AMIEU Victorian Branch Policy on Extended Hours of Work

The committee OF management of the Victorian Branch of the AMIEU is concerned that there are many employers who are proposing 10 hour shifts in aqbattoirs. Proposals to introduce ten hour shifts shows blatant disregard for the health and safety of workers.

Extended hours  of work must be considered as a management style and work design that can be hazardous, both on themselves and in combination with other hazards of work. On these occasions, hours of work must be regarded as controllable ‘doses of work’’.

Features, which make it particularly hazardous to implement extended hours of work, include:

  • Physically or mentally demanding work or monotonous work can lead to fatigue  as hours of work become longer, they result in extended fatigue;
  • Jobs which require standing for lengthy periods; or forceful or repetitive movements generally place constant workload and strain on muscles and joints; extended hours of work increase OH&S risks associated with such work;
  • longer shifts increase the risk of fatigue and error where a high level of attention and alertness are required;
  • Exposure standards for many hazardous substances are based on an eight hour day; as are noise exposure levels. Increasing hours of work requires re-evaluation and reduction of noise levels in the workplace.

Experience of ten hour shifts, where they have been introduced is that the level of overuse injuries are significantly higher than in comparable sheds which have shorter working hours.

Any examination of work in the meat industry shows that it is physically and mentally demanding; requires standing for lengthy periods; has forceful and repetitive movements; can include exposure to high levels of noise; and requires attention and alertness.

The introduction of ten hour shifts in the meat industry would pose a totally unacceptable risk to the health and safety of most workers in most processes.

The Victorian Branch of the AMIEU, therefore, resolves to oppose the attempts of the employers to introduced hours across the industry.