Union Health & Safety Reps on the job

Union HSRs on the job

Two HSRs and CPSU organisers together conducted a workplace health and safety inspection at one of the biggest DHS service centres in the country. This initiative is part of our ongoing work to better support, equip and resource elected HSRs to improve workplace health and safety by solving problems affecting members. 

Why are health and safety inspections important?

DHS has obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and regulations to ensure workers’ health and safety. Workplace inspections are a primary means by which elected HSRs monitor, investigate, and ensure DHS complies with its legal obligations. Good inspections identify hazards and risks to workers, then report these for the department to eliminate or control.

Union HSRs can access CPSU support to help them improve the quality of workplace inspections and solve health and safety problems. If you are a HSR and CPSU member, make sure you join the CPSU Safety First Network to access professional support services and resources you need to get good outcomes for workers in your workgroup.      

Here’s a few of the health and safety problems we picked up during the inspection

  • Computer equipment not tagged and tested – electrical hazard.
  • Staff at the CLO station didn’t have safety mats to stand on – physical health hazard.
  • Some electrical appliances had not been safety tested and tagged – electrical hazard.
  • First aid kits had not been tagged to account for last audit and restocking, one was completely empty – first aid and emergency response hazard.
  • No safety protocols or CCTV monitoring for underground car park – safety risk to workers if someone follows a car in with the intention of harming staff.

Getting problems solved – what happens next

With the assistance of the CPSU, local HSRs will work through every one of the risks and hazards they’ve identified to local management team. This post inspection process is to:

  • Work out how to eliminate the risks and hazards where possible.
  • If risks and hazards can’t be eliminated, identify what DHS can do to minimise those risks to workers health and safety.
  • Agree on implementation, monitoring and review plans to eliminate and/or control the risks identified.

Putting your health and safety first

This is another example of how union membership provides the resources needed to make continuous improvements in health and safety. If you have any health and safety issues you’d like our advice on, please email us here.