WHS: COVID-19 Responses

Posted on
April 15, 2020

During a crisis, decisions can be made that seem the best thing to do given the facts known at the time.

Unfortunately, sometimes they’re made by people who don’t understand the business or appreciate the nuances of the working environment.

There’s a lot of pressure on north and north-west staff dealing with the temporary closure of facilities and significant new shifts added to a roster already under pressure, essentially all on overtime, and although AT has briefed you about changes, this isn’t consultation.

You’re not obliged to work additional overtime hours that are unreasonable and, despite the pressures to say yes, it may be safer to ‘just say no’ - AT has contingency plans and must use them.

Multiple long-distance drives on a given shift are a significant risk, particularly on night shifts and especially between 0000 and 0600. A single Burnie/Launceston or Queenstown/Burnie return drive of some 300 kms is fatiguing, let alone the additional patient care before and during the drive and prior to handover of the patient. We consider doing more than two of these types of drives a shift would be unreasonable and unsafe tasking and, where possible, should be totally avoided from 0000-0600 unless medically required.

If you have a fatigue related event, such as a micro-sleep, we request that you report it via SRLS to your Regional DM and to us. Your Regional DM is responsible for your safety and should ensure you’re adequately rested between long jobs, including informing the SOC that you’re not available for tasking for a period of time.

In our view AT haven’t sufficiently addressed these risks and we ask that you take your meal breaks and request additional recovery time if needed before commencing a drive ‘back to station’ - or on return to station ask for a 30-60 minute fatigue break to recover from a long drive.
We asked AT to review these risks and consult with workers, and have also suggested they manage low acuity patients in a different way between 0000 and 0600.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Chris Kennedy via HACSUassist on 1300 880 032 or chris.kennedy@hacsu.org.au

For more information about this or any other industrial matter, members should contact HACSUassist on 1300 880 032 or email assist@hacsu.org.au or complete our online contact form