SafetyNet 657

Welcome to the 9 February 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



Is it allowable to use a ladder within a meter of a live-edge with a harness and a rope and no other edge protection?

You’ve identified a serious falls risk.

A formal risk assessment should be conducted and any risk eliminated, so far as is reasonably practicable (SFARP).  

If it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate, then OHS regulation 44 requires the below hierarchy be applied...

  • Level 1 control: work on the ground or a solid construction
  • Level 2 control: use a passive fall prevention device
  • Level 3 control: use a work positioning system
  • Level 4 control: use a fall arrest system
  • Level 5 control: use a fixed or portable ladder (in accordance with regulation 45 of the OHS Regulations) or administrative

Your scenario prompts the following questions:

  • Why is it not reasonably practicable to use something much safer than a ladder?- we have the technology and equipment
  • What is preventing the ladder from falling over the edge? Only proper, approved and tested lanyards and harnesses must be utilised as a ‘preventative fall device’
  • What approved training has the employer provided to the employees on attaching lanyards to the approved and tested anchor points?
  • What approved training has the employer provided to the employees on the correct wearing and fitting of harness and lanyards?
  • What engineered approved and tested anchor points are the lanyards being attached to?
  • What rescue plan is in place to rescue a person if they fall off the ladder and over the edge?

Falls from height are a major workplace hazard resulting in fatalities and injuries across a broad range of Victorian industries, with construction accounting for 27% of fall-related injury claims.

You have the Right to refuse Unsafe Work so don’t risk it.

Instead, we strongly encourage you to raise this with your HSR and Union as a matter of urgency.

Work should cease until the issue is addressed.

For more OHS advice, Ask Renata.



From 27 January - 2 February, Victoria recorded:  

3,056 total cases for the past week (-11.2%)
10 COVID deaths on average each day over the past week 
144 (-36.3%) cases in hospital (7 day rolling average) with 7 in ICU (7 day rolling average)

See here for more


Regulator News


A range of amendments are likely to follow a recent review of SafeWork SA but will not include allowing union officers to bypass the right-of-entry requirements when seeking to assist HSRs.

Current provisions, added in 2012 and unique to South Australia, require entry permit holders to notify the regulator before entering a workplace, and then provide a report to the regulator after entry has been completed.

Disappointingly the SA Government rejected former WorkSafe Victoria executive director, John Merritt’s recommendation regarding the above provision, claiming there’s no ‘evidentiary basis for why this recommendation is necessary.’

More here 

Source: OHS Alert 03 February




Demolition contractor, On Spot Bin Hire & Demolition was found to have asbestos containing materials (ACM) stored in skip bins at a premises in Thomastown. A WorkSafe inspector who took six samples for analysis noted the suspected ACM was not labelled or otherwise identified. All samples were subsequently confirmed to contain asbestos.

The business had been undertaking demolition work at a residential premises in East Keilor. A WorkSafe inspector who attended the site observed:

  • a dwelling that was partially demolished
  • broken pieces of cement sheeting suspected as ACM
  • no temporary fencing or other means preventing unauthorised access
  • an unstable and dangerous dwelling with broken glass
  • a school was located approximately 100 metres away

The company was charged with failing to ensure the site was safe and failing to identify asbestos present under its management and control, pleaded guilty and was fined a total of $5000 plus $3000 in costs.


International News


Teachers are at ‘the end of their tether’, the leader of the teaching union NEU has said, ahead of further schools strikes in England. The union’s joint general secretary Mary Bousted said she saw little sign of movement from ministers in the ongoing pay dispute. ‘Teachers are at the end of their tether. They are undervalued, they feel underpaid, they are completely overworked,’ she said. Prime minister Rishi Sunak and his chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, have insisted repeatedly they are not willing to reopen the current year’s settlements for public sector workers.

Source: The Observer



Workers’ health information must be protected, medical confidentiality rules respected and workplace practices agreed between employers and unions, the TUC has said. Responding to an Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) consultation on employment practices and data protection regarding information about workers’ health, the TUC added that it agrees ‘with the ICO that health information is some of the most sensitive personal information that might be processed about workers. An online resource with topic-specific guidance on employment practices and data protection could be vital to workers, employers, trade unions and trade union representatives.’

Source: TUC



Although COVID cases are down across the US, many employees report being too sick to return to work, requiring ongoing medical treatment due to long COVID. The New York State Insurance Fund (NYSIF) found almost a third of workers’ compensation claims in the state were for long COVID with  more men than women suffering the condition. Roughly 70% of New York residents who filed for long COVID-related workers’ comp said they experienced symptoms keeping them out of work for at least six months or needed ongoing medical care. NYSIF found long Covid to be an ‘underappreciated yet important reason for the many unfilled jobs and declining labour participation rates’ forewarning a reduction in productivity and an increasingly sick work force.

Source: Confined Space 7 February

More International News





Asking what job a person does is ‘critical’ to addressing social inequalities in health, a new academic paper has concluded.

Learn more




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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