Victorian COVID-19 cases on 30 December 2021: there are 23,833,801 active cases, including 5137 new locally acquired cases. There are 395 patients in hospital (the 7-day average is 378), including 123 in ICU (55 active), ICU (45 cleared) with 23 on ventilators. Another 13 people have died. There have been 170,695 cases and 1518 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Data links are at the end of this newsflash.
Heat and working in PPE – testing site temporary closures expected
Rising temperatures will present challenges for members working in PPE, particularly those in mobile and fixed testing locations which are often outdoors.
The Victorian Department of Health is advising the community that some testing sites may temporarily close over the next few days to protect staff from extreme heat. See @VicGovDH tweets
The department is asking the community to check testing sites are open before joining the queue.
ANMF members are reminded that your employers have obligations to provide a safe workplace and should follow the Victorian Department of Health’s guidance titled ‘Controlling heat stress in health and human services (COVID-19): guidance for employers and their staff’.
The department’s guidance requires employers and workers on steps to take to reduce the risks associated with working in heat.
Importantly, this guidance is not limited to only COVID-19 testing sites and is equally applicable to other members who may be exposed to the conditions, including hospital in the home. It assists employers to undertake risk assessments, in advance of the conditions occurring (e.g. based on predicted conditions in the coming days) and provides advice around controls that may be implemented to reduce the risks, including potentially postponing non-urgent work outdoors.
The guidance should be read in conjunction with:
- the ANMF (Vic Branch) policy ‘Guidelines for working in heat’
- WorkSafe Victoria’s ‘Working in heat’ guidance
- Worksafe Victoria’s ‘Prevention and protection from heat illness’ guidance, which provides clear explanation of the employer obligations to prevent issues related to heat.
To be clear, employers have an obligation to provide a workplace that is safe and without risk to health, so far as is practicable, and this includes in relation to heat. Employers are required to implement controls to either eliminate, or reduce the risk so far as is reasonably practicable.
ANMF encourages all members working in areas subject to the outdoor conditions to take the following steps:
- Request the heat management plan from your employer, so that you are able to review it and check whether there are clear, proactive risk assessments being undertaken by your employer.
- Report using VHIMS/RiskMan/incident reporting systems where inadequate controls have been identified to be put in place, in advance of days of significant heat.
- When there is a predicted day over 30 degrees (the next three days) or extended sun exposure or humidity (as noted in the department’s guidance), report using VHIMS/RiskMan/ incident reporting systems if no/inadequate controls have been implemented by your employer.
- Raise the issue with your HSR in the event you have one. Remember HSRs have the power to issue Provisional Improvement Notices requiring the employer to implement controls, where there is no/an inadequate heat policy in place, which clearly identifies controls to be implemented, and the triggers for these controls.
ANMF strongly recommends that members working in sites with no duly elected HSR, consult their designated working group (usually geographical but check with your HR department) and elect a HSR. In areas where we have HSRs we see better OHS outcomes.
- Where there is a serious and immediate risk to health and safety due to heat, raise this with your HSR and manager. HSRs are able to issue cease works, where there is an imminent risk to health and safety, and inadequate controls in place, if management refuse or fail to implement appropriate controls.
- Contact the ANMF via our Member Assistance inquiry form so that we can assist.
- Remember, anyone has the right to contact WorkSafe Victoria to report issues around health and safety in workplaces – this can be done via the Advisory Service on 1800 136 089 or via email@example.com
ATAGI reduces interval between second and third COVID-19 vaccine dose
From 4 January 2022, the interval between the second and third COVID-19 vaccine dose will reduce from five to four months.
The interval will change again on 31 January 2022 to three months.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announced the changes on 24 December 2021 in response to new advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI).
Book your third dose
Important COVID-19 links for nurses, midwives and personal care workers
ANMF continues to collate the important links all in one place, so you don’t have to go looking. Please bookmark and check this page regularly – https://anmfvic.asn.au/COVID-19
Latest COVID-19 statistics
Victorian COVID-19 data dashboard https://bit.ly/3j5vJwC
Victorian Chief Health Officer daily update https://bit.ly/34Et8Ug
Victorian Chief Health Officer daily media release https://bit.ly/2EDiQLb
Victorian Government’s vaccination data dashboard https://bit.ly/319HzPq
Federal Government national COVID-19 data https://bit.ly/3spz67F
Federal Government’s national and aged care vaccination data https://bit.ly/3spRSM5
Don’t bring it home: guide to minimise the risk of infection
A reminder that ANMF (Vic Branch) has developed a guide to assist you in relation to returning home from work after a shift.
Job Reps and HSRs are encouraged to print the poster which is part of this PDF newsflash. You can also download the ‘Protocols for entering your home and minimising the risk of infection’ A4 poster via bit.ly/COVID19-DBIH