SafetyNet 711

This week in SafetyNet, as International Workers' Memorial Day fast approaches, we cover: child labour violations in retail, a director charged over ‘teen in a toolbox’, research on how 'toughness culture' risks vicarious trauma, ministers agree on new workplace exposure limits, a new silicosis standard in the US, a court finding that failure to staff safely is not 'reasonable management action,'and much more.

A HSR writes to Ask Renata about change rooms and other facilities, and as always, we encourage you to send your questions to Ask Renata.

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.

 

Upcoming Events


Each year we observe International Workers' Memorial Day to reflect and remember all those who have lost their lives at work, or as a result of exposure to workplace hazards.

You are invited to VTHC’s International Workers’ Memorial Day

Date: Monday 29 April
Time: 10.30am
Location: Argyle Square, Lygon St, Carlton

RSVP here

 

WATCH OUR WEBINAR: UNDERSTANDING CHANGES TO WORKCOVER

As of March 31st, changes have been made to WorkCover regarding the types of mental injury-related claims that can be made, and the way payments may or may not be continued beyond 130 weeks.

Last week, we hosted a live show with our sponsors Slater & Gordon, during which we heard from WorkCover experts Audrey Gunn and Marc Temminghoff about how these changes affect workers.

A recording of the webinar along with the slides and factsheets from Slater & Gordon are now on our website

 

Union News


FAILURE TO STAFF SAFELY ‘NOT ‘REASONABLE’

The employer of a paramedic deployment supervisor, who suffered a psychological injury, has failed to block his entitlements by claiming that its inability to provide safe staffing levels constituted 'reasonable administrative action.'

Learn more

 

RETAILER'S CHILD LABOUR VIOLATIONS EXPOSED

TK Maxx, a national retailer, has admitted to seven breaches of child employment laws at its Werribee store. They hired children under 15 without permits, failed to ensure proper supervision, and violated work hour regulations. The company received a 12-month good behaviour order and must pay $5,000.

In another case, Ive Distributions admitted to hiring 318 children aged 11 to 14 without permits and was fined $4,000 with a 3-year good behaviour order.

Authorities are reportedly 'alarmed' by the lack of diligence and legal compliance, and have reinforced the importance of safeguarding children's welfare.

Source: Workplace Express, 22 April

 

ASK RENATA

At my workplace 30 women are required to get changed in an area that's approximately 1 metre by 30 and lean against a wall to put our shoes on.

We think you’ll find our Change rooms and other facilities webpage helpful as well as WorkSafe’s Workplace facilities and the working environment compliance code.

They explain that changing rooms need to have:

  • enough seating for all employees who are changing at the same time to sit down when dressing or undressing
  • accessible mirrors, either inside the room or just outside of it
  • enough hooks

Read our response, in full

 

WEEKLY COVID STATS

The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 has increased since last reporting period. The 7-day average is 116, compared to 95 last week.

More COVID stats here

 

International News


US: UNIONS CAN ACCOMPANY INSPECTORS

A new walkaround regulation aims to bring OSHA and workers' rights into the 21st century by allowing non-employee representatives, such as union organisers to accompany OSHA inspectors during workplace safety inspections.

Learn more

 

Workers globally do not universally enjoy the legal right to refuse or shut down unsafe work in every jurisdiction or circumstance.

Nonetheless we have a moral right to refuse or shut down unsafe work. Moreover, in serious circumstances, we not only have the right to refuse but also a duty to do so.

Our problems arise when the exercise of this right is not protected from reprisals by the employer.

IndustriALL has published a booklet in several languages on the right to refuse, in the global context and interested HSRs can download the booklet here.

For information on your right to refuse unsafe work in the Victorian context, visit our webpage. 

 

US: NEW SILICOSIS STANDARD

The US Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has issued a new standard to protect miners from the harmful effects of silica dust. This announcement adds to the number of new standards and regulations being issued by the Biden administration. It comes 50 years after a report recommended reducing worker exposure to silica, and over 90 years after at least 764 mostly African American workers died while digging the Hawks Nest tunnel through a mountain of solid silica in West Virginia.

Learn more

 

APRIL: THE CRUELEST MONTH FOR WORKERS

April is the month in which we commemorate International Workers' Memorial Day and vow to mourn the dead and fight like hell for the living. It's also been called the darkest month for workplace disasters.

Here is an incomplete list of catastrophes that Aprils past have delivered.

 

Research


TOUGHNESS CULTURE RISKS VICARIOUS TRAUMA

Workers in environments that promote an image of toughness may face increased risks of vicarious trauma, according to Dr. Cathy Kezelman, president of the Blue Knot Foundation.

Learn more

 

Regulator News


NEW REQUIREMENTS FOR INCIDENT NOTIFICATION

From 1 July 2024, new requirements for Incident notification for plant and equipment under our OHS Regulations as well as Equipment Public Safety Regulations (EPS Regulations 2017) will commence.

Learn more

 

SA MANDATES COOPERATION ON RETURN-TO-WORK

Based on similar obligations in Victorian workers' compensation legislation, South Australia has introduced The Return to Work (Employment and Progressive Injuries) Amendment Bill 2024 which proposes significant changes to employer duties regarding injured workers.

Learn more

 

COMCARE'S FIRST PSYCH SAFETY FORUM FOR 2024

Comcare is inviting HSRs from licenced national employers in the Comcare scheme (subject to regulation under Commonwealth work health and safety laws) to its first Psychosocial Health and Safety Forum for 2024.

Learn more

 

MINISTERS AGREE ON NEW EXPOSURE LIMITS

Work health and safety (WHS) ministers have agreed on a new Workplace Exposure Limits (WEL) list and set a transition period until November 30, 2026. The WEL list replaces the previous Workplace Exposure Standards (WES).

Learn more

 

Prosecutions


COUNCIL IN COURT: WORKCOVER FAILURE

Banyule City Council was sentenced in the Heidelberg Magistrates' Court on Wednesday after pleading guilty to a single charge of failing to forward a worker's compensation claim to WorkSafe within 10 days of receipt.

Learn more

 

DIRECTOR CHARGED OVER TEEN IN TOOLBOX

WorkSafe has charged a company director for driving a ute in Victoria's high country with a teenage apprentice in a toolbox.

Learn more

 

CLEANAWAY CHARGED: WORKER SEVERELY BURNED

National waste management company, Cleanaway, faces charges under federal work health and safety laws after a fire at its facility in Sydney caused serious injuries to a worker.

Learn more

 

LAZO PAPER FINED $40K FOR CRUSHED HAND

Cardboard manufacturer Lazo Paper has been fined $40,000 after a worker's hand was dragged into unguarded machinery at its Keysborough factory in May 2022.

Learn more

 

Events


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.

HSR Initial OHS Training Course
HSR Refresher OHS Training Course

VTHC also offers tailored training, including for managers and supervisors, on Comcare, and on gendered violence.

Check out our training webpage for more information.

 

OHS Team
http://www.weareunion.org.au

 

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