This week in SafetyNet: Unions celebrate a significant victory, research links safety and profitability, insights into social inequalities affecting cancer risks, and a reminder that employers must keep things safe in the pre-Christmas rush.
A worker has written to Ask Renata about vicarious trauma.
Please note our Ask Renata inbox will not be monitored from 22 December 2023 to 15 January 2024. For urgent queries, we encourage you to contact your Union directly.
And a reminder: if you haven't already done so, you can take action against 'a dog of a bill’ by signing our WorkCover petition.
SafetyNet will be on break and will return in early February. Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, and to those working through the holidays, thank you and stay safe.
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To access previous issues, you can visit our SafetyNet Archive.
ENGINEERED STONE BAN: HISTORIC DECISION
This significant win comes after a lot of effort from the union movement, public health groups, and the safety professionals who campaigned for it.
My job involves viewing extremely graphic footage of workplace incidents, vehicle collisions and unlawful pornographic material. The only thing my workplace has offered is a security screen so no others are impacted. What are my employer's responsibilities?
The CPSU has established a website aimed at raising awareness and introducing practices to prevent or reduce the impact of vicarious trauma. The website's content applies to all organisations whose staff engage with traumatic content in their work.
COVID NUMBERS DECLINED THIS WEEK
The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 declined again this week with a daily average of 266, down from 274 last week. The current average remains high compared to recent months but remains below the most recent peak in May/June.
HEALTH & SAFETY BAROMETER: TOOL VISUALISES EURO SAFETY DATA
The OSH Barometer is a tool managed by EU-OSHA and the European Commission. It shows information about work safety in Europe, covering things like working conditions, diseases related to work, accidents, and safety laws.
People using the tool can make their own graphs and download reports about specific topics or countries.
FRENCH STUDY: WORK SAFETY BOOSTS PROFIT
A study by the French National Institute for Research and Safety (INRS) has looked at 1.9 million companies over 15 years to see if workplace incidents affect a company's profitability. They wanted to find out if spending on preventing incidents makes companies do better financially.
KEEP THINGS SAFE IN THE PRE-CHRISTMAS RUSH
Spot the OHS contraventions in the above manufacturing facility. It's all too much! They need a HSR to issue a 'cease work'.
Previous years have seen an increase in accidents and fatalities at this time of year, especially in construction and agriculture, with occupational violence and aggression spiking in retail and hospitality.
Rushing jobs or taking shortcuts to meet deadlines inevitable ends in grief. WorkSafe is reminding employers they have a duty to prioritise safety, with inspectors looking to ensure sites are properly secured before shutdown with power switched off, switchboards secured, suitable fencing in place, and all construction debris is cleared.
'Employers should have systems in place to identify and control any health and safety risks, both physical and mental, that may result from a surge in customer demand.
It is also important that any new workers – some of whom may be experiencing their first job – are adequately trained to perform tasks safely, and are made aware of their rights to a safe workplace.'
BOSS GUILTY: $60K FINE FOR APPRENTICE BULLYING
In a disgraceful incident that occured at a 2020 Christmas party, a young apprentice was taped shirtless to a crane, slapped by the company director and had footage of the incident circulated on social media. The young worker has subsequently experienced mental health struggles including anxiety and suicidal thoughts.
US: 15 WORKERS DIED EVERY DAY IN 2022
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released data indicating 5,486 workers died from workplace injuries in the US in 2022, a 5.7% increase from 2021.
These deaths equated to one worker dying every 96 minutes, totalling 15 daily and over 100 weekly. Notably, these numbers don't include deaths from occupational illnesses like COVID-19.
CANCER RISKS IN EU WORK: SOCIAL INEQUALTIES EXPOSED
Work-related cancer is one of the biggest health problems faced in workplaces across Europe. Each year, occupational cancers are responsible for the deaths of over 102,000 workers – 30 times the number caused by occupational accidents.
The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work has conducted a Workers’ Exposure Survey (WES) to understand how workers are exposed to cancer risk factors. The survey looked at 24 known factors, like chemicals and physical risks.
The WES exposes work-related cancer as a major source of social inequality, with blue-collar workers more likely to be affected than white-collar workers.
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.