We're excited to present our first SafetyNet for 2024 and would like to wish our subscribers a belated Happy and Safe New Year.
This week: child labour laws weaken in the US despite increasing violations, Summit’s 110K fine for high wire injury, Max’s Restaurant and the bullying chef, a new licencing regime for farm workers who use telehandlers, UWU members take Perfection Fresh to task over horrific gendered violence, and much more.
For OHS news and helpful information, please visit the We Are Union: OHS Reps Facebook page.
To access previous issues, you can visit our SafetyNet Archive.
WORKCOVER: DEMAND FOR URGENT EXPERT REVIEW
The Victorian Government is under pressure to swiftly establish an independent expert panel to review the new WorkCover Scheme after an Upper House Committee found that there was insufficient consultation during the scheme's formation and urged the government to consult with relevant stakeholders before proceeding with the Bill.
UWU MEMBERS DEMAND ACTION ON HARASSMENT
Twelve women who worked as seasonal workers at a large tomato glasshouse in South Australia are suing Perfection Fresh for nearly $4 million in Federal court, alleging repeated sexual harassment at work.
Perfection Fresh is one of Australia’s largest fresh produce companies.
LOWER WELDING EXPOSURE STANDARD TAKES EFFECT
On the back of an AMWU campaign to lower the limit for welding fumes exposure in Australian workplaces, on Thursday 18 January 2024 the workplace exposure standard (WES) for welding fumes was reduced from a time-weighted average (TWA) airborne contamination of 5mg/m3. over an eight-hour period, to a TWA of 1 mg/m3 over an eight-hour period.
OHS SENTENCING: HAVE YOUR SAY
The first major review of sentencing outcomes for OHS offences in nearly two decades is currently underway, following the Victorian Government's directive to the Sentencing Advisory Council to investigate sentencing practices for OHS offences and recommend reforms.
Starting February 13, the Council will also accept written submissions, and the public can participate in a short survey on Engage Victoria.
SafetyNet strongly encourages all HSRs to get involved.
I would like to know how many people we can accommodate in our office space, which measures 500 square metres.
The Officewise guide quotes the relevant Australian Standard, which recommends an overall 10 square meters per person for offices. Applying that standard to your work environment results in a maximum capacity of 50 people.
COVID NUMBERS THIS WEEK
The daily average of people in hospital with COVID-19 declined this week from 274 down to 266.
The 7-day average of ICU patients also declined from 8 to 7.
Deaths in the most recent 28-day period (20/12/2023 – 16/01/2024) declined compared to the prior 28-day period (22/11/2023 – 19/12/2023), with a current 28-day total of 149.
HSRs CRUCIAL TO SUCCESS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL HEALTH REGULATIONS
101 Victorian HSRs were recently surveyed to understand how their perceptions might affect the implementation of proposed Occupational Health and Safety Amendment (Psychological Health) Regulations – currently in draft form.
The researchers found HSRs attitudes are crucial for successful implementation.
FUMES AT WORK: LINK TO DEMENTIA
Research conducted over 24 years has linked workplace exposure to fumes and dust with an increased risk of death from dementia, heart disease, and lung-related issues.
Men with high exposure had significantly higher risks of mortality from coronary artery diseases and dementia compared to those with no exposure.
PROTECTING AUTO SHOP WORKERS FROM LEAD EXPOSURE
Lead is a cumulative poison, building up in the body over time until symptoms occur. Exposure can occur through inhalation of lead fumes and airborne dust and ingestion from contaminated hands or food, causing kidney, nerve and brain damage, paralysis and lead palsy.
Employees using lead solder to repair damaged radiators in auto shops may be exposed to excessive amounts of lead, a risk that’s not been well understood nor regulated to this point.
WorkSafe’s working safely with lead to repair radiators guidance seeks to address this gap.
NEW LICENSE FOR PRACTICAL TELEHANDLER TRAINING
Victorian agricultural workers will receive more support to operate telehandlers safely under licensing reforms introducing a new non-slewing telehandler license as of 01 July this year.
The new telehandler license will provide the option for specialised training in operating a telehandler with attachments such as a bucket or hay fork, commonly used in agriculture.
RESTAURANT CHEF BULLIES TEEN APPRENTICES
Ideal Catering Services, operator of Max's Restaurant in Red Hill, had a Head Chef who bullied two teenage apprentices, one of whom had autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia, and anxiety.
The Head Chef engaged in name-calling, throwing items, and making harmful remarks. He threw items at the first apprentice and told the vulnerable worker to slit his own wrists and drink boiling oil.
SUMMIT AMUSEMENT PARK FINED 110K
During a High Wire activity at an amusement park in Trafalgar, Victoria, known as 'the Camp', a 13-year-old student's harness became entangled during her descent, causing her to rotate unexpectedly and her helmet strap to become entangled.
She couldn't breathe, became distressed, foamed at the mouth, and lost consciousness.
US: 398 WORKERS UNDER 25 DIED ON THE JOB IN 2021
Americans between 15 and 24 years old are up to 2.3 times more likely to get injured on the job than older workers. Despite these risks, Arkansas, Iowa and other states have recently weakened labour laws, allowing young workers to perform more dangerous tasks.
WOMEN HSRS - LEADERS AT WORK NETWORKING NIGHT
WRAW Fest is celebrating all women leaders of our movement, including women HSRs and those interested in becoming one! Join us for an online panel discussion with women HSRs from various industries, followed by a networking session and a WRAW Chat for women HSRs to share experiences, challenges, opportunities, and support for our union sisters in workplace leadership roles. This event is open to all women and gender diverse individuals only.
When: Monday, March 25, 6:30 pm - 7:45 pm
Where: Zoom (Register to receive the link on the day)
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY RALLY - END THE SILENCE!
For too long, the patriarchy has tried to silence us. This International Women’s Day, we refuse to stay silent. Instead, we're raising our voices for justice, safety, respect, and equality for all women. Join us as we rally through Melbourne together on Thursday, March 7th at 5:30 pm and demand real action. What won't you be silent about? What action do you want to see? We welcome and encourage all women, cis and trans, non-binary and gender-diverse folks of all ages, sizes, colors, races, sexualities, identities, religions, and cultures, as well as our allies and comrades, to attend the rally.
Where: State Library of Victoria, Corner Swanston and LaTrobe Sts, Naarm, Melbourne
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.