Hazards

Q. I have been appointed as the safety officer in the work place, a situation has arisen in regards to work place bullying. I am yet to undergo the training for this position. What is requested/expected of me at this stage bearing in mind I have not been trained as yet?. What is my position with my fellow workers?. Where do I stand in regards to what can be discussed openly, stop work meetings, counter complaints regarding possible mismanagement of the work place.

Answer

Under the new OHS Regulation 2001 all employers are required to conduct risk assessments ie to identify, assess and control all workplace risks. Under clause 9 of the Regulation an employer is required to identify risks and the clause makes particular reference to certain hazards such as physiological hazards and the potential for workplace violence.

Under WorkCover Guidelines the definition of workplace violence includes bullying. Employers must identify if there are risks ie if there is any type of bullying behaviour in the workplace. If so then they have to deal with the issue and put in place certain control measures to prevent it happening. The employer should have policies and procedures on this issue.We have a whole information kit on our website to assist unions and employers to control this issue/hazard/risk. Hope this information is useful.

Q. I have just recently started an office job. Most of the people in my office smoke (including the Managing Director), they smoke in the office with the window open, but this does not provide enough ventilation. Is this illegal? I am afraid to speak up as I am still on my 3 month probationary period and am afraid of being labelled a trouble maker. I love the job, and do not want to leave so what should I do?

Answer

The first thing I would suggest you do, is join a union. Under the OHS laws a union can investigate supected breaches of the OHS Act and Regulation and if necessary prosecute an employer. The union in visiting a workplace to investigate a breach would never divulge the name of the person who made the complaint. In your particular circumstance they would say a person who visited or passed by the workplace noticed that this was happening.

Under the new safety laws employers must not place persons or vistors at risks of harm. The risks associated with exposure to passive smoke are well known and documented. There has also been a number of sucessful workers compensation claims for employees who have been exposed to passive smoking. Also, there is a new provision under the Act which protects employees from being terminated if they raise an OHS issue and the union has the power to prosecute under this provision. So I suggest that you join the union and they will take this matter up without the employer knowing who made the complaint.

Q. My husband is in the building industry and is required to have a OH&S Certificate. How and where is this available for him and his work mate to obtain?

Answer

Under the NSW OHS Regulation every employee must receive OHS induction training. Employers must not direct an employee to carry out construction work unless the employer is satisfied that the employee has undergone OHS induction training. Your husband and his employee can obtain this training from the training provider, COMET,who are WorkCover approved and their contactnumber is 9649 5000.

Q. We use a lot of different chemicals at work. Is there some way of knowing more about these? ER

Answer

Under the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) all new industrial chemicals (since 1990) must be notified and assessed prior to their introduction in Australia. The assessment looks at any effects of the chemical on OHS, public health and safety. Broader environmental concerns are taken into account. The assessment results in the publication of a public report, available in the Chemical Gazette. Chemicals in use prior to 1990 may be declared priority existing chemicals and also undergo assessment.

Q. What are the procedures to be followed in the case of an accident at work, which is in breach of the OH&S regulations in an IT workplace environment?

Answer

There are a number of ways to report workplace accidents.

Under the Workers Compensation Legisation an employer must notify their insurance company within 48 hours if a worker has sustained a significant injury and 7 days for all other injuries.

Under the OHS Regulation 2001 an employer must fill out a form ie an accident notification form and send it to WorkCover, if a worker has been off work for more than 7 days.This is under clause 341 of the OHS Regulation 2001. The Regulation is available on our unionsafe website.

Q. What are the procedures to follow when identifying a hazard?

Answer

Most of the information you require can be found in the Hazards section of the UnionSafe website.

Q. What is Hepatitis?

Answer

‘Hepatitis’ means inflammation or swelling of the liver. It can be caused by chemicals or drugs, or by different kinds of viral infections.

Infection with one type of hepatitis virus does NOT give protection against infection with other hepatitis viruses.

There are a number of different hepatitis viruses: A, B, C, D, E. They are all completely different; they cause different illnesses and may require different treatments.

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