COVID-19 UPDATE

UFUSA Covid19

It is heartening that scientific modelling produced by the federal government has revealed the dramatic reduction in coronavirus transmission rates caused by Australia’s strict control measures. 

But it also shows how quickly the virus would begin spreading a physical distancing restrictions were lifted. 

The modelling suggests that currently every 10 people infected with the virus will infect just 5 others. But without physical distancing another control measures, those same 10 people would affect 25 others. 

The public health measures put in place in Australia have demonstrably been very effective in limiting the spread of this disease. 

But the experts say this should not make us complacent, the virus still has the same characteristics, it has not changed, and the positive trend is dependent on us all continuing to comply with physical distancing restrictions at the same level. 

Meanwhile your union has been continuing to work with the MFS in addressing the issues of concern which arise daily, here are a few updates FYI: 

LONG SERVICE LEAVE CANCELLATION 

Most recently members told us they had been advised that the provision to relax the notice period required to cancel booked long service leave, had been revoked. 

There has been no consultation with the UFU in relation to such a decision and we are advised by the Head of the COVID-19 Task Force that a change to the grace period relaxing the 2-month stipulation, has not been put to the MFS Covid 19 Task Force either. 

MFS management advise us today that all matters relating to COVID-19 are posted on the Members Only Website (MOW) and if it’s not there, it’s not so; it was noted that there is no such advice currently of a change to the grace period in relation to COVID-19 on the MOW. 

With the winter flu season advancing, and the potential still very much there for the curve of the spread of the coronavirus to steeply sharpen, there is a real possibility that an escalation of the OLOP requiring ‘all hands on deck’ in the MFS, lies ahead. 

In these circumstances, the UFU urges a continuation of the relaxation of the notice period and our union remains confident that management will continue to honour their commitment to consult with your representatives prior to introducing changes and that the parties will continue to work closely together in the interests of the health and well-being of our members and our community. 2 

RELIEVERS

At the meeting of the UFU State Council yesterday, it was noted that in many areas the process of relievers working from home is working well. On some shifts at many stations, members are organising themselves to rotate through the position of “stay-at-home” and it was noted that this is particularly important to allow our newer firefighters to continue to gain experience on the job. 

If this is not currently happening at your station but you’re interested in organising this, there may be an opportunity for crews to discuss and implement the option, while the matter is raised by your union with MFS management looking at a broader approach. 

FLUT VACCINATIONS

It’s great to hear that this year there is widespread uptake by members of flu vaccinations which are offered by your employer. 

Some members however are not able to or choose not to be vaccinated and are deeply concerned by the recent edict which could affect your emergency response where members of crews are not vaccinated. 

The Emergency Management (Residential Aged Care Facilities No 2) (COVID-19) Direction 2020 was issued on 10 April 2020 by the Police Commissioner Grant Stevens, under section 25 of the Emergency Management Act 2004. 

This Direction prohibits a person from entering a residential aged care facility, even where entry is for “the purpose of emergency management” (cl 4(1)(g)), if “from 1 May 2020 where the person has not been vaccinated against 2020 seasonal influenza” (cl 4(2)(c)). 

The provisions are replicated in all States & Territories, although in NSW the Minister can grant an exemption if satisfied “it is necessary to protect the health and well-being of the residents or staff of a residential aged care facility” (cl 8). 

Clarification has been sought from the MFS in relation to operational procedures which will apply where crewmembers do not have vaccination against 2020 seasonal influenza and we understand these are currently being developed. 

MFS Management meanwhile has confirmed that while participation is encouraged, inoculation is not mandatory, and members will not be forced to participate. 

Some members are also very concerned with the level of disclosure required on the vaccination consent form and the lack of advice to you about what will happen to personal information required and given to the third-party provider. While it’s thought unlikely there is sinister motivation these are reasonable questions being raised and our union is seeking the relevant information from the MFS. Members will be kept updated. 

Please don’t hesitate to contact your UFU representatives if you have any questions or concerns or you can direct them to the union office on 8352 7211 or by email to info@ufusa.com.au 

Please remember that wherever possible, members are encouraged to raise any queries or concerns in the first instance with your immediate supervisor and if you do not receive satisfaction, to speak to your local UFU Shop Steward to seek assistance. 3 

DIESEL PARTICULATES EXPOSURE 

A consistent concern raised by members is that of the negative health effects caused by exposure to diesel particulates and this is why the UFUSA survey of members last year included the question about the importance of the MFS carrying out risk assessments and undertaking testing of exposure rates for diesel particulate matter in fire stations. 

Unsurprisingly members overwhelmingly expressed concern in your responses and you strongly supported an escalation of action by our union on this WHS issue. 

A report subsequently commissioned by the UFUSA on Diesel Particulates Exposure in the South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service Environment was tabled and endorsed at the UFU State Council meeting held by videoconference yesterday. The report will be circulated to WHS representatives and will be on the agenda for the next WHS representatives meeting. 

Key recommendations adopted include that our union seek: 

  • An agreed consultative process with the MFS to implement systematic and regular health and air quality monitoring of all workplace environments where diesel particulate matter is of concern. 
  • Agreement with the MFS regarding the installation of automatically operating, appropriately designed and sized Point of Capture Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) systems in all stations, engineering workshops and training environments. 
  • Such initiatives be performed in a holistic manner encompassing the total work environment including considerations such as crossflow ventilation of the engine room, positive pressure areas along with PPC and living quarters separation from contamination areas. 
  • Negotiation of a transition plan for MFS work environments to switch from the current extraction ventilation to exhaust emission source capture systems. This will seek to further reduce and control exposures to diesel particulate matter as far as reasonably practicable, as recommended by the world’s leading workplace health and safety agencies, with the aim of targeting a world’s best practice of zero emissions within fire station engine bays. 

The UFUSA strongly believes that this is an issue where the employer and the union can work together to produce much-needed change in the interests of the health and well-being of members. 

In June 2012, the World Health Organisation International Agency for Research on Cancer confirmed diesel engine exhaust as carcinogenic to humans and over the last decade, further research has concluded that Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) are one of the more significant carcinogenic components of diesel particulate matter (DPM). 

Both short-term and long-term health effects arise from the exposure to DPM including irritation of eyes, nose, throat and lungs along with light-headedness, coughing, phlegm and nausea, exacerbation of respiratory issues, increased risk of heart disease, lung and bladder cancer. A recent Australian case study also revealed an association between parental exposure and an increased risk of childhood brain tumours. 

It is recognised that the important WHS changes proposed require increased capital spending and our union is committed to working with the MFS to seek the funding necessary for the employer to meet their obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act. 4 

MOTHER’S DAY CLASSIC 

Yes, as previously reported, the MDC is going ahead – in virtual form! 

All current registrations receive automatic access to the virtual platform. 

All new registrations are very welcome and are at a discounted entry fee. 

UFU T-shirts are still part of your registration and will come in handy for when you keep a photographic record of your runs and send them in to the SAMFS media team. 

Your MDC organising committee is working hard so please do join the “United Firefighters Union of SA” team and register now at https://mdc.mothersdayclassic.com.au/register-app.php Register NOW! 

REMINDER: 

There are only DAYS left until closure of ballot! 

BALLOT CLOSES NEXT WEDNESDAY 22 APRIL 

ELECTION FOR THE UFUSA STATE COUNCIL VACANCY – BALLOT EXTENDED 

In accordance with the request of the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) we have posted the following notice to members on our UFUSA website in relation to the current ballot for the casual vacancy of: 

Committee of Management Member – Firefighter Representative (E2019/175). 

Please be advised that, due to current circumstances, changes have been made to this election as follows

  • The close of the Ballot will be extended to 10.00am on Wednesday 22 April 2020. (extended from 5.00pm, Thursday 9 April). 
  • No new ballot papers will be issued to reflect this change of date for the close of the ballot. 
  • Completed and returned ballot papers will be accepted for inclusion in the scrutiny up until the new closing time and date of the ballot at 10am on Wednesday 22 April 2020

If you have not yet received your ballot paper, you should contact the AEC immediately on 8237 6555 and quote reference number: E2019/175 to receive a ballot paper. Time is running out so please do this if necessary, NOW. 

Please note that I am required under legislation to keep an accurate roll of members so if your postal address has changed in recent times and you HAVE NOT advised your union, it’s enormously helpful if you would contact us to advise the change of details by calling us on 83527211 or emailing to info@ufusa.com.au. Thank you for your assistance.

UNION OFFICE 

A reminder that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, physical access to your union office is restricted, with staff largely working from home. Members are requested to contact us by calling 83527211 or emailing to info@ufusa.com.au. Thank you in anticipation of your patience and understanding as we deal with existing and incoming issues according to priority. 

In solidarity,

COVID-19 UPDATE

Latest WordBack

WordBack
Max Adlam

HAPPY MAY DAY 

Very best May Day wishes to all UFU members today, International Workers Day. We will celebrate next Saturday 4 May with a March and Family Fun Day, commencing at Elder Park at 11:00 hours.

Read More »
United Fire Fighters Union Of South Australia - UFUSA

Install PWA

Install PWA on Iphone using Safari only. Tap on the "Share" icon, scroll up to see "Actions." If "Actions" is not displayed, scroll all the way up, and select "Edit Actions." Choose "Add to Home Screen," then Done.