Is your injury history your bosses business?
This week, a job candidate writes to Ask Renata if their compensation history is anyone else's business, and as always we encourage you to send in your own queries at Ask Renata
On top of this, we cover new research from South Africa that shows that human resources professionals are often biased against workers.
We also report on the upcoming memorial event for the 10 years anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse.
And don't forget, one of the most important safety events of the year is coming up, International Workers Memorial Day. RSVP here
For OHS news and helpful information visit We Are Union: OHS Reps Facebook page, or for advice, Ask Renata
OK SO MAYBE THIS ISN'T NEWS BUT...
Despite what bosses might say, psychosocial hazards in the workplace aren't new - the OHS team at VTHC has been discussing psychosocial risks and hazards for over a generation
Check out this VTHC Hazard Information sheet on how to manage psychosocial risks in the workplace from all the way back in 1990!
In related news, there is no update on the proposed Victorian Psychological Regulations.
ARE GARMENT WORKERS ANY SAFER, 10 YEARS ON?
24 April marks the 10 year anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The disaster was the one of the worst industrial incidents in history, killing 1,138 mostly women garment workers and injuring 2,500 more.
10 years on we ask what progress has been made? What impact have The Accords had for women in the garment industry? What more must we do, particularly in Australia?
Join us to commemorate the workers killed and learn how to ensure all garment workers in Australia and Bangladesh realise their right to a safe workplace.
When: Monday 24 April, 5.30pm
Where: Queen Victoria Women's Centre, 210 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
HSR Panel and Barbeque
This May Day, Trades Hall wants to celebrate the HSRs that keep workplaces safe.
The event will start off with a BBQ in the loading bay with music and gas heaters to keep the good vibes going, and then have an HSR Panel. We are excited to have WorkSafe HSR of the Year Nominees Adrian Zammit, Michelle Giovas and Sean Aherne joining us to share their real life experiences in their workplaces and their OHS advice.
When: Monday, 1 May, 6:30-8:30pm
Where: Victorian Trades Hall Loading Bay
All HSRs are welcome to RSVP here and enjoy an evening of discussion and comradery.
Why do companies ask future employees if they have ever made a WorkCover claim, or are waiting on a response to a claim?
Companies asking potential employees if they have made any claims are presumably assessing risks associated with hiring that person with a view to vetting workers with pre-existing conditions.
Discriminating against such workers is unlawful.
According to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, asking questions about a job candidate's workers' compensation history can be seen as discriminatory and could breach anti-discrimination laws.
Read our full response here.
CAFE WORKER: AN OHS GAME ABOUT WORKPLACE BULLYING
Your VTHC Team have put together a new choose-your-own-adventure game exploring some processes around how to deal with workplace bullying.
Play as a café worker seeking help from their workplace HSR about bullying behaviour from their manager, and find out what outcome and conclusion they come to.
Click here to play the game and learn.
From 7 April - 13 April, Victoria recorded:
5,811 total cases for the past week (+25)
30 COVID deaths over the past week
297 cases in hospital (+93) with 15 in ICU (+5)
Australia: As of 14 April, there have been 11,381,793 cases and 20,049 COVID deaths
World: As of 19 April, there had been 685,806,155 worldwide infections with COVID-related deaths numbering 6,843,505 (Source: Worldometer)
GENDERED VIOLENCE COMES IN MANY FORMS
WorkSafe's gendered violence campaign 'It Comes in Many Forms' will be omnipresent through April, increasing awareness of gendered violence as an OHS issue and linking workers and employers to clear guidance on prevention, response and support.
The campaign seeks to address the many forms gendered violence can take and provide visuals that demystify the hazard.
Learn more about gendered violence here
UPDATED GUIDE FOR SAFE 'TREE WORK'
Tree trimming and removal poses serious risks. SafeWork Australia's recently updated Guide to Managing the risks of tree work provides information on:
- duties and obligations under law
- identifying and assessing risks
- control measures to manage the risks
- planning and safely undertaking tree work
You can access the SafeWork's updated guide here
GATE MANUFACTURING COMPANY FACING CHARGES
A gate manufacturing and repair company is facing a single charge under section 23(1) of the OHS Act for the death of a 59 year old truck driver that was crushed by a 12 metre wide automatic sliding gate.
The truck driver was employed by another company, which is why the gate repair company is being charged for failing to ensure persons other than employees were not exposed to health and safety risks.
WorkSafe alleges Gate Automation Systems had left the gate in an unsafe condition by removing parts such that it could only be moved manually, without addressing the risk that the gate could fall from its rails and crush a person, causing death or serious injury.
The matter is listed for a filing hearing at Melbourne Magistrates' Court on 9 May 2023.
Source: Gate repair company charged after fatal crash
COMPANY DIRECTOR CHARGED OVER WORKPLACE BULLYING
A 29 year old Docklands man from Melbourne Glass Solutions Pty Ltd. Is facing two charges under section 144(1) of the OHS Act for failing to take reasonable care as an officer. He is charged with alleged repeated, unreasonably bullying behaviour at his former workplace in Tullamarine between March 2019 and May 2021.
WorkSafe alleges the former director's failures caused the company to contravene sections 21(1) and 21(2)(a) of the OHS Act by failing to provide or maintain systems of work that were safe and without risks to health.
Source: Company director charged over workplace bullying
England: COURT CHALLENGE AFTER TEACHER SUICIDE
Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education) could face a legal challenge over its decision not to pause its school inspections after the death of headteacher Ruth Perry, who took her own life while waiting for it to be made public that her school had been downgraded to ‘inadequate’. The NAHT school leaders’ union has, like other education unions, called for England’s schools watchdog to pause inspections so a review to minimise the risk of harm to school staff can take place. On 31 March, NAHT wrote to His Majesty’s Chief Inspector to demand a suspension of Ofsted inspections. The letter is the first step in judicial review proceedings and cites Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which imposes obligations on public authorities to take reasonable steps where there is a real and immediate risk of a loss of life.
Source: NAHT news release. BBC News Online. The Guardian.
Turkey: RELIEF AGENCIES WARN OF EARTHQUAKE RUBBLE RISKS
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has warned of the presence of asbestos in buildings affected by the devastating earthquakes that hit Turkey in early February and its impacts on health and the environment. ‘With more than 210 million tons of earthquake rubble, relief teams and victims are both exposing themselves to elevated health risks from asbestos,’ the IFRC said. Other materials found in earthquake-affected areas that could cause health and environmental hazards include lead, especially from paint, lithium, fluorescent lights and mercury, according to the IFRC.
Source: Stockholm Center for Freedom report.
USA: CLIMATE CHANGE REQUIRES NEW WORK SAFETY RIGHTS
With the climate crisis accelerating, workers in every state will increasingly face natural dangers in the workplace, a new report from the US National Employment Law Project has warned. It argues workers will increasingly need to exercise their right to refuse dangerous work, but this right needs strengthening to make it effective. ‘In the environment we face now, workers need more than 20th century health and safety regimes to keep themselves safe. There must be a rebalancing of power so that workers can exercise more autonomy over their workplace safety,’ it states in a new report. ‘They must have a real right to refuse dangerous work in the face of natural disasters, and it must be supported with job-protected rights to paid leave, anti-retaliation provisions with meaningful penalties for noncompliance, and expansive unemployment insurance benefits.’
Source: The Right to Refuse Unsafe Work in an Era of Climate Change
HUMAN RESOURCES TEAMS UNINTENTIONALLY SUPPORTING "TOXIC LEADERSHIP"
The contradictory responsibilities of human resources professionals (HRP's) can lead to support for toxic leadership in the workplace, researchers from The Da Vinci Institute for Technology Management in South Africa warn.
The researchers found that the human resource professionals (HRPs) need to ensure both organisational goals and employee wellbeing often resulted in bias, unfairness and inconsistent treatment of people in the workplace.
"Fear" of creating poor professional relationships with management was found to a being a driving factor for HRPs losing their "neutrality" and not reporting unethical leaders.
Source: HR teams unintentionally supporting "toxic" leadership
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.
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.