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.
Some trade union and occupational health and safety (OHS) newsletters are stating that the New South Wales Labor Party has pledged to introduce Industrial Manslaughter laws should it win this weekend’s State Election. Looking at the actual pledges shows the commitment may not be as solid as some expect and others hope.
The NSWLabor website related to workplace safety matters seems to make no commitment for the introduction of Industrial Manslaughter laws, only to discuss laws and penalties in comparison to the penalty for manslaughter under other laws:
One of the hottest occupational health and safety (OHS) issues at the moment is Industrial Manslaughter but this is just one aspect of the enforcement of OHS and prosecution for breaches. In June 2019 a two-day conference on OHS/WHS Prosecution and Enforcement is being held in Melbourne, Australia with a list of respected speakers who are prominent in Australian labour law circles.
The conference is more expensive than some other OHS conferences but the list of speakers is impressive and the theme could not be more topical. (A brochure is available for download) Until March 15 2019, Criterion Conferences is applying an Early Bird discount of $500 for each delegate. SafetyAtWorkBlog has negotiated a further discount applicable to Subscribers only.
This article is part one of an edited version of a keynote presentation I made at the a special WHS Inspectors Forum organised by WorkSafe Tasmania. The audience comprised inspectors from around Australia and New Zealand. I was asked to be provocative and challenging so posed some questions to the audience about how occupational health and safety (OHS) is managed, regulated and inspected.
The audio of the presentation is available at SoundCloud and Podbean and below.
“The purpose of this session is to provide insight into the future challenges for work health and safety regulators due to changes in the nature of work, the workforce, supply chains, and the social and political environments, and encourage inspectors to consider how the way they do their work may need to change to meet these challenges.”
I encourage you all to analyse what you say, what you are told, what you do and how you do it. Too often we accept information and our situations uncritically and I want you to question everything, including what you read in this article.
If you ask a lawyer for advice about any issue related to occupational health and safety (OHS) their first piece of advice is likely to be “write a policy”. There are good legal reasons for advocating a policy, but policies can also create major problems. Policies are both a reflection of a workplace and the base on which improvements can be created.
Search for OHS policy guidance from the Victorian Government and it takes you to a page that describes an OHS policy as
“Laws, regulations and compliance codes which set out the responsibilities of employers and workers to ensure that safety is maintained at work.”
NO it’s not. The page also directs you to a WorkSafe page about insurance!