This week saw a big two days for Health and Safety, with Unions Tasmania holding a HSR conference in Launceston and nipaluna/Hobart.
CPSU Organiser Trina Meurant attended:
The stand outs for Trina, thinking about public sector workplaces was the importance of mitigating psychosocial hazards and the need for more Health and Safety Representatives.
“The biggest lightbulb moment for me was the Managing Psychosocial Hazards at Work Code of Practice. When I looked at the hazards and the description of the hazards under that, I thought to myself “this is about every public sector workplace I’ve ever been into. These hazards cover a lot – much more than I knew, and they are a really valuable tool for members, particularly Delegates and HSRs, if they’re not familiar with this document – they should be.”
“The other standout was the powers that HSRs have, and the importance of having more HSRs in more workplaces. They’re there on the floor and in the office, they’re protecting their colleagues, and what’s more important than being safe at work and going home to their families every night?”
“There were great speakers – Wayne Schwass, who I’d never heard of before, who is former AFL player who has his own company focused on mental health. He talked about the importance of looking after yourself, the stigma around mental health, and how it’s often males in our lives who don’t want to speak about their struggles, what they’re feeling, and the importance of normalising speaking and acting on mental health.”
Other takeaways for Trina were to escalate concerns if they were dismissed and the need to be proactive, rather than reactive on ensuring workplace safety.
CPSU Member, decade long HSR Christine Turner, School Business Manager from Bothwell on the conference:
“It’s great to network with other HSRs, you get very isolated at a small, rural school, so it’s great to talk with others in the role who are operating under the same complexities.
“I started as an HSR in 2013, initially I did a five-year course, then I do the one-day refresher each year. We have two HSRs, the Education Facilities Attendant and I, and we would like to get a third HSR in the teaching staff to cover off on all work groups. Work Health & Safety is such an important thing – at our school we have 80-plus students, 20-plus staff, as well as a school community and everyone who comes onto site – you have to be thinking about safety all the time. It’s great to have the support of unions and Unions Tasmania.”
Christine encourages public sector workplaces to ensure they have at least one HSR, as well as to ensure that health and safety is taken seriously, with substance rather than a box ticking exercise.
Is your workplace missing a Health and Safety Representative?
Is this a role you’d like to find out more about?
Contact your Organiser or email email@example.com to find out more. HSRs are vital to protecting and promoting the health and wellbeing of workers and their workplaces.
Are staff under pressure?
Make a confidential submission through the CPSU’s new tool, Public Services Watch: https://www.cpsu.com.au/pswatch/