SafetyNet 497

With Renata still on leave, you're about to experience the joy of yet another SafetyNet issue from Sam. I tell you what, I'm really starting to miss my mate Renata!

Importantly, we're having a launch party for the new OHS and Injured Workers Support Network websites on the 14th of August. It's a big win that's really worth celebrating. RSVP here: www.weareohs.org.au/ohs_reps_launch_party

This week, a new silica standard has been handed down from SafeWork Australia - and it leaves a lot of workers unsafe, and a lot of reasons for us to keep fighting for a safer one.

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 it 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.

Union News

New Silica Exposure Standard of 0.05mg/m³ over 3 years leaves many wanting

This Wednesday, SafeWork Australia voted on the future of Australia's silica standard.

Victorian Trades Hall Council has long advocated for a strong reduction to the silica exposure standard, which has long been at 0.1mg/m³. Over the past few years, as engineered stone bench tops became more and more commonplace in kitchens, workers were becoming exposed to higher levels of silica dust than ever before.

As a direct result, hundreds of Australian workers were struck down with silicosis, a degenerative disease that slowly rots at the lungs of young workers, over the course of many years, until eventually many are left only with the option of lung transplantation.

The goal heading in to the vote was 0.02mg/m³ - a 80% reduction of the outdated silica exposure standard and a number backed by the Cancer Council, the Victorian Government and VTHC. The office of Victorian Premiere Daniel Andrews had also released a media statement in support of 0.02mg/m³ a  However we knew we would come up against strong push back from industry, and there was.

Lobbying from mining industry representatives and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has led to 0.05mg/m³ being the new exposure standard, to be rolled out over the next 3 years.

However, going forward, Trades hall and the Cancer Council are still in support of an exposure standard of 0.02mg/m³. We know this is the standard that will save lives, protect workers and help to stop employers from cutting corners.Our campaign for 0.02mg/m³ is not over.



Ask Renata

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

We have a simple one this week...

Question: Are pink and blue hi vis shirts with reflective tape acceptable to wear on work sites?

--

Answer:

Hi, 

The short answer is that no, pink and blue are not ideal. Australian Standard 4602.1:2011 states that the approved colours are yellow, red and orange. 

Even the addition of reflective tape doesn't bring it up to standard, as the reflective strips are only effective at night. If you are on work sites at night, however, the tape is necessary. 

You can read more about PPE on our website here: http://www.ohsrep.org.au/faqs/ohs-reps-@-work-other-/personal-protective-equipment-ppe

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

Thanks,

--

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


OHS Regulator News

WHS Offence With Life Sentence Begins in Northern Territory.

Folks in the Northern Territory unfortunately have a far higher number of workplace fatalities than any other state or territory in Australia. In response to this, the NT government has agreed to introduce Industrial Manslaughter laws with the possibility of life imprisonment for company officers.

Earlier in the year, former ACTU assistant secretary Tim Lyons' put forward a best practice review of WHS in the Territory, of which 23 of his 27 recommendations were adopted.

The Territory government released a 10 page response, which you can find here (www.newsroom.nt.gov.au/api/attachment/byId/11536

Attorney-General and Justice Minister Natasha Fyles highlighted five recommendations to be introduced through a three-phase implementation plan:

  • Creating the offence of industrial manslaughter with maximum penalties of life imprisonment for individuals and $10 million for bodies corporate;
  • Formalising an investigations unit within the WorkSafe inspectorate to focus on serious incidents and fatalities;
  • Working with the WHS Advisory Council and Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Advisory Council to improve the support offered to the families of victims of workplace incidents;
  • Tightening the approval processes for enforceable undertakings; and 
  • Completing a review of WorkSafe's decisions and development processes for publishing safety alerts after serious incidents.

The decision of the Territory government may help to inform decisions made in Victoria as discussions around how to introduce the laws here continue to take place.

WorkSafe Releases New Web Updates On Mental Health

Just a small update here. WorkSafe have updated their website to contain a new summary of mental health safety basics, which can be found here:

www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/mental-health-safety-basics?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=WW_Wednesday&utm_content=MH_webpage

The webpage boasts updated and easily accessible information on:

  • Legal duties of employers and employees
  • Causes of workplace injury
  • Creating a mentally healthy workplace
  • Links to additional resources to get you started.

The web updates are another sign that as WorkSafe are taking steps to address the ever increasing amount of mental health claims that enter the WorkCover system as the mental health of workers is discussed and recognised more readily.

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.


OHS Prosecutions

Spotlight Cops $150,000 Fine 

Spotlight has been fined a massive amount after a driver was struck with his own truck from behind, knocking him to the ground and the truck running over his left leg. Shockingly, after someone else noticed something was wrong, the truck reversed and ran over his leg a second time.

The driver sustained a dislocated left knee, skin and flesh removal from his left left as well as a crushed foot which resulted in amputation of his fourth toe, as well as a broken left ankle.

The truck driver, who was self employed and worked separately from the Spotlight, followed the regular unloading and loading procedure,  but the company failed to follow it's own safe unloading procedure after a Mobicon operator moved the mans truck forward before he could get into the cabin. 

Following the incident, the offender implemented a number of changes:

  • Designated loading and unloading zones marked out where vehicles and freight containers are loaded and unloaded;
  • Hazard zones marked out where mobile plant will be operating during loading and unloading and establishing these as pedestrian exclusion zones during such activities;
  • Marked driver safety zones so vehicle drivers can observe the loading and unloading of their vehicle;
  • Re-marking the pedestrian path;
  • Decommissioning of the Mobicon so that it was no longer used at the workplace;
  • A security officer was employed to be at the entry point to the vehicle loading and unloading area who controls the entry of vehicles and directs vehicle drivers; and
  • Communicating the traffic management plan to various companies undertaking such activities for the offender.

The company pleaded guilty, but has had 2 prior OHS incidents, so they were fined $150,000 plus costs of $4,217.

Full details can be found here: www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/prosecution-result-summaries-enforceable-undertakings

Turrisi Enterprises fined $17,500 after truck driver taken to hospital

In yet another truck related prosecution, Turrisi enterprises has been fined after a driver sustained crash injuries when his hand was caught between the "Maxi 8" pack and the truck as the truck was being unloaded. The truck driver was taken to hospital, but returned to light duties 2 weeks later.

The company was fined as it was revealed they did not have a good system of work around unloading, as well as a lacklustre traffic management place that failed to ensure safety of the drivers.

It was found that it would have been reasonably practicable for the company to:

  • A designated driver safety zone; and
  • Conducted a site induction of drivers, contractors and delivery personnel including instruction that they must remain in the driver safety zone when the forklift was loading and unloading.

The business had been operating for 40 years with no prior convictions, which could have led to a reduction in the eventual sentencing.

The business pleaded guilty, and has been ordered to pay $17,5000 plus costs of just over $6,000.

Full details, and news on convictions as it comes, can be found here: www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/prosecution-result-summaries-enforceable-undertakings

Events

VTHC + IWSN Web Launch Party

In a few weeks, we're having a celebratory launch of the new OHS and IWSN websites.

The new OHS website is a big deal. It's been in the works for the past year, and is a drastic improvement on how we can talk about health and safety hazards, training and events online.

In addition, the importance of the launch of the Injured Workers Support Network's first website can't be overstated. This is a tremendous group

So we're getting a win under our belt, and we're celebrating it. Come celebrate with us:

When: Wednesday, 14th of August, 6:00pm. 
Where: Trades Hall, Carlton.
What: Drinks, a bite to eat, good chats and a celebration.

Why: Because something this important and this long in the making is worth celebrating.

RSVP here: www.weareohs.org.au/ohs_reps_launch_party

Perth Asbestos Conference

The 2019 Asbestos Safety Conference will be held in Perth from 11 - 13 November, at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre. Early bird registrations are available until 23 August so now is a good time to secure your place at Australia's only conference on Asbestos Safety.

The conference provides a unique opportunity for all 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 workers' health and safety, public health, the role of the non-government sector, and international campaign work. There will also be particular sessions focused on the work of asbestos support groups, the latest research into asbestos awareness communications and the latest from medical researchers.

This year the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency 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. The roles of employees and their representatives in supporting and advocating for workers' health and safety in relation to asbestos management is a key component to achieving this.

Read more about the conference here: www.asbestossafety.gov.au/events/asbestosconference2019/registration

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


Job Opportunities

Health and Safety Training Officer

The AMWU are on the hunt for a new OHS training officer. If you're a strong Unionist, with a healthy pool of OHS knowledge this could be a fantastic step into a terrific union for you.

Here's an excerpt from the ad:

The AMWU represents members in a wide range of manufacturing industries including metals, printing, food, auto components manufacturing, construction, vehicle, chemical and defence and airline industries.

A diverse range of occupations are represented e.g. production workers, trades people, and technical officers.

Consistent with AMWU values, the successful candidate must have a genuine interest in and positive attitude to improving OHS for AMWU members and be committed to work within a team environment to achieve better outcomes for workers.

Salary commensurate with experience.

A genuine commitment to Trade Unionism is essential.

Responsibilities will include:

  • Delivering WorkSafe approved training to union HSRs
  • Assisting HSRs to resolve workplace issues and conduct inspections
  • Assisting HSRs to build and maintain strong OHS structures
  • Providing technical advice and reports, written and verbal (State Council, WorkSafe & VTHC)
  • Advocating for AMWU members on workplace Health and Safety issues
  • Conducting risk assessments
  • Researching OHS issues
  • Campaigning

Full details of the role and details on how to apply can be found here, on Ethical Jobs


Training

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:

Preventing Workplace Bullying and Harassment (Note: a $25 fee will apply)
Melbourne: August 8
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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