The workplace death of Jorge Castillo-Riffo continues to raise important discussions about occupational health and safety (OHS), responsibility and accountability. The South Australian parliament discussed scissor lifts and OHS on June 6 2019. The criticism of the Coroner was concerning and the debate was a sadly typical political discussion but the issue of improving OHS in construction sites has not been forgotten by some South Australia politicians.
Further to the recent article on the Victorian Government’s Budget Papers, farm safety programs received the funding to support the pledges made by the Australian Labor Party in last year’s Victorian election campaign. As with many occupational health and safety (OHS) announcements, details are hard to obtain but the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) has helped.
The Victorian Budget papers pledged funds to
- employ two additional Farm Safety Officers.
- increase health checks for farmers.
- deliver a new campaign to raise greater workplace safety awareness.
Matthew Peacock is an award-winning Australian journalist and one of the very few in Australia who can bring an informed and nuanced perspective to the topic of occupational health and safety (OHS). Last week he was invited to speak at the dinner of the Safety Institute of Australia‘s Conference. According to some delegates, he roasted the OHS profession; to others, he set the profession a deserved challenge.
On May 13 2019 the Australian media published articles based on research (released after embargo) conducted by the RMIT’s Centre for Innovative Justice and about victims of crime which those advocating for Industrial Manslaughter laws should seriously consider.
The Age newspaper reports
“Victims of crime felt let down by the system when offenders pleaded guilty to a less serious charge and did not proceed to trial ‘‘ because they wanted the opportunity to tell their story’’ , …..”
“One victim interviewed during the research said they felt left out of discussions with the OPP when charges in their case were downgraded from murder to manslaughter for a plea of guilt …”
Occupational health and safety (OHS) seems a little ahead of the game here as relatives of deceased workers have been integrated into OHS consultation in both Queensland and Victoria. Relatives had a very strong voice through the Senate Inquiry into Industrial Deaths. Victim Impact Statements have been possible in the Courts for many years but Industrial Manslaughter laws add an additional depth to the participation of victims of industrial crime, and an additional risk of false promises.
In June 2018, Rick Sarre, now the Dean of Law at the University of South Australia’s School of Law, wrote an article in The Conversation titled
“Why industrial manslaughter laws are unlikely to save lives in the workplace“. On the eve of the #safetyscape conference and an upcoming conference on enforcement in which presentations on Industrial Manslaughter laws will feature, SafetyAtWorkBlog asked the very busy Professor for an update on some of the themes and thoughts in his article. Below are his responses.