Recently ETU and CEPU delegates and organisers gathered in Fremantle, WA for the National Lift Industry Delegates Conference.
The conference debated important issues in the lift industry such as safety, Labour hire, organising, training, the dangers of working alone, silicosis, and the possibility of an ETU visit to the US in August 2023. They also discussed the importance of supporting the Yes campaign for a Voice to Parliament.
The conference decided on resolutions to tackle these issues as a union, as follows.
Safety alerts now accessible from the National website
The conference shared an update that safety alerts in the lift industry are now available on the national website here.
Emergency Response Plans (ERPs)
The conference spoke about the need to review ERPs monthly, and whether a similar procedure is also needed for escalators. Some companies are doing the right thing, but many have inadequate ERPs that do not comply with Australian Standards 4431:2019 and Work Health & Safety regulations. A national approach would help ensure consistency across states.
Disconnect and reconnect safety issues
There was discussion about the practice of workers locking the lift car into the rails off the safety gear and disconnecting the Tirak traction hoist from themselves for lifting the rails. The Union believes this practice is not compliant with Standards Australia’s safe working practices (AS 4431.2019 Clause 10.5) and a secondary lifting point and secondary lifting device must be available and utilised.
The conference suggested that all health and safety committees, PCBU’s and relevant health and safety regulators around Australia in the lift industry take immediate action to ensure that no lift work shall involve disconnection of the main hoisting rope and subsequent reliance on the safety gear as a suspension device.
The conference called on all members, health, and safety committees, PCBU’s and relevant health and safety regulators around Australia in the lift industry to take immediate action to ensure that silica dust exposure is treated with zero tolerance.
They recommended that PCBU’s and regulators are clearly advised about the unique nature of how silica dust from other parts of sites can affect lift workers and that regular monitoring of industry behaviour be undertaken to allow the ETU to best protect members, pursue areas of non-compliance and maintain best practice principles.
Additionally, all lift pits and motor floors should be sealed, eliminating the ongoing creation of dust via foot traffic and cleaning.
Lone workers/ single man tasks
There was discussion amongst the attendees about the possibility of using clauses in industrial agreements to prevent workers undertaking jobs alone.
Overall it was a fantastic conference with important discussion and outcomes. On top of these resolutions, delegates and organisers had a session on entitlement schemes with Protect and Cbus, a briefing on the new Fair Work Act amendments, and overview of current government policies such as Rewiring the Nation and Powering Australia and our Union’s focuses in 2023. Mates in Construction also ran a suicide prevention General Awareness training which was well-received.
Thank you to all who attended and contributed their voices to the discussions! These conferences are so valuable in enabling unionists to share ideas and strengthen workers’ rights, conditions and safety across Australia.