[Updated 12 noon 12 June 2019]
Why do some companies accept or propose an Enforceable Undertaking in relation to breaches of occupational health and safety law? This media statement from WorkSafeNT dated June 7, 2019 illustrates one answer:
“Car Festivals Pty Ltd and the Northern Territory Major Events Company Pty Ltd committed to spend a combined $1.2 million in legally binding agreements, when it became clear NT WorkSafe was considering laying charges over the incident.” (emphasis added)
This reads like someone has calculated the potential cost (fines, etc) to the companies from an OHS prosecution and has opted for the cheaper option. And $1.2 million is a hefty financial commitment.
In October 2018, the Australian Financial Review (AFR) reported (paywalled) on an occupational health and safety (OHS) investigation into overwork and staff fatigue being conducted by WorkSafe Victoria. The AFR has followed this with a report on June 6 2019 (paywalled) by its Legal Affairs Editor, Michael Pelly. It is a positive article about how the law firm, King, Wood & Mallesons (KWM) has improved its OHS performance since October last year. However there is much between the lines that hints at the OHS approach used and how limited it is.
One of the prominent occupational health and safety (OHS) lawyers in Australia has started a podcast. The first episode discusses Industrial Manslaughter.
Steve Bell of law firm Herbert Smith Freehills recently published the Safety Podcast, but the title is a bit of a misnomer as, judging by the first episode, the discussion is more about safety law than safety. Regardless, the podcast adds to our state of OHS knowledge.
The debate on the risks of using glyphosate products to control weeds continues to ripple around the world largely sparked by the global penetration of media reports from the United States. It is important to look at the risks without the unique litigation climate in the United States. A recent Australian report by SBS television emphasises to the occupational health and safety (OHS) risks of glyphosate.
The report started with mention of reviews into the use of glyphosate products by New South Wales councils and the Victorian Government. It would disappointing if such reviews had not already been conducted given the glyphosate was identified as possible carcinogenic several years ago. That change in the state of knowledge of a hazard should have been sufficient for all glyphosate users to reassess their risks.
This was followed up by information on the residual environmental impacts that was reminiscent of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring but is not strictly an OHS matter.
For the first time in many years, the Safety Institute of Australia’s National Conference heard from two prominent industry association leaders, Mark Goodsell from the Australian Industry Group (AiGroup) and James Pearson, CEO of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI). The absence of a representative of the trade union movement to “balance” some of the comments was a weakness of the conference but perhaps unavoidable a few days after a very busy Federal Election campaign. Both conference speakers addressed OHS issues and the topic-de-jour, Industrial Manslaughter laws.