Then current coronavirus pandemic has disrupted workplaces around the world with those most effected being low socioeconomic sectors, including those working on a casual basis or in precarious, gig occupations. Last week the Victorian Government received the final report from its Inquiry into the Victorian On-Demand Workforce. This report is likely to be crucial in assisting the government to develop a safe and healthy strategy for the post-pandemic world of work.
Last weekend across the road from home, two workers were on the roof of a three-storey apartment block construction installing or inspecting solar panels. No fall protection, no harnesses. I grabbed my phone to notify my local WorkSafe about this unsafe work activity. The switchboard was closed, and the phone number listed on the website was identified as only for emergencies. Was this an emergency? Not sure. By the time I worked it out, the workers were off the roof and the opportunity passed.
I now wish that my State had a notification app like that operating in New South Wales. I would have taken some photos and notified the occupational health and safety (OHS) regulator. The “Speak Up, Save Lives” app seems good, but it may also undercut the pathways to Consultation established through the OHS laws.
Workplace health and safety risks related to COVID19 emerge in Australia and the United Kingdom.
Trade Union Suggestions
On May 5 2020, the Australian Council of Trade Unions released a statement on occupational health and safety (OHS) calling for certain Industrial Relations and OHS changes, including:
- Paid pandemic leave
- New regulations on safety and health standards, and
- Compulsory notifications to Health Departments and OHS Regulators.
SafetyAtWorkBlog has been led to believe that the paid pandemic leave is intended to apply from the time a worker is tested for COVID19 through their isolation while waiting for the test results and the operation of sick leave should the test results be positive.
This week Dr Rebecca Michalak wrote that penalties for breaches of occupational health and safety (OHS) laws need to be personal for people to understand the potentially fatal consequences at the work site or decisions that are made in the comfort of the boardroom. In this sentiment she echoes the aims of many who have been advocating for Industrial Manslaughter laws and also touches on the role of deterrence. But when people talk about Jail, are they really meaning Ruin? And do these options really improve workplace health and safety?
The Ballarat Regional Occupational Safety and Health (BROSH) group conducted an online seminar on March 31, 2002 at which Tracey Browne of the Australian Industry Group (AIGroup) spoke. The content was very good, and the format worked even though many people are still trying to acclimatise to online meetings and the muting of microphones.
Browne provided a general update on managing occupational health and safety (OHS) during the COVID19 pandemic disruption but there were a couple of notable contributions.