SafetyNet 721

This week in SafetyNet: the Education Department fights on-site support for teachers under attack, OHS wins for nurses and midwives, stronger protections for Federal frontline workers take effect, your opportunity to shape workplace surveillance law, and much more.

A HSR writes to Ask Renata about whether cost is a legitimate objection to the implementation of hazard controls. 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


EDUCATION DEPT. FIGHTS ON-SITE PSYCH SUPPORT

WorkSafe have issued a notice requiring the provision of on-site psychiatric support for teachers at a regional school, Warrnambool College. The Education Department has launched legal action to fight the ruling, citing concerns about cost.

It's been reported teachers at the school face up to 20 violent or gendered attacks from students daily. In response WorkSafe mandated the school provide on-site psychiatric support for teachers due to the high risk of psychological injury.

Australian Education Union Victoria branch deputy president Justin Mullaly said the Warrnambool College case was alarming and reflective of concerns for schools across the state.

‘The situation at that school isn't just isolated to that particular school. We have concerns right across the state that there are some chronic issues in our schools when it comes to the resources that are available. There is a key systemic problem and that is our public schools are chronically underfunded.'

Learn more

 

OHS WINS FOR NURSES & MIDWIVES

A statewide meeting of ANMF Vic Branch members recently endorsed a 4-year Enterprise Agreement offer from the Allan State Government. While the pay outcomes embedded in the agreement have rightfully been cause for celebration, HSRs may find OHS improvements in the new deal of particular interest.

Learn more

 

STRONGER PROTECTIONS FOR FRONTLINE WORKERS

Following our story from earlier this year, attacks on, or threats against, federal frontline workers will attract longer jail penalties after Albanese Government legislation passed Parliament last week.

The law now places frontline workers on the same level as judicial and law enforcement officers, with higher penalties for aggravated offenses.

Commonwealth frontline workers include public officials who interact directly with the public as a primary job function, covering roles at Centrelink, ATO, airports, and the Australian Electoral Commission.

Learn more

 

SUPPORT YOUR FELLOW HSRs

Last year the Government announced they would be reviewing the powers and protections for HSRs under the OHS Act.

VTHC are gathering information from HSRs and Deputy HSRs about your experiences so we can advocate for changes that will better support your vitally important role.

As an HSR, you won't find a more crucial survey to fill out than this one! 

Please encourage all HSRs at your workplace to fill out the survey. It should take about seven minutes to complete.

 

ASK RENATA

Our DWG proposed a fix for a workplace hazard. However, our employer did a So Far As is Reasonably Practicable (SFARP) assessment without telling us and decided the costs are too high, so the fix won't happen.

When deciding if the cost of eliminating or reducing a hazard or risk is ‘reasonably practicable,’ consideration must be given to each of the matters set out in section 20(2) of our OHS Act, with a clear presumption in favour of safety.

The highest level of control should be implemented unless the cost of doing so is extremely unreasonable compared to the benefit of reducing the hazard or risk.

Your employer also has a duty to consult.

Read our response in full

 

DECREASING COVID  ACTIVITY LEVELS

The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 has decreased this week. The 7-day average is 254 (week ending 25 June), compared to 311 last week.

More COVID data here

 

SHAPE POLICY: TAKE OUR WORKPLACE SURVEILLANCE SURVEY

Victorian Trades Hall Council wants to understand your experience of surveillance in the workplace.

Take this 5-minute survey to help inform VTHC’s submission to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Workplace Surveillance.

Participants go into a draw for a $50 Visa gift card. We encourage you to participate in the survey and forward it to friends, family, or workmates who would like to share their views on workplace surveillance.

 

Prosecutions


WORKER PARALYSED: WATERTANK SOLUTIONS FINED $45K

Watertank Solutions Victoria was commissioned to repair and replace the roof of a concrete water tank in Yendon.

One worker was removing screws on the tank's roof, while another was on the ground next to the tank, providing tools and pulling away metal sheets.

As they both tried to free a metal sheet, they fell. The worker on the roof landed on his shoulder, while the worker on the ground fell headfirst into the tank, suffering serious head and neck injuries that resulted in paraplegia.

Learn more

 

Research


TEMP JOBS IMPACT DIET QUALITY

A recent study involving 6,467 middle-aged workers across Korea investigated how temporary employment impacts diet quality. Employment types were categorized as regular, fixed-term, or daily. Dietary quality was assessed using the Korean Healthy Eating Index (KHEI), where higher scores indicate better diet quality.

The study found that temporary workers (fixed-term and daily) had poorer dietary quality compared to regular workers, with men in temporary jobs showing a stronger link to poorer diet quality than women. Researchers concluded that temporary employment negatively affects diet quality, highlighting it as a social factor influencing health.

Access the study here.

 

Regulator News


NSW RETURNS TO SPECIALISED WHS JUDGES

The union movement has hailed the recent rebirth of NSW's Industrial Court in Sydney.

The court, which covers public sector and local government employees, was scrapped in 2016 by the Coalition NSW state government but has resumed operations as a dedicated venue for industrial and WHS matters.

NSW workplace health and safety prosecutions were transferred from the Industrial Court to the Local, District, and Supreme Courts about 13 years ago, before being restored by an industrial relations Bill in 2023.

Three new judges specialising in WHS, industrial relations, and employment law have now been sworn in.

Source: Financial Review, 09 July

 

NSW: INSTANT FINES FOR WORKPLACE FACILITIES BREACHES

The NSW Government has increased on-the-spot fines for WHS breaches by 25% through a new regulation that expands the number of offences eligible for fines from nearly 200 to almost 300. SafeWork NSW inspectors can now issue fines instantly.

The newly added offences for penalty notices include:

  • Failing to ensure workplace layouts, work areas, floor designs, lighting, ventilation, and conditions like heat or cold are reasonably safe for work and related activities, such as emergency evacuations.
  • Failing to ensure workers have access to adequate, clean, safe, and accessible facilities, including toilets, drinking water, washing facilities, and eating facilities, as reasonably practicable for their health and safety.

Maximum fines have also increased, aiming to enforce stricter compliance across various WHS regulations, including hazardous substances and asbestos management.

Source: OHS Alert, 03 July

 

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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