SafeWork NSW to issue new on-the-spot fines for WHS breaches

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Monday, 21 November, 2022 - 12:30
Policy & legislation
New South Wales

New regulations will allow 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.

The amendments will allow SafeWork inspectors to issue penalty notices for work near overhead wires with fines of $3600 for corporations and $720 for individuals, said the head of SafeWork NSW, Natasha Mann.

“In the past two and 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,” Mann said.

“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.”

Electrical incidents can also result in power outages, fires, damage to infrastructure, businesses and even road closures.

“We’re urging businesses and workers undertaking electrical work to shut off mains power supply when working near electricity and under no circumstance should electrical work be done without holding a licence to do so,” Mann said.

“We’re also strengthening penalties to provide greater deterrents to existing offences relating to asbestos removal work in response to re-offenders within the asbestos and demolition industry.

“The new on-the-spot penalties will provide SafeWork NSW inspectors with 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 businesses in NSW should already be complying, and can already be prosecuted if they do not comply.