Workplace Safety/ Workload Training: Key Points
On March 19, we held a information session for Workplace Safety Representatives. Here are some of the main take-aways from the session.
1. Each School Elects a Workplace Safety Representative
The Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) representative and the Workplace Safety Representative (WSR) are one and the same position. The latter is just a newer term for it. The Workplace Safety Representative (WSR) must be elected by the work group. The convention is that each AEU sub-branch conducts this election but the WSR does not have to be an AEU member. (Of course, it’s great if they are). The WSR’s powers come from the Work Health & Safety Act (2011). There can be more than one WSR per work group (or school).
2. Each Workplace Safety Representative (WSR) is entitled to receive 5 days training on how to effectively perform the role.
Lachlan Abrahams, the OH&S Liaison Officer at Unions ACT is very experienced in this field and runs monthly training sessions for Workplace Safety Representatives. Contact Lachlan on 62477844.
3. The powers and responsibilities of WSRs comes from the Health & Safety Act (2011).
In essence, the Work Health & Safety Act prescribes that workers:
- be nice to each other
- talk to each other
- don’t hurt each other
- and that workplaces prove that the above three practices are occurring
4. Worksafe ACT is the regulator empowered under the Health & Safety Act.
Worksafe ACT has heaps of useful information for WSRs. An easy way to find what you need is to use the 'Select Hazards' drop-down menu on the homepage. For instance, under Bullying and Harrasment, we can access documents like I think I am being bullied. What do I do? and Recognising and Responding to Bullying at Work.
If, as a WSR, you don’t feel a safety issue is being addressed, one thing you can do is bring in Worksafe ACT.
5. Complete an Accident & Incident Report even when no injury results from the incident.
Reporting an incident using an Accident and Incident Report Form allows an issue to be addressed before it does result in a serious injury. Accident & Incident Report Forms are available here: http://www.cmd.act.gov.au/governance/public/wpsafety.
6. Workplace safety is not just about facilties - it also involves our mental environment
When we think about workplace health and safety, we tend to think about ‘slip, trip and fall’ issues concerning facilities. It’s also important to be aware that matters like bullying, excessive workload and stress can have detrimental impacts on health and wellbeing and need to be monitored.
7. Teachers tend to always students first, sometimes to the detriment of our own health and safety
We also need to prioritise our own health and safety. One role of WSRs in schools is to support cultural change so we’re always looking after our own health and safety as well as our students.
8. WSRs should draw on the support of their sub-branch, especially the president and executive
The WSR’s role in raising concerns about health and safety issues may be challenging, especially when it involves negotiating issues with the principal. We encourage WSRs to work with the AEU sub-branch president so you feel supported.
9. Workload Committees are required in each school
Our Enterprise Agreement states:
Each school must establish a workload committee to monitor, review and address workload issues. The workload monitoring committee must include a member nominated by the school’s AEU sub-branch. (Q2.2, p. 88)