In May 2013 Fiona Austin (@upfrontfi) a lawyer with the Australian law firm, Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF), tweeted:
“Great win in the Supreme Court! No more naming and shaming for health and safety offenders in Queensland”
The Supreme Court decision is an appalling situation over which OHS professionals and regulators should be outraged.
Austin and other HSF lawyers authored a longer article on the case and totally miss the point of why OHS offenders should be named. Shaming of offenders is a different matter.
The article explains how a decision under the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (Qld) may stop the OHS regulator in Queensland, Work Health and Safety Queensland, from listing the names of offenders on its website. More…
Today Australia hosts a No2Bullying conference. It is a timely conference as the debate on Australia’s changes to the Fair Work Act in relation to workplace bullying heats up.
Lawyer Josh Bornstein is particularly critical of the politicisation of the amendments and believes this increases the instability or remedies available to victims of workplace bullying by increasing pressure on under-resourced OHS regulators.
The amendments are unlikely to reduce the incidence of workplace bullying in Australia as they address post-incident circumstances.
As the new legislation is being passed through Parliament, the industrial relations, political and legal context will dominate the media, More…
Recently New Zealand stole some of Australia’s thunder on quad bike safety when, according to one media report, one of the country’s state-owned enterprises, Landcorp Farming Limited decided it:
“…will not be using quad bikes on its new farms, and is limiting use of the vehicles elsewhere, as it looks for a safer and more suitable alternative.”
The differing positions on quad bike safety mirror the Australian debate. Landcorp will remove or limit the use of quad bikes just as did the New South Wales’ National Parks & Wildlife Service. The Motor Industry Association argues against crush protection devices just as has the FCAI in Australia. Charley Lamb of Lincoln University echoes Australian academic researchers and believes:
“The argument that rollover protection killed riders was “rubbish”. More…
On 28 April 2013, New Zealand lawyer, Hazel Armstrong, published a 48-page book on how workplace fatalities and the management of the NZ rail industry has been related to politics and economics.
This is an ideological position more than anything else and the evidence is thin in much of this short book but there is considerable power in the description of the manipulation of occupational health and safety regulations and oversight during the political privatisation of the NZ rail sector. Many countries have privatised previously nationalised, or government-owned, enterprises usually on the argument of productivity and efficiency increases. Armstrong argues that these arguments were used to justify breaking the trade union dominance of the rail industry. More…
In May 2013, Workcover Queensland supported the government’s intention to change the definition of worker to match that of the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). The definition re-emphasises the significance of the employer/employee relationship. Workplace health and safety laws through most of Australia have recently changed to remove the reliance on the employer/employee relationship with the intention of clarifying the lines of responsibility for preventing harm. The diversity between workers’ compensation and OHS definitions unnecessarily complicates the management of a worker’s health through the linear experience of employment.
The government believes such changes will reduce “red tape” but only in the narrow context of workers compensation. The Work Health and Safety Act expands the definition of worker but another piece of legislation in the same State restricts it. Inconsistencies of concepts are likely to lead to duplications, confusion and arguments that may generate as much unnecessary business and legal costs as the initiatives were intended to save. More…
This week in Australia the conservative Liberal Party released its much-anticipated industrial relations policy. Most commentary is that the policy is thin but in terms of occupational health and safety, the Liberal Party is supportive of the changes made concerning workplace bullying. Sadly, the commentary is often lazy.
One example of a careless headline is in the Herald Sun newspaper for 11 May 2013, “$20 million Budget boost to stop workplace bullying“. The Australian Government’s changes to the Fair Work Act do not prevent bullying, it only provides further options for remedy. OHS is principally about preventing harm and the Fair Work Act changes do not help in this aim. More…
Just over a week after Australia’s national safety authority, Safe Work Australia, slammed the quad bike and all terrain vehicle manufacturers over shortsightedness on safety, Honda MPE has sent legal correspondence to an Australian manufacturer of crush protection devices (CPD), Quadbar Industries, over the wording of a sticker.
In the letter Peter Cash of Norton Rose Australia says that his client HondaMPE believes that a sticker on each Quadbar identified as a “compliance plate” may misled or deceive ”members of the public and, in particular, prospective purchasers of your device”, and potential purchasers of Honda quad bikes.
The wording of the sticker is:
Certification/ fitment contact
Manufacturer 118 Industries
7 Margaret St Clifton, Qld Aust. More…
Below is a guest post from long time SafetyAtWorkBlog reader, Marian Macdonald.
Workplace Access & Safety height safety consultant Aaron Carratello on a walkway built for access to HVAC equipment at Mt Eliza Business School
It was when Simon Murray put himself in the witness box and imagined what a judge would say that investing in walkways and guardrails became a ‘no brainer’.
The property and facility manager of the Melbourne Business School was faced with an important decision: whether to install extra roof anchors and static lines or shift towards more passive forms of fall prevention.
Roof anchors were cheaper initially, while the walkways and guardrails offered a far lower lifetime cost but, in the end, price was not the issue.
“A judge would ask whether we had done what was ‘reasonably practicable’,” Mr Murray says, “and if we’d only installed roof anchors and static lines to reach our HVAC equipment, the answer would have been ‘no’.” More…
The May 2013 National Safety magazine has an article on safety leadership by Australia lawyer, Michael Tooma. It is a terrific article but it also highlights the lack of case studies of the practical reality of safety leadership in Australia and the great distance still required to improve safety. Tooma starts the article with
“It is widely recognised that strong safety leadership is integral to work, health and safety performance in any organisation.” [emphasis added]
Later he writes
“There is little doubt that safety leadership is a prerequisite to a positive safety culture in any organisation.”
These equivocations may indicate authorial caution on the part of Michael Tooma but they could illustrate that the role of safety leadership still remains open to question. More…
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