As Sydney’s south west and eastern suburbs register air quality readings of ‘poor’ and ‘very poor’, the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) is advising members to down tools to protect their health if they are affected by smoke from hazard reduction burns.
“Nobody should be forced to compromise their health to do their job,” said ETU NSW Secretary, Allen Hicks. “In large swathes of Sydney today, air quality is a threat to the health of people working outdoors. Those workers need to know if their employer can’t protect them from smoke exposure they have the right to stop work.
“Smoke from hazard reduction burns can badly irritate the eyes and throat. Bushfire smoke also contains particles which can affect lung health, particularly for people who already suffer from conditions such as asthma or emphysema.
“These particles can place extra stress on the heart – leading to increased risk of heart attack.
“We have informed our members that they should protect their health and stop work if they are concerned about exposure to hazard reduction smoke in their workplace. We are actively monitoring this situation.
“Under state and federal laws all workers have a right to stop work if their employer can’t provide a safe workplace.”