Quick OHS News – Danger Money, Red Tape and Toilets

Below is some interesting occupational health and safety (OHS) issues that have appeared over the last week that I don’t have the time to explore in the usual depth but are useful.

Danger Money appears

David Marin-Guzman reports that unions are asking for an extra

“$5 an hour to compensate [disability workers] for risks in assisting clients suspected of having coronavirus.”

The reporter’s Twitter account justifiably describes this as “danger money“, an issue forecast as likely by this blog recently. That such an offer is made by the Health Services and United Workers Unions is disappointing but unions can do little else as the employers have the primary OHS responsibilities. What such action also does though is let the employers off lightly from their OHS duties to continuously improve workplace health and safety. The $5 danger money may be cheaper than implementing other risk control options but OHS laws have a process for this type of decision making that has Cost as the last option to be considered. Allowances do not reduce worker safety risks and they can undermine future OHS initiatives.


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Business COVID19 survey could have been clearer and more useful

On April 14, 2020, the Australian Industry Group revealed, in a media release, some details of how its members were responding to the COVID19 pandemic. The survey was described as economic research and, as occupational health and safety (OHS) is mentioned, SafetyAtWorkBlog asked from more details on the OHS-related findings.

The survey found:

“There has been a steep rise in workload as a result of new OH&S policies and procedures around hygiene (34%) and working from home (25%).”

“Employees are also anxious, with 31% of businesses saying there is increased anxiety levels within their workforce.”

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Safe Work Australia’s COVID19 guidance

In mid-March, pandemic advice from occupational health and safety (OHS) regulators was assessed with the generic guidance from WorkSafe Victoria being praised. Many changes to workplaces have occurred since then and Safe Work Australia (SWA) has caught up with the demand for industry-specific guidance on managing work in this pandemic. SWA’s advice is very good and is discussed below.

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Hand washing and safety

The appearance of a new coronavirus (Covid19) has again thrown a focus on hand hygiene. This is an occupational health and safety (OHS) issue as the risk could appear at work and, in Australia, suitable toilet amenities are required under OHS Acts and Regulations. But how do you wash your hands safely? Let’s look at one recommendation.

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One safety quandary solved by Consumer Law. What others are possible?

Caesarstone original quartz for kitchen, bathroom surfaces, benchtops, splash backs and kitchen Island

Last week the Australian Government accepted the recommendations of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) about improving the safety of quad bikes. But the improvement in safety came not through occupational health and safety (OHS) laws but the Australian Consumer Law so how could the ACL help improve workplace health and safety further? After a quick look at how the quad bike recommendations have been received, the potential of the ACL is considered in relation to silicosis.

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The “if you’re not sure, ask” campaign needs “if unsafe, fix”

WorkSafe Victoria has asked me in the past why I do not report on some of their successful activities and promotional campaigns.  Recently WorkSafe Victoria has been running what appears to be a very successful safety campaign focusing on young workers. The campaign is called “if you’re not sure, ask“.  The television and online advertisements again feature confronting workplace injuries but the significant difference in this case is that there is a social context about body image.  This element of the campaign is very effective however, from the perspective of an old fart of a safety professional, the advertisements miss the role of the supervisor and the importance of a safe working environment.

Continue reading “The “if you’re not sure, ask” campaign needs “if unsafe, fix””

Religious wisdom on workplace safety

It is rare to visit the Bible when thinking about occupational health and safety but this week Australia’s Uniting Church, its Creative Ministries Network and the United Voices trade union released a report on the working condition of shopping centre cleaners.  In the report “Cutting Corners” there are many references to the Bible’s and the Church’s thoughts and actions on labour issues.

For instance, according to the report:

“…God is ‘against those who oppress the hired workers in their wages, the widow and the orphan’ (Malachi 3:5).”

and

“…the Prophet Muhammad underlined the importance of the just wage by saying, ‘give the employee his wages before his sweat has had time to dry’.”

The Uniting Church has strong arguments to justify its involvement in social equity matters.

“Cutting Corners” was a broad report based on hundreds of telephone interviews with cleaners.  The major safety-related findings of the survey were:

“The key violations borne by shopping centre cleaners constitute a litany of injustices, from low rates of pay, pay that is not commensurate with their Continue reading “Religious wisdom on workplace safety”