SafetyNet 496

Hi there! Welcome to another stacked issue of SafetyNet. Big stories on fines for Allianz this week, as well as a call to action for our readers to help the ACTU effectively campaign for OHS legislation into the future by filling out their survey.

As always, your feedback helps to keep SafetyNet as useful for the OHS Network as possible. If you have any feedback on this week's edition on SafetyNet, please send it straight on to Sam at sdanby@vthc.org.au. Love SafetyNet or hate it, we want to know about it. So don't hesitate to send your thoughts through.


To keep up to date and informed between editions of SafetyNet, go to our We Are Union: OHS Reps Facebook page, and for those who are HSRs and/or passionate about health and safety, join the OHS Network page, a safe place to raise and discuss issues: check it out and ask to join.

Union News

Australian Union Safety Survey

Australian Unions are advocating for workers to fill out their Worker Survey to feed into the ongoing OHS Boland review. The survey is being used to capture data from workers across Australia, giving them to have a say in the direction of the health and safety space in Australia.

The results will be de-identified and submitted to the ongoing Boland review, as well as being used in the ACTU's campaign to protect the right of all workers to a safe and healthy workplace.

It is not an overly long survey, so please, if you have the time, consider helping Australian Unions advocate strongly for a better OHS future. Your experiences and inputs are the most powerful tool we have to advocate for better OHS laws in Australia.

You can find the survey here. 

Ask Renata

Every week in SafetyNet we highlight an interesting question we received through Ask Renata.

Question:

Hi just a quick question. We have automated forklifts that load racking up to 10 meters high with a lift capacity of 1,800kg and when they go into error they have to be operated remotely with a cord connected to the forklift 2 meters long. My question is do you need a high risk license to operate these forklifts. At the moment we have unlicensed people operating these machines. Thanks.

--

Our response:

Hi mate,

I couldn't find anything explicitly related to these kind of automated forklifts. Unfortunately, the law doesn't always keep up with the pace of technology. However, I see no reason why they wouldn't be considered subject to licensing just like a regular forklift if they are being operated in that fashion. There are many factors to be aware of while operating a forklift, and just because a person is not seated on the vehicle this doesn't negate these safety hazards. I would certainly be raising this with management as a serious safety concern.

You can read more about forklift safety on our website here: http://www.ohsrep.org.au/ohs-in-your-industry/transport,-storage-and-trade/forklift-safety

Let me know if you require any further assistance or clarification.

--

If you have a question for the OHS team (while Renata is away enjoying some well earned time on vacation) head to www.ohsrep.org.au/ask-renata-form

Asbestos News

Asbestos Safety Conference 2019

The 2019 Asbestos Safety Conference will be held in Perth from 11 - 13 November, at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre. Those wishing to attend are able to register now before the end of financial year. (Note: trade show exhibitor registration is not yet open.)

ASEA says the conference provides a unique opportunity for members of the asbestos management system to come together, exchange information and share ideas with over 300 domestic and international professionals from a range of sectors including work health and safety, public health, local government, international campaign work and the environment. 

This year ASEA will collaborate and focus on Australia's National Strategic Plan for Asbestos Awareness and Management 2019-2023 and the roles and responsibilities those in the asbestos management system have in working together toward preventing exposure to asbestos fibres. Read more about the conference here.

Back to top

International union news

'Major victory' for site workers St Fergus Gas plant
Gas plant workers at the UK's Fergus gas plant have secured a massive victory for workers at the Shell owned plant. Reports are stating that constructive meetings were had that ended the dispute, and addressed ongoing OHS concerns at the workplace.

Unite Union threatened to hold an industrial action ballot in response to the employers proposed cancellation of the permit holder payment, which could have seen some workers wages be cut by £103 per week. The new agreed proposal will thankfully ensure this does not arise.

You can read more details on the Unite the Union news page.

Concerns in UK Ambulance Workers Around Retirement Ages

British ambulance workers have raised concerns over their age of retirement. Represented by their union in the UK, GMB, a protest was staged outside of the department of health calling for the minimum age to receive the pension to be brought forward, considering the physical and mental difficulties required to perform the role.

The current age requirement is 68, GMB is campaigning to have their retirement age reduced to 60 in line with other emergency services.

Ambulance workers were quoted in a research survey, stating: "I'm worried - I am not sure that we will be physically able to work 12 hour shifts at that age. This job is physically and mentally demanding and is getting more so as each year passes."

The survey results also showed that:

  • 95.93% don't think they will be able to continue in their current role until their pensionable age.
  • 98.81% think that their job will be too demanding (physically and mentally) the older they become.
  • 87.90% think there will not be the opportunity for redeployment if they are unable to continue in their role.
  • 99.49% would like to see a reduction in their pension age.
  • 98.81% would support GMB in calling on government to reduce the pensionable age of ambulance workers to 60 years.

More information can be found on the GMB's news page.


Research

Canadian Research At-Risk Occupations to Develop Dermatitis

New research has analysed nearly 600,000 records from workers' compensation records to identify which occupations are more at risk of developing the skin damaging disease, dermatitis. 

As you would expect, the research highlighted the heightened risk of developing the disease for workers from occupations involving frictional trauma, such as those involved in furniture and fixture manufacturing, food and beverage preparation and the processing of materials like chemicals, petroleum, rubber and plastic.

However more surprisingly, the research also identified a decreased risk of workers in farming, construction and nursing, which had previously been labelled as high-risk groups.

The researchers stated that this could be due to workers previously afflicted with the condition changing occupation, and trends among some groups, such as nurses, to self manage the condition and not report it. Both cases would skew the data.

Dermatitis is the most common occupational skin disease that has a significant impact on a worker's quality of life and work capacity.

Full story was published recently on OHS Alert.


OHS Regulator News

Stress earns worker early long service payment

A worker has been awarded close to $9,000 after winning a case for his long service leave entitlements after bresigning from his role due to stress.

The worker worked for A1 Rubber in Queensland, but the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission rejected the employer's claim that the employers statement was invalid due to him not working there for the full ten years needed before receiving long service leave. The commission found he was made to resign due to his illness, which was inflicted on him by his employer.

A1 Rubber attempted to claim that the man lied to doctors and psychologists in an attempt to strengthen his case, however it was found that the man continued to see the psychologist, which has improved his mental health, well after stopping work at A1 Rubber.

"The purpose of these proceedings is to determine whether [the worker] has an entitlement to pro rata long service leave in accordance with section 95(4)(b)(i) of the Act. No blame needs to be attached to either [the worker or employer] in respect of the origins of [his] depression and anxiety."

All the worker needed to demonstrate in this case was that he terminated his employment because of his illness or capacity, Commissioner Knight said.

The man was awarded a pro-rata rate for his long service leave of $8,615. 

Safe Work Australia news
Fatality statistics

These are the most up to date numbers as of July 8th.

  • 25 in Transport, postal & warehousing
  • 17 in Agriculture, forestry & fishing
  • 11 in Construction
  • 7 in Public Administration & safety
  • 6 in Electricity, gas, water & waste services
  • 5 in Mining
  • 2 Professional, scientific & technical services
  • 2 in Wholesale trade
  • 1 in Manufacturing
  • 1 in 'Other services'

To check for updates, and for more details on fatalities since 2003, go to the Safe Work Australia Work-related fatalities webpage and in particular, here.


Prosecutions

Training group fined $200k for falsified training session times

A registered training organisation and one of it's trainers, who cut training courses short and failed to cover all the requirements of the course has been fined more than $200,000 for OHS breaches.

The assessment of students who attended the two day course were cut short, with each day of the two day course finishing up around lunch time.

The training organisation pleaded guilty to 14 charges  under section 153(2) of the Victorian OHS Act, of knowingly producing false or misleading documents while purportedly complying with the OHS Act and Regulations.

WorkSafe said in a statement that "Registered trainers have a legal responsibility and a community obligation to train workers properly and WorkSafe will not tolerate assessors or organisations who cut corners or fail to play by the rules."

Allianz Bully Costs Company $1.4 Million in Damages

In the biggest fine I've come across while working in the OHS space, Allianz has copped an incredible $1.4 million dollar fine in damages to a worker after being found it was liable for the acts of an aggressive and physically abuse manager.

The manager, who previously had been employed by the Australian Army, had stated that he was "brought in to kick [the workers] in the head"  after the collapse of the HIH Insurance Group. Additionally, he had frequently engaged in verbal abuse, yelling and berating workers, as well as physically abusing them, including a case where the manager shoulder charged the employee and another where the manager hit him on the back of his head hard so that his head nearly hit his computer keyboard.

The court found that the employee developed post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, resulting in a whole person impairment of 22 per cent from the managers bullying and harassment throughout 2003 and 2004.

Allianz is liable for the managers behaviour, despite not directing him to behave in a such a manor directly, they did advise him that his only goal was "the improvement of the business" and to that end he could act as he saw fit.

More info on the case can be found here.


Events

Events

Trades Hall OHS Network and Injured Workers Support Network Launch Event

We've been working on something that we're really excited to show you, and we've been having a good old fashioned party to celebrate.

Many of you will be familiar with our OHS Reps website, a trove of knowledge for workers and HSRs. And while you might be thinking, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," we're excited to launch our new website with a gathering of the people who get the most out of it: our friends and fellow HSRs! And on top of this we're launching the totally brand new Injured Workers' Support Network website!

These are two really important sites that are going to let the OHS Network more effectively deliver news, safety information and stronger campaigning. It really is a big step, and something worth celebrating.

Plus we've got a bunch of new merch we want to get out to you!

RSVP here so we can make sure there's enough food and drinks to go around. 

Dangerous Goods Advisory Group Meeting, Thurs 1st August  

5.30pm for 6.00pm - 8.30pm - MFB Burnley Complex - 5.30pm for 6pm - 8.30pm meeting V2

The DGAG bimonthly meeting is a general networking / update meeting, open to all, to discuss issues that are going on for Dangerous Goods and Chemical Regulation at the moment.

Central Safety Group lunchtime talk Tuesday 13 August
Non-members welcome!

RSVP by COB Friday 9 August

Book Now https://centralsafetygroup.com/csg-meeting#rsvp-form 

The real impact of shift work and workplace fatigue It is estimated around 20% of the Australian workforce is involved in some form of shift work, many of them in roles critical for public safety.  The challenges of shift work and occupational fatigue have long been acknowledged, but recent research has increased understanding of the negative consequences of working against the body clock.

Dr Tracey Sletten of Monash University and the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Alertness, Safety and Productivity will be presenting some of the latest findings and recommendations in this area to Central Safety Group on Tuesday, 13 August.

Tracey has been working closely with several industries including aviation, transport and healthcare, researching the effects of shift work and sleep loss on workers in their operations. This work has included interventions to improve alertness, health and safety.

As well as the best way to manage shift work, Tracey will discuss the need for cultural change to address the growing incidence of sleep loss in the general population linked to modern lifestyles.

Meeting Details

Topic: The real impact of shift work and workplace fatigue
Speaker: Dr Tracey Sletten, Monash University
When: 12:00-1:00pm, Tuesday, 13 August, 2019
Where: Level 19 (Board Room 1), 360 Collins Street, Melbourne, between Queen & Elizabeth Streets (DXC Technology)
Cost: attendance members free, non-members $10
Lunch (optional): sandwich and juice lunch $15
[Individual membership fee for 2019: $70]
Book Now http://centralsafetygroup.com/csg-meeting#rsvp-form
Please indicate whether you are having lunch.
Or contact Jane Loudon, Secretary, Central Safety Group phone 9387 9768 | mobile 0417 040 252

BE TRADES HALL TRAINED: VTHC OHS Training Centre  
Make sure you attend training provided either by your union or the VTHC! HSRs are elected by their fellow workers to represent them. We understand what HSRs need and have been training effective HSRs for many years. Remember that under Section 67 of the OHS Act, both HSRs and deputies have the right to attend the training course of their choice (in consultation with their employer).

The VTHC OHS Unit is now running courses in a number of new locations to cater for HSRs in the outer suburbs of Melbourne. This is in addition to courses in our usual locations. If you have any questions on the registration process or the courses themselves, send an email to Lisa Mott (or call her on 03 9659 3511). Below are the dates for the next few courses run by the VTHC OHS Training Centre.

HSR Initial OHS training course HSR Refresher OHS Training Courses*
  • August 5 - 9, (Education), Abbotsford
  • August 5 - 9, Ballarat
  • August 12 - 16, Carlton
  • August 19, Education, Abbotsford (Full)
  • August 21, General, Carlton
  • August 22, Disability Services, Carlton
  • August 30, General, Geelong

* HSRs are entitled to attend this course every year subsequent to attending the Initial OHS training course.

OHS Training at the ACTU
The ACTU (Australian Council of Trade unions) runs training courses in occupational/workplace health and safety. These are the upcoming courses in Melbourne in 2019:

  1. Preventing Workplace Bullying and Harassment (Note: a $25 fee will apply)
    Melbourne: August 8
  2. CERTIFICATE IV IN WHS 
    Part 1 14th – 16th October 2019 
    Part 2 12th – 15th November 2019 
    The course will be delivered at the ACTU (VIC). 
    Course and enrolment details here
.Course information and applications can be found on the ACTU Website here.

For more information, email or phone Chris Hughes (03 9664 7389 Mon-Fri) or Anna Pupillo (03 9664 7334 Mon-Wed & Fri).


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