SafetyNet 661

On International Women's Day there's good news on sexual harassment laws but much to be done on pay equity and workforce participation.

This edition also features the Clark Cranes prosecutionresearch on how a sense of community impacts health outcomes for Australian workers and tragic news from Yarrawonga South.

A worker writes in to Ask Renata about pigeon poo, and as always we encourage you to lodge your own queries at Ask Renata.

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

Union News


This week sexual harassment laws took effect across Australia.

The Federal Government's Respect@Work Bill introduces a positive duty for employers to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace and a new complaints mechanism that allows victims to seek justice and hold perpetrators accountable.

The legislation also expands the definition of sexual harassment to include conduct that may be considered as ‘offensive, intimidating, humiliating, or threatening.’

The Bill legislates 7 key recommendations, including:

  • banning hostile work environments
  • putting a positive duty on employers to prevent harassment and discrimination
  • giving the Australian Human Rights Commission powers to monitor workplaces

See here for more information



I have a question about appropriate PPE when cleaning dried pigeon poo. What type of mask, or particulate respirator, should I be wearing?

Working in areas contaminated with bird and bat droppings can expose workers to fungal spores that can cause serious infections. These infections are called Histoplasmosis or Cryptococcosis.

Respirators should always be worn when working around bird or bat droppings and could range from an N95 (for low-risk tasks) to a full face-piece air-purifying respirator or powered air-purifying respirator (for high-risk tasks).

Our Biological Agents webpage provides advice for HSRs including a table of exposure types with corresponding measures to eliminate or reduce the risks.

Read our full response here



It's been reported a 65-year-old farm worker has died after hitting his head while loading cattle at a Yarrawonga South property.

WorkSafe is investigating.

This workplace death was preventable. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends.

This is the second workplace fatality of 2023, compared to 10 at the same time last year.




From 24 February - 2 March, Victoria recorded

3,016 total cases for the past week (-0.9%)
3 COVID deaths on average each day over the past week 
104 (+3%) cases in hospital (7 day rolling average) with 4 in ICU (7 day rolling average)

More COVID data here




Clark Cranes was charged with failing to ensure a tower crane it supplied and erected at a construction site in Box Hill in 2018 was safe and without risks to health, following the death of a worker and serious injuries to others when the hoist rope termination assembly of failed, causing a kibble filled with wet concrete to fall into the worksite.

The court found the company failed to inspect the hoist rope assembly, failed to install or replace a missing or improperly installed split pin, and did not have a procedure in place to check the crucially important lug and split pin.

The company, who pleaded not guilty, was nonetheless found guilty of failing to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the crane was safe and without risks to health when used for its intended purpose.

Read more


International News

According to the United Nations, the world is not on track to achieve gender equality by 2030. It may take up to 286 years to secure the legal frameworks to ensure that women have equal legal rights and protections. Covid-19 and the backlash against women’s sexual and reproductive health and their rights have further diminished the outlook for gender equality.

Global Union, IndustriAll, will today publish a toolkit to help embed pay equity provisions in enterprise agreements. Studies suggest that, in the European Union alone, a comprehensive approach to pay transparency and equal pay in collective bargaining could reduce the gender pay gap by between 1.65 and 4.33 per cent.

Read more here



The TUC is calling for funded childcare and flexible working rights to keep women in work and reduce the gender pay gap.

The union body suggests that high-quality childcare that is free from the end of maternity leave to the end of primary school should be available for all parents, which would help women stay in their jobs and continue their careers after having children.

According to a new analysis by the TUC, over 1.46 million women are unable to work due to their caring responsibilities, compared to approximately 230,000 men.

Women in their 30s are most affected, with one in 10 women of this age group dropping out of the workforce due to family obligations.

Women are around seven times more likely than men to be out of the labour market because of their caring commitments.

Read more




With many office workers now splitting their time between home and the office, a study has looked at how social supports and a sense of community can influence worker health, regardless of their work location.

This Australian study followed workers in Victoria during the COVID-19 pandemic and found that whether working from home, the office or a hybrid arrangement, the support and community they experienced at work influenced their self-reported health outcomes.

Read 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.

OHS Team


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