In this week's SafetyNet: Café boss fined $300k for sexual harassment, charges filed over airport fall, anger over changes to psych injuriy supports, research linking physically demanding jobs to preterm births, guilty verdicts over deaths on NZ volcano, SafeWork Australia supports a ban on engineered stone, and HSRs encouraged to use PINs and other powers to combat 'bossware.'
With a long hot summer ahead, now's the perfect time to sign up for our next Live Show on UV Safety. Join us and Caoimhe Geraghty from Cancer Council Victoria at 4pm on Tuesday 14 November to find out how best to stay safe. For more information and to RSVP click here.
EXPERT: ‘USE PINs AND OTHER POWERS TO COMBAT BOSSWARE'
Matt Scherer, the senior policy counsel for workers' rights and technology at the Centre for Democracy and Technology in the US, reminded HSRs during last Thursday's OHS Live show about their authority to access information regarding employers' surveillance systems. He also emphasized that HSRs can use PINs and issue directions to cease work if they suspect 'bossware' is being employed in a manner that jeopardises the health and safety of workers.
SAFEWORK RECOMMENDS A BAN ON ENGINEERED STONE
On Friday, the WHS (Work Health and Safety) Ministers approved the release of SafeWork Australia's paper, commissioned by Commonwealth, State, and Territory WHS Ministers in February of this year, which recommends a ban on Engineered Stone.
Minister Burke stated, ‘The final report is powerful and compelling. It clearly demonstrates the need for further action to protect workers from this deadly disease.’
The release of this report makes further Government action more likely.
Can an employer remove a HSR?
The short answer is ‘no.’
Our OHS Act clearly outlines the circumstances under which an HSR ceases to hold office and we’re not aware of a single instance of HSR disqualification in the almost 20 years our OHS Act's existence.
COVID NUMBERS CONTINUE TO CLIMB
Victorian data taken from Department of Health Weekly Report 27 October.
The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 increased this week to a daily average of 233, up from 179 last week.
The 7-day average of ICU patients also increased this week (8 to 13).
Deaths in the most recent 28-day period have continued to increase, with a current 28-day total of 96.
FATAL WHAKAARI ERUPTION LEADS TO GUILTY VERDICT
The owner of White Island/Whakaari, the New Zealand volcano that erupted in 2019, resulting in 22 fatalities, has been found guilty of violating workplace safety laws. Whakaari Management Limited (WML), the company that owned the land, did not fulfill its safety responsibilities towards visitors on the volcano.
PHYSICAL JOBS LINKED TO PRETERM BIRTH
A study from Monash University suggests that employers should consider adjusting working conditions for pregnant women to reduce the risk of preterm birth. The research found that physically demanding jobs, long working hours, shift work, and exposure to whole-body vibrations are associated with an increased risk of preterm birth.
LIMITS TO PSYCH INJURY CLAIMS UNDER PROPOSED 'REFORMS'
The Victoria government has introduced into Parliament significant changes to supports available for injured workers claiming the current system is broken. Over the past decade, WorkCover's claims have tripled, with more people remaining on the scheme for extended periods with a significant increase in mental health injury claims.
The proposed changes will impact how mental injury claims are processed and introduce time limits for long-term claims.
WORKSAFE’S HSR SURVEY: A CHANCE TO SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
Victorian HSRs are being asked to share their thoughts by participating in WorkSafe’s 2023 HSR Survey which seeks to identify what support HSRs currently receive, and what kind of support they find most helpful.
WorkSafe aims to utilise the information gathered to enhance resources available to HSRs.
WorkSafe’s 2023 HSR Survey is open until 30 November 30, and can be accessed here.
PSYCHOSOCIAL INTERVENTIONS BEST WAY TO REDUCE MSDs
Speaking at a Comcare webinar, prominent ergonomics researcher Professor Jodi Oakman has challenged the traditional approach to musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) prevention, emphasizing the need to go beyond eliminating physical hazards.
Rather than relying on eliminating physical hazards alone, recognizing the significance of psychosocial factors in MSD prevention is essential.
AIRPORT WORKER'S SERIOUS FALL: CHARGES FILED
Karagata faces three charges under section 21(1) of the OHS Act after a worker fell through a ceiling panel, plummeting four meters to the ground, while installing a walkway beneath a new baggage conveyor.
HOSPITAL CAFE BOSS FINED $290K FOR HARASSMENT
After Victorian unionists led the charge to have gendered violence recognized as an OHS issue, the boss of two hospital coffee shops and their associated companies has been fined a total of $290,000 due to multiple cases of sexual harassment against staff.
POLYMASTER FINED $65K AFTER WORKER LOSES THUMB
A tank manufacturer, Polymaster Pty Ltd, has been fined $65,000 after a worker lost her thumb in an incident at their Swan Hill factory.
The worker was using an industrial wide belt sander while wearing leather rigging gloves when a flat metal bar she was holding was dragged downward, trapping her left hand between the rotating belt and a resting plate. Unable to reach the emergency stop button, she had to call her supervisor to stop the machine.
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.
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.