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HSR News May 2023 | IWMD, WHS Act Review, HSR stories

International Workers’ Memorial Day


On Friday 28 April workers and families across the country solemnly gathered for International Workers’ Memorial Day.

We gather on this day to acknowledge, remember, and pay our respect to those we have lost and those who have suffered serious injuries or illnesses as a result of work – and also to renew our commitment to continue to fight for better health and safety laws for all.

Here in Brisbane, we came together at Emma Miller Place to remember those loved ones who have been killed or injured in their employment.

At least 21 Queensland workers were killed from work-related incidents, as well as six further bystanders in the past 12 months (1 March 2022 – 28 February 2023). These included six workers killed in the construction industry, seven in agriculture, four in transport, postal and warehousing, and four in manufacturing. 27 in total and 27 too many.

IMG_1534A further two workplace deaths included Constable Rachel McCrow and constable Matthew Arnold who were murdered late last year performing their duties at a rural property at the Western Downs, and who were only 29 and 26 years old.

These numbers do not include deaths caused by road traffic incidents, suicide, and other fatalities in the mining, quarrying, national rail and other Commonwealth health and safety jurisdictions.

They also do not include the number of workers who were seriously injured or suffering from fatal or debilitating injuries, illnesses, and diseases as a result of work.

This is why it is important that we continue to build and support Health and Safety Reps in the workplace and continue to fight for and maintain strong work health and safety laws.

Having Health and Safety Representatives in the workplace, makes for a safer workplace. Every worker has the right to go to work and return home safely each and every day.


Review of the WHS Act – Recommendations

In 2022, the Queensland Government facilitated an independent review of Queensland’s Work Health and Safety Act.

Part of that review included the QCU and affiliate unions who participate in the QCU WHS committee providing submissions to the Independent Reviewers recommending improvements to the legislative framework, after consulting with workers/HSRs, conducting surveys, and through regular discussions with representatives from various industries. The principal focus of the review was to improve the rights, functions and protections of Health and Safety Reps.

We are pleased to announce the report recommendations have now been published. You can access and read these recommendations at Work Health and Safety Act 2011 review | Office of Industrial Relations (

The report identifies there are areas of improvement within the Act to help better support Health and Safety Representatives in undertaking their important role.

A number of these recommendations include:WHS Act recs

Bec WeigelFEATURE: “I am an HSR and this is my story so far…”

My name is Bec Weigel, and I am proud to be the Health and Safety Rep for my work group.

I have been employed by Virgin Australia Airlines now for 13 years, in the role of Senior Cabin Crew Member. In addition to my job role and the role of HSR, I am also a Delegate and proud member of the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU).

It has now been 12 months since I was elected HSR for my work group. I took on this role because the aviation industry is a safety critical environment and there are so many things (I believe) we are entitled to through the WHS legislation.

The work I do is shift work; it is a 24-hour, 7 day a week operation. We find ourselves dealing with psychosocial injuries in conjunction with the physical injuries that occur from the manual handling and the vibrational environment that comes with the role of cabin crew.

Our workplace health and safety structures are limited and are demonstrated through our Health and Safety Committee. The HSC meets once a month where issues are raised, updates provided on workplace injuries and investigations carried out on areas that need improvement.

To improve health and safety in our workplace we need to work together with the PCBU. In my opinion to be successful in making my workplace a safer working environment, the PCBU needs to support the HSRs.

The HSRs eager to engage should be supported instead of feeling they are getting push back and being made to
feel like we are a threat to the business, instead of an ally.

“Work with us”, I say. Work with us in creating a safe and constructive space to learn, grow and improve together.

Currently in our Brisbane Cabin Crew, we have five HSRs – three of those are TWU Delegates – and for our work group, at present, this number of HSRs is sufficient.

Having an adequate number of HSRs for our work group is great; however, the recognition of our role by the PCBU could improve.

I believe they do not support us or respect us in our role and unfortunately this has created a bit of push back when we have asked for things we are entitled to under legislation – i.e., tools and resources to effectively do our duties as an HSR.

In closing we asked Bec her thoughts on the new Psychosocial Code of Practice (COP)/Regulation and this is what she had to say….

I know about the new code, and I understand it to a degree, but I still would like to learn more about applying it to my workplace.

I think it has been a long time coming and that it will create a massive impact.

When I joined the company all those years ago, I knew I would miss out on weekends, events, and holidays with the family because that was the nature of the job, but that we would also be remunerated for it in our pay rate and bonuses back then.

Now unfortunately the cost of living has skyrocketed but our work conditions and wages have been stripped as we were unfortunate enough to have gone into administration during the same time as the pandemic.

Now we are seeing the effects of that: crew morale is at an all-time low, people are tired, they’re over worked and underpaid…it’s all taking its toll.

The new code will hold the employers accountable for what those work pressures, workloads, long hours, minimal rest are doing to the mental health of their crew.

[If you would like to share your story in upcoming editions, contact Kylie at]

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