Two more workers killed in Victoria
Tragically two young workers were killed in the state last week.
The first fatality was a 26 year-old man, who died in hospital last Wednesday night from serious head injuries after a fall at a Templestowe residential construction site on Monday. The second death was that of a 34-year-old woman who was crushed by marble slabs inside a shipping container at Dingley Village on Thursday morning. This is the third shipping container death so far this year, at least two of those involved unloading stone.
WorkSafe is investigating both incidents.
These last fatalities bring the number of Victorians killed at work this year to 23. The VTHC OHS Unit sends the families, friends and colleagues of these workers our sincerest condolences. No one should die at work: all workplace deaths are preventable.
Further news on police fatalities
Today's media has reported that the trucking company involved in the Eastern Freeway crash in which four police officers were killed has been raided by Victorian police. Officers went to the head office of Connect Logistics in Riverstone, about 50 kilometres from Sydney, earlier this week. As well as the Connect Logistics head office, two residential properties in Kenthurst, 20 minutes drive from Riverstone, were searched.
A total of four search warrants were carried out. It is understood police seized a number of documents in the raids, including logbooks. NSW Police confirmed that it was helping officers from Victoria Police's heavy vehicle unit with the execution of a search warrant in western Sydney. Source: The Age
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update
As of this morning, there had been 6875 cases of coronavirus disease diagnosed in Australia. 97 people have died - 13 more than last week. These figures highlight the success of measures taken - but it is not time to become complacent, with an outbreak in a Melbourne meatworks this week (see below). New cases and deaths worldwide are still on the increase, with some countries not yet reaching the 'peak'. In the United States for example, where there are a total of 1,237,633 cases and 72,271 deaths, many states are looking at severely winding back restrictions - surely too soon. For more information on Coronavirus and COVID-19, go to this page on our site.
Outbreak at Melbourne meatworks
The number of COVID-19 infections in Victoria suddenly increased this week with a cluster of 45 (CHECK NUMBERS) workers at Cedar Meats in Brooklyn testing positive. Eleven of the 17 new cases diagnosed in Victoria on Monday are connected to Cedar Meats. A total of 45 people have contracted coronavirus at the facility. Both the company and the state's chief health officer have assured the public meat from the factory is safe to eat. All 350 staff were tested for COVID-19 by May 1 and the site has been shut down. Sources: ABC news online; SBS online
School closes after teacher tests positive
Also this week, a school in Melbourne's north, Meadow Glen primary school in Epping, was closed after a music teacher tested positive for COVID-19. He believes he contracted the infection when he played at a live gig in March. Despite the increase in testing in the state, he said he had been rejected for testing three times. The principal of the school said that despite the teacher not having been in contact with any students this year, the school would be closed for three days to allow for deep cleaning and any necessary contact tracing.
Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said, "This staff member has been on site recently ... this is why it is necessary for the school needs to be cleaned." The Department of Health and Human Services confirmed the case on Saturday and was working to support the school, she said. Parents, carers and staff were contacted by the school to let them know a staff member had tested positive. It was organised for students who had been attending the school in person to go to a neighbouring school until the school reopens tomorrow (Thursday).
AEU Victorian Branch President Meredith Peace said, "The fact that a teacher has tested positive for COVID-19 shows that Victoria's cautious approach to schools is smart and necessary.
"Our main concern is keeping Victoria's students and education staff safe and healthy and we hope the teacher in question makes a quick and full recovery and the school is provided with appropriate support."
Sources: SBS news, ABC news online, AEU
ACTU: Pandemic leave and WHS reforms needed before workers return to work
This week the ACTU, Australia's peak union council, has issued a statement saying that as isolation measures are going to be relaxed, there are a number of essential reforms which must be made to ensure people are kept safe as they return to work. There are three things the ACTU is seeking:
- Paid pandemic leave for all workers who believe they might have contracted COVID-19, allowing all workers to get tested and if necessary, take additional time to recover. This can be provided for 90 per cent of workers by the Morrison Government, but states and territories will be essential to ensuring universal coverage.
- A legal obligation on employers to protect their workers and their customers by implementing the highest practical standards and controls for their work to prevent infections and stop the virus from spreading. This will require new regulation from state, territory and federal governments.
- Compulsory notification to local health authorities and work health and safety regulators in all states and territories of any cases of COVID-19 infection that may have been the result of work.
The ACTU has said that these reforms must be legislated before any relaxation of isolation orders in order to keep working people and the community at large safe from a second peak. ACTU Secretary Sally McManus said, “This is essential to protect workers’ health and to avoid a second wave of infections. 1 in 3 workers have no access to paid sick leave. Health authorities, including the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) have regularly cited the lack of paid sick leave as an unacceptable risk that will see more people infected with COVID-19."
This campaign is not limited to Australia: Unions around the world are calling for the disease to be declared as an occupational disease. Read more: ACTU media release; ITUC news release and Council of Global Unions Statement on Recognition of COVID-19 as an Occupational Disease [pdf]. Read more: Risks 945.
Will hot-desking be a thing of the past?
Over the past couple of years, some employers have sought to save on office accommodation costs by introducing the practice of 'hot-desking'. This practice has not been welcomed by workers and unions as it has caused a number of problems (see: The hidden hell of hot desking is much worse than you think. The Australian Financial Review). But as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic, it looks like in the UK at least, hot desking and 'shared pens' will be banned as workers return to their offices. A similar message has come from Australia's chief medical officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, who said in a press conference yesterday in response to a question about hot desking: "Well, I think hot desking would have to be done in a different way. .. If you are doing hot desks or sharing common spaces, frequent cleaning. We want cleaning products everywhere." Read more: Chief Medical Officer's press conference May 5. Hot desking could be banned and no shared pens in plan to re-open offices. Metro News
- workers who perform skin penetration procedures (such as tattooists and body-piercers)
- funeral workers
- other workers who have regular contact with human tissue, blood or body fluids
- other workers who have regular contact with used needles or syringes
- hepatitis A
- tetanus (dT or dTpa)
For more information, see these pages on the site: Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. Also, check out this page on Health Department website, which sets out recommendations in the Immunisation handbook.
Her lawyer Jonathan Walsh, of Maurice Blackburn, said she had potentially had only days or weeks to live. He said the cancer was very aggressive and progressing and doctors said her life expectancy was incredibly unpredictable. “Here is a young woman, really just at the beginning of her adult life, committed to raising her young child and helping others in her role as a nurse, now having to face this cruel disease,’’ said Mr Walsh, a specialist dust diseases lawyer.
Source: The HeraldSun
Read more: Risks 945