Union News

ACTU WORK SHOULDN’T HURT 2022 SURVEY 

The Australian Council of Trade Unions is conducting it’s second annual “Work Shouldn’t Hurt” survey. The survey covers workers experiences of health and safety in the workplace, what you think is important, and what can be improved in worker’s health and safety. 

Last year 30,000 workers took part in the survey and their valuable contributions led to the drafting of new psychosocial regulations. These changes are a huge step forward in the prevention of mental illness.  

Valuable input from workers has the power to bring about more changes that result in better health and safety conditions in every workplace.  

The survey is open until Tuesday 13 September 2022 and we encourage every HSR to have their say.

Complete the ‘Work Shouldn’t Hurt 2022’ survey here: https://ausunions.io/WSH2022 

VALE JUDITH DURHAM 

In memory of Judith Durham, we have shared below the heartfelt thanks of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation. Judith was a firm friend and supporter of injured nurses and was passionate about improving manual handling policies for nurses. 

“Our thoughts are with all those who loved Judith Durham. Her career with The Seekers, and as a solo artist, has left Australia richer. Nurses and midwives loved her songs, but we loved her more for the support she gave those nurses the rest of society considered ‘broken’. 

She never forgot the nurses who were first on the scene of her car accident in 1990.  

She became the Patron of the Injured Nurses Support Group supporting its then President Elizabeth Langford to reveal the long-term suffering of nurses, injured at work, who’d been unfairly treated by employers and insurers. Inspired by Elizabeth, Judith became passionate about advocating for policies to prevent nurses being hurt at work when they moved patients.  

Elizabeth’s important ‘Buried but not dead’ report became the basis of ANMF (Vic Branch) No Lifting Policy in 1998. Today, manual handling techniques and equipment have prevented thousands of workplace injuries and saved countless lives and livelihoods.  

To acknowledge Elizabeth’s retirement in 2007, Judith performed at the ANMF (Vic Branch) Annual Delegates Conference that year. She delighted an audience of young and not so young nurses and midwives who sang along to ‘I’ll never find another you’ and ‘Georgy Girl’.  

Thank you for your voice Judith – for the songs you sang and for speaking up for those nurses and midwives when no one was listening to them – we’ll never find another you.” 

Source: ANMF Facebook – Vale Judith Durham, On the Record – Vale Judith Durham: thank you for supporting nurses injured at work 

PROFESSIONAL FIREFIGHTER RULED FIT TO RETURN TO WORK 

The FBEU (Fire Brigade Employees Union) has welcomed a decision by the NSW Industrial Relations Commission ‘that frontline workers with PTSD should not be deemed permanently unfit for duty.’  

This comes after Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) proposed to medically discharge a professional firefighter with PTSD.

He took stress leave and filed a workers compensation claim alongside undertaking psychological treatment. In 2020, he reported that his PTSD was in remission and he was experiencing no symptoms and was certified by his GP as being fit to return to work for FRNSW. However, FRNSW argued that they needed to dismiss every firefighter with a psychological injury but the IRC decided that ‘frontline workers with PTSD... should not be consigned to the scrap heap.’ 

FBEU NSW Branch Secretary, Leighton Drury, agreed that the right decision was made, called it a ‘win for professional firefighters,’ and said that ‘FRNSW should focus their efforts on supporting injured firefighters, not terminating them."  

FBEU’s solicitor concluded with ‘Workers who have PTSD. . . should be allowed to return to work if fit or otherwise managed in a proper and lawful way.’ 

Source: Workplace Express - ‘Don't consign trauma-afflicted workers to "scrapheap": Tribunal’,      Fire Brigade Employees’ Union of New South Wales v Fire and Rescue NSW [2022] 

ASK RENATA

My colleague has recently undergone ankle surgery and is using a mobility scooter to get around her office. Our manager told her today she couldn't use it at the workplace because it’s an OHS issue and that she would need to get rid of it, or take leave if she couldn't. What do you think?

Under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, Section 20, an employer must make reasonable adjustments for an employee with a disability if the adjustment will help them perform the genuine and reasonable requirements of their job. 

For example, an employer may be able to make reasonable adjustments by: 

  •     providing a ramp for access to the workplace or a particular software package for computers; 
  •     modifying work instructions or reference manuals
  •     allowing the person or employee to be absent during work hours for rehabilitation, assessment, or treatment 
  •     allowing the person or employee to take breaks more frequently

We suggest reminding your employer of their Equal Opportunity obligations and that their ultimatum to ‘get rid of it or take leave’ may not be lawful. 

Injured and temporarily or permanently disabled employees have rights enshrined in law, and potentially also in your EA (worth a look we would suggest). 

Was your business manager’s determination that the mobility scooter is ‘an OHS issue’ arrived at via a risk assessment, as it should have been, and was the relevant HSR consulted as part of that risk assessment, as they should have been?

 

Would a visitor requiring the assistance of a mobility aid be subjected to the same treatment? 

We also suggest encouraging your colleague to obtain a letter from their treating practitioner explaining the scooter is required until they return to their pre-injury capacity, and requesting the mobility scooter be accomodated as a 'reasonable adjustment' as per section 20 of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010.

See our web page for more helpful information on resolving safety issues in the workplace. 

COVID-19 LATEST NUMBERS

On Tuesday 9th August Victoria recorded: 

6329 new daily infections  
44 COVID deaths 
673 hospitalisations, 32 in ICU and 6 of these are on ventilators 

Cumulatively this equals: 

2,486,125 total Victorian infections 
4,795 Victorian COVID deaths (an increase of 121 since last week) 

You can check the Victorian live update here. 

Australia: As of 9th August, there have been a total of 9,684,642 COVID cases (an increase of 241,241 since last week) and 12,439 deaths, an increase of 479 since last week. 

World: As of 9th August 2022, there had been 590,106,544 worldwide infections (583,211,121) last week). The number of official COVID-related deaths is now 6,438,412 (Source: Worldometer). 

Read more: Coronavirus; COVID-19 Victorian situation. 

VACCINATION UPDATE  

89.28% of all eligible Victorians (5+), as of 9th August, have received their second dose, 91.90% their first dose.  For the third dose the figure is 69.5% (16+). 

The figure for all eligible Australians (5+), for the same date is First Dose 92.81%, Second Dose 90.05%, and the third dose 68.6% (16+). 

Check COVID-Live for Daily Updates (The Age and ABC Vaccine Tracker no longer update their vaccination pages).  

VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES FREE MASKS PROGRAM 

The Victorian Government has announced that more than three million N95 and KN95 masks will be handed out to the community throughout Victoria at state run testing sites, community health services and the public transport network. 

For the next four to six weeks every person that presents for either a free RAT or PCR test will receive one box containing 10 N95 masks, along with instructions on how best to wear them to reduce transmission of COVID 19.   

Masks will also be distributed through Victorian community organisations including at multicultural and multi-faith events, First Nations People gatherings as well as through several service providers. 

Authorised officers and V/line conductors will carry masks with them to hand out as needed, as well as having more masks available from PTV hubs and staffed train stations.  

You can read more in the media release below. 

Source: Media Release - Free Masks To Keep Victorians Safe This Winter  

COVIDSAFE WORKPLACES

Do you have a specific question about Covid-Safety in your workplace? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with your union, or submit an inquiry through the Covid-Safe Workplaces website. 

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