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Safe Work Month

It’s been a busy start to National Safe Work Month!

Organisations across Australia have been showing their commitment by using #safeworkmonth on social media – see what everyone else is doing.

This week

·         Federal Minister for Employment, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash officially launched National Safe Work Month in a video address.

·         We launched our Workplace Reward competition – check out the entry form.

·         We published the first of a series of videos featuring workers from our seven priority industries. These will feature on our social media, including on our new Instagram account @safeworkmonth – be sure to follow us so you can see them!

Next week

·         Tune in on Tuesday 10 October to watch the next Virtual Seminar, Building a bully-free workplace.

Need inspiration for your safety month initiatives?

Check out the following resources on our website:

·         Five steps to a safe and healthy workplace

·         Handbook: Principles of good work design

Safety is everyone’s business – and your knowledge and experience are worth sharing.


As at 27 February, 28 Australian workers have been killed at work in 2017.

The number of worker deaths listed on this page is based on initial media reports and is a preliminary estimate of the number of people killed while working. Once the appropriate authority has investigated the death, more accurate information becomes available from which Safe Work Australia updates details of the incident.

Updated information is used to publish Safe Work Australia’s annual Work-related Traumatic Injury Fatalities report which includes finalised work-related fatalities from 2003 onwards.

Year-to-date 2017: Preliminary worker deaths by industry of workplacea

Industry of workplace Total deaths
Deaths 1 Jan 2016 to 27 Feb 2016 Deaths 1 Jan 2017 to 27 Feb 2017
Transport, postal & warehousing 64 2 10
Agriculture, forestry & fishing 41 7 4
Construction 30 6 6
Arts & recreation services 8 0 2
Electricity, gas, water & waste services 7 0 3
Miningb 7 0 0
Other services 4 1 0
Administrative & support services 3 0 0
Manufacturing 3 0 1
Public administration & safety 3 0 1
Information media & telecommunications 2 1 0
Accommodation & food services 1 1 1
Education & training 1 0 0
Health care & social assistance 1 0 0
Professional, scientific & technical services 1 1 0
Retail trade 1 0 0
Wholesale trade 1 0 0
Government administration & defence 0 0 0
Financial & insurance services 0 0 0
Rental, hiring & real estate services 0 0 0
Total worker deaths 178 19 28
  • a Ranked in descending order, and then on alphabetical order for industries with no fatalities.
  • b Mining fatalities include fatalities that occur in the coal mining, oil and gas extraction, metal ore mining, gravel and sand quarrying, and services to mining sectors.
  • c Includes notifiable fatalities that occurred overseas.


Two family-owned businesses and their respective directors have been committed to stand trial following a Workplace Health and Safety Queensland investigation into the death of a 62-year-old roofer.

These are Queensland’s first category 1 prosecutions under work safety laws, with the companies, if found guilty of the alleged offences, facing possible maximum fines of $3 million, and the two directors fined up to $600,000 each and facing maximum jail terms of five years.

The defendants, Lavin Constructions Pty Ltd and Multi-Run Roofing Pty Ltd, and company directors Peter Raymond Lavin and Gary William Lavin, have been charged for contravening Section 19 (2) and/or s20 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

Whareheepa Te Amo, who only started the job four days earlier, fell almost six metres to his death while working on the edge of a roof without protection. Mr Te Amo was one of five roofers working on an industrial shed at Lake Macdonald in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland on 29 July 2014 when he fell.

The shed was part of a larger complex being re-furbished by Lavin Constructions Pty Ltd, which was the builder in control of the site, while Multi-Run Roofing Pty Ltd was engaged to fit roof sheeting.

An indictment relating to four separate complaints under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 was presented at the Maroochydore District Court on 8 February 2017 against the defendants, who will stand trial in the Brisbane District Court. The matter is due for mention on 19 April 2017.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland head Dr Simon Blackwood said falls from heights is a serious issue in most industries, particularly construction.

“The roofing/re-roofing trade is certainly one where things can go wrong at height. In this case, the court will hear evidence that appropriate safety equipment was available and on site.”

It is alleged that Mr Te Amo was several metres ahead of two scissor lifts being used for fall control and not wearing a personal fall protection harness.

“Not following simple safety guidelines and taking unnecessary risks is just not on,” Dr Blackwood said.

“Had the available and correct controls been used, Mr Te Amo’s death would not have occurred.”

Media contact: OIR Media 0478 33 22 00 or

Last updated
27 February 2017

HAZARD ALERT Driver contacts overhead power line on top of cattle truck

A cattle truck driver recently contacted overhead high voltage powerlines when he climbed on top of his trailer to check on the cattle.

The driver parked his truck on a quiet and flat roadway, but it was dark and he did not realise that he was directly below powerlines. When he climbed on top of the truck, he contacted the 22,000 volt powerlines and received severe burns to his head and feet. The electrical shock caused him to fall into the cattle crate rather than 4.6 metres to the ground and he survived the incident.

Always check your surroundings and park your vehicle well clear of powerlines. Plan your route before you start and only stop at places where it is safe to check on the cattle. If there are designated truck stops and rest areas on the route, use them.

Prosecution of Workers

Worker fined in Brisbane having failed to meet his Work Health and Safety Duty of Care

Incident description

On 5 August 2014, the defendant, a boilermaker, was undertaking welding and steel grinding activities in a stairwell. He placed a canvas bag containing, pressurised spray paint cans in close proximity to the work area. The canvas bag caught alight and the spray paint cans heated and exploded in a sudden and large combustion. The defendant and two other workers who came to assist sustained burns.

The defendant was instructed in and had signed his employer’s safe work procedure. The safe work procedure identified hazards and risks associated with hot work and nominated that flammable and combustible items were not to be in the vicinity of hot work activities. The worker failed to follow the procedure.

Court result

The defendant pleaded guilty in the Holland Park Magistrates Court on 23 October 2015 to breaching s.32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, having failed to meet his work health and safety duties and was sentenced.

The magistrate fined the defendant $2 500 and ordered professional and court costs totalling $1080.70. He made a training order (s.241 of the Act) that the defendant complete a work health and safety (WHS) training course within 7 months. No conviction was recorded.

In deciding penalty, the court took into account the defendant had not been prosecuted previously for any work health and safety breach and had cooperated with the investigation.

In reaching a decision, the magistrate acknowledged the defendant had demonstrated remorse and regret over his actions and accepted submissions by the defence that he was significantly affected emotionally by the impact of his actions on work colleagues who had been injured. He had undertaken, on his own volition, two courses of WHS training since the incident.

The magistrate also acknowledged he had entered a plea of guilty at the return of the complaint. The defendant also placed before the court his financial commitments; he was a family man with one child with his wife pregnant with a second child. He acknowledged the defendant had only a modest income and was the sole wage earner. These elements were incorporated into the penalty imposed.



Nominations are currently open for the Qld WHS Awards. Go to to find out more.

WHS We mourn the first worker death for 2015

The Australian Mining industry has suffered its first fatality of the year, after only 20 days.

On 20.1.2015 Consolidated Minerals issued a release advising that a contractor had died during exploration activities to the south of the Woodie Woodie manganese mine in the Pilbara.

The Department of Minerals and Petroleum immediately sent two investigators to the site, and two more will travel today to investigate the incident, according to The West Australian.

DMP director Andrew Chaplyn said the man was a fitter involved in working on a bulldozer that was used to clear land for exploration drilling.

Dr Thorpe stated that “The news is devastating.  While the cause of the incident is not available.” Dr Thorpe has put out a timely reminder that “workers performing maintenance on machines must ensure that isolation and lockout procedures are fully implemented during maintenance as well as ensuring the safety of all equipment and tools used for maintenance purposes.”

Become a Leader in WHS for your Business

The Zero Harm at Work Leadership Program brings together like-minded business leaders who want to create a safer working environment for their people and a positive outcome for their business.

Unlike business and management skills, there are limited opportunities for business leaders to enhance their safety leadership skills. The Zero Harm at Work Leadership Program provides an avenue to consider that aspect of your leadership and strengthen it to compliment your business acumen and management skills.

The Zero Harm at Work Leadership Program is also an opportunity to demonstrate your corporate social responsibility and extend your influence by sharing your wealth of experience and knowledge with peers and those businesses with leaders striving for continual safety improvements.

Manage the risks – manage the costs

Successful business leaders make the most of their assets including their people. Work related injuries contribute to higher operating costs which all impact on the business’ bottom line:

  • increased workers’ compensation premiums and time lost injury rates
  • lower productivity levels as staff recover from an injury or deal with the loss of a work colleague
  • higher transactional costs attracting and retaining staff.


The program’s aim is to contribute to a reduction in the severity and frequency of work related injuries and fatalities in Queensland workplaces by strengthening existing safety leadership skills. We believe business leaders are vital to achieving this goal because your decisions and actions can positively influence work health and safety.

Why should I join?

Participation in the program puts you in touch with like-minded business leaders who are striving for safer workplaces. Advances in technology mean work practices are constantly changing. To remain competitive and productive, regular assessments of safety management systems are crucial. So take advantage of the sounding board that is available through the Zero Harm at Work Leadership Program to test your ideas and hear how others are overcoming similar health and safety challenges.

Some of the reasons business leaders join the program:

  • to link with other like-minded business leaders
  • to learn how to effectively communicate your safety message to stakeholders
  • to identify and apply the characteristics of a good safety leader
  • to hear how other business leaders in the industry are handling some of the health and safety challenges in the industry
  • to influence health and safety in the industry by working together with other businesses
  • to develop solutions to common issues facing industry
  • to make a difference
  • to minimise safety risks in the industry
  • to give back to the industry by sharing your knowledge and experience with fledgling businesses
  • because your workforce is your family.

By committing to sharing innovation, knowledge and experience with others, Zero Harm at Work Leadership Program members can make a significant contribution in raising the standards of workplace health and safety across Queensland.

I operate a small/medium-sized business. Am I a business leader?

Leadership involves leading from the top. You are a business leader if you:

  • own and/or run your business
  • are the key decision maker in your business.

How can I participate?

  • Forums and mini-forums create learning opportunities where business leaders come together to exchange ideas and discuss health and safety issues affecting their business.
  • Regional meetings, facilitated by business and government leaders, identify and resolve issues prevalent in industry.
  • Use and contribute to the development of tools and resources to link business and safety through leadership.
  • Showcase your own innovation by sharing case studies of changes you have implemented that have resulted in improved work health and safety outcomes.

Each forum or activity incorporates three key elements:

  • Leadership and commitment – like-minded business leaders striving to make their business safer. Your involvement is a demonstration of your commitment to safety.
  • Sharing and learning – business leaders exchange ideas and solutions about health and safety issues facing their industry.
  • Influencing– the individual and collective influence of business leaders is harnessed to bring about real changes to health and safety matters affecting industry.

How do I sign up?

Membership is free.

To join the Zero Harm at Work Leadership Program:

  1. Download the Statement of commitment form (PDF, 133 KB), for your Chief Executive Officer or equivalent to sign.
  2. Complete the online membership details form online, attaching the Statement of commitment form.

If you are unable to attach the commitment form, you may email or mail.



What happens after I sign up?

You are expected to play an active role in the program by participating in programmed events such as regional and industry forums and other meetings and safety leadership skills development opportunities held over the year.

The Zero Harm at Work Leadership Program caters for all levels of safety knowledge and experiences. Your views, through direct input and as part of the annual survey of members, will be used to ensure that the program provides opportunities with relevant and topical content.

Your level of participation in the program could include some or all of the following elements:

  • Listen and learn – attend planned events to hear how other businesses deal with safety risks. Positive stories will be developed into case studies and placed on the Zero Harm at Work Leadership Program website for others to learn and benefit from.
  • Share and solve – discuss industry concerns and develop solutions to common problems and challenges.
  • Influence – drive changes in your industry sector using the power of individual and collective networks of industry leaders.
  • Leadership – become a role model for others to follow and give back to the industry by contributing to improving safety in your industry. Here are two examples how you can demonstrate leadership:
    • Case studiescreate a snapshot of your efforts to deal with/manage health and safety issues in your business. Assistance is available to prepare these case studies which will be placed on the Zero Harm at Work Leadership Program webpage to encourage others to improve health and safety.
    • Host your own event – invite supply chain or other stakeholders to your business to discuss and come up with solutions to common concerns.

Health and wellbeing at work

Well designed and well managed workplaces can play a beneficial role in promoting worker health and wellbeing, minimising avoidable ill health, and facilitating faster recovery and return to work after injury or illness.

Taking steps to help you and your workers improve health and wellbeing could also improve your business’ safety performance, productivity and workplace culture. Broadening the scope of your workplace health and safety systems to include work health can have considerable benefits for your business.

Worker health and wellbeing can have a direct effect on work health and safety and business performance.

Integrating health, wellbeing and safety in the workplace
Good work health and safety systems can easily incorporate health and wellbeing risk management into existing policies and procedures, because the fundamental goals of work health are the same as work safety.

Work health in key industries and sectors

The construction, transport, and the rural and resources industries in Queensland have been identified as high risk when it comes to the health and wellbeing of their workers.

Contact us for further information and to assist you to develop your health and wellbeing programs.