Union News

Truck driver killed

On Thursday January 30, a 26-year-old truck driver was killed while working in the Yarra Ranges. The thoughts of the union movement are with the young man's family, friends and colleagues.

TWU Vic/Tas Branch Secretary, John Berger, said "The cabin of a truck continues to be the most dangerous workplace in Victoria." Last November, Victoria's Premier, Daniel Andrews, committed to ensuring that road transport workers who are killed at work on Victorian roads will be included in the WorkSafe deaths at work tally. This will come into effect in July this year.

The death of this young man makes it six, or possibly seven (there is still a question regarding the fatality at Bruthen last week).

VTHC Releases Air Quality Standard

Last week, on January 30, 2020, the Victorian Trades Hall Council launched an air quality standard that connects workers health and safety at work with the Environmental Protection Authority's air quality rating, which can be found on the EPAs AirWatch website.

The document highlights what employers and workers can do proactively do reduce the risk of exposing workers to poor quality air, particularly at-risk workers and those working outdoors. Importantly, it is stated that all non-critical outdoor work must cease when the EPA Air Quality Index level is Very Poor. Download the VTHCs Air Quality Standard. Use it to get ready for the next poor air quality day. Read more: Air Quality

Ask Renata

Hello Renata,

I work in a smallish office. My manager has told me they are going to install another desk into the office, which I think will make it far too crowded. How much space does the law say there must be?

There’s no regulation in terms of office space – only guidelines. The best place to find these is in Officewise (see this page for a link and for more information) . In other words, not law.

However, irrespective of what the guidelines say, your employer has a duty of care under s21 of the OHS Act – to provide and maintain so far as is reasonably practicable a working environment that is safe and without risks to health. What your manager is planning is creating stress for you as well as a potential physical problem – as well as not being compliant with the guidelines. Was there consultation prior to this decision being made? If not, then this too is a breach of the Act (s35 - Duty to Consult)

Do you have an HSR? If so, take the issue to them and ask them to take it up (under s73 - Resolution of Issues) with the manager. Make sure you have clearly worked out what the issues are and what you would like to see happen. I also recommend contacting the union/your organiser to let them know you’ve got an issue, in particular if you don’t have an HSR

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

Tonight: 2020 VTHC OHS Unit launch

With the start of a new year and a new decade we want to take some time to look back on past achievements, and look ahead to the future. 2019 was the year we won the fight for Industrial Manslaughter legislation, a much better silica standard, and much more, and in 2020 we're keeping up the momentum for safer workplaces.

Join us in Trades Hall's historic Solidarity Hall for an evening of OHS, community, friends and refreshments. There will also be an announcement regarding the OHS Unit.

WHEN: February 5, 2020 at 6pm - 8pm
WHERE: Solidarity Hall, Victorian Trades Hall
CONTACT: Luke Bowman · [email protected] or RSVP here.

Scaffold collapse in Melbourne's north

Emergency services were called to an address at Fortitude Drive, Craigieburn, at just after 1pm yesterday following reports a person was trapped in a scaffolding collapse. Five workers were injured when a scaffold collapsed in Melbourne's north on Monday - two seriously. The two men, one in his 20's and the other in his 50's, were taken to hospital in a serious condition.

Helicopter footage showed a large amount of scaffolding had fallen in front of a partially constructed building at the site. Workers in high-visibility vests could also be seen sitting on the footpath beside the site, as firefighters and SES workers gathered nearby.

WorkSafe Victoria's chief of business operations Marnie Williams told ABC Radio Melbourne inspectors and investigators were on the scene but it was "too early to comment on the circumstances of the collapse". Ms Williams said the site was being made safe but she could not comment on whether WorkSafe had been in contact with the company responsible for the scaffolding. Source: ABC Online

Asbestos news

Labor government funding boost for Catholic and Independent schools

Catholic and independent schools across Victoria will benefit from a record investment in infrastructure – to build and upgrade facilities, through a new round of the Andrews Labor Government’s $402 million Non-Government Schools Capital Fund.

Minister for Education James Merlino today opened the second round of the fund, for projects such as building new schools and increasing capacity or upgrading facilities at existing schools. It also supports removal of asbestos and cladding in these schools.

Read more: Victorian Government media release

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

International union news

Global: Maritime bosses urged to heed union coronavirus guide

Seafarers have been advised to familiarise themselves with new global guidance on the fast-spreading coronavirus, which has created a containment lockdown in central China and prevented some ships from calling at the major trade hub Wuhan.

Global transport workers’ union federation ITF has issued advice on the coronavirus, a never-before-seen virus that is transmissible from human to human. The virus, which originated in China in late 2019, causes pneumonia-like symptoms and can be life-threatening. The Wall Street Journal reported that vessels are being held back by China from entering Wuhan, in Hubei Province. The city is a major trade hub in the region and is located on the Yangtze River. The ITF alert “advises that those in China should avoid unprotected contact with live animals, ensure all animal products (including meat and eggs) are thoroughly cooked, practise good hygiene, and avoid contact with anyone displaying symptoms.”

Danny McGowan, international organiser with the UK seafarers’ union Nautilus, commented: “We will continue to monitor ITF and WHO reports. Seafarers are urged to familiarise themselves with onboard and company guidance for such situations. Those companies who may not yet have procedures in place are urged to seek advice on how their employees and passengers can be protected.” Nautilus and the ITF have said they will publish any further information that is relevant to maritime professionals and other transport workers as the situation develops. Nautilus issued a further news release following a coronavirus outbreak scare onboard a Costa Crociere cruise ship.The virus had sickened approximately 2,700 people and killed 80 as of 26 January, most of them in Wuhan and the surrounding Chinese province of Hubei. Read more: Nautilus news release. WHO news release. BBC News Online. Source: Risks 932


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