Workplace safety usually gets little attention from mainstream press. Until recently, with the growth of online specialist content, trade publications covered OHS events, but the lead time made the news events of historical interest more than something that generated enthusiasm or outrage.
Last weekend the Australian Labor Party in Victoria held its annual conference in Melbourne. The Premier, John Brumby, stated that workplace safety was of continuing high concern to his government. This comment was reported nowhere other than the Sunday night (25 May 2008 ) news bulletin of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
The ABC news website has mentioned other comments that the Premier made at the conference:
“It’s vital for workers and for occupational health and safety representatives that they can raise safety issues without suffering recrimination or discrimination,” he said. “Because if people can’t speak up, then people’s lives can be put at risk.”
The comment is very welcome but why make such a statement now? Has an OHS whistleblowing incident happened recently? No. Has the issue been a sore political point? No.
Given that neither the ALP or the Premier’s office has released the Premier’s speech almost a week after the event, it can only be assumed that the comments were intended for the union audience at the conference and were said, mainly, to have something to say.
His comments are a reiteration of party policy and any support for OHS is welcome but if anyone makes a positive comment on workplace safety, let them be loud and proud about it. The OHS profession and worker safety needs the profile.