Union News

SafetyNet 502

September 4, 2019

It is with great sadness that we report there was another workplace fatality in Victoria last week. This brings the number of fatalities to 22.

Please send your feedback as it helps us make SafetyNet as useful for those interested in OHS as possible. Please send your comments through to Renata at [email protected], but don't hit reply, start a fresh email! Love it or hate it, we want to know about it. So don't hesitate to send in your emails.

To keep up to date and informed between editions of SafetyNet, go to our We Are Union: OHS Reps Facebook page. Also, if you're an HSR or deputy, you should join the OHS Network Facebook

Note: I am still getting my head around the new system, and there is a little glitch in the ordering of the posts  - my apologies. The Editor

Two young female jockeys killed in just two days
A 22 year-old apprentice jockey was killed in the early hours of Friday morning after she fell from her horse at the Cranbourne Racecourse, on Melbourne's outskirts. It is believed she was doing track work. Mikaela Claridge has been remembered as a 'rising star'. Racing Victoria said the apprentice was dislodged from her horse while riding on the sand trails on the southern side of the Training Centre at approximately 4.35am. The on-course paramedic was unable to save her. (Read more: 7News)

This brings the number of Victorians killed at work to 22 (the official WorkSafe number is 16)

Just one day later, on Saturday, another female jockey, 32 year-old Melanie Tyndall died after falling from her horse at a Darwin racetrack. Ms Tyndall was also a police officer. In a statement, Darwin Turf Club said Ms Tyndall's fall happened during the third race of the day at Fannie Bay, Darwin. She was taken to Royal Darwin Hospital but died a short time afterwards. Read more: ABC news online.

VTHC upcoming events
Training on 'Independent Medical Examiners'
IMEs are part of the Workers' Compensation system, and judging from the experiences of injured workers, sometimes their 'independence' leaves a lot to be desired. The Injured Workers Support Network and the VTHC OHS Unit are combining to provide training to interested people (HSRs, union organisers, injured workers) around a campaign on IMEs. There will be two separate training sessions - in order to satisfy people's availability.  The training will take place at the Trade Hall (Corner Victoria and Lygon Streets, Carlton South). If you are interested in attending, please RSVP via the appropriate link, below. 

  1. Tuesday 24 September, 12 - 2pm
  2. Thursday 26 September, 6 - 8pm

October: HSR Conference
As usual, our HSR Conference will take place during OHS Week, the last week of October. We haven't yet received our formal approval from WorkSafe Victoria but we're expecting it any time now. So keep your eyes open for the email with details of the conference, and how to register for what is the biggest event for HSRs in Australia.

Ask Renata

Hi Renata

I'm just wondering whether mats are required behind a bar -  or are they just recommended? And if yes, what particular section of law covers this.

Of course, as with many issues, this is not specifically addressed in legislation, so there is no 'requirement'. However, your employer has the 'general duty of care' to provide and maintain, so far as is reasonably practicable, a working environment that is safe and without risks to health. This covers everything, including providing a safe workplace and systems of work. (See Duties of employers) The employer must, in order to comply with the general duty of care, identify and then implement measures to eliminate or minimise hazards and risks. This must be done in consultation with workers and their elected health and safety reps (See: Duty to consult). The hazard here is standing for long periods and the risks to workers are fatigue, and other health effects. So, the employer needs to take measures to either eliminate or minimise the risks to workers who work behind the bar. One of the measures could be the installation of anti-fatigue mats – see this page for more information and ideas on the issue of Working standing up.

If you have any ohs related queries, then send them in via our Ask Renata facility on the website.

Union launches new centre for members

The Victorian branch of the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) has launched The Centre for U, located at the ETU headquarters in North Melbourne. The new centre offers over 40 services and benefits to members and their families. Vic Branch Secretary Troy Gray says, 'We're very proud to be leading the way, in providing services to support all of our members and their families throughout their entire lives - not only when they are working, but when they are between jobs or unable to work due to injury, illness, or hardship.'

The centre offers a range of training opportunities, personal and family services, workplace support and health and welfare services - most (if not all) free to members and their families. Learn more here: The Centre for U

Asbestos news

New mesothelioma report
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has released a new report, Mesothelioma in Australia 2018 which can be downloaded from this page on the AIHW website.

Each year in Australia, between 700 and 800 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma. In 2018, 699 people died from this rare and aggressive cancer, based on Australian Mesothelioma Registry (AMR) data at 1 May 2019. Australia has one of the highest measured incidence rates of mesothelioma in the world (Bray et al. 2017). According to analysis of the AMR, the ‘average’ Australian with mesothelioma:

  • was male
  • was diagnosed at around 75 years of age
  • was exposed to asbestos in both occupational and non-occupational settings
  • lived for around 11 months after diagnosis.

Like in other countries, the rate of mesothelioma has not decreased as much as predicted. 

Another 'Mr Fluffly' home found
The recent discovery of bagged loose-fill asbestos hidden under normal roof insulation in Curtin, a suburb of the ACT, has highlighted the importance of both home owners and builders complying with WHS regulations which require that asbestos be identified and removed before any work starts. The house is the 1024th home to be placed on the register - and it may be that more will be discovered.
Read more: The Riot Act

UK: Mesothelioma payouts
A scheme set up by the UK government in 2014, and paid for by a levy on the insurance industry, to provide compensation for people who contracted diffuse mesothelioma from occupational exposures and whose former employers could not be traced has, to date, paid out £172.6m (A$310.17m). Official statistics published on August 29, 2019 reported that: in the financial year 01 April 2018 to 31 March 2019, 370 applications were received; excluding pending applications, 79 per cent of applications received were successful; 92 per cent of applicants were male – 68 per cent of successful applicants (68 per cent) were aged between 65 and 79. Read more: Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme Official Statistics. Source: IBAS

Italy: Asbestos remediation initiative
From September 2 to December 2, 2019, residents of the Autonomous Province of Bolzano in Northern Italy could be entitled to reimbursements of up to 70 per cent of the cost of asbestos removal and disposal work incurred during remediation work on residential properties up to a maximum of €10,000 (A$16,316). Alternatively, eligible residents could claim 50 per cent of the costs incurred as a tax deduction. Information about this scheme can be obtained online or via a telephone hotline.
Read more: Incentivi Provincia per bonifica da amianto: dal 2 settembre nuove richieste di contributo [Province incentives for asbestos removal: from 2 September new requests for contributions]. Source: IBAS

ASEA Conference: Perth 11 - 13 November
A reminder of the 2019 Asbestos Safety Conference, at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre.  The conference is a unique opportunity for all 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 workers’ health and safety, public health, the role of the non-government sector, and international campaign work. There will also be particular sessions focused on the work of asbestos support groups, the latest research into asbestos awareness communications and the latest from medical researchers.

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. The roles of employees and their representatives in supporting and advocating for workers’ health and safety in relation to asbestos management is a key component to achieving this.
Check our the conference program here. For more information and to register, click here

More information on Asbestos: In the workplace and In the Home.

International union news

UK: One in three flexible working requests turned down
People in working-class jobs most likely to miss out on flexible working arrangements. According to a poll published by the UK's peak union council, the TUC, one in three (30 per cent) requests for flexible working are being turned down. The polling – published as children around the UK go back to school after the summer break – reveals that flexible working is not available to many workers, and that people in working-class jobs are most likely to miss out on it. 

The survey shows: 

  • Flexi-time is unavailable to over half (58%) of the UK workforce. This number rises to nearly two-thirds (64%) for people in working-class occupations.

  • 3 in 10 workers (28%) say their desire for more flexible hours is one of the main reasons they might look for a new job. 

The TUC has joined the Flex for All alliance – along with Pregnant then Screwed, Fawcett Society, Mother Pukka, the Young Women’s Trust and the Fatherhood Institute. The Flex for All campaign has launched a petition to change the law so that flexible working is open to all workers from day one in the job, with employers required to advertise all jobs on that basis. Read more: TUC media release.


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