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from the Formwork Industry Association. 

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  • 13 Feb 2024 4:00 PM | Anonymous

    The NSW Government says several deaths at workplaces over the past week serve as a sad reminder to employers and businesses about safety.

    In 2022, there was approximately 1 workplace fatality a week in NSW but in the past 4 days 5 people have died at NSW workplaces, including:

    • On 29 January, a 77-year-old man was visiting a factory in Griffith where he was struck by a forklift. The man was rushed to hospital where he died in the following days.
    • On 31 January, a 28-year-old man died after falling when he was electrocuted conducting air conditioner repairs in Engadine.
    • On 31 January, a 51-year-old man died after he lost control of a side-by-side all-terrain vehicle and was thrown while on a cotton farm in Narromine.
    • On 1 February, a truck driver was located unresponsive on the ground of a loading bay in Dubbo.

    SafeWork is also investigating a 1 February fatal motorbike incident on a property 120km east of Tibooburra.

    SafeWork has also been notified of several workplace incidents which resulted in serious injuries including an incident on 27 January where a construction worker fell around 3-4 metres from a scaffold in Eastwood, resulting in serious head injuries.

    Business owners must ensure workers, especially those involved in high-risk areas such as working at heights, electrical and moving plant and machinery, are properly trained and instructed on how to do their job safely.

    Workers who have concerns about workplace health and safety can anonymously contact SafeWork on 13 10 50 or through the Speak Up Save Lives app.

    SafeWork has developed a toolkit for business owners so they can ensure they have workplaces that promote effective work health and safety.

    Further details about workplace safety including working with electricity, forklifts, farm safety and working at heights in construction can be found on the SafeWork NSW website.

    Minister for Work Health and Safety Sophie Cotsis said:

    “Five deaths in 4 days is a tragedy and my condolences are with families, friends and colleagues of those who have sadly lost their lives.

    “Following a well-deserved break, employees should feel they can come back to work and be safe.

    “Business owners must ensure their employees are always practicing safe work practices, and, as we head into February, these deaths serve as a tragic reminder to make sure workplaces are up to date with safety equipment and compliance.”

  • 13 Feb 2024 3:48 PM | Anonymous

    Big River Group, a leading supplier of building materials and panels, proudly announces a strategic rebranding initiative aimed at fortifying its market position by unifying the company’s diverse portfolio of brands to foster synergies and coherence across its business operations.

    John Lorente, CEO of Big River Group, emphasised the rebranding is a proactive step to streamline operations, create unity across the business and unlock new opportunities for growth. "By aligning our local service excellence with our national scale, we aim to enhance our operational efficiencies while driving excellence and innovation in our solutions to better serve our customers, suppliers, and shareholders," stated Lorente.

    Big River Group manufactures a range of construction products including timber and steel formwork, timber flooring, plywood and decorative panels, as well as distributing a broad range of other building products from well-known local and international suppliers, focussing primarily on the commercial and residential, civil and infrastructure construction trade market segments.

    With a legacy spanning over 120 years, Big River Group is positioned for future growth while remaining steadfast in its commitment to stakeholders. "We understand the importance of clarity and consistency in how we represent ourselves to the market. Our rebranding effort signifies more than just a visual transformation; it leverages our extensive experience and service autonomy across the group, empowering the company to adapt swiftly to evolving market dynamics while maintaining a steadfast focus on customer satisfaction. By consolidating our resources and expertise under a cohesive brand identity, Big River Group is poised to capitalise on synergies and drive sustained growth in the years to come,” Lorente added.

    “There is a need to represent ourselves as one Big River team showcasing our capability for our customers and suppliers. Our mission, ‘Committed to doing good business with good people to build better projects,’ serves as a testament to our commitment to operating as one team, delivering exceptional value and product solutions to the market," said Lorente.

    Key highlights of the rebranding initiative:

    • Brand architecture: Big River Group's brand structure will adopt a hybrid approach featuring five key brands: Big River Group as the Masterbrand, with Big River Commercial and Big River Trade Centre as sub-brands, and Timberwood Panels and Plytech Panels as endorsed brands.
    • Unified values: The rebranding initiative will align all Big River Group brands under shared common values, ensuring consistency in delivering exceptional products and services. This unified approach will reinforce the company's dedication to quality and customer satisfaction.
    • Visual identity: The rebrand encompasses a new logo, website design, and name changes to existing brands, maintaining visual coherence to the Masterbrand, while reflecting the company's renewed focus on synergy and cohesiveness.

    As Big River Group embarks on this journey, daily operations will not be affected, its wide product range, services and exceptional team remain unaffected, ensuring a seamless transition for customers and stakeholders. Big River Group remains committed to delivering innovative products and services without interruption.

    The phased roll-out of the rebranding initiative will commence with the introduction of the new logo, followed by subsequent brand assets throughout the year. Big River owns and manages 26 sites across Australia and New Zealand expanding Panels, Building Trade Centres and Commercial divisions.

    For more information on Big River please contact:

    1300 88 1958 |


  • 11 Jan 2024 1:29 PM | Anonymous

    Tougher penalties for offences under Commonwealth work health and safety laws are now in force across the Comcare jurisdiction.

    The changes are part of the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing Loopholes) Act that passed parliament in December 2023. The legislation amends the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) to include:

    • Significant increases to penalties for Category 1 offences:
      • $15 million for a body corporate or the Commonwealth (previously $3 million)
      • $3 million for a person conducting a business or undertaking or an officer (previously $600,000)
      • $1.5 million for any other person (previously $300,000).
    • Increasing all other WHS Act penalties by almost 40 per cent. The maximum penalties for Category 2 and 3 offences are now $2 million and $700,000 respectively for bodies corporate (previously $1.5 million and $500,000).
    • An indexing mechanism to increase WHS Act and Regulation penalties annually in line with the national Consumer Price Index.
    • New criminal responsibility provisions for bodies corporate and the Commonwealth.

    The Closing Loopholes legislation also amends the WHS Act to introduce the offence of industrial manslaughter for causing a workplace death through negligent conduct or recklessness. The new offence will apply to officers and PCBUs. Taking effect on 1 July 2024, the offence carries maximum penalties of $18 million for bodies corporate or the Commonwealth and 25 years’ jail for individuals.

    A further WHS Act amendment will establish a Family and Injured Workers Advisory Committee by the end of 2024. The Committee will provide advice to the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, and Comcare, on the support needs of those affected by a serious workplace incident and help inform relevant policies and strategies.

    More information

    WHS laws are changing | Comcare

  • 2 Dec 2023 1:23 PM | Anonymous

    Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) inspectors have started a safety compliance blitz of the state’s construction businesses that will continue for the rest of the year.

    Inspectors are currently visiting sites to check safety requirements are being met across six high-risk areas:

    • work at heights
    • formwork
    • concrete pumping
    • scaffolding
    • mobile plant (civil construction)
    • mid-rise construction.

    The blitz will also have a focus on young workers and apprentices, as data shows these are some of the most vulnerable workers at construction sites.

    Across all industries, work-related incidents claim the lives of approximately 40 people every year in Queensland and there are more than 24,000 serious, often life-changing injuries.

    Taking steps to manage risks is a condition of doing business in Queensland – everyone has the right to be safe at work and employers should be doing everything in their power to make that happen. If requirements are not being met, inspectors will take enforcement action.

    Ensure your business is aware of its obligations and has systems in place to manage risks effectively at your workplace.

    What training are you giving your formworkers?

    Can you demonstrate (and show records) that you have provided 'meaningful and relevant training for workers delivered in a way they can understand'.

    If not the read on ....

    As we have written before, compliance with the safety training requirements outlined in the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act can be a challenging aspect for these skilled workers. 

    The recently released 'Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2023-2033' states that companies need to make sure that, on their projects, there is 'meaningful and relevant training for workers delivered in a way they can understand'.

    It supports the continuation and strong focus on compliance and enforcement by regulators, with a particular focus on systematic work health and safety (WHS) management. If you don’t have meaningful and relevant training and cannot demonstrate robust WHS management, the risk is that the safety regulators will investigate the quality of your systems, including training and competency, to hold companies and individuals accountable.

    WHS laws are risk based and don’t need an incident to occur for a business and its individuals to be liable. It is every employer’s responsibility to make sure their workers get the training, instruction and support they need to keep them safe at work.

    The Formwork Industry Association (FIA) in conjunction with their members have developed a new education and skills pathway to overcome the challenges faced by Formworkers. Addressing the compliance issues the initial ‘Safe Formworker Program’ has been designed to provide the following features to ensure construction, civil and formwork companies can comply with their obligations.

    1. Tailored Training Programs
      The Safe formworker program is a specialised WHS training program exclusively for formworkers that address their specific needs and challenges. The program covers essential safety protocols, techniques, and technologies relevant to their roles. By addressing the unique needs of formworkers, this specialised training is more relevant and effective in enhancing competency and safety.
    2. Government Subsidies and Support
      To alleviate the financial burden, the FIA has secured funding from the NSW Government to provide 1000 free places for formworkers' training and access to the program and App.
    3. Flexible Training Delivery
      Offering flexible training options, the program is delivered via a modern mobile learning experience. It enables formworkers to complete their training without significant disruptions to their work schedules, by providing bite-sized mobile courses that can be completed in the shed during toolbox talks. The program also enables employers to support a learning culture that allows workers to upskill during quieter periods.
    4. Multilingual Training Materials
      The Safe Formworker Program has been translated into Arabic and has capability to be translated into other languages. This provides training materials in multiple languages to improve accessibility and understanding for non-native English-speaking formworkers. This approach will enhance the learning experience and overall training compliance.
    5. Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)
      Creating formal Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) processes will allow experienced formworkers to demonstrate their skills and knowledge, gaining credit for their existing expertise toward training compliance. Our new education and skills pathway for formwork will enable these RPL programs to be successful and the App has certain features that allow workers to provide on the job video of their skills.
    6. Industry Endorsement
      The Safe Formworker Program is endorsed by a growing number of construction companies that have specifically named the program as an essential compliance requirement in their tender process.


    Complying with the training requirements identified in the WHS Act is essential for the safety and well-being of formworkers and those working alongside them. By implementing the Safe Formworker Program, we can bridge the training compliance gap, ensuring that formworkers receive the necessary knowledge and skills to perform their duties safely and efficiently. Collaboration between governments, industry stakeholders, and training providers will be key to fostering a safer and more compliant construction industry.

  • 7 Nov 2023 12:40 PM | Anonymous

    There has been little change in safety behaviours and recurrent non-compliance by a number of residential construction businesses in the ACT, despite repeated enforcement notices and engagement with WorkSafe ACT inspectors, according to the regulator.

    In the 2022-23 financial year, there were 20 businesses issued with between 17 and 83 enforcement notices. These included prohibition, infringement, and improvement notices for a variety of offences, including for high-risk activities like working at heights and scaffolding non-compliance.

    Despite being issued with several enforcement notices on multiple occasions, the regulator said some businesses have been repeatedly non-compliant with work health and safety (WHS) laws.

    In 2020, WorkSafe ACT developed a residential construction strategy, supported by the launch of operation safe prospect in late 2020.

    Since then WorkSafe ACT has undertaken 2101 proactive workplace inspections and had extensive engagement with industry bodies, unions, builders, tradespeople, workers, and their representatives.

    During the 2022-23 financial year, WorkSafe ACT visited 868 residential construction sites, issued 44 infringement notices, 1002 improvement notices and 430 prohibition notices.

    “Continued non-compliance will not be tolerated. I will now be focusing on investigating and prosecuting identified repeat offenders that are continuously failing to keep their workers safe,” said ACT’s Work Health and Safety Commissioner, Jacqueline Agius.

    The Commissioner said some responses to these letters have been concerning, showing a complete lack of understanding of the importance of WHS.

    “It is clear to me that some builders in the ACT do not understand their WHS obligations. I want to remind businesses that it is their duty to ensure the health and safety of their workers.

    “Having workers across multiple sites at the same time does not dilute your WHS duties.

    “It is clear to me some PCBUs in the residential construction industry are on relying on WorkSafe ACT to ensure they have a safe system of work instead of fulfilling their obligations to create a safe workplace for workers.”

    The CEO of Master Builders ACT, Michael Hopkins, also said it is important that every employer and worker on a residential building site make safety their number one priority. “People who show repeated and blatant disregard for safety laws have no place in our industry and only make it harder for the many reputable companies who exemplify workplace safety,” he said.

    [Original article provided by AIHS]

  • 7 Nov 2023 12:34 PM | Anonymous

    Nobody in Queensland wanted to read the statistics released by Safe Work Australia this month, but they also should steel our resolve to change our safety culture, so no one is ever forced to endure the pain of losing a loved one to a work-related incident.

    [An article from WorkSafe Queensland]

    Queensland claimed the second rung on the ladder for the most workplace fatalities last year. We lost 49 of our mates, and the country lost 195. When is enough, enough? We’ve lost too many, and many, far too young.

    In 2022, workers aged 45 and over accounted for almost two thirds (62%) of all worker fatalities recorded. Workers aged 65 and over had the highest fatality rate at 6.2 fatalities per 100,000 workers (more than 4 times the overall worker fatality rate of 1.4 fatalities per 100,000 workers). Younger workers aged under 25 years old had the lowest fatality rate (0.8 fatalities per 100,000 workers), closely followed by those aged 25-34 (0.9 fatalities per 100,000 workers).

    No-one ever wants to hear these stories, and that includes the safety regulator. We never want to respond to the anguish of a workplace incident but our people turn up over and over to investigate what led to the tragedy so we may learn how to avoid it happening again. We see some of the worst things you could imagine, but we’re in it for you, for your employees and loved ones, so everyone can go to work and get home safely.

    While Workplace Health and Safety Queensland is here to provide you with information, tools and resources, and while we have extensive regulatory powers to enforce the laws, it’s the business owners and operators who have the primary obligation to protect our workers.

    It's time for the toughest toolbox talk you've had. Don't shy away from these statistics, we all have a responsibility in this. At your disposal is a regulatory arsenal of codes, practical advice, short films, technical guidance, experts and everyday Queenslanders with lived experience who can visit your workplace to get everyone focused on improving health and safety.

    What more do you need? Where can we assist you to be stronger? Let us know – We want to know your thoughts on creating a better Queensland that lives the values of this proud working state.

    Further information

    Read the Key work health and safety statistics Australia 2023 report

    Access the 'Safe use of Ladders & Stairs' lesson in the Safe Formworker Program via the FIA Safe App.


  • 7 Nov 2023 12:27 PM | Anonymous

    A report released by the Australian Constructors Association (ACA) challenges the widely held belief that underpayment is rampant in the construction sector amid the industry’s increasing insolvency rates.

    ACA CEO Jon Davies stated that the report —Trust deficit — revealed that payment performance among construction firms is on par with the rest of the economy and attempts to single out the industry with additional regulation like Project Bank Accounts (PBAs) would actually disrupt the industry.

    “According to the Federal Government data, the construction industry pays almost 70 per cent of its invoices on time, aligning closely with the economy-wide average,” said Davies.

    Contrary to popular belief, industries such as health and social assistance, IT and the retail sector are less likely than construction to pay their suppliers on time.

    Davies said the only valid reason to impose additional regulations like PBAs on head contractors would be if the industry’s payment performance was systematically worse than others and he confirms that this isn’t true.

    “PBAs are not a guarantee for subcontractor payment because they don’t reflect the realities of the way construction payments flow. If no money is coming in, there is no money to pay out. We have seen this play out recently in the first test case of Queensland’s PBA laws, where the insolvent builder’s trust accounts held less than 10 per cent of the funds owed to subcontractors,” said Davies.

    The report emphasises that the significant restrictions PBA schemes impose on legitimate trade are not justified by the problem they are trying to solve.

    Davies explains that PBAs require builders to act as ‘trustees,’ as if they were a solicitor in a property transaction.

    He stated that this significant market intervention prevents builders from engaging in essential strategies crucial for business growth and stability.

    “Such heavy-handed regulation should not be adopted lightly. It must be based on a compelling case of market failure. That case simply hasn’t been made. There is no question that the construction industry is in a weak financial position. But the answer is not to further hobble one category of business that is already heavily burdened with regulation.

    “The answer is to fix the broken commercial model that transfers all the risk to the builder and drives a race to the bottom. We need more collaborative procurement models that focus on delivering (the) best value not (the) lowest price at the tender box,” said Davies.

  • 31 Oct 2023 11:33 AM | Anonymous

    New laws bring tougher penalties, longer imprisonment and better protections for dust diseases.

    The Minns Labor Government has doubled penalties and prison terms under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 as part of a suite of measures to create safer workplaces across the state.

    Under the former government, workplace safety penalties were frozen for nearly 10 years.

    Despite an Australia-wide ban on the manufacture, use and importation of asbestos coming into force in 2004, to this day, asbestos continues to still make its way into NSW workplaces.

    These new laws will:

    • Increase every court penalty imposed in NSW relating to unsafe workplaces.
    • Increase maximum fines from $798,383 to $2,168,029 and the maximum imprisonment time from 5 years to 10 years, for the worst offences under Work Health and Safety (WHS) Laws, known as Category 1 offences.
    • Empower SafeWork to issue a ‘prohibited asbestos notice,’ to direct people and employers to take safety measures to remove and manage asbestos in the workplace. These amendments will enable the work health and safety regulator to ensure that prohibited asbestos, also referred to as illegally installed asbestos, is removed permanently from workplaces.
    • Stop employers gaming WHS laws by banning the use of insurance to pay for WHS fines as a ‘cost of doing business”’. * Establish a silica worker register to track and trace exposed workers to enable early intervention and better healthcare research.

    The silica register is one part of a comprehensive response the NSW Government is pursuing, including increased silicosis screening, worker education and industry compliances blitzes, while the Commonwealth process nears completion.

    Commonwealth WHS Ministers will meet in coming weeks to decide on a new regulatory framework or ban on manufactured stone.

    These new laws will also clarify powers and responsibilities of inspectors and the liability of corporations for the actions of officers, employees and agents.

    Minister for Work Health and Safety and Industrial Relations, Sophie Cotsis said:

    “I’m sick and tired of seeing lives uncessarily lost and people being injured at work. These new laws demonstrate just how seriously this government takes keeping workers safe in NSW.

    “Everyone deserves a safe place to work, everyone deserves to come home safely to their family and loved ones”.

  • 19 Oct 2023 12:07 PM | Anonymous

    The Minns Government will introduce an industrial manslaughter offence in NSW.

    The new laws will ensure the most serious work health and safety breaches carry a severe penalty, sending a clear message that those who place a worker’s life at risk will be held to account in the event of a workplace death.

    Despite years of campaigning by the families of those killed at work, NSW is the last mainland state without an industrial manslaughter offence or legislation in parliament.

    In February 2023, the former government, with other states and territories, agreed to amend model work health and safety laws to allow for jurisdictions to introduce industrial manslaughter.

    Industrial manslaughter allows a corporation to be held liable for the death of a person caused by that corporation’s employees within the scope of their work. Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a human being.

    SafeWork will begin an extensive consultation process which will include work health and safety experts, business groups, unions, legal stakeholders and families of people who have been killed at work.

    The NSW Government will formally begin the consultation process in coming weeks and intends to introduce a bill to parliament in the first half of next year.

    Workers in NSW deserve the right to feel safe at work and these laws are designed to make the state’s workplaces safer.

    Minister for Work Health and Safety, Sophie Cotsis said:

    “I hope these laws act as such a strong deterrent that no one ever needs to be prosecuted. We must prevent fatal injuries in the workplace.”

    “These penalties acknowledge the significant pain and suffering of families and loved ones of workers who have died in preventable workplace incidents.”

  • 17 Oct 2023 10:19 AM | Anonymous

    As part of our partnership with 'Inside Construction', the FIA writes regular articles promoting safety and the work industry and the association are working on together. As part of 'Safe Work Month' we recap on the latest four articles and encourage you to read them, and action where necessary.

    The work industry and the FIA are focusing on to improve safety in the industry and send workers safely home to their families is extremely important, despite the unfathomable objections and interference we encounter from certain groups. The FIA is determined to continue to support the industry and improve safety and compliance for our members. We are working with various government departments, construction companies and RTOs to deliver safety advocacy, awareness and training to protect workers.

    Click through to other pages on our website to review the training programs, new education and skills pathway to improved safety in the formwork industry and our FIA Safe tool, with the Safe Formworker Program, the essential tool for every formworker.

    Click on the images below to read the articles.

    Industry Takes the Lead on Safety - part 1.

    Industry Takes the Lead on Safety - part 2.

    Safety Training Compliance Challenges.

    A Framework for Collaboration.

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