Risky Business: Safety Tips for Arborists

Many people who work in arboriculture are at risk of injury or death due to their job. This is why they need to take safety precautions and be aware of common threats. Arborists are usually the first on-site to provide an assessment of a tree’s condition and recommend a plan of action.

Arborist play an important role in public safety and should take necessary precautions to avoid injury. There are a lot of things that could go wrong without arborists. Therefore they should ensure they prioritise their safety. Here are some simple safety tips for arborists:


Wear appropriate clothing

An arborist must wear the right type of clothing during their work. They need to put on something durable that provides protection from debris/splinters but is also lightweight and comfortable.

Additionally, it is beneficial if they wear a hard hat that has been certified by the safety department. Since hard hats can break or become dented, it is important to have a backup hat with which the arborist can switch out.


Protect the body

Arborists are at risk of injury when they climb trees, especially if it is a dangerous type of tree. They could become injured if they fall from a height, get cut by the saw, or tangled in the ropes and harnesses that hold them in place.

Therefore, the arborist needs to protect their body with safety gear whenever they are working in trees. For example, they need to wear a harness attached to the tree and roped up for safety.


Inspect tools before use

Arborists need to have the right tools for their job. They need a chainsaw that is in working condition and sharp, but they also need other equipment such as a ladder, pole saw, and rope.

The arborist needs to inspect all of these tools before use to ensure that they are safe to use and work properly.


Use caution when climbing trees.

The arborist needs to be aware of how they are climbing up the tree. They need to have a clear path for their ascent and watch out for any hazards that could prevent their climb.

For instance, an arborist Melbourne should look out for weak areas or point out dead branches since they could fall off. Additionally, they should try to avoid going under a branch that has been damaged as it could break at any moment.


Make sure support is available.

When working in a tree, the arborist should always have help if they need it. This may be from their crew or the client who requested their services, but support must be available. If an arborist needs to stop working to rest or go to the bathroom, a replacement/assistant should be there.


Prioritise safety above all else

Before doing anything in a tree, an arborist should prioritise their safety. This means that they need to make sure the area is safe and free of hazards before moving on to the next task. Additionally, an arborist should always wear their safety gear and follow proper procedures as much as possible.

There are many hazards during tree care work, so arborists need to know how to stay safe at all times. The number one risk for arborists is falling out of trees, so it is important to use fall protection equipment. Arborists should wear proper footwear, use the right tools for each job, and always know their equipment location.

The role of arborists is vital to the environment, so they will always be in demand. They have to ensure their safety as well as that of those around them at all times. Distractions are not part of the job since they can be costly.

Source: WorkSafe News Risky Business: Safety Tips for Arborists

Professional Window Cleaning: Workplace Safety

One of the most eye-catching things about a building is its cleanliness. You can never forget how spotless the floors were and the windows clean and shining that you can see your reflection, and if it’s on a top floor, you find yourself wondering whether or not there is a window there. Spotless windows reflect something positive about a place, whether it is a home or business. No one would go into a store and shop happily when the windows are too dirty and ugly or sit comfortably in such a home.

A clean and healthy environment is a mandatory requirement for any company to provide for its employees. The majority of people would not be willing to work in a place that looks dirty and hazardous to them. They would instead seek employment elsewhere. As an employer, this would also not go well with the labour office, and they will be after you for violating mandatory legal requirements. The best move is to get a professional window cleaning company that will handle cleaning the windows in the workplace.

Most window cleaning companies offer an all-rounded service when it comes to workplace cleaning. They always have a professional window cleaner in their team whose primary focus will be on the windows. This is mainly to ensure that the job is appropriately done and proper safety measures are adhered to, especially if the windows are hard to reach.

There is the risk of an accident when trying to clean windows that are way up; someone can fall and get injured seriously. An injury will be another legal implication to the employer and all those involved. Therefore, when looking for a window cleaning company, ensure that you inquire about their safety measures regarding specific cleaning tasks.

As a client, you also have a legal responsibility to ensure that you engage a company that abides by the law. Any professional window cleaner is at risk, and these risks are not limited to personal injury alone. When it comes to the law, your position as a client will not matter; there is the public liability bit of it that will affect you. You have to put proper measures in place to provide a safe workplace for any professional window cleaner at your premises. This part of the responsibility ensures that the window cleaning company has an appropriate public liability insurance cover.

They may also cause damage to your property, and you will need this damage catered for by the window cleaning company. The window cleaning company must be able to pay for the damages. You may have noticed that most professional window cleaners tend to use ladders during their work execution. The ladders can slide and cause a fall, injuring the cleaner, making them unable to work anymore. The worst-case scenario is when the fall is fatal, and loss of life occurs. You can be held liable. The costs of such a case are substantial and will undoubtedly take a toll on you financially.

You need to be thorough and read the fine prints before engaging any window cleaning company. Ensure that you go through the fine prints of the contracts before signing. You must make all the essential queries while asking for proof of the same. You can request for them to be included in the contract. The significant factors that the cleaning companies must have are:

  • Public Insurance liability
  • Proper Cleaning Equipment
  • Safety Gear for their cleaners
  • Fully Registered
  • Availability and Reliability
  • Professionalism
  • Clean track record

Many businesses prefer to hire window cleaning services companies because it is less risky on their part. It saves you time for training, orientation, and recruiting. When it comes to workplace safety, it is essential that you only engage the best.

An excellent professional window cleaner also knows the benefits of planning before commencing any work and ensuring that all safety practices and procedures are in place. Prior planning will help in the prevention of accidents or injuries while on duty. They need to ensure that the pieces of equipment are in tip-top shape. They also have to know how to operate the equipment correctly and go for necessary training. A site assessment is also crucial since they will identify any potential hazards and develop strategies to prevent them. The review will help avoid a lot of possible accidents and guarantee a safer working environment.

Source: WorkSafe News Professional Window Cleaning: Workplace Safety

How to Pressure Test Pipes Safely

When you have good plumbing, you’ll be able to run your water efficiently and effectively. However, when the pipes’ pressure is too high or low, you’ll run into problems. High water pressure will stress the entire system while low pressure will challenge good water flow.

The key to keeping your plumbing system in good shape is to test the pressure. Using air to assess the condition of a plumbing system is a good option. Knowing how to pressure test pipes safely isn’t always easy though. This system uses compressed gas which can cause pipes to explode if not done properly. It should also not be done with plumbing systems that have plastic piping installed.


Testing the System

If you’re testing a system that already has water, the plumbing pressure testing of pipes first involves turning off the main shutoff valve. Allow any water to drain from the pipes and then shut off faucets.

If the system is new without any water present, put a cap on stub-outs connected to the system. You’ll want to either solder or glue caps on water systems. If it’s a drain vent waste system, you can simply glue caps to stub-outs and then cut them off after completing the testing.


Install the Fittings

If it’s a new system, you may have to install the proper fittings to connect a pressure gauge and air compressor hose. For water systems, just leave the cap off of one stub-out. Then you can install a tee and adaptor for the hose and gauge on the stub-out. If it’s a waste system, attach the adaptor to a clean-out fitting and install a tee.

Now that you have the system ready, you can attach a water gauge. It’s best to do this in a laundry room faucet or you can also use an outdoor faucet with a threaded spout.


Connect the Hose

Connect the compressor hose to the system. Start by attaching an adaptor to a different faucet where you can connect this hose. Then attach the compressor to the faucet.


Change the System

Now that you’re ready to go, turn on the compressor. Let the pipes fill with air until your pressure gauge indicates that you’ve reached the optimal test pressure reading. Not all systems have the same pressure reading. You’ll have to review plumbing codes to get the correct reading for the system that you’re testing. It’s going to be different for water or drain systems.


Turn off the Compressor

Once you’ve reached the pressure desired, shut down the compressor. Allow the system to pressurize for 15 minutes. After you’ve waited, remove the hose but leave the pressure gauge in place. You can expect to hear some air escaping the pipes if there are any leaks in the system and may want to note them.

If you notice that the gauge’s pressure remains unchanged, you can be sure that the system is leak-free. However, if the pressure starts to go down, you’ll know that you have a leak present.


Repair Leaks

If you’ve noticed that there are leaks present, then you’ll be able to contact a professional plumber to have the system repaired. If you are yourself a plumber, you can consider repairing them yourself. The most common areas to find the leaks will be in the joints or any connections with the pipes. The three types of joints include IPS, compression, and soldered. While the repair for them is fairly straightforward, you may not want to take on these repairs unless you are experienced with plumbing repairs.


Testing the System

“It’s never a bad idea to test your plumbing system, and this process is fairly simple. It involves only seven steps, but it shouldn’t be done unless you are competent as incorrect testing can damage your entire system.”

Around the Bend – Plumbing Frankston

Not all plumbers are willing and able to pressure test pipes with air so you may have to contact a professional to get this testing completed. If you have a new system or an existing one where you suspect the pressure is not correct, testing is your best option.

Source: WorkSafe News How to Pressure Test Pipes Safely

Stay Safe at Work & Avoid Coronavirus Infections

In March of 2020, with novel coronavirus latching its claws across the globe, many businesses, workplaces, restaurants and schools were shut down to abstain the virus from spreading like wildfire. Millions of people around the world are staying home and practicing social distancing in order to curb the virus. But not everyone out there has the luxury to protect themselves against this virus by staying safe at their homes. Health care workers, medical shops, grocery shops, law enforcing personals and other public workers have to report on duty. Keeping them safe and providing those with maximum protection must be given utmost attention as they truly deserve that.


As this virus is novel, the information about it is very limited; in fact we are learning more about it with each case. With the attempt to flatten the curve, as the cases and death rate is still on the rise, we must follow the guidelines set by WHO (World Health Organisation). Fueling of misleading and deceptive information can create bedlam and lead people to act impulsively. Uncertainty causes confusion and that leads to chaos, which must be avoided at all cost as that would only deteriorate the situation further.


To effectively combat this pandemic and also to keep the employees safe from detrimental emotions, employers must have an open discussion about their reservations. The potential impact on their lives work and health wise, how can they protect themselves and the people around them and work in a safe and efficient environment. The responsibility lies on the employers to plan for this pandemic and make sure their employees have the best conditions to work in as they are the true warriors. They must address specific exposure risks, sources of exposure, ways of transmission and other ways this virus can contact.


Failing in planning proficiently can cause a cascade of failures as the workers try to deal with the challenges of the virus with insufficient resources and support from the establishments. Some workplaces and offices that were closed down during the lockdown are looking to reopen and face a new set of challenges. While owners, managers and even the employees want to get back to their normal life, with normal routine and normal working hours (seriously working at home has been the most daunting experience ever) the new guidelines and SOPs should be followed religiously to have a safe, stable and continuous run.


What’s the Risk of Contracting Coronavirus in the Workplace?


Occupational health and safety advisors must work in cooperation with the managers and carry out inspections that can competently assess the risk a particular workplace can have regarding the spread of the virus. Work on the ways to curb the virus, plan protective and preventive measures that keep that particular work environment safe and virus free, is the only way to reopen businesses in an innocuous way. Workplaces or jobs that have little to no contact with the general public or others are at a relatively low risk of exposure from the virus. On the other hand, jobs that ask for frequent contact with the general public, have high foot traffic at the workplace and need to work with the other employees have a higher risk of contracting the virus. The decisions to reopen, revise timings or close should be done after a detailed inspection, keeping all the aspects under consideration.


Vital measures that Must Be Taken by ALL Workplace to Protect against COVID-19


The first and foremost is the awareness that must be engraved in the employees. Hold workshops and awareness campaigns that instill the preventive measure in the minds of the workers, in order to get the desired results. Workplaces and offices must also not skim or spare any expense in providing resources that make the prevention easy. Get sanitising tunnels installed at the entrances, frequents signs that remind and encourage people, hand sanitisers should be readily available and masks must be supplied to all employees.


Tips for an Optimal Workplace


As we most certainly know that Coronavirus attacks our respiratory track and is highly contagious. It spreads from person to person through the droplets of cough, sneeze or even while talking. The droplets can stay active on a variety of surfaces and that too up to days. So the best bet against this virus is to frequently wash hands. Employees must be encouraged and reminded frequently about washing hands. Employers can run drills, have alarms set or even an announcement to wash hands after every hour can be very effective. Signs must be installed at public places like washrooms and cafeterias to remind people to wash hands. Washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, lathering all nooks and crannies of the hands can very efficiently keep the virus at bay.


Another way to proficiently keep the workplace virus-free, a strict, customary and standard cleaning and disinfecting procedure must be activated. All the surfaces that are frequently touched like stair railings, door knobs and handles, water dispenser, cafeteria, bathrooms, meeting rooms, countertops etc must be disinfected with a strong alcohol cleaner. Disinfecting wipes must also be provided to all employees to clean their own workstation before leaving so viruses cannot accumulate in the premises.


Wearing masks must be made mandatory on the work premises at all times. It must also be secured on the mouth and nose and preferably an N-95 mask that has multiple layers for an optimal protection. Masks mustn’t be placed under the nose, on the chin, hanging from one ear or removed entirely after one hour into the job. The basic etiquettes of covering a sneeze and cough must also be reminded through signs and symbols. All these can be done by strict monitoring and reinforcement, otherwise workers tend to get lost in their routine to completely bypass all the preventive measures.


Virus can spread when people are within 6 meters reach of one another. Employers have to take the difficult and very crucial decision to choose the employees that must be called at the workplace and rest could just do their work from home. The work hours can be made more flexible and less daunting. The 1-meter-apart signs must be placed in areas where queues can form. The places where meetings and gatherings have to be held, it must be cleaned, disinfected and sitting should be done at a safe distance. Workers must also be discouraged to share their things like phones, pens, lunch and desks with other co-workers to curtail the virus flow.


At the entrance of the premises, a fever check point should be installed. Taking the fever readings daily will be very beneficial for the workplace and the workers. Random tests of the employees will keep them on edge and they will take all this seriously. The repercussions of illness must be cleared to them. Any employee having any symptoms must be abstained from entering the area. They should be sent home and quarantined till there is no symptom of the acute respiratory illness. The fever and other signs must be gone for at least five days without any fever reducing medication.


Free tests of the employees can also do wonders for a virus-free workplace. The employers should be flexible in their policies and empathetic in these difficult and unreliable times. Sick people need to stay at home.  grant leaves for workers that have the need, and remain humane in your policies.


Another job for the employers is to manage is the creation and management policies, crafted to respect the concerns of the workers about pay, leave, safety and other questions that arise during these peculiar times. Collaborate with insurance companies that can come up with good medical care service deals for employees in case of contracting the virus. These should be extended to the family members as well.


COVID-19 work health and safety resources using the below links:


The rights of the Employers


Workers must cooperate with their representatives and employers in order to build a safe work environment. Neglecting the prevention measures or not abiding by the rules is not acceptable as you are not only risking yourself but the other around you. Hiding symptoms and coming to the workplace is a big violation, workers must report to the employers immediately. International Labor Standards on the rights of workers and employers must be respected.


The Rights of the Employees


Special protection and leverages should be granted to older employees as they are the ones at the most risk from this virus. There shouldn’t be any stigma associated with the virus neither any discrimination done by the employers. Workers must be given access information and protection and supported in their vulnerable times. If they feel uncomfortable for any work assignment they can remove themselves from that task but with a reasonable justification.




In order to protect ourselves and the people around us we must follow the 4 layered protections essential for mitigating Coronavirus. Wearing a mask, observing social distancing, cleaning and disinfecting frequently and hand washing can help stop the spread of the virus. Employee well-being and resilience is an asset of any firm and to protect that they should eat healthy, workout, have a good 8 hour sleep, manage stress and take a break to revitalise and rejuvenate.

Source: WorkSafe News Stay Safe at Work & Avoid Coronavirus Infections

Workforce year-ender: the big issues 2018, and what lies ahead

Workforce surveyed key IR figures on what they saw as the big issues in 2018, and what they expected to be the major talking points for 2019. Here’s what they said:

Kelly O’Dwyer, federal minister for industrial relations and employment

What was the most important issue or event in industrial relations this year?

It has become clear that there have been delays which have undermined enterprise bargaining approvals. This clearly conflicts with the Fair Work Act’s objective of a simple, flexible and fair framework for enterprise level agreements that deliver productivity benefits for our nation.

What are you most/least looking forward to in 2019?

I am looking forward to reinvigorating collaboration in workplaces and showing that the ALP’s approach of re-empowering union-driven conflict is contrary to the interests of employees, business and the community.

Brendan O’Connor, Labor IR/employment spokesperson

What was the most important issue or event in industrial relations this year?

It was this government’s support of cutting penalty rates for up to 700,000 low paid Australian workers. At a time when wages growth has hit record lows and company profits are growing at a rate of nearly six times that of wages, this govt is so callous, they voted eight times against protecting penalty rates for low paid, hardworking Australians.

What are you most/least looking forward to in ‘19?

Continuing to push to protect penalty rates and ensuring workers share in the benefits of economic growth. Australians deserve a pay rise and we need to stem the tide of insecure work – this isn’t happening under Scott Morrison and his Liberals. While this govt is busy fighting itself, everything is going up except for people’s wages.

Sally McManus, Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) secretary

What was the most important issue or event in industrial relations this year?

This year the union movement has been united in campaigning for wage growth and more secure work.

The need to change the rules for working people in order to achieve wage growth and job security is at the top of the national agenda but there is a huge amount of work left to do. We have won the biggest ever increase in the minimum wage and have led a series of demonstrations attended by hundreds of thousands of workers who have found a new voice and are determined to stand up and demand better treatment.

What are you most/least looking forward to in ‘19?

We look forward to another year of fighting to change the rules so working people have more secure jobs and their fair share of the wealth we have been part of creating. We are fighting to restore the fair go for working people by demanding rules that ensure we have the power and rights we need. This is the only way we will turn around record inequality and the unacceptable level of job insecurity in our country.

Sandra Parker, Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO)

What was the most important issue or event in industrial relations this year?

A major focus for the FWO this year was protecting workers in the Fast Food, Restaurant and Café sector. This sector is consistently overrepresented and accounts for 18% of our workplace disputes in 2017-18 and almost a third of our litigations, despite making up only 7% of the workforce. Our activities targeting popular food precincts have shone a light on poor workplace practices in these areas, and revealed a clear link between cheap eats and unpaid wages. This year, we reported on unannounced visits by Fair Work Inspectors to Victoria Street, Richmond; Glebe Street, Sydney; and Fortitude Valley in Brisbane, which led to recoveries of more than $470,000 for workers. Also in this sector, we filed our first court action using the Protecting Vulnerable Workers laws this year against a Crust Pizza outlet. We alleged the former operators provided false or misleading information or documents to the FWO, as well as significant underpayments of vulnerable workers. This is an important case to watch next year.

What are you most/least looking forward to in ‘19?

We are looking forward to working with industry leaders to change the culture of problematic sectors, particularly Horticulture and Fast Food, Restaurants and Cafes. Following the recent release of our Harvest Trail Inquiry report, we are looking forward to acting on the findings to improve workplace compliance throughout the Horticulture industry. We’re encouraged by the positive response we have received from stakeholders and will work closely with them to implement the recommendations of our Inquiry in the New Year. We will also continue to closely monitor any requests for assistance from Harvest Trail workers.

In the coming year, we have a number of cases tracking toward enforcement outcomes under the serious contraventions of the Protecting Vulnerable Workers laws. We hope these actions will send a strong message to employers who are underpaying workers, failing to keep proper records or coercing workers that we will protect vulnerable workers by seeking maximum penalties from the courts.

Professor Andrew Stewart, University of Adelaide law school IR academic

What was the most important issue or event in industrial relations this year?

It’s hard to go past the decision in Workpac v Skene as the single most important development in 2018, given that it potentially means that well over a million current or past Australian employees may have been misclassified as casuals – and in theory are owed billions of dollars in unpaid entitlements.

But I’m bound to say that the biggest ongoing issue is what Jim Stanford, Tess Hardy and I have termed the wages crisis in Australia. And I’m not just saying that because we’ve recently published a book of essays about it … [available for free download here].

What are you most/least looking forward to in 2019?

I’m most looking forward to the 2019 federal election, for a chance at a policy reset in relation to workplace relations, and the opportunity to explore much-needed reforms to the Fair Work legislation. In practice, that seems more likely to come from Labor, though I wouldn’t rule out a desperate Coalition suddenly rediscovering the policy agenda from their first term in office (remember that great big Productivity Commission report?). I’m least looking forward to the 2019 federal election, which on past experience will be an unedifying contest between Labor accusations of a return to Work Choices and Coalition accusations of union thuggery.

Tess Hardy, University of Melbourne law school IR academic

What was the most important issue or event in industrial relations this year?

It is difficult to identify just one! The Full Court decision in Workpac v Skene certainly has far-reaching implications for casual workers (and their employers). While the current govt is seeking to curtail the flow-on effects of this decision by enacting a regulation which seeks to offset annual leave entitlements against the casual loading that has already been paid, there is some doubt about whether this is politically and legally feasible.

If there is a change of government next year, it is highly likely that Labor will come under pressure to act on this issue.

What are you most/least looking forward to in 2019?

Given my abiding interest in all things enforcement, I am most looking forward to seeing key provisions of the Protecting Vulnerable Worker Act – including the provisions which relate to serious contraventions and franchisor liability – tested before the courts. These statutory provisions are relatively novel, and there remain many questions about their scope and application. I am very keen to see what a judge makes of them!

Stephen Smith, Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) workplace relations policy head

What was the most important issue or event in industrial relations this year?

The very problematic decision of the Federal Court in the WorkPac v Skene casual employment case. If Parliament does not address the decision, there could be widespread disruption to the labour market.

What are you most looking forward to in 2019?

The end, finally, of the 4 Yearly Review of Awards, after six years of hard work.

Giri Sivaraman, Maurice Blackburn lawyer

What was the most important issue or event in industrial relations this year?

Any illusion that wage theft is not rampant in Australia, particularly amongst migrant workers and international students, has been demolished by series of recent investigations and reports. Our country’s prosperity should not be built off the backs of exploited workers.  To my mind the most important issue of the year was wage theft, and the most important events were the Queensland govt’s parliamentary inquiry into wage theft and the announcement by the Victorian govt that it’s going to enact laws to crack down on the issue.

Another highly significant issue has been the series of legal challenges to the validity of the gig economy, ranging from the unfair dismissal case that found Foodora to be an employer not a contractor, to our class action against Uber. The gig economy is one of the greatest challenges to secure employment for Australian workers and to our current framework of industrial laws.

What are you most/least looking forward to in 2019?

I’m well and truly showing my political stripes here, but I most look forward to significant reform of federal industrial laws and the Fair Work Act under a new federal Labor govt.  I feel strongly that this will better serve the needs and rights of workers and unions. What I really dread is the almost daily revelations of sexual harassment in the workplace that we currently have, that shows how far we need to go to stop the ill treatment of women at work.

Elissa Speight, Ashurst senior associate

What was the most important issue or event in industrial relations this year?

There have been a number of developments around casual employees this year, with the most significant flowing from the Federal Court’s decision in Workpac v Skene. Depending on the outcome of a separate test case currently before the Federal Court, and absent legislative intervention, it is possible that casual employees with regular predictable hours may be entitled to the same statutory entitlements under the NES as permanent employees. This development is likely to fuel the emerging use of class actions as a mechanism for claiming various employment entitlements.

What are you most/least looking forward to in 2019?

The outcome of the upcoming Federal election has the potential to reshape the industrial landscape in a number of areas which are critical to our clients’ businesses.  If there is a change in govt, one area in which we can expect change is the regulation of collective bargaining, including the facilitation of multi-employer bargaining and a broadening of the Fair Work Commission’s powers to arbitrate disputes.

Linda White, Australian Services Union (ASU) assistant national secretary

What was the most important issue or event in industrial relations this year?

The turmoil in the federal govt means we are edging closer to a change of govt and then we can change the rules for working people so that we get a fairer system for all. For the ASU our continued campaigns for a better NDIS, paid domestic violence and the need to bridge the gender gap for women in Superannuation has been a key focus and we have had some significant gains but there is still work to do and we will not stop until we get results on these key campaigns

What are you most/least looking forward to in ‘19?

I am looking forward to a change in the Fed Govt in 2019 – Australians deserves better than what we have now.

Daniel Walton, Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) national secretary

What was the most important issue or event in industrial relations this year?

I think an important issue that has been overlooked somewhat is how unions have been campaigning to “change the rules”, while the Ai Group is actively and openly breaking them. In August the AWU won a landmark case in the Fair Work Commission against AstraZeneca, who had been given the wrong advice by Ai Group when it came to paying leave entitlements for shift workers. It meant shift workers at AstraZeneca, and potentially hundreds of thousands of others shift workers across the country, were entitled to increased pay and backpay. Instead of accepting the ruling, Ai Group is telling employers to ignore the FWC and continue to underpay shift workers. I think it’s telling that bosses can get away with openly ignoring the Commission, while unions cop incredible heat for simply flagging their intent to resist [see lead story on page 1].

What are you most/least looking forward to in 2019?

I’m looking forward to the prospect of the election of a former AWU national secretary as Prime Minister, because it will mean new legislation that will actually make a difference to our members. Industry policy has been a shambles under the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison govt. We need strong new policies around dumping, on gas exports, on workplace protections. All of these are likely under a Shorten Labor govt. After over a year of ducking and hiding, I’m also very much looking forward to Michaelia Cash being forced to explain in open court exactly what discussions led to the disgraceful AFP raids on our offices in 2017.

Michael Kaine, Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) national secretary

What was the most important issue or event in industrial relations this year?

Putting the on-demand economy in the spotlight has been a major issue for our union this year. Two powerful surveys of on-demand workers showed the Australian public that the vast majority of delivery riders and rideshare drivers are paid well below minimum rates, have no superannuation and that their companies have not provided them with sick leave or wages when they are injured on the job.

Workers spoke out bravely about pay and conditions.

Josh Klooger paid the price of speaking out when Foodora sacked him. His bravery and tenacity in taking Foodora to the Fair Work Commission was a defining moment: on-demand economy companies could no longer rely on the veil of secrecy or silence in their treatment of their workers. Josh’s win is an important victory for our push for safe rates, because transport workers can only be safe, and keep others on the road safe, when financial pressure on them is lifted and they are paid fair safe rates. But the case is also important for the broader industrial relations landscape in demonstrating how the economy has changed and how enterprise bargaining has truly passed its sell-by date. Companies are using new business models to get around paying fair wages. Our economy will continue to suffer from low wage growth unless we give all workers the right to collectivise and demand rights.

What are you most/least looking forward to in 2019?

For 2019 I am looking forward to a year of even more activism by transport workers. Expect more protests by on-demand and airport workers with a major convoy by truck drivers taking place in March. We intend to continue to give voice through these demonstrations to transport workers in the fight for better jobs, with fair rates, decent conditions and secure employment.

I am also looking forward to more being achieved in the area of sexual harassment in the workplace. Our survey of cabin crew revealed a shockingly high number of workers experiencing sexual harassment, with few reporting it and even fewer satisfied with the outcome when they did report it. With a national inquiry underway and growing union activity in this area, next year will provide a chance to make further progress on combating sexual harassment.

Nadine Flood, Community Public Sector Union (CPSU) national secretary

What was the most important issue or event in industrial relations this year?

The Change the Rules campaign has completely reshaped the IR and economic debate, with workers organising to win fundamental changes to our jobs and our lives through a powerful union voice.

For the CPSU, our key shift this year was driving an industry plan to secure more jobs across the Commonwealth public sector, to go much further than opposing cuts and privatisations. We’ve broken through in explaining why the destructive arbitrary cap on staff numbers in Commonwealth agencies must be abolished, outlining a real alternative to cut overpriced contractor and consultant spending while converting contractors and labour hire into secure, permanent public sector jobs. Labor has seen the benefits of our plan for public services and quality jobs, and the Coalition has seen Commonwealth agencies pointing out how much damage the forced outsourcing and shift to labour hire is doing to public services.

What are you most/least looking forward to in 2019?

Next year’s federal election is a critical turning point for workers, inequality and the future wellbeing of our entire community. Hugely important changes to ensure decent wages and working lives for ordinary Australians hinge on the defeat of the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Govt in the first half of next year. People working in the Commonwealth public sector need a reset after more than five years dealing with an aggressively anti-union, anti-public service hostile employer, as the Coalition have been far more concerned with pursuing their ideological agenda than with good govt.

Tara Diamond, Aust Mines Metals Association (AMMA) industry services director

What was the most important issue or event in industrial relations this year?

2018 has been a very busy year with a wide range of industrial relations issues. It’s too difficult to select just one as the most important. For industrial relations across all sectors, the most significant event was probably the Full Federal Court decision in WorkPac v Skene and the uncertainty this caused around the capacity for casual employees to ‘double dip’ by receiving a loading in lieu of permanent entitlements plus permanent entitlements. We look forward to a resolution providing much-needed clarity on this issue as soon as practicable.

At the industry level, the amalgamation of the highly militant CFMEU and MUA has been of significant concern to resources, energy and related construction employers. Concerns about the impacts of union militancy on critical supply chains to nationally significant projects have seen widespread support of AMMA’s pending challenge to this merger. The industry’s challenge is directed at holding these unions to account for their repeated and flagrant law breaking.

Finally, for AMMA personally our highlight was former Prime Minister John Howard’s address to our Centenary Gala Dinner, in which he called on the present govt to take action on the “unfinished business” of workplace reform. These words will prove even more important as we head into a federal election year.

What are you most/least looking forward to in 2019?

While there are a number of ongoing technical and industry issues that will certainly keep AMMA’s consulting team busy, 2019 will also see a pivotal debate about how Australia’s should approach work regulation in an increasingly competitive global economy. The next 12 months will see a great battle of ideas. While there are significant forces campaigning on fear and uncertainty about the future of work and people’s livelihoods, AMMA has just this week released our own vision for the future of work regulation, one far more optimistic about the opportunities available to all Australians if policymakers can rise above present-day politics to design a regulatory system fit for the future. We look forward to promoting our industry’s positive vision for the future and combatting dangerous politically-motivated campaigns seeking to divide, rather than unite Australians around the future of work.

Jim Stanford, economist and Centre for Future Work director

What was the most important issue or event in industrial relations this year?

I would choose the union movement’s “Change the Rules” campaign, which really gathered focus and momentum as the year went on. Of course, unions have been dissatisfied with the state of labour laws, and the erosion of labour rights, for years. But this year, together with other community advocates, they have built a very effective and focused advocacy campaign that I think will have a major impact on labour policy in Australia. Examples of its potential include the big rallies held in Melbourne and other cities in October; the important role that the union movement’s independent door-knocking and phone-banking campaign played in the expanded majority won by the Daniel Andrews govt in Victoria; and the generally high profile of news and debates around the issues of wages and workplace fairness in the media and public commentary. The current atmosphere is very reminiscent of the “Your Rights at Work” initiative that the ACTU and its affiliates organised in 2006-07 – and that ended up making a significant difference in the 2007 election (when John Howard lost his seat).

There is a qualitative difference in this incarnation of the union movement’s organising, however: while union activists obviously are hoping to influence the results of the next election, they are self-consciously and explicitly planning on a longer-run effort to shift public opinion regarding core issues of work and fairness. Their agenda of proposed reforms would take several years to implement: including lifting the minimum wage to a “living wage” level, modernising labour laws (so Uber drivers and other gig workers would be protected), changing the structure of enterprise bargaining to allow multi-firm and industry-wide bargaining, and more. And they are advancing that agenda as an independent campaign, not as an arm of the Labor party. That positions them well to continue to advance the debate after the election … whoever wins. By carefully focusing its energies, building a strong “boots on the ground” infrastructure in communities (including crucial marginal electorates), and building strong public support for the core values underpinning the campaign (tapping into continuing Australian faith in fairness), I think this movement will reshape both public opinion about work and wages, as well as Australia’s labour policy framework.

What are you most/least looking forward to in 2019?

There will be a Commonwealth election sometime during the first half of 2019 (perhaps sooner rather than later, if the current disarray in Canberra is any indication). I look forward to seeing labour issues – and in particular, the stagnation of wages in Australia, and the growing gap between Australia’s egalitarian tradition and the grim economic reality that most workers presently face – feature as one of the top three issues in the campaign. Most workers have had no increase in real wages over the past five years; millions have fallen behind (especially given escalating prices for housing and other essentials). The present govt knows that this festering economic frustration issue could be very damaging. There’s an opportunity in Australia right now to move the needle: imagine a modernised approach to labour policy: including labour standards that adapt to ongoing change in the economy (like gig jobs), a more ambitious crack-down on wage theft and other illegal practices, and a revitalisation of Australia’s commitment to a ‘fair go.’

I am not looking forward to the rolling out of some pretty tired warnings and threats about how modernising labour laws and addressing inequality will somehow threaten Australia’s economic viability. We can expect many dire threats about how the proposals for reform will drag Australia back to the “bad old 1970s” – a time, interestingly, when GDP growth, job-creation, productivity growth, and real wage growth were all significantly superior to the current era. This rhetoric ignores the growing consensus among economists that more equality actually strengthens economic performance – by supporting consumer spending and aggregate demand, avoiding the economic, fiscal and social costs of exclusion and inequality, and boosting govt revenues. The doomsday prophecies we can expect to hear from the usual suspects should be understood as the last gasps of a vision of trickle-down economic policy that has lost its credibility, in Australia and around the world.

Source: Workplace Relations Workforce year-ender: the big issues 2018, and what lies ahead

Worker dies after being struck by tractor attachment

A man in his 20s has died after being struck by a tractor attachment at a property at Carwarp, near Mildura.

Source: WorkSafe News Worker dies after being struck by tractor attachment

Man dies in farm truck rollover near Warragul

A worker in his early 30s has died after the fertiliser spreader truck he was driving rolled on a steep hill north-east of Warragul yesterday afternoon.

Source: WorkSafe News Man dies in farm truck rollover near Warragul

Don’t chance it with musculoskeletal injuries, WorkSafe warns

Builders and contractors are being urged to do more to prevent musculoskeletal injuries, the most common type of injury to construction workers.

Source: WorkSafe News Don’t chance it with musculoskeletal injuries, WorkSafe warns

Company fined $380,000 after Mt Waverley pit collapse

A structural engineering firm which drew up the plans for excavation works at a Mt Waverley construction site has been convicted and fined $380,000 after the pit collapsed, leaving homes teetering on the edge of a 10 metre drop.

Source: WorkSafe News Company fined 0,000 after Mt Waverley pit collapse

Company fined $42,000 for failing to guard machinery

A Hoppers Crossing cardboard carton manufacturer has been fined $42,000 for failing to properly guard four separate pieces of machinery.

Source: WorkSafe News Company fined ,000 for failing to guard machinery

Asbestos, trees, powerlines pose risks after fires

Victorians affected by the recent devastating fires need to be aware of potential hazards as they commence clean-up and recovery efforts on farms and other properties.

Source: WorkSafe News Asbestos, trees, powerlines pose risks after fires

Young workers the focus of Cross Border safety program

The safety of young workers and apprentices will be the focus of a joint visit by WorkSafe Victoria and SafeWork NSW to Albury/Wodonga in coming weeks.

Source: WorkSafe News Young workers the focus of Cross Border safety program

Charges laid over swim school injury

The Department of Education and Training and a private swim centre operator have each been charged by WorkSafe following an incident involving a Ballarat student in 2016.

Source: WorkSafe News Charges laid over swim school injury

Traditional Land Owners welcome WorkSafe to Geelong

WorkSafe’s new head office is one step closer to be being open for business, with a Welcome to Country and traditional smoking ceremony held today in Geelong.

The ceremonies were presided over by fourth generation Wadawurrung Woman and Traditional Land Owner Naomi Surtees, who officially welcomed WorkSafe to Geelong with a heartfelt ceremony. 

Source: WorkSafe News Traditional Land Owners welcome WorkSafe to Geelong

Company fined $500,000 after worker crushed

A Keysborough concrete pumping contractor has been convicted and fined $500,000 after the death of a worker who was struck by a large section of tubing.

Source: WorkSafe News Company fined 0,000 after worker crushed

School groundskeeper dies after being hit by tree branch

A groundskeeper died after being struck by a tree branch while performing maintenance work at a school in Berwick on Wednesday.

Source: WorkSafe News School groundskeeper dies after being hit by tree branch

Charges laid after painter’s death

A construction company has been charged following the death of a painter at a building site at Merricks North in 2017.

Source: WorkSafe News Charges laid after painter’s death

Don’t risk lives by using illegal fireworks

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Victorians are being warned of the dangers of buying and using illegal fireworks this festive season.

Source: WorkSafe News Don’t risk lives by using illegal fireworks

Worker’s foot amputated after being crushed by crane

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A silo manufacturing company in Rochester has been fined $30,000 after a mobile crane ran over an employee’s leg and crushed his foot, which later had to be amputated.

Source: WorkSafe News Worker’s foot amputated after being crushed by crane

TVC revives default super in awards stoush

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Written by Cover Note editor Eva Wiland.

Federal financial services minister Kelly O’Dwyer has reacted angrily to Industry Super Australia’s (ISA) latest advertising campaign, calling it a union scare campaign.

At the centre of the ISA campaign is a 30-second TV commercial (TVC) which depicts the hand of a federal politician opening a hen house to waiting foxes, using the tagline “banks aren’t super”.

ISA said the TVC responded to banks’ attempts to secure “unfettered access” to Australia’s default super system for those who do not choose their own fund.

ISA CEO David Whiteley said: “The banks are quietly pressuring federal politicians to remove laws that protect Australians who save through workplace default funds.” Amending legislation to end the default super system (CN 24/03/16) lapsed last year before the double dissolution.

O’Dwyer said there was no government legislation before Parliament to change default super. FSC, which has long advocated removing default super (CN 22/04/15), would not comment on the campaign but CEO Sally Loane told CN O’Dwyer had found as many as 800,000 members were not entitled to choose their own super funds because of trade union enterprise agreements.

“Young Australians in particular want to be able to choose their super fund – they belong to the real world of digital options, competition and choice,” she said. “Unfortunately, thanks to Australia’s old-fashioned super system, which remains protected against competition and choice by industrial laws from a quarter of a century ago, many people are locked into underperforming, subscale union-controlled industry funds.”

Loane said Rice Warner Actuaries had found employees locked into subscale industry funds were likely to pay fees on super investments at 141 basis points, 28% higher than the average industry fee of 110bps.

(This story first ran in Cover Note 2001, 23 March 2017)

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Source: Workplace Relations TVC revives default super in awards stoush