General Trade, Mining and Manufacturing

In October and November last year the Visy paper mill located in Tumut underwent is annual shutdown to facilitate major maintenance and upgrade work. During this period an increased number of contractors attended the site to undertake work around control systems, wiring, switchgear and other electrical work.

The shutdown was marred by multitude of safety problems and other issues. The ETU had concerns relating to fatigue as electricians were required to work 12 hour shifts while commuting long distances, in some cases more than 100 kilometres each direction.

The first day of the shutdown saw a major incident when a large section of roofing collapsed. The ETU was astounded by Visy managements response after they simply said “lucky no one was there”. If only this was true! At least one worker had to dive under a table to escape the falling roof section measuring 40 meters by 15 meters. The ETU understands that there were at least 5 or 6 workers onsite and in the vicinity.

A list of other safety incidents at the Visy site include:

  • Two Electric Shock incidents with one resulting in a 4th year apprentice being hospitalised.
  • Crane Rollover outside the perimeter of the site with Rural Fire Service, Police and Ambulances responding.
  • Two switch rooms infiltrated by water resulting in explosions and the need to rebuild them.
  • A worker suffered burns from caustic or acid solutions during the replacement of control gear.
  • Repeated sounding of Gas Alarms at the site.
  • Delay in allowing ETU officials to immediately enter the site under WH&S right of entry – the company delayed entry by two and a half hours.
  • Excessive hours with some EBAs including a minimum of 12 hours per day for 6/7 days straight.

The ETU also has concerns that union members maybe being targeted by management after the company made changes to individual staff working conditions after safety concerns were raised and complaints were made.

The ETU is continuing to monitor the Visy site closely while providing members with industrial support.

Extreme Heat Forcast for NSW

Posted on 12-1-2016

Weather forecasters are predicting that parts of NSW and the ACT will experience high temperatures over the coming days.

All members must be aware of the dangers of heat stress and familiarise themselves with the unions working in heat policy (2003), your employer’s heat management policy and the WorkCover code of practice for managing the work environment.

In summary ETU members should observe the following as a minimum but individuals should take appropriate action depending on your individual health and work situation: 

             
TEMPRETURE
DETAILS
0-28C

Continuous work with normal breaks.

28-38C

Minimum 15-minute break per hour worked.

38C+

Mandatory - stop work - do individual (Personal) risk assessment and determine if work is to continue, that work undertaken to be limited to fault and emergency or finalisation of current work (No New Work).

 

Please use these links to access a full copy of the ETU Working in Heat policy (2003)Workcover NSW’s website with details about working in heat and the Bureau of Meteorology for current weather forecasts (click on the map for your local forecast).

Members should exercise extreme care as temperatures rise. If you have any questions please contact your workplace delegate or ETU organiser.

Do you have a work-related heating problem? Here’s how to get an assessment and make a claim.

A specialist’s report that identifies hearing loss caused by exposure to workplace noise enables you to make a workers compensation claim against current and past employers, if you have lost at least 6 percent of your hearing.

ACT and NSW workers compensation (including Comcare) provide for your doctor to refer you to an accredited specialist. In NSW the specialist can send you to an approved hearing aid provider.  Or you can contact the Union for a referral and assistance.

Under NSW or Comcare schemes, if you lodged a hearing claim pre-2012 with paid time off work, you are eligible for a replacement hearing aid through the insurer every five years.  If insurers deny a claim, contact the ETU. 

If the hearing claim did not involve paid time off work, or was made after 2012, then insurers are not liable to pay for hearing aids or services 12 months after the claim. The 2012 restrictions do not apply to ACT Comcare.

At the time of publishing, the NSW Government introduced changes to workers compensation that may alter the 2012 restrictions.

If you are older than the pension retirement age, you are not generally covered by workers compensation.

To claim a hearing aid:

  1. Contact the old employer or insurer using the original claim number.
  2. Wait for their response as you cannot do anything without it. Any further assessment must be done by a Workcover-approved hearing provider.
  3. If your claim is denied, the union can refer you to NewLaw for review.
  4. If you are over the pension retirement age, you can apply for a hearing aid through the Department of Health for hearing aids.  

More info: www.hearingservices.gov.au/

WorkCover NSW as the body responsible for workplace safety in NSW have release online videos relating to electrical safety in the workplace. Electricity is a constant hazard in many workplaces and workers who work on or near electricity are at risk of shocks, burns, other serious injuries or even death.

ETU members across NSW should take the time to review WorkCover's electrical safety information which can be viewed on the WorkCover NSW website.

Make Rio Pay!

Posted on 29-5-2015

In a court ruling on Friday the 15th of May, former Gove refinery worker Zorko Zabic, currently dying from asbestos poisoning, won his compensation case and was awarded $425,000 from Rio Tinto after originally being denied compensation due to a legal technicality.

Rio Tinto immediately launched a legal challenge attempting to stop workers making common law claims for asbestos and restrict them to the Territory’s inadequate workers’ compensation system, which denies justice to asbestos victims due to the long gestation period of the illness.

It is a bare-faced attempt to prevent asbestos victims making successful future compensation claims.

Rio Tinto must drop its High Court challenge in an asbestos compensation case in the Northern Territory, in which the mining giant is seeking to limit future claims from victims.

CLCIK HERE TO SIGN THE PETITION NOW

Working in Heat

Posted on 21-11-2014

Weather forecasters are predicting that parts of NSW and the ACT will experience high temperatures over the coming days.

All members should be aware of the dangers of heat stress and be familiar with the unions working in heat policy (2003), your employer’s heat management policy or the Workcover code of practice for managing the work environment.

In summary ETU members should observe the following as a minimum but individuals should take appropriate action depending on your individual health and work situation: 

                
TEMPRETURE
DETAILS
0-28C

Continuous work with normal breaks.

28-38C

Minimum 15-minute break per hour worked.

38C+

Mandatory - stop work - do individual (Personal) risk assessment and determine if work is to continue, that work undertaken to be limited to fault and emergency or finalisation of current work (No New Work).

 

Click on the links provided for a full copy of the ETU Working in Heat (2003) policyWorkcover NSW’s website with details about working in heat and the Bureau of Meteorology for current weather forecasts (click on the map for your local forecast).

Members should exercise extreme care as temperatures rise. If you have any questions please contact your workplace delegate or ETU organiser.

With the support of WorkCover NSW, the ETU and other industry representatives, have developed a free asbestos eā€learning package for electrical workers providing important information on:

  • What is asbestos
  • The health risks associated with exposure to airborne asbestos
  • Where asbestos containing materials may be found in the electrical industry
  • The safety controls that minimise the risk of asbestos exposure
  • Examples of real life electrical work situations involving asbestos

To complete the online training simply CLICK HERE

 

 

New workers compensation laws are making life tough for injured workers, according to a new study from Macquarie University, funded by unions. Yet Andrew Constance, the NSW Finance Minister argues overall his scheme is helping people get back to work and delivering savings.

ABC 7.30 covered this story last week highlighting just how these changes are hurting ordinary people - view the ABC 7.30 report here.

On 1 January, 2014 injured workers who used to have their medical expenses covered by the workers compensation system were relegated to the scrap heap after changes by the O'Farrell Government took effect.

Injured workers who were waiting for medical procedures of were continuing to incur medical treatment costs were told by private insurers they were no longer covered leaving these people, many retiree's and pensioners, without any options and facing financial and personal hardship.

Unions NSW commissioned a report through Macquarie University to look at the impact of the O'Farrell Government's changes and the negative impact they are having on vulnerable injured workers. The full report can be read here.

Working in Heat

Posted on 16-1-2014

Weather forecasters are predicting that parts of NSW and the ACT will experience high temperatures over the coming days.

All members should be aware of the dangers of heat stress and be familiar with the unions working in heat policy (2003), your employer’s heat management policy or the Workcover code of practice for managing the work environment.

In summary ETU members should observe the following as a minimum but individuals should take appropriate action depending on your individual health and work situation: 

             
TEMPRETURE
DETAILS
0-28C

Continuous work with normal breaks.

28-38C

Minimum 15-minute break per hour worked.

38C+

Mandatory - stop work - do individual (Personal) risk assessment and determine if work is to continue, that work undertaken to be limited to fault and emergency or finalisation of current work (No New Work).

 

Click on the links provided for a full copy of the ETU Working in Heat (2003) policyWorkcover NSW’s website with details about working in heat and the Bureau of Meteorology for current weather forecasts (click on the map for your local forecast).

Members should exercise extreme care as temperatures rise. If you have any questions please contact your workplace delegate or ETU organiser.

National Licensing Aborted

Posted on 20-12-2013

COAG have announced that they have officially aborted the National Licensing model covering electrical and other trade based licenses. 

Following the outcome of extensive State-based consultation, the majority of States decided not to pursue the proposed National Occupational Licensing Scheme reform. Most jurisdictions identified a number of concerns with the proposed NOLS model and potential costs. States instead decided to investigate approaches that would increase labour mobility and deliver net benefits for businesses and governments.
 
To this end, States agreed to work together via the Council for the Australian Federation (CAF) to develop alternative options for minimising licensing impediments to improving labour mobility and to manage the orderly disestablishment of the National Occupation Licensing Authority from early 2014.

Click here to read the full COAG statement.

Click here to read the letter from NSW Fair trading to the ETU NSW.