Union News

HSRs NEEDED FOR RESEARCH ON PSYCHOLOGICAL HEALTH REGULATIONS WIN one of three $50 gift vouchers

Researchers at the University of South Australia are conducting an online study to investigate Health and Safety Representative's perceptions of the new OHS Amendment (Psychological Health) Regulations. Participation involves the completion of an online survey. This survey only takes about 6 minutes to complete. Eligibility Criteria: Current or previous Health and Safety Representative - Able to read and understand English - Computer/laptop or smartphone with internet access

To access the survey, click here.

STOP BALLARAT PAYING PIPECON

On Wednesday 24 August, Ballarat Councillors awarded a $2 million contract to Pipecon Pty Ltd for a road reconstruction project. In March 2018 two local workers, Jack Brownlee and Charlie Howkins, were killed when a trench collapsed. They were working for Pipecon at the time. In November 2021, Pipecon was convicted and fined only $550,000 for failing to provide supervision to ensure a safe workplace.

The company has been found culpable in the deaths of 2 members of the Ballarat community and is under investigation in the death of a third man, Leigh Suckling, in 2020.

Pipecon's actions and the slap on the wrist they received inspired Victoria to introduce Workplace Manslaughter laws. Although Pipecon can't be charged with the new offence retrospectively, they should still never be allowed to work in our community again.

SafetyNet’s believe there’s no level of government that should be awarding contracts to companies that negligently cause the death of workers. Councilors should immediately review this decision, award the road reconstruction tender to another company, and apologise to the community.

If you share our view, please sign this petition: Stop Paying Pipecon

VICTORIAN OHS HISTORY – FREE PUBLICATION RELEASE

OHSIntros this week released the second part of its trilogy on the history of OHS in Victoria. It may now be downloaded free from a link below. The 86-page document will be available for a limited period only, in the lead up to Victoria’s Health and Safety Month in October. The second part – “Commemorating the anniversary of workplace health and safety - from WorkCare to WorkSafe” tells the story of the implementation of the Robens-style Victorian OHS Act in 1985 through the WorkCare/WorkCover eras, then its revision during the WorkSafe era. This was when the regulator was adopting new thinking on reducing work harms across the state as the nature of work and the workplace was changing.

Source: https://spaces.hightail.com/space/ZnNP4zpfGt

ASK RENATA

I’m a HSR in a food manufacturing plant and have been asked to sign a risk management worksheet for my workplace. I've reviewed everything and feel it's acceptable but where do I stand legally having signed these papers? Am I now held accountable if something was missed?

Great question.

Section 58(3)of the OHS Act states, "nothing in this Act or the regulations imposes, or is to be taken to impose, a function or duty on a health and safety representative (acting) in that capacity." 

It is the primary duty of the employer to provide safe systems of work and a safe work environment, a duty which cannot be transferred to a HSR. 

This is because, under Section 4 of the Act (The principles of Health and Safety Protection), 'persons who control or manage matters that give rise to risks to health and safety are responsible for eliminating or reducing those risks, so far as is reasonably practicable. 

As HSRs we do not 'control or manage matters'. 

Employees (including HSRs) do have limited duties under the Act. They are: 

  • take reasonable care for their own health and safety 
  • take reasonable care for the health and safety of others who may affected by their acts or omissions 
  • cooperate with anything the employer does to comply with OHS requirements 
  • not 'intentionally or recklessly interfere with or misuse' anything provided at the workplace for OHS. 

Signing the worksheet could be understood as ‘co-operating with the employer to comply with OHS requirements' and therefore a duty, but doing so does not impose a liability upon you.  

Should something be missed, or go wrong, the breach of duty rests with the employer, not the HSR. 

You can visit our website to learn more about the duties of both employers and employees. 

Of note: under Section 22(2)(b) of the Act an employer must ‘employ or engage persons who are suitably qualified in occupational health and safety to provide advice concerning the health and safety of employees. This role should not be conflated with that of worker-elected HSRs, who’s role is to be the voice of our DWG.    

Ask Renata at OHS Network Facebook or via email: [email protected]

COVID-19 LATEST NUMBERS 

On Tuesday 30th August Victoria recorded:  

2,950 new daily infections   
18 COVID deaths  
337 hospitalisations, 22 in ICU and 5 of these are on ventilators  

Cumulatively this equals:  

2,561,604 total Victorian infections  
5,282 Victorian COVID deaths (an increase of 142 since last week)  

You can check the Victorian live update here 

Australia: As of 30th August, there have been a total of 10,013,317 COVID cases (an increase of 79,142 since last week) and 13,814 deaths (an increase of 394 since last week).  

World: As of 30th August 2022, there had been 606,251,788 worldwide infections (601,376,570 last week). The number of official COVID-related deaths is now 6,489,521 (Source: Worldometer).  

Read more: Coronavirus; COVID-19 Victorian situation 

VACCINATION UPDATE   

89.32% of all eligible Victorians (5+), as of 30th August, have received their second dose, 91.93% their first dose.  For the third dose the figure is 69.7% (16+).  

The figure for all eligible Australians (16+), for the same date is First Dose 98.0%, Second Dose 96.3%, the third dose 68.9% and the fourth dose 22.6% (16+).  

Check COVID-Live for Daily Updates. 

GETTING YOUR FOURTH “WINTER” DOSE 

Getting vaccinated is an act of solidarity. Having a critical mass of the population vaccinated slows the spread of the virus and dramatically lowers the hospitalisation and mortality rates from COVID, preventing our health system from being overwhelmed. 

All eligible workers and their families should book to get their fourth dose as soon as possible. 

As of July, eligibility for the fourth dose – otherwise known as the “Winter Dose” - was expanded to include adults over the age of 30 as well as adults over 50 and anyone with underlying medical conditions. 

You can check your eligibility for your fourth COVID-19 vaccination dose here under “Winter Dose”. 

Eligible people can get their fourth shot 3 months after getting their third shot or 3 months after having COVID-19. The Victorian Government is recommending Pfizer or Moderna for adults above 18 years old getting their fourth dose. 

As an HSR, you should seriously consider encouraging your DWG members to get their fourth dose. Even if you or your co-workers have had your third dose earlier this year, your immunity may have worn off. The fourth dose will improve your immunity and keep you, your workplace, and your community safe. 

If you or someone you know is hesitant to get their vaccinations you can check out our Q&A on vaccines here or download the PDF ‘Your Top Questions About Vaccines - Answered!’ here. 

 

 

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