SafetyNet 689

Less than 5 weeks to the VTHC HSR Conference - enrol now!

In this week's SafetyNet: JBS guilty despite blaming injured worker, heads roll at the VBA, Amicus charged over disabled client’s death, research on moral injury and institutional betrayal of healthcare workers, the importance of affirming workplaces for LGBTQA mental health, 'tick and flick' training not good enough for the FWC, and body cameras for inspectors increasingly the norm.

A worker writes to Ask Renata about their right to attend our HSR conference, and as always, we encourage you to send in your questions to Ask Renata.

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

To access previous issues, you can visit our SafetyNet Archive.

 

Union News


NEW REGULATIONS FOR DANGEROUS GOODS IN VICTORIA

Starting from October 1, 2023, new regulations related to the transportation of dangerous goods will begin in Victoria.

The ADG Code 7.8 provides guidelines for transporting dangerous goods by road and rail across Australia. It's updated every two years to stay aligned with international standards.

Learn more

 

BUILDING AUTHORITY SHAKE-UP TO ADDRESS  TOXIC CULTURE

The chief commissioner and several board members of Victoria's building regulator, the Victorian Building Authority (VBA), will not have their terms renewed. This decision comes as a response to concerns about the VBA's culture and its inability to oversee the construction sector effectively.

It’s long been recognised that poor workplace cultures pose a psychosocial hazard for workers, so it’s encouraging to see higher order interventions like this one being implemented. 

Learn more

 

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.

 

ASK RENATA

I've given my work written notice that I will be attending the 2023 HSR Conference and my employer has denied me the opportunity... do I have any rights to challenge this?

It's disappointing but every September we hear about employers misrepresenting workers on their rights and entitlements regarding our HSR conference, and it seems this year is no exception (sigh).

Section 69(1)(d)(ii) of our OHS Act states:

An employer must allow a HSR for the DWG to take such time off work with pay as necessary for taking part in any course of training relating to OHS that is approved by WorkSafe, provided the employer is given at least 14 days' notice (our paraphrasing). 

Read our full response here

 

WEEKLY COVID NUMBERS

Victorian data taken from Department of Health Weekly Report 21 September 2023

The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 continued to increase this week to a daily average of 143, up from 128 last week.

The 7-day average of ICU patients decreased this week (9 to 8).

Deaths have continued to decrease since the peak of the most recent wave in June with 56 deaths in the most recent reporting period (9 August 2023 to 6 September 2023).

More data here

 

Research


MENTAL HEALTH RISKS: MORAL INJURY & INSTITUTIONAL BETRAYAL

A US study has concluded that workers exposed to trauma, morally injurious events, and institutional betrayal are at high risk of developing long-term mental health problems like PTSD and depression.

Healthcare workers are particularly vulnerable, with 42.7% having faced traumatic experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Learn more

 

AFFIRMING WORK SPACES IMPROVE LGBTQA+ MENTAL HEALTH

An Australian study has examined how supportive environments, such as schools and workplaces, impact the mental health and happiness of LGBTQA+ youth. Researchers discovered that when these settings affirm and support their identities, both cisgender and trans or gender diverse youth experience lower psychological distress and greater happiness.

Learn more

 

HOW HAZARDS COMBINE TO RAISE METABOLIC SYNDROME RISK

A study by researchers from Pusan National University and other South Korean institutions has found that workers exposed to multiple occupational hazards, even at low levels, are at higher risk of developing metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome includes conditions like hypertension, insulin intolerance, abdominal obesity, and dyslipidemia (problematic blood lipid levels).

About one in five workers globally, or around one billion people, suffer from this health issue.

Learn more

 

International News


EU RECOMMENDS HUMAN OVERSIGHT TO ENHANCE DRONE SAFETY

Drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), are increasingly being used in workplaces for various tasks, such as monitoring dangerous areas, delivering emergency tools, and conducting surveillance.

The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) has suggested assigning ‘human supervisors’ for workplace drones will help reduce associated safety risks.

Learn more

 

Regulator News


SAFETY TRAINING FLAWED: WORKER VINDICATED

A worker, fired for not immediately reporting a near miss at his job, has been reinstated by the Fair Work Commission in a case highlighting employers need clear safety procedures and should not rely on cynical ‘tick and flick’ training modules to meet their obligations. 

Learn more

 

NSW BILL GRANTS POLICE WHS POWERS

The NSW Government has introduced WHS amendments that authorise police to enforce compliance and issue penalty notices to gig economy platforms that fail to provide delivery riders with high-visibility personal protective equipment and induction training.

Learn more

 

BODY CAMERAS FOR S.A. SAFETY INSPECTORS

In South Australia, Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) inspectors will now wear body cameras while performing their duties. This decision is aimed at promoting safe and respectful interactions, facilitating investigations of complaints, ensuring transparency, and improving accountability from all sides.

Learn more

 

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.

Program of events here

 

Prosecutions


JBS GUILTY: WORD-OF-MOUTH TRAINING LEFT WORKER EXPOSED

JBS Australia Pty Ltd has been found guilty after a worker was seriously injured in 2020 when two 700kg hay bales fell on her. The company claimed the worker was at fault for violating a buddy system's work practice, but the court rejected this argument.

JBS is the biggest meat company in the world but has found itself the subject of multiple corruption scandals.  

Learn more

 

AMICUS CHARGED FOLLOWING DISABLED CLIENT'S DEATH

WorkSafe has charged Amicus Community Services Limited, a provider of supported independent living services, after a client died following a seizure at her Eaglehawk home in May 2021.

Amicus Community Services Limited is facing two charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The first charge, under section 23(1), is for failing to ensure that people other than employees were not exposed to health and safety risks.

Learn more

 

SAFETY LAPSES LEAD TO ‘ROOF HIGH’ CHEMICAL FIRE

Prestige Concreting Additives Pty Ltd has been fined $17,500 and ordered to pay nearly $4,000 in costs for violating our OHS Act by failing to ensure workers viewed safety data sheets (SDSs), which would have alerted them to the dangers of mixing hazardous chemicals.

Read more

 

WORKER'S SELF-DEFENSE RULING OVERTURNED

A worker who had previously been cleared of misconduct for a scuffle with a member of the public has seen the decision overturned on appeal.

The NSW train driver successfully contested his dismissal for violating customer violence policies by getting into an altercation with a man who had tried to trip him, leading the worker to kick and push the man in self-defense.

Learn more

 

Events


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.

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 training webpage for more information.

 

OHS Team
http://www.weareunion.org.au

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