All the latest news and views from the CPSU team
Countdown to new health and safety laws
IT’S ONE month to go until new Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws come into effect in Tasmania.
No doubt your employer has already told you about the laws and what these changes mean to you… or perhaps not…
The new legislation empowers CPSU Members to take more control of WHS in their workplace.
Some employers deal with WHS well already but others are less serious and effective. The State Service as Tasmania’s largest employer has a very poor record of controlling of risks in workplaces and dealing with the aftermath of accidents and incidents.
“The State Service’s record for work health and safety, workers compensation, return to work, lost time as a result of injury or illness is comparable to those industries regarded as the most dangerous”, CPSU Assistant General Secretary Mat Johnston said.
“This poor performance can’t be allowed to continue – there are workers suffering injuries and illnesses that could be avoided. There’s also a massive monetary cost which, at a time of significant financial pressure, should be motivation enough for any employer.”
The new Act allows workers to reclaim safety in workplace. In the new year your CPSU will work with individuals and groups of Members to ensure issues in their workplaces are actually addressed.
Some of the major improvements in the new law include better processes for the election and training of Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs). Other empowering aspects of the Act include greater HSR powers and guidance as to the exercise of those powers and improved provisions around the formation and constitution of WHS committees. There are also strong, mandatory consultation provisions which require employers to genuine engage with workers around WHS issues.
Employees can now request training and choose which provider they want to undertake their training with. Unions Tasmania is offering HSR training, and the CPSU will encourage Members and all HSRs to go through union based WHS training. Research clearly indicates that union workplaces with a collective approach to issues are safer workplaces.
“In the end, health and safety can’t be run by employers alone – it simply doesn’t work and people suffer unnecessarily,” Mr Johnston said. “We need to ensure our union and its Members are directly involved in this issue at every worksite.
“It’s already apparent that most employers are going to take a top down approach to WHS that’s primarily focused on mitigating the risk of litigation and sanctions against office holders at the top of organisations. On the contrary, your union is going work with Members to ensure there’s a bottom up approach to WHS that actually minimises and eliminates risks to the health and wellbeing of workers. It’s obvious that no one is better situated to diagnose and address risks in workplaces than the people working there every day.”
So be vigilant and get involved in health and safety! You have an important role to play in making positive change!
Click here to read more about the legislation, fact sheets, FAQs and more.