SafetyNet 715

This week in SafetyNet: a Special Event for Injured Workers Day, ACTU’s National OHS 2023 survey results releasedWorkSafe publish a video explaining consultation, ethical issues in workplace mental health programs, Monash Health fined $160k over a preventable patient death, OHS initiatives in the federal budget, and much more.

An oncology worker writes to Ask Renata about SDSs for cytotoxic drugs, 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.

 

Union News


STATE OF WORK HEALTH IN AUSTRALIA 2023

Results from the ACTU’s 2023 Work Shouldn’t Hurt (WSH) survey are now available. This is the third annual survey aimed at tracking changes in workplace health and safety over time results of which are intended to assist unions focus efforts to improve health and safety in Australian workplaces.

Each union can access a dashboard to see their members' results and key issues in their sector.

Disturbingly, the 2023 survey shows a significant increase in reported mental health injuries compared to 2022 with women more likely to report mental health injuries; an increasing trend over the last three years.

No single industry was responsible for the increase, but the Health and Social Assistance and Education sectors continue to report high levels of mental health injuries.

The ACTU has thanked all affiliates for distributing the survey and encouraging participation.

 

FEDERAL BUDGET FUNDS OHS INITIATIVES

$1.5 million over four years has been allocated in the federal budget to establish the Family and Injured Workers Advisory Committee, comprising members with lived experience of serious workplace incidents, to advise on policies.

More federally funded OHS initiatives here

 

ASK RENATA

Do the cytotoxic drugs used in the Oncology department at our workplace require Safety Data Sheets (SDS)?

The short answer is ‘yes’.

The term 'Cytotoxic' refers to substances or processes that can damage cells or cause them to die. The term is often used when discussing chemotherapy drugs that kill cancer cells.

Cytotoxic drugs are classified as hazardous substances under Victorian OHS regulations due to their potential to cause harm to workers' health through exposure. 

“An employer must ensure that the current SDS for a hazardous substance is readily accessible to any employees who could be exposed to the substance” - OHS Regulations r156.

Read our response in full.

 

COVID News


COVID HOSPITALISATIONS ON THE RISE

Current trends indicate high levels of COVID-19 activity in Victoria.

The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 has increased this week. The 7-day average is 284, compared to 208 last week.

More comprehensive COVID data here

 

International News


US: IS AVIAN FLU THE NEXT PANDEMIC?

Avian flu (H5N1) is spreading among birds and some cows, and there is concern it could affect humans. Currently, it mostly spreads from animals to humans, not between humans, but experts worry the virus could mutate and become a severe pandemic.

Learn more

 

US: FLORIDA LEGISLATES AWAY CLIMATE CHANGE 

Florida has passed a law that removes any mention of ‘climate change’ from state laws and policies.

Learn more

 

Prosecutions


PATIENT DEATH: MONASH HEALTH FINED $160K 

In August 2015, nurses at Casey Hospital's acute mental health unit were conducting a welfare check when they found a patient unresponsive in the visitors' toilet, having attempted to take her own life. She was transferred to the emergency department and died two days later.

Learn more

 

BUILDER FINED $25K FOR EWP POWER LINE INCIDENT

Aras Holdings, a specialist building company, was hired to construct ten factories in Footscray and employed a sole trader for the concreting work. On April 7, 2022, an employee of the sole trader was using an elevated work platform (EWP) to work on the factory facades. The EWP came into contact with overhead power lines, causing electrical shorting and significant damage to the EWP, though the employee was unharmed.

Learn more

 

$375K FINE IN SILICOSIS PROSECUTION

In a NSW District Court judgment, Edstein Creative has been fined $375,000 for failing to protect workers from exposure to dangerous silica dust, leading to one employee developing silicosis.

Learn more

 

Research


ETHICAL ISSUES IN WORKPLACE MENTAL HEALTH PROGRAMS

Swedish researchers examining work-focused cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) interventions and team-based support programs have identified that while the goal of these interventions is to reintegrate employees back to work, they come with ethical costs for workers and stakeholders..

Learn more

 

Regulator News


BOOST WORKPLACE SAFETY: WSV’s CONSULTATION VIDEO

Consultation is an employer's obligation. If you're having trouble explaining consultation to your boss, send them a link to WorkSafe’s consultation video.  It promises to help employers learn how easy it can be to consult with workers on workplace health and safety. Perfect for medium and large-sized businesses.

Visit our Consultation webpage for more information on employers' duty to consult.

 

ENGINEERED STONE ALTERNATIVES

To protect workers from the harmful effects of crystalline silica dust, Victoria will ban the use of engineered stone in manufacturing, supply, processing, and installation from July 1. There will be no transitional period, and contracts made before July 1 will not be exempt.

WorkSafe is encouraging businesses and consumers to find alternative materials and resolve contract issues in good faith. Existing engineered stone installations can still be repaired or modified under strict safety regulations.

Exemptions to the ban in other jurisdictions will not automatically apply in Victoria, where we have our own strict guidelines. WorkSafe Victoria advises that any attempt to bypass the ban by rebranding engineered stone will face strict penalties.

Employers are encouraged to contact Consumer Affairs Victoria for more information.

 

WORKSAFE AWARDS: NOMINATIONS OPEN

Nominations for the 35th edition of the WorkSafe Victoria Awards have opened. The seven categories are:

  • Commitment to prevention of mental injury in the workplace;
  • Farm safety solution;
  • Health and safety representative of the year;
  • Leading return-to-work practice;
  • OHS leadership/achievement;
  • Worker return-to-work achievement; and
  • Workplace health and safety solution of the year.

Entries for the 2024 competition close on 21 June, and the winners will be announced in February next 2025.

 

Asbestos News


HAVE YOU ENCOUNTERED ASBESTOS?

Have you recently encountered asbestos at your workplace, in buildings, or in parks?

Exposure to asbestos is the leading cause of work-related deaths worldwide, and the impact of asbestos diseases extends beyond workplaces into our broader communities.

The Victorian Trades Hall Council is advocating for stricter regulation of asbestos contamination following recent discoveries of asbestos in mulch and soil at playgrounds and parks in Melbourne.

If you have concerns about soil safety in your community, please let us know here.

 

Events


WELLBEING STRATEGIES FOR INJURED WORKERS

Being on WorkCover with a long-term illness or injury can be an isolating and emotionally draining experience, taking a toll both physically and psychologically.

For Injured Workers Day 2024, we will be joined by Christine Field, CEO of Hunterlink, a not-for-profit EAP focused on workers’ wellbeing. She will share some wellbeing and coping strategies for injured workers and answer questions on all things related to mental health.

We welcome everyone, whether an injured worker, carer, or keen HSR, to attend this session and learn how injured workers can better support themselves and be supported by those around them while going through WorkCover.

Monday, 3 June. 4-5 pm, online via Zoom. RSVP here. Upon responding, participants will receive a Zoom link via a confirmation email.

 

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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