Ian Forsyth, Health and Safety Executive Director, for WorkSafe Victoria spoke at a breakfast seminar on 7 February 2012. As a report on what WorkSafe has been doing and what they plan to do in 2012, it was reasonable but there were several issues that raised eyebrows or confused some in the audience.
The High Risk OHS Summit 2012 (why it’s high risk, no one seems to know) started with a bang with a detailed presentation from Dame Carol Black, a major instigator of work health reforms in the United Kingdom. Dame Black was able to provide several case studies and some data that provided a fresh perspective on what work and health and safety means to the British workers. For instance, she stated that of those employed in the UK, 26% are working with a health condition or disability. Black also said that 2.4% are off sick at any one time
Black also adds the personal to her presentations and admitted that she had not been aware of what makes “a good job” until beginning her review over five years ago. It is a terrific question to ask one’s self and colleagues. What makes a good job?
Today I received an email that had the intriguing heading of:
“Do you fully understand what the harmonisation laws mean to your organisation?”
As I don’t “fully understand” harmonisation and spammers don’t usually use OHS as a spam tool, I opened the email. It was a promotion for an upcoming conference called Supply Chain and Logistics Safety 2012. The harmonisation of Australia’s OHS was not in the title but was mentioned in the email body.
“Although some states appear to be delaying their timeline for harmonisation implementation, businesses in reality can’t afford to wait. You will not only need to meet the regulation, but devise strategies to prevent your bottom line being impacted.”
Over time Australian labour lawyers generally have moved from saying that Victorian companies have little to worry about from the new laws expected on 1 January 2012 to quite alarming suggestions of challenges to do with contractor management and consultation. Part of this modification of advice may be due to the increased analysis of company OHS systems. Sherriff said that he has been surprised how many companies ask for advice about compliance under the new laws and yet are not complying under the existing OHS laws.
On the issue of consultation, Sherriff identified the “coordination of activities” and managing the “flow of information” as a critical element in the new OHS model laws. But he stressed that such obligations have existed in OHS laws in many Australian States for sometime but are now more overtly stated. Continue reading “Concerns increase as Australia’s OHS law changes loom”