New film provides an update on legal action over the 2014 Hazelwood mine fire

An independently-produced documentary, Our Power, about the Hazelwood mine fire had its Victorian premiere on March 2 2019. The Hazelwood coal mine fire was a major workplace disaster than generated substantial public health damage in the neighbour communities in the Latrobe Valley. An early record of the event and its impacts can be found in Tom Doig‘s book The Coal Face.

The documentary provides unique vision of the fire and how it burned and polluted the neighbourhood for over a month in 2014. As time goes on, the fire is seen more as an environmental disaster as it is workplace incident and speakers in Our Power are certainly confident in linking the fire with the privatisation of State-owned assets and the social injustice that underpins neoliberalism.

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Workers’ Inferno

Recently the 20th anniversary of the Esso Longford disaster was commemorated in Victoria. Coinciding with this anniversary was the release of a book about the disaster and its personal aftermath, Workers’ Inferno, written by Ramsina Lee.

This book has been in development for many, many years and the Lee’s writing talent is on display in the structure of the book and the stories within.  These stories largely linear But the multiple strands allow Lee to jump from one to the other providing a variety tone.

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Pressure, Disorganisation and Regulatory Failure

A reader recently asked why I haven’t written about the recent retirement of Professor Michael Quinlan.  Michael has featured in many SafetyAtWorkBlog articles over many years and has been a major supporter for industrial, labour relations and occupational health and safety research in Australia and elsewhere for a long time.

He has many legacies but this article will focus on one tool he developed with his associate Phillip Bohle – the Pressure, Disorganisation and Regulatory Failure (PDR) model.  PDR is explained at length in this excellent 2011 research paper written with Elsa Underhill and is summarised in the table below:

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Bill Shorten reflects on the Esso Longford disaster

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Tonight, SafetyAtWorkBlog will be attending the launch of a new book that includes personal stories about the 1998 Esso Longford explosionWorkers’ Inferno.  The book is being released on the 2oth anniversary of the explosion that killed two workers, injured many others, disrupted gas supplies to the State of Victoria, resulted in a then-record fine for occupational health and safety (OHS) breaches and generated a Royal Commission.  It is also, perhaps, the best example of a company trying to blame the worker for a major incident.

The Federal Opposition leader, Bill Shorten, was an official of the Australian Workers Union at the time and today he published an opinion piece Continue reading “Bill Shorten reflects on the Esso Longford disaster”

Review of West Gate Bridge findings has important lessons for modern infrastructure projects

2020 will be the fiftieth anniversary of the collapse of the West Gate Bridge which resulted in, amongst others, the deaths of 35 workers, changed Victoria’s approach to occupational health and safety (OHS), instigated a Royal Commission into the disaster, strengthened trade union influence and established an industrial antagonism to the John Holland group of businesses that continues today.

Panorama of West Gate Bridge in Melbourne at sunset in summer.

Last week,

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