Union News

Man killed in farm incident
A farmer in his 40's was killed last Wedneday after being struck by a post hole digger at a farm in Raywood, north of Bendigo. According to a WorkSafe media release, it is believed the man was using the machinery when an attachment failed, causing the equipment to hit him.

WorkSafe is investigating the incident. The fatality brings the number of workplace deaths this year to 18, according to the VTHC tally, but 13 according to WorkSafe's official tally, two more than at the same time last year.

Industrial Manslaughter:  Update
NOTE: This item was amended after the journal was posted last week, so the editor has re-posted it in this week's edition.

The Industrial Manslaughter Implementation Taskforce, established by the Andrews' Labor Government to consult on the proposed legislation to make workplace manslaughter a criminal offence will be meeting for the last time this week (of June 24) to consider the policy and draft legislation before the brief goes to the Office of Parliamentary Council who will draft the actual bill. The Taskforce first met at the end of March, and there has been good progress in developing the policy and proposed laws. The draft bill will then go to Cabinet for consideration before being tabled in Parliament later in the year.

Do you want to work for a union?
The Victorian branch of the CPSU (Community and Public Sector Union) is advertising two OHS positions on Ethical Jobs. Both of these positions will be based in Melbourne. The jobs are:

  1. Occupational Health and Safety Officer
    The position will join a small OH&S Team within the Union which reports through a Team Leader structure to the Branch Secretary. This is a full time, on-going position.
    The role will require the delivery of OHS training to members, as detailed in the key responsibilities, as well as provide OH&S advice and assistance to members who work in the Victorian public sector workplaces across the State.
    CPSU will consider applicants that have the capacity to broaden their skill set in OH&S and Training. 
    Application closing date is COB Friday 5th of July 2019. Read more about the position and how to apply here. 
  2. Project Officer - Vicarious Trauma Prevention and Awareness Toolkit
    The union has secured funding through the WorkSafe WorkWell Mental Health Improvement Fund for a period of three years to develop a Vicarious Trauma Prevention and Awareness Toolkit. This position is a fixed term position for 33 months. 
    Pilots will be developed in partnership with Government departments, DJCS and DHSS. The kit will include tools and resources customised specifically to each area in consultation with employees and will provide training, knowledge and skills necessary for Government departments to address the trauma needs of their staff. It will help build capacity in departments to proactively addresses trauma impact through policies, procedures, practices, and programs and prioritise organisational change and identify needs to mitigate risk and prevent trauma related mental health injury and illness and support a proactive approach to workers who are exposed to vicarious trauma. 
    Application closing date is COB Friday 19th of July 2019.  Read more about the position and how to apply here.  

Ask Renata
Hello Renata, 
I was wondering whether employers have to provide a way of warming or cooking food in the workplace. If so can they allowed to take it away?

There is no law that requires you be provided with a microwave or stove specifically. However, under the OHS Act, the employer has a duty to provide 'adequate facilities' for your welfare (see Duties of employers) What employers need to do in order to comply with their duties in practice is set out in the Workplace amenities and work environmentcompliance code. The code states that employers need to provide food warming facilities like a microwave – so far as is reasonably practicable. So the answer is YES. Furthermore, if the employer previously provided a means of heating food, and then it was removed, then it clearly was practicable, and it needs to be replaced. The employer has a duty under s35 to consult with workers and their elected HSRs when proposing changes to the workplace - See Duty to consult.

You can find more information on what the employer needs to provide in terms of dining facilities on our website here, including a link to the compliance code.

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.

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Asbestos News
National Asbestos Conference
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 nowbefore 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

SA: Firm fined for storing asbestos
A South Australian company has been fined more than $21,000 for storing asbestos illegally and washing quartz powder into a storm drain. Environmental Protection Agency inspectors discovered Waste-Away SA had stored four waste bins of asbestos and contaminated material during a routine inspection on January 25, 2017. As the inspectors arrived at the site, they saw an employee hosing white waste material from the carpark, onto the street and into a storm drain. Waste-Away had been employed to dispose of 175 cubic metres of asbestos from the Port Lincoln Hospital redevelopment as well as from other buildings including Ashfield Hospital and aged care facilities. The company was supposed to transport the materials to a different company which was 85km from Adelaide. But when the shipments were brought to the site late in the afternoon the company was forced to leave them there overnight. Source: The Sunday Mail

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

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International Union News
ILO votes to stop gender-based violence at work
The International Labour Organization last week adopted both a Convention and Recommendation on Violence and Harassment in the World of Work. The Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019, and Violence and Harassment Recommendation, 2019[pdf], were adopted by delegates on the final day of the Centenary ILO Conference, in Geneva. For the Convention, 439 votes were cast in favour, seven against, with 30 abstentions. The Recommendation was passed with 397 votes in favour, 12 votes against and 44 abstentions.This is the first international standard specifically aimed at addressing these issues in the workplace – and it's all because of the tireless organizing by unions and worker centres around the world.

There were three critical elements that the labor side fought to include in the Convention and Recommendation - and all three are covered in the new standard:

  • The Convention establishes protection for ALL types of workers regardless of contractual status, including workers in the informal economy.
  • The "world of work" includes protection for workers on the commute to and from work.
  • Both the Convention and Recommendation defend the right to collective bargaining as a crucial tool to stop gender-based violence.
However, the hard work is not over yet. An international standard is only valuable when it can be leveraged to protect workers on the ground in real time. Each individual country must now ratify the Convention, and unions are already preparing for country-level campaigns to get their elected officials to vote in support of it.  While governments have a specific process for ratification, that doesn't mean action needs to wait on the legal process. Further, multinational corporations should not wait for new national laws to implement strong policies against gender-based violence in their supply chains. 

This is the first new Convention agreed by the International Labour Conference since 2011, when the Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189) was adopted. Conventions are legally binding international instruments, while Recommendations provide advice and guidance.  Read more: ILO media release Source: International Labor Rights Forum


UK: Quarter of prison staff are recent victims of violence
Over a quarter (26 per cent) of staff working in prisons have been the victim of physical violence within the last year, according to new figures from a coalition of nine trade unions and professional organisations. The survey, published by the Joint Unions in Prisons Alliance (JUPA), found that one in seven (14 per cent) of staff who were a victim of recent physical violence said they have been assaulted more than ten times in the past year. Of those who reported a physical assault to their employer, 57 per cent were dissatisfied with the action taken. In a further 20 per cent of cases, respondents said no action was taken at all. Almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of survey respondents reported feeling unsafe at work in the last twelve months. Over half of staff (53 per cent) said they had been exposed to the psychoactive substance spice at work, and over a third (39 per cent) reported becoming ill as a result. Symptoms included light-headedness, dizziness, confusion and tiredness (97 per cent), nausea and vomiting (49.4 per cent), increased heart rate and blood pressure (34.5 per cent) and anxiety and paranoia (28 per cent).

Paul Cottrell, acting general secretary of the union UCU, which represents prison educators, said: "It is appalling that two-thirds of staff in prisons report feeling unsafe in their workplace, and that so many say their concerns aren't being dealt with properly. We urgently need much tougher action from the government and prison employers to improve the safety and working conditions of staff in our prisons." JUPA is calling for 'urgent action' from the government, prison service and other employers in the sector . 
Read more: UCU news release. Morning Star. Source: Risks 902

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