“Shooting the shit out of them”

On May 18 2017, Australia’s Senate Education and Employment Committee held a public hearing for its inquiry into Corporate Avoidance of the Fair Work Act in Melbourne Australia.  Executives of Carlton United Breweries (CUB) were the first to appear, ostensibly, to reiterate and answer questions about its submission.  The Chair of the Committee, Senator Gavin Marshall, had different expectations and stated he would be asking about a passionate, long and contentious dispute at CUB’s Abbotsford brewery in 2016.  Quotes from a CUB diary of events, mentioned by Senator Marshall, seemed to catch the CUB executives unaware.

Senator Marshall quoted from a CUB Manager’s diary asking what was meant by “Shooting the shit out of them”. The atmosphere in the hotel function room changed. Continue reading ““Shooting the shit out of them””

“Every death is manslaughter”

The South Australian Branch of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) held a protest rally in Adelaide on 15 February 2017 in response to the political negotiations in Australia’s Parliament about the reintroduction of, what the union sees as, anti-union legislation.  Throughout the rally’s presentations (available online through the CFMEU Facebook page), the issue of occupational health and safety (OHS) was raised and it is worth looking closely at what was said and the broader political and safety context.

The issues to be addressed in the protest rally included Senator Nick Xenophon’s “deal” with Prime Minister Turnbull that the CFMEU claims will:

  • ” Make our workplaces less safe
  • Put more overseas visa workers on our building sites
  •  Cut the number of apprentices in South Australia
  •  Threaten job security and increase casual jobs
  •  Fail to mandate Australian made products on construction sites”

After Joe McDonald opened the rally, the Secretary of the CFMEU SA, Aaron Cartledge (pictured above), spoke about how workers in South Australia had been dudded on safety because the health and safety representatives (HSRs) cannot call on external safety advisers to help them with an OHS matter.  This may be the case but Cartledge’s comments illustrate a common perspective of trade unionists – a reluctance to consider safety management strategies other than those dependent on HSRs.

This content is for subscribers of SafetyAtWorkBlog only.

Article locked

Log In Register

Not all deaths are “newsworthy” but they are all important

As Australia’s Safe Work Month closes, the media is focussed on the four fatalities at Dreamworld theme park in Queensland.  That situation is complicated as, although the incident is being investigated partly under Work Health and Safety laws, the decedents were visitors to the workplace. On the other side of the continent in Perth, prior…

This content is for subscribers of SafetyAtWorkBlog only.

Article locked

Log In Register

Labour Hire Inquiry recommends a licencing scheme

Following, ostensibly, the Four Corners exposé of labour hire exploitation in Australia last year, the Victorian Government established an inquiry.  That Inquiry’s final report has been released with lots of recommendations, several pertaining to occupational health and safety (OHS).  The Government’s media release response is HERE. The main recommendations related to OHS are: I recommend…

This content is for subscribers of SafetyAtWorkBlog only.

Article locked

Log In Register

Miserable failures in OHS of labour hire workers

Two recent occupational health and safety (OHS) prosecutions in South Australia related to labour hire employees and providers indicate changes in enforcement approach and clues for change as they illustrate how some people and companies have almost no regard for the safety of its employees.

According to a SafeWorkSA media release dated 28 May 2016 (not available online at the time of writing):

“The Industrial Court convicted Queensland based labour hire company, Fix Force (Qld) Pty Ltd, and imposed a penalty of $150 000 plus court costs.

On 22 October 2012, Mr Clinton Benson, a contracted employee on the South Road Superway project, suffered life threatening injuries when his head was crushed between a lifting arm and welding table.

Following investigation by SafeWork SA, Fix Force (Qld) Pty Ltd was charged with offences under the then Occupational Health Safety and Welfare Act 1986 (SA), for failure to ensure its employee was safe from injury and risk to health whist at work, as far as was reasonably practicable.”

Continue reading “Miserable failures in OHS of labour hire workers”

Submission on Labour Hire disappoints on OHS

cover of Ai_Group_LabourHireandInsecureWork__November 2015_Final2The public submission phase for the Victorian Government’s inquiry into labour hire and insecure work closed last week.  Public hearings have occurred this week and will continue in February 2016. One industry association, the Australian Industry Group has released its submission.  Its discussion  of occupational health and safety (OHS) of labour hire workers and suppliers is very disappointing.

Representing Members

The AiGroup says, in its submission that

“The interests of both groups [labour hire companies and users of labour hire], as well as the interests of the broader community, are best protected by ensuring that a competitive market is maintained for the provision of labour hire services, and that impediments to competition are removed.” (page 4)

It could be argued that the competitive market has allowed unscrupulous labour hire suppliers to succeed as they have been offering the cheapest labour.  These suppliers have succeeded, mostly, because there is a ready market for opportunities to maximise profit by reducing the legal rights of workers.  A competitive market may help fix the problem but it is also a problem that it helped create. Continue reading “Submission on Labour Hire disappoints on OHS”

Insecure work inquiries should embrace and expand the safe system of work

Cover of Labour Hire Discussion paperThe Victorian Government has just released its first discussion paper into labour hire practices and insecure work. As has been discussed when the Inquiry was announced, occupational health and safety (OHS) is part of this inquiry but OHS will only gain the attention it deserves if someone advocates on behalf of worker safety exclusively and thinks about safety in this sector, differently. Continue reading “Insecure work inquiries should embrace and expand the safe system of work”

Scissor Lifts and safety

Caulfield lights2 edited
digitally altered

Workers in scissor lifts often step on railings or overreach placing themselves at risk of falling.  These actions are contrary to the use of plant as usually recommended by  manufacturers and to the usual requirements in an occupational health and safety (OHS) management plan for working in the rail environment.

The actions in these photographs occurred on a Melbourne railway station and in an industry that this author has worked in for the last six years. Photographs never show the entire facts of a situation and there are many assumptions and what-if scenarios about which these photos could, and should, start discussions. The following discussion of occupational health and safety management issues focuses on the facts presented by the photos*.

This content is for subscribers of SafetyAtWorkBlog only.

Article locked

Log In Register

Building a better future but maybe not a safer one

Cover of ACTU Blueprint 2015The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has a strong commitment to safe and healthy workplaces in Australia and would likely assert that nothing is more important than the safety of workers. However the latest submission to government on economic and social reform, “Building a Better Future – a Strong Economy for All” (not yet available online), has missed the chance to bring occupational health and safety (OHS) into the current policy debate on economic and productivity reforms. Continue reading “Building a better future but maybe not a safer one”