Nurses and midwives are entitled to a healthy and safe workplace and to compensation and rehabilitation if they are injured at work. The ANF expects employers to ensure the health and safety of their employees at work and calls on all governments to enact and enforce laws providing for the highest standards of workplace safety.
Nursing and midwifery is the profession with the highest exposure to workplace violence; further, there is a continually high incidence of back injury in nursing, especially in aged care where no lift policies remain non-compulsory.
A new national occupational health and safety and workers’ compensation body has been created called Safe Work Australia (SWA). SWA will have a role, among other things, in developing the model OHS laws. While the ANF welcomes the new body, the ANF is concerned that the provision for representation of workers on SWA is inadequate.
The ANF also calls for:
- The Australian Government to fund a national strategy to combat the incidents of violence and aggression toward nurses and other health care workers;
- Fund a national no lift strategy in health, aged care and community care;
- Governments to adequately resource their OHS inspectorates and ensure that they actively enforce OHS laws.
- No lifting
- Workers' compensation and rehabilitation for injured and ill nurses and midwives
- Bullying in the workplace
- Fatigue prevention
- Smoke-free work environment
- Workplace stress prevention
For further information on model laws see:
Preventing needlestick injuries in the healthcare workplace
The ANF is a member of the Alliance for Sharps Safety and Needlestick Prevention in Healthcare formed to call for urgent action to prevent needlestick injuries in the workplace.
In 2007 the federal ALP government introduced a temporary stop to the scheme which allows large employers to move from state workers’ compensation schemes to the national scheme Comcare, leaving many workers with decreased benefits and a loss of their basic rights. The Federal Government has still not yet announced its ongoing position on Comcare. The ANF calls for an end to the scheme allowing employers to move to Comcare, and instead for workers’ compensation schemes that deliver the best possible benefits and opportunities for rehabilitation to injured workers
Take Action: if you aren’t a member, join the ANF - the best way you can improve your health and safety at work is through membership with the ANF, the largest nursing and midwifery organisation or email the ANF Industrial Team.