In August 2019, lawyer and author Michael Tooma (pictured right) was the keynote speaker at the 2019 National Work Health and Safety Colloquium ostensibly talking about his May 2019 presentation to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). It was an important presentation of the paper he wrote is important. However, it was in the questions afterwards, on Industrial Manslaughter laws and accountability, where Tooma was most passionate and personal.
As it is in several countries, the emergence of silicosis related to synthetic stone is gradually getting the attention of governments as more, and younger, workers are starting to die from this aggressive occupational disease. Professor Sim outlined the risk of handling this new type of stone by asking:
The solutions to most occupational health and safety (OHS) issues are multidisciplinary meaning that solutions are rarely simple and rarely come from a single source of information or knowledge. Recently I have been challenging my colleagues to spread their voices and experience beyond their own disciplines to illustrate how a worker’s health and safety is affected by a broad range of hazards and environments. I extend that challenge to all organisations including employer and industry groups like the Business Council of Australia (BCA) which has recently released a report on “The state of enterprise bargaining in Australia”.
Many organisations undertake research into different elements of work but rarely take an overall perspective, or one that analyses the interconnection of societal and occupational conditions and pressures. The latest BCA report is one example
The mainstream media reported on the release of new demographic statistics from the latest HILDA survey (Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia). Most of the attention is on the increasing commuting times to and from work in the urban centres. Traffic is not usually an occupational health and safety (OHS) issue but traffic congestion reduces the effectiveness of our social recuperation and recovery structures and work/life balance initiatives.
In April this year the Victorian Government’s Workplace Manslaughter Implementation Taskforce raised the following issues in its Criminal Law Reform Consultation Paper, seen by the SafetyAtWorkBlog:
- the definition of “person” in the OHS and proposed Industrial Manslaughter laws
- the establishment of negligence and the standard of care expected by the reasonable person
- the extension of Industrial Manslaughter offence to the deaths of members of the public
- whether a decision or act causes the death or only contributes to it
- exceptions to the laws beyond just volunteers
- inter-agency cooperation and coordination for effective prosecutions.
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