TV report into SafeWorkSA’s performance

On 20 May 2010, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation televised a story on the South Australian 7.30 program about the supposedly poor investigative performance of SafeWorkSA.  The article was framed by a mother’s grief, the grief of Andrea Madeley over the loss of her son, Daniel.

The story was some weeks coming as the story’s production began around the time the ABC were filming at the Workers’ Memorial service in Adelaide a month ago.  The story promised to be a hard-hitting criticism of the State’s OHS regulator but the latest Industrial Relations Minister, Patrick Conlon, handled himself well and what could have provided a provocative national context to the story, the harmonisation of OHS laws, dampened the impact.

Both Yossi Berger and I have written about the findings of Coroner Mark Johns on this blog.  Yossi agrees that OHS regulators are almost all too slow to implement control measures to prevent recurrences of injuries and death,  I thought the Coroner was poorly informed.

The lasting image of the 7.30 storywas the young boy talking at Adelaide’s memorial about his loss of a relative – the way he kept talking while he sobbed and cried.

All OHS regulators must improve their game in empowering employers and workers to prevent injury and death.  Coronial criticisms are unlikely to affect changes in safety management by themselves.  Crying boys are also unlikely to affect lasting change, but it is almost a certainty that the harmonisation of OHS laws will change very little.

Kevin Jones

reservoir, victoria, australia
Categories design, government, grief, law, media, OHS, politics, risk, safety, Uncategorized, youngTags , , , ,

2 thoughts on “TV report into SafeWorkSA’s performance”

  1. Thank you for picking up on this story. I wonder if you could clarify why you think the Coroner was poorly informed? I\’m curious – given that I represented Daniel\’s family within that inquest so I have some intimate knowledge of that inquest and the evidence presented there.

  2. That all sounds a bit negative Kevin, but that is reason enough to hold those responsible for the state of our legislation and its pathetic enforcement to account.

    Maybe the likes of Patrick Conlon should be inundated with the reality of injured workers lives and the very shabby way they are treated, as well as hard evidence of the hundreds of thousands of easily identified work injury risks that remain unchallenged or fixed. The LTI statistics readily available to the rash of politicians that seem to avoid the poisoned chalice as much as possible, remains untouched, because there lays the awful truth of how our work places are not being made safe according to law, including the slip sliding \”Insofar as reasonably practicable\” escape clause, which really is being taken to the absurd by business owners, particularly small and micro business owners. (politicians know better than to stir the OHSW possum so tend to avoid anything that may cause questions to be asked)

    What is the financial cost of total and permanent disability to an injured worker for the remainder of life?

    what is the financial cost to the families of injured workers?

    What is the financial cost to the community as a whole?

    All of that before we even try to calculate the emotional and other damage caused to injured workers.

    What is the cost to the community of injured workers?

    I haven\’t seen any real attempt to have a real actuarial assessment of those questions, but we all sure know the amount touted as being the so called unfunded liability figure trotted out anytime there needs to be an excuse to screw down benefits, or conditions of service to injured workers. The unfunded liability figure is all smoke and mirrors.

    While cost containment is a reasonable goal, bloody minded case management and an appalling waste of money to prosecute a vindictive case management process against workers, particularly injured workers with complicated multiple injury claims is clearly not, but is condoned by all members of the government. The recent Walsh report (your blog 24/04/11) clearly shows the mess in SA but I am sure this is mirrored elsewhere.

    More worker deaths in Victoria recently and so it goes on. Harmonisation, I suggest the best that will come out of that, is an out of tune Barbershop Octet capable only of producing a cacophonous sound of feedback satisfactory to the Ministers responsible and their vapid, obsequious servants.

    You may think I\’m a touch angry about the subject matter and you would most certainly be right. Your comment on empowering employers and workers by the regulators improving their game. How long do they need, it is now farcical that these type of comments can be made given the authorities have had decades to get a system in place that will do what it is designed to do and that is prevent injury. Do we see\” OHSW an employees obligation\” and \”OHSW an employers Obligation\” taught as a humanities subject in our secondary schools, after all, most graduates will spend over 40 years of their lives at risk of injury or worse in a work place. This is obvious and needed now!

    You are right Kevin! those charged with getting this right had better get off their collective rear ends and do just that, because there is a groundswell out in worker land that has had enough, are entirely disenchanted with Union action, which they see as just another bureaucratic self seeking self serving organisation who do not look after their health interests at the coal face. I am sure Yossi would argue against that comment, but I have to say, that is exactly what I hear every day and have been hearing for many years.

    I am not sorry for the rant, It needs to be blunt and hopefully to the point, workplace injury is a very personal thing yet it is handled by those in authority as nothing more than a distraction and an issue to be resolved at least possible cost and in the quickest time possible, regardless of the outcome for the injured worker

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