For several years, members from the Ballarat State Emergency Communications Centre (BalSECC) have been notifying Ambulance Victoria (AV) of their safety concerns in relation to workload. A lack of satisfactory progress in response to these concerns resulted in the matter being referred to WorkSafe as a breach of Section 21 (1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004.                        

(1) an employer must, so far as is reasonably practicable, provide and maintain for employees of the employer a working environment that is safe and without risks to health.

(2) Without limiting sub-section if the employer fails to do any of the following – (a) provide or maintain plant or systems of work that are, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health;”

Members were interviewed by WorkSafe inspectors over several hours and provided information on the Clinician workload and systems of work. Employees were interviewed and reported the following:

  • workload is excessive and during nightshift there is no time to have adequate rest breaks as there is only one clinician on shift.
  • Clinicians have at times needed to take the phone into the bathroom to be available when it rings
  • Not being able to get to all calls because when more than one call comes in at the same time only one Clinician available to answer on night shift
  • Concerns about excessive workload and the risks associated with this have been communicated to management repeatedly over the years and no safe system was yet found to be in place.

AV were found to be in breach of the above sections of the Act and they have until; 1700hrs, 1 September 2022 to make relevant changes, in order to provide a safe work environment and safe working systems for Clinicians in BalSECC up to and including:

  • increasing resources for a night shift,
  • routinely monitoring job demands and taking remedial action as required,
  • implementing controls based on the review, consultation, and workload data and
  • ensuring adequate breaks are taken by Clinicians

VAU members in BalSECC are to be congratulated for taking this matter forward to WorkSafe and using the OHS legislation to achieve improvements in their working conditions.

VAU members will be kept informed.