OHS Issues

Asbestos

Asbestos is a natural mineral rock made up of strong fibres that have fire, chemical and heat resistant properties.

Australia had the highest per capita use of asbestos and asbestos related products in the world between 1940s and the 1980s when its dangers became apparent. It is estimated that about one third of all dwellings constructed before 1982 contain asbestos materials.

Static asbestos poses minimal threat but when airborne and inhaled in significant quantities that it can reach deep into the lungs and cause irreversible health issues, these diseases can take years to present symptoms.

Asbestos use was phased out in Australia after 1980, banned from building products in 1989 and was completely banned after the 31 December 2003 which means that it cannot be imported, used or recycled. (NHMRC)

Types of asbestos:

White asbestos or chrysotile
The most common form of asbestos it can be found in the production of textiles, plastics, rubber products, caulking, paper, roof sealants, brakes, asphalt and gaskets. It is considered highly cost effective as well as durable and thus used in a variety of products.

Blue asbestos or crocidolite
The least common form of asbestos, it is seen as less malleable and heat resistance than the other forms.

Brown/grey asbestos or amosite
The less flexible of the asbestos family, its mainly found in asbestos mines in South Africa. Its most commonly used in textiles and paper products and other products that require high heat and fire resistance. It was found to advantageous in the use of thermal system insulation.

Anyone working or removing asbestos must do so in accordance with the WHS Asbestos Regulations To remove asbestos affected materials in areas 10m2 or more you will need:

  • A tradesperson with a ‘B’ qualification
  • A tradesperson who is supervised by someone who holds a ‘B’ qualification (this person is known to have a ‘A’ qualification)

Employers are obliged to provide you with safe and healthy workplace that involves:

  • Identifying both in accessible and inaccessible locations that contain asbestos related products
  • Take considerable care to ensure their workers are not exposed to any forms of asbestos
  • Ensure a risk assessment is carried out according to law if asbestos is identified

What if you suspect asbestos in your workplace?
It’s often difficult to know for certain whether a product contains asbestos without getting it tested in a laboratory. 

Any extraction of a sample must be carried out by a qualified and competent person and sent to an accredited lab for testing.

What can you do about it? 

  • Speak to your HSR, if there is evidence there is asbestos they will have the authority to stop work due to a health and safety breach
  • Ask your employer for a copy of their asbestos risk analysis plan, and in the absence of one request that they undertake one
  • Report any breaches to your local health and safety authority 

back to top

Comcare scheme moratorium lifted (Comcare media release)

Comcare welcomes the Government’s announcement today to lift the moratorium on new corporations seeking a licence to self-insure under the Comcare scheme.

Lifting the moratorium opens the scheme to eligible multi-state employers to allow them national workers’ compensation coverage.

It will also ensure consistency in coverage and benefits for employees regardless of location and allow employers to focus on the important work of preventing injury and getting injured workers back to work.

Applications for a licence to self-insure are considered and approved by the SRCC. Comcare can advise and support companies seeking a licence to self-insure on the process they need to undertake to be part of the scheme.

Enquiries about self-insurance and applying for a licence in the Comcare scheme can be directed to Comcare on 1300 366 979 or by email becomealicensee@comcare.gov.au.

More information on becoming a licensee will be available on our website shortly. 

Media Contact:National Media Team

Mobile: 0478 305 675

Email: media@comcare.gov.au

back to top

Entitlements

Regardless of your employment status that is whether you’re employed on a full time, part time, casual or contract basis, you will be entitled to some sort of entitlements.

Leave entitlements are important for the occupational health and safety of workers as it allows workers right’s to recover from illness and injury, time off to distress and not experience fatigue.

The laws around this area can seem to be complex and it is in your best interest to know exactly what your rights and entitlements are. The laws are there to ensure that every workplace is fair.

This factsheet outlines up to date information as of the 1 January 2012.

The national minimum standards of leave and holiday conditions include:

Annual leave:
Full time and part time workers are entitled to four weeks annual leave pro rata over 12 months.

It should accrue through the year which means that a part timer who works 2.5 days per week should have 10 days of paid annual leave at the end of the 12 month period.

It is common for workplace agreements and awards to include leave loading which is typically around 17.5 per cent on top of the normal pay rate.

Any accrued leave shall be paid out at the end of your employment, depending on your agreement and award terms this may or may not include leave loading.

If your leave falls on a public holiday then you must be paid the public holiday rate and not compromise your annual leave.

Employers are legally obligated to show you how much leave you have on your payslip.

Unfortunately casual workers are not entitled to annual leave.

Sick leave (personal leave), carers leave and compassionate leave:
Full time and permanent workers are entitles to 10 days sick, carers or compassionate leave. Sick leave is to be used when an employee is unfit for work due to illness or injury. Carers leave should be taken when you are required to take time off work to care for a sick immediate family member or a member of your household.

This type of leave is paid at the same rate as your usual pay and to be paid at the same time as your usual pay and cannot be taken on a public holiday.

You are also entitled to two days unpaid carers leave on each occasion that they are required to care for an immediate member of your family. Unpaid leave can only legally be taken when all paid leave is exhausted.

You are also entitled to two days of paid compassionate leave when a member of your immediate family passes away or is seriously ill.

You are required to give notice of your intentions to take sick, carer’s or compassionate leave as soon as practically possible, and you may be required to submit evidence of relevant illness or circumstances in which you’ve requested the leave. Without this evidence your employer has the right to refuse your leave application.

Long service leave:
In recognition of the loyalty that workers show their employers by serving in the organisation for an extended amount of time, workers are entitled to long service leave.

At this stage each state has its own legislated parameters around long service leave. Here is a summary of your entitlements.

State

Initial entitlement

Pro rata accessibility

Pro rata qualification

Subsequent entitlement

WA

8.67 weeks after 10 years

Available after 7 years

Termination of employment for any reason other than serious misconduct or death of employee

4.33 weeks after an additional 7 years

NSW

8.67 weeks after 10 years

Available after 5 years

Any reasonable circumstance excluding serious misconduct or wilful misconduct or death of employee

4.33 weeks after an additional 5 years

VIC

8.67 weeks after 10 years

Available after 7 years

Termination of employment

4.33 weeks after an additional 7 years

SA

13 weeks after 10 years

Available after 7 years

Termination of employment for any reason other than serious misconduct and unlawful termination of employment by employee or death of employee

1.3 weeks for every additional year thereafter

QLD

8.67 weeks after 10 years

Available after 7 years

Termination of employment as a result of illness/incapacity, domestic or other pressing necessity, unfair dismissal or dismissal for reasons other than employee’s conduct, capacity or performance or the death of the employee

4.33 weeks after an additional 5 years

NT

13 weeks after 10 years

Available after 7 years

Termination of employment as a result of attaining retirement age, illness, incapacity, domestic or other pressing necessity or reasons other than serious misconduct or death of the employer

6.5 weeks after an additional 5 years

ACT

6.07 weeks after 7 years

Available after 5 years

Termination of employment as a result of attaining retirement age, illness of incapacity, domestic or other pressing necessity or a reason other than serious and wilful misconduct or the death of the employee

0.867 weeks per annum thereafter

TAS

13 weeks after 15 years or 13 weeks after 10 years for mining employees

Available after 7 years or available after 5 years for mining employees

Termination of employment as a result of attaining retirement age, illness, domestic or other pressing necessity or a reason other than serious and wilful misconduct or the death of the employee

8.667 after an additional 10 years or 13 weeks after an additional 10 years for mining employees

Community leave:
Community leave is available to workers who are required to attend jury service, participate in voluntary emergency management activities or other special circumstances.

A permanent employee who has to attend jury service for up to 10 days is entitled to their full pay, thereafter the employer no longer has to top up the difference between the courts allowance and the employees ordinary pay.

Some work place agreements include a clause which extends the amount of days your employer will top up your pay. Community leave is available to both permanent and casual staff.

Parental leave:
As of 1 January 2011 the Gillard government implemented Australia’s first paid parental leave scheme providing new parents with 18 weeks of leave at minimal wage currently $589.40 before tax.

This is on top of agreements where employers agree to top up workers entitlement from the minimal amount to their full wage.

Who is eligible?
To qualify you must satisfy these conditions:

  • Be the primary carer of a newborn or recently adopted child
  • Are an Australian Resident 
  • Worked for at least 10 of the 13 months prior to the birth or adoption 
  • Worked for at least 330 hours in that 10 month period with no more than an eight week gap between two consecutive working days 
  • Receive an individual adjusted taxable income of $150 000
  • Have taken leave or not working from the time you become the child’s primary carer until the end of the Paid Parental Leave period

The Paid Parental After 12 months of continuous service with an employer you are entitled to access 12 months unpaid parental leave.

Public holidays:
Listed below are the national public holidays legislated by Fair Work.

  • New Years day (1 January)
  • Australia day (26 February)
  • Good Friday (varied)
  • Easter Monday (varied) 
  • Anzac day (25 April)
  • Queen’s Birthday Holiday (varied state to state) 
  • Christmas day (25 December)
  • Boxing day (26 December) 

State based holidays include:

  • Labour day 
  • Melbourne Cup day (VIC)
  • Bank holiday (NSW)
  • Royal Queensland Show day (QLD)
  • Picnic day (NT)
  • Adelaide Cup day (SA)
  • Foundation day (WA)
  • Royal Hobart Show day (TAS)
  • Easter Saturday (VIC, NSW, QLD, NT, SA)
  • Easter Tuesday (TAS)
  • Show day (NT)
  • Royal Hobart Regatta day (TAS)

back to top

Hazardous chemicals

Hazardous chemicals can be found in substances, mixtures and articles used in various stages of production and include skin irritants, carcinogens and respiratory sensitisers. Physiochemical hazards come from physical or chemical properties like flammable, corrosive, oxidising or explosive substances.Excessive exposure to these may lead to adverse health effects on workers. Workers can be exposed through inhaling, skin contact or ingestion.

Under regulation the manufacturer and importer of the hazard substance have a duty to correctly classify the substance before it can be used in the workplace. You can obtain a full list of approved hazardous substances at the Hazardous Substances Information System.

Employers are obliged to:

  • Consult their workers and elected health and safety committees to identify and control hazardous situations at their workplace
  • Ensure that adequate information reaches every worker may be affected
  • Containers, tanks and the storage of dangerous goods is clearly labelled correctly
  • Training is provided to every worker so they understand the information on the labels
  • Identify and eliminate the risks or control them if elimination is not possible
  • Display adequate placards and signage that warns workers of stored goods that are dangerous. They must be displayed outside the premise, at the location where the items are stored, and where the dangerous goods are packaged or handled
  • Devise monitoring programs to ensure that exposure levels are within guidelines
  • Devise a written emergency plan
  • Maintain an up-to-date and accurate record of the risk management procedures, a list of all the hazardous and dangerous substance in the workplace, all the induction and training undertaken, any monitoring programs, notifications of any serious incidents and other incidents involving dangerous goods to WorkCover
  • Hold a licence to use or store ammonium nitrate

If you have further concerns please contact your HSR or union representative.

back to top

Hours and fatigue

Every industry-wide award or EBA (an agreement negotiated on your behalf by unions) will have standards that dictate normal day hours of work you should be getting paid extra for work performed outside these hours.

‘Work within normal day hours’ generally means:

  • Starting at or after 7 am and finishing before or at 7 pm between Monday to Friday
  • Working consistently for no more than 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week (excluding overtime)

Employers are obliged to provide you with a safe and healthy working environment which includes:

  • Consultations with their employees and OHS representatives if there are any purposed changes
  • Providing adequate and appropriate information, training, instruction and as well as supervision
  • Identifying, assessing and controlling hazards associated with excessive exposure to chemicals or high use of equipment. to equipment
  • Providing an appropriate physical and organisational environment
  • Providing a healthy and safe workplace and work systems, including appropriate working hours

Employers are obliged to provide you with a safe and healthy working environment which includes:

  • Regular and adequate resting periods between and during shifts
    Awards in each industry dictate appropriate working hours and break times. Consultation with you or your union representative in the design of the rostering system. It’s important that all workers get a say in issues that affect their work and their work life balance. The rostering process will determine the amount of rest you get in between your shifts and the amount of breaks you’re entitled to. 

Things to look out for to ensure your occupational well-being, include:

  • Extended working hours and fatigue
    Does your rostering or extended working hours lead to reduced sleep with increased levels of fatigue and risk of accidental injury? Extended working hours has been linked to various other health hazards as well such as an increase in alcohol smoking and caffeine consumption. It may also lead to disruption in sleeping and eating patterns as well as having negative effects on personal relationships.
  • Fatigue
    Fatigue is caused by various factors including unrealistic workloads, lengthy shifts, shifts scheduled too close together, the time of day the shifts are scheduled, the physical demands of the job and its monotonous nature.

Fatigue negatively impacts a worker in various ways including increase sick leave and higher accident rates.

  • Over exposure to workplace health and safety hazards
    In some occupations there is a limit on how much exposure you can have to certain hazards such as chemicals, noise or manual handling. 

An increase in the daily or weekly exposure to these hazards requires a decrease in the average hour level of exposure which means that workers are required to take more breaks during the course of their shifts or increase the time between their shifts.

Excessive and repetitive manual handling may result in cumulative muscular fatigue. Adequate resting periods in between shifts is essential especially after any injuries.

back to top

How to establish a Designated Work Group (DWG)

Having a say in your workplace is the best way to ensure that high standards and procedures are up kept and maintained. This is done through establishing Designated Work Groups (DWGs) and electing your Health & Safety Representatives (HSRs) to represent you and your felllow workers on safety matters.

This becomes more crucial when we’re talking about OHS, as getting it wrong may have detrimental effects on your health and well-being long after you’ve left the job.

Every worker can request the formation of DWG and elect their own HSR and deputy HSR. They will be responsible for ensuring that your work site is safe, and they have legal rights to stop work if they deem a situation too hazardous. 

Here is how to begin the process by negotiating a working group with a number of HSRs:

  • At a worker’s request a manager or the controller of the business must start negotiating how many work groups are needed and how many HSRs and deputy HSRs will be elected to represent each working group
  •  This process needs to commence within 14 days of the original request
  • A worker may elect to have a union delegate or organiser represent them in these negotiations
  • Working groups should be organised in a way that effectively represents the interest of the workers’s health and safety. HSRs need to be allocated to be accessible to every worker in each working group
  • All workers must be informed about the formation and number of working groups as well as HSRs and deputy HSRs
  • If no agreement can be reached within the 14 days, any person who was party to the negotiations may ask the regulator to appoint an inspector to determine the establishment and number of working groups, HSRs and Deputy HSRs

Regulatory considerations when negotiating:

  • The number of workers
  • The nature of each type of work carried out by worker
  • The number and grouping of workers who carry out the same or similar duties
  • The areas of places where each type of work is carried out
  • The extent to which any worker must move from place to place while at work
  • The diversity of workers and their work
  • The nature of any hazards at the workplace or workplaces
  • The nature of any risks to health and safety at the workplace
  • The nature of the engagement of each worker, for example whether the work is full-time, part-time, casual or short-term
  • The times at which work is carried out
  • Any arrangements at the workplace relating to overtime or shift work

back to top

Modernising the Seacare Scheme (Press release DEEWR)

Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Bill Shorten today released a report on ways to improve seafarers work health and safety outcomes.

The Gillard Government commissioned the review in 2012 to ensure that the Seacare Scheme was working effectively and efficiently for Australian seafarers.

The Scheme has not been comprehensively reviewed since it was established in 1992.

“Consistent with the Gillard Government’s approach across work health and safety, we want to ensure we have an equitable and cost-effective workers’ compensation system which has an emphasis on rehabilitation and return to work.”

“The maritime industry is vital to our economy. It is important that those workers and employers covered by the Seacare Scheme have a modern, best practice scheme that reduces the risk of injury in what is an inherently dangerous industry.”

“We are committed to harmonising and modernising the Seacare Scheme to help injured workers recover quickly and return to work safely,” Minister Shorten said.

With the Government’s introduction of the national work health and safety laws, it is important to ensure the Seacare Scheme continues to provide an effective framework for rehabilitation and compensation support to injured seafarers.

“The legislation underpinning the Seacare Scheme has not kept pace with changes in harmonisation of work health and safety laws, workers’ compensation reforms or maritime industry reforms.”

“This has made the scheme complex and resulted in uncertainties in determining which vessels are covered under the Scheme and which are covered under the various state or territory schemes.”

The review conducted by Mr Robin Stewart-Crompton emphasises the complex legislative and administrative structure of the scheme and its relatively poor performance compared to similar schemes.

The report sets out 67 recommendations to improve the scheme’s coverage, governance, workers’ compensation costs and legislative inconsistencies.

A number of the recommendations seek to align the Seafarers Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1992 with the changes recently proposed to the Safety,

rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 by Mr Peter Hanks QC.

“I want to thank Mr Stewart-Crompton for his work and everyone else who contributed to the review,” Minister Shorten said.

“I will be consulting with Seacare Scheme stakeholders on the recommendations of the Review. This will help to inform our approach to harmonising and modernising the scheme for the benefit of workers and employers.”

“While the Gillard Government has a clear plan to improve health and safety in our workplaces in the future, Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party have no plans.”

The Seacare Scheme is a national scheme for a specific section of the maritime industry. There are 8000 workers and 32 employers of seafarers within the scheme.

The report is available online at: www.deewr.gov.au/seafarers-rehabilitation-and-compensation-act-review.

Source DEEWR

back to top

Screen-based work

What is screen-based work?

In this modern age of technology, many of us are finding ourselves in jobs where we’re required to sit in front of a computer for long periods of time. The self-illuminating screen may have negative health effects on workers unless precautions are taken to minimise them.
 
Employers are obliged to provide you with a safe and healthy working environment which includes:

  • Consultations with their employees and OHS representatives if there are any purposed changes
  • Providing adequate and appropriate information, training, instruction and as well as supervision
  • Identify, assess and control hazards associated with over exposure to negative effects through the usage of the equipment
  • Providing an appropriate physical and organisational environment
  • Providing a healthy and safe workplace, work systems, including screen based equipment

Things to look out for to ensure your occupational well-being include:

  • Lighting
    Is the lighting environment for screen based work suitable for both reading of hard copy and screen-based work? Is glare avoidable?
  • Air quality
    Is the air in the workplace clean and fresh and at a comfortable temperature and humidity?
  • Noise
    Are there distracting or loud repetitive noises that are unavoidable?
  • Workstation
    Is the workstation large enough to accommodate all your equipment? The screen and keyboard etc. Is there room for other tasks to be carried out? Is there room to rest your hands and arms?
  • Chairs
    Does your chair provide efficient body support? Does it allow you to relax while not restricting your muscle function? Is the chair easily adjustable in height?  Can the backrest be adjustable too?

For further information, please refer to the ACTU Guidelines For Screen Based Work

back to top

Strains and sprains

As one of the most common injuries experienced in the workplace sprains and strains occur due to pushing, pulling or over exerting yourself during the manual handling process.

Strains and sprains can result from common day-to-day activities meaning all workers need to be vigilant regardless of their occupation or industry although the high risk groups include young workers, male workers, night workers and low skilled workers.

Common injuries include:

  •  Back injuries including pulling muscles and rapturing discs
  • Nerve damage, typically in the wrists or back of the leg 
  • Ligament sprains in the upper body
  • Shoulder dislocation and muscle sprain 
  • Abdominal hernias
  • Tendon injuries to the hands, forearms and elbows such as tennis elbow
  • Ankle injuries

Employers are obliged to:

  • Identify hazardous manual handling tasks
  • Control the risks by ensuring that objects, tools, layout and methods are carefully thought out and workers safety was considered
  • Train and educate their workers so they are able to carry out their duties in a safe manner
  • Consult with workers on the risks and suggestions on how to improve it

What you can do about it?

  • Refuse work that you feel is endangering you or may cause you injury or illness
  • Make a list of the manual handling issues that you feel are adversely affecting your health
  • Consult your OHS representative and ask for a risk assessment to be carried out

back to top

Stress at work

While most people experience some stressful situations during their working lives, ongoing, or prolonged exposure to workplace stress can result in negative physical and mental health outcomes. 

Stress has been attributed to causing or worsening various illnesses or health issues. It can lead to an increase in cholesterol and fats in the arteries and be a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease. It can also lead to mental conditions such as depression and anxiety.

There is evidence that long term exposure to stress can lead to various conditions such as:

  • raised blood pressure,
  • increased risk of cardiovascular disease,
  • musculoskeletal disorders,
  • some forms of cancer,
  • digestive disorders,
  • tiredness,
  • impaired immune competence,
  • increase in obesity due to job strain (Dollard 2001)

Workplace stress has also been associated causing harm indirectly through behaviours such as smoking, higher body weight, poor diet, lack of exercise, and alcohol abuse. (La Montagne)

Working in stressful situations makes workers more vulnerable to physical injuries. Causes of stress include: 

  • Work overload
  • Job insecurity
  • Poor working conditions 
  • Communication difficulties between management and worker
  • Bullying, harassment or intimidation
  • Inadequate staffing or resources
  • Lack of control over work load or work itself
  • Insufficient training 
  • Unresolved health and safety issues

In addition to its effects on physical and mental health, organisational impacts include: increased turnover, absenteeism and presenteeism, higher accident and injury rates and higher health care expenditure (La Montagne)

Employers are obliged to prove workers with a safe and healthy working environment that includes:

  • Consultation with workers and their HSRs
  • Providing adequate, accurate and appropriate information, training, instruction and supervision
  • Identify, access and control hazards including organisation structures and individual behaviours 
  • Providing adequate and appropriate physical working environment with a cohesive and operation organisation structure

What can you do about it?

  • Nominate a HSR to represent you and fellow colleagues in regards to all OHS issues
  • Meet with your HSR to discuss OHS issues and have them raised with management
  • Meet with your HSR and determine how to achieve a health and safe workplace and have them present this to management
  • Collect evidence of the problem and document incidents and accidents
  • Ask you HSR to develop a prevention policy in consultation with workers and management
  • Raise the issue with your union representative

back to top

QuadWatch - First step to cutting down quad bike accidents

The Union movement joined with farming and community organisations today to support the establishment by Bill Shorten, Minister for Workplace Relations, of Quad Watch.  The initiative is one of a number of strategies put in place to confront the horrendously high number of deaths and serious injuries associated with Quad Bike incidents. 

To support these local networks there will be a QuadWatch webpage established and maintained by Safe Work Australia. The QuadWatch webpage will provide information and links on how to reduce quad bike incidents, quad bike safety research, work health and safety information and contact details for state and territory regulatory bodies all on the one site.

See here for the Minister’s media release

http://ministers.deewr.gov.au/shorten/government-works-farming-organisations-and-community-groups-establish-quadwatch

back to top

Workplace bullying

What can you do to prevent and manage bullying in your workplace?
Workplace bullying thrives in an atmosphere where workers are fearful of speaking-up about unreasonable behaviour because of possible victimisation or because of fears of being subjected to similar treatment. Bullying is a WHS issue and must be treated like any other hazard in your workplace. If in doubt, speak to your HSR.

Don’t have a HSR in your workplace, find out to create a DWG and HSR elections (here)

What is bullying
Bullying is repeated unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers. In most cases that poses a risk health and safety.

What is not bullying
Certain types of managerial actions are excluded by all state and territory workers’ compensation legislation and are referred to as ‘reasonable management action (RMA) provisions. Exempted actions include work allocation and providing feedback on a workers’ performance. However, this must be done in a reasonable manner.

If you think that your employer is using RMA provisions to bully, you should speak to your HSR and Union Delegate and ask for help. If required, they can attend meetings with you to ensure that they are conducted in professional and helpful manner.

How to respond to a bullying complaint.

  1. Check to see if your organisation has a policy on workplace bullying. This should set out what to do in the event of a complaint of workplace bullying arising.
  2. Prior to making a formal complaint, workers should make it clear to the bully that they want this behaviour to stop.
  3. If bullying behaviour continues, you will need to lodge a formal complaint. Bullying complaints cannot be made anonymously.

For Health & Safety Representatives (HSRs)

  1. All workplaces are obliged to have policies and procedures in place to prevent and manage workplace bullying.  A basic bullying policy should identify what it is, its effects, that it is not tolerated, reporting and procedures for its investigation
  2. Encourage workers to report all incidents of bullying and harassment
  3. Advise workers to keep a diary of incidents
  4. Be alert to the signs of bullying
  5. If in doubt, contact your union for further information.

Bullying Code Sunk - November 2013
A Safe Work Australia sub-committee voted by majority to overturn previous decisions and downgraded a proposed Bullying Code of Practice to guidance material only.

Despite the fact that SWA had previously decided that material would be developed as a Code of Practice, that a House of Representatives Committee Report endorsed the development of a Code and that the Safe work Australia Agency found that public comments arguing for the development of a Code were more persuasive than for a guide, all Liberal National Party Governments (except WA) and employer representative voted in favour of a guide.

A national guide will consolidate existing bullying material.  It won’t make the prevalence of workplace bullying any more widespread but a Code would certainly make things better for victims of bullying.

back to top

Working in heat

Working in extreme conditions can have adverse effects on the health and safety of workers.

Risk factors include:

  • Air temperature, air movement and humidity
  • Level of work activity
  • Type of clothing and footwear
  • Levels of fluid loss and replacement
  • Source of radiating head

Employers are obliged to provide you with a safe and healthy working environment which includes:

  • Consult with employees, Health and Safety Representatives and OHS committees
  • Provide adequate and appropriate information, training, induction and supervision
  • Identify, access and control hazards associated with heat
  • Provide an appropriate physical and organisational environment
  • Provide healthy and safe workplace and work systems including protection against heat stress

Your rights:

  • You have the right to nominate and elect a representative as a HSR who has powers to advocate for OHS issues on your behalf
  • Refuse to work if conditions are adversely affecting your health

Your HSR has the power to:

  • Seek control of the hazards at their source
  • Develop a prevention policy in consultation with workers and management
  • Include ‘working in heat’ policies in enterprise agreements
  • Contact and request for a formal audit to take place by an OHS inspector
  • Issue a Provisional Improvement Notice (PIN), an official notice to the employers informing them that an OHS issue currently exists and needs to be urgently attended to
  • Order work to cease if he/she deems the work will adversely affect workers

Recommended rest breaks for working in seasonal heat

Duration of paid rest breaks within each hour when temperature reaches and/or exceeds temperature shown

Temperature

10 minutes

30-32 degrees Celsius

20 minutes

32-34 degrees Celsius

30 minutes

34-36 degrees Celsius

Cease working

36-38 degrees Celsius

For further information on working in hot conditions, please refer to the ACTU Guidelines For Working in Seasonal Heat