Duty of Care to the safety and health of “others”.

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) has released a very good report about Australia’s immigration detention centres which includes a long discussion on duty of care to detainees under Common Law. The report, “In Poor Health: Health care in Australian immigration detention” does not include any discussion on the duty of care under work health and safety (WHS) legislation however it can be argued that the Australian Government, through its supply chain, chain of responsibility and contract management, also has a duty of care to detainees under health and safety laws.

Several recent legal actions and workplace safety guidance indicates that clarification about the duty of care on physical and psychological risks to “others” is overdue.

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ACCC slaps down the FCAI on quad bike safety

On June 5 2018, Sharon O’Keeffe of the North Queensland Register newspaper aired the response of the Deputy Commissioner of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Mick Keogh to claims from the Federated Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) on the safety of quad bikes and crush protection devices (CPDs). O’Keeffe says “the gloves are off”.

In March 2018, the ACCC announced its intention for a mandatory safety standard for quad bikes, or All Terrain Vehicles (ATV,) that included CPDs. 

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The OHS context of the Robert Doyle case

Source: Lucas Dawson Photography

The number of prominent men who have come a cropper as a result of their sexual harassment includes the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Robert Doyle.  A workplace safety trade show in Melbourne recently conducted a public panel seminar on the issue of sexual harassment with particular emphasis on the Doyle case.  One of the Melbourne councillors at the time, Stephen Mayne, spoke via video.  The panel also included a representative of local government, a safety advocate and a lawyer.

One of the most curious elements of this event was that it was conducted in a trade show

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Industrial Manslaughter laws likely for Victoria

With little surprise, at the Australian Labor Party (ALP) Conference in Victoria on 26 May 2018, Premier Daniel Andrews has included the introduction of Industrial Manslaughter laws as a formal part of the campaign for re-election in November 2018.

According to his media release, if re-elected,

“.., employers will face fines of almost $16 million and individuals responsible for negligently causing death will be held to account and face up to 20 years in jail.

A re-elected Andrews Labor Government will make sure all Victorians are safe in our workplaces, with the offence to also apply when an employer’s negligent conduct causes the death of an innocent member of the public..”

There are a lot of steps between an incident and Industrial Manslaughter charges. 

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Still treating the symptoms of mental health

Suicide prevention continues to be a growth area in rainsingfund-raising and awareness raising.  On 17 May 2018, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull released a video supporting a treadmill challenge in support of suicide prevention.  It seems an odd campaign when there have been various walks and other events in the past that have more of a public statement that being on a treadmill in a gym.  But this is not the only odd suicide awareness event.  Last week, Winslow Constructions had a program launch that was also a little odd and a campaign that is worthwhile, as far as it goes.

In May 2018, Winslow Constructions held a media event on one of its residential construction projects to the north of Melbourne. 

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