I thank Michael Eburn for this article but add the following comment. As a professional emergency services officer – I understand the intent of this article.
Under WH&S law, the worker has the right to cease work if a risk (in this case, fatigue) exists, and rightly so.
Unfortunately, the demand for service doesn’t cease, and response times are extended by responding resources from neighbouring areas or towns, and thus increasing the workload and fatigue levels of those officers. It’s a no win situation.
The Ambulance Service of NSW and the Health Services Union (HSU) have been in ongoing dispute over the introduction of new rosters for rural ambulance stations. I understand that the current roster has paramedics working for 12 hours on, then 12 hours off but during the ‘off’ period they are ‘on call’ and liable to be called back to work during which time they are paid ‘overtime’. The ambulance service proposes to introduce 8 hour day and afternoon shifts so officers work shorter hours, but the effect is that their period ‘on call’ will be longer and they will get less consecutive days off to reflect the fact that they are working shorter hours. Before the NSW Industrial Relations Commission the HSU argued ‘At the present time, ambulance officers enjoy 4 x 4 shifts (4 days work, 4 days off work). This will change to a roster pattern of…
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