Sep 26

Surgeons rebel at lack of funds

surgeon

A leading Sydney cancer surgeon said he has had four patients die this year waiting for treatment, as doctors at St George Hospital rebel against what they say is chronic under-funding.

SMH Surgeons rebel at lack of funds

The hospital is slashing surgeries and closing beds, despite being the worst-performing major hospital in the state for on-time surgery. Doctors said it was ”bursting at the seams” and in desperate need of renovations.

Cancer surgeon David Morris, who performs peritonectomy surgeries for all of NSW at St George, said four of his patients had died waiting this year and he had 38 on his list. He said he needed to increase his surgeries to keep up.

Professor David Morris.“We are operating at half the level we were at the beginning of this year.” Photo: Tamara Dean

”Yet we are operating at half the level we were at the beginning of this year,” he said.

”The hospital is also increasingly using its elective operating time just to deal with people who are coming in as emergencies.”

St George was outperformed by every other major hospital in NSW when it came to providing surgery on time, failing to meet targets for urgent and non-urgent surgery, the latest Bureau of Health Information figures show.

Staff have been informed from next month almost one in every 20 surgeries will be cancelled, or 16 operating sessions a month, and 10 beds will close.

Chairwoman of the hospital’s medical staff council, Theresa Jacques, said the hospital had to make ”tough decisions” to manage within its budget.

”Reducing beds and operating time in a hospital bursting at the seams is challenging and will have to be watched very closely,” Associate Professor Jacques said..

She said the hospital did not have enough intensive care and isolation beds, bathrooms, ward beds or operating theatres. ”This interferes with the rapid flow of patients,” she said. ”We need an urgent rebuild to allow us to help manage our budget.”

In May Fairfax revealed St George had put all peritonectomies on hold because of budget shortfalls, before reinstating them after public outcry.

Professor Morris said he was still unable to operate on inter-state patients.

Labor health spokesman Andrew McDonald said the problems were ”all about money”. ”The minister has allocated a budget that is inadequate and then blames the local health district for cutting their cloth to fit what they have got,” he said.

”This is a hospital that is already struggling and to further close beds means people will wait longer,” Mr McDonald said.

Cath Whitehurst, the director of Operations at St George and Sutherland Hospitals, said St George’s performance of on-time elective surgery had improved from 85 per cent to 95 per cent this year.

”St George Hospital will be re-organising its operating theatre schedules, as it does every year as part of normal business,” Ms Whitehurst said. It would not affect patient care, she said.

She said the hospital’s budget had been increased by $12 million in the 2013-14 financial year, and the local health district had made redevelopment a priority.

She said 10 beds were being ”reallocated” to another unit but would not commit to no overall loss in beds, as numbers fluctuated.

Acting Health Minister Andrew Constance said it was the local health districts’ responsibility to make clinical decisions, not the government’s.

He said on top of the $12 million, the government was spending $39 million upgrading St George’s emergency department.

Sep 26

ESTIMATES ROUND UP Finance and Services

Constance

After taking several questions on notice following the 2013-2014 Finance and Services Budget Estimates Hearing – Andrew Constance, the current Minister of the portfolio, stated that as of August 2013, Allianz had only declined one claim for workers compensation. We can only wonder what precise moment in time they may be referring to insofar as a grand total of only one claim being declined.

 

David Shoebridge ESTIMATES ROUND UP Finance and Services

 

The complete transcript of this hearing is available here.

David asked questions about:

  • The viability and effectiveness of a privately-underwritten no-fault scheme in New South Wales.
  • The effect of abolishing ‘journey claims’ from Workers Compensation claims on the CTP scheme and premiums.
  • What the reason is for medical costs under CTP in NSW being 44% higher than in Victoria.

One of the main concerns with the proposed changes to CTP in New South Wales is whether a privately-underwritten no-fault scheme would actually result in lower premiums and effective compensation for motor accident victims. The only known comparable jurisdiction in the world is in New York, where the equivalent to a green slip costs $2,400 and there is a $50,000 cap on medical costs. Minister Constance, who is the Minister for Finance and Services, said that a comparison to the New York scheme is “apples and oranges”, though did not expressly state why.

There was also discussion of how removing ‘journey claims’ from Workers Compensation has affected CTP premiums in NSW and Victoria. It was estimated that premiums will be $15 to $30 dearer as a result of moving journey claims to CTP, based on the Victorian model.

The medical costs associated with CTP were also examined in estimates. Mr Nicholls, the General Manager of the Motor Accidents Authority, stated that the 44% higher medical costs in New South Wales could be attributed to the higher cost of medical services in New South Wales, and the way that compensation in fault-based schemes is determined by litigation and negotiation of compensation amounts, rather than by programs designed for rehabilitation as in Victoria.

Questions on notice

  • Minister Constance would take on notice whether there were any other privately underwritten no-fault CTP schemes in the world.
  • Minister Constance also undertook to publish the report on the CTP Roundtable in the near future. The CTP Roundtable was conducted earlier in August as consultation on the effects of the reforms.

The answers to the questions taken on notice during the hearing can be found here.

After the hearing a number of supplementary questions on notice were also submitted, the answers to these questions can be found here.

 

– See more at: http://davidshoebridge.org.au/2013/09/24/estimates-round-up-finance-and-services/#sthash.x9hbb7l5.dpuf

 

 

Sep 26

When the work day never ends

workday

Many people are putting their jobs before their health,

Linda McSweeny SMH When the work day never ends

Spring is upon us, Australia’s collective well-being is booming, and our economy is the envy of the world. Yet far from enjoying the fruits of their labours, many workers – even those in well-paying professional jobs – are living in fear that their livelihoods may disappear.

Whether it be the post-Global Financial Crisis unemployment horror stories filtering through from overseas; the rapid rate of technological change that has meant workers can be “on tap” 24 hours a day, or the rapid pursuit of material benefits, many workers fear that the only way they can stay afloat is to work harder and longer – often at the expense of their health.

I’m in my mid-30s but I feel like I’m 50.

Psychologist Dr Tim Sharp says work-related angst in Australia is very real. He says the GFC has shaken the confidence of many workers, particularly in industries such as banking, but he also says the modernisation of the workplace means we no longer have “jobs for life” and people are struggling to adjust to this new reality.

On call: new technology means workers can have little downtime. Illustration: Michael Mucci.

Edward* is 40. He has two university degrees, a loving family, and what appears to be the textbook life he craved as a young boy. But beneath the rosy surface lies a man sweating about job security. The operations manager for a global company rarely switches off from work, toiling from home at night and on weekends, juggling his smartphone and laptop and waking in the small hours to answer phone calls from clients. He often can’t sleep because work issues pull him from his slumber.

Edward rarely engages in social activities or sport but tries to spend any spare time interacting with his two young children and partner, who works part time. He contemplates scrambling out of his work-heavy hole but can’t fathom an exit plan. He says he has already made one career switch and doesn’t fancy another.

“I know it’s not sustainable for myself or my family to keep working around the clock and fixating on the fear that I could lose my job, but if I say no to my boss when he needs me, he’ll find somebody who will do it,” Edward says. He admits his fears were heightened after he watched three of his close work colleagues made to move on from their jobs in recent months.

The fear of job loss is real, even in Australia’s reasonable economic climate, and researchers say there’s mounting evidence of mental health issues arising from organisational downsizing and global economic crises.

Tony*, a 30-something finance worker, says he works about 70 hours a week to ensure he maintains his “high performer” status. He’s also responsible for implementing downsizing operations and sees firsthand scores of colleagues increasing their work hours and input and/or turning to alcohol to cope with the fear of being the next worker asked to leave.

“I know that if I overperform and stay ahead of the pack, I’ll be reasonably safe, though you can never really be sure of these things,” Tony says.

But he feels battered by the consistently long hours, work-related travel and reliance on alcohol to alleviate stress. “I’m in my mid-30s but I feel like I’m 50 actually, I honestly do.”

Those employees left standing in organisations or industries facing cuts often start to show signs of mental and physical stress as they fear being the next one to find themselves unemployed, according to studies cited by University of NSW psychiatrist and Black Dog Institute researcher Dr Samuel Harvey. Some push themselves into productivity overdrive simply out of fear of job loss.

Downsizing may increase sick leave and the risk of death from cardiovascular disease in employees who keep their job, according to a paper in BMJ (the former British Medical Journal). The results of the study, conducted in four towns in Finland during a severe economic decline from 1991 to 1996, were so stark, the authors called on policymakers, employers and occupational health professionals to recognise that downsizing may pose a “severe risk to health”.

There was a clear rise in suicides after the GFC of 2008, with almost 5000 more suicides – primarily men – across 54 countries in Europe, the Americas and Asia in 2009, according to a new study published in the British Medical Journal.

“We know that just being in fear of losing your job is also associated with poorer mental health. Those people who feel less secure in their job have higher rates of mental health symptoms and lower rates of mental well-being,” Harvey says.

Goldman Sachs boss Lloyd Blankfein recently highlighted what he saw as a mismatch between Australia’s economic status and the attitude of its workforce.

“I’ve been coming here for a long, long time and during the past two decades of growth, growth, growth, people are always distraught, overwrought, wringing their hands about how horrible things are and, to my observation, they don’t look that bad.”

Real or imagined, a perception of job losses affects productivity, stress levels and family life, and researchers are trying to find evidence on which tools are best to help people deal with their fears, such as e-health and resilience programs supported by employers.

“What drives that perception is sometimes reality, but it’s sometimes more about that individual and their way of viewing the world and their place within it. Some people are just worriers and we know that’s a risk for mental health problems. But there’s a lot of work going on now about whether you can help people build their levels of resilience and teach them techniques to alter the way they view some of these risks and the extent to which they ruminate on them,” Harvey says.

Employers are being urged to help with the mental health of workers via the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance partnership between business, community and government. One of its aims is to find out what works and what doesn’t when it comes to a mentally healthy workplace.

“Sometimes [job losses] have to happen, but certainly if people pause and think about the way they happen and the support given to individuals, we might be able to prevent some of these problems,” Harvey says.

Sharp says the first step for workers is to seek information from their employer if they fear job loss to ensure they know what they’re dealing with. Sometimes they can improve their performance, but other times, it may be beyond their control while an organisation seeks to downsize. For employers, they should reassure their workforce as best they can, to give employees a sense of security and stability.

Job loss was real for Sydneysider Nigel Marsh, who found himself “fat, 40 and fired” in 2003 and was so affected by the upheaval, he wrote a book about his experience, which is poised to become a TV series.

“For me, it was absolutely devastating,” Marsh says. “I was a 40-year-old man with four children under the age of five and a wife who didn’t have a job, so I thought my life was over. I thought I may never work again. It was totally devastating.”

Marsh says he had an inkling of impending doom when talk of a merger involving the company that employed him began. Since the release of his book, he has received harrowing emails about people’s job-loss stories in a society that he says glorifies overwork.

“You get this thing where people say, for example, ‘Oh Amanda, she’s so wonderful, she’s always the first in, she’s always the last to leave, she works every weekend, and she never takes any of her holidays’, and you go, ‘Well why are we holding that up as heroic when it’s moronic or tragic?’ It shouldn’t be held up as, ‘Oh yippee!’, it should be seen as sad. Let’s give her some help,” Marsh says.

While his situation felt disastrous when it happened, the job loss gave him time to change his life. He took a redundancy package, wrote his book, lost weight, got fit, gave up alcohol and became more present in his family’s life. He says any anxiety he has about job loss is now manageable.

“I’ve embraced the fear. I’ve tried to turn anxiety into anticipation. Until 40, I was taking a conventional approach to work; since then, I’ve been trying a different route,” says Marsh, who now works in the corporate world, as well as being the author of three books, founder of the Sydney Skinny swim event, and a public speaker.

The key for employers to help in the mental health of their workers is to share information and ensure there are no surprises, says the University of Sydney’s Workplace Research Centre director, Professor John Buchanan.

“If people get advanced notice, it makes a huge difference to their capacity to adjust and minimise the negative impact,” he says.

Sep 24

WorkCover QLD review could strip workers of right to compensation

compensate

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry QLD stated that it was a luxury for workers to be protected by journey claims within the State’s Workers Compensation System.

Alarmingly, similar views are held in NSW by both Business and Government Organisations alike – who view both workplace health & safety, workers compensation as no more than providing a service.

This highlights why the areas of both Workplace Health & Safety and Workers Compensation should be administered via a more relevant Government Office – such as that of Employment/IR – treated and enforced as an obligation not merely the provision of a service.

News.com.au WorkCover review could strip workers of right to compensation

BOSSES and unions have clashed over revelations that the State Government is considering axing compensation for workers injured on their way to work.

Injury compensation lawyer Mark O’Connor said dumping the provision under WorkCover Queensland would be “mean” and “heartless”.

“An injury caused when a worker is going to or from work has no individual impact on the employer’s WorkCover premiums. In fact travel claims represent only about 5c to the average premiums rate,” he said.

Mr O’Connor said businesses wanted it cut to save employers money on their premiums.

He said travel claims had a negligible impact on the whole scheme.

“In 2011/2012 WorkCover paid $1.35 billion of which $69 million was in travel claims but $27 million of it was refunded to WorkCover by CTP insurers when common law claims were settled.

“It’s time the Attorney-General stepped up and assured Queenslanders their scheme is safe from meddling,” he said.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) spokesman Nick Behrens said the current system was unfairly balanced and a recent review had failed to address the genuine concerns of Queensland businesses.

“CCIQ does not propose a fundamental change to what is generally a solid performing workers’ compensation scheme, but members are concerned the ledger is skewed too far in favour of the employee,” Mr Behrens said.

“The State Government must introduce peripheral changes to restore balance and improve the operation of the scheme to address the concerns of the business community.”

Queensland Council of Unions president John Battams called for the Newman Government to accept the recommendations of its own Parliamentary committee, which advised the status quo should remain.

“Today we had Queensland Chamber of Commerce and Industry incredibly saying it was a ‘luxury’ to cover for workers injured travelling to or from work.

“Injured workers would not think it is a luxury to be able to feed their families or pay their bills,” Mr Battams said.

EARLIER

WORKERS injured on their way to and from work face being stripped of their right to compensation under a shake-up to WorkCover Queensland.

The State Government is considering dumping journey and recess claims, which last year cost the scheme $50 million for 6000 cases. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland will today increase pressure on Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie to introduce reforms to WorkCover, which also include stopping staff from suing employers for minor injuries suffered at work.

Workers who are involved in car accidents or hurt themselves in other ways while travelling to and from work can apply for compensation.

However, CCIQ believes the system is being rorted by staff and want journey claims dumped so business can cut its premiums. Employers pay a workers’ compensation premium based on the wages, their industry classification and the number of claims in the past.

Statistics show most claims are made in southeast Queensland.

Business lobbying has alarmed the Queensland Council of Unions president John Battams, who said he had been leaked information that Mr Bleijie was getting ready to buckle to the big end of town. However, Mr Bleijie made it clear that no decision had been made.

“The Government is currently considering a report from the Inquiry into the Operation of Queensland’s Workers’ Compensation Scheme,” Mr Bleijie said.

Mr Bleijie said lodgements for journey claims had been stable for 10 years but more money was being paid because of a growth in wages and medical costs. He said depending on the circumstances of the injury, the motor accident insurance scheme (CTP) could also provide coverage.

WorkCover was able to recover costs of the statutory claim from the CTP insurer if the person subsequently lodged a successful damages claim under that scheme, he said.

A review of the scheme was required by law and was completed this year. A Parliamentary Committee recommended that journey claims and the right to sue remain.

A briefing note sent to Mr Bleijie in April – and obtained by Saturday’s Courier-Mail – revealed that WorkCover had costed three options in relation to ditching journey claims. It modelled scrapping it for all workers, scrapping it for all workers except police and scrapping for all workers except police and emergency service workers.

Mr Battams said workers would be left in the lurch if the Government dumped both provisions.

He said Queensland’s scheme was fair and sustainable.

“The nature of our state is that people have to travel long distances to get to work on bad roads,” he said.

“Many of them have no choice.”

He accused Mr Bleijie of deliberately waiting until after the Federal election to make a decision.

CCIQ spokesman Nick Behrens said it would help business if the Government restricted access to compensation. Mr Behrens said while business wanted journey claims scrapped it really wanted to stop workers for suing for minor injuries.

He said injured workers should be given a set amount depending on their injury.

“The common law process is an expensive way of awarding compensation to employees compared to the statutory process, particularly for minor injuries in the lower levels of whole of person injury.

“The average common law claim settlement, $120,150, is approximately 17 times more than the average cost of a statutory claim, $7070,” Mr Behrens said.

Q: What constitutes a journey claim?
A: The Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 provides compensation for injuries that occur on a worker’s journey between their home and workplace by deeming such injuries to arise out of the worker’s employment. A journey from or to a worker’s home starts or ends at the boundary of the land on which the home is situated. The legislation does not provide coverage for injuries arising out of a journey if the injury occurs during or after a substantial delay before the worker starts the journey. A parent dropping off or picking up children from child care would not generally be considered to have substantially interrupted or deviated from the journey as it is something the parent habitually or customarily does.

Q: Who is covered?
A: All workers as defined by the legislation are covered for work-related injuries.

Q: Who pays out?
A: WorkCover Queensland is a statutory agency responsible for providing workers’ compensation insurance to most Queensland employers. There are also 25 companies who are licensed by Q-Comp (workers’ compensation scheme regulator), to self-insure.
Read more: http://www.couriermail.com.au/national-news/queensland/workcover-review-could-strip-workers-of-right-to-compensation/story-fnii5v6w-1226724844008#ixzz2fldGg5ih

Sep 24

Reminder – IWSN Wednesday 25th September Meeting: Hosted by Trades Hall Council in Newcastle — all welcome

IWSN

This month and over the coming months we will focus on addressing and challenging changes to workers compensation laws and the negative impact they are having on injured workers and their families.

Please feel free to invite friends, family members and other interested community members who may be able to assist us moving forward

There are a number of initiatives we would like to discuss that will forward our aim of highlighting the adverse impact changes are having on injured workers and their families.

Agenda

  • Unions NSW WHS representative presentation
  • Workers Compensation research & information session
  • Representative from Turner Freeman Lawyers will be in attendance
  • Injured workers share their experiences
  • Community based activities
  • Any other issues

Important: Please RSVP by 24th September 2013 on  (02) 9749 7566  or by email: adam.grumley@injuredworkerssupport.org.au

Region: Newcastle

Location: Trades Hall Council, L2-R3, Devonshire House, 406 King, Newcastle West, NSW 2302

Date of next meeting: Wednesday, September 25th, 2013.

Time: 11.30am – 1.30pm.

Sep 23

Travel compo in doubt for Qld workers

Journey

The QLD LNP are now in the process of changing the states Workers Compensation System through the removal of journey claims. Such action will potentially leave thousands of people vulnerable to enforced poverty in the event that they become injured during the course of travelling to and from their place of work.

Sadly, this same legislation was enacted by the now disgraced former NSW Minister for Finance and Services Greg Pearce – a man who thought it was fair to reward multinational insurance companies through the removal of journey claims from the State Workers Compensation System – and only to have the states motorists further reward these same companies by increasing prices on CTP insurance.

Sydney Morning Herald – Travel compo in doubt for Qld workers

Queensland workers who claim compensation for injuries suffered on the way to or from work are enjoying an unnecessary and costly “luxury”, an industry body says.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland president Nick Behrens wants the Queensland government to scrap journey and recess claims, which last year cost the state’s WorkCover scheme $50 million.

Mr Behrens says the scheme has made premiums paid by employers too high and is “too heavily skewed” towards workers.

He says employers don’t have any control over what happens during commutes and it’s hard to police whether those journeys are solely work-related.

“There’s a degree of luxury at the moment in relation to Queensland’s workers compensation arrangements and accordingly CCIQ is seeking to have the scheme reformed,” he told ABC radio.

But Queensland Council of Unions president John Battams says Queensland employers have consistently enjoyed either the lowest or second lowest premiums in the country.

The effect of journey claims on premiums is so minor it’s not worth disadvantaging those affected by scrapping it, he says.

Mr Battams says Queensland workers often have to travel long distances on bad roads to get to work, and deserve to be covered.

“It’s not a luxury to be able to get compensation if you’re injured on your way to work and can’t provide for your family,” he said.

Potential rorting was a “red herring” and most employees would only ever honestly make a compensation claim, he said.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie is yet to make a decision.

Read Here: http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/travel-compo-in-doubt-for-qld-workers-20130923-2u8qu.html

 

Sep 23

Barry O’Farrell stands by central coast MPs after ICAC raids

ICAC logo

Recently announced, another three LNP members are under investigation over allegations of corrupt activity by way of receiving political donations in the lead up to the 2011 NSW State Election. The same three LNP members who voted in support of changing the NSW Workers Compensation legislation in June 2012.

This was after hearing false allegations of Injured Workers as being largely responsible for the schemes alleged $4billion dollar deficit.  The same deficit (that apparently no longer exists) but is still affecting thousands of Injured Workers and their families who are systematically having their weekly benefits and medical expenses cut.

Sydney Morning Herald - Barry O’Farrell stands by central coast MPs after ICAC raids

Premier Barry O’Farrell has dismissed calls for him to suspend three of his MPs over an alleged corruption scandal, saying until the corruption watchdog made a statement on its activities the matter was “pure speculation”.

Liberal MP Darren Webber.

Darren Webber.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption on Friday raided the offices of central coast MP’s Chris Spence and Darren Webber , seizing computers and documents.

The raids are believed to be linked to allegations, revealed by Fairfax Media last year , that two staff members of NSW energy minister Chris Hartcher, another central coast MP, funnelled political donations through a front company before the 2011 state election

 

Chris Spence.

Chris Spence.

Opposition Leader John Robertson has called for Mr O’Farrell to suspend Mr Spence, the member for The Entrance, and Mr Webber, the member for Wyong, while Greens MP John Kaye said Mr Hartcher should be stood down until ICAC resolved the matter.

But on Sunday Mr O’Farrell warned against jumping to conclusions in the absence of any statement from ICAC.

“Until the Independent Commission Against Corruption makes a statement about what may or may not have occurred, until it says what those activities were about, it’s very hard for anybody to either to speculate or indeed for a party leader to make a decision about the future of any MP,” Mr O’Farrell told radio 2UE.

“Until the Independent Commission Against Corruption explains what it may or may not be doing, everything else is just pure speculation, including the over-the-top statements from the Greens and the Labor party.

“The disadvantage for everybody here is this is speculation building on speculation. In the absence of a statement by the Independent Commission Against Corruption, no one knows the facts.”

Mr O’Farrell said the Liberal Party had referred issues surrounding donations to the central coast Liberal campaign to the Electoral Funding Authority. However, there had been no statements from ICAC that it was investigating the matter.

He added that there was “no speculation at this stage of any ICAC activity in relation to the offices of Mr Hartcher”.

The commission does not comment on any matter that is under ongoing investigation or consideration. On Sunday ICAC neither confirmed nor denied the existence of any investigation. A spokeswoman said no statement would be issued.

“Mr O’Farrell should suspend both the Member for Wyong and the Member for The Entrance from the Liberal Party pending the outcome of these extremely serious ICAC investigations,” Mr Robertson said on Sunday.

Sep 20

Visy fined $52,000 for bullying on safety

AMWU

The reliability of the union as the prime protector of members’ health and safety has been re-enforced by the Federal Court’s penalty of $52,470 against Visy for victimising a delegate who sidelined two defective forklifts.

AMWU – Visy fined $52,000 for bullying on safety

The judge ordered Visy Packaging to pay the AMWU the amount as punishment for wrongly investigating, suspending and issuing a final warning to OH&S delegate Jon Zwart for “tagging” two forklifts with defective reversing warning beepers in August 2011.

He ordered the forklifts not be used because of the threat to other workers, mindful of Visy’s own “Tuff on Safety” policy after a tragic forklift accident at another of its Victorian plants three years earlier.

The union instigated action against Visy under the Fair Work Act after a failure to act by WorkSafe Victoria, whose inspector backed up management at Visy’s Coburg can plant in Victoria.

Visy executive Robin Street was fined $4,620.

The company was ordered to pay $23,100 for wrongly investigating and suspending Mr Zwart after refusing a company proposal that the dangerous forklifts be re-used with drivers honking a warning.

Justice Bernard Murphy also set a $24,750 penalty for Visy wrongly issuing a final warning to Mr Zwart, which is 75 per cent of the maximum penalty.

The judge said he realised such amounts were not large for an enterprise with $330 million in profit but served as a deterrent for any company from taking adverse action against an employee properly exercising their responsibilities under the OHS Act.

“The contraventions are serious and Visy must be deterred from again infringing the workplace right enjoyed by health and safety representatives and employees to raise their legitimate OHS concerns,” he said.

He said Visy should have understood and been guided by the fact that a forklift operating around pedestrian traffic in an industrial setting was inherently dangerous.

Mr Zwart, at Visy for 25 years, said he was glad the stressful matter was over but believed the union’s perseverance had been “absolutely worthwhile.”

“What’s happened to me has changed attitudes on the shop floor, the guys are stoked because we’ve established the principle of our workplace rights and responsibilities under the OHS Act,” Mr Zwart said.

“It’s also our right as employees to have a safe workplace, to be provided with a safe environment.”

This is the second time in three years Visy has suffered major penalties over forklift safety, including a $112,000 fine in 2010 for an earlier incident at its Wodonga plant when a woman was severely injured by a forklift moving at speed.

AMWU Victorian State Secretary Steve Dargavel criticised both Visy and Worksafe.

“There is no doubt this case shows the benefits of a unified workplace and that the union is always the best protector of workers’ rights, including safety. Employers and regulators too often forgo their responsibilities,” he said.

“Visy have had a poor safety record that had come to the attention of Worksafe at its Wodonga and Shepparton sites in the past.”

Mr Dargavel said Visy had a culture of blame where management first sought to punish its workers for safety failures, rather than look at its own practices, and had sacked the forklift driver in Wodogna.

Visy later settled his unfair dismissal claim.

Mr Dargarvel said studies showed workers in unionised workplaces were between 25 and 50 per cent less likely to be injured in a workplace accident, largely due to union vigilance and union-sanctioned education of workers in OH&S.

He also said the reluctance of Worksafe to take enforcement action against employers responsible for clear breaches of workplace safety regulations was a continual problem.

”Worksafe’s failure to protect people who raise safety concerns in the workplace risks generating a culture of cover-up and injury,” he said.

Read Here: http://www.amwu.org.au/read-article/news-detail/1245/Visy-fined-$52000-for-bullying-on-safety/

Sep 20

New law forces workers into retirement

aca

Work longer, save more and retire happy – that’s what we’re all told we should be doing.

View Here – New law forces older workers into retirement ACA

But there’s a new law that means many older workers are now without vital work cover.

They’re being forced out of their jobs with little money and a very uncertain retirement.

For statements from Work Cover in your state, click below:
New South Wales
Queensland
South Australia
Victoria
Western Australia

Sep 19

Train drivers have the toughest job in the country

Train-Driver1

STRESS. It’s public enemy number one – the thing we worry about more than our finances, family, future and relationships.

News.com.au Train drivers have the toughest job in the country

For most people, their jobs are the main source, and it can lead to a variety of conditions from burnout and fatigue, to anxiety, heart disease and diabetes. It also costs a fortune, with an estimated $15 billion lost to the economy each year due to stress-related issues.

So what jobs stress us out the most?

Statistics from Safe Work Australia based on the number of accepted claims for workers compensation for mental stress-related issues show one job stands out as being particularly hard.

Train drivers have the toughest job in the country, according to the data, with 1025 claims made per 100 million hours worked – about 26 times more than the average job for males.

“For males, drivers of public transport in particular train drivers had very high rates of workers’ compensation claims arising from mental stress. This is likely due to the unfortunately large number of suicides witnessed by these workers on the rail network,” a Safe Work Australia spokesperson said, adding that the high incidence for males is likely because there are more men than women in the job.

For both men and women, law and order professions like police offers, security guards and paramedics were also extremely difficult, with the largest number of claims made for work related issues like general pressure, bullying and exposure to harassment and violence.

“Occupations associated with high rates of workers’ compensation claims arising from mental stress tended to involve work where there are high levels of personal responsibility for the welfare of other people and where there is potential exposure to dangerous situations,” the spokesperson said.

“The main point to note is in many of these occupations (both male and female) workers may have very little control over their exposure to traumatic events or aggressive or abusive people.”

High risk jobs for men

• Train drivers and assistants

• Police, ambulance officers and paramedics

• Prison officers, welfare and community workers

• Fire fighters, bus and tram drivers

• General clerks and nursing assistants

• Special care workers and secondary school teachers

• Guards and security officers

• Primary school teachers and education mangers

High risk jobs for women

• Police and prison officers

• Ambulance officers & paramedics

• Welfare, community workers and social workers

• Secondary school teachers and special education teachers

• Personal care and nursing assistants

• General clerks and customer service managers

• Vocational education teachers and education aides

• Enrolled nurses and education managers

Do you work in any of these jobs? Tell us about your stress levels on Twitter @newscomauHQ

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