In Victoria there is much anticipation about the introduction of Industrial Manslaughter (IM) laws to the Parliament. Yesterday Minister for Workplace Safety Jill Hennessy and others hosted a meeting for some prominent IM advocates and trade unionists. Part of the reason for the meeting was that this week was the tentative date for the introduction of the IM laws to Parliament. The latest strong rumour is the Victorian Government has privately conceded that the Bill will not pass this year as expected and the Premier is moving to Plan B.
Following on from the product safety theme in yesterday’s article, it is noted that the Australian Treasury has opened a consultation phase on improving the effectiveness of the Consumer Product Safety System. The report makes specific reference to workplace health and safety laws.
This consultation is a direct result of the recent review of Australian Consumer Law:
“The Australian Consumer Law Review final report recommended the introduction of a General Safety Provision (GSP) into the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) requiring traders to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of a product before selling it onto the market.”page 7
The GSP has similarities to the duties of the PCBU (person conducting a business or undertaking) under the model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws.
Last week the Australian Government accepted the recommendations of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) about improving the safety of quad bikes. But the improvement in safety came not through occupational health and safety (OHS) laws but the Australian Consumer Law so how could the ACL help improve workplace health and safety further? After a quick look at how the quad bike recommendations have been received, the potential of the ACL is considered in relation to silicosis.
One important stage in improving the safety of farm vehicles was completed on October 10 2019 with the acceptance by the Australian Government of recommendations to make Operator-Protection Devices (OPD) mandatory for all quad bikes in Australia. That decision is a substantial achievement that many have lobbied, and fought, over for many years, but it will not save every farmer’s life as quad bike use has always only ever been one part of the occupational health and safety (OHS) risks on farms.
The Australian Government’s recent announcements on this issue have also been a little odd.
In support of World Mental Health Day, SafetyAtWorkBlog has opened access to several mental health and suicide prevention articles for a limited time.