SDA calls for more protections in the Work Health and Safety Amendment

April 23, 2024 News

Justin Power, SDA State Secretary

In January 2024 SDA Industrial Officer Darryn Gaffy and I addressed the Queensland Education, Employment and Training Committee in a Public Hearing about the Work Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2023.

We took the opportunity to address our submission, supporting the already proposed amendments while pressing some further potential amendments on behalf of SDA members working in retail, warehousing and fast food.

The first suggested amendment was legislated access to safe and free car parking. Retail and Fast Food workers lose a significant chunk of their take-home pay to paid parking, or alternatively have to find a carpark off site – which, after dark, leaves someone’s Mother, Daughter, Son or Father wandering the streets (sometimes lit, sometimes not) late at night, perhaps in fear of their safety.

If shopping centres were required to provide free, safe, lit parking for the employees within those centres, then those workers could leave work feeling a lot safer and their families not have to worry about them.

The second suggested amendment was in relation to customer abuse and violence. We pressed to the committee the importance of legislating to make it the employers direct responsibility to protect their employees from customer abuse and to have them introduce deterrent and protective measures.

This is a serious issue for retail and fast food workers, with a recent survey revealing 87% have suffered verbal abuse, 76% on a regular basis.

Many employers have already been doing the right thing by introducing protections like body cameras and customer messaging.

Some employers have even introduced security guards to protect their employees, but this is generally after a traumatic event and is very rarely a long-term measure.

This is seriously affecting the mental health of our essential frontline workers with 63% of survey respondents reporting suffering from physical and/or emotional health impacts from customer abuse and violence.

These are issues the SDA feels very strongly about and we will keep coming back to them until employees, all employees, can go to work and feel safe. They should not have to choose between their work and wellbeing.