If that headline made you do a double-take, you’re not alone. As it turns out, a simple and important question from a union member has opened up a pandora’s box at TFS. Do TFS Headquarters in Hobart have arrangements in place that meet obligations under the Fire, Building and WHS Regulations?
After CPSU members raised concerns with their union that TFS Headquarters didn’t comply with regulations, we reached out to the employer to seek clarification. We asked for copies of relevant plans and details of wardens: all fundamental obligations of any employer or PCBU which should have been simple to answer. Seven weeks later and we still haven’t received a response. The story has since reached The Mercury over the weekend.
TFS’ response to the media (if only they could respond as promptly to their own workers) was worryingly vague. They imply that plans may have ‘lapsed’ due to staffing changes and have now reached out to an external provider to update their plan rather than self-regulate. CPSU members have had a lot to say recently about the state of staffing cuts, workplace culture and high turnover in the service (“Tasmania Fire Service Austerity: Cuts on the Horizon?” – Via cpsu.com.au) – but this is no excuse for TFS not to uphold their basic obligations to maintain safe working conditions.
If your Employer/PCBU has failed to provide a safe workplace, workers have a right to work from an alternate location under their workplace is compliant. Here’s three questions to ask yourself right now:
- Have you seen your workplace’s Emergency Evacuation Plan? These should be readily accessible to all workers, such as on your notice board or intranet.
- When was the last time you had a drill? Arrangements for information, training and instruction of workers must be set out in the emergency plan.
- Who is your Fire Warden? Do you have one?
If you can’t find the answer to any of the above questions, contact your union immediately at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re here to help.