OHS approach to sexual harassment gets an airing

Tracey Spicer talking with Tom Ballard in December 2017

Tracey Spicer has been a very public face of the campaign against sexual harassment in Australian workplaces. She, and her campaign, has not been without controversy but recently Spicer presented a three-part documentary on the issue. In Episode 2, the viewers heard, all too briefly, from Dr Rebecca Michalak about the occupational health and safety (OHS) context of sexual harassment.

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Workplace hazards outside the window

Alerts on December 7 2019

I am entering the last of my four week’s work on a construction site in Sydney.  In my first week, the city was blanketed with thick smoke from nearby bushfires and all construction sites closed early for a day because the air was deemed hazardous.  That smoke has persisted for all of my time in Sydney.  Last Friday I was on site when the occasional piece of ash fluttered on to me.  The bushfire situation is unprecedented and my experience has shown me that Australia and Australian companies seem to struggle with how to operate in a disaster that will undoubtedly return.

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Reduce deaths and injuries to achieve a sustainable industry

Agriculture is one of the most dangerous workplaces in Australia and other countries. This reality is supported by many statistics and over a long time.

Agriculture is, perhaps, at the forefront of changing production methods to ensure sustainability in a world that is changing in ways that no farmers have had to face in the past. Agriculture therefore needs to be both a safe and a sustainable industry.

So why is workplace health and safety not being given a top priority in the Victorian Government’s Smart Farms program?

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Focus on the hoops and not the holes

There is a confluence of investigations into mental health and suicides in Australia at the moment, and most of them overlap with occupational health and safety (OHS).  Each of these increases the understanding of the relationship between work and mental health but no one seems to be connecting the threads into a cohesive case.  This article doesn’t either, by itself, but hopefully the threads of the issues are identified through the themes of various SafetyAtWorkBlog articles.

Recently Tim Quilty of the Liberal Democratic Party addressed the issue of suicide in relation to his contribution to the debate on Industrial Manslaughter (IM) laws in the Victorian Parliament.  His assertions seem a little naïve:

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Sex Work review includes many OHS matters

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The Victorian Government has announced a review of the regulations pertaining to sex work. It will include several areas related to occupational health and safety (OHS):

  • Workplace safety including health and safety issues and stigma and discrimination against sex workers
  • Regulatory requirements for operators of commercial sex work businesses
  • And the safety and wellbeing of sex workers, including the experience of violence that arises in the course of sex work and as a consequence of it, and worker advocacy for safety and wellbeing

Consumer Affairs has carriage of the Sex Work laws but the breadth of the review would have been better served if the announcement had been a joint one with the Minister for Workplace Safety and Minister for Health.

This review should offer a real challenge to Victoria’s OHS laws, the OHS profession, consultants, advocates and critics.

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