Newsletter 9 July 12


Health & Safety Penalties

As you know Penalty Units are indexed every year. Remember that the Vic OHS and Comp laws don’t have express fines in $& they express them in Penalty Units

As of 1 July 2012, One Penalty Unit equals $140.84

Remember the maximum Fines in the OH&S Act are:
Personal                  1800 penalty units
Corporate                9000 penalty units

That is now:
Personal                  $253,512
Corporate                $1,267,560

WorkCover weekly payments

Weekly payments are capped. As of 1 July 2012 the maximum WorkCover Weekly Payments are:

Injuries before 5 April 2010     $1,470
Injuries after 5 April 2010         $2,000

WorkSafe Awards

Each year WorkSafe Victoria gives Awards for various developments in occupational health and safety. One of these is an award for Health and Safety Representative of the Year.

This category acknowledges health and safety representatives (HSRs) who have made a significant contribution and demonstrable difference to OHS within their designated workgroups. It recognises the ability of an HSR to raise OHS issues with the employer, work constructively to have the problem solved, and demonstrate persistence in difficult environments.

To be considered for the 2012 Awards event (a dinner in October), the entry must be submitted by July 27, 2012. Don't miss out on the chance to have a meat worker recognised and encourage others to stand up as HSR. If you want to see a Meat Industry HSR nominated let me know. The Union will help you to prepare a nomination and will lodge it.

Industrial Issues = OHS Issues

The 4 Corners programme on the ABC on 9 July 2012 looked at the death of a young diver in the pearling industry in Western Australia. It is a death that is still being investigated by WorkSafe.

The Four Corners story raises serious questions about safety standards within the pearling industry. It's a dangerous job, but it's been revealed there was no safety boat, or a standby diver and no defibrillator on board for resuscitation.

Pay cuts of approximately $20.000 a season resulted in many divers leaving the industry and many were replaced by new divers with no experience in the specialised and dangerous work of drift diving. A former diver said "With a mass exodus like that, you can't put that many green divers into water with a few experienced guys to look after 'em".

Check out the 4 Corners show

The lessons from this programme are as relevant to us as they are to the workers in the pearling industry. Occupational Health and Safety Authorities usually consider that industrial issues that are outside of their purview. This programme challenges that. Occupational health and safety cannot be separated from industrial issues.

Meat Industry still has far too many injuries

Safe Work Australia recognises that the highest frequency rate of any sector was recorded by Meat and meat product manufacturing with 58.3 claims per million hours worked, more than three times the national rate. This sector had 6070 accepted claims in 2008–09. The most common mechanisms of injuries were body stressing (43% of claims), being hit by moving objects (17%), hitting an object with part of the body including knife/cutting injuries (16%). 76% of claims were in the meat processing industry (abattoirs) with the rest in poultry processing and the bacon, ham and smallgoods processing industries.

Importance of HSR Support

A recent study commissioned by WorkSafe Victoria showed many things including:

  • HSRs need to feel “passionate and empowered”
  • Where there are poor work place relationships, they can feel “alienated and frustrated with management”
  • HSRs are generally “time poor” to conduct research on technical advice
  • Industry based training for HSRs extremely helpful

Information about Health and Safety or WorkCover call Gwynnyth Evans by phone on (03) 9662 3766 or by email on