The nature of news/media reporting is that any story must be topical, but the nature of occupational health and safety (OHS) is that topicality is stretched over years of investigation or it stutters over time when a new bit of information is available. This has been the case with the aftermath of the deaths of four people at the Dreamworld theme park in Queensland and there is a strong likelihood that other topical news, such as the possible pandemic of CORVID-19, will mask the important management issues of Dreamworld.
In 2018/19 one of Australia’s Senate Committees looked at the mental health of emergency responders. The final report was handed down in February 2019 and the government’s response has been released today, twelve months later (?!). Lucky the government delayed as it allowed the Response to mention the 2019/20 bushfires even though this was outside the timeline of the Committee’s inquiry.
Emergency Responders, as do frontline soldiers, face unique psychological risks from their duties, so there are some recommendations that are difficult for those outside the sector to relate to but looking at the Response gives an insight into the thinking about occupational health and safety (OHS), and especially workplace mental health risks, of the Australian government. That thinking may be summarised by the Government supporting only one of the fourteen recommendations, noting five of them and supporting “in principle” the rest.
On 25 February 2020, I spoke at a breakfast seminar at the Ballarat Regional Occupational Safety & Health Group (BROSH) on emerging OHS risks and strategies. Below is an edited version of that talk, which touched on CORVID19, bushfire smoke, sexual harassment, mental health, safety culture and communication:
Industrial Manslaughter laws will come into effect in Victoria in the middle of this year. Anyone who thinks these laws may relate to their workplace or how their businesses are run, should be afraid. But they should also be ashamed. If they are worried about going to jail because their OHS decisions may be negligent, they are not managing the safety and health of their workers in the way the law intended, or the Regulator and the community expects. They should be ashamed.
If you need an authoritative and informative speaker on workplace health and safety for your event, or just good, practical OHS advice, email Kevin Jones
Late yesterday the Queensland Minister for Industrial Relations, Grace Grace, issued a media statement that clarified the work health and safety (WHS) prosecution process that is likely to apply to Ardent Leisure, the owner of Dreamworld. Significantly she clarified the Coroner’s Findings and the misinformation of some media outlets. Ardent Leisure has issued a statement in support of safety improvements.
Today, the Queensland Coroner, James McDougall, handed down his findings into the deaths of four people at Dreamworld in 2018. The findings show major breaches of Queensland’s work health and safety (WHS) laws so why is the mainstream media saying Ardent Leisure, the owner of Dreamworld, could be prosecuted under industrial relations laws?