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National Coordinator Deb Vallance (03) 9230 5888 Mobile 0439 988 704 Victoria State Office (03) 9230 5700 Frank Fairley 0425 713 263 Georgie Kimmel 0425 784 815 Andy Giles 0409 856 807 Sarah Ross 0425 784 817 Melinda Simpson 0425 784 820 New South Wales State Office (02) 9897 4200 Dave Henry 0419 403 389 Alan Mansfield 0418 638 425 Mick Rattigan 0418 637 769 Queensland State Office Brian Devlin

(07) 3236 2550 0418 714 251

South Australia State Office (08) 8366 5800 Richard Wormald 0409 651 892

Is International Workers’ Memorial Day in your 2012 Health and Safety diary? April 28 is on a Saturday this year, so arrange events for Friday 27, 2012. The February meetings of Health & Safety Committees are a good time to start preparing... for example, arranging for one minutes silence at 11 am on Friday 27, or a guest speaker or special event.

Manufacturing can be dangerous work. From 2000-01 to 2008-09, the number of compensated fatalities in the manufacturing industry ranged between 29 and 47. Western Australia State Office (08) 9223 0800 In 2009-10 the manufacturing industry recorded an Glenn McLaren 0409 663 637 incidence rate of 18.6 serious workers’ compensation claims per 1000 employees. This is twice the rate for all Tasmania industries. State Office

(03) 6228 7099

‘It’s no accident’ is the OHS newsletter of the AMWU. Feedback and story ideas to amwu@amwu.asn.au

On January 1, 2012, the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 became law in the Commonwealth, New South Wales, Queensland, ACT and Northern Territory. There was no change to health and safety laws in Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia or South Australia. Go to our web site: www.amwu.org.au for a summary and some useful proformas when negotiating work groups and conducting elections for Health and Safety Representatives. Also the new ACTU health and safety web site www.safeatwork.org.au.

Sorry it’s late... the 2011 AMWU Health and Safety Booklet has been mailed to you recently. Chapter 12 has a Model H&S Enterprise Agreement Clause which improves on the H&S rights of the model Work Health and Safety Act. Talk to your union organiser and delegate. Remember to contact your state branch about union H&S training: union trained HSRs are automatically informed about the H&S services and support that AMWU membership provides.

www.amwu.org.au

AMWU OHS Contacts

A French judge has announced an investigation into the role of key individuals who formulated the French Government’s asbestos policy during the 1980s and 90s. It is alleged they delayed the introduction of a ban on the use of asbestos. From 1982-1995, the French Government’s asbestos policy was led by the le Comite Permanent Amiante (the Permanent Committee on Asbestos). The CPA was an asbestos industry-backed public relations tool which masqueraded as an independent organisation. Four key members are being investigated by Judge Bertella-Geffroy on charges of homicide for their role in the campaign to forestall legislation banning asbestos. www.lepoint.fr/societe/les-lobbyistes-de-l-amiantemis-en-examen-10-01-2012-1417114_23.php

February 2012

BULLETIN

At last, the asbestos lobby is to be investigated for lying

nd a n e Op on e c a l p rd a o b e notic


BullyingIt’s toxic With a front page story in The Australian newspaper, employer groups have started their campaign of opposition to Safework Australia’s proposed Code of Practice on the Prevention of Bullying. In a story titled “Bosses, unions to spar over bullying”(page 1, The Australian, January 5, 2012), the Australian reported that unions were concerned that the Draft Code fell short, whilst employers say the changes would lead to increased costs. In 2010, the Productivity Commission reported that the cost to the Australian economy of bullying and its close relative, harassment, ranged from $6 billion to $36 billion a year! The Australian reported that “the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union and the ACTU are pushing Safe Work Australia to toughen aspects of the code, which could be used in court proceedings”. The union movement has argued for years for a Code of Practice on the Prevention of Bullying. In some states Bullying is covered by guidance material only. As codes are legally more powerful than guides, employer groups have consistently opposed a Code. The type of behaviour unions want addressed is usually repeated behaviour that could reasonably be considered humiliating, intimidating, threatening or demeaning to an individual or group of individuals that creates a risk of physical and/or psychological harm. Union concerns are supported by lawyers. Josh Bornstein, an industrial lawyer, wrote in the Australian Financial Review (August 30, 2011) that workplace bullying: “…….corrodes dignity, self-esteem, job satisfaction, motivation and ultimately mental and physical health. In particularly bad cases, employees who experience

bullying are so damaged they are unable to return to the labour market. Years of workers’ compensation or social security payments await them…”. One of the key issues raised by unions is the importance of procedural fairness when dealing with allegations of bullying. Unfortunately, the Draft Code proposes informal processes for handling complaints. In our experience, this can be used as a way of “brushing the problem under the carpet”. For example: • the person complaining about the bullying is pressured into an informal model because it is easier for the employer; • the informal model has no consequences for those who breach company policy and the law; and • there is no ability to track complaints and systemic concerns within an organisation. The unions support the methods suggested in the Victorian and New South Wales guides. It is important that the worker who reported the situation agrees with the proposed approach. The Direct Approach This involves a clear and polite request for the behaviour to stop. This request can be made by the person affected, their supervisor or manager, their HSR or delegate or another relevant person. Mediation/discussion involving an independent third party A neutral and independent person assists resolution through a discussion of the issues. The discussion should focus on agreeing to the actions that will be taken to resolve the problem. Investigation Where a serious allegation has been made, an investigation should be the first step taken. Investigations should focus on establishing whether or not a report of bullying is substantiated or if there is not enough information to decide either way. It is important that when there is an allegation of bullying that the following are observed: • All complaints are taken seriously. • Reports should be dealt with quickly, courteously, fairly and within established timelines. Everyone should be advised of how long it will take to deal with the report and should be kept informed of the progress.

Ensure everyone is protected from victimisation: the person who raises an issue of bullying, the person(s) accused of bullying and any witnesses.

Involved worker(s) need to be: • informed of what support is available; • given the option for representation at any discussion or interview (e.g. HSR, union delegate); and • offered to have a support person present at interviews or meetings (e.g. co-worker, delegate or friend). Impartiality is critical. The person in charge of an investigation must never have been directly involved in the incident they are investigating or attempting to address. All parties should be informed of the process: how long it will take, what to expect during the process and what will happen at the end. Everyone must be given clear reasons for any actions taken or not taken. Confidentiality is essential for all involved. Details of the matter should only be known by those directly concerned. Documentation is important to any formal or informal investigation. A record should be made of all meetings and interviews i.e. who was present and the agreed outcomes. Similar to other health & safety hazards, such as manual handling, the hazards that increase the likelihood of bullying are multifactorial. Each hazard by itself may not constitute bullying but, alone or in combination, may increase the risk of bullying behaviour.

• • •

Is there job insecurity or unpredictable/unexplained change (rosters changing without notice, lack of training on changes in work methods or organisation, continually changing lines of reporting)? Is there support from co-workers and supervisors? Are there groups of workers more likely to be exposed to bullying e.g. young workers or non permanent workers?

Are workplace relationships characterised by: • unnecessary criticism and other negative interactions? • negative relationships between supervisors and workers? • poor communication or inadequate consultation? • certain workers being excluded or isolated? Reasonable management action, carried out in a fair way, is not bullying. Managers need to be trained to make sure they are able to perform their roles in a fair and just manner when: • directing the way work is carried out; • monitoring work; and • giving feedback on performance. The costs to workers’ health and the economy are large enough to justify the introduction of a legally enforceable National Code of Practice. The ACTU and AMWU will continue our campaign, as the workplace is no place for bullying.

The following are useful questions to ask: • Are the workload or task demands excessive (unreasonable performance measures or timeframes)? • Are there role conflicts (contradictory demands or expectations)? • Is there uncertainty about the way work should be done (lack of training)?

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@ www.amwu.org.au

It's No Accident Feb 2012  

Occupational Health and Safety Newsletter by the AMWU

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