Independent analysis of WorkSafe Victoria Reply

Cover of State of OHS in Victoria 2015Barry Naismith‘s third report into the operations and performance of WorkSafe Victoria was released on July 22, 2014. Naismith produces these reports through a combination of publicly available information in the press, a dive into the resources of the WorkSafe Library (visit before it moves to Geelong) and requests to WorkSafe.  This level of analysis and interpretation is rarely available outside of formal academic research and Naismith provides the all-important social and political context from which much academic occupational health and safety (OHS) research shies.

His latest paper focuses on 2015. More…

Selective duty of care being applied by the Australian Government 6

Australia’s work health and safety (WHS) laws confirmed the modern approach to workplace safety legislation and compliance where workers and businesses are responsible for their own safety and the safety of others who may be affected by the work.  The obligations to others existed before the latest WHS law reforms but it was not widely enforced.  The Grocon wall collapse in Victoria and the redefinition of workplace in many Australian jurisdictions through the OHS harmonisation program gave the obligation more prominence but has also caused very uncomfortable challenges for the Australian government – challenges that affect how occupational health and safety is applied in Australian jurisdictions. More…

Miserable failures in OHS of labour hire workers 3

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.”

More…

Irony in tragedy masks an interesting legal career 2

On Sunday 23 May 2016, Queen’s Counsel Ross Ray died after being pinned under a rolled over quad bike on his Victorian hobby farm.  According to one early media report, he was not wearing a helmet nor was his quad bike fitted with a crush protection device (CPD). In the past he has represented quad bike manufacturers who object to devices that can protect this type of incident.  If the report is true, his death appears ironic but Ross Ray was involved in a lot more occupational health and safety cases than just quad bikes. More…

Australia’s election looks like it will miss workplace safety 1

The Australian Treasurer, Scott Morrison, released his 2016 Budget in early May 2016.  The principal aim of the Budget and Liberal Party election campaign announced on 8 May 2016 is to create “jobs and growth”.  Every one of those jobs should be a safe job for many reasons other than saving lives, but none of the political parties are talking about “safe jobs” even though, particularly in a small business, serious injury resulting from an unsafe job will dramatically impede that company’s growth.  It is worth looking at Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s speech after he announced the election campaign to see the campaign points that involve occupational health and safety (OHS). More…