Modern workers rarely stay in jobs longer than six or seven years because they choose to move on or are working on projects that have a short lifespan. Sometimes opportunities arise that can steer people in unpredictable directions, sometimes to positions of influence. One example of this type of journey could be Ian Markos.
One newspaper recently wrote:
“The recently appointed director of policy for the SA branch of the MBA, Ian Markos, said a “nanny state” approach was stifling job creation. “There’s a raft of laws and regulations. You’ve got employment laws, you’ve got taxation laws, you’ve got environmental laws, you’ve got work health and safety laws, local council regulations. We’re saying enough is enough,” he said.”
Criticism of occupational health and safety (OHS) laws is not surprising from the Master Builders Association but Ian Markos was with South Australia’s OHS regulator, SafeWorkSA, for many years (with a once-only appearance on Gardening Australia) as the Chief Officer, Compliance, Advisory, Legal and Investigations.
According to a media release on 28 January 2014, the MBA states that
“Businesses are being asked for seven-page risk assessments to use a silicon gun, a “hierarchy of controls” for a small brick wall, and are spending 21 hours on a six-hour job because of duplicated paperwork – these are the true costs of red tape in a nanny state…”
“A lot of our members are telling us they haven’t got the time to look at what the real safety issues are because they’re filling out form after form, reading documents, preparing 50-page safe work method statements for a simple task…”
South Australia’s MBA created a new position, Policy Director, for Ian Markos, even though the MBA has long held a policy role, so they must value Markos highly. The media release, with Markos’ support, discusses OHS red tape as an impediment to job creation and as South Australia is moving quickly towards an election, job creation (particularly with the impending departure of General Motors Holden) is a vital policy stance.
Some OHS paperwork is time consuming but may still be important and whether it impedes the creation of jobs to the extent implied by the MBA is debatable. The reduction of red tape seems more likely to improve a company’s productivity and profitability than create additional jobs but this is an election year. And Markos’ statement above about SWMS seems to confuse the issue. Markos may need to clearly detail the links between the OHS red tape examples mentioned in the MBA media release above and how this has affected the creation of jobs because the direct economic links are not obvious.
In the context of OHS, it will be fascinating to watch how Markos brings his experience to bear on the MBA’s established policies, whether the policies will shift or change or just become louder. One would have to think that Markos is now very well placed to identify OHS red tape and lobby government for change but one could also argue that during his time in SafeWorkSA Markos was in a position to reduce red tape from within the organisation.
How one’s career develops, changes and diverts is intriguing. Ian Markos has travelled through the OHS regulatory ranks to an executive position with a prominent industry association. (There are rumours that he will be appointed to SafeWorkSA’s Advisory Council) He is now well-placed to affect the OHS practices of the construction industry in South Australia, and government policy, and he can affect these from a position of authority due to his experience. The statements from, and actions by, the MBA in South Australia could be fascinating.