Air Quality Standard
On the 30th of January 2020, Victorian Trades Hall Council launched an air quality standard that connects workers health and safety at work with the Environmental Protection Authority's air quality rating, which can be found on the EPAs AirWatch website.
The document highlights what employers and workers can do proactively do reduce the risk of exposing workers to poor quality air, particularly at-risk workers and those working outdoors.
Importantly, it is stated that all non-critical outdoor work must cease when the EPA Air Quality Index level is Very Poor.
VTHCs Air Quality Standard can be downloaded below. Consult with your union; use it in your workplace - start the discussion with your employer now.
Even if you work indoors, there are a number of other, related issues. For example, particularly for at risk workers, their health may be at risk even just getting to work. Here are some things to consider:
- According to the VTHC standard, on days where the EPA declares the air as very poor or hazardous, there should be no non-critical outdoor work. Workers who have asthma or any medical condition that may be exacerbated by hazardous air quality making getting to and from work is difficult, they should be able to discuss with their employer the possibility of working from home.
- In the event that hazardous air is disrupting people inside your office/workspace (eg if there is no/insufficient/inappropriate air conditioning) there should be discussions with the employer regarding relocation to another area where the air quality is better due to airdconditioning which recirculates and filters air.
- Ensure there are appropriate protective masks available for staff who need to go outdoors. This means planning ahead and having some in stock, as when there's a bad air quality day these sell out very quickly. Remember that such masks can only be used for four hours at a time. (see advice from the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services: Guidelines for use of face masks (docx, 396 KB)
If you or one of the members of the DWG have specific issues you should approach your manager/employer with any questions or concerns as soon as they arise.
Last amended February 2020