For everyone The importance of reporting health and safety issues

During Term 4, I have been lucky to be out and about speaking to members at general branch meetings and at regional meetings. We’ve been talking mainly about workload as a health and safety issue, but many other issues come up in our discussions. One consistent theme in my conversations with members is the under-reporting of health and safety issues. In particular, the under-reporting of psychological impacts at work. 

I’ve been surprised to hear that some members don’t know how to report a health and safety matter and concerned to hear that others are often reluctant to report. Others say they find the reporting tool cumbersome and time-consuming. 

The OHS Act requires employers to monitor the health and safety of its employees and be proactive in creating a safe work environment. It’s impossible for employers to do this if they don’t receive information about the risks and hazards in the workplace. 

In addition to this, when the union has an opportunity to consult with employers around the development of safety policies or the allocation of resources, data from incident reports is used to help guide priorities. 

In other words, reporting OHS incidents not only records an account of that issue, but also helps paint a picture of health and safety issues more broadly. The employer can’t fix what they can’t see. 

VTHC HSR Conference 

Many of our health and safety reps attended the Victorian Trades Hall Council’s health and safety conference in late October. The conference had more than 1000 attendees from across a range of industries. 

As well as hearing directly from Minister for Workplace Safety Jill Hennessy and CEO of WorkSafe Clare Amies, our reps heard about the emerging OHS issue of gendered violence and the work of Trades Hall in that space. 

The AEU hosts its own OHS conference every second year, with the next due in 2020. We’d love to hear from our HSRs about what they’d like to see in the conference. So, if there are speakers you’d like to hear from or issues you’d like covered – get in touch! All suggestions are welcome and can be sent to  [email protected].

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