Union News

HSR CONFERENCE 2022 - HSR LIFESAVERS

We all know active HSRs save lives! Our annual HSR Conference is back and this year we’re talking all about mentally healthy workplaces and insights from the COVID pandemic. For the first time in two years, this conference will be held in person!

Here are the details:

Date: 27 October 2022
Time: 8:30am – 2:30pm
Where:
Melbourne - Centrepiece Melbourne Park
Bendigo - Bendigo Trades Hall Council
Wodonga - La Trobe University
Portland - Portland Golf Club
Morwell - Italian Australian Sporting Club

Whilst enrolments will remain open, HSRs should note the entitlement to be released requires that 14 days’ notice is given, which is today! If you miss this deadline, you will require your employer’s agreement to be released Check out the program and register here.

ASK RENATA

We recently had a serious incident but despite asking numerous times for information my employer refuses to consult with me.

Following a serious incident your employer should have undertaken an investigation and a review of the controls with a view to preventing similar incidents occurring in the future.

Section 35(1) of the OHS Act stipulates an employer must consult, so far as is reasonably practicable, with affected employees when:

  • identifying or assessing hazards or risks to health or safety
  • making decisions about the measures to control risks to health or safety

Section 35(4) makes it clear; if employees are represented by a HSR, the consultation must involve that HSR (with or without the involvement of the employees directly). See here for more information.

Should your employer refuse to consult in a timely manner we suggest escalating your concerns under section 73 of the OHS Act, Issue Resolution, with your employer's nominated representative, or issuing a PIN, for a breach of s.35.

Which option is preferable in your situation will depend on your workplace.

Further, we draw your attention to the employer obligations to HSRs in section 69 of the Act. To paraphrase: an employer, whose employees are members of a DWG must allow the HSR for that DWG access to information relating to actual or potential hazards, or the health and safety of members.

We suggest you exercise your powers as a HSR to produce the documents your employer has relating to the serious incident as well as any procedures dictating how they should be responding to incident reports or injuries.

If you have any OHS-related questions send them in via our Ask Renata portal. Your questions will be answered by someone in the VTHC's OHS Unit.

YOUNG WORKERS CAMPAIGN TO PROTECT APPRENTICES

All apprentices deserve to be safe at work - but right now, too many are bullied, harassed and put in unsafe situations because the system is not vetting bosses and stopping repeat offenders from cycling through apprentices. 

Alia, a young apprentice chef, had to abandon her apprenticeship last year when she was only 6 months from completing it. Her workplace had been so lax on safety she was electrocuted while cleaning an e-water system and she had to walk herself to hospital after cutting her thumb on a mandolin slicer.  

She had already experienced consistent bullying and intimidation, having to duck containers that were thrown at her head. It finally became too much. 

Jae, an apprentice boilermaker, was forced to work in confined spaces with no ventilation or extraction fans, with only a mask that was hard to breathe through. He had to move employers after enduring months of bullying, injuries, and denial of proper training.  

One of the places he had to leave was Marshall Lethlean. The safety was so bad he left because he was afraid someone would die. Just weeks later, a young apprentice named Dillon Wu died in his second week at work after being forced to workunsupervised in an enclosed space, suffocating on argon gas. He was just 20 years old.  

Unfortunately,Alia and Jae’s stories are not unique. It's become so bad that only half of Victorian apprentices ever finish their training. That’s why Jae and Alia are now advocating for changes to the apprentice system.  Support them by signing Jae’s petition and together we can create change that will protect apprentices. 

COVID-19 LATEST NUMBERS 

On Tuesday 11th of October Victoria recorded:   

1,292 new daily infections    
14 COVID deaths   
156 hospitalisations, and 7 are in ICU. 

Cumulatively this equals:    

2,625,569 total Victorian infections   
5,731 Victorian COVID deaths (an increase of 67 since last week)   

You can check the Victorian live update here.   

Australia: As of the 11th October, there have been a total of 10,243,195 COVID cases (an increase of 35,636 since last week) and 15,228 deaths (an increase of 130 since last week).   

World: As of 11th October, there had been 627,018,251 worldwide infections (623,690,452 last week). The number of official COVID-related deaths is now 6,562,045 (Source: Worldometer).     

VACCINATION UPDATE    

94.3% of all eligible Victorians (16+), as of 11th October, have received their second dose, 95.4% their first dose.  For the third dose the figure is 70.0% (16+).   

The figure for all eligible Australians (16+), for the same date is First Dose 97.2%, Second Dose 95.8%, the third dose 69.1% and the fourth dose 23.8% (16+).   

Check COVID-Live for Updates.  

Further Update on Isolation Requirements 

Last week’s SafetyNet had a report on isolation rules changing from the 14th of October nation-wide. However, according to a statement from the Premier’s Office on Friday the 7th of October, these changes will take place in Victoria from 11:59pm on the 12th of October- in line with the pandemic declaration ending. 

Despite the isolation rules being lifted, the virus is still in the community and people are still being hospitalised and dying as a result of COVID infections. With the declaration being lifted, it is even more important that employers take steps to provide their workforce, so far as is reasonably practicable, a safe workplace without risks to health. In the COVID 19 context this includes making sure they have procedures in place to minimise the chances of infection amongst employees.

Read more here.

NEW VICARIOUS TRAUMA WEBSITE

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) who represent the Victorian Public Service have established a new website with the aim of helping workplaces become better aware of vicarious trauma and introducing practices that could help prevent or lessen its impact.

Vicarious trauma occurs when workers are exposed to traumatic content, or through hearing or reading about traumatic details in the course of their work, and is often cumulative in effect.

This information has been primarily designed for the Victorian Public Service, however the resources available within it are relevant to all organisations whose staff engage with traumatic content as part of their work. In Victoria, the OHS Act includes psychological health and therefore organisations are legally responsible to look after the mental health of their workers.

You can view the CPSUs website here.

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