SafetyNet 655

Welcome to the 25 January edition of SafetyNet.

We hope you find this week's journal useful and interesting. Feel free to share it, and please, encourage others in your workplace to subscribe.

For OHS news and helpful information visit We Are Union: OHS Reps Facebook page, or for advice, Ask Renata

 

Union News

COMMONWEALTH PSYCH REGS ADOPTED 

Amendments adopting changes made in June 2022 to the model work health and safety laws have now flowed through to Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 to, including regulations on managing psychosocial hazards at work.

The regulations are available on the Federal Register of Legislation.

Crucially, the Commonwealth has applied the hierarchy of controls in the psychosocial regulations.

Incorporating the hierarchy as a fundamental element of work health and safety risk management and applying it to psychosocial risks requires PCBUs to focus on higher-level controls to mitigate risk to psychological health.

The regulations will commence on 1 April 2023, providing time for PCBUs to prepare to manage psychosocial risks in accordance with the hierarchy.

The Department of Employment and Workplace Relations is currently considering what updates are required to the Code of Practice to reflect the hierarchy of controls, indicating they’ll ensure clear guidance on higher-order control measures applicable to psychosocial hazards.

HSRs are reminded the vast majority or workplaces in Victoria are not covered by these model laws.

There has been no substantive update to the Victorian draft Regulations since March 2022, though WorkSafe has indicated ‘work will continue on the Regulations in the first quarter of 2023.'

 

WEEKLY COVID NUMBERS

From 13 January - 20 January, Victoria recorded:  

4,912 total cases for the past week (-37.2%)
22 COVID deaths on average each day over the past week 
341 cases in hospital (7 day rolling average) with 16 in ICU (7 day rolling average)

Cumulatively this equals:

6,638 Victorian COVID deaths (156 more than last week)
2,847,765 cases recovered

You can check the Victorian weekly update here

Australia: As of the 25 January, there have been 11,274,262 COVID cases in Australia and 18,092 COVID deaths (380 more than last week)

World: As of the 25 January there had been 673,689,776 worldwide infections. The number of official COVID-related deaths is now 6,749,465 (Source: Worldometer). 

 

ASK RENATA

Please advise if there is a rule/law stating maximum number of hours permissible to drive per day and where I may find this information?

For drivers of heavy vehicles there IS legislation: under the Heavy Vehicle National Law.

These laws cover all aspects of work and rest relating to heavy vehicles including:

  • work and rest hours
  • recording work and rest times
  • fatigue management exemptions
  • Chain of Responsibility obligations

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator website has more information. 

Even when there is no specific legislation, the employer has a duty of care under Victorian OHS Act to provide and maintain a healthy and safe workplace, systems of work, equipment and so on, for all employees.

In the case of employees who are required to drive, the following factors (at least) need to be considered in order to try to ensure that fatigue levels are minimised:

  • hours 'on the road' (not only those driving)
  • driving conditions (traffic, country roads, etc)
  • time of day/night
  • overall length of working day
  • type and state of vehicle (certain vehicles are covered under the Road Safety Act)
  • potential of worker being stranded if car breaks down/accident
  • what other work they were also doing (eg physical work, like loading/unloading; emotionally demanding work - eg dealing with difficult "clients", potential of violence, etc)
  • past incidents (not only accidents and near misses, but incidents of violence/potential incidents, reports of stress, etc)
  • discussions with relevant unions
  • Clauses in the relevant Award, Enterprise or Workplace Agreement

See our webpage Driving – maximum kms or hours? for additional guidance.

Read full response here or for more OHS advice, Ask Renata

 

Regulator News

WORK SAFELY NEAR UNDERGROUND SERVICES

On 16 December last year WorkSafe released new guidance on how to safely manage hazards and risks associated with working near electricity and telecommunications cables, gas and water pipelines.

Produced by WorkSafe and Energy Safe Victoria the guidebook provides practical guidance on the principles and requirements for safely penetrating or excavating ground where underground services may exist.

Learn more or download the guidance here.

International News

FIRED IMMIGRANT WORKER SHOT DEAD

US: January 9, police shot dead a 26-year-old Sudanese worker at an Oklahoma food processing plant. Police state they were responding to a call about an agitated employee, who ‘produced a knife’ and began walking towards the officers.

Plant workers say, ‘he had a company-issued band-cutter in his hand. When the police got to the plant, the guy was… working, minding his own business.’

The man was reportedly fired earlier in the day but had been asked to stay on to finish his shift.

More information here

 

BANGLADESH SHIPBREAKING YARDS TAKE MORE LIVES

Lives continue to be in danger due to the unsafe working conditions at Bangladesh’s shipbreaking yards. Two accidents occurred on 12 January in two separate yards, killing one worker and severely injuring the other. 

More information here

 

GLOBAL: EXTREME HEAT LINKED TO KIDNEY DISEASE IN WORKERS

Evidence of a deadly link between exposure to extreme heat and chronic kidney disease is emerging. Experts have observed the problem among workers toiling in rice fields in Sri Lanka and steamy factories in Malaysia, from Central America to the Persian Gulf. 

More information on this and other International News stories here

 

Research

WORK-FROM-HOME OHS SYSTEMS MODEL

The Centre for Work Health and Safety have released research proposing a design model for OHS systems that include working-from-home (WFH) arrangements.

This study utilised a co-design process in which stakeholders collaborated to design a model inclusive of WFH within a psychologically safe work environment.

Researchers developed a number of prototype assessment tools, required to support line managers and employees with differing yet overlapping issues.

Learn more.

 

Events

MENTAL HEALTH CONVERSATION TRAINING

Psychological injuries at work are on the increase, comprising over 16% of all WorkCover claims last year.

Workers who suffer a psychological injury are also off work on average for longer than those suffering a physical injury, and are less likely to return to the same workplace.

Although workplaces are focusing more on psychological safety, the emphasis is often placed on what to do after someone is injured rather than hazard identification and injury prevention.

HSRs and Union delegates are often the first point of contact for workers having trouble.

That's why Victorian Trades Hall Council is hosting training for HSRs, Union delegates and members on navigating mental health conversations in the workplace.

The workshop will run for 90 minutes and provide plenty of room for participation, questions and your own industry-specific experience.

Click here to enrol. We hope you can join us.

 

OHS TRAINING UNIT

The Victorian Trades Hall Council’s OHS Training Unit is one of the most experienced training providers in Victoria.

We have delivered OHS training to tens of thousands of Health & Safety Reps across Victoria since 1983.

We deliver high quality WorkSafe Approved training that is practical and solution-focused in multiple locations around Melbourne’s suburbs and regional Victoria.

5 Day HSR Initial OHS Training Course Fee - $950 (inc GST)

1 Day HSR Refresher Training Course Fee - $350 (inc GST)

Click on the links below for dates and locations.

HSR Initial OHS Training Course

HSR Refresher OHS Training Course

VTHC also offers tailored training, including for managers and supervisors, on Comcare, and gendered violence.

Check out our website for more information.

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