As the pandemic continues to evolve, and takes a turn for the worse in other parts of the country, we’re still working hard to make sure our members are supported and represented and we’ll continue to lobby state and federal governments hard to ensure workers are at the forefront of plans for the recovery.
You may have seen us returning to worksites over the last week or so because talking with members where they work is at the core of what we do, and we’re keen to make sure we’re out and about everywhere we can be, so keep your eye out for notices about site visits and meetings in your area. We’re union, we stick together and we look after each other - it’s how we’ll get through this.
Public sector update
Tasmania’s move to stage 3 restrictions earlier than planned means a lot of different things for the community but, importantly, it means members who’ve been working from home will begin transitioning back to the workplace - it’s important to note that high risk and vulnerable workers will still be encouraged and supported to stay home and protect their health. We all need to stay aware of physical distancing, room capacity, hand hygiene, staying home if unwell, getting tested and downloading the CovidSafe app.
Community mental health and police support
Recently the Police Association made submissions to government claiming the provision of support to community mental health workers is an inappropriate use of police resources, even though they’ve historically assisted community mental health workers under a memorandum of understanding arrangement.
This helps health professionals and support workers deal with sometimes violent, aggressive and acutely unwell clients in a community setting and, while imperfect and not without issues, this arrangement has been the most efficient working model under current community mental health and police resourcing.
We understand it’s not your preference to request help but sometimes you really have no choice, and mental health workers can’t be expected to go to work in fear of being in a potentially violent situation without proper support.
The THS have an obligation to provide a safe work environment, and to remove police assistance would be a serious safety concern,so our shared concerns have been raised with them and once we have a response we’ll arrange a state-wide meeting with community mental health members to discuss the issue.
The bottom line is we’ll always fight to ensure our members have the support they need to be safe at work.
Working from home survey
During the pandemic response we saw many workers across several areas shift to working from home.
Some members could complete all their work from home, others were able to do some tasks, some were able to do a reduced amount of work,while for a great number of operational workers working from home simply wasn’t an option.
HACSU is always keen to explore avenues that might provide workers with flexibility and to achieve the ever elusive work/life balance.
The health department is keen to gather data to learn what the experience of workers was and whether ongoing working from home arrangements are a possibility, and we think it’s more than a possibility and encourage any member with some experience of working from home to complete this survey https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/H3RXNT7
The survey closes on 13 July 2020 and we’ll be pursuing further discussions with the department about the results and any proposals.
COVID-19 and workplace safety regulations
There have been amendments to workplace health and safety regulations to deal with minimising the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and all workplaces must’ve prepared a safety plan by 15 June.
This includes training for workers about the new requirements, and we’ve been advised that all public sector workers will receive training and guidance.
Most workplaces that kept operating should already have a lot of the control measures in place but there are minimum standards depending on the size of your workplace and the nature of the work performed there.
All workplaces must do the following:
• Regularly clean to a minimum standard and records kept of the cleaning
• Screening and restrictions on entry of workers and visitors
• Minimum physical distancing standards and limit the number of people in enclosed spaces
• Instruct, train and supervise all workers on risks and control measures in place to control these risks
• Maintain records to demonstrate compliance with the minimum standards
Some workplaces will be exempt from several requirements because of the nature of the work done, but employers need to apply for the exemption and discuss it with staff.
As with all things workplace health and safety, your employer must consult with you about any risk control measure, and COVID-19 regulations are no different.
The bottom line is there must be extra safeguards to protect you from the virus no matter what workplace you’re in, and measures must be in place to make sure you’re coping with the extra stress of this situation.
If you want further information, or are concerned that a plan’s been imposed without input from the workers, please contact HACSUassist or your organiser.