The University of Melbourne

Occupational Health and Safety Committee

Meeting Number 3/98

A meeting of the Occupational Health and Safety Committee was held in the Conference Room 1, Old Physics Building, on Tuesday, 9 September 1998 at 2.15 pm.


Prof F Larkins (Chair) Dr P Marley
Ms Julia McQuillan (nominee for L Bar‘) Mr J Colebatch
Mr J Carmichael Ms J Wedgwood
Dr M Bullen Prof A Wedd
Mr G Suckling Mr P Edwards
Mr E Smart Dr M Wlodek

In Attendance

Ms F Grant


Mr D Too Dr M Livett
Ms M Smart

1. Welcome to Chairperson and introduction to the committee members

The committee members welcomed and accepted Professor Larkins as Chair of the committee. The committee members also noted Professor Larkins’ strong commitment and responsibility for Occupational Health and Safety at the University.

2. Minutes of meeting 2/98

The minutes of meeting 2/98 were accepted. It was noted that J McQuillan attended the last meeting as nominee for E Bar‘, therefore Ms Bar‘ was not an apology for that meeting.

3. Reports from University Safety Committees

It was accepted that there were no items to be reported from other University safety committees. The committee members noted that the minutes of other university safety committees were available for viewing if required.

4. Action Items from meeting 2/98

4.1 Safety Clauses in Position Descriptions

This item was discussed with item 6.6 Safety responsibilities in position descriptions.

4.2 No smoking policy

A progress report has been requested about implementation of the changes to the no smoking policy but it has not yet been received.

4.3 Safety in University Corporate Image

The University’s corporate image has not yet been finalised. A consultant has been engaged to design a new web page.

4.4 Guidelines for safety related building works

The subgroup is due to meet later this month to discuss guidelines for safety related building works. The subgroup should write some general guidelines for prioritising buildings works. Currently the Capital Projects Committee decides on priority of safety related building works from advice from Property Planning and Development. Building works are put on a schedule and a decision is made regarding priority considering time lines and available budget.

4.5 MFB Report

This item was discussed with item 6.4 Implementation of MFB fire safety report.

4.6 Health Monitoring Guidelines

This item was discussed with item 6.5 Health monitoring guidelines.

4.7 Pre employment health questionnaires

Human Resources have reviewed their recruitment process. During this review the issue of pre employment health questionnaires was addressed. When following the new recruitment process, departments will complete Hazards section of the HAQQ prior to the position being advertised. The HAQQ is sent to the successful applicant with the letter of offer for completion by them and return to the Occupational health unit. Occupational Health is currently updating the HAQQ so that it is simple to fill out and can been scanned electronically. During an interview the applicant should be asked if they have any medical or other conditions that may affect their work performance. So that employees health details are kept confidential they can‘t be requested to fill in a HAQQ at the time of interview. Due to legislative requirements employment can’t be terminated if an employee can’t do their work due to a medical condition.

4.8 Committee structure and reporting

The sub committee has met to discuss this committee’s structure and reporting. A letter from J Wedgwood and P Marley has been received by Professor Larkins. The aim of the review of structure and reporting is to make this committee more visible in the University and have better input to the University’s aims and achievements. The main issues addressed by the sub group are:

  • due to the change in chair, the membership needed to be reviewed. One management representative has not attended a meeting for over two years
  • Some issues addressed by the committee that are not particularly large or complicated have taken a long time to resolve. One item has been on the agenda for seven years.
  • Often precisely what is to be done and by whom is not specified at meetings. Detailed and accurate documentation needs to be made of the meetings.
  • All members of the committee and the University need to show due diligence in occupational health and safety. The committee could receive more reports similarly to the Asbestos Management plan status report to support due diligence.

The Chair thanked the sub group for its comments and requested the work continue with his involvement and consider other relevant committees that requested information flow.

4.9 Health and safety representative elections

This item was discussed with item 6.1 Health and safety representative numbers

4.10 Fume cupboards

This item was discussed with item 11 Fume cupboard management plan status report.

4.11 Objectives for 1998

Safety responsibilities in position descriptions has been put on the Committee’s objectives for 1998.

5. Reported Incidents Performance

Progress is still being made to reducing the severity of incidents at this University. The committee noted that Property and Campus Services severity statistics were slightly worse than in 1997, however, there was a significant improvement in the amount of days lost. In the Library one incident led to the entire amount of days lost.

6. Occupational Health and Safety Objectives for 1998

6.1 Health and Safety Representative numbers

The health and safety representative elections were publicised in UniNews. Due to a good recruitment drive there has been an increase to 47 health and safety representatives. The designated work groups have been reorganised to 70 groups. This includes 7 new groups encompassing the ILFR campuses. A written report will be submitted to the committee.

6.2 SafetyMAP Project

This item was discussed with item 7 SafetyMAP update.

6.3 Priority of minor building works related to safety matters

This item was discussed with item 4.4 guidelines for safety related buildings works.

6.4 Implementation of MFB Fire Safety Report

J Carmichael gave a verbal report to the committee. An implementation report is due to be delivered to the MFESB by 30 October 1998. Current outstanding works include supply and fitting of additional fire extinguishers and hoses. The $180,000.00 cost has not yet been budgeted for. Also gas storage facilities need to be installed in Botany and Engineering. Overall the MFESB is very happy with our progress towards implementation of their report. The University also intends to undertake additional works, such as chlorination at the Beaurepaire Pool, to meet the requirements of the Dangerous Goods Regulations. The MFESB report only covered the Parkville campus, no off campus locations were included.

6.5 Health Monitoring Guidelines

Previously the Occupational health unit was not always notified what hazards new staff members were exposed to. The new recruitment procedures introduced by Human Resources should rectify this situation. Currently each year heads of departments are written to requesting they notify the Occupational Health Unit of what staff members in their departments are exposed to which hazards. It has been established that those requests for information from heads of departments are not effective.

The committee requested that F Grant organise a time and date for a sub group to meet to discuss new Health monitoring guidelines. The subgroup should include Steve Guggenheimer, Radiation Protection Officer who is responsible for health monitoring for radiation hazards. The main issues for the sub group to address are, what health monitoring is appropriate and how should the monitoring be paid for as well as an effective mechanism for identifying which staff members require monitoring.

6.6 Safety responsibilities in position descriptions

The committee members were requested to send their comments on this issue to G Suckling who would forward them to J McQuillan for action. The revised content of the position descriptions should be submitted at the next committee meeting. If the committee agrees with the content it shall be adopted by the committee and the relevant bodies notified to take action. For positions such as BEC’s and First Aiders which are elected positions and not covered by a position description the responsibilities will be specified in the letter of confirmation sent to staff.

7. SafetyMAP update

An additional paper was tabled at the meeting. The Chair of this committee has reported his concerns to council. Particularly the University being behind its accreditation schedule and the lack of commitment and awareness in senior staff. It will take additional effort for the University to meet its revised time table. The planning and budgets committee have adopted the recommendation that in 1999 the WorkCover levy be set at 1.0% for faculties involved in the SafetyMAP program who do not meet their audit responsibilities and 0.5% for all other areas. When the faculties achieve accreditation on time they will receive a rebate of the 0.5% WorkCover levy.

8. Environmental Audit Report

The committee received a verbal report from G Suckling. The University was due to have its Environmental Management System frame work audited in July this year. However, due to a lack of Environmental Auditors this has been postponed until the end of October. An audit of the environmental management system documentation should occur in early 1999.

9. Occupational Health and Safety Manual update

The update of the occupational health and safety manual is about 60% complete. Unfortunately the complete manual will not be available for review by the committee at the next meeting.

10. Health and Safety Representatives

10.1 Report from Health and Safety Representative Meeting

There were no issues to report from the Health and Safety Representative meetings.

11. Fume Cupboard Management Plan Status Report

The committee noted that action has been taken over several months, however, there was still a breakdown in communication regarding the status of fume cupboards. Heads of departments and laboratory managers will now be notified of the results of fume cupboard testing when those results are available, not when all University wide testing has been completed. The new labels specify the face velocity of the fume cupboards, but users often do not know what the face velocity should be. Laboratory managers are still not able to make decisions about how sub standards cabinets could be used. J Colebatch was asked to follow up on these issues.

12. Construction Site Safety Working Party

The minutes of the recent meeting of the construction site safety working party were noted by the committee.

13. Any Other Business

All electrical appliances plugged into University buildings are required to be tested regularly by a competent electrician as stated in an Australian Standard. The Australian standard covers kitchens and offices as well as laboratories. The Office of the Chief Electrical Inspector had suggested that an "A" grade electrician would be considered competent to undertake such testing. The committee agreed to ascertain the costs and viability of such testing and decide what policy should be set for the University.

Many more health and safety representatives would like to attend the Occupational Health and safety committee meetings. It was decided that there was strength in continuity of the health and safety representatives attending the meeting. However, the committee should make use of the available expertise of the health and safety representatives. Health and Safety representatives should attend the meeting if they have a special interest in a particular safety matter. The committee members also noted that if the committee has too many members the meeting discussion is stifled or takes too long. The sub group for structure and reporting (4.8) was asked to consider this.

The meeting closed at 4.05 pm.

The next meeting will be held on Tuesday 20 October, 1998 at 2.15 pm in Conference Room 1, Old Physics Building.