This week's SafetyNet highlights ongoing tragedies with Elevated Work Platforms (EWPs), a Departmental effort to evade WHS charges linked to refugees, the presence of structural racism in relation to insecure work, convictions regarding an apprentice electrocution case, the introduction of a new consultation checklist for employers, and research revealing employers' are skeptical their workplaces are behind the significant rise in psychosocial injuries.
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For previous issues visit our SafetyNet Archive.
WORKER CRUSHED BETWEEN PLATFORM AND ROOF
It has been reported that a 25-year-old contractor died after being crushed between a steel roof beam and the basket of an elevating work platform (EWP) he was operating at North Blackburn Shopping Centre last Thursday.
The young man was taken to the hospital but later succumbed to his injuries. WorkSafe is currently conducting an investigation.
In July, we reported on a WorkSafe safety alert following incidents in which two workers were crushed, one fatally, while operating EWPs. Both were trapped between their EWP's work platform and a fixed structure.
This fatality marks the 39th confirmed workplace death for 2023, with 43 work-related deaths reported at the same time last year.
Our condolences to friends, family and colleagues of the deceased. Mourne the dead. Fight like hell for the living.
BID TO DODGE WHS CHARGES: CALLS FOR REFUGEE REVIEW
The Department and service provider responsible for Villawood Immigration Detention Centre are accused of failing to ensure a safe system of work and provide adequate training and supervision for mental health staff.
Refugee advocates are concerned the operators' attempts to dodge work health and safety (WHS) charges, relating to the suicide of a detainee, will result in a missed opportunity to examine Australia's refugee treatment practices.
INJURED WORKER'S UNFAIR DISMISSAL CLAIM DENIED:
‘MALIGNANT RESENTMENT’ CITED
In a case demonstrating mistrust or resentment towards the employer, no matter how valid, can be used as justification for dismissal, BHP Operations Services has successfully defended an unfair dismissal claim by an employee absent from work since March 2022.
If a forklift operator loses their car licence for whatever reason, is their licence to perform high risk work still valid? Or are they unable to operate a forklift until they get their car licence back?
The short answer is 'No’- all you need is your forklift licence… except if you are driving it on a public road.
If a forklift has to be driven outside the workplace on a public road, it must be registered and have number plates, with the driver holding a current forklift licence as well as a current Victorian driver's licence.
Read our full response here
WEEKLY COVID NUMBERS
From 04 August – 10 August, Victoria recorded:
442 (-9%) total cases for the past week
4 COVID deaths on average each day over the past week
85 cases in hospital (7 day rolling average) with 5 in ICU (7 day rolling average)
More COVID weekly stats here
STRUCTURAL RACISM: MORE BME WORKERS IN INSECURE JOBS
Analysis by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) – a UK organisation to which most trade unions belong - reveals that the number of Black and ethnic minority (BME) workers in insecure employment doubled from 2011 to 2022.
Although BME workers make up only 14% of the workforce, they represent two-thirds of the growth in insecure employment, which is marked by low pay and fewer rights, leading to uncertain working hours and potential job loss without notice.
APPRENTICE BADLY BURNED: NEGLIGENCE AND FINES
JL Hutt Electrical was contracted to rewire a residence in Croydon when an apprentice was sent to finish a task beneath the house.
Left alone to complete his job, the apprentice was attaching a cable when his left hand contacted an exposed live terminal block.
CROSS-BORDER SILICA AND FALLS CONSTRUCTION BLITZ
Reducing the risk of falls from height and exposure to crystalline silica dust are the focus of WorkSafe Victoria and SafeWork NSW who’ve teamed up for a cross border construction blitz in Yarrawonga-Mulwala next week.
BOSS NOT MEETING THEIR CONSULTATION DUTIES?
Safe Work Australia has updated its WHS consultation checklist to 'comprehensively reflect WHS duties and better support duty holders' understanding of the requirements'.
SWA has also updated the national model WHS Code of Practice, Work health and safety consultation, cooperation and coordination, to incorporate the revised checklist.
While we're not covered by the harmonised legislation here in Victoria, HSRs may nonetheless find SWA's checklist and code helpful.
BOSSES SCEPTICAL MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES ARE WORK-RELATED
It's troubling that Research conducted by employer organization the Australian Industry Group (AiG) indicates the majority of businesses in Australia are affected by mental health issues, but ‘employers appear much less likely to believe issues may be work-related than are regulators (or unions).’
When senior management refuse to understand the harm their workplaces and practices are inflicting, how likely are they to implement effective controls to minimise those risks?
SAFE • RESPECTED • EQUAL • ORGANISED
The annual VTHC Women’s Rights at Work Conference (WRAW Con) is on at Trades Hall on Friday 25 August (Equal Pay Day) on the theme of Safe. Respected. Equal. Organised!
WRAW Con will bring together women, gender diverse and non-binary folks to get organised around emerging issues for women at work and celebrating women in our movement fighting for safety, respect and equality.
The day includes a full conference program of speakers, panels and workshops, a social hour and evening screening of feminist union classic film Made in Dagenham.
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 training webpage for more information.