Vasalia, HSR in Community Services

What is your proudest moment as an HSR?

I utilised the issue resolution process, however, this failed. Then I issued a PIN that was affirmed by WorkSafe because workers spoke directly to the Inspectors about the injuries sustained and risks of undertaking domestic tasks. For example, having to bend their backs when making the residents' beds, having to push heavy furniture when mopping and vacuuming.

As a result, we introduced an OHS purchasing checklist to be used by management, staff, parents and residents. If any risks were identified the purchase was not approved unless the risks could be controlled. This eliminated the purchase for example of big bulky couches.

What is the best tip you can give another HSR?

Prior to speaking to managers about a health and safety issue, do some research. Read the WorkSafe publications, speak to another HSR or the union. Gather the information you need. This helps you to stand your ground and also managers are caught off guard.

 

Why is this tip effective?

It has been my experience that due to the poor enforcement of current OHS regulation it is simply not enough to state that the hazard or risk and expect employers to act . As the HSR it is up to you to put forward a business case for example;
1. reminding managers that they have no choice but to comply with the legal framework for example OHS laws by specifying the section of the OHS Act or OHS regulations,
2. Expanding that the losses associated with the identified risk outweigh the costs of preventative action for example worker’s compensation, sick days and medical expenses.
3.You may want to also try the moral argument that “civilised employers don’t cause avoidable harm.

 

Can you describe a time when this tip helped you resolve a health and safety issue at work?

Managers did not want to implement a risk management to control the risks associated with the use of ordinary cleaning products at work.  I provided members of the HSC with information including the relevant sections of the OHS Regulations 2007 (Chapter 4 Hazardous substances and materials) and a copy of the Materials Data Safety Sheet and read out the section 11: Toxicological information.Get help using section 58  .1 (f)  of the OHS Act 2004. You do not have to do this alone.

 

In terms of how you resolve OHS issues, what advice would you give a newly elected HSR? Or, what do you wish you had known when you first got elected as an HSR?

Empowering workers to speak up for themselves. This helped me to get the message across that they must be actively involved. I am there in my role as an HSR  and can not solve the issues on my own I need their support.

 

Can you describe how you resolved one OHS issue in your workplace?

Caucus with other HSRs prior to the HSC meeting (see section 69.1 (e) of the OHS Act 2004. This helps to gain support for your DWGs specific issue and ensures that all HSRs are on the same page (so to speak).

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