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AWU leads the way on safety at Alcoa

May 6, 2020

Alcoa has agreed to work alongside AWU Health and Safety Representatives and Delegates to trial alternatives of the Racal 3M Airstream helmet due to it being discontinued by its manufacturer. The company has also agreed to put a contingency plan in place at its Portland smelter to ensure member safety is not comprised before a new and comparable replacement can found.

AWU Assistant National Secretary, Misha Zelinsky said that putting members safety first would always be top priority for the union.

“This piece of equipment is incredibly important to AWU members at Alcoa Portland, and it’s vital that any replacement protects our members just as well. AWU members making aluminium are exposed to all sorts of airborne contaminants and it’s absolutely essential that we get this right.”

“It’s disappointing that dealing with this problem has been left to the last minute, but it’s positive that we are now working together to get it fixed.”

Alcoa will hold regular consultation meetings with AWU members, delegates and officials. Starting this week, Alcoa will begin drawing up a list of alternatives which will be reviewed union members and officials. Group trials will proceed with HSRs and Union Delegates also taking part in the physical trial.

Alcoa safety experts will work with the AWU to assess the merits and/or the adverse affects of any alternative helmet and provide members with an opportunity to express their views on equipment. This will include how the alternatives measure up with wearability, comfort, level of protection from fumes, and their size and weight.

AWU Victorian Branch Secretary, Ben Davis said that while time was of the essence, there could be no excuse for cutting corners when it comes to member safety at Alcoa and that it was vital for members to have their say.

“Our members wear these masks day in day out and it’s critical that they get their say over any replacement. We will be keeping a very close eye to ensure there are no shortcuts and that health and safety is the key driver in finding the right replacement.”

It is hoped that a viable alternative will be found before stocks of the 3M helmet run out.

Join the AWU today to ensure worker health and safety is a priority across your workplace.

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