Warren asks: I’ve been called in for a meeting tomorrow morning. They say it’s because I haven’t followed safety procedures at work as I wasn’t wearing my goggles. I just forgot. He’s being pretty heavy handed I reckon as I only would've‘ needed them on for about 5 minutes anyway. What can I do?
Hi Warren. I’m going to answer this question in two parts.
Firstly let’s talk about the meeting. If you’re a member of a union speak to your delegate and ask them to come to the meeting with you. That’s the most important thing. If you’re not a member of a union, is there someone you can think of who could come with you as a support person? They wouldn’t be able to represent you but they can take notes for you of what’s said at the meeting. Having someone there will also help if you’re feeling nervous. Just a word of advice though about how to choose a support person; you need to ask someone who isn’t going to want to speak up and give their opinion and someone you can rely on listen well and take good notes. Email your boss that you would like to take someone in. Then if they should not allow you to do so, you have a written record of it.
I’d make a list for myself of points I wanted to raise at the meeting – I don’t know about you, but when I’m nervous I sometimes forget to ask questions or mention things I meant to bring up.
If you’re given a letter to sign you have the right to take it away with you to read and perhaps get some advice about before signing. A good rule of thumb is not to sign anything you disagree with. If you’re made to sign it on the spot, note on the letter anything you disagree with and that you’re signing it on the spot. Put the date in and then sign it. You’re also entitled to a copy for your records. Why not give us a call on our toll free number 1300 486 466? We can go into more details with you and give you some free, confidential advice. We can also have a chat to you about how to go about joining a union so you have that security in the future.
Now to the second part of my answer. Don’t for a minute think I’m taking the side of your boss, but it’s vital for your own well-being that safety procedures and guidelines are followed. I completely understand that you just forgot to put on your goggles and that you’d only have needed them for 5 minutes – but 5 minutes is more than enough time to severely injure yourself, perhaps even losing your sight in an accident. You don’t mention what work you do, but if you’ve been given protective goggles I assume it involves risks of some kind. Please Warren in future put your safety first – It’s vital, especially in industries such as metals, manufacturing, construction or mining. Ask any union delegate or OHS rep - they’re often among the first on the scene when there’s been an accident at a worksite and they’ve often been witness to just what can happen. You’re too important to your family and mates to put yourself in danger.
Ok, lecture over. We’ve covered a fair bit of ground here so do give us a call if you need to go over anything. And of course it goes without saying that the number 1 thing you can do to protect yourself at work for the future is join a union – and we’d be very happy to get that process started for you.
All the best with everything,