Review of West Gate Bridge findings has important lessons for modern infrastructure projects

2020 will be the fiftieth anniversary of the collapse of the West Gate Bridge which resulted in, amongst others, the deaths of 35 workers, changed Victoria’s approach to occupational health and safety (OHS), instigated a Royal Commission into the disaster, strengthened trade union influence and established an industrial antagonism to the John Holland group of businesses that continues today.

Panorama of West Gate Bridge in Melbourne at sunset in summer.

Last week,

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Front page OHS article gives half the story

Years ago I was advised how to read a newspaper article – the first two paragraphs and the last.  The exclusive front page article in The Australian ($ paywalled) on August 15 2018 about occupational health and safety (OHS) management at Sydney’s light rail construction project is a good example of what journalists choose to write and what they are obliged to write.

“A pedestrian had ribs broken, workers have been run over and fallen in holes, and there have been near-misses that could have caused deaths or serious injuries in hundreds of safety breaches on the Sydney CBD light rail project over the past 18 months.

The extraordinary catalogue is detailed in CBD and South East Light Rail Advisory Board minutes obtained by The Australian.”

and

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Fixing the future by planning for the future

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) often sets the occupational health and safety (OHS) agenda, as it did on workplace stress and bullying.  On 21 May 2018 the ACTU released a research report entitled “Australia’s insecure work crisis: Fixing it for the future“.  The opening paragraph provides a clear indication of the report’s tone:

“The incidence of non-standard work in Australia is alarming. The fact that our national government and some employer groups seek to deny this reality and refuse to support reforms to better protect workers in insecure non-standard employment is a disgrace.”

There is a lot of useful information in this report but there is also a lot missing, a lot that could affect workplace safety.

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Quick and dirty summary of new OHS management Standard

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I really enjoyed presenting at the Central Safety Group’s monthly meeting yesterday*.  (Taught me not to use slide presentations if you can avoid it.). Here is a brief summary of my take on the new international Standard for OHS Management Systems – ISO45001 – that I shared with the group members. Continue reading “Quick and dirty summary of new OHS management Standard”

5 top OHS issues for 2018

The annual Safety Institute of Australia (SIA) breakfast was held in conjunction with Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) law firm on 21 February 2018.  This year the audience heard from two representatives of WorkSafe Victoria – Marnie Williams, the Executive Director and Paul Fowler, the Director of the Enforcement Group.

The WorkSafe presentations were interesting but included what was largely expected – an introduction to the recent Independent Review report and a reiteration of the WorkSafe Strategy 2030.   (More on WorkSafe’s presentation in the next article)

Some of the more thought-provoking content came from HSF’s Steve Bell.  He presented several issues and perspectives for consideration.

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