Working with electricity can be a dangerous business, and your safety on the job is our highest priority. This section gives you an overview of health and safety at work, guidelines for apprentice supervision on the job - and the support available should something go wrong.
Occupational Health and Safety
Safety is our number-one priority, and it should be yours too.
In Victoria, workers are protected by their unions and the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Every year, more Australians die or are injured through industrial accidents than in road accidents. Young workers account for a higher proportion of accidents in the workplace, due to the fact that they often do not have the training required to perform tasks nor have the experience to recognise the risks.
Working in a safe environment is a basic human right – and for years, the ETU has been fighting to have this right protected by law. It is your employer’s responsibility to provide a safe and healthy environment, and you have the legal right to refuse to work in any unsafe situation.
Safe and healthy workplaces don’t just happen. They are made through the efforts of ETU members, delegates and officials working together. Many workplaces employing ETU members have specialised OHS Representatives, who are trained to recognise unsafe practices and know what to do to get things fixed. When you join the ETU, you gain access to help and advice about workplace safety issues and the comfort of knowing that, if you are injured at work, your Union will help you with your Workers’ Compensation claim.
"Shop Stewards from the Union are on site, and they're looking after you - and if they see you doing something they consider unsafe, they're the first one to let you know. You learn, you listen, you find your place, and you know what you've got to do."
2nd Year Contracting Apprentice
Don't risk it!
Electricity isn’t child’s play. Don’t risk your safety, and always wear appropriate clothing and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Every year, 20 electrical workers die from work-related accidents in Australia, and each month a dozen are injured. Workplace safety is about avoiding human tragedy. Occupational Health and Safety laws exist to keep you safe – and when the correct safety, training and supervision procedures are followed, accidents can be prevented.
Energy Safe Victoria issues Supervision Guidelines for Electrical Apprentices. These set the guidelines for each year of your apprenticeship, the tasks that you can perform, and the level of supervision required.
Stay safe, and make sure you adhere to the Supervision Guidelines – it’s your life in your hands.
You can download the Guidelines from Energy Safe Victoria. If you have any concerns about your supervision or if you are asked to work outside of the Supervision Guidelines, please contact an ETU Organiser immediately.
"Remember, these procedures have come about because someone has been killed or seriously injured as a result of an accident."
Qualified Adult Apprentice
Never be afraid to ask
Electrical apprentices routinely work in high-risk environments. When you’re working with electricity, not knowing what you’re doing can be fatal – not just to you, but also to your co-workers and to users in the future. Your job as an apprentice is to learn – so if you can’t do something, get someone to show you.
‘LIVE WORK’ only for 3rd and 4th years
Live Work is working on or within 500mm (about 18 inches) of a live electrical component or part. The Supervision Guidelines prohibit apprentices from working live, with the exception of 3rd and 4th Year apprentices, who may fault-find under direct supervision.
WorkSafe is the Victorian Government agency responsible for overseeing the workers’ compensation and injury management system.
WorkSafe is responsible for:
- helping to prevent workplace injuries from occurring;
- enforcing Victoria’s occupational health and safety laws;
- providing reasonably priced workplace injury insurance for employers;
- helping injured workers get back into the workforce.
You are entitled to compensation if you suffer a work-related injury, because the ETU along with other unions fought for many years to get decent compensation for workers. However, the State Government has made it harder for workers to get fair access to compensation and easier for insurance companies to get out of paying. That’s why you should never go through the WorkSafe system on your own.
Your Union ticket is all you need to ensure that if you have an accident, you are well looked after through professional legal advice and representation. The Union has access to a law firm with years of experience and expertise in dealing with cases in this field. We recommend that you don’t seek advice elsewhere, as Workers’ Compensation law is complex and constantly changing.
We understand that being on compensation is difficult for many workers. We may not be able to fix the pain, but we’re here to make sure that you’re not ripped off in any way.
Can I choose my own doctor?
If you’re injured at work, you have the right to be treated by the doctor of your choice. You also have the right to change your treating doctors if you desire.
Are you getting bullied at work?
Bullying can happen in any workplace. It can have an impact on an individual’s health and affect their ability to do their job. Just because you’re an apprentice, doesn’t mean you have to put up with this kind of abuse. If you have any bullying concerns, please contact an ETU Organiser.