Does your boss struggle with hazardous manual handling? Help may be at hand.
PLUS: European research on the mounting crisis of psychological workplace harm, ASU members trial a 30 hour week as South Korea backs away from their 69 hour proposal, and we mourn lives lost at home and abroad.
An allied health professional writes to Ask Renata if access to leave is a PIN-able OHS issue, and as always we encourage you to send in 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.
O.H.S. INTERNSHIPS AT TRADES HALL
Are you an experienced HSR or deputy looking to deepen your knowledge and skills?
VTHC's HSR Placement Program is offering 3 individuals training on how to organise around OHS issues, advocate for change, and connect with Union activists - the perfect complement to WorkSafe approved training.
Running from 1 to 5 May, you'll learn how to adopt a collective approach, identify organizing opportunities, describe and apply risk management steps and justify safe work practices.
The program also includes a research project on an OHS challenge that's relevant to you.
You'll spend four days with our OHS Unit and one day with an affiliated Union.
If you're interested in deepening your knowledge and skills and making a real impact in the field of worker's health and safety...
Click here for information on how to apply.
4-DAY WORKWEEK ON THE TABLE FOR A.S.U. MEMBERS
As part of enterprise bargaining, workers at Oxfam have secured a 6-month trial of a 30-hour hour working week, without loss of pay, and a commitment to assess permanent introduction of a 4-day working week.
The voting process for the new EBA has begun and sees ASU members fighting for the right to disconnect, fair rostering and paid overtime for work completed outside of ordinary hours.
Since the pandemic we have a leave crisis at work. Management say they're unable to approve any before February next year, and if more than a single day is required, we must wait until May 2024. When challenged management will only say 'they’re ‘working to fix the problem’. As HSR, can I issue a PIN on this?
Inability to access leave can have negative health impacts; it is therefore an OHS issue, as much as an industrial one.
It's arguably not unreasonable for an employer to block out a short period where access to planned leave will be restricted, as an employer in the retail sector may need to do in the weeks leading up to Christmas, but preventing access to planned leave for the period of time you describe, is excessive.
Employers should enable the taking of leave, as part of their Section 21 duty to provide and maintain a safe work environment and safe systems of work, and while issuing a PIN is not the only avenue to addressing the problem, it certainly is a legitimate path.
Read our full response here.
TRUCK DRIVER DIES IN COOL ROOM
A truck driver was found dead in a cool room used for preserving apples at a warehouse in Shepparton.
The 50-year-old was discovered two hours after he finished work, and WorkSafe is investigating the incident which marks our third official workplace fatality this year.
This workplace death was preventable. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends.
More information here
WEEKLY COVID NUMBERS
From 10 March - 16 March, Victoria recorded
3,960 (+20%) total cases for the past week
4 COVID deaths on average each day over the past week
114 (+21%) cases in hospital (7 day rolling average) with 4 in ICU (7 day rolling average)
More COVID numbers here
BOSS STRUGGLING WITH HAZARDOUS MANUAL HANDLING?
WorkSafe's new education program is free for small to medium-sized employers in all industries.
Delivered online over 2 x 2 hour sessions, employers, supervisors, and managers can learn how to spot the early warning signs and prevent injuries due to hazardous manual handling.
The course covers:
- The basics of Hazardous Manual Handling (HMH) and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs)
- OHS obligations in regard to manual handling
- How to identify HMH in your workplace and prioritise tasks for action
- How to conduct a risk assessment
- Applying the hierarchy of control
- Reviewing and monitoring risk controls
Encourage you're employer to click here for more information and registration.
And don’t forget; HSRs should be consulted on any changes resulting from your employer's participation in the course.
RECORD NORTHERN TERRITORY FATALITY FINE
Territory Plant Hire and its director were fined more than $1 million in the Darwin local Court following the death of a worker in April 2019.
The company pleased guilty in relation to the incident which occurred when truck driver, Dwayne Beaumont, was struck by an excavator bucket that fell from an excavator’s main batter while it wa being loaded onto his trailer.
The fines are nearly five times higher than the previous record fines for work health and safety (WHS) breaches in the Northern Territory and are for failing to comply with a health and safety duty.
Charges against the excavator operator himself were withdrawn after he died in 2021. In a safety alert following the incident, NT WorkSafe called on duty holders to restrain mobile plant attachments according to the national Load Restraint Guide 2018.
The company and its director pleaded guilty to a charge under section 32 of the WHS Act with the Northern Territory Work Health and Safety Regulator stating the fatality could have been prevented through appropriate safety systems for operating and loading the machinery and equipment.
Equipment hire companies should have systems in place to induct workers and check qualifications before operating and loading hired machinery, and all workplaces must securely restrain excavator buckets and attachments before loading and transportation.
An exclusion zone should also be in place around machinery when it is in operation to prevent it from making contact with nearby workers.
COLOMBIA: MINE EXPLOSION LEAVES 21 DEAD
A coal mine explosion in Colombia has killed 21 miners. The tragedy, attributed to methane gas build-up in several adjoining coal mines, took place late on 14 March in a rural area of Sutatausa, about 75 kilometres north of Bogota. An investigation to establish the causes of the explosion will take place before a reopening can be considered. Serious accidents are common at open pit and subterranean coal and gold mines in Colombia, mostly at illegal or informal operations and those without proper safety measures. There were 117 accidents at mines in Colombia last year, killing 146 people.
Source: ABC News.
SOUTH KOREA: GOVERNMENT BACKTRACKS ON 69-HOUR WEEK
South Korea’s government has been forced to reconsider its plan to increase working hours after facing heavy criticism about health concerns.
The proposed law would have extended the legal cap on working hours from 52 to 69. The backlash prompted the presidential office to order the government to re-examine the proposed bill and better ‘its communication with the public to seek improvements’.
Prime minister Han Duck-soo said he supported a revision and that the plan would have led to ‘breaches of employees’ right to stay healthy’.
Union leaders agreed, with a statement from the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions noting: ‘It will make it legal to work from 9am to midnight for five days in a row. There is no regard for workers’ health or rest.’
Source: SBS News.
AGREEMENT TO IMPROVE CONDITIONS IN THE ARTS
After a week of tough negotiations, major international unions, employers, industry bodies, and governments have come to an agreement to advance workers' rights in the arts and entertainment sector. The high-level meeting took place on 13-17 February at the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Geneva, gathering together representatives from various Unions from the sector with employer groups. The main outcome is a blueprint aimed at addressing ‘decent work deficits’, including strong labour inspection systems to ensure safe and healthy working environments, addressing violence and harassment, and investment to create a greener industry. In addition, the sector's inequality should be tackled ‘through a lens of diversity, equality and inclusion’, according to the document.
PSYCHOSOCIAL RISKS: A MOUNTING CRISIS
HesaMag #26, the European Trade Union Institute's (etui) Occupational Health and Safety magazine, has published research on what it describes as the ‘mounting crisis’ in workplace psychological risk.
The special report illuminates the scale of the problem through a range of different investigations, interviews and expert insights, which include:
- analysis of the dissimilarity in approaches to prevention
- the need to curb the stress epidemic
- a review of the France Télécom case in which there was a wave of suicides in the late 2000s
- a study of the Spanish hotel industry, highlighting especially difficult working conditions
- an exploration of how the meaninglessness of some work is causing harm
- an emerging, fashionable profession of questionable value - ‘happiness officers’
- recognising burnout as an occupational disease
- the precarious situation of university researchers
The report illustrates psychosocial risks do not concern just one type of work, sector or class and prevention requires recognition at ‘every rung of the socio-professional ladder.’
Learn more here
STAMP OUT BULLYING AT YOUR WORKPLACE
Workplace bullying is a serious psychosocial hazard requiring employers to work with HSRs and change systems-of-work to create a safe working environment.
Trades Hall is running a live show on how changing systems-of-work can stamp out bullying.
Professor Michelle Tuckey, an expert in workplace bullying, will speak about her research into bullying as a systems-of-work problem. This will arm you with the knowledge needed to push your boss to make change where required.
VTHC's OHS Team will then run you through an action plan for HSRs.
When: Monday 27 March 4 - 5pm
Register here and we'll see you there
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.