Australia has a political structure of States and Territories existing within a Federation or Commonwealth. Legislative change has a smooth journey when political stars are aligned, where the same political party is in power at State and Federal levels. Federal change is even smoother when the same political party has control of both houses of Parliament. Not surprisingly, this ultimate combination is rare and could be as damaging to occupational health and safety (OHS) as it can be beneficial. The recent OHS harmonisation process is a good example of a political mess.
This may be the reality of Australian politics but it doesn’t need to be.
Several Australian States have
The Queensland Government has released the final report of its “Best Practice Review of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland“. Most of the media attention is given to the introduction of Industrial Manslaughter laws but there are some interesting recommendations and discussion on Enforceable Undertakings, insurance products and other matters of interest to business and safety professionals.
The Queensland Government announced the review earlier this year, particularly, in response to fatalities at Dreamworld and Eagle Farm. A Discussion Paper was released in April.
Industrial Manslaughter laws have been floating around Australia’s occupational health and safety (OHS), legal union and political sectors for many years. Only the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) introduced such a law and the Crimes (Industrial Manslaughter) Amendment Act 2003 remains in effect.
The significance in this Queensland report is that the document is entitled “Best Practice” so the panel, based on its own experience and the many submissions it received, adds considerable weight to these controversial laws.
This week’s SAFETYconnect conference hosted by the NSCA Foundation in Sydney had a very good strike rate of interesting speakers on its first day. Only one speaker missed the safety mark – it was as if they had been handed a marketing presentation instead of safety and, regardless of the safety audience, give it anyway.
This conference was notable for the way that the ‘safety differently’/Safety II movement has moved into mainstream safety management. The most obvious example of this was a presentation by QantasLink.
The use and abuse of Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS) has been researched in Australia for several years. SafetyAtWorkBlog has seen a copy of an unreleased report prepared for Safe Work Australia that identifies major problems with the use of SWMS but that makes recommendations which seem unlikely to achieve the level of change required.
The February 2017 report “The Efficacy of Safe Work Method Statement and WHS Management Plans in Construction” (written by
It is the twentieth anniversary of the explosive demolition of the Canberra Hospital. The demolition was meant to be an implosion but instead debris scatter well outside the designated safety zone resulting in the death of one person and injuries to nine. Such events are significant at the time but fade from memory until anniversaries are noted, however, there are important occupational health and safety (OHS) lessons from such incidents which do not have the drama of a Piper Alpha or a Challenger but are nevertheless as instructive.