January 2019 Work Health and Safety Update

Jan 11, 2019

Advice for heatwave conditions- Work Health and Safety and Hours of Work for Outdoor Workers- Pastoral Award 2010.

​By Chas Cini

Hours of Work
The Pastoral Award 2010 permits the ordinary hours of work to be worked at any time over seven days without penalty rates.

Overtime payments only apply for farm and livestock hands (other than station cooks) when an employee works more than 152 hours in any consecutive period of four weeks (at an average 38 hours per week).

What does this mean during the forthcoming hot weather?
Growers and their employees (farm and livestock hands) can agree to an earlier work starting time and consequentially earlier finishing time to minimise heat and sun exposure.

Safework SA has issued a safety alert which recommends outdoor workers who are exposed to the sun and heat modify their workloads, take breaks and ensure they are hydrated.  

Safework SA Media Release
 
Employers with outdoor work are reminded to take measures to manage the risks associated with heat stress and solar UV radiation as South Australia's summer takes hold with hot weather forecasts.

Employers can minimise the risk of heat-related incidents by modifying workloads and schedules to avoid the hottest times of day, rotating or sharing ‘hot tasks,’ increasing rest and hydration breaks and making sure rest areas in shady or cool areas are available.
 
Employers should also provide appropriate protective gear to minimise solar UV radiation exposure. Workers should wear loose-fitting clothing covering their arms and legs, preferably made from a natural fibre and drink cool water at regular breaks to stay hydrated.

Background
Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2012, employers are responsible for appropriately managing workplace risks, including working with the risk of heat stress and solar UV radiation exposure.

A 2016 Skin Health Australia Report (Skin & Cancer Foundation) found that 65 percent of workers are not provided with clothing to protect them from the sun.

The four major controls for preventing solar UV radiation exposure are:

  • apply sunscreen
  • wear a hat
  • wear clothes that cover the arms and legs
  • work in the shade.

For more tips on preventing heat-related illness or injury, visit the SafeWork SA website.
 

Summary
The Pastoral Award 2010 allows broadacre, feedlot, and dairy farmers to vary the hours of work (without additional costs such as penalty rates and overtime) if workers do not work more than 152 hours over four consecutive weeks.This flexibility can result in early starts, earlier finishes or, shorter working days during adverse conditions. The shortfall of hours for full time and part time employees can be increased in the following four weeks to ensure there is no loss in productivity.

This flexibility in working hours is unique to broadacre, feedlot, and dairy farming. 

Taking reasonable action will also minimise the risk of a workers’ compensation claim for workers affected by heat.

Details: For more information, contact Chas Cini on 08 8331 2422 or info@mers.com.au


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