The absurdity of Work

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In early July 2019, my son and I braved a cold Melbourne Friday night to see our very first improvisational comedy show. The catalyst was a show called “F**k this, I Quit“, produced by the Improv Conspiracy, and which is based on the work experiences of the audience there on the night. I was one of around fifteen in the audience, in a room that only holds forty people, and so occupational health and safety (OHS) became a featured theme that night. I, and OHS, was roasted and it was definitely the funniest night of my professional life.

Several audience members were asked about their work experiences. I mentioned that I consulted in OHS, had provided advice to some of Victoria’s licenced brothels, had an uncomfortable conversation one time about discussing nipples while at work and that I thought the most dangerous workplace hazard was electricity as it was invisible and deadly.

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Law Conference challenges everyone

This week Safe Work Australia commenced another round of public consultation on the recommendations of the Boland Report. There was no hint of this at last week’s WHS Prosecution and Enforcement Conference. That conference had no speaker from SWA but it did have Marie Boland as a keynote speaker, and even she made no mention of this next stage of consultation. However, the conference was lively, challenging and revealing.

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What is the problem that Industrial Manslaughter laws are intended to solve?

Marie Boland speaking on Day one

This week Melbourne Victoria hosted a conference about Work Health and Safety Prosecutions and Enforcement. The two-day conference, run by Criterion Conferences, focused on law and the application of that law. Occupational health and safety (OHS) was largely a subtext of the discussion, but it raised its head occasionally.

The audience of around 100 consisted of many OHS regulators and lawyers from most Australian States. This conference profile set the tone of this conference where a lot of legal knowledge and terminology was assumed even though, occasionally and not knowing the audience, a speaker trod old ground with Law 101.

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OHS thoughts trapped in the bubble

For the first time in many years, the Safety Institute of Australia’s National Conference heard from two prominent industry association leaders, Mark Goodsell from the Australian Industry Group (AiGroup) and James Pearson, CEO of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI). The absence of a representative of the trade union movement to “balance” some of the comments was a weakness of the conference but perhaps unavoidable a few days after a very busy Federal Election campaign. Both conference speakers addressed OHS issues and the topic-de-jour, Industrial Manslaughter laws.

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