Schools Limiting stress and injury

Principal health and safety remains a key focus for the Principal Class Association and we have worked hard this term on a range of projects to educate our members and DET about hazards and the resources required to implement effective controls.

Firstly, the PCA Executive and Advisory Committee along with AEU leaders have provided ongoing and detailed feedback to DET on the elements of the Principal Health and Wellbeing Strategy and related support.

Secondly, regional PCA meetings are now area-based, with a standing health and safety item on the agenda. The regional PCA meetings are a safe place for PCA members to report their health and safety concerns and where we have established principal class designated workgroups. These concerns can be tabled at OHS meetings by principal HSRs and deputy HSRs. We know that some DET area offices are more responsive to principal eduSafe and other injury reports, so we are also working to educate each area office on their responsibilities, as defined by the OHS Act.

Finally, early next term we will begin a new series of OHS training for principals. The training will be suitable for principal HSRs and deputy HSRs and other principals interested in supporting their staff and principal colleagues to plan for safety and to work with DET to ensure that when there are hazards, injuries and risks, appropriate controls are provided by the employer.

One of the key causes of injury among principal class employees is workload-related stress. The VGSA 2017 has a clause that requires consultation with principals when the employer plans to introduce work that is a significant change to current practice. We had an opportunity to remind DET of this clause earlier this term when a new task relating to managing student absences was introduced in one of the regions.

As a result of this, DET regional leaders agreed to amend their expectations in relation to this work and to give principals the opportunity to determine the extent to which their school would engage in the initiative.

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