’s labour market conditions which involve a large-scale shift to contingent
forms of work, and a large percentage of small businesses (including self-employed owner-
operators). Not only do these workers have poorer OHS than those doing equivalent duties
in large workplaces or more traditional forms of employment, but their injuries and illnesses
are also largely excluded from the statistics.
Evidence shows that OHS outcomes are considerably higher where worker-representatives
are involved in OHS and where the OHS legislative framework provides support for their
role. While specific comment is provided below, the OHS legislative framework proposed
under the nationally harmonised scheme broadly provides for a clear role for worker
representatives (HSRs and authorized union representatives). In particular, the recognition
of designated work groups represents an improvement for Queensland workers.
Powers for HSRs and AREOs are only fully effective, however, where there is co-operation
from the employer in implementing needed changes. Unions primarily deal with OHS issues
on a complaint-driven basis and our experience tends to be with non-compliant employers.
In many of these cases, workers have been forced to take the issue outside of the workplace
because the types of internal consultative processes described in the legislation either do
not exist or are dysfunctional. It is important that this regulation works in workplaces with
poor performance records and does not simply legislate for responsible, complaint
In these cases, clear regulations which prescribe minimum standards are the major tool
that workers and unions have to improve OHS. In the absence of these regulations,
decisions about what needs to be done in respect to hazards descend quickly to the level
of disputes and arguments. In many workplaces (and non-union workplaces in particular),
workers are simply not in the position to get an outcome which protects their own health
and safety. Our experience has repeatedly shown that codes of practice are regarded as
“guidelines” by many of the poorer performing employers who are responsible for the
greatest OHS burden. It is also our experience that risk management activities (where they
occur) often result in a knee-jerk implementation of lower-order controls – such as PPE –
without consideration of higher order controls.
It is of concern to Queensland unions that the proposed regulatory framework involves such
a profound shift to the deregulation of OHS. Our opposition to the loss of an absolute duty
of care has already been the matter of extensive input into the national harmonisation
process. The almost total move to performance-based regulation and the shifting of
materials from the regulations to the codes of practice will represent a lowering of OHS
standards for workers in this state.
Due to lobbying by the union movement, the codes of practice have, at least, been given
evidentiary status under the proposed framework. Never-the-less it is an absolute truth that
the number of OHS matters that end up in court is negligible, and so this evidentiary status
is largely irrelevant in workplaces where “reasonably practical” will always be interpreted as
meaning “least expensive”. Furthermore, a dependence on legal status and a reliance on
prosecution only become relevant where injuries occur. This undermines the aim of the OHS
legislation, which has always been to prevent injuries and disease.
In particular, the QCU would like to draw your attention to the discussion of “so far as is
reasonably practicable” (SFARP) in the submission from the National Office of the AMWU –
in particular it’s excessive and inappropriate us in circumstances where there are known risk
control provisions and where the overarching duty has already been qualified.
A clear, unambiguous regulation is the best possible tool for improving OHS, and in many
cases this is possible. There are, however, cases where this is not possible due to factors
such as hazards or risks being unique to a workplace or where there are a range of control
measures which offer the same degree of protection. In these cases, general provisions for
risk management become appropriate.
The proposed regulation lacks a consistent 5-stage risk management process such as is
contained in the current Queensland act. Given that neither the harmonized act nor he
regulation articulate the fundamental principles of risk management, there will be confusion
for duty holders when they are dealing with hazards on which the regulation is silent. A
generic regulation should be added that reflects the principle:
(1) To properly manage exposure to risks, a PCBU must—
(a) identify hazards; and
(b) assess risks that may result because of the hazards; and
c) decide on appropriate control measures to eliminate, or minimise the risks;
(d) implement control measures; and
(e) monitor, review and revise the effectiveness of the measures.
Similarly, there is neither a generic statement of the hierarchy of controls nor a consistency
of the levels of the hierarchy across the regulation. A provision similar to that in the current
Queensland Act should be inserted:
A PCBU must consider the appropriateness of control in the following order –
(a) eliminating the hazard
(b) if this is not reasonably practicable, then the following should be considered
in the following order:
(i) substituting the hazard giving rise to the risk with a hazard that gives rise to a
(ii) isolating the hazard giving rise to the risk from the person who may be put at
(iii minimising the risk by engineering means;
(iv) minimising the risk by administrative measures (for example, by adopting
safe working practices); and
(v) by using personal protective equipment;
A combination of the above measures is required to be taken to minimise the risk
to the lowest level reasonably practicable if no single measure is sufficient for
The requirement to undertake risk management for hazards where controls are not
specified in the regulation and the need to do this in the order outlined in the hierarchy of
controls should be an absolute obligation (as currently in the Queensland Act). The
qualification of “reasonably practicable” is not needed, since this is already embedded in
the hierarchy. Furthermore, PCBUs must be required to keep records of their risk
management processes in writing. These must be available for inspection by union officials
who are permit holders. Without this requirement, “risk management” activities (in the rare
workplaces where they actually occur) are likely to be ad hoc or the matter simply left to
managerial prerogative. The standard template in the Queensland COP for hazard
identification and risk control (including the hierarchy) could form a minimum for guidance
materials on how to best record risk management activities.
Representation and participation.
Overall, the role for HSRs and WHS Permit Holders is broadly consistent with current
Queensland provisions. The following comments are related to specific shortcomings in the
The Queensland Act contains a clear statement that an employer cannot appoint a HSR.
Although it is implied by the regulation, this needs to be stated explicitly. Queensland
experience shows that 52% of HSRs are appointed by employers, despite the existence
of our current provision. Removing this provision will worsen this situation.
It must also be clear that the employer cannot conduct the election for HSRs.
Technically, the definition of ‘worker’ does not preclude a PCBU from being a HSR.
In division 2 of the proposed regulation, the timeframes for the elections of HSRs are
likely to be so impracticable in many workplaces that the result would be no HSR. These
timeframes need to be deleted.
Part 2.2 “Issue resolution”: There is no specification here of what is to happen if the
issue is not resolved. This is likely to be confusing unless reference is made to sections
detailing matters such as the issuing of PINs or cease work.
2.2.2: “Terms of agreed procedures”: The intent of this regulation is supported, but it is
unclear and it needs to state that the default is the minimum required.
2.2.3: “Person conducting business or undertaking must set out procedure in writing”.
The QCU strongly supports comments in the ACTU submission which require the PCBU
to communicate information in a form which is appropriate to workers given literacy
and language limitations. “Set out in writing” is not necessarily sufficient.
2.3.1: “Continuity of engagement of worker”: Reference is needed here to entitlements
under industrial agreements as well as the more general matters.
2.4.5: “Additional requirements – entry under section 120 of the Act”. The QCU supports
the ACTU submission; in particular that section 120 of Act is deficient. Section 120 (2)
must not refer to employee records as these are not the records the inspection will
relate (e.g. confined space permits, risk management documents, high risk work licences
etc). Given that these are not “employee records”, regulation 2.4.5 is problematic and
needs to be revised. The specific concern is that employers may keep document off-site.
General Workplace Management
3.1.1: Workplace facilities: Queensland currently has an extensive regulation for amenities,
which are consistent with the Building Code of Australia. Separate amenities regulations
exist for the construction industry.
As part of its services to affiliates, the QCU operates an information service which provides
answers to questions raised by members. Apart from hazardous substances, amenities have
consistently been the largest category of enquiry, with 13% of all requests in the last 4 years
being about this area of the legislation. The majority of these issues were resolved within
workplaces with simple reference to the provisions of the regulation. The experience in
these areas is that employers (including large public sector workplaces) do not consistently
take amenities into account, particularly when relocating staff from one building to another
or when increasing staff numbers. This is particularly true in respect to working space,
ventilation and provision of toilets in high rent buildings.
The proposed regulation will reduce Queensland regulations to broad performance-based
statements, which will be of little use to HSRs and AREOs when seeking a minimum standard
of amenities. All that employers are required to do is to (as far as is reasonably practicable)
ensure that there is no risk to health and safety. In is unlikely that many employers will take
broader factors such as dignity (which is important in reducing biopsychosocial risks),
privacy, security and hygiene into account. As an example, the QCU has dealt with two cases
where workers whose primary job was to drive between their client’s workplaces were
informed that it was appropriate for workers to use the toilets in New Farm Park (these are
public facilities which were, at the time “junkie” toilets and were fouled with vomit and
excrement). Under the proposed regulation it appears that employers can simply identify
public facilities for outside workers without having any responsibility to ensure their security
We have also had ongoing problems with a facility for people with head injuries (many of
whom had behavioural problems). Live-in staff were required to use the same showers as
the residents, which meant they were constantly accosted by residents since the showers
could not be locked off. The regulation and COP need to highlight situations where separate
facilities are needed for staff, clients and the general public.
Currently in Queensland, the interior of a car is not deemed to be an adequate place to take
work breaks or have lunch, whereas the proposed legislation seems to allow for this.
The regulation must (as a minimum) reflect the provisions of the Building Code of
Again, there is an inappropriate use of SFARP in this section. The requirements of the
section of the regulation which deals with drinking water and toilets etc cannot be subject
to SFARP. A human needs to urinate and defecate. Workers need a toilet, whether this is
practicable for an employer or not. It creates an absurdity for the regulation to state (for
example) (184.108.40.206): A person conducting a business or undertaking must, so far as is
reasonably practicable, ensure the provision of adequate facilities for workers, including
toilets, drinking water, washing facilities and eating facilities.
3.1.3 Remote or isolated work: The requirement for the PCBU to consider access to
communications for remote or isolated work is an improvement for Queensland since our
regulation is silent on this matter. The QCU’s extensive experience in these matters suggests
however, that while some of the hazards of isolated and remote work overlap (particularly
in relation to violence), others do not (access to emergency services). This makes dealing
with these two issues in combination somewhat confusing when it comes to control
Eliminating the need for workers to work in isolation is – in many cases – straightforward;
PCBUs can simply roster two workers on shift in the place of one. This is a particularly salient
issue in community services where the risks of violence are already elevated without the
added vulnerability of working alone. The regulation for isolated work need to be worded in
a manner consistent with other parts of the regulation to make it clear that eliminating the
hazard is the preferential control. This is also important because in many cases isolated
workers (such as retail or other cash-handling workers working alone and at night) have
access to phones and therefore do not have a problem with lack of communication. The
control measures from the code of practice (p.22 “controlling the risks”) should also be
referenced in the regulation.
3.4.1 Emergency plans: The wording suggests that there is only one response to one type of
emergency. This regulation should state the need for ‘an effective response to emergencies”
taking into account all the considerations of 3.4.1 (2). The wording in the code of practice
(which requires a plan which includes emergency procedures) is better than the regulation.
It should also be noted that, in Queensland, Building Fire Safety Regulations also require an
emergency plan, so this needs to be consistent.
Whilst this part of the regulation is largely consistent with the current Queensland
regulation, the QCU is disappointed that this opportunity was not taken to upgrade the
exposure standard from the existing AS/NZS 1269.1(2005). These peak and daily noise dose
levels are not consistent with the current scientific and medical evidence which show a
highly elevated risk of noise-induced hearing loss at DND levels of 80 dB(A).
The obligations for PCBUs in respect to noise need to be absolute (i.e. the PCBU must
ensure that a worker is not exposed to noise levels in excess of the exposure standard). In
4.2.1 this duty is absolute, but in other sections it is qualified by “as low as is reasonably
practicable”. Given the clear, long-known risk of injury from excessive noise, it is
unacceptable that this duty be weakened.
Furthermore, under 4.1.1 “meaning for exposure standard for noise”, there appears to be a
technical error. The use of AS/NZS 1269.1 to determine an individual’s noise exposure
specifically states not to take into account the use of any hearing protectors that may be
worn. In these circumstances the individual is considered to have “protected exposure”
however their actual exposure is determined without the use of hearing protectors. This is a
very important consideration as no-one ever knows how much, if any, noise reduction is
actually occurring when a person wears hearing protectors, and research shows that – even
when correctly used – the level of assumed protection is often less than that claimed by the
manufactures. The recommendation of paragraph 4.1.1 is contrary to this requirement. We
request that a provision be included after sub-regulation 4.1.1(1) to read, ‘...measured or
otherwise determined, without taking into account any protection provided to a person by
the use of personal hearing protectors..’
In addition, we strongly support Unions NSW’s requirement that there should be an
addition (as sub-regulation 3) to read ‘...The exposure standard for noise in (1) and (2) is only
applicable to the prevention of hearing loss. It does not apply to any other risks to health and
safety from noise levels below the exposure standard...’
We also support Unions NSW’s request that the regulation be improved by including:
PCBU obligation to determine noise levels in the workplace (with an approved testing
regime in line with AS/NZ 1269.1)
Monitoring to take place following any report of tinnitus or noise related hearing
disorder affecting any worker
Health surveillance of workers who have been exposed to excessive noise levels (i.e.
audiometric testing and audiology)
Signage to warn of excessive noise
Managing excessive noise emanating from an external source
Designing out excessive noise at the workplace (this is also not mentioned in the chapter
on Plant Design)
4.1.3 (1) (a) and (d) should be amended to include the intent of the following:
“...before any new or altered structure, plant or process is introduced in the
workplace that is likely to result in a worker or person being exposed to noise that
exceeds the exposure standard for noise, or; any other risks to health and safety from
noise levels lower than the exposure standard.
(d) ‘...following health surveillance of a person that finds that the person has
suffered hearing loss, or; that finds any other health effect associated with noise
In respect to the code of practice for noise, the current Queensland COP recognises very
clearly that low level noise is a significant problem in many workplaces. We propose that the
following information be added to the COP.
“Relatively low noise levels, like those in offices, typically range between LAeq,8h 40
and 75dB(A). These noise levels depend on the interior construction of the workplace
and the activities carried out. Under these conditions, low noise levels are not
capable of causing NIHL. However, they are known to cause stress and other adverse
health effects in some cases.
People may experience stress in different ways. For example, stress can take the form
of fatigue, anxiety, depression, hostility or aggression.
Noise may lead to:
loss of concentration
speech interference, and
Stress related symptoms include:
irritability, headaches, moodiness and insomnia, and
disturbance of psychomotor reactions.
The body will try to cope with a situation of intrusive background noise by adapting
its biological functions. These adjustments are made by increasing the heart rate and
raising the blood pressure. Also, more hormones like adrenaline and cortisol are
released into the body. Under stressful working conditions, prolonged high levels of
these hormones may lead to more serious health effects.
Health effects may consist of:
raised blood pressure and heart rate, including the risks of stroke and heart
reduced immune response, and
Exposure to both excessive or low levels of noise can result in:
reduced productivity due to fatigue and low concentration
increased production costs
reduced quality of work/product/service, and
reduced ability to communicate, for example, difficulty in holding a telephone
These results can be avoided if an employer or o or other obligation holder takes steps
to manage the risks from exposure to noise at the workplace.
The code should also include a separate subsection under “when should personal hearing
protectors be used” which discusses the hazards which may be created by the use of this
PPE. Specifically, it should be mentioned that PPE limits or (in extreme cases) removes
workers ability to hear and that this can create a hazard in an environments where there is
vehicles or moving plant, or where communication with other workers is necessary.
The following additional modifications are also recommended for the COP:
Tinnitus: while tinnitus may initially not involve measurable hearing loss, it is a
precursor to hearing loss for most sufferers.
How to assess risks: it should be repeated here that the measurement of noise
SHOULD NOT take hearing protection into account.
How to control risks: We support the contention from Unions NSW that the code
needs to state that reducing exposure times to hazardous noise as the sole control
measure is not acceptable.
How to substitute plant or processes to reduce noise: Again, we support the
submission form Unions NSW that Figure 1 is inappropriate unless the control
involves a noise barrier between the noise source and person working beyond point
Noise reduction: Mention should also be made that the acoustic environment (for
example carpets versus tiles) is also a factor when considering noise reduction
Hazardous manual tasks
It is not clear from the definition of hazardous manual tasks whether this regulation is
intended to prevent the types of injuries which arise from awkward postures (particularly
when these postures are sustained) , given that the meaning of hazardous manual task is:
4.2.1 (2) For the purposes of sub regulation (1), manual task means a task
requiring a person to use force to lift, lower, push, pull, carry or otherwise move,
hold or restrain any person, animal or thing.
Presumably, a person whose work requires them to adopt and awkward posture could
argue that the “person” that they are restraining is themself, but this seems a little tortured.
The words “including themself” needs to be inserted after “person”.
Under 4.2.3 “Identification of hazardous manual tasks” the regulation states:
A person conducting a business or undertaking must, so far as is reasonably
practicable, identify all manual tasks performed or to be performed by a worker
that involve a hazardous manual task.
It is difficult to see how a PCBU would identify which manual tasks are “hazardous manual
tasks” since all manual tasks could potentially be hazardous under the definition of 4.2.1.
Queensland currently has a code of practice Manual Handling Involving the Handling of
People Code of Practice 2001 as well as the Manual Handling Code of Practice 2010. Some
provisions for the handling of people are included in the proposed COP, but Queensland
workers are currently covered by additional requirements. These requirements should be
fully reflected in the proposed code, or a separate code developed.
In addition, the Queensland Independent Education Union has raised the issue that the Risk
Assessment form in Appendix D of the Code of Practice would not constitute a risk
assessment under the Australian Standard for Risk Assessment (AS31000). In information
provided to the QCU, they have stated that:
“ ... Risk Assessment as defined by AS31000:2009 is "the overall process of risk
identification, risk analysis and risk evaluation" where:
risk identification is the "process of finding, recognising and describing
risk analysis is a "process to comprehend the nature of risk and to
determine the level of risk"; and
risk evaluation is a "process of comparing the results of risk analysis with
risk criteria to determine whether the risk and/or its magnitude is
acceptable or tolerable".
Tellingly perhaps, the draft code section 1.2 "The meaning of key terms" defines
"hazard", and "risk control", but neglects to define "risk assessment", and this
may be the root of the problem.”
The definition of a confined space is not consistent with that of the current Australian
Standard AS 2865. Of particular concern is the requirement for a space to have a restricted
means of entry and exit to qualify as a confined space. In practice this may exclude many
spaces which contain the hazards noted in 4.3.2 (d) and which are currently managed as
There is extensive discussion of confined space regulation in the ACTU submission to the
review. The QCU supports the requirements of the ACTU, in particular:
A change to the definition of confined space which better recognises the multiple
hazards of confined space work:
4.3.2 (c) is, or is designed or intended to be at normal atmospheric
pressure while any person is in the space and may present a risk to
health and safety from...”
Definition of “upper” and “lower” body (at point 91 in their submission)
The incorporation of the hierarchy of control for confined spaces on aircraft.
The QCU welcomes regulations for falls in the non-construction area; however current
protections within the construction industry should not be compromised by this. In
particular, the regulation a 4.4.4 should not remove the PCBU’s duty to always use fall
protection for heights greater than 2 metres.
Given that a ladder may be a control measure in some instances (e.g. in an archive, a ladder
is a safety requirement that stops workers from climbing on desks or chairs) and yet in a
major hazard in other instances (workers who are required to use ladders as a working
platform), the QCU agrees with UnionsWA that a provision similar to that of R3.36 from the
WA regulation should be incorporated.
The QCU maintains that there should be separate legislation for electrical safety in
Queensland. The proposed regulation has imported part of this back into the OHS
regulation. The Electrical Safety Act in Queensland arose from the recommendations of a
Joint Ministerial Taskforce that was established to make recommendations on how electrical
incidents could be prevented, investigated and dealt with. This was an extensive review,
which examined the issue of electrical safety in depth. The recommendations supported a
separate Act for electrical safety. Since the introduction of this Act, electrical incidents and
fatalities have declined significantly (ESO, 2008)1.
Given the seriousness of electrical safety as an issue, and the superior requirements in
Queensland workplaces, the QCU continues to support a separation of electrical safety from
the broader OHS framework and requests the deletion of 4.7.
In respect to the weakness of the proposed regulation as compared with the current
regulatory requirements, the following table incorporates comment from the Electrical
Trades Unions (Queensland).
Section Current wording Issue/comment
4.7.1 (1) This Part does not apply to the Agree on the basis that the Electrical
works of an electricity supply Safety Act applies
authority used for the generation,
transmission or distribution of
electricity for the public.
4.7.2 (2)(b) (b) the electricity source for the Delete “to”, insert “for”. Should say:
equipment is a unit of the vehicle “(b) the electricity source for the
that provides propulsion to the equipment is a unit of the vehicle that
vehicle. provides propulsion FOR the vehicle.”
4.7.3 (1)(b) (b) can be supplied with electricity Delete “or” should say:
from the works of an electricity “(b) can be supplied with electricity from
supply or authority or from a the works of an electricity supply
generating source. authority or from a generating source.”
4.7.4 (2)(a) (a) work that involves connecting This should exclude HV work. Should
electrical equipment to an say:
electricity supply by means of a (a) work that involves connecting
flexible cord plug and socket electrical equipment to an electricity
outlet; supply by means of a flexible cord plug
and socket outlet, where the electricity
supply is less than 415V;
Electrical Safety Office, 2008 Statistics and trend information on electrical incidents, paper
presented by Dan Murphy, ESO at the Electrical and Communications Association (ECA) Annual
4.7.4 (2)(c) (c) replacing electrical equipmentAdd in words, as follows:
or a component of electrical (c) replacing electrical equipment or a
equipment if that task can be component of electrical equipment if
safely performed by a person who that task can be safely performed by a
person who does not have expertise in
does not have expertise in carrying
out electrical work; carrying out electrical work and the
equipment is designed to ensure that
there is no access to live parts;
4.7.4 (2)(d) (d) assembling, making, modifying Need to either delete this sub section or
or repairing electrical equipment add in qualifying words from section
as part of a manufacturing 18(2)(d) of the Electrical Safety Act, as
(d) assembling, making, modifying or
repairing electrical equipment in a
workplace under the Workplace Health
and Safety Act 1995 that is prescribed
under a regulation for this paragraph, if
that is the principal manufacturing
process at the workplace, and
arrangements are in place, and are
detailed in written form, for ensuring
(i) the work is done safely and
(ii) the equipment is tested to ensure
compliance with relevant standards;
4.7.4 (2)(e) (e) building or repairing ducts, Need to either delete this sub section or
conduits or troughs; add in qualifying words from section
18(2)(f) of the Electrical Safety Act, as
(f) building or repairing ducts, conduits
or troughs (channels) where electrical
wiring will be or is installed, if—
(i) the channels are not intended to be
(ii) wiring installed in the channels is not
(iii) the work is done under the
supervision of a person licensed to
perform electrical installation work;
4.7.5 A person conducting a business or Delete “minimise” and insert “eliminate”
undertaking must ensure that as follows:
electrical installations at the A person conducting a business or
workplace are designed, undertaking must ensure that electrical
constructed, installed, protected, installations at the workplace are
maintained and tested so as to designed, constructed, installed,
minimise, so far as is reasonably protected, maintained and tested so as
practicable, risks to health and to eliminate risks to health and safety
safety associated with electrical associated with electrical hazards in
hazards in connection with the connection with the installations.
4.7.9 Testing of electrical equipment There is no definition of “hostile
used in a hostile operating operating environment”.
(1) A person conducting a businessThere is no definition of regularly –
or undertaking must ensure that regulation should mandate frequency.
electrical equipment at aThere is an incomplete definition of
workplace is regularly tested by a“competent person” – should refer to
competent person if the electrical“licensed electrical worker”
equipment is: Regulation should require that all testing
should be in accordance with AS/NZS
3760 (In-Service Safety Inspection and
Testing of Electrical Equipment)
Division 4 Division 4 This division should refer to equipment
Electrical work on energised and installations.
4.7.14 Provides when work on energised Should refer to the same criteria applied
equipment is permitted in section 12 of the Electrical Safety
Regulation, as follows:
(1) The following circumstances are
required for the performance
of live work—
(a) it is not practicable to perform the
electrical work other than by live work
because of 1 or more of the following—
(i) it is necessary in the interests
of safety, whether or not
electrical safety, for the work to
be performed while the electrical
equipment the subject of the
electrical work is energised;
Example for subparagraph (i)—
It may be necessary in the
interests of road safety for a set
of traffic lights to remain
operating while electrical work is
performed on the lights.
(ii) a supply of electricity is
necessary for the proper
performance of the electrical
(iii) there is no reasonable
alternative to performing the
electrical work by live work;
Example for subparagraph (iii)—
It may be necessary, to avoid
widespread outages, to perform
electrical work on works of an
electricity entity by live work.
(b) the employer or self-employed
person has prepared, in a document, a
risk assessment of the performance of
the live work;
(c) the performance of the electrical
work is in accordance with a safe system
A safe system could include
preventing persons from
the area where live work is being
performed if the persons are
not needed for the performance
of the work.
(d) the employer or self-employed
person authorises the performance of
the live work only after consultation
with the person in control of the
electrical equipment the subject of the
(e) the person who performs the live
work has appropriate training for the
performance of the live work;
(f) testing equipment appropriate to the
performance of the live work has been
given to the person performing the
electrical work, the testing equipment
has been properly maintained, and the
person performing the electrical work
makes proper use of the testing
equipment in performing the work;
(g) clothing and personal protective
equipment appropriate to the
performance of the live work has been
given to the person performing the
electrical work and the person
performing the electrical work makes
proper use of the clothing and
equipment in performing the work;
(h) other than for exempt electrical
work, the isolation point of the
electricity supply for the electrical
equipment the subject of the electrical
(i) has been clearly identified; and
(ii) is able to be reached quickly without
the need to climb over or shift
(i) the area where the electrical work is
performed is clear of obstructions to the
extent necessary for easy access to and
from the area;
(j) there is a safety observer observing
the performance of the electrical work
(i)the work involves testing electrical
(ii) the risk assessment prepared
under paragraph (b) does not show
there is a high risk to electrical safety
in performing the testing of the
Example for subparagraph (ii)—
If a risk assessment does not show
there is a high risk to electrical safety
in performing the testing of the
polarity of an installed outlet, a
safety observer is not required to
observe the performance of the
(2) In this section—
exempt electrical work means—
(a) electric line work; or
(b) electrical work on a consumer’s
electrical installation carried out on the
supply side of the main switch on the
main switchboard for the installation, if
the isolation point of the electrical
supply for the installation is not
reasonably accessible from the area
where the electrical work is carried out.
Example of when isolation point
is not reasonably accessible from
the area where electrical work is
being carried out—
The electrical work is carried out
at a place and the isolation point
is at a substation located at
safe system of work, for live work on a
low voltage electrical installation,
includes, but is not limited to, a system
of work that complies with the
provisions of AS/NZS 4836 (Safe working
on low-voltage electrical installations)
about ensuring the safety of persons
while performing live work.
safety observer means a person who—
(a) observes the performance of
electrical work; and
(b) is competent to help a person
performing the electrical work; and
(c) has been assessed in the last 6
months to be competent to rescue a
person performing electrical work and
4.7.18(1)(a) (a) by a competent person who Person must be assessed as competent,
has tools, testing equipment and as follows:
personal protective equipment (a) by a person who has been assessed
that: as competent, and who has tools,
testing equipment and personal
protective equipment that:
4.7.18 (ii) have been properly Add “and tested” as follows:
(1)(a)(ii) maintained; (ii) have been properly maintained and
4.7.18(4)(b) (b) the safety observer must have Safety observer should be assessed
been assessed in the previous 12 every 6 months as follows:
months as competent to (b) the safety observer must have been
resuscitate a person. assessed in the previous 6 months as
competent to resuscitate a person.
4.7.19 (a) if a notifiable incident occurs in There is no definition of a notifiable
connection with the electrical incident. Records should be maintained
work for which the statement was for at least 5 years, as follows:
prepared—for at least 2 years (a) if a notifiable incident occurs in
after the incident occurs; and connection with the electrical work for
which the statement was prepared—for
at least 5 years after the incident occurs;
4.7.20 A person conducting a business or Delete everything after 2010, as follows:
undertaking that includes the A person conducting a business or
carrying out of construction work undertaking that includes the carrying
must comply with AS/NZS out of construction work must comply
3012:2010 in relation to electrical with AS/NZS 3012:2010.
installations at the workplace.
4.7.21 (3) & Subsections 3 7 4 appear to Delete sub sections 3 & 4.
(4) contradict sub sections 1 & 2
4.7.22 (1) A person conducting a business No definition of regularly – regulation
or undertaking must ensure that should mandate frequency.
residual current devices used at
the workplace are tested regularly
by a competent person to ensure
that the devices are operating
4.7.23 Only refers to overhead lines Should also include reference to
4.7.23 (b) (b) risk control measures Amend to read as follows:
implemented are consistent with (b) risk control measures implemented
any requirements of the electricity are consistent with any requirements in
supply authority responsible for accordance within the electricity supply
the overhead electric line. industry.
Plant and structures
5.1.21 General risk control: This provision applies if it is not reasonably practicable to
eliminate OHS risks from plant, and lists the control hierarchy – an approach that the QCU
applauds. This is completely undermined, however, by the statement “implementing any of
the following risk control measures”. The regulation should be clear that the control
measures should be implemented in the order of the hierarchy of control; with lower order
controls only being used where higher order ones are not achievable.
Similarly, under 5.1.44, control measures for industrial robots need to follow the hierarchy
of control as above.
The QCU supports the non-inclusion of the proposed Chapter 10 in the regulation given its
inadequacy for such a unique and dangerous work environment. Issuing the draft
regulation in this piecemeal fashion, however, has the potential to seriously degrade the
health and safety of workers in this industry. We understand from our discussions with the
Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union – Mining and Energy Division, that there
may be artefact results if the provisions of the proposed regulation are picked up in states
other than Queensland, and stress that Safe Work needs to seriously consider the
implications of this.
The QCU strongly supports the ACTU submission on the asbestos regulation and contend
that there would be a reduction of standards for workers if it was introduced in its current
form. In particular, asbestos is so hazardous that placing it in the general section on
hazardous substances is inappropriate. This is particularly the case since the major problem
with asbestos is not “how to work safely with asbestos” but how to remove it in a safe
The regulation must be consistent with the current NOHSC codes and guidelines
The current definition of ‘friable asbestos’ needs to be broadened to apply to a
broader range of situations where asbestos will be generated in the workplace.
The proposed exclusion of domestic premises from the provision about “indicating
the presence of asbestos in the workplace” will mean that many workers (for
example, electrical meter readers) will be exposed to unacceptable risk. It is
requested that PCBUs retain their obligation to identify the presence of asbestos in
circumstances such as these.
Asbestos Registers and Management Plans must be called up in the regulations (not
the COPs) and the review of the register and management plan must occur annually.
Persons who remove asbestos must be direct employees of the asbestos removal
licence holder in order that the regulation can be effectively enforced.
Construction diving work is generally regulated by the accreditation of divers against AS/NZS
2299.1 via the Australian Diver Accreditation Scheme (ADAS). The removal of ADAS from its
current role as the national certification agency for occupational diving would effectively
destroy an efficient and functional national arrangement for diver certification, a national
data base, integrated and comprehensive career arrangements and international
recognition of Australian divers.
Furthermore, the regulation does not call up a number of safety critical aspects of AS/NZS
2299.1, in particular the elements of the standard which deal with technical matters. The
proposed regulation would also allow general divers to do some of the work for which a
construction diving certification is currently required.
As stated by the ACTU, the role and responsibilities of the dive supervisor must be re-
articulated. It is not appropriate that a PCBU legislatively pass its hazard identification,
assessment and control duties, in entirety, to a dive supervisor. A dive supervisor, in current
industry practice determines whether a dive goes ahead, under what circumstances and
whether it continues, but this does not diminish the duties of the PCBU.
Lastly, the inclusion of free diving work in the draft regulations is not supported. Free
diving, without the benefit of compressed air, puts the diver at much greater risk. As
pointed out by the ACTU, neither asbestos removal workers nor workers in confined spaces
are legislatively enabled to work whilst holding their breath. Likewise holding one’s breath
should not be a control measure for divers.