Union News

Ask Renata

Hello Renata, 
I've been asked to perform the role of HSR for two DWGs. Are there any conflicts or legal issues associated with this. Can I do it?

No, this can't be a permanent arrangement, as s59 of the OHS Act states that 'powers (are) generally limited to the particular DWG'. Even though the section allow an HSR to represent another DWG if a member of that DWG asks for assistance and it's 'not feasible to refer the matter to an HSR for that DWG, this is not intended to allow one HSR to represent two DWGs.

So either the other DWG elects their own HSR, and as quickly as possible, OR there's a renegotiation of the DWGs and the two become one. However I would not recommend this second option, as it's more permanent, and would mean a new election in the newly formed DWG. You would cease being the HSR for either group…

For more information see: OHS Reps - your rights and Designated Work Groups

Please send any OHS related queries in to Ask Renata - your query will be responded to as quickly as we can – usually within a couple of days.

Asbestos News
More asbestos removed at Morwell 
The first of eight boilers at the former Morwell Power Station will soon be completely stripped of asbestos in a process that could take up to six weeks. Demolition firm Delta Group has subcontracted the asbestos removal process to an asbestos removal company, AWARE, which will remove between 3000-4000 cubic metres of asbestos from the facility. To strip asbestos from the seven-storey-high boilers, the company must construct an "asbestos bubble" – a sealed enclosure under negative air pressure – around a boiler to prevent airborne fibres from escaping. Approximately 650 cubic metres of asbestos has been removed from the site since the demolition process began in January. Read more: Latrobe Valley Express

ACV/GARDS May Newsletter
The Gippsland based asbestos support group ACV/GARDS has released its May Newsletter [pdf]. First item is news that it recently moved offices to the old admin building at Gippsland Heritage Park in Lloyd St, Moe. The organisation is thrilled, and says the new office space has been designed specifically for their members with new automatic sliding front door, a new disabled toilet, and more upgrades. All the renovations were done to with a grant from the Latrobe Valley Authority.

WA: Road upgrade delayed
One of WA's most important road projects has been stalled by the deadly legacy of asbestos mining in the Pilbara more than half a century ago. A critical upgrade to the Karratha-Tom Price Road has been delayed by the discovery of vast amounts of asbestos along an unsealed section that was used to transport blue asbestos from Wittenoom until mining ceased in 1966. 

So far, approximately 12,000 cubic metres of asbestos has been removed from the site by a specialist contractor. The discovery has led to construction companies being reluctant to bid for the Stage Three contract -  sealing a 48km section closest to Wittenoom - because they have to produce an asbestos management plan. They fear the contract makes them liable for future asbestos-related issues and costs.
Read more: The West Australian

More information on the site: Asbestos in the home and Asbestos in the workplace

Operator rescued after forklift flips
On Thursday last week, a forklift driver was freed in a 'complex and delicate rescue mission' in West Melbourne after the forklift flipped, leaving the driver trapped in the cabin about four metres off the ground. Fire crews were called to the scene on Dock Link Road near Footscray Road just before 4:00pm. The forklift was moving a large shipping container at the time. It then fell forward, with the back wheels about eight metres up in the air. The driver fell forward in the cabin when the forklift tipped. The MFB brought in specialist firefighters with a high-angle rescue team to secure the vehicle before the driver was rescued. Luckily he was not injured. Read more: ABC News online

NSW: One man killed another seriously injured
In Sydney on Monday two men were trapped under landfill: one workers was killed and the other suffered serious injuries. Both workers were struck by a bulldozer and buried under tonnes of waste at a tip in Eastern Creek, in Sydney's west. Rescuers had to dig through the mounds of rubbish under in an attempt to free them. One of the men was able to be retrieved but the second was still buried under tonnes of rubbish when NSW Ambulance crews arrived. The first man was flown to Westmead Hospital with shoulder and abdominal injuries, but when the second man was found he was already deceased. "SafeWork is investigating an incident at Eastern Creek yesterday where a worker was killed and another seriously injured. SafeWork inspectors are returning to the site today and investigations are ongoing. A report will be prepared for the Coroner," said a spokesperson from SafeWork NSW.  Read more: ABC News online

QLD: Union statement on fatal crash
On Monday night there was a horrific crash on the Bunya Highway outside of Kumbia, Queensland.  A woman and four children under 10 died when her car collided head on with a truck as she was overtaking. Both vehicles caught fire. The 47-year-old driver of the truck was taken to Kingaroy Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

Transport Workers Union Queensland branch secretary Peter Biagini said the truck driving community is devastated by the tragic crash: "The drivers that we have spoken to are devastated, and there is of course an outpouring of support not only for the family of the victims, but the truck driver who has also had such an horrific experience." Mr Biagini said the crash serves as a reminder for motorists to be aware of trucks and the road conditions to ensure safety on the road. Source: Big Rigs

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International Union News
NZ: Peak union council looking for Health and Safety Policy Analyst
A position for a Health and Safety Policy Analyst has been advertised - the person would be a member of a small and supportive team led by the Policy Director that works closely with other parts of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions Te Kauae Kaimahi (CTU). The Policy Team is a key part of the CTU's advocacy efforts as an organisation to improve the lives of working people in New Zealand, covering many policy areas

This position will work in the Policy Team, specialising in workplace Health and Safety, including the implementation of the Workplace Health and Safety reforms being carried out by the government following recommendations by the Pike River Royal Commission and the Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety. The implementation of the reforms represents a major and complex programme of work from the CTU and affiliated unions which has several workstreams.

If you are interested, then contact Sue Windsor  immediately to discuss and request a Position Description, as applications will close 5 pm Thursday 30th May 2019.

Bangladesh: Accord achievements reached
A breakthrough agreement has been reached between the Accord and the Bangladesh garment employers' association (BGMEA) that will ensure that the progress made on factory safety in Bangladesh will continue. On 19 May, the agreement was accepted by the Bangladesh Appellate Court which has given permission for the Accord to continue during a 12 month transition period.

There will be a handover from the Accord to a new body based in Bangladesh, the RMG Sustainability Council (RSC), preserving the Accord operations into the future and guaranteeing a role for trade unions.
The new body will eventually take over the entire Accord operations, functions and staff. Its governance will have the participation of the BGMEA/BKMEA, brands and global and national trade unions. Read more: IndustriALL media release

Sth Korea: Govt admits fatalities/illness and semi-conductor work link
On May 22, after reviewing ten years of epidemiological data, Korea Workers Compensation & Welfare Service (KCOMWEL) concluded that workers at Samsung have been getting sick and dying due to exposure to hazardous chemicals in their chip labs. The government's acknowledgement of the "relatedness" of many workers' blood disorders will likely expedite proceedings for their workers compensation.

The government entity tracked blood-disorder cases and analyzed risks among workers who worked in the chip industry between 2007 and 2017, KCOMEWEL said. "The two types of blood disorder, leukemia and non-Hodgkin Lymphoma victimized chip workers who have worked in the industry before 2010. We could not exactly determine hazardous materials or their exposure levels," added the agency, "However, their working conditions contributed to the incidences of [the illnesses]." Read more: Stop Samsung 

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