In this week's SafetyNet: Unions ban engineered stone; Australia Post and Court Services Australia criticized for toxic cultures; Safety Week’s final quarter; international action for coffee workers; questions bosses should be asking, and highlights from our 2023 HSR Conference.
PLUS: There's still time – 1 day until our live show The Health & Safety Impacts of AI & Intrusive Workplace Surveillance with Matthew Scherer from the Center for Democracy & Technology.
For more information and to RSVP click here.
IF GOVERNMENT DON'T BAN ENGINEERED STONE, WE WILL
As the engineered stone industry places full-page ads in metro newspapers and bombards social media with misinformation, the ACTU Executive have resolved to ban engineered stone by the middle of next year, if government bans are not in place by then.
This will mean union members will not allow engineered stone to be transported or used on building sites across Australia.
It’s now up to State and Federal governments to step up, draw a line in the sand, and ban it once and for all. SafetyNet understands WHS Ministers are planning to meet, possibly as early as this Friday, to make a decision on the issue. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, a very useful radio segment is can be accessed via the link below. It features Professor Deb Yates and Kate Cole calling out untrue claims made by the Engineered Stone Industry.
Let there be no misunderstanding, banning engineered stone will save lives.
2023 HSR CONFERENCE - THAT'S A WRAP!
Congratulations to the 1300+ HSRs who attended our Conference on Monday. It was a great day sharing strategies to tackle psychosocial hazards at work.
A big round of applause to our panel of awesome HSRs, and special thanks to Associate Professor Carlo Caponecchia. We loved his analogy: if a workplace is like a poorly baked cake, no amount of icing will fix it.
Promoting mindfulness to deal with stress does not address the root causes of harm.
If you missed the opportunity to attend this year's conference we intend to upload the plenary sessions and materials in the next few days. Stay tuned for more!
Sincere thanks to Slater and Gordon for sponsoring our event.
Can a HSR from another State represent a DWG that is not in the same State as the HSR and vice versa? What would happen if a HSR from Victoria needed to issue a PIN to an employer in NSW? Is this possible?
We'd like to begin by acknowledging the challenges faced by workers who are far from home and under pressure to 'just get the job done.'
It is a common question for HSRs in distribution and logistics to ask, 'how far do my powers go?' These workers are often in the eye-of-the-storm regarding the chain of responsibility, labour hire, multiple employers, and other complexities.
As a rule, if you are elected under one law, you cannot use your rights and powers for a group covered by another law.
When truck driving HSRs travel to Albury-Wodonga and ask WorkSafe Victoria (WSV) how to issue a PIN, WSV will typically advise that 'all your powers stop at the border.'
Instead, HSRs will be encouraged to report the issue as a safety hazard in the safety system at the job in Wodonga, just like any other worker, and then report it to their head office in Victoria. The important thing is to speak up, report the issue, and demand action.
TWO NEW HAZARD PAGES TO ASSIST HSRs
We've added two new hazard pages to our OHS Reps website we hope HSRs will find hope you find them helpful and informative.
Click on the links below, to check ‘em out.
WEEKLY COVID NUMBERS
Victorian data taken from Department of Health Weekly Report 20 October 2023.
The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 declined again this week to a daily average of 179, down from 183 last week.
The 7-day average of ICU patients increased this week (6 to 8).
Deaths in the most recent 28-day period have continued to increase, with a current 28-day total of 86.
NATIONAL ASBESTOS AWARENESS WEEK: 20 - 26 NOVEMBER
NAAW 2023 provides an opportunity to mark 20 years since asbestos was completely banned in Australia. During NAAW 2023 we will highlight the progress that has occurred since the ban, but also highlight that a significant amount of ageing asbestos-containing material remains in our built environment, which means there is an ongoing need for vigilance to prevent exposure to asbestos fibres and a need to focus on safe, proactive removal.
The National Asbestos Awareness Campaign will also be running throughout November to remind homeowners and tradies across Australia to Think Twice about Asbestos.
Firm Friend of The Hall and solid comrade, Renata Musolino, has encouraged us to give this a listen: Gold — Dusted 01 | the human cost of mining in Australia
While gold made Australia rich, historians are now saying the silica dust it produced is responsible for Australia's first industrial disaster.
Dusted, the human cost of mining in Australia is presented by Van Badham.
It’s ‘very good’ says Renata.
TAKE ACTION TO IMPROVE SAFETY IN YOUR COFFEE SUPPLY CHAIN
We Victorians love our coffee but spare a thought for those working in the international coffee supply chain.
Thousands of coffee workers get hurt or sick from their jobs every year. This can be prevented if they have the right information, training, and health services.
Every coffee worker has the right to a safe and healthy workplace, a right that’s recently been added to the ILO’s framework of fundamental principles and rights at work.
In 2023, the ILO's Vision Zero Fund is running a campaign about making coffee work safer and healthier.
The campaigns goals are:
- Raise awareness about occupational safety and health
- Scale up good practices and mobilize collective action
- Give out information and knowledge to help with this.
To learn more about occupational safety and health in the coffee supply chain visit #coffeepeople and make a pledge
CHANGING SLEEP PERCEPTIONS IN WHITE-COLLAR WORKERS
Their global study indicates that bosses need to change perceptions that equate a lack of sleep with dedication to work and instead foster a work culture that values sleep.
Their study identifies four barriers to promoting better sleep among white-collar workers:
- Lack of Sleep Awareness
- Confidentiality Concerns
- Demanding Work Cultures
- Work-Life Imbalance
'HOW DOES IT FEEL TO WORK HERE?'
When Beyond Blue’s CEO, Georgie Harman, recently spoke at Comcare's Psychosocial Health and Safety Forum, she pointed out that while employers and company officers are often skilled at designing systems and processes, they frequently overlook the importance of simply sitting down with workers and asking, ‘How does it feel to work here?’
They tend to forget to ask workers questions like, ‘Is your job clear? Have we designed your job well? Are your workloads manageable? What would make a difference to you on a day-to-day basis? What do you think some of the solutions are?’
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.
The fourth and final week will cover ‘ensuring a safe and healthy workplace.’
COURT BODY FINED $379K OVER DEADLY WORK CULTURE
Court Services Victoria (CSV) has been fined around $379,000 because of a harmful workplace culture at the Coroners Court of Victoria. This culture contributed to the suicide of one worker and led to many others taking leave.
BULLYING TRAUMA AT AUSTRALIA POST: INVESTIGATION SLAMMED
A vulnerable worker was psychologically harmed by bullying from colleagues who were bored and targeted her. The worker, a 19-year-old Afghan refugee, faced discrimination and bullying at Australia Post during her four months of employment in 2020.
Colleagues made fun of her accent, religion, and background. Australia Post, as a self-insurer under the Comcare system, denied responsibility and claimed her allegations were unsubstantiated.
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.
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.
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.
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.