In this week's SafetyNet: Federal workplace safety laws pass, AHRC'S compliance role begins, research on how job conditions impact cause of death, boardroom psych awareness woefully lacking, the new Workplace Facilities Compliance Code drops, NSW enquiry demands psych risk assessments, Connect executive guilty of fatal negligence and much more.
Take action on ‘a dog of a bill’ by signing our WorkCover ‘reforms’ petition.
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To access previous issues, you can visit our SafetyNet Archive.
INVESTIGATION INTO FATAL TRUCK & TRAIN CRASH
A 30-year-old driver has been killed when his truck was struck by a passenger train at North Shore on Monday.
It’s been reported the truck, which was towing a low loader trailer, became stuck on a rail crossing at the intersection of Station Street and Corio Quay Road when the incident occurred at around 12.15pm.
WorkSafe is investigating. Our condolences to friends, family, and colleagues of the deceased man.
FEDERAL WORKPLACE SAFETY LAWS PASS
This week, significant workplace safety and worker rights laws were passed in Federal Parliament, introducing an industrial manslaughter offence, and offering better support for workers with work-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
PROPOSED WORKCOVER REFORMS 'A DOG OF A BILL'
Two weeks ago the Legislative Council voted to send the matter of WorkCover 'Reforms' to committee. Hearings will commence this year with the committee due to report back on 6 February 2024
VTHC are calling on parliament to pull the proposed legislation, or amend it significantly.
'This is a dog of a bill. It is a rushed mess. It targets some of the most vulnerable Victorians, being injured workers. It will not fix the problems that you’re thinking it will fix, and it should be rightly rejected by the parliament.'
Trades Hall secretary Luke Hilakari
The CPSU have labelled the bill an 'appalling document' and identified excessive workloads as fuelling mental health demands on staff.
'The current budget ceilings are a problem in terms of reducing the number of staff to deal with the growing demands of Victoria for a number of the services that we’re delivering.'
CPSU Victorian secretary Karen Batt
Sign our petition to show your support for injured workers.
AHRC'S COMPLIANCE ROLE BEGINS
The Australian Human Rights Commission's new powers to enforce workplace regulations focusing on eradicating sexual harassment and discrimination took effect on Tuesday of this week.
Consultants were recently brought into my workplace to conduct a 'departmental review,' which has led to a proposal that our department merge with another. Staff were neither consulted nor our feedback invited, creating a great deal of fear about job security. What options do we have to challenge this flawed process?
Poor organisational change management is a known psychological workplace hazard and can occur when changes related to our working conditions are managed or communicated poorly.
We think you’ll find our Poor Change Management webpage helpful.
We strongly encourage you to remind your employer of their duty to consult when proposing changes to the way work is performed.
COVID NUMBERS DECLINED THIS WEEK
The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 declined this week with a daily average of 274, down from 326 last week. The current average remains high compared to recent months but remains below the most recent peak in May/June.
JOB IMPACTS ON CAUSE OF DEATH
A Scandinavian study has investigated how job conditions relate to causes of death. Their findings suggest individuals in jobs with low control or passive work had increased chances of dying from heart problems or suicide. Men in high-strain jobs, characterized by high demand and low control, had higher risks of all-cause and heart-related deaths.
For women, low control, passive jobs, and high-strain jobs were associated with higher chances of dying from alcohol-related issues.
BOARDROOM PSYCH AWARENESS WOEFULLY LACKING
A recent major survey involving leaders from prominent global businesses and government departments confirms a familiar issue for SafetyNet subscribers: employers lack adequate awareness of psychosocial risks in the workplace, hindering proactive compliance with Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) duties.
This issue is particularly concerning in Australia, where 'officer due diligence' is a specific requirement under (WHS) legislation.
REVAMPING COMPENSATION BY LISTENING TO WORKER EXPERIENCES
Monash University's Workers' Voice study aims to improve workers' compensation for those injured at work, acknowledging the current systemis causing unesessary stress and delays, post-injury.
Over three years, Monash University researchers will explore ways to enhance this system by engaging with individuals who've filed claims in the past decade. Their goal is to understand these individuals' experiences, identify existing issues, and devise improvements.
The Monash research are seeking workers who've made claims, as well as their family and friends, willing and bale to participate.
Collaborating with participants, they'll develop computer models for new systems based on injured workers’ lived experiences.
NEW WORKPLACE FACILITIES COMPLIANCE CODE DROPS
The new Workplace Facilities and Working Environment Compliance Code has been approved by the by the Minister and took effect 07 December.
Notable changes include the code's renaming, removing the word 'amenities' and the introduction of 'all-gender' requirments to enhance accessibility and safety for transgender, gender diverse individuals, and people with disabilities.
NSW ENQUIRY DEMANDS PSYCH RISK ASSESSMENTS
A parliamentary inquiry into NSW's workers' compensation system has put forward 18 recommendations, with a focus on psychological injuries at work.
Under one of the recommendations, SafeWork NSW, the workplace health and safety regulator, will be enforcing the use of risk assessments for psychosocial hazards in workplaces where psychological risks are high.
REMOTE DRINKING: NO GO
The Fair Work Commission has upheld the pay sanction imposed on a teacher who, during a one-on-one video meeting with his supervisor, picked up a cask of wine, lifted it above his head, and drank.
COMBATTING HARASSMENT: NEW FEDERAL LAWS TAKE EFFECT
Employers within the Comcare scheme are being reminded that new Australian laws focusing on prevention of workplace sexual harassment and discrimination have taken effect.
Starting December 12, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) possesses increased authority to investigate and ensure workplaces comply with these regulations.
These changes stemmed from the Respect@Work report, urging employers to prioritize prevention over post-incident response. AHRC provides resources on the Positive Duty under the Sex Discrimination Act, while Comcare has developed 'Referral Pathways for Sexual Harassment: A Guide for Employers in the Comcare Scheme.
EXECUTIVE GUILTY: FATAL NEGLIGENCE
A high-ranking executive from Connect Logistics has been found guilty of negligence in relation to the deaths of four police officers.
During the seven months preceding the fatalities, more than 40 per cent of Connect Logistics' driving shifts had fatigue-related breaches, with management endorsing more than 500 of the 800-plus offending shifts.
PAKISTAN JOINS SHIP RECYCLING PACT
Pakistan recently ratified the Hong Kong International Convention for Safe Ship Recycling, becoming the 23rd country to do so. This ratification means that all major ship recycling countries worldwide have now signed on. The Convention aims to ensure both environmental safety and workers' rights in shipbreaking, known as one of the riskiest jobs globally.
COP28 WEEK 1: UNIONS PUSH FOR FAIRNESS
Trade unions are at COP28 to focus on action, not just talk, ensuring policies don't leave anyone behind. Despite challenges like the president's climate denial claims and concerns about oil deals overshadowing the summit, unions are adamant about staying on course.
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.