An external review into WorkSafe Tasmania has revealed the state government has underfunded the work health and safety regulator.
The report by Sherriff Consulting, presented to the WorkSafe board in December 2018 and publicly released on Friday, revealed WorkSafe lacked the capability to conduct proactive workplace inspections.
The report made 46 recommendations including:
- requesting a further budget allocation to provide an increase in personnel,
- the consideration of alternative funding sources,
- action be taken to fill vacant inspector positions as soon as possible, and,
- the appointment of 2 additional inspectors in the North, 1 in the North-West and 3 in the South.
"The implementation of our recommendations will require a significant body of work and will not be able to be undertaken in full without an increase in resources," the report said.
Community and Public Sector Union secretary Tom Lynch said members were frustrated it took an external review to identify what seems to be obvious problems.
"When almost 25 per cent of all positions in Worksafe Tasmania are vacant, and the few inspectors available are forced to spend a majority of their time on basic administrative functions instead of working with our employers to make our workplace safer, then the issues should have been clear," Mr Lynch said.
"Almost nine months after the review was finalised there are only 20 staff statewide who are active field-based inspectors and little has been done to improve access to training, technical knowledge or to build the skills of staff.
"This response calls into question the government's commitment to having an effective work health and safety regulator."
The government has provided an additional $600,000 to WorkSafe in the 2019-20 state budget, however the CPSU said this was a fraction of what was needed to implement the recommendations.
Building and Construction Minister Elise Archer said the government was dedicated to the highest levels of work health and safety.
"We welcome the findings of the Sherriff Consulting review and note that many of the recommendations identified in the report have already been actioned or are in the process of being implemented at the time the review commenced," Ms Archer said.
"The government is committed to support the proactive approach taken by the regulator to increase the size and capacity of the Inspectorate and WorkSafe Tasmania, which is why additional funds have been allocated in this year's budget for the recruitment of five additional workplace inspectors."