INTRODUCTION - Occupational Health And Safety Reps

Document Sample
INTRODUCTION - Occupational Health And Safety Reps Powered By Docstoc
					INTRODUCTION

The Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC) makes this public comment to the proposed
consolidation of all current OHS Regulations and to amendments to the Equipment Public
Safety Regulations. The VTHC represents over 50 affiliated union organisations (including
some divisions of unions which have maintained separate affiliation), representing
approximately 340,000 Victorian union members.

Affiliates have made a significant contribution to the translation of current regulations and have
participated in deliberations on policy and the development of the other components of the
Compliance Framework (CFP) through various working groups, the Stakeholder Reference
Group (SRG) and the OHS Advisory Committee (OHSAC).

The VTHC strongly supports many of the proposed changes to the Regulations and the
inclusion of a chapter on Construction, which is the completion of the first step in the CFP.
Affiliates are committed to the principles of the Compliance Framework which aim to

       Give effect to the principles of health and safety protection in the Act

       Progressively improve health and safety in Victoria

       Clearly articulate duties and rights and provide clear information and advice to facilitate
        compliance

       Achieve consistency, where appropriate, with other Australian jurisdictions; and

       Provides the highest level of protection for workers and the general public against risks
        to their health and safety that is reasonably practicable.




                             OHS Regulations – Public Comment
                          Submission of Victorian Trades Hall Council
                                            Page 1
However the VTHC has concerns with a number of aspects of the proposed consolidated
Regulations.

INCONSISTENCY WITH NATIONAL STANDARDS, OTHER STATES AND GOVERNMENT
COMMITMENTS

The VTHC and affiliates support the policy and principles of the Compliance Framework, which
guided the translation of current OHS Regulations into the proposed consolidated Regulation.
This policy was agreed in August 2005 and established that existing regulations would be
replaced using current regulations and National Standards as the scope to ensure that Victoria
provided workers with the highest level of protection. The policy specifically states that the
consolidation of the regulations will:
       give effect to standards declared by the Australian Safety and Compensation Council
        (formerly NOHSC) (referred to as National Standards), and
       achieve consistency, where appropriate, with other Australian jurisdictions.
In February 2006, concerns regarding the potential lack of uniformity in the development and
uptake of National OHS standards and as a result of recommendations of the Taskforce on
Reducing Regulatory Burden (the Banks report) resulted in the following developments:
       Commonwealth and state governments, through the Council of Australian
        Governments (COAG) and the Workplace Relations Ministers Council (WRMC) have
        directed that the uptake of National Standards be improved to ensure nationally
        consistent arrangements,
       State governments through the Council of Australian Federation (CAF) have agreed to
        implement reforms to achieve greater uniformity of their state OHS regulatory
        frameworks directing their regulators to pursue 'harmonisation' opportunities; and
       A specific agreement between Victoria, NSW and Queensland to harmonise key areas
        of both workers compensation and occupational health and safety.
VTHC and affiliates believed that both the compliance framework policy and these
commitments provided the opportunity to remove inconsistencies with the National Standards,
particularly for those standards adopted during the Kennett era. There is no rationale for these
inconsistencies to continue.
While VTHC and affiliates believe that the consolidation of the Regulations has achieved a
number of improvements, the proposed regulations have not delivered adequate consistency
with National Standards and other jurisdictions in a number of significant areas. Several current

                              OHS Regulations – Public Comment
                           Submission of Victorian Trades Hall Council
                                             Page 2
divergences of Victorian requirements from those of the National framework have been
maintained. The rationale for maintaining many of these Victorian peculiarities is generally
unconvincing and inconsistent. The result leaves Victorian workers with a lower level of
protection than workers in other states.


INCONSISTENCIES IN SCOPE AND DEFINITIONS FROM NATIONAL STANDARDS

There are a number of regulations where WorkSafe has not adopted the scope and definitions
of National Standards. The scope and definitions are crucial to the implementation of
subsequent duties in the regulation, for example
Asbestos
Definition of dust - see separate comment
Plant
Exclusion of manually powered and powered hand-held plant; requirements for the
Independent verification of design. See separate comment
Confined Spaces
Exclusion of stored liquids from the definition
Hazardous Substances
The new Regulation maintains a number of Victorian inconsistencies, which must be
addressed. The 'rules' which regulate hazardous substances are influenced by international
and national arrangements more so than other standards, including through:
       the United Nations development of a Globally Harmonised System (GHS) which
        Australia is to adopt in 2008,
       the European Union (EU) and Australia's National Industrial Notification and
        Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) for assessment of chemicals and the setting of
        exposure standards,
       the Rotterdam Convention,
       the Australian Dangerous Goods Code (ADG)
       Mutual recognition arrangements with New Zealand (TTMRA), and
       other transport and trade arrangements.
As Australia is a participant in the development of standards which seek to adopt international
consistency, Victoria's regulations must in this case adopt the National Standard without
deviation. See separate comment.

                              OHS Regulations – Public Comment
                           Submission of Victorian Trades Hall Council
                                             Page 3
Construction
Scope, definitions and regulation of amenities - see CFMEU submission – fully supported and
endorsed by the VTHC.
Lead
The new regulation does not include the National Standard requirement which requires medical
practitioners to advise blood level results to the Authority.
Noise, Lead, Hazardous Substances and Asbestos
All include variations from National Standards for atmospheric monitoring.


For all hazards the VTHC and affiliates demand that the provisions of National Standards
must be adopted unless our Regulations provide a higher level of protection. This was
the commitment given at the outset of the process.


REMOVAL OF RISK ASSESSMENT

The VTHC and affiliates support WorkSafe‟s stronger focus on risk control in the Regulations,
but remain unconvinced that the proposed approach to remove risk assessment from most
chapters in the Regulations and translate only existing hazard identification duties will deliver
WorkSafe's aims to achieve better compliance and health and safety outcomes.
In our view the proposed Regulations:
       are inconsistent across the chapters,
       place Victoria at odds with other jurisdictions and National Standards,
       create potential confusion about how to make decisions about the implementation of
        risk control measures, and
       de-regulate and confuse current provisions for atmospheric monitoring
             o for those hazards which have an exposure standard - noise, hazardous
                 substances, asbestos and lead - the requirement to measure exposure levels
                 by atmospheric monitoring will be standardised so that monitoring is required
                 when there is uncertainty as to whether the exposure standard has been
                 exceeded and that uncertainty is based on reasonable grounds.
WorkSafe has proposed to support these changes in the Regulations by:
       issuing a section 12 guideline to clarify that the general duties requires dutyholders to
        look proactively for all hazards and risks in the workplace;

                              OHS Regulations – Public Comment
                           Submission of Victorian Trades Hall Council
                                             Page 4
         developing a Compliance Code on risk assessment; and
         providing further advice on risk management.
However none of these items have been finalised, as have none of the Compliance Codes (see
separate comment below).
WorkSafe's policy to remove mandatory requirements for risk assessment from the Regulations
aims to provide greater focus on controlling risk. Unions agree with WorkSafe that the focus of
risk management must be to ensure that duty holders take action to eliminate or control
hazards. The increased focus on risk control is supported. We strongly agree that an
approach which focuses on eliminating risk at the source is the most effective means of
achieving safer and healthier workplaces. But this focus must ensure that controls put in place
to eliminate or reduce risk clearly reflect the hierarchy of controls in order to achieve the
highest level of protection that is possible. In fact, we support the inclusion in the Regulations
of a hierarchy of control to apply generally to all hazards and risks (see separate comment
below).


Unions do not support the removal of risk assessment duties from the regulations. In our
view the requirement for risk assessment should remain in Regulation. Risk assessment is a
well-established and well understood step in the control of risk and is included in National
Standards, hazard control provisions in other jurisdictions and in WorkSafe Codes and non-
statutory guidance.
Unions have significant concerns with WorkSafe's approach and rationale. Unions believe that
WorkSafe's policy to remove a risk assessment duty for hazards (except mines, major hazards
and construction) is based on flawed assumptions about the nature of risk assessments in
determining how identified hazards should be controlled.
In our view WorkSafe's policy is flawed because it:
         assumes that risk assessment is a complicated process by confusing a systematic
          approach with elaborate, paper based audits 'systems' used in some workplaces
              o Complex systems are not mandated by the current requirements to undertake
                  risk assessment. Therefore removing the requirements to assess risk will not
                  necessarily prevent the promotion and use of complex systems
              o Unions do not support unnecessary paper based audit systems, however
                  unions support a systematic approach: in our view WorkSafe should provide



                              OHS Regulations – Public Comment
                           Submission of Victorian Trades Hall Council
                                             Page 5
            clear, straightforward advice to workplaces about what is expected and to
            enable a systematic and effective risk assessment process to be undertaken
   assumes that risk assessment is unnecessary when known control solutions are
    implemented, arguing that these solutions are implemented without any assessment
    being undertaken. Unions do not agree with this rationale. In our view even in
    straightforward cases risk assessment is being undertaken. For example when locating
    the risk control solution or implementing a control solution the employer, in
    consultation, is determining whether the implementation of the known control is
    practicable
   claims that a regulatory duty to carry out risk assessment means that it must be done
    in every single case to which the regulation applies, and that a duty holder who does
    not perform a risk assessment is in breach of the regulation, regardless of whether
    adequate risk controls are in place.
        o Unions believe that this interpretation is insufficient to warrant the removal of
            the risk assessment duty. What is needed is clarity about how the provisions
            will be enforced
        o Consistent with our points above, in every case where a known risk control is
            implemented a risk assessment has been done
        o applies equally to other provisions eg if risks are controlled but have not been
            identified then a duty holder is in breach of the hazard identification duty, but
            this is not seen as a reason to remove the duty to identify risks
        o Unions believe that a s12 ruling would clarify how WorkSafe would enforce
            these provisions.
   WorkSafe's assumptions on risk assessment are only logical if hazards and related risk
    control solutions are considered individually.
        o In reality most workplaces have multiple hazards. When multiple hazards have
            been identified then risk assessments are crucial as this is necessary to
            enable decisions to be made and for priorities to be set for managing these
            risks.
   In addition the risk assessment process is useful as the basis for informing employees
    and HSRs about the hazards, risks and controls, enables 'safe work' procedures to be
    developed and can be used to review and monitor the risk control solutions.



                         OHS Regulations – Public Comment
                      Submission of Victorian Trades Hall Council
                                        Page 6
The removal of risk assessment provisions does not deliver the overarching aim of consistency
with other jurisdictions and will create additional and unnecessary impediments to Victoria's
adoption of future National OHS Standards.


COMPLIANCE CODES
There has been very little progress in the development of new or revised Compliance Codes
and other supporting guidance. This is of great concern as for a number of hazard chapters
large numbers of important issues/provisions were not included in the proposed Regulation on
the basis that they would be included in a Compliance Code. This is some discomfort on our
part for two reasons: it may be potentially a long time before the codes and other material are
developed and implemented and already the original undertaking to include these matters in
Compliance Codes has shifted to „Compliance Codes or other guidance material‟.
In our view those items which have been removed from the Regulations as candidates for
Compliance Codes must be assessed for re-inclusion in the Consolidated Regulation to ensure
commitments on 'harmonisation' are delivered. Maintaining differences in regulatory
instruments should only continue where there is an overwhelming case that the national
framework is wrong or where Victoria's approach delivers a higher level of protection.


INCONSISTENCY ACROSS HAZARD IDENTIFICATION PROVISIONS
In most parts of the draft Regulations, hazard identification is still required. However, the
approach to the inclusion of hazard identification is not uniform. For each of the current
regulations for which there is no hazard identification duty, the draft regulations also has no
identification duty - ie noise and hazardous substances.
The consolidation of the regulations has highlighted that the provisions of 'hazard identification'
and 'risk assessment' are treated differently in current regulations and Codes of Practice
(COP). These differences have resulted in the boundary between 'hazard identification' and
'risk assessment' being different in different regulations. For example:
       The Plant Regulations (1995) include specific and separate duties for an employer to
        undertake a hazard identification and to undertake a risk assessment, while the
       The Hazardous Substances Regulations (1999) do not include a specific hazard
        identification duty. Hazard identification is implied in the employer duties to keep a
        register and to obtain MSDSs. Employers only have a risk assessment duty. However,



                              OHS Regulations – Public Comment
                           Submission of Victorian Trades Hall Council
                                             Page 7
        in the supporting COP, steps 2 - 4 of the risk assessment process are in fact hazard
        identification.
The attempt to maintain hazard identification but remove risk assessments from the
consolidated Regulations has led to a variation between chapters, with some elements from
risk assessment being located in hazard identification and others translated into risk control.
The VTHC considers that the consolidated Regulations need to be consistent and clear about
what is intended by each of the processes of 'hazard identification' and 'risk assessment'.
The VTHC recommends that:
       hazard identification duties be explicitly included in the noise and hazardous
        substances chapters to be consistent with the effect of the translation of other parts of
        the regulations and to ensure that critical identification steps are undertaken as a pre-
        cursor to effective control measures;
       the provisions of 3.2.7 (3) of the Noise chapter be translated into the hazard
        identification provision;
       the provisions of 3.1.2 (4) (a) to (e) of the Manual Handling chapter should more
        appropriately be located in the hazard identification provisions of 3.1.1;
       the provisions of 3.4.8(2)(a) to (e) of the Confined Spaces chapter should be more
        appropriately located in the hazard identification provisions of 3.4.7; and
       that the headings of all hazard identification provisions are expressed similarly to the
        Prevention of Falls provision at 3.3.3 ie Identification of 'X' hazards.


INCONSISTENT PROVISIONS FOR MEASURING HAZARD EXPOSURE

Current regulations for noise, hazardous substances and asbestos include inconsistent
provisions for an employer to determine/measure levels of exposure by atmospheric
monitoring.
       Noise - if an employee may be exposed
       Hazardous Substances - if there is uncertainty whether the exposure standard may be
        exceeded or if necessary to determine whether there is a risk to health
       Asbestos - if atmospheric monitoring is necessary to determine whether there is a risk
        or there is uncertainty as to whether a medical examination may be required
The consolidated Regulations attempt to standardise the provisions by applying a uniform
approach across the regulations and extending the provision to lead.

                              OHS Regulations – Public Comment
                           Submission of Victorian Trades Hall Council
                                             Page 8
In each case - noise, hazardous substances, asbestos and lead - a determination is required
when there is uncertainty as to whether the exposure standard has been exceeded and that
uncertainty is based on reasonable grounds. Further, for hazardous substances and lead, an
additional circumstance is added - atmospheric monitoring is necessary to determine whether
there is a risk to health.
WorkSafe's approach assumes that if you exceed an exposure standard just knowing that the
exposure standard is exceeded is sufficient for decision making purposes. In some
circumstances it is necessary to know by how much the standard is exceeded - eg hearing
protection has specific limits on their ability to reduce noise. Monitoring is necessary to
properly select control options.
In our view the wording of the proposed provision is unsatisfactory as the use of 'uncertainty' in
effect creates uncertainty. Also the inclusion of 'reasonable grounds' is open to a wide range of
interpretations.
The VTHC considers that the standardised provision should be based on the current Noise
Regulations and include the additional proposed provision from hazardous substances to read
         'monitoring is required if an employee may be exposed to ….. that exceeds the
         exposure standard or to determine whether there is a risk to health'


HIERARCHY OF CONTROL
During the process, the VTHC and unions requested the inclusion of a hierarchy of control to
apply generally to all workplace hazards and risks. WorkSafe, however, proposes to restrict
the inclusion of such a hierarchy only to those hazards and risks where it applies in the current
regulations. The hierarchy of controls is widely accepted as the most effective approach to risk
management, is consistent with both Sections 4 and 20 of OHSA 2004, and as such, should be
the accepted regulatory approach to all hazards and risks.
Unions regard the inclusion of a general hierarchy provision as essential. Without some
reference to how risk controls are to be applied to achieve the highest level of protection
ensured by the OHSA 2004 our concern remains that there will be an over reliance on personal
protective equipment or lower order controls. These are the least effective controls for hazards,
which will have subsequent consequences in terms of workplace incidents, injuries and
disease.




                                OHS Regulations – Public Comment
                             Submission of Victorian Trades Hall Council
                                               Page 9
INCONSISTENCY IN REVIEW OF RISK CONTROL PROVISIONS

The VTHC and unions support the inclusion of review of risk control provisions across all
specific hazard regulations. These provisions all include a requirement that risk control
measures must be reviewed when certain circumstances arise including when requested by a
HSR.
However the provisions are inconsistent. In our view the risk control provisions need to be
consistent across the regulations and all must include a specific requirement similar to the
Manual Handling regulations that risk control provisions are reviewed when an incident or injury
occurs. In our view this is an obvious indication that the risk control/s are not working and
consequently they should be reviewed.


INCONSISTENCY WITH OTHER STATES - REGULATION OF WORK ENVIRONMENT AND
FIRST AID PROVISIONS

During the consolidation exercise current Codes of Practice for Workplaces, Workplaces in
Construction and First Aid were considered for translation into regulation. There are no specific
National standards on these issues except specific requirements for Construction included in
the Construction National Standard (see separate comment).
Worksafe decided not to include working environment provisions in the proposed Consolidated
Regulations preferring to deal with the issues via Compliance Codes.
VTHC and affiliates do not support this decision. In our view workers have a right to be
provided with basic amenities and facilities eg toilets, drinking water and first aid. Unions
strongly argued that a number of the provisions in our current Codes could and should become
regulations. Other jurisdictions regulate these provisions as the indicative list below shows.

                                 NSW REGS        QLD REGS         SA REGS           WA REGS
VIC Workplaces Code
Dining Facilities                Yes             Yes              Yes               Yes
Facilities for Dining Rooms      Yes             Yes              Yes               Yes
and Dining Areas
Change Rooms                     Yes             Yes              Yes               Yes
Other Storage Facilities         Yes             Yes              Yes
Washing Accommodation            Yes             Yes              Yes               Yes
Emergency Washing
Facilities
Drinking Water                   Yes             Yes              Yes               Yes
Workplace Environment                                                               Yes


                                 OHS Regulations – Public Comment
                              Submission of Victorian Trades Hall Council
                                               Page 10
      Cooling              Yes
      Heating              Yes
Outside Work                                 Yes
Aisleways and Passageways                    Yes                                      Yes
Task Lighting               Yes              Yes                                      Yes
Workplace Cleanliness       Yes              Yes                                      Yes
Seating                                      Yes                    Yes               Yes
Floor Insulation                                                    Yes               Yes
Workplace
o Workstation space         Yes              Yes                    Yes               Yes
o Workplace Construction
The Building and Construction Code - add to the above list

Sanitary facilities                              Separate
                                                 provisions for
                                                 construction
Provision and storage of        Yes
PPE
Safety helmets
Road safety apparel
Precautions against
drowning
Remote locations
Exit and entry points                                               Yes               Yes
Fire prevention                                                                       Yes
First Aid Code of Practice
                                Yes              Yes                Yes               Yes

Although not a code "Officewise" provides guidance re space, partitioning, storage and walkways for
office environments - some of these issues may be covered by the wording of respective jurisdictions'
Regulations

The RIS at page 53 asserts that 'the OHS Act provides the baseline for standards that apply to
workplaces' (for the requirements for workplaces and workplace environment). In our view this
is either an exaggeration or misrepresentation. The term 'baseline' implies something against
which you can measure. For workplace amenities/environment the Act provides no such
yardstick. The WorkSafe position relies on:
         the unsupported implication that failures in relation to workplace (amenities / general
          work environment) are not a significant cause of injury
         the availability of compliance codes and supporting guidance to provide advice on
          managing workplace environments – which are not yet available, and
         the lack of consistency in the regulation of working environment in other states.
Issues concerning the work environment, amenities and first aid are significant issues for
workers and workplaces. The majority of calls received through the Advisory Service (during


                                OHS Regulations – Public Comment
                             Submission of Victorian Trades Hall Council
                                              Page 11
the period July - December 2006 17%) relate to queries on work environment /workplace
issues. Further evidence from queries coming in to the VTHC OHS Reps website and from
unions which deal with members daily reinforce the need for regulation in these areas.
The Codes of Practice have not provided certainty to workers, and issues concerning amenities
and first aid are often the cause of serious dispute and dissatisfaction in many workplaces.
Further, the fact that other jurisdictions are not in agreement should not be an excuse for
Victoria not to draft useful regulations for workplaces. Victorian workers deserve better. The
VTHC consider that to achieve consistency Victoria should adopt regulatory provisions
similar to those in other states.


INCONSISTENCY WITH OTHER STATES - REGULATION OF PSYCHOLOGICAL
HAZARDS

During the consolidation exercise unions strongly argued for the inclusion of a general
provision on hazard identification to ensure the highest level of protection for Victorian workers
and consistency with other jurisdictions in the regulation of psychological hazards.
Worksafe decided not to include such a provision in the proposed Consolidated Regulations
preferring to deal with the need for the identification of all hazards and risks via a s12 ruling.
VTHC and affiliates do not support this decision. In our view, the inclusion of a general
hazard and risk identification provision is necessary to ensure that 'health' hazards including
stress, bullying, violence and fatigue are regulated in the same way as traditional physical
hazards. The NSW provisions specifically require that the work premises, work practices, work
systems and shift working arrangements (including hazardous processes, psychological
hazards and fatigue related hazards) and the potential for workplace violence are identified,
assessed and controlled. The VTHC and affiliates consider that to achieve consistency
Victoria should adopt regulatory provisions similar to the NSW provisions.


SPECIFIC COMMENT ON PROVISIONS

Consultation with HSR provision
The role of HSRs in representing their co-workers and consulting and negotiating with
employers on OHS has been an integral feature of Victorian OHS law since 1985. Their role in
consultation has also been a requirement of current hazard specific Regulations and
throughout codes and guidance developed by the VWA over many years.


                              OHS Regulations – Public Comment
                           Submission of Victorian Trades Hall Council
                                            Page 12
HSRs rights in the current Regulations range from the general – to be consulted when
employers identify, assess or control hazards - to specific requirements in some Regulations
where HSRs must be informed or where HSRs can require that the employer take certain
actions.
As most of these individual provisions to consult with the HSRs will be removed in the interests
of reducing duplication, it is vital that the consolidated regulation still has a clear provision to
ensure that this crucial consultation is maintained in an effective manner.
Some employer associations vigorously oppose the inclusion of the proposed consultation
provisions in the new Regulation and have begun a scare campaign on the new provisions. In
recent media, employer associations claim that the proposed provisions are an „extra‟
requirement which place „more onerous‟ requirements for consultation on employers. 1
This is clearly a misunderstanding of the legislative provisions.
The intention of the consultation provisions in the OHS Act (OHSA) 2004 is not to alter these
rights, but to extend the consultation duty to ensure that where there are no HSRs employers
consult directly with their employees, as recommended in the Maxwell report.
The provisions are not new or „extra‟ and do not impose any additional duty or obligations on
employers. The provisions reflect current provisions and achieve the desired outcomes from
the consolidation by:
             removing repetitive requirements across regulations, and
             providing clarity to duty holders and others about how current duties are to be
              performed.
Unions strongly support the inclusion of a provision that prescribes how to ‘involve’
HSRs in the consultation process. The inclusion of the proposed provision supports the
historical role of HSRs and confirmed in the OHSA 2004 – viz the right of HSRs to be involved
in consultation processes and carry out their role as representatives of designated work
groups.
Unions believe that the provision is necessary to ensure that HSRs are not impeded in their
ability to adequately represent their designated working groups during consultation.
Since the introduction of the 2004 Act many HSRs have reported that their employers are using
interpretations of the consultation duty to undermine their right to represent their DWG, and be
consulted by the employer in a timely manner.


1   Australian Financial Review article 30 Jan 2007


                                           OHS Regulations – Public Comment
                                        Submission of Victorian Trades Hall Council
                                                         Page 13
While unions support the inclusion of such a provision in the consolidated regs, we have some
concerns with the current wording. Unions want the provision amended as follows:
             the provision should not be qualified by „reasonably practicable'
                    o The duties imposed by the regulations only arise in circumstances where an
                           employer “is required under the Act to consult with employees…”. An employer
                           will only be “required” to consult where it is reasonably practicable. It is
                           therefore unnecessary to repeat this in the regulation.2 and
             the provision should include a requirement at (e) that HSRs have a reasonable
              opportunity to consult with their DWG
                    o Reg 2.1.5.2(e) should be amended to read “giving the health and safety
                           representative a reasonable opportunity to express his or her views about the
                           matter including a reasonable opportunity to consult with their DWG”.
                           This requires no more than what is assumed by Part 7 of the OHSA 2004 and
                           gives effect to s4(5) of the OHSA which provides the right for employees to be
                           represented in relation to health and safety issues. This supports the purpose
                           of regulation „to explain how a duty is to be performed‟ [Section 58 (1)(c)]3
Our position is that these amendments better reflect the provisions of OHSA 2004.
Asbestos
The VTHC and our affiliates are extremely disappointed with the proposed provisions of the
Asbestos chapter of the regulations, and alarmed at the possible consequences for not only our
members but also the broader community. The proposed regulations:
             fall well short of the objective of achieving more nationally uniform standards;
             fail to take proper account of the first principle of the OHSA 2004: that „employees,
              other persons at work and members of the public be given the highest level of
              protection against risks to their health and safety‟;
             lack the clear objective of achieving workplaces free of asbestos containing materials;
             will provide a lower level of protection to workers than the current 2003 regulations;
              and
             will increase the risk of exposure to asbestos to workers and others.
Unlike most of the other chapters in the consolidated regulation dealing with existing
regulations, the Asbestos Chapter is not simply a „translation‟ of the current Asbestos

2   This is supported by legal advice provided to the VTHC by Peter Rozen, Barrister
3   This is supported by legal advice provided to the VTHC by Peter Rozen, Barrister


                                           OHS Regulations – Public Comment
                                        Submission of Victorian Trades Hall Council
                                                         Page 14
regulations (introduced in 2003). Rather, it is an integration of the current regulations and a
December 2003 Dangerous Goods Order.
When the current Regulations were introduced unions identified that they had a serious
shortcoming in that they did not cover dust and debris. Consequently, a Dangerous Goods
Order was made in December 2003, as an „interim measure‟, to capture the removal of dust
and debris.
The Order:
       Allowed for the removal of asbestos contaminated dust by an unlicensed person where
        the dust is „minor contamination‟. Removal considered to be greater than „minor
        contamination‟ is required to be removed by a Class A licensed removalist. „Minor
        contamination‟ is not defined.
       Permitted a Class B license holder to removed unfixed or uninstalled asbestos
        (including asbestos contaminated dust) that is derived from or associated with the
        removal of fixed or installed non friable asbestos containing material
       The DG Order was an interim measure pending a review of the Regulations – delayed
        again pending review of the OHS Act.
The main issues of concern to the unions in the proposed chapter are due to what we consider
was a error in the drafting of the Dangerous Goods Order, and a subsequent misinterpretation
and misapplication of it, resulting in an increase of risk to both workers and members of the
public (detail below). The Dangerous Goods Order was only ever intended to be an interim
measure to reflect what was industry practice. It has become a case of the tail wagging the
dog.
The other issue of concern is that unlike several jurisdictions, the Victorian definition of „friable‟
specifically EXCLUDES dust/powder.
Union concerns with specific provisions:
1 - Limited asbestos removal work without a licence (4.3.45)
The current (2003) regulations contain a provision for limited asbestos removal work without a
license. This is a total of up to 10m² of non-friable asbestos material that is fixed to or installed
in a building, structure, ship or plant at a workplace – for no more than one hour in any 7 day
period. The proposed regulations allow for:
    (a) the removal of a total of up to 10m² of non-friable asbestos material that is fixed to or
        installed in a building, structure, ship or plant at a workplace - for no more than a total
        of one hour in any 7 day period AND

                              OHS Regulations – Public Comment
                           Submission of Victorian Trades Hall Council
                                            Page 15
    (b) asbestos that is not fixed to or installed in a building, structure, ship or plant at a
        workplace (ie dust and debris), ‘if the asbestos does not constitute more than a
        minor contamination’. The problem is that, again, there is no definition of what
        constitutes „minor contamination‟. In addition, the limitation that the removal
        activity must not exceed 1 hour in any period of 7 days, does not apply to the
        removal of dust and debris.
VTHC and unions believe this potentially represents a huge increase in unlicensed removal
activity, and a considerable departure from what is currently industry practice – ie that in
general only Class A asbestos removalists remove dust.
Union concern is that there would be little/no control over whether workers being asked to
undertake clean up of asbestos dust and/or debris had received proper training or that the
requirements under this part are in fact in place. The result could be that not only these
unlicensed workers but also other workers and members of the public would be exposed to
toxic asbestos fibres.
The lack of a time limit will potentially lead to the situation where unlicensed workers (eg
cleaners) could be cleaning up this material for long and repeated periods of time.
Of further concern is how hygienists are already interpreting what constitutes a „minor
contamination‟. While WorkSafe has stated that it will develop a section 12 guideline on how it
will interpret „minor contamination‟, we do not have confidence in the contents/effectiveness of
such a guideline.
2 - Removal of asbestos contaminated dust by a Class B licensed asbestos removalist -
the definition of ‘Class B Licence’ has been amended to allow for the removal of
asbestos–contaminated dust originating from a removal of a non–friable ACM that was
fixed or installed
Under the current (2003) regulations, Class B removalists, who are licensed to undertake
removal of non-friable asbestos only, are able to clean up any dust/debris created by their
removal of a non-friable asbestos job at the time of removal.
The DG Order permits Class B to remove uninstalled/unfixed asbestos „which is associated
with or derived from the removal of non-friable asbestos-containing material‟ – it is silent on
when/how much. It is our position that this provision was meant to reflect the current industry
practice at the time – ie removal of any dust associated with or derived from that removal job.
At no time was the DG Order intended to extend the Class B license to allow removal of any
amount of asbestos dust/debris. This would have been a change in policy.

                              OHS Regulations – Public Comment
                           Submission of Victorian Trades Hall Council
                                            Page 16
However, the proposed regulation in fact does this: the definition of „Class B Licence‟ has been
amended to allow for the removal of asbestos–contaminated dust originating from the removal
of non–friable ACM that is or was fixed or installed in a building, structure, ship or plant.
The effect is that this will change what is current practice in the industry – that is that most
asbestos contaminated dust is removed by Class A licence holders. Potentially it means that
Class B licence holders will be able to undertake unlimited removal of asbestos contaminated
dust – created at any time in the past. The use of „the‟ as opposed to „and‟ does not assist in
limiting the amount of removal potentially done by Class B removalists. In addition, to attempt
to differentiate the dust/debris as having been associated to either friable or non-friable
asbestos is a nonsense. Once the material is in dust/debris form, it is not possible to
differentiate where it came from, unless it was created at the time it is being cleaned up.
 3 - Definition of friable asbestos
The proposed regulations retain the current definition:
            “Friable” means, when dry, may be crumbled, pulverised or reduced to powder by hand
            pressure, or as a result of a work process such that it may be crumbled, pulverised or
            reduced by hand pressure
Our position remains that the definition of „friable‟ be amended as follows to ensure that dust,
which is already in a powder form and therefore cannot be further „reduced‟, should be
classified as „friable‟:
            Friable asbestos material means any material that contains asbestos and is in the
            form of a powder or can be crumbled, pulverised or reduced to powder by hand
            pressure when dry.
(note that the NSW regulations apply to all asbestos containing material)
The union position is that amending the definition would bring the Victorian definition in line with
the National, NSW and SA one by including the words. We do not accept the VWA position
that while these definitions already include „dust‟ the outcome would be no different to that in
Victoria.
4 – Definition of ‘asbestos contaminated dust’
The Union position remains that any dust containing any more than „trace elements‟ be
considered „asbestos contaminated dust‟ and therefore only be removed by Class A
removalists (except under current industry practice whereby Class B can remove any
dust/debris created immediately during the non-friable removal job currently completed).



                                OHS Regulations – Public Comment
                             Submission of Victorian Trades Hall Council
                                              Page 17
While the definition has been removed, it is still referred to in the regs (4.3.54). Definition
should be there under the definition for friable asbestos
Once again, it‟s our position that only non-friable asbestos removal be permitted by an
unlicensed removalist – and that non-friable asbestos not include asbestos dust and debris.
5 – Lack of an objective to achieve asbestos-free workplaces
Asbestos is in many workplaces and potentially poses a risk to hundreds of thousands of
Victorian workers and their families, including patients in hospitals and children in schools and
kindergartens. The unions feel very strongly that the regulations should contain an objective
along the lines of that found in the National Code of Practice:
        “The ultimate goal is for all workplaces to be free of ACM. Where practicable,
        consideration should be given to the removal of ACM during renovation, refurbishment,
        and maintenance, rather than the other control measures such as enclosure,
        encapsulation or sealing.”
6 – Concern regarding both the independence and competency of persons providing
clearance certificates and carrying out audits
This issue was of concern to both unions and the employer representatives. WorkSafe has
decided that these matters will be dealt with in a Compliance Code.
7 – Part 8 activity: Hand drilling and cutting of asbestos
There has been an on-going issue of concern to the ETU, and raised by the union with
WorkSafe in particular since the implementation of the 2003 Asbestos regulations. This section
of the regulations (4.3.100) is in conflict with both Section 20 of OHSA 2004 and the intent of
the Asbestos chapter of the regulations.
It is an accepted position (in regulation, in OHS practice) that PPE as a control measure must
only be short-term measure until such time as a better, higher order, control measure can be
implemented. In this section, however, use of PPE is basically THE control measure.
The concern is with respect to work done on certain electrical switchboards made of materials
with a high content of asbestos. The outer part of these switchboards will be Zelemite (30%
asbestos) and the inside will be either millboard (80% asbestos) or AC sheeting (3-15%
asbestos). When Zelemite and millboard are drilled, the material becomes friable, and the
potential risk very high. There is no reason why cutting and drilling should be performed on
these switchboards: in these situations, the switchboards can and should be removed.
This activity of drilling and cutting must not be permitted under the regulations, and
must be deleted.

                             OHS Regulations – Public Comment
                          Submission of Victorian Trades Hall Council
                                           Page 18
8 - All removal, whether licensed or unlicensed, will be regulated under the Part that
deals with removal of asbestos.
The VTHC and unions support this change, as there have been issues in the past in that it has
not been clear that these provisions apply to all removal work. However, in order to make
absolutely clear that all clauses in this division apply to ALL removal work, including unlicensed
removal work, we are requesting that an additional provision be added to 4.3.45 along the lines
of: „all provisions in this section apply to limited removal without a license.‟
9 - Refurbishment has been removed from the definition of ‘demolition’ to allow for
demolition and refurbishment to be dealt with separately.
The VTHC and unions have no problem with demolition and refurbishment to be dealt with
separately. There is an issue however: under the current proposal while asbestos must be
removed prior to demolition, it must only be removed prior to a refurbishment if it is going to be
disturbed. However, any refurbishment involves a designer/architect. Section 28 of the OSHA
2004 states:
        „A person who designs a building or structure or part of a building or structure …must
        ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that it is designed to be safe and without
        risks to the health of persons using it as a workplace…‟
Consequently, the asbestos regulations must require that all asbestos be removed prior to a
refurbishment job.
10 – Control of risk of exposure – person who manages or controls workplace
S4.3.2 states:
        (1) A person who manages or controls a workplace -
               a. must eliminate so far as is reasonably practicable the exposure of persons at
                   the workplace to airborne asbestos fibres; or
               b. if it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate that exposure, must reduce that
                   exposure, so far as is reasonably practicable.
This is followed by a Note: Act compliance – Section 26 (see regulation 1.1. 7)
The VTHC and our affiliates believe that in order to be consistent with both Section 26 and
Section 23 of the OHS Act, the words ‘at the workplace’ must be deleted from clause
4.3.2(1)(a). By including these words, the clause incorrectly limits the duty of persons who
manage or control the workplace to only those persons who are actually at the workplace. In
the case of exposure to asbestos fibres, a poor and/or unlicensed removal job puts others,
such as neighbours, passers by, etc at risk.

                               OHS Regulations – Public Comment
                            Submission of Victorian Trades Hall Council
                                             Page 19
11 – Determination of employee’s exposure (4.3.4)
This section requires the employer to determine an employee‟s exposure to airborne asbestos
fibres „if there is uncertainty as to whether the asbestos exposure standard has been
exceeded‟. The VTHC is concerned about what the term „uncertainty‟ means, and how this will
function in practice. As this clause is also used elsewhere in the consolidated regulation (eg
Noise, Hazardous Substances) discussion of issue is picked up in our general comments.
12 - Overarching issues
       Removal of duty to consult HSRs - the duplicated general provisions to consult with
        HSRs have been removed and covered under the general duties section whilst any
        requirement specific to asbestos have been translated.
       Removal of duty to assess risk – not such an issue in Asbestos as the regs still require
        an asbestos register to be completed, kept up to date, and reviewed every 5 years and
        in certain circumstances, including if requested by the HSR. There is a duty to control
        risk, and to review risk control measures triggered by certain events. These duties
        apply both to persons in control/management of a workplace, and the employer. In
        effect, this constitutes an on-going assessment.
13 - Other matters
In addition to the changes arising from overarching policy issues affecting all parts of the
Regulations (eg removal of the requirement to undertake risk assessment) and the changes
detailed above, the following changes have been made:
       The notification period for removal work undertaken by licence holders for small scale
        removal has been reduced to 24 hours.
       Notification requirements have been streamlined.
       Asbestos encountered during non–asbestos mining has been excluded from the
        prohibitions on use, sale, transport, supply and re–use. This is consistent with the
        National Standard relating to national prohibitions.
       The definition of „Class A Licence‟ has been amended to allow for the removal of
        asbestos–contaminated dust
       A new regulation has been inserted to require that asbestos be properly contained,
        including decontamination of the outside of a container in which asbestos is being
        stored.




                             OHS Regulations – Public Comment
                          Submission of Victorian Trades Hall Council
                                           Page 20
       Air monitoring is required where there is uncertainty as to whether the exposure
        standard is exceeded.
       Demolition and construction material that contains less than 0.001 per cent ACM and
        which is processed in accordance with an auditable process determined by the
        Authority has been excluded from the Asbestos Part.
The VTHC and unions on the Regulation review group had no concerns with any of the above
changes and support them.
14 - Conclusion
There is a low level of compliance with the current regulatory requirements in the area of
asbestos removal. For example:
        many workplaces have not completed audits;
        unions regularly find asbestos removal jobs are being done either without a control
         plan, or by inappropriately licensed removalists (eg friable asbestos removal done by
         Class B removalists);
        unions are continually finding the „10m² rule‟ for limited unlicensed removal being
         either misunderstood or abused;
        asbestos containing material is often „dumped‟ illegally – suggesting the removal was
         illegal;
        and more.
It is our belief that if the proposed regulations are implemented without amendment this will
lead to further abuses, increased non-compliance and increased problems.


Plant
In addition to our general comments on the removal of risk assessment and the need for
greater consistency with the National Standard, the following are specific comments on the
proposed Plant regulations:
Exclusion of manually powered and powered hand-held plant
The new regulation continues to exclude manually powered and powered hand-held plant from
the scope. The rationale for this decision is based on
       the 1995 Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) which concluded that there was little/no
        benefit to include this group as a whole and
       an expectation that the scope of the current National Standard may change.



                             OHS Regulations – Public Comment
                          Submission of Victorian Trades Hall Council
                                           Page 21
It is unacceptable to VTHC affiliates and workers who use this equipment that these types of
plant remain excluded from the Regulation when they have a history of causing injury. The RIS
2007 indicates that
       the most common agency of injury or disease from claims data is from Unpowered
        Tools at 28% (RIS page 23), and
       of 100 randomly selected Plant claims 58% were found to be directly related to
        manually powered or powered hand-held plant (RIS page 78)
The VTHC strongly opposes this blanket divergence from the National standard. The 1995 RIS
is too old to be relied upon and had serious shortcomings at the time it was conducted. The
provisions of the National standard should be implemented.
Independent verification of design
Clause 69 of the National Plant Standard calls for an independent third party to prepare
compliance statements testifying that the plant complies with the specifications for the design
plant that were set out by the designer. Victoria's current Plant Regulations departs from the
National Standard by calling for independence from the design process. This means that the
design and its verification can be provided by the same organisation. Unions do not support
this deviation from the National Standard. In addition the 'mutual recognition of plant and
machinery and a uniform system of accreditation of verifiers of pieces of plant and equipment'
is a topic which has been agreed for harmonisation by specific agreement between Victoria,
NSW and Queensland governments as part of efforts to harmonise key areas occupational
health and safety. The provisions of the National Standard should be implemented.
Importation of certain Plant
During the review of the Plant regulation, unions raised a concern that the regulation should
include a provision to prohibit the importation of plant which contains prohibited substances -
eg the importation of plant containing asbestos. This issue remains outstanding and is still
under consideration as to how best to regulate. Unions would like the issue resolved.

Hazardous Substances
The hazardous substances chapter is essentially a translation from the current OH&S
(Hazardous Substances) Regulations 1999 with some provisions being moved to the general
provisions of the new consolidated Regulations. The 1999 Regulations were based on the
National Standard, the National Model Regulations for the Control of Workplace Hazardous
Substances 1995, but with several significant differences.


                             OHS Regulations – Public Comment
                          Submission of Victorian Trades Hall Council
                                           Page 22
The new Regulations address a serious shortcoming of the previous Regulations by including
hazardous substances created from non-hazardous substances. This is a requirement of the
National Standard. The VTHC strongly supports this change. However the new Regulations
maintain a number of Victorian inconsistencies, which must be addressed.
In addition to our comments on overarching issues, the VTHC points out that the RIS (para 2
page 17) notes 'the overwhelming majority of these (deaths) are due to cancer'. This
establishes the importance of specific and tough requirements for hazardous substances. In
this light there is no reason for Victoria to dilute any of the National Standard requirements for
hazardous substances.
Definition of Manufacture
The meaning of „manufacture‟ is not defined in either the OH&S Act 2004 or in the proposed
Regulations. The dictionary definition is not sufficient for the purposes of hazardous
substances. In our view a definition similar to a footnote on page 10 of the Hazardous
Substances Code of Practice would greatly clarify the scope of what is regarded as
manufacturing.
      e.g. „Manufacture (of hazardous substances) includes the activities of packaging,
      repackaging, formulating, blending, mixing, remaking or synthesising.
Duty to classify
In regulation 4.1.2 the duties of a manufacturer do not apply to an employer who manufactures
a hazardous substance (from other hazardous substances) for use in their own workplace.
Control measures will require knowledge of the classification of the hazardous substances.
WorkSafe contends that the general provisions of the Act apply, but we believe that provisions
in the regulations for hazardous substances must make it clear what is expected of duty
holders for this commonly occurring situation. Therefore, the employer who manufactures a
hazardous substance from other hazardous substances must have the duty to classify the
substance as hazardous.
Scope of the employer‟s duty
As currently drafted in regulation 4.1.14, the scope of an employers duty is for hazardous
substances supplied to the workplace and hazardous substances listed in the HSIS generated
at the workplace from non-hazardous substances. Regulation 4.1.14 (4)(a) extends coverage
of the „risk associated with the use of hazardous substances‟ to cover hazardous substances
which are manufactured or produced from other hazardous substances, but the wording of the



                               OHS Regulations – Public Comment
                            Submission of Victorian Trades Hall Council
                                             Page 23
scope is confusing. In our view the wording of the proposed regulation is tortuous and not does
provide necessary clarity. The provision should be re-worded by either
       transferring the note at 4.1.14(a) as a separate dot point at 4.1.14 (1) to make it clear
        exactly what the employer has to do, or
       preferably, to use a similar form of words as those in the RIS (final para, page 93)
            o 'Whether a hazardous substances is supplied to the workplace, generated in
                the workplace from another hazardous substance or generated from a non-
                hazardous substance, an employer will be required to control risks to workers'
                health arising from that substance'
Labelling of decanted hazardous substances
Regulation 4.1.19 (3)(a) requires the label for a container into which a hazardous substance is
decanted to be labelled (only) with the product name. The National Standard and the
regulations of most other jurisdictions require containers into which hazardous substances are
decanted to be labelled with the product name and risk and safety phrases.
The label for a hazardous substance container has several functions; to uniquely identify the
contents, give a warning that the contents have a hazard and provide basic precautions for
safe use.
A label on a decanted hazardous substance with only a product name provides no indication of
any hazard associated with its contents. It does not differentiate between hazardous and non-
hazardous substances. The user must know or remember that it is hazardous. This is
unacceptable.
In addition to the National Standard, the Victorian Dangerous Goods (Storage and Handling)
Regulations 2000 should be used as a guide – this requires class and subsidiary risk labels in
addition to the product name as a means of alerting that there is a hazard.
Jurisdictions other than Victoria have adopted the National Standard requirement. It is now
appropriate for Victoria to meet this minimum standard.
Register of hazardous substance
Regulation 4.1.23 requires an employer to keep a register of „all hazardous substances
supplied to the employer‟s workplace‟. This is in contrast to the National Standard, which
requires a register to be kept for „all hazardous substances used or produced at the workplace‟.
Australian jurisdictions, other than Victoria, have adopted the National Standard – the register
is therefore a list of substances that could cause harm to workers irrespective of how they
arrived at the workplace.

                               OHS Regulations – Public Comment
                            Submission of Victorian Trades Hall Council
                                             Page 24
In our view the consolidated Regulations must require the register to include those substances
supplied to and manufactured in the workplace.
Provision of „other information‟
The hazardous substances chapter does not include a requirement for a manufacturer/supplier
to provide additional information on hazardous substances on request. This provision is
included in the National Standard and has been adopted by other jurisdictions.
The drafting brief asserts that „the MSDS/label contains all relevant information. The assertion
is demonstrably not correct on a number of accounts. The label is only required to contain
specific elements. In the case of MSDS, work by VWA has demonstrated that MSDS are most
commonly generic and do not contain information sufficient, or sufficiently specific, for
employers to implement appropriate controls. Manufacturers and suppliers have, or have ready
access to, specific technical information which can assist employers to implement controls.
Other jurisdictions have adopted the NMR provisions and a failure by Victoria to follow this
approach will continue the situation of inadequate information being provided.
Atmospheric monitoring and biological monitoring
Regulation 4.1.27 (2) states that an employer is not required to comply with sub-regulation (1)
[i.e. to undertake atmospheric monitoring] in relation to a hazardous substance if health
surveillance is required under regulation 4.1.30 and the health surveillance includes biological
monitoring.
The Victorian approach equates biological monitoring with atmospheric monitoring. This
provision is peculiar to Victoria, being part of the Victorian OH&S (Hazardous Substances)
Regulations 1999. It is not found in the National Standard or any other jurisdiction. The VTHC
does not support the inclusion of this provision. It must be removed from the new regulations.
Inclusion of hazard identification provision
The VTHC considers that hazard identification duties need to be explicitly included in the
hazardous substances chapter to be consistent with the effect of the translation of other parts
of the regulations and to ensure that critical identification steps are undertaken as a pre-cursor
to effective control measures. They appear to have been omitted as consequence of the
current hazardous substances regulations having hazard identification as part of the to-be-
deleted risk assessment provision.
Information, instruction and training
A general policy has been applied to the drafting of the consolidated Regulations, to move the
requirements for information, instruction and training to the general provisions of the


                              OHS Regulations – Public Comment
                           Submission of Victorian Trades Hall Council
                                            Page 25
Regulations. However, where the requirements of a specific hazard require more detail these
matters have been maintained in the part of the Regulations dealing with that hazard (confined
spaces, plant, high-risk work, asbestos lead and mining). In our view there are aspects of
hazardous substances that require specific attention, e.g. means of identification of hazardous
substances, the role of MSDS and emergency procedures. These should be explicitly included
in the hazardous substances part of the consolidated Regulations. Such provisions would be
consistent with regulation 402(2) of the Dangerous Goods (Storage and Handling) Regulations
2000.
Limitations of the RIS
The VTHC notes that the RIS does not address the cost of Victoria retaining their current
deviations from the National Standard. In our view a separate system from the National
Standard and the national and international 'rules' for hazardous substances would far
outweigh any 'costs' in adopting the National Standard.

Lead
In addition to our general comments on the overarching the following are specific comments on
the proposed Lead regulations:
3 tier blood testing regime
The VTHC supports the introduction of a three–tier regime for biological monitoring (i.e. blood
lead level testing) of workers doing lead–risk jobs which is consistent with the National Lead
Standard.
Notification of medical practitioners and blood lead level results
The current and proposed Lead Regulations do not require employers to notify the Authority
every six months of the results of blood lead level testing. This is a specific requirement of the
National Lead Standard. Unions do not support the continuation of this deviation from the
National Standard. The VTHC and affiliates support closer alignment with the National
Standard in respect of notifying all blood lead results to the Authority. In our view the provision
of the National Standard must be included as this would provide WorkSafe with useful
information to check compliance with biological monitoring requirements. This would enable
the Authority to be proactive rather than reactive.


Issue Resolution
The proposed Issue resolution regulations contain minor amendments which unions support,
namely :

                              OHS Regulations – Public Comment
                           Submission of Victorian Trades Hall Council
                                            Page 26
       Clarification of the intent of the procedure for resolving issues and measures to be
        taken while an issue is being resolved and
       Provisions to ensure consistency with the OHS Act 2004
            o Including role for deputy HSR when the HSR is absent
However the amendment made to reg 2.2.3(3) which alters wording of the current provision
from may take „all steps that are necessary‟ to report an issue to may take all steps to 'report
an issue if the steps are reasonable in the circumstances‟ is not supported.
What is reasonable at one workplace might be seen as unreasonable at another workplace.
Employees need to know where they stand. In our view the current wording that an employee
may take „all the steps that are necessary‟ to report an issue has worked well for 21 years and
should remain.


Certification
The VTHC support the changes to the Certification provisions and the alignment with the
National Standard. The VTHC is aware that further amendments may be necessary when
current work undertaken by Australian Safety and Compensation Council (ASCC) is completed.
The new regulations require persons to be trained and assessed under the supervision of a
Registered Training Organisation to qualify for a licence. The drafting brief acknowledges that
the proposed move to training and assessment through Registered Training Organisations
raises questions of WorkSafe‟s role in the management of RTO‟s, both in terms of participation
in the quality of the work in producing suitable trained and qualified license candidates but also
in the monitoring of performance of RTO‟s/assessors and the implementation of counter fraud
measures.
The VTHC and affiliates stated during the review process that we believe that to ensure quality,
participation and to minimise corruption only those RTOs which hold the licences they are
assessing and who have the appropriate equipment can offer this training.


Construction
The VTHC endorses and supports the submission of the CFMEU.


Mines
During the regulation review the DPI proposed that the scope of these regulations be
broadened to include quarries. This proposal would ensure consistency with all other

                             OHS Regulations – Public Comment
                          Submission of Victorian Trades Hall Council
                                           Page 27
jurisdictions where mines and quarries are regulated together. Unions support the extension of
the Mines Regulations to include quarries.
The proposal was not adopted as part of the regulation review as it was determined to be
outside the scope of the Regulation consolidation. The amendment to the Mines regulations to
included quarries should progress urgently.


Confined Spaces
The continued exemption for Emergency Services Organisations (ESOs) is not supported.
During the regulation review exercise, the Confined Spaces Reference Group suggested that
this exemption was too broad because it exempts ESOs from the whole regulation not just the
administrative requirements (such as signage and entry permit requirements). The VTHC
believes that the breadth of exemption should be re-considered. The exemption is inconsistent
with how emergency service employers actually deal with entry to confined spaces which limits
entry to confined spaces unless employees are suitably trained and equipped. For example,
the Victorian Police Confined Space policy specifies that only the Search and Rescue Squad,
Water Police and a part of Forensics can enter confined spaces.
In our view regulation 3.4.2 should be changed to include the words “suitably trained and
equipped” before the word “employee” to reflect the actual operation of this provision in
emergency services.


Noise
It is unclear from the proposed Regulations whether audiometric or audiological examinations
are included in the definition of health surveillance and therefore it is unclear whether the
subsequent provisions of Regulation 2.1.3 of the General Provisions apply.
Regulation 2.1.3(3) states that „The medical examination or other health surveillance is to be
undertaken at the employer‟s expense‟ however the definition states that „health surveillance
means health monitoring, including medical examination and biological monitoring‟. It does not
state that audiological examination and audiometric test is covered by the definition of health
surveillance.
In our view to ensure that the rights of employees to receive copies of the results of these
examinations and the requirement that employers pay for such testing currently in the Noise
regulation, audiometric or audiological examinations must be added to the definition of health
surveillance in the general provisions or re-instated in the Noise regulation.

                             OHS Regulations – Public Comment
                          Submission of Victorian Trades Hall Council
                                           Page 28
The provisions of 2.1.3 (2) also need amendment by adding the words 'prior to the examination'
before employee.


Equipment (Public Safety) Regulations
The VTHC supports the consolidation of the Equipment (Public Safety) (General) Regulations
1995, and the Equipment (Public Safety) (Incident Notification) Regulations 1997, into the
proposed Equipment (Public Safety) Regulations.
As the translation of these regulations has adopted the CFP policy to remove risk assessment.
from these regulations our comments on the removal of risk assessment from the consolidated
Regulation apply equally to the E(PS) regulations. The removal of risk assessment is not
supported.


CONCLUSION
We welcome the opportunity to provide comment to the proposed Regulation. The VTHC
urges that the issues raised in this submission and in the submissions of individual affiliates are
addressed in the final form of the regulations to make Victorian workplaces the safest and
healthiest in Australia.




                              OHS Regulations – Public Comment
                           Submission of Victorian Trades Hall Council
                                            Page 29

				
DOCUMENT INFO
Shared By:
Categories:
Tags:
Stats:
views:13
posted:8/18/2011
language:English
pages:29