Comcare v Transpacific Industries

Comcare v Transpacific Industries [2015] FCA 500 is an interesting case that looks at the liability of an employer for the death of a non-employee in a motor vehicle accident. In February 2011 a Transpacific employee driving a garbage collection truck ran into a vehicle killing the driver. Subsequent investigations revealed that the truck had faulty brakes.

The case provides some very interesting insights into the “illusion of safety” where it appears that, notwithstanding regulator approval and a routine maintenance regime, the high risk of poorly maintained brakes on a garbage truck was not identified.

There is also an interesting point raised in the case about the extent to which an employer should monitor the work of an employee who has been issued a warning for safety related breaches. Should an employer monitor the employee until they are satisfied that they are working in accordance with the safety requirements?

A short video presentation about the case is available here.

You can access a copy of the case here.

More consultation on safety legislation in Western Australia

At some point, someone will make a decision, but hot on the heels of the “Green” WHS Bill seeking comment on WA’s general health and safety legislation, stakeholders are now being asked to comment on options for “modernising” health and safety laws for mining, petroleum and major hazard facilities.

To the extent that it matters, you can find out more here:

and submit comments here:

You have until the 19th of December.

If the history of harmonisation across the country is any measure, there will be a fair amount of administrative juggling within businesses and the usual parade of lawyers and safety consultants telling us that the sky is falling and we are all going to jail (no one ever has in Australia by the way!) – and then we will just get on doing what we are doing today, tomorrow.

Oh, (and again for what it is worth), Safe Work Australia’s own research (Safe Work Australia. (2013). The effectiveness of work health and safety interventions by regulators: A literature review. Canberra, ACT: Safe Work Australia) has found:

We do not know whether many of the strategies used on a regular basis by work health and safety regulators, such as introducing regulations, conducting inspections, imposing penalties for non-compliance and running industry campaigns are effective in achieving the desired policy outcome of reducing work related deaths, injuries and disease.

Seems to me to be a lot of fuss and nonsense for very little return.

Western Australia’s proposed WHS legislation

On 23 October 2014 the Western Australian State Government released a draft or “Green” Bill, the Work Health and Safety Bill 2014 (see:

The Work Health and Safety Bill 2014 is Western Australia’s version of harmonised health and safety legislation. The Bill is open for public comment until 30 January 2015, and details on how to submit a comment can be found at

You can access a copy of the Bill from the websites above, however, we have also added a copy to Lawstream ( and access to the Lawstream database it is available for access at no charge. Simply log on at:

Username:           Trial User

Password:            LStrial123

When you click on the “login” button you will see two options, “client” and “trial“. Click on “client” to access your account.

Over the next few weeks we will be adding commentary about sections of the proposed Bill in the “mapping” section of the Lawstream database; simple follow the blog for more information about when updates and commentary are added.

Legislation changes in Queensland

A number of changes to Queensland Work Health and Safety laws (WHS) took effect from 16 May 2014.

The changes impact health and safety representatives, right of entry permits, electrical safety and a range of other health and safety obligation.

Information about the changes are described on Queensland’s Workplace health and safety website, which you can access here.

If you want to look at the specific changes in the context of the legislation, we have set up a Lawstream database that will show the affected legislation.

You can access the database at: (click on “client” under the login tab to access)

Username:          Qld WHS

Password:           password

Changes to the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 are available now, and further, amended legislation will be uploaded soon.

To review the changes, navigate to the relevant section and click on the “updates” tab.

The sections of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011that have been affected are:

Section 68;

Section 71;

Section 74;

Section 82;

Section 83;

Section 85;

Section 86;

Section 119;

Section 122;

Section 123;

Section 143A;

Section 274;

Part 16, Division 3, sections 307 – 309;

Schedule 2A items 9 and 112.