The annual Comcare Work Health and Safety Awards 2014 and associated Health and Safety conference will be held in Melbourne in September this year.
CWU member, Lee Walkington, was one of the union-nominated inspectors appointed to oversee the Telstra/NBN Co asbestos removal programme last year when the issue exploded. He was a member of the judging panel for Category 5 of the awards – Health and Safety Representative of the year.
Here Lee explains the significance of the awards –and the telco industry’s apparent lack of interest in them.
The Comcare Work Health and Safety Awards is a prestigious national event that recognises organisations that have demonstrated excellence in a number of categories such as workplace health and wellbeing initiatives and the exceptional differences individuals have made to improving health and safety in the workplace.
Category 5 of the Awards is recognition for the best Health and Safety Representative (HSR) for 2014 whose work has made an outstanding contribution to health and safety in their workplace and to their industry.
This should have been an opportunity for savvy employers like Telstra to showcase their commitment to occupational health and safety by nominating one of their HSRs as the national HSR of the year. To even make it to the list of finalists would be something to be proud of and say something about the company’s commitment to issues of health and safety.
It should have been something to boast about had Telstra, (or Optus, or Australia Post or NBN and the other telcos) bothered to nominate anyone.
The message loud and clear is that Telstra and these other organisations don’t take having independent and staff-elected Health and Safety Representatives seriously.
Instead of it being a shared responsibility as envisaged under the Work Health & Safety Act 2011 it seems to be that anything that allows employees some say over their own safety and wellbeing is to be avoided.
In an organisation the size of Telstra to not even nominate anyone as the HSR of the year really reveals their attitude to their workforce and lack of real commitment to workplace safety.