Well before the push for Industrial Manslaughter laws was the occupational health and safety (OHS) offence of “reckless conduct”. A media report from the LaTrobe Valley Express recently showed how one employer’s neglect of basic safety practices and processes resulted in the death on 21-year-old Damien Taifer.
Some readers raised eyebrows on the article titled “No lessons in the Dreamworld penalty” but the point was that the occupational health and safety (OHS) due diligence and governance lessons were there months ago following the Coroner’s damning findings.
Most of the media’s attention has been on the record size of the financial penalty but looking at Judge Dowse’s decision in the case provides a better understanding of that penalty, the breaches of the safety legislation and the opinions of the judge.
Many on the Conservative side of Australian politics want to see Daniel Andrews, the Victorian Premier, fall, especially over the use of security guards in hotels used to quarantine returning travellers who may have had COVID19. Some of Andrews’ critics are being mischievous by linking the Industrial Manslaughter laws that his government introduced to his, and his Ministers’, accountability for COVID19 deaths linked to the hotels. The latest is Tasmanian Senator Eric Abetz in Federal Parliament.
I bought Genevieve Hawkins’ self-published book “Mentally at Work – Optimising Health and Business Performance through Connection” because I have met Genevieve at various Australian occupational health and safety (OHS) conferences and wanted to know her thoughts.
Her book is about an increasingly important element of OHS – psychological harm – and reinforces the Human Resources (HR) approach to mental health at work which is based around Leadership and Psychology. This HR perspective is the dominant approach to mental health at work in Australia, but it largely omits the organisational and cultural context of mental health. As such, the book will be popular with those whose perspectives it reinforces, but it misses some important OHS and research perspectives about harm prevention.
Several occupational health and safety-related books have been self-published over the last couple of months. They are from a mix of authors, some may be familiar to OHS professionals. The books are
- Sam Goodman’s “Safety Sucks – The bullshit in the Safety Profession They Don’t Tell You About“
- Genevieve Hawkins’ “Mentally at Work – Optimising Health and Business Performance through Connection“
- Debra Burlington’s “Impactful Leadership – One Conversation at a Time“
These will be reviewed over a series of blog articles. Safety Sucks is up first.
The Australian newspaper is notoriously supportive of the conservative side of Australian politics, so it is little surprise that one of its business journalists, Robert Gottliebsen, is maintaining his advocacy for Industrial Manslaughter and occupational health and safety (OHS) prosecutions over COVID19-related infections, echoing many of the desires of Ken Phillips, the head of Self-Employed Australian and Independent Contractors Australia.
Phillips wrote to WorkSafe Victoria on September 9, 2020 demanding a prosecution by WorkSafe Victoria of a swathe of Victorian government Ministers, public servants, police, as well as
“All members of the management team known as the State Control Centre………….”!
The iconic Australian theme park, Dreamworld, will never fully recover from the consequences of the deaths of four people after the Thunder River Rapids ride malfunctioned in 2016. The legal journey through the Queensland Courts finished on September 28 2020 with the handing down of a financial penalty of $3.6 million, although others could say the journey ended with the parent company’s, Ardent Leisure’s, plea of guilty, and others may pursue Ardent Leisure for civil penalties, if they can access details of Ardent Leisure’s insurance policies.