Electricity, Water and Utilities

Electricity, Water and Utilities

Workers’ safety must be paramount in power & transport

Peter Moss - Thursday, March 26, 2020

Dear Member

 

The ETU is working closely with major electricity and transport employers to ensure worker safety is paramount during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

As essential services, Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy, Essential EnergyTransgrid and Sydney Trains must keep operatingHowever the companies must re-assess all working procedures to protect employees, particularly through social distancing and the supply and use of appropriate PPE.

 

The ETU supports upgraded health and safety measures initiated by companies. The union has raised a list of additional controls members should use in their risk assessments.

 

Vehicles

 

A maximum of two people per vehicle where social distancing (1.5m) can be achieved, ie one driving, one in the back. Open the windows or select external air on the air conditioner – don't select 'recycle'.

 

Sufficient supplies of wipes and detergent must be provided so workers can wipe down all vehicle surfaces, at a minimum, at the beginning and end of each shift.

 

The union calls on companies to reform vehicle policies to facilitate social distancing. This should include:

• Allow employees to take home vehicles, so workers do not have to attend the depot to start and finish work
• End the use of pooled vehicles
• Release unused vehicles

 

EWPs

 

Only one person in the bucket. Where manual handling requires a second person, employees must wear coveralls and P2 masks as a minimum requirement.

 

Face-to-face meetings

 

Depot and other meetings should be held using available technology to avoid unnecessary physical interaction. Wherever people are required to meet, strict social distancing must apply.

 

Contact with the public

 

Members should apply social distancing in all interactions, including with customers and the public.

 

Where emergency responders are required to attend a dwelling, the company should contact residents in advance to confirm whether any person is sick, displaying any symptomsof the virus or in quarantine. 

 

With more people at home, ETU members have reported incidents of abuse from members of the public during power outages. If you are threatened or abused, report the incident and remove yourself from the location.

 

Risk assessment

 

Prior to the commencement of work, ensure that your work group has a pre-start job discussion, identifies any site-specific hazards or risks and implements the appropriate controls to mitigate the hazard or risk. If sufficient controls cannot be implemented , STOP work immediately and  PAUSE for safety. Notify your supervisor/manager If the work cannot be done safely.

 

Consultation

 

Employers have a duty to consult with their employees, or their representatives, on health and safety matters before they are implemented.

 

ETU supporting members

 

The union continues to provide the full range of members services during the pandemic. Call your organiser for support and advice on any workplace matter, contacts here: http://etunsw.asn.au/corona-virus/full-contact-details-for-etu-nsw-act-organiser-phone-numbers

 

For other inquiries, please contact the union by email for response and referral etunsw@etunsw.com.au

 

In unity

 

Justin Page

Secretary, ETU NSW & ACT