This week's SafetyNet features legal advice on safety law and climate impacts, improved conditions for parliamentary workers, sexual harassment prevention guidance, any link between magnetic fields and cancer all but ruled out, drones deployed to minimize fall risks, and much more.
MAKING PARLIAMENT A SAFER WORKPLACE
The Australian Federal Parliament has passed three bills to establish the Parliamentary Workplace Support Service (PWSS) as an independent statutory HR agency and revamp employment arrangements for parliamentary staff. This legislation responds to a report by former Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins, which found that one-third of parliamentary staffers reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment.
HSR CONFERENCE 2023: PSYCH HAZARDS - REGISTER NOW!
We all know that psychosocial hazards exist in workplaces, but how do we identify and address them?
Our annual HSR Conference is back and this year we’re looking in the world of psychosocial hazards and risks.
Monday 23 October, 8:30am - 2:45pm (registrations open 8am)
Melbourne - Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre
Morwell - Italian Australian Sporting Club
Bendigo - Bendigo Trades Hall
Portland - Portland Golf Club
Wodonga - LaTrobe Uni. Lecture Theatre AW6
The conference is WorkSafe Victoria approved under Section 69 so be sure to give your manager at least 14 days’ notice for paid time off work to attend.
Numbers are limited so enroll ASAP!
Check out the program and register here.
This event is proudly sponsored by Slater and Gordon.
SAFETY CONCERNS RAISED AS QANTAS LOSES IN COURT
The High Court has ruled against Qantas Airways Ltd, stating that the airline took unlawful adverse action against 1,700 ground crew workers by outsourcing their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Transport Workers Union brought the case and highlighted workplace safety issues stemming from the outsourcing.
LIVESHOW: IMPLICATIONS OF MEDICINAL CANNABIS
As the landscape of healthcare evolves, HSRs may need to understand the OHS implications and unique challenges and considerations posed by the emergence of prescribed medicinal cannabis.
Michael Sayers and April Zahra (both specialising in industrial and employment law) as well as Audrey Gunn (specialised in workers comp) will be joining us from Slater & Gordon.
Their presentation will cover questions around operating machinery, the enforceability of drug policies, disability discrimination and if workers can be disciplined or terminated for taking a prescription.
We're inviting all HSRs to join us via Zoom, 4-5pm Wednesday September 27.
Register here Proudly sponsored by Slater & Gordon.
We received an email from our ’leadership team’ telling us not to raise OHS issues directly with our HSR, but to raise them with our team leader first, who will then decide if the HSR should be involved. Does that sound right?
In short, ‘no.’
Under OHS Regulation 24 if a safety issue arises at a workplace and an employee wishes to raise it for resolution, the employee must report the issue to the HSR.
WEEKLY COVID NUMBERS
From 8 September – 14 September, Victoria recorded:
746 (+28%) total cases for the past week
3 COVID deaths on average each day over the past week
133 cases in hospital (7 day rolling average) with 9 in ICU (7 day rolling average)
SILICA AND HEIGHT RISKS UNCOVERED IN BORDER BLITZ
In late August, WorkSafe Victoria and SafeWork NSW conducted joint inspections on 22 construction sites in Yarrawonga and Mulwala. Their main focus was on improving safety when working at heights and reducing exposure to harmful crystalline silica dust. However, they also checked for general safety issues.
AHRC GUIDANCE FOR HARASSMENT PREVENTION
The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has released guidelines for employers regarding the new ‘positive duty’ to eliminate sexual harassment and sex discrimination.
Starting in December, the AHRC will investigate and enforce compliance with this duty.
31ST ANNIVERSARY: SAFETY MONTH 2023
WorkSafe Victoria is celebrating the 31st anniversary of Health and Safety Month during October 2023.
A series of events will be held in-person and online between 2nd to 27th October where HSRs can come together to connect, learn and share across a number of OHS topics.
POLYMASTER TANK UNLOADING FAILURES: MULTIPLE CHARGES LAID
Swan Hill water tank manufacturer, Polymaster Pty Ltd, is facing charges following two separate incidents involving a fatality and serious injury during the unloading of water tanks.
PCBU INVESTS HEAVILY IN SAFETY MEASURES, INCLUDING DRONES
Adelaide Brighton Cement Ltd is spending almost $1 million on safety measures to avoid prosecution after a worker fell from a platform and was seriously injured. The safety measures include piloting a drone program to prevent fall-from-height incidents.
PLASTIC PACKAGING MAKER FINED: WORKERS HAND CRUSHED
A Shepparton company that makes plastic food packaging has been fined $30,000 after a worker's hand got crushed in 2020, while fixing a machine used for heating and shaping plastic sheets.
LEGAL SCHOLAR: SAFETY LAWS KEY TO CLIMATE INITIATIVES
Eugene Schofield-Georgeson, a senior law lecturer at UTS, suggests that safety laws might be a more effective way to address workplace climate change impacts than enterprise agreements due to legal limitations on bargaining scope.
STUDY ALL BUT RULES OUT CANCER LINK TO LOW-FREQUENCY MAGNETIC FIELDS
An Australian study has found no clear link between workplace exposure to extremely low-frequency magnetic fields (ELF-MFs) and the development of follicular lymphoma, with researchers noting their study's findings, along with previous research, provide reassurance regarding occupational exposure.
Occupations with the highest exposure to ELF-MFs include electrical power installers and repairers, electricians, power plant operators, welders, and train drivers.
PSYCHOSOCIAL FACTORS AFFECT INDOOR AIR SYMPTOMS
A study conducted by Finnish researchers found that one in four workers experience health symptoms related to the indoor air at their workplaces and that most affected workers experience mild functional impairments, but those with comorbid diseases, psychiatric illnesses, perceived sensitivities to other environmental factors, or financial difficulties are more likely to report severe impairments due to indoor air.
NDAs IN SEXUAL HARASSMENT: LAWYERS EXPERIENCES SOUGHT
Lawyers from the Redfern Legal Centre and Human Rights Law Centre are doing a study at Sydney University about how non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) are used in settling sexual harassment cases. Most sexual harassment cases are resolved with an NDA, which means we don't know much about how they are handled. They want sexual harassment lawyers and industrial officers to take a short survey about how they handle these cases. The survey is open until September 22, and it takes about five to ten minutes to complete.
They’re inviting practitioners to complete either an applicant lawyer or respondent lawyer survey, which will take five to ten minutes.
INTERNATIONAL ACCORD FOR SAFER GARMENT JOBS EXPANDS TO PAKISTAN
September 11, marked the 11th anniversary of a fire that killed more than 250 workers at Ali Enterprises, a readymade garment factory in Karachi, Pakistan.
The fire was one of the world’s worst industrial disasters and required many years of hard work before families received compensation.
Now, the International Accord is expanding to Pakistan, having already made garment manufacturing safer for millions of Bangladeshi workers over the last ten years.
MOVIE FUNDRAISER HOSTED BY AUSTRALIA ASIA WORKER LINKS
Complicit is a documentary about the plight of Chinese workers dealing with the toxic environments of Foxconn factories, a supplier to Apple and Samsung.
Many teens from country villages come to the big city of Guangzhou to make money for their families. These teen migrant workers are then exposed to benzene and n-hexane (used to wipe cell phone screens) resulting in some developing occupational leukemia.
You can view a trailer for Complicit here.
This special screening is happening Tuesday 3 October, 6pm, at the CFMEU, Level 7, 540 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne.
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.