Six months ago, trade unions and occupational health and safety (OHS) advocates protested outside the Ballarat Council offices over the awarding of a construction contract to Pipecon, a company that was prosecuted over the deaths of two workers in a trench collapse several years earlier. Last week, the council decided to upgrade its procurement practices to provide further weight to the OHS performance of tenderers. In effect, it established a new level of “best practice” by local councils in Victoria.
Big consultancies sully their own nest
Large consulting firms have been getting a hammering lately. Fraud, leaking information, work-related suicides, corruption, unethical behaviour……. I bet they are nostalgic for the good old days when they were primarily auditors. There are several occupational health and safety (OHS) connections with the Big4, Big3 or Big 7. Auditing is the obvious overlap, but several recent books have identified some other strange relationships with Government that affect policy that, in turn, affect OHS. This is a brief look at one of those books – The Big Con.
WorkSafe Tasmania is not cooperating
In December 2021, five children died, and others were injured when an inflatable jumping castle lifted into the air after a strong gust of wind. WorkSafe Tasmania continues to investigate the incident, as is the Tasmanian Coroner. Recently the Coroner postponed the inquest because WorkSafe would not provide documents essential to the process, prolonging the grief of the families and the local community who want, and need, answers.
Industrial Manslaughter laws are spreading in Australia but are inconsistent [Open Access]
This year the South Australian Parliament will likely pass that State’s Industrial Manslaughter (IM) legislation as the introduction of these laws was an election commitment of the new Labor government. The consultation period on the draft Bill closes on February 10 2023 after being open for just over two months.
New South Wales may follow if the Labor Party wins the March 2023 election
Industrial Manslaughter laws under the broader occupational health and safety (OHS) continue to be contentious as a new research paper by Professor Richard Johnstone shows. However, the introduction of IM laws will forever be a political act at its core.Continue reading “Industrial Manslaughter laws are spreading in Australia but are inconsistent [Open Access]”
Legal Professional Privilege is the OHS equivalent of the Non-Disclosure Agreement
Pam Gurner-Hall is no stranger to this blog. Recently she appeared in an article by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) about access to information from South Australia’s occupational health and safety (OHS) regulator, SafeWorkSA.
SafeWorkSA has been under considerable scrutiny for the last few years. A “root and branch” review conducted by John Merritt is the latest inquiry. [Note: this article was written before the release of the Merritt report and the Government’s interim response last weekend. More on that report shortly]
Gurner-Hall’s concerns seem more about the government’s response to the inquiry and the application of Legal Professional Privilege (LPP). She is quoted saying:
Two OHS regulators under investigation
Almost all the government agencies that regulate occupational health and safety (OHS) in Australia have been subjected to various independent inquiries. These inquiries have been a mix of political, financial and cultural. The review of SafeworkSA closes submissions at the end of this week. SafeWorkNSW is to have a six-month audit (paywalled) of its performance by the NSW Auditor-General, according to Adele Ferguson in the Sydney Morning Herald.
The Auditor-General is yet to release a media statement on the audit, but Ferguson identifies several serious concerns.
SafetyAtWorkBlog “tip-off” line
SafetyAtWorkBlog occasionally receives confidential documents and phone calls about workplace health and safety incidents, investigations and reports. It is time that this process was given some formality in order to encourage transparency on issues while, if necessary, preserving anonymity. To achieve this aim, a “tip-off” line has been created by SafetyAtWorkBlog using the Whispli whistleblowing platform.
If you have some information related to workplace health and safety that you think would be of interest to SafetyAtWorkBlog readers, please let me know by clicking this gateway and establishing an anonymous account.Continue reading “SafetyAtWorkBlog “tip-off” line”