1. Don’t let your boss off the hook
As meat workers we know how dangerous our job can be. We work with dangerous, heavy machinery in a close, tight, fast-paced environment. That’s why it’s so important that bosses keep up their end of the bargain by providing a safe workplace, as they are required to do by law.
Section 19 of the Workplace Health and Safety Act outlines that an employer must ensure the health and safety of anyone working under their care. That’s the law. If you see a hazard, alert your boss immediately so that they can fix it, and don’t let them off the hook until they’ve done it.
Safety costs money, which is why many employers often skimp on their responsibility in order to save a few bucks. Make sure that you’re constantly alerting your employer to unsafe hazards in the workplace and insisting that they fix them.
Remember providing a safe workplace is your employer’s responsibility. As workers, it’s your duty to hold them to their responsibility — so that you and your workmates can come home safely at the end of the day.
2. Step up and become a Health & Safety Representative
A Health & Safety Representative is a worker who has received special, qualified training in hazard assessment. These workers, known as HSR’s, have special powers under law to protect their fellow workers from injury or death.
A HSR can issue a hazard notice (called a ‘PIN’) on a piece of equipment, forcing bosses by law to address the fault or replace it before it breaks down. HSR’s can also order an immediate shutdown and evacuation of any area they believe to be unsafe.
Bosses cannot prevent HSR’s from using these powers. There are massive penalties for interfering with the work of a Health & Safety Representative who is doing their job.
If you think you’ve got what it takes to step up and protect your workmates, talk to your delegate or union official today. Your union will help you get the training and qualifications you need to become a Health & Safety Representative.
3. Know your rights if you get injured
A workplace injury is an extremely serious matter for you – and also for your employer.
Some unscrupulous bosses will try to take advantage of the confusion and anxiety that can set in immediately after an injury, to push you into signing documents or making bad decisions. We’ve seen this happen.
It’s vitally important that you know your rights when you are injured so that you don’t do something which will make it harder for you to be properly compensated in the future.
The AMIEU provides a handy ‘dos and donts’ card for workplace injuries which you can see below. Save this image to your phone or ask your delegate/union official for a wallet card when you see them.
This card provides a quick and easy reference for what do in case of an injury. If you remember only the basics, remember to document everything that happens and that you are entitled by law to see your OWN doctor.
The company cannot force you to see their doctor. It is illegal. You are entitled by law to see your own doctor. Exercise that right.
4. Use the AMIEU’s support options
Union members can expect on-site, personal support and advice from delegates and organisers who will talk them through the best ways to recover and to get properly compensated. AMIEU members also have access to the finest legal representation for workers compensation cases.
We work closely with lawyers who specialise in workers compensation and we will do everything we can to make sure you are protected. To pay these legal costs on your own would cost thousands of dollars for a single hearing alone.
Union members also have access to two special, exclusive funds: the Emergency Transport Benefit and the To And From Work Benefit*.
The Emergency Transport Benefit not only covers you for the cost of an ambulance, but it also covers your family. If you’re at work and your partner or children need to be taken to hospital urgently, the union’s fund will cover the costs.
Union members also can take advantage of the To And From Work Benefit. This fund helps out workers who are injured on their way to or from work (and who are therefore not eligible for Workers Compensation claims) with weekly payments to keep them on their feet until they can get back to work.
If you’re a union member, make sure you call the office as soon as possible after an injury and ask about how we can support you.
5. Support the Westpac emergency helicopter
Many of our more remote members already donate to the Westpac emergency helicopter.
This helicopter, which waits on standby 24/7 to fly injured workers to hospitals, is an amazing lifesaving service that far too many meat workers have had to rely on over the years.
More than 500 of our meat workers at sites like NCMC in Casino already donate to the Westpac emergency helicopter every month.
Most recently, the Westpac chopper service saved the life of Adam Paget, a saw operator and union member at NCMC Casino. When Adam was injured on the saw, it was his workmates that held him together until the Westpac chopper could fly him to the Gold Coast for emergency surgery, saving his life.
Adam’s partner Gemma is currently fundraising for the Westpac chopper service to help keep it in the air. You can donate to Gemma’s fundraising drive at this link.
After Adam’s injury, AMIEU members got together and donated $2,000 to help him and his family recover. When times get tough, union members look out for each other – because that’s what being a union member is all about.
Your membership not only helps to protect you and workers just like you, but it gives the AMIEU the strength and numbers to pressure politicians to make better changes to workplace safety laws. There is no better way to help with the safety of your workplace now and into the future than to join the union.
*Subject to approval by the AMIEU Committee of Management.