There’s a move to downgrade SafeWork NSW despite over 13,000 injuries to nurses every year.
A proposed restructure of SafeWork NSW would put nurses and other workers at greater risk of serious injury and death, the NSWNMA has warned.
SafeWork’s job is to regulate workplace health and safety in NSW. However, there is a move within the state government to merge its functions with other agencies.
It is happening without con-sultation with unions, who seek to improve workplace safety and represent sick and injured workers.
The NSWNMA has called on the government to maintain SafeWork NSW as a separate independent entity to ensure worker safety is not downgraded.
General Secretary Brett Holmes raised the issue in a letter to the Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation, Kevin Anderson.
Brett told Mr Anderson the health care sector has the highest rate of serious injuries of any industry.
Nurses, personal care workers and employees in aged care and disability have the highest number of compensation claims of all occupations.
“We are still seeing over 13,000 injuries every year. Alarmingly, nearly half (43 per cent) of all these injuries are serious, resulting in five or more days off work,” Brett said.
He said the union was concerned by a statement of Ms Rose Webb, Deputy Secretary, Better Regulation Division, during a parliamentary hearing about the proposed new operating model for the Better Regulation division.
Ms Webb said: “I think regulatory theory suggests that you can do these things two ways. You can bundle your people together by the piece of legislation they are administering and have all the range of regulatory functions, from complaint taking and engagement right up to prosecution, all in one bundle, or you can say that there are regulatory abilities and professional skills in people doing compliance work, or audit work or inspection work or prosecution work, and you put the people that have that professional skill together. Then they apply those skills across a range of legislation. We are moving to that second model.”
The NSWNMA understands the agencies affected by this proposal include SafeWork NSW, Fair Trading NSW, Liquor and Gaming NSW, the Office of Responsible Gambling, Office of Racing, the Long Service Corporation and Subsidence Advisory NSW.
“The Association is extremely concerned that any attempt to merge these agencies will dilute specialist skills and that without a specialist work health and safety regulator, workers in NSW will be at increased risk of death and serious injury,” Brett said.
Brett said the proposal fails to take into account the detailed knowledge of workplaces and industries required for SafeWork NSW to be effective.
“The safety of NSW workers cannot be mixed up with liquor licencing or the welfare of greyhounds”