Telling is better than being exposed

Many OHS laws place obligations on employers to notify regulators (   )  of any particularly serious (often defined) incidents.  In many jurisdictions regulators are sometimes informed of work-related hospital admissions, for instance, even if employers do not notify.  But there is substantial benefit in notifying the regulators early.

Anecdotal evidence shows that by facing up to the reality that an incident has occurred is less costly in the long term as this shows that one is aware of one’s OHS obligations and willing to apply them.

The wisdom of reporting incidents in a timely manner is perhaps illustrated by a 17 December 2010 article in The Age newspaper.  It is rumoured that incidents involving apprentice tiler Kane Ammerlaan may not have been reported to the OHS regulator in Victoria, WorkSafe.

Prompt reporting may not have been able to improve Ammerlaan’s situation relating to the fall but investigations into this possibly life-changing incident could have begun much earlier, and when evidence was easier to collate.

Ammerlaan also alleges that:

‘Through my six weeks I was constantly abused. There was a lot of verbal abuse; they’d throw stuff at me; I was shot with a nail gun on a few occasions.”

This may raise, yet again, the safety issue of the treatment of young workers and apprentices; an issue on which the community seems to require regular reminding.

Kevin Jones

reservoir, victoria, australia

8 thoughts on “Telling is better than being exposed”

  1. Hey guys, that \”kid\” who fell of the roof was me, and wayne, you have no idea what i was forced to do and ect. Why would i go to the media about something thats false, im blind in my left eye from this accident, and ever since the accident in march, ive had one phonecall from my boss, abusing me, he never payed me in advance and owes me well over $1000 to this date.

    1. Kane\’s comment above is slightly edited to reduce \”flaming\”.

      For those who have not seen the episode of A Current Affair referred to, the tabloid TV show questioned Kane\’s side of the story by broadcasting the audio of a radio talkback program in which a friend of the company\’s owner denied that Kane was laughed at following his fall and that photos were taken.

      To my knowledge the owner has not spoken publicly about the incident and nor does he have to. The original newspaper article said the owner had declined to be interviewed.

      I found it interesting that the article included no quote from the local OHS regulator. Regulators are usually contacted about these sorts of articles for an official response and it allows regulators to put the incident in context or list contact details for worker support, particularly when young workers are involved.

  2. I was referring to personal experience of my own daughter\’s death Wayne……..I notified WH&S myself and there is no \”workers comp\” involved so please don\’t bother to accuse me of just being after money. An apology would have been welcome at the time but it is a bit too late now.

  3. do u people all believe everything you read? aca and the newspapers sooking about it all? he is on workers comp since the accicent and his employer even payed him an extra weeks pay to try help out.. hes just trying to get more money out of this poor guy with bullshit storys of lifting 50kg up a ladder who is he trying to kid this boy wouldnt even weight 50kg!!

  4. This concepts goes back a long way……. Confucius said \” A mistake not admitted becomes a crime\”. He was right but today\’s society seems to have forgotten how to say a simple Sorry. It would save a lot of time, trouble, money and heartache if businesses subscribed to this simple solution.

  5. Why does this not surprise me. The issues surrounding this report, if correct, go straight to the competence of company management in relation to OHSW and in this case it would seem this employer rates with the very large majority of businesses in Australia, in that, the only thing they care about is the avoidance of cost and safety is best expresses with a $5 high viz vest.

  6. I total agree with you Kevin,

    In my experience with WorkSafe Victoria and reporting notifiable incidents, early reporting is key to a timely employer response and resolution of a situation.

    I think the aim of an employer is to promptly investigate the initial incident, identify the root cause and how it can be fixed, and take this information on board when contacting the Authority.

    Reporting incidents to the Authority is the right thing to do, both for the injured worker and the employer.

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