This week brings a significant first: the prosecution of a boss over sexual harassment.
This week's journal also includes: training for HSRs on navigating mental health conversations, horrible news from Lethbridge and Mentone, another jurisdiction adopts psych regs, and international news from Qatar and Pakistan.
MENTAL HEALTH CONVERSATION TRAINING - ONLINE
Workplace psychological injuries are on the increase, comprising more than 16% of all WorkCover claims. They require longer recovery time and result in lower rates of return to the workplace.
Employers' focus is often on post-injury support more than hazard identification and prevention.
Victorian Trades Hall Council is offering mental health conversation training for HSRs, union delegates, and members, to develop effective communication strategies that help with prevention.
Did you miss out on the session we ran last February? Here's your opportunity to catch you up on the latest information.
The session lasts 90 minutes and incorporates industry-specific knowledge with opportunities participate and ask questions.
When: 3 April, 3:30 - 5pm.
You can RSVP here to receive the Zoom link.
We look forward to seeing you.
INTERNATIONAL WORKERS MEMORIAL DAY 2023
On April 28 we'll come together on International Workers Memorial Day to remember lives lost and recommit ourselves to the task of prevention.
Victorian Trades Hall Council will be host a memorial service, including a minute's silence at 11am, and the chance to lay wreaths.
While the event will be live streamed, we strongly encourage all those able to attend in person.
It is important that we come together as a movement to support each other and demand the safety and well-being of all workers.
Remember the dead, fight like hell for the living.
RSVP here to join us 28 April for International Workers Memorial Day at Trades Hall.
What are the psychological risks associated with understaffing?
Early signs of negative psychological impacts include difficulty making decisions, and concentrating, forgetfulness, memory lapses, irritability, excess worrying, feelings of worthlessness, anxiety, defensiveness, anger, mood swings, and feelings of dread.
Injuries and illness such as depression, anxiety, burnout, emotional distress, self-harm or suicidal thoughts, trauma or stressor-related disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can follow.
Under our OHS Act, and WHS Acts around the country, the employer has a general duty of care to provide and maintain a work environment that is safe and without risks to health, so far as is reasonably practicable.
This includes providing and maintaining systems of work that are safe and without risks to health.
Crucially, under definitions found in section 5 of our Act, 'health' includes 'psychological health.'
Read our reply in full here.
WEEKLY COVID NUMBERS
From 17 March – 23 March, Victoria recorded:
4,467 (+13%) total cases for the past week
4 COVID deaths on average each day over the past week
152 (+30%) cases in hospital (7 day rolling average) with 10 in ICU (7 day rolling average)
More COVID data here
SIXTH JURISDICTION ADOPTS PSYCH REGULATIONS
The Northern Territory has adopted regulations requiring PCBUs address psychosocial risks through a risk management process, in line with the national model clauses, bringing the number of Australian jurisdictions with explicit regulations on psychosocial risks to six.
The regulations will commence on 1 July 2023 and the Territory is also in the process of adopting the national model Code of Practice.
Psychosocial hazards are becoming more prevalent in Australian workplaces, with an increase in psychological injuries over the years. These hazards often arise from poor job design or management issues and poor working environments that give rise to behaviours like bullying and harassment and causing psychological or physical harm.
HSRs may recall the national model WHS Regulations were amended in June last year to clarify employers must address psychosocial risk through the risk management provisions of the Regulations - except for clause 36 - the all-important ‘hierarchy of hazard controls’.
The hierarchy ranks risk controls from the highest level of protection and reliability through to the lowest and least reliable protection, preventing duty holders from defaulting to cheap, expedient but ineffective controls.
Queensland and the Commonwealth jurisdiction, to their credit, have adopted variations of the amendments requiring that the hierarchy be applied.
Victoria’s draft regulations, yet to be implemented, also include the hierarchy.
FARM WORKER CRUSHED IN CONVEYOR BELT
A man has died after being crushed in a conveyor belt at a workplace in Lethbridge, north-west of Geelong. It is understood the 34-year-old became entangled on Tuesday morning, causing fatal injuries. WorkSafe is investigating.
SCHOOL MAINTENANCE WORKER DIES AFTER FALL
A man has also died after falling almost three metres at a secondary school in Mentone last Thursday. It is understood the 67-year-old worker was on the roof of a building when he fell through a metal grate structure to the concrete below. He passed away in hospital on Friday. WorkSafe is investigating.
The deaths bring the number of fatalities for 2023 to six, compared to 13 work-related deaths at the same time last year.
Our condolences go out to friends and family of the deceased workers.
BOSS CHARGED OVER SEXUAL HARASSMENT
A boss, worker, and two companies have been charged by WorkSafe over allegations of sexual harassment of young workers at two Melbourne hospitals.
It’s alleged seven workers, aged as young as 14, were sexually harassed by their boss and an older worker.
The director of the company faces two charges of failing to ensure the workplace was without risks to health, while the worker is charged for failing to take reasonable care for the health and safety of others at the workplace.
Under our OHS Act, it is the duty of employers to take reasonable steps to prevent and deal with sexual harassment in the workplace, and to protect workers from physical and mental injury.
Read more about the charges here
PAKISTAN: SITUATION WORSENING IN DEADLY MINES
Pakistan’s government and mine owners are allowing a catastrophic loss of lives to continue, unions have warned. They note that over the last two years, at least 300 miners have been killed and more than 100 severely injured. The 2023 toll to 10 March is at least 30 miner deaths. Sultan Khan, general secretary of the Pakistan Central Mines Labour Federation, said: ‘The situation in coal mines is worsening due to non-implementation of labour laws as well as the labour department’s negligence. We demand that the mining department conduct a thorough investigation of the accidents and that criminal cases are filed against mine owners.’
Source: IndustriALL news release.
QATAR: LABOUR RIGHTS MUST HAPPEN NOW
International trade union organisations have expressed serious concerns at the situation facing migrant workers in Qatar now that the men’s football FIFA World Cup 2022 is over. The global trade union confederation ITUC warned if the labour law reforms made by the government at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in November 2017 are not fully implemented and built on there will be no positive and lasting legacy of the FIFA World Cup. The union body added that the existence of trade unions is fundamental to the continuous promotion of better working and living conditions for workers. The Qatar authorities was criticised widely over the deaths of possibly several thousand migrant workers while working on facilities and infrastructure for the World Cup.
Source: ITUC statement.
WOMEN’S HEALTH IS A WORKPLACE ISSUE
The health and wellbeing of women cannot be separated out from the workplace. Responding to a UK government consultation on its women’s health strategy, the TUC said good workplace terms and conditions and policies that support women at work are essential in supporting women’s health and women’s equality more broadly.
Calling for ‘broader structural issues’ to be addressed, it noted ‘women’s experiences in the workplace and the impact on their health, cannot be separated out from the discrimination and inequality women face more broadly in the labour market and across society.’
The TUC response covers the menopause, pregnancy and maternal health, low pay and insecure work, the impact of caring responsibilities, and mental health, bullying and harassment.
Read more TUC
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.
VTHC also offers tailored training, including for managers and supervisors, on Comcare, and gendered violence.
Check out our website for more information.