Welcome to the 8 September, 2022 edition of SafetyNet.
Happily there have been no reports of a Victorian workplace death since last journal.
This week's SafetyNet is somewhat truncated to enable our attendance at the ACTU's Mental Health Workplace Safety Organising Conference held this week at Victorian Trades Hall Council. We look forward to reporting on key themes and presentations in next week's journal.
We hope you find this week's journal useful and interesting. Feel free to share it, and please, encourage others in your workplace to subscribe.
HSRs NEEDED FOR RESEARCH ON PSYCHOLOGICAL HEALTH REGULATIONS WIN one of three $50 gift vouchers
Researchers at the University of South Australia are conducting an online study to investigate Health and Safety Representative's perceptions of the new OHS Amendment (Psychological Health) Regulations. Participation involves the completion of an online survey. This survey only takes about 6 minutes to complete. Eligibility Criteria: Current or previous Health and Safety Representative - Able to read and understand English - Computer/laptop or smartphone with internet access
To access the survey, click here. The survey closes on Sunday!
VICTORIAN OHS HISTORY – FREE PUBLICATION RELEASE
OHSIntros this week released the second part of its trilogy on the history of OHS in Victoria. It may now be downloaded free from a link below. The 86-page document will be available for a limited period only, in the lead up to Victoria’s Health and Safety Month in October. The second part – “Commemorating the anniversary of workplace health and safety - from WorkCare to WorkSafe” tells the story of the implementation of the Robens-style Victorian OHS Act in 1985 through the WorkCare/WorkCover eras, then its revision during the WorkSafe era. This was when the regulator was adopting new thinking on reducing work harms across the state as the nature of work and the workplace was changing.
Has the employer the right to enter the home for an OHS audit after an injury occurs while working from home?
This is a tricky question requiring consideration of both OHS and industrial laws.
We know employers must provide a safe workplace and therefore may be able to make the case for a home office inspection, but the success of that argument may come down the usefulness, or otherwise, of doing so.
WorkSafe guidance focuses on checklists for workers to fill out, rather than recommending employer inspections - though this was all pushed out in the context of COVID which is of course ongoing.
Consideration needs to be given to the injury, 'mechanism of injury' and legal considerations in balancing OHS duties with reasonable privacy provisions.
If a physical injury occurred because of a poorly setup workstation, or a slip, trip or fall, then a worksite inspection may be justified.
If a psychological injury resulting from work overload, intrusive electronic surveillance or workflow-organisation occurred, then an onsite inspection may be of little benefit because these are essentially system-of-work issues that can be reviewed remotely.
It’s worth noting - if an injured worker is on a return-to-work (RTW) plan, the employer has obligations to ensure the plan is complaint and safe. This too may necessitate an inspection of the work space.
COVID-19 LATEST NUMBERS
On Monday 5th September Victoria recorded:
1,709 new daily infections
4 COVID deaths
266 hospitalisations, 14 in ICU and 4 of these are on ventilators
Cumulatively this equals:
2,574,489 total Victorian infections
5,363 Victorian COVID deaths (an increase of 81 since last week)
You can check the Victorian live update here.
Australia: As of 5th September, there have been a total of 10,075,747 COVID cases (an increase of 62,430 since last week) and 14,078 deaths (an increase of 264 since last week).
World: As of 5th September, there had been 610,382,282 worldwide infections (606,251,788 last week). The number of official COVID-related deaths is now 6,504,020 (Source: Worldometer).
89.32% of all eligible Victorians (5+), as of 5th September, have received their second dose, 91.93% their first dose. For the third dose the figure is 69.7% (16+).
The figure for all eligible Australians (16+), for the same date is First Dose 98.0%, Second Dose 96.3%, the third dose 68.9% and the fourth dose 22.8% (16+).
Check COVID-Live for Daily Updates.
COVID ISOLATION DROPS TO 5 DAYS
Last week, the Federal Government announced that the 7 day isolation period for positive COVID cases will be reduced to 5 days for most workers who no longer have COVID symptoms. This change will take effect from the 9 September. A 7 day isolation period remains for workers in aged and disability care. The Pandemic Disaster Payment will also change to reflect the shortened isolation period and will be reduced from the current $750.
Read more here.
STOP BALLARAT PAYING PIPECON
On Wednesday 24 August, Ballarat Councillors awarded a $2 million contract to Pipecon Pty Ltd for a road reconstruction project. In March 2018 two local workers, Jack Brownlee and Charlie Howkins, were killed when a trench collapsed. In November 2021, Pipecon was convicted and fined only $550,000 for failing to provide supervision to ensure a safe workplace.
Pipecon are also under investigation for the death of a third man, Leigh Suckling, in 2020.
Pipecon's actions and the slap on the wrist they received inspired Victoria to introduce Workplace Manslaughter laws. Although Pipecon can't be charged with the new offence retrospectively, they should still not be allowed to work in our community again.
SafetyNet believe no level of government that should be awarding contracts to companies that negligently cause the death of workers. Councilors should immediately review this decision, award the road reconstruction tender to another company, and apologise to the community.
Remember the dead, fight like hell for the living. We encourage readers to sign this petition: Stop Paying Pipecon
WorkSafe's regular HSR newsletter arrived in our Inbox Thursday last week containing information on:
- Negotiating and varying Designated Work Groups (DWGs)
- The recently the updated Compliance Code on Communicating OHS Across Languages
- Recent WorkSafe Safety Alerts
- WorkSafe’s HSR Support Channel app - how to download it
- How to control risks associated with falling objects
- Recent WorkSafe prosecutions and enforceable undertakings
If you haven’t already done so you can subscribe to WorkSafe’s HSR newsletter here
$25k FINE FOR FINGER AMPUTATION
Transport freight company, Tasmanian Freight Services, was fined $25,000.00 and ordered to pay costs of $4,391.00 after a labour hire worker had the tip of his right ring finger amputated whilst assisting others to load a truck at a depot in Laverton North.
A worker was required to use a forklift to load a large pallet of goods onto a truck but the pallet load was not sitting properly. The injured worker picked up a piece of wood and put it in front of the pallet load, as a bearer, so the driver could use the forklift tynes to push it.
As the driver operated the forklift, the injured worker’s finger became jammed between the piece of wood and the pallet causing the amputation.
First aid was administered at the workplace, before another employee transported the injured worker to Werribee and then to the Sunshine Hospital.
The injured worker was admitted to the Sunshine Hospital where he underwent surgery. Unfortunately doctors were unable to reattach his finger due to the extent of the damage caused. The amputation occurred at the first knuckle joint of the right ring finger.
WOMEN FACE SIGNIFICANT OHS BARRIERS IN THE TRANSPORT INDUSTRY
A major report has identified the need to address systemic OHS gaps, including the lack of workplace amenities for women, physical safety concerns, and diversity issues that have led to a rise in harassment and bullying.
the report found only about 27 per cent of more than 530,000 people employed in road, rail, aviation and maritime, as of 2021, were women.
The recently released 180-page report shows women's health and safety in the industry remains an overlooked and poorly addressed issue. Researchers say lack of facilities for women is a major barrier in long haul driving, particularly in isolated areas, as are ill-designed cabins and uniforms which all create physical safety risks.
Trucking equipment was originally designed for men, and it seems little has changed.
One of the report's key findings is that the transport industry is perceived as 'blokey’ and is a deterrent for many women, who have concerns about harassment, double standards, misogyny, and safety issues associated with long hours away from home, often in remote areas, the researchers say.
The report outlines a number of initiatives aimed at increasing diversity, implementing cultural change and improving safety in the sector. Some of these are:
- the Federal Government's Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative, which is funding a Women in Trucking Australia safety video showcasing women in the industry;
- The NSW Women's Strategy, whose aims include improving the wellbeing of women across the State transport sector through strategies such as the promotion of a culture based on respect and inclusion, and having women fill 40 per cent of leadership roles by 2025;
- Victoria's Inclusion and Diversity Strategy, which is committed to reaching a target of 50 per cent women in the workforce and in leadership roles by 2023;
- Victoria's Driven Women program, which provides safe workspaces and facilities for women and aims to increase female participation in the workforce by 10 per cent each year; and
- Qube Holdings' Female only intake - MC Road Train Trainee Operator Program, which includes a 10-week training program to help women become road train operators (with an employment guarantee), and ensures amenities are suitable for women.
Source: OHS Alert September 2022 The barriers to women entering and progressing in transport roles: Final report, completed February 2022, released August 2022
HSR INITIAL & REFRESHER TRAINING
Trained HSRs are more effective HSRs - have you just been elected and haven't organised your training yet? Do it now! And if you completed your initial five-day training then organise your annual refresher now. There are things happening in the OHS space you need to be aware of.
Remember: under Section 67 of the OHS Act 2004 all HSRs and dHSRs are entitled to attend at least 1 one-day refresher course every year, yet many just don't get around to it. If this is you, then check out the courses scheduled for next year, and enrol now, before they fill up. It's important to attend in order to keep up your knowledge of OHS law and practice up-to-date. In the past year we have had significant amendments to the OHS Act, new regulations (for crystalline silica) and new codes. Trained health and safety reps make a real difference in their workplaces, and it's great to meet with others and share experiences!
Go to this link to enrol in any of the five-day initial or refresher courses. Remember to then notify your employer at least 14 days before the course.
Initial Courses Dates:
26 - 30 September – Ringwood – Available
10 - 14 October – Carlton – Available
17 - 21 October Narre Warren – Available
7 - 11 November (Early Childhood Education Sector) – AEU Abbotsford – Available
7, 8, 9 November & 14, 15 November - Trades Hall Carlton – Available
21 - 25 November – Geelong – Available
21 - 25 November (Education Sector) – AEU Abbotsford – Available
5, 6, 7 December & 12, 13 December – Carlton – Available
5 - 9 December -Bendigo - Available
Refresher Course Dates:
6 October -Trades Hall Carlton – Available
11 November (Education Specific) – AEU Abbotsford – Available
16 November - Narre Warren – Available
29 November - Trades Hall Carlton – Available
1 December – Geelong – Available
14 December – Trades Hall Carlton - Available