Why hazards are not reported

Each year thousands of people express support for International Workers Memorial Day and the World Day for Safety and Health at Work publicly and through social media.  This is a statement of their commitment to occupational health and safety (OHS) as well as a call to continue action in improving workplace health and safety.  However, this usually does not add to the state of knowledge on OHS.

This year there was a couple of contributions of information that may be useful.  Shine Lawyers released the findings of a recent survey (not yet available online) into why workers do not report workplace incidents. The survey was largely overlooked by the media, perhaps because the full survey results have not been released publicly.

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The avoidance of accountability creates legislation

This week the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) released its submission to the Independent Review of Work Health and Safety Laws.  The submission deserves reading fully as it reflects many of the positions on and perspectives of occupational health and safety (OHS) of Australia’s major businesses and, not surprisingly, it has a lot to say about Industrial Manslaughter laws.

Comparing  ACCI’s objections to the earlier attempt to introduce similar laws in Victoria in 2002 illustrates how little progress has been made.

Recent lessons from other major incidents, especially through the work of Professor Andrew Hopkins, have also shown the consequences of not taking responsibility for OHS.  The power to counter the calls for Industrial Manslaughter laws is in the hands of those corporate leaders who accept this responsibility and work with it.

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The wisdom of a farming Near Miss

Australia’s occupational health and safety (OHS) agenda seems largely dictated by high risk industries like construction in some States and the mining sector in others. But agriculture is common to all Australia States and is consistently included in the official and unofficial workplace fatality data. New research has been released into serious farm injuries and which voices are the most effective in improving the situation.

The level of risk in Australian farms is illustrated well by

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Interview with Dr Gerry Ayres

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This weekend is the International Workers Memorial Day.  In Victoria, in particular and in Australia more generally, it is highly likely that the issue of Industrial Manslaughter laws will be raised as part of a trade union campaign.

Dr Gerry Ayres, the OHS&E Manager of one of the branches of the CFMEU, features in an online petition about these laws and it seemed the right time to interview Dr Ayres about these laws but also about workplace health and safety enforcement and practices more generally.

The full audio of our conversation is available in the Safety At Work Talks podcast available on SoundCloud and Podbean.

SAWB:           Gerry I’ve seen your photograph on various petitions and flyers about industrial manslaughter laws in Victoria where the trade union movement is asking people to sign petitions and pressure the government into bringing in industrial manslaughter laws.  Why is the trade union movement doing this now and what’s the purpose of the laws?

GA:     And it’s a bit like what the industrial campaign is all about, it’s rules are broken, or our rules don’t seem to be working in terms of the legislative framework and the sanctions that are afforded to people when they break the OH&S laws and when it all goes horribly wrong and someone is killed. It’s very rare that the full financial penalty is ever applied to any employer who goes to court for a workplace fatality. Continue reading “Interview with Dr Gerry Ayres”

Flogging the banks could help safety

Australia’s Royal Commission into banking and financial services is a few months in and the evidence provided of wrongdoing is so substantial that those who were critical of the need for such an investigation are admitting they were wrong.

SafetyAtWorkBlog is applying the logic that occupational health and safety (OHS) succeeds best when it is part of the organisational culture.  Australia has often held its banking and financial services as “world-class” and many of that industry sector’s leaders have been prominent in speaking about the importance of leadership and corporate morality.

The financial and banking industry’s credibility and authority in Australia is gone and the OHS profession can learn much from this failure, even when the failure is in its early stages of exposure.

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