SafetyNet 671

In this week’s SafetyNet we look into the recent changes to injured workers entitlements announced recently by the government.

PLUS: Truckies take a stand against deaths on the road.

An HSR writes to Ask Renata about the legalities of work alone, and as always we encourage you to send in your own queries to Ask Renata.

For OHS news and helpful information visit We Are Union: OHS Reps Facebook page.

Previous issues: SafetyNet Archive


Union News


On Friday last week the Government announced sweeping changes to the workers' compensation scheme in Victoria.

As part of the overhaul the average premium employer's pay will rise by over 40 percent with the Premier citing the scheme's tripled claims liability since 2010, due in part to a high number of long-term injuries and a significant increase in mental injury claims.

In addition, once these changes have been implemented workers experiencing 'stress' and 'burnout' will no longer qualify for weekly benefits, but will remain eligible for provisional payments to cover medical treatment for 13 weeks.

Further, injured workers will only receive weekly WorkCover payments beyond 2.5 years if they are assessed as having a whole person impairment of more than 20 percent in a bid to stem the number of workers receiving weekly payments long-term.

A new government body called Return to Work Victoria will be established. It's purpose is to develop strategies to help injured workers and those suffering from work-related mental stress reintegrate into their jobs or receive retraining.

Victorian Trades Hall Council secretary Luke Hilakari agreed that the system needs reform but stressed that denying injured workers access to the scheme was the wrong way to go.

Read more here


This brings us to a very important date.

On 1 June each year unions commemorate Injured Workers Day. On this day, we express solidarity with all injured workers, coming together to hear from injured workers, pay tribute to those injured at work and fight for a fairer, more just workers compensation system.

The recent changes announced by the government to workers compensation make this Injured Workers Day more important than ever.

This year's event will be held at Victorian Trades Hall Council. There will be a barbecue starting at 12PM. After that, we'll make our way upstairs to Solidarity Hall for presentations from injured workers, WorkCover experts and other guest speakers. The event will finish at 3:30PM.

Attending injured worker's day sends a clear message.

As a union movement, we stand with and protect the rights of injured workers.

Injured Workers Day - 1 June 12PM - 3:30PM, Victoria Trades Hall, 54 Victoria Street, Carlton

RSVP today here


Sydney’s central business district was brought to a standstill on 16 May as union protesters demanded action over 301 truck driver deaths on Australia’s roads since 2016.

The ‘unauthorised public gathering’ began at about 11am, when about 100 members of the union TWU sat in the road, blocking a busy intersection. Speaking at the protest, TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said: ‘We’re going to fight to remember the 301. For the families, for the work colleagues – we’re going to fight. This is literally life and death.’

Amid the beeps and horns from the stopped traffic, the union members took a 30-second silence ‘in memory of the fallen’. 




From 12 May - 18 May, Victoria recorded:  

9,316 (+24%) total cases for the past week
4 COVID deaths on average each day over the past week
327 cases in hospital (7 day rolling average) with 17 in ICU (7 day rolling average)

See here for more of the latest on COVID



I work in a food factory there's only 2 employees on clean up for the last 2 hours of the shift, at separate ends of the factory. Is this legal since each of us have to clean and dismantle large heavy and awkward objects by ourselves?

It sounds like your work environment is quite isolated. There is no specific legal prohibition in the OHS Act on working alone, but the general legal duties of employers under s.21 of the Act still apply. "An employer shall provide and maintain so far as is reasonably practicable for employees a working environment that is safe and without risks to health.

Establishing safe working conditions for lone workers is no different from organising the safety of other employees. Employers should identify the hazards of the work, assess the risks involved, and implement changes to the workplace and safe working arrangements to ensure the risks are either eliminated or adequately controlled.

When it is not possible to devise arrangements for the work to be done safely by one-person, alternative arrangements providing help or back-up have to be devised.

Read our full response here.


Regulator News


Comcare has produced a suite of resources, including videos and ‘better practice guidance’, they hope will assist managers create psychologically safe teams and better manage psychosocial risks at work.

The topics range from understanding and connecting with team members, improving performance, and addressing issues of absenteeism, to fostering trust within the team, navigating change in the workplace, and promoting effective communication.

Additionally, the program emphasizes the importance of providing flexibility in work arrangements, supporting the well-being of your team, facilitating the return to work process, and managing work demands effectively.

View guidance on Comcare’s website.



An aluminium window and door manufacturer has been fined $70,000 after a worker had four fingers amputated while operating a saw in Bayswater North.

Read more about the prosecution and how to manage associated risks here.


International News


Efforts supported by unions and public interest groups to reform a UN right to know treaty on the export of the most hazardous substances have narrowly failed.

Read more here




Research psychologists from King's College London emphasize the need for workplace support in addressing the psychological impacts of climate change and extreme weather, often referred to as 'eco-anxiety.'

the researchers highlighted the challenges faced by workers with eco-anxiety. Australian environmental workers experiencing anxiety about climate change showed an overcommitment to work, work-life balance struggles, and a sense of isolation. New Zealand farmers, burdened with stress about extreme weather, faced difficulties in prompt decision-making, critical in the agriculture sector. 

Read more on the research here




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

Previous issues: SafetyNet Archive

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