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No protection for workers under Howard's industrial relations changes.

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Stephen Smith MP Shadow Minister for Industry, Infrastructure and Industrial Relations Member for Perth


9/05 15 June 2005


Deputy Prime Minister, John Anderson, has today provided an insight into what is to come under the Howard Government’s extreme and unfair industrial relations changes.

Mr Anderson has distributed materials in his electorate of Gwydir, where a worker depicted in his publication is in breach of workplace health and safety laws.

I asked the Deputy Prime Minister the following in Question Time today:

I refer the Minister to material prepared by him and circulated in his electorate outlining the effect of the industrial relations changes proposed by the Government.

Isn’t it the case that the Deputy Prime Minister has actually produced a picture if what the future will be like for working Australians under these changes, namely,

A workplace in clear breach of safety standards - no hard hat, no hearing protection, no gloves, no safety glasses, a worker without basic protections, without bargaining power, and without safety nets.

The Deputy Prime Minister’s response showed that he has little or no understanding, let alone care, of what current minimum effective safety standards in Australian workplaces are.

Mr Anderson has also failed to comprehend that Australian employees in certain industries, as part of their basic employment rights, are currently entitled to safety equipment, including protective clothing or an allowance to cover having to purchase their own safety equipment and/or protective uniforms.

The provision of protective clothing or an employee allowance to cover the cost of protective clothing is common practice regardless of whether a worker is employed on an Award, Enterprise Bargain Agreement, or an individual agreement or contract.

Under threat as part of the Howard Government’s changes are the remaining 12 allowable matters, which includes the entitlement of allowances for such things as protective workplace clothing and uniforms.

Deputy Prime Minister Anderson’s view of the world is a sign of things to come under the Howard Government’s proposed industrial relations changes.

Australian workers and their families have got nothing to look to other than having their wages slashed, their entitlements stripped and their safety standards compromised.

Contact: Courtney Hoogen on (02) 6277 4108 or 0414 364 651

What is personal protective equipment (PPE) and what are some of the types?

If it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate a foreseeable risk to the health and safety to anyone at the place of work, an employer must eliminate the risk. If it is not reasonably practicable to do so, an employer must control the risk. Controlling the risk may involve the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) by workers, in order to reduce their exposure to hazards.

See FAQ’s on Hierarchy of controls

PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) refers to the equipment worn by workers to reduce their exposure to hazards.

PPE includes such items as:

eye protection (goggles, glasses)

hearing protection (ear plugs, ear muffs);

respiratory protection (respirators, face masks, cartridge filters)

foot protection (safety boots)

head protection (hard hats)

body protection (aprons, safety harnesses).

Note: PPE includes any substance used to protect health, for example, sun screen.

See Clause 15 of the OHS Regulation 2001 which provides information about the provision of the PPE.