NSW employers to face on-the-spot fines for WHS breaches

Monday, 21 November, 2022

NSW employers to face on-the-spot fines for WHS breaches

New regulations will enable SafeWork NSW to issue on-the-spot fines for existing electrical work and asbestos offences through an amendment to the Work Health and safety Regulation. Head of SafeWork NSW Natasha Mann said SafeWork NSW inspectors will be able to issue penalty notices for work near overhead wires with fines of $3600 for corporations and $720 for individuals. According to Mann, over the past two and a half years, SafeWork NSW has responded to more than 1000 workplace incidents involving workers coming into contact with electricity, two of which resulted in fatalities.

“The most common risks associated with electrical work include contact with overhead powerlines, underground services and unsafe wiring that includes temporary wiring, installations and electrical equipment,” Mann said.

Electrical incidents can result in power outages, fires, damage to infrastructure and businesses, and road closures. SafeWork NSW has urged businesses and workers undertaking electrical work to shut off mains power supply when working near electricity; electrical work should not be conducted without holding a licence to do so. SafeWork NSW is also strengthening penalties to provide greater deterrents to existing offences relating to asbestos removal work in response to reoffenders within the asbestos and demolition industry.

“The new on-the-spot penalties will provide SafeWork NSW inspectors an additional compliance tool to take immediate action when they observe workers and businesses engaging in highly unsafe activities onsite. We will continue to take a zero-tolerance approach to workers’ lives being placed at risk,” Mann said.

The proposed penalty notice offences are existing offences under the WHS Regulation, meaning NSW businesses should already be complying, and can already be prosecuted if they do not comply. The new penalty notices come ahead of planned compliance campaigns on electrical safety in the construction industry in November and in February 2023, and align with National Asbestos Awareness Week from 21 to 27 November.

Image credit: iStock.com/sturti

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