Union News

Australian Union Safety Survey

Australian Unions are advocating for workers to fill out their Worker Survey to feed into the ongoing OHS Boland review. The survey is being used to capture data from workers across Australia, giving them to have a say in the direction of the health and safety space in Australia.

The results will be de-identified and submitted to the ongoing Boland review, as well as being used in the ACTU's campaign to protect the right of all workers to a safe and healthy workplace.

It is not an overly long survey, so please, if you have the time, consider helping Australian Unions advocate strongly for a better OHS future. Your experiences and inputs are the most powerful tool we have to advocate for better OHS laws in Australia.

You can find the survey here. 

Ask Renata

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


Hi just a quick question. We have automated forklifts that load racking up to 10 meters high with a lift capacity of 1,800kg and when they go into error they have to be operated remotely with a cord connected to the forklift 2 meters long. My question is do you need a high risk license to operate these forklifts. At the moment we have unlicensed people operating these machines. Thanks.


Our response:

Hi mate,

I couldn't find anything explicitly related to these kind of automated forklifts. Unfortunately, the law doesn't always keep up with the pace of technology. However, I see no reason why they wouldn't be considered subject to licensing just like a regular forklift if they are being operated in that fashion. There are many factors to be aware of while operating a forklift, and just because a person is not seated on the vehicle this doesn't negate these safety hazards. I would certainly be raising this with management as a serious safety concern.

You can read more about forklift safety on our website here: http://www.ohsrep.org.au/ohs-in-your-industry/transport,-storage-and-trade/forklift-safety

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


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-form

Asbestos News

Asbestos Safety Conference 2019

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 now before 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.

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International union news

'Major victory' for site workers St Fergus Gas plant
Gas plant workers at the UK's Fergus gas plant have secured a massive victory for workers at the Shell owned plant. Reports are stating that constructive meetings were had that ended the dispute, and addressed ongoing OHS concerns at the workplace.

Unite Union threatened to hold an industrial action ballot in response to the employers proposed cancellation of the permit holder payment, which could have seen some workers wages be cut by £103 per week. The new agreed proposal will thankfully ensure this does not arise.

You can read more details on the Unite the Union news page.

Concerns in UK Ambulance Workers Around Retirement Ages

British ambulance workers have raised concerns over their age of retirement. Represented by their union in the UK, GMB, a protest was staged outside of the department of health calling for the minimum age to receive the pension to be brought forward, considering the physical and mental difficulties required to perform the role.

The current age requirement is 68, GMB is campaigning to have their retirement age reduced to 60 in line with other emergency services.

Ambulance workers were quoted in a research survey, stating: "I'm worried - I am not sure that we will be physically able to work 12 hour shifts at that age. This job is physically and mentally demanding and is getting more so as each year passes."

The survey results also showed that:

  • 95.93% don't think they will be able to continue in their current role until their pensionable age.
  • 98.81% think that their job will be too demanding (physically and mentally) the older they become.
  • 87.90% think there will not be the opportunity for redeployment if they are unable to continue in their role.
  • 99.49% would like to see a reduction in their pension age.
  • 98.81% would support GMB in calling on government to reduce the pensionable age of ambulance workers to 60 years.

More information can be found on the GMB's news page.

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