Industrial Manslaughter laws are spreading in Australia but are inconsistent

This year the South Australian Parliament will likely pass that State’s Industrial Manslaughter (IM) legislation as the introduction of these laws was an election commitment of the new Labor government. The consultation period on the draft Bill closes on February 10 2023 after being open for just over two months.

New South Wales may follow if the Labor Party wins the March 2023 election

Industrial Manslaughter laws under the broader occupational health and safety (OHS) continue to be contentious as a new research paper by Professor Richard Johnstone shows. However, the introduction of IM laws will forever be a political act at its core.

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Is psychosocial harm always preventable?

Occupational health and safety (OHS) in healthcare is a unique experience. Patient care and patient safety seem to override the OHS duties for healthcare workers. This is understandable given the culture and purpose with which people work; however, it is short-sighted, especially on the issue of mental health at work.

A new book on burnout (yes, another, and there are even more) was published recently on the issue of preventing burnout for healthcare workers, written by John Halbesleben. This 2nd edition has a slightly revised title to reflect the changing emphasis on mental health at work.

Halbesleben writes that the first edition from 2009 tried to convince readers that burnout was an occupational risk. Since then, that fact is now accepted, and not just because of the coronavirus pandemic. He writes:

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Legal Professional Privilege is the OHS equivalent of the Non-Disclosure Agreement

Pam Gurner-Hall is no stranger to this blog. Recently she appeared in an article by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) about access to information from South Australia’s occupational health and safety (OHS) regulator, SafeWorkSA.

SafeWorkSA has been under considerable scrutiny for the last few years. A “root and branch” review conducted by John Merritt is the latest inquiry. [Note: this article was written before the release of the Merritt report and the Government’s interim response last weekend. More on that report shortly]

Gurner-Hall’s concerns seem more about the government’s response to the inquiry and the application of Legal Professional Privilege (LPP). She is quoted saying:

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Extreme heat

Global warming is affecting how we work just as much as how we live. Working in Heat policies are designed based on experience rather than meteorological and climate forecasts, meaning these documents are always chasing reality and not getting ahead of the occupational hazard.

On January 19, 2023, Steven Greenhouse (coincidental name) looked at the topic of working in extreme for Nieman Reports writing that:

“High heat can be a big problem for the nation’s workers, not just farmworkers and construction workers, but delivery workers, utility workers, landscaping workers, and warehouse workers.”

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Mental health book should be influential due to lack of bullshit

Some of the recent guidance on mental health at work from occupational health and safety (OHS) regulators is not scintillating or even engaging. Their purpose is to provide information with the hope it is presented in a workplace by someone super-communicative and influential. (C’mon, really? We’re talking about OHS here.)

Luckily there is a recent easy-to-read book of fewer than 150 pages that reads like a conversation over a single afternoon with the reader about Mental Health At Work.

Continue reading “Mental health book should be influential due to lack of bullshit”

Who’s to blame?

All occupational health and safety (OHS) advocates should be reading the work of Jordan Barab. His latest article on “blaming the workers” for their own incidents is a great example of his writing. The article also illustrates one of the things about OHS that really gets up the noses of employers – if we don’t blame the workers, we have to blame the employers. An Australian answer to the situation would be Yeah, Nah.

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How could OHS have helped manage Chris Smith?

SkyNews and radio host, Chris Smith, has been dismissed due to inappropriate behaviour at a company Christmas party. This type of behaviour has been on the occupational health and safety (OHS) and Industrial Relations radar for a long, long time. Recently the psychological impacts of this type of behaviour have come to the fore, placing the issue clearly in the OHS realm.

It is useful to look at the Chris Smith saga through the “new” OHS perspective.

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