Sharing of Headsets: A risk to health and safety - Public Service Association

Sharing of Headsets: A risk to health and safety

Sharing of headsets - Nov 2019 (PDF version)

The following is for our members located in the Collection Centre.

A number of members have contacted the PSA regarding an announcement made without consultation regarding the new practice of sharing headsets.

Under the WHS Act, the Employer has a duty of care to provide and maintain a physical work environment that is without risk to the health and safety of workers.

The Employer is also required to consult with workers when proposing changes that may affect the health and safety of workers.

The sharing of headsets goes against best practice in every code and guideline that details working in a call centre environment. The recommendation from SafeWork (as per the 2003 WorkCover Health and Safety Guidelines for Call Centres in NSW) states that for adequate infection control, the sharing of headsets should be avoided, and appropriate cleaning and maintenance procedures implemented. It has not been explained why the sharing of headset has not been avoided, or whether the provision of wipes is an appropriate cleaning or maintenance procedure to reduce the risk of infection.

In addition, the Australian Government Comcare Guide to Safe Work in Call Centres states that good practice in hygiene is to maintain individual headsets.

It is not clear why Revenue NSW has gone against clear best practice when it comes to the staff in the Collection Centre.

Additionally, members have reported that there are currently staff with infectious diseases off work, highlighting a real risk to health and safety that could be exacerbated by sharing headsets.

The PSA reminds members that they have a right to cease unsafe work under section 84 of the WHS Act (2011). The unsafe work in this instance would be the sharing of headsets, members must remain available to perform other duties, or perform their regular duties with safe individual equipment.

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