In this week's SafetyNet: engineered stone makers fight back with misinformation, intrusive surveillance and monitoring, tragedy in Derrimut, the harassment crisis in our Universities, mitigating OVA in domestic construction, psych risks associated with after hours messaging, a new CEO for SWA, and fines for Minda, Fantuan, Melbourne Truss and Nu Tech as Health and Safety Month rolls on.
ENGINEERED STONE MAKERS FIGHT BAN WITH MISINFORMATION
Last week we covered claims made on reality TV show 'The Block' that engineered stone benchtops featured on the program were safe, 'just like beach sand.'
HSRs may have noticed full-page ads in metro newspapers and on social media placed by AESAG, claiming a ban on engineered stone benchtops ‘won't solve silicosis.’
The problem is that there is no credible evidence indicating a safe level of silica exposure. Even low-silica engineered stone poses unmanageable risks during fabrication and cutting and should be prohibited.
THEY’RE WATCHING YOU
Workplace surveillance technology, like artificial intelligence and algorithmic management, is becoming more advanced. These tools are used in various industries, from tracking employees' computer activity to assessing their personalities for customer service roles and monitoring work tasks in warehouses.
These technologies can have significant effects on workers' health and safety.
To address these issues, we’re hosting a webinar featuring expert Matthew Scherer from the Centre for Democracy & Technology, in which we’ll discuss the impact of AI and intrusive workplace surveillance on workers' health, both physically and mentally.
We’ll also cover what employers can currently do with surveillance technology and what reforms are needed to protect workers' health, safety, and privacy.
The event will provide an opportunity for discussion and questions, and it's scheduled for Thursday, October 26, from 4 PM to 5 PM, conducted online via Zoom. It's sponsored by Slater & Gordon.
FATAL BLAST AT CHEMICAL FACTORY
A 44-year-old worker has died in an explosion and fire at a chemical factory in Derrimut. The man was reportedly handling a Class 3 Dangerous Good when the incident happened.
We send our condolences to the man’s loved ones and colleagues. Another Victorian has not returned home to family and friends, as they should have.
As we mourn the dead we will fight like hell for the living.
URGENT ACTION REQUIRED ON UNIVERSITY HARASSMENT CRISIS
The NTEU is calling for urgent change after publishing the preliminary results of its latest survey on sexual harassment, in which nearly one in three (29%) respondents reported personal experiences of sexual harassment, marking a substantial increase from 19% in 2018—an alarming rise of almost 53%.
'The higher education sector has clearly not made progress since our 2018 survey.'
Addressing the cultural and systemic problems that perpetuate sexual harassment requires urgent action.
AUSTRALIA MARKS 20 YEARS SINCE ASBESTOS BAN
On December 31, 2003, Australia implemented a complete ban on all forms of asbestos. Now, two decades later, we continue to grapple with the repercussions of our asbestos history.
As part of Asbestos Awareness Week, the Victorian Asbestos Forum has convened a panel of leading experts to assess our accomplishments, remaining challenges, and the crucial need for ongoing, coordinated efforts to eradicate the deadly legacy of asbestos.
The event will feature a panel discussion led by investigative journalist Matt Peacock, with keynote speakers including Kim Brislane, who will address health impacts and research, Liam O'Brien from the ACTU discussing community-led activism, and Professor Malcolm Sim delving into policy challenges.
Tuesday, 21 November, 9am - 1pm
Level 12, 321 Exhibition Street, Melbourne
Attendance is free, but registration is mandatory. RSVP by Wednesday, 8 November
'ZERO HARM' PROGRAM MITIGATES CUSTOMER AGGRESSION
Carlisle Homes, an employer in the construction industry, has introduced a 'Zero Harm' education program to prevent psychological harm resulting from escalating customer aggression.
HSR CONFERENCE 2023: PSYCH HAZARDS - REGISTRATIONS FULL
Enrolments may have closed but there's still opportunity to watch plenary sessions.
Just click this link Monday 23 October. Registrations open 8am, with the live feed beginning at 8.30am.
We’re looking into the world of psychosocial hazards, proudly sponsored by Slater and Gordon.
I work at a youth justice centre where it’s been proposed clients involved in a seriously violent incident at another facility will shortly be transferred. We have sent management a list of our safety concerns yet received no meaningful response.
Oh dear, this sounds like a high-risk situation requiring meaningful consultation and urgent action from your employer.
WEEKLY COVID NUMBERS
Victorian data taken from Department of Health Weekly Report 13 October 2023.
The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 declined this week to a daily average of 183, down from 193 last week
The 7-day average of ICU patients also declined this week (8 to 6).
Deaths have begun to increase with 69 deaths in the most recent reporting period (6 September 2023 to 3 October 2023).
SYDNEY HOSTS GLOBAL SAFETY CONFERENCE
This year the World Congress for Safety and Health at Work, considered the ‘pre-eminent’ health and safety conference globally, will be held in Sydney from November 28-30.
AFTER-HOURS WORK MESSAGES: HEALTH RISKS FOR STAFF
Using work-related electronic communication (WREC) outside of work hours is making office workers more tired and depressed, and it's affecting their sleep. Researchers suggest the ‘right to disconnect’ – the ability to stop working after hours - is especially important for office workers.
COMCARE NAMES UNSAFE JOB DEMANDS AS TOP PSYCH HAZARD
In Australian workplaces, unsafe job demands are the most common psychosocial hazards, according to Comcare's National Regulatory Programs Director, Luka Campbell.
Job demands refer to the imbalance between the tasks workers perform and the resources available to manage these demands.
MARIE BOLAND APPOINTED CEO OF SAFE WORK AUSTRALIA
Workplace safety expert, Marie Boland, has been appointed CEO of Safe Work Australia by the Albanese Government.
Ms Boland has extensive experience, which includes her leadership of the National Review of Australia's work health and safety laws in 2018, commonly known as the Boland Review.
Ms. Boland takes over from the outgoing CEO, Michelle Baxter, and will serve a five-year term starting in November. She will be responsible for overseeing the organization's day-to-day operations, financial management, and governance.
Before moving to SafeWork SA, Ms. Boland worked as an industrial officer with the ASU from 2004 to 2005.
Among Ms. Boland's achievements is the recommendation to introduce an industrial manslaughter offense, currently under consideration in legislation before the Federal Parliament, and advocating that psychosocial risks be addressed by appropriate regulation.
FANTUAN FINED FOR SAFETY BREACHES
SafeWork NSW has issued penalty notices to online food delivery platform Fantuan are finding they failed to hadn't provide proper training to over 1,000 food delivery riders on hazard and fatigue management, road safety, and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
MINDA COPS $42K FINE OVER WORKPLACE ASSAULT
A not-for-profit has been fined following an incident in which a worker was assaulted by a client.
The organisation had been fined earlier for a similar incident but had subsequently failed to ensure workers are made aware of risks and ‘effective means of managing, physical and sexual violence, harassment and discrimination in the workplace’ implemented.
COMMUNITY SERVICE FOR VIOLENT THREATS AGAINST INSPECTOR
In May 2021, an incident occurred at a residential demolition site in Watsonia North, where a company known as Nu Tech Demolition & Asbestos Removal was conducting work.
A WorkSafe inspector arrived to investigate asbestos concerns when the offender threatened the inspector with physical violence, displaying extremely hostile behaviour.
FATAL CRANE INCIDENT RESULTS IN $200K PENALTY
Timber truss manufacturer, Melbourne Truss Pty Ltd, has been fined $200,000 for unsafe practices that resulted in a worker's death at a construction site in Point Cook.
HOME OFFICE INJURY: WORKER'S $12K MATTRESS VICTORY
A university worker whose back injury worsened due to a sedentary home office setup during the pandemic has won the right for his employer to provide him with a $12,000 mattress.
ASBESTOS 2024: REGISTRATIONS NOW OPEN!
ASEA is inviting you to attend their 2024 conference, in person or virtually, to learn about new approaches in managing, removing, and disposing of aging ACMs.
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.
During this third week, the focus is supporting all workers.
The fourth and final week will cover ‘ensuring a safe and healthy workplace.’
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.