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A hair dresser sacked after she changed her sanitary napkin in the salon kitchen and then washed her hands in the kitchen sink has failed to be obtain an extension of time to hear her unfair dismissal claim.

Employer Raw Hair argued it was a serious breach of workplace health and safety (WHS) relating to personal hygiene in the salon kitchen – and came on the back of ongoing poor performance. The kitchen was used for meal breaks and food preparation for the salon café, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) heard.

In her application seeking reinstatement, Samra Vilic argued her dismissal was not related to her performance at work because she did not receive a warning about her conduct, and because the WHS breach did not relate to her job or performance. The commission noted Vilic’s recollection of the events leading up to her dismissal differed to those of Raw Hair. While she did not dispute the incident had occurred, she did dispute the significance of the breach.

“Having considered all of the factors, I find that there are no exceptional circumstances warranting the granting of further period for the making of an application for an unfair dismissal remedy,” Deputy President John Kovacic found.

“Accordingly, the application cannot proceed and is therefore dismissed. An order to that effect will be issued with this decision.” The commission heard her application was lodged one day outside the 21 day statutory timeframe for making an unfair dismissal application.


15 work related deaths in March

Latest Safe Work Australia figures reveal 15 work-related notifiable fatalities during March 2015 — 12 male workers and 1 female workers, 1 male bystander and 1 female bystander.

Of these fatalities, six workers died as a result of incidents on public roads or air. The monthly notifiable fatality report provides a national summary of work-related traumatic fatalities that were notifiable to Australian work health and safety jurisdictions.

Besides providing an estimate of the number of work-related deaths, the report also included details of the types of incident involved; the industry of the workplace at which the fatalities occurred; and the industry of the decedent’s employer. The reporting is based on calendar year.


CASA recognised for annual report

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s (CASA’s) focus on workplace health and safety (WHS) in its annual report has been recognised with an award at this year’s Australasian Reporting Awards in Melbourne.

The WHS Reporting Award recognises the value of incorporating WHS performance into organisation’s annual report. Safe Work Australia chief executive officer Michelle Baxter said all businesses should include WHS reporting in their annual report.

“Congratulations to CASA. Their annual report illustrates a commitment to ensuring their workers, contractors and others stay healthy and safe at work,” Baxter said.

CASA’s report was selected from a finalists including BHP Billiton, Woodside Petroleum and the City of Ryde. The Australasian Reporting Awards (ARA) provide an opportunity for organisations to benchmark their reports against the ARA criteria. They are open to all organisations that produce an annual report. The criteria for entering can be found on the ARA website.


Safeguards for agricultural industry

WorkCover NSW is set to launch the third phase of an industry action plan to improve health and safety in the state’s highest risk agricultural sector.

Inspectors are contacting sheep and beef cattle farmers across regional NSW to arrange visits between now and the end of August to help farmers assess and improve safe work systems.

While some will be first-time clients, others have already received a special rebate of up to $2,000 for purchasing or supplementing the cost of health and safety solutions.

Executive director of WorkCover’s Work Health and Safety Division Peter Dunphy said about 9,500 famers – more than a third of the target industry – had received assistance under the project’s now discontinued rebate scheme. “That is an extraordinary and unprecedented take-up rate, representing around $18 million in rebates, with more than $30 million invested in actual safety improvements that have helped to improve the industry’s health and safety performance,” Dunphy said.

“Most of these safety improvements are long-term infrastructure that will not only reduce the risk of injury on farms right now, but also for years to come and future generations. “We have already seen some significant results in pen and yard improvements, animal restraint and handling devices, animal loading ramps with hand-rail systems, and better sunshade protection.”

The project stems from an industry action plan devised by WorkCover and partners, such as NSW Farmers Association, the Country Women’s Association, Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety, and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service.

The plan addresses five main areas of concern – working with livestock, quad bikes, tractors and related implements, occupational disease and ‘recover at work’. Further support is being provided via an Alive and Well campaign – featuring real farmers conveying safety messages based on personal experiences to the wider agricultural community. The program has its own website;

During forthcoming visits, inspectors will work with farmers to improve safety systems. Farmers who are visited may be eligible for the $500 Small Business Rebate.

WorkCover NSW said there were about 26,000 workplaces and 14,000 workers in the sheep and beef cattle farming industry. In the three years to 2010/11, workplace injuries and occupational disease in the industry had cost the NSW WorkCover scheme around $48 million, it said.

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