Increased WHSQ inspections ahead
Farm businesses are advised that Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) will be increasing the number of unannounced, on-site inspections to respond to health and safety incidents, and to monitor and enforce compliance with the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and other relevant legislations.
Priority areas include:
- Chemical safety: ensure you have a Hazardous Chemical Register and that it is current
- Confined spaces: ensure you have appropriate signage, emergency plan, entry permit, and trained operators
- Safety management systems: ensure you have a documented and easy to understand safety management system.
- Electrical safety: ensure everything is tagged and tested and/or safety switches are in place. There are also on the spot fines for anyone who comes into contact with powerlines
- Asbestos management: have asbestos checks completed and register in place. Have a management system in place where there is asbestos – planned and accidental disturbance
- Businesses must keep a record of notifiable workplace accidents for five years and all improvement notices must be acted upon.
Inspectors undertake workplace visits using observation, discussion and review of documents to make an assessment of the level of risk and extent of compliance.
Inspectors will not give prior notice of entry to a workplace except in specific circumstances (eg. remote sites where it is necessary to ensure someone is on-site or where it is necessary to ensure a particular person is available) and where advance notice will not compromise the intention of the visit.
WHSQ has a number of enforcement measures available to direct compliance or sanction non-compliance. These measures work as an effective incentive for compliant behaviour and as a deterrent to non-compliance.
When taking enforcement action the WHSQ inspector will explain to the employer:
- the reason for taking such action on any notices issued
- any evidence on which they have based their decision
- what you should do to comply with any actions
- where you can get some guidance on how to comply with any actions
- the due date in which you should comply with any notices issued.
When issuing a notice, an inspector will provide information to support understanding of the notice. This information will be provided verbally and, in some instances, may be confirmed or expanded upon in writing (eg. by email). Such information should include clear explanation of the contravention and a brief explanation of what compliance looks like ie. the evidence the inspector will be looking for to determine whether the notice is complied with.
To download a copy of the hazardous chemical register, click here: https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/word_doc/0007/131758/hazardous-chemical-register.docx