Australian OHS guidances for COVID19

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Every occupational health and safety (OHS) man and their dog is providing advice about how to manage the COVID19 pandemic.  The only advice this blog has offered is to target your sources of information about managing the risks to your local health department or OHS regulator.  This information is changing all the time in response to new information but there are a couple of OHS guidances that are worth paying close attention to.

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Young workers don’t know their OHS rights or their employer’s duty of care – Duh!

On March 10 2020, the Andrews Labor Government and the Minister for Workplace Safety, Jill Hennessy, released a media statement about a “social experiment” involving the safety of young workers, in response to the fact that “about 50 young workers are injured every week”.

The statement said that the campaign is

“… warning employers to protect young workers and making sure young Victorians are aware of their rights through a powerful new campaign …..
[and]
“…is part of a social experiment which saw young workers aged 18-25 asked to participate in a mock job information session for a research company.”

The significant finding was that

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New gendered-violence guide is good on the What but thin on the How

Australia’s trade union movement has been at the forefront of many of the occupational health and safety (OHS) changes, especially workplace stress and bullying. Other than Industrial Manslaughter laws, its most recent campaign targeted to a workplace hazard has revolved around work-related gendered violence. Last week WorkSafe Victoria released a guide to employers on “work-related gendered violence including sexual harassment”. The advice in this guide is good but does not go far enough and is less helpful than it could have been.

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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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Cliché creates mixed message on OHS

In a welcome announcement about additional funding for WorkSafeACT, the Australian Capital Territory’s Minister for Employment and Workplace Safety, Suzanne Orr, stated that

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility and we must work together to create a strong safety culture so all workers can return home safe at the end of the day”

Orr needs to have her people think a little deeper before using the “everyone’s responsibility” cliché especially as WorkSafeACT gains independence for the first time ever.

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