Industrial Manslaughter laws likely for Victoria

With little surprise, at the Australian Labor Party (ALP) Conference in Victoria on 26 May 2018, Premier Daniel Andrews has included the introduction of Industrial Manslaughter laws as a formal part of the campaign for re-election in November 2018.

According to his media release, if re-elected,

“.., employers will face fines of almost $16 million and individuals responsible for negligently causing death will be held to account and face up to 20 years in jail.

A re-elected Andrews Labor Government will make sure all Victorians are safe in our workplaces, with the offence to also apply when an employer’s negligent conduct causes the death of an innocent member of the public..”

There are a lot of steps between an incident and Industrial Manslaughter charges. 

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Still treating the symptoms of mental health

Suicide prevention continues to be a growth area in rainsingfund-raising and awareness raising.  On 17 May 2018, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull released a video supporting a treadmill challenge in support of suicide prevention.  It seems an odd campaign when there have been various walks and other events in the past that have more of a public statement that being on a treadmill in a gym.  But this is not the only odd suicide awareness event.  Last week, Winslow Constructions had a program launch that was also a little odd and a campaign that is worthwhile, as far as it goes.

In May 2018, Winslow Constructions held a media event on one of its residential construction projects to the north of Melbourne. 

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Why are we arguing about Industrial Manslaughter laws?

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From left: Dave Brownlee, Janine Brownlee & Lana Cormie

On the issue of Industrial Manslaughter laws, Lana Cormie (pictured far right) said:

“Employers need to have motivation to do the right thing, ’cause clearly they don’t do it off their own back.  So, if that means, if this’ll be the difference between them making OH&S a high priority and not, then it needs to be done.  And I think all the other benefits for the men on the ground, and the women on the ground, will filter down from that.  “

Her comments on International Workers Memorial Day emphasises that the introduction of these laws is not so much about new laws but the failure of the existing ones and of their application.  Over time, the general commitment to implementing occupational health and safety (OHS) has declined in many workplaces or, at least, has not progressed in the way expected by the safety law makers of the 1970s and 1980s.

Government has relied on the increase of financial penalties as the major deterrent Continue reading “Why are we arguing about Industrial Manslaughter laws?”

Melbourne’s Worker Memorial ceremony

The Melbourne ceremony for International Workers Memorial Day was held on 27 April 2018 and had a good turnout.  The standout “speaker” was Lana Cormie (pictured right), whose husband, Charlie Howkins in a trench collapse in March 2018, a work colleague died later in hospital from injuries from the incident. Victorian Trades Hall’s Luke Hilakari was fired up in his talk about the importance of occupational health and safety (OHS) and the need for Industrial Manslaughter laws.

Cormie’s speech was read out 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”