James Hardie directors face the consequences of their poor decisions

SafetyAtWorkBlog has kept a watchful eye on the long saga involving the directors of James Hardie Industries and their mishandling of a compensation fund specifically established for victims of the company’s asbestos products.  The compensation fund story has been handled well by Gideon Haigh in his book on the company. The saga has since evolved … Continue reading “James Hardie directors face the consequences of their poor decisions”

The forgotten Royal Commission

Australia conducted a Royal Commission in to the Esso Gas Plant explosion at Longford. Two people died and most of Victoria was without gas for around two weeks.  The Royal Commission lead to a best-selling book by Professor Andrew Hopkins. In 2010, four young men died while installing home insulation as part of a government …

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OHS and public health at The Coal Face

The Hazelwood mine fire has faded from the memory of most Victorians following the Parliamentary inquiry but not so for those who continue to live in the Latrobe Valley and with the health consequences of the fire.  Tom Doig has written a short book on the incident and its consequences that will put pressure on … Continue reading “OHS and public health at The Coal Face”

Whitlam’s dismissal diverted workers compensation reform

In October 2014, one of Australia’s Prime Ministers, Gough Whitlam, died at the age of 98.  Whitlam introduced major social reforms, many which still exist today (just).  One reform he valued but was not able to achieve was a national accident compensation scheme. It is worth noting when reading of the current economic and moral arguments over … Continue reading “Whitlam’s dismissal diverted workers compensation reform”

Fear of exposure rather than pride in their work

“Due diligence” is an established business management concept that only recently came to be applied to occupational health and safety (OHS) in Australia through the Work Health and Safety (WHS) harmonisation process.  It’s credibility comes from the Corporations Act, principally, but also Consumer Protection and, partly, Environmental laws. The attention given by OHS/WHS professionals and …

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Moral conflicts in store for Australian politicians and bureaucrats

2014 is going to present tough challenges to Australia’s politicians and corporate leaders.  The Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program, in particular, is going to illustrate and perhaps generate ideological conflict. The Home Insulation Program (HIP) was established quickly to address a looming economic crisis.  Politicians and business leaders wanted Australia to avoid the global recession … Continue reading “Moral conflicts in store for Australian politicians and bureaucrats”

Chronic asbestos deaths, sudden mining disasters – both indicate deep corporate problems

It is less than a week until the premiere of Devil’s Dust, a movie about asbestos in Australia and the corporate maneuverings of James Hardie Industries to minimise its exposure to compensation claims but its lessons spread beyond asbestos to politics, corporate responsibility and individual morality. In a recent article on the movie, the depiction of then New … Continue reading “Chronic asbestos deaths, sudden mining disasters – both indicate deep corporate problems”

Devil’s Dust – Australian movie on asbestos and corporate morality

On November 11 and 12 2012, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation will broadcast “Devil’s Dust”, a two-part movie about asbestos in Australia.  This is not a documentary on asbestos-related diseases.  It follows the story of investigative journalist Matt Peacock from the 1970s to the present day in parallel with the corporate machinations of James Hardie Industries … Continue reading “Devil’s Dust – Australian movie on asbestos and corporate morality”

Who would buy asbestos?

A busy mum, two little kids playing on the carpet in the corridor.  She is busy pulling out an old gas heater from the cavity in the wall.  Dust everywhere.  She wants to recreate the old fashioned open fireplace that was there.  The job will take a few days, she’s not in a hurry.    Then … Continue reading “Who would buy asbestos?”

The “Triffid defence” applied to asbestos

At the end of The Day of The Triffids, John Wyndham, had mankind living on the Isle of Wight, making sure that Triffids did not infest the island.  Tasmania has a similar mindset as can be seen by its diligence on keeping the land free of foxes but that is keeping out a hazard.  The greater challenge is renewing … Continue reading “The “Triffid defence” applied to asbestos”