60th Anniversary Central Safety Group Lunch

In the olden days, PC (Pre-Covid), a group of occupational health and safety (OHS) professionals, advocates, and the curious, would meet on the second Tuesday of each month in-person in various locations in and around the City of Melbourne to connect, chat, complain, sympathise and learn about OHS. The Central Safety Group also held annual visits to infrastructure projects under construction, tea factories, TV stations (pictured above), Arts Centres (pictured below), brothels (no pictures taken) and other workplaces to better understand the complexity of managing people’s safety and health.

In the middle of Work Health and Safety Month, CSG is holding a special celebratory lunch in the Victorian Parliament House Dining Room on October 14. (Book HERE) This event is open to anyone interested in all facets of OHS and will have special guest speakers, including:

The Central Safety Group has been operating continuously for 60 years, making friends, making connections, rendering assistance and, for every one of those meetings, hearing directly from local and international experts. The CSG is open to anyone on a casual basis, but, of course, a (low-cost) membership is encouraged.

Kevin Jones

Lymph v Blood – OHS at the Jobs & Skills Summit

If Industrial Relations is the lifeblood of the economy and the nation, then Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) is the lymphatic system, a less well-known supplementary system without which blood circulation fails and the body stops working.

Australia’s Job and Skills Summit that has just concluded focused on the blood. Media analysis offered mixed interpretations. The event was politically stage-managed with many agenda items pre-prepared for the Summit to confirm, but it was not a worthless gabfest, as some (who chose not to attend) have asserted. On the matter of occupational health and safety, there was one new initiative but most of the OHS change, if any, is now more likely to come through the (wellbeing) budget in October.

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The man on the stair who isn’t really there

On August 26 2022, Australia’s Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Tony Burke, spoke at a union conference.  This is not an unusual event for Ministers, but the timing of Burke’s address was less than a week before a major Jobs and Skills Summit – the hottest political event in town at the moment.  The transcript of the speech provides clues and hints as to how occupational health and safety (OHS) may or may not be discussed.

There is an early indication that safe workplaces are important (heart skips a beat), but then it seems shunted to the side.  Burke said:

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OHS issues for the Jobs and Skills Summit

Last week the Australian Government released an issues paper for its upcoming Jobs and Skills Summit. The main topics are broad but still not as inclusive as possible. The paper says:

“The goal of the Summit is to find common ground on how Australia can build a bigger, better trained and more productive workforce; boost real wages and living standards; and create more opportunities for more Australians.”

Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) is relevant to training, productivity, and living standards but is hardly mentioned in the issues paper and is likely to be ignored in the Summit itself, even though the issues paper includes a question about workplace safety,

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New mental health code and regulations

Last week Safe Work Australia released its “Managing psychosocial hazards at work – Code of Practice“. It offers solid guidance on psychosocial hazards reflective of the work already conducted by Victoria, New South Wales and other jurisdictions and in support of the new regulations in the Model Work Health and Safety laws. In connection with a blog article earlier today, the Code provides some insight into cognitive demands.

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Why are farms becoming safer?

It is Farm Safety Week in Australia. These types of events are intended to raise awareness of specific issues. The biggest problem with these events is that solutions are rarely presented; it is assumed that raising awareness is sufficient. This is hard to justify in agriculture, where many of the smaller and high-risk farms have been run by families for many years and often generations. As a result, most people living in the country know of someone widowed after a workplace incident or of someone like the one-armed tennis player or lawn bowler who lost an arm in an unguarded Power Take-Off.

At some point, the strategy must move from raising awareness to providing solutions.

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Possible Treasury and Industrial Relations white papers before the Job Summit and October Budget

So what level and type of well-being budget did Dr Jim Chalmers commit his government to? A lot less than we anticipated last week. Dr Chalmers gave a nod to the work of his New Zealand counterpart but seems to be waiting for further discussion in the “jobs summit” in September 2022.

Michelle Grattan has written that:

“A coming test for consensus will be the September jobs summit. This will be an ideas-gathering exercise, but the government will also want to shape it as a prelude to the October budget, and that will require some common messages.”

Regardless of Dr Chalmers’ intention to develop a well-being budget, the jobs summit will have the same tripartite of industrial relations and occupational health and safety (OHS) invitees. Unless Dr Chalmers and Treasury offer up something fresh, like an OHS perspective on the prevention of mental health, innovation is unlikely. Little more than “in-principle” agreements should be anticipated.

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