People Risk = OHS for Human Resource professionals

The Governance Institute of Australia hosted a discussion about “Corporate culture and people risk — lessons from the Royal Commission”.  The seminar was worthwhile attending but there was also moments of discomfort.

The reality was that The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry was not discussed in any great detail as it was treated as a ghost hovering behind the discussion but not a scary ghost, almost a ghost of embarrassment.

And it seems that “People Risk” is what the Human Resource (HR) profession calls occupational health and safety (OHS) when it can’t bring itself to say occupational health and safety.

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Front page OHS article gives half the story

Years ago I was advised how to read a newspaper article – the first two paragraphs and the last.  The exclusive front page article in The Australian ($ paywalled) on August 15 2018 about occupational health and safety (OHS) management at Sydney’s light rail construction project is a good example of what journalists choose to write and what they are obliged to write.

“A pedestrian had ribs broken, workers have been run over and fallen in holes, and there have been near-misses that could have caused deaths or serious injuries in hundreds of safety breaches on the Sydney CBD light rail project over the past 18 months.

The extraordinary catalogue is detailed in CBD and South East Light Rail Advisory Board minutes obtained by The Australian.”

and

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Queensland enforces its labour hire laws while Victoria is still working theirs out

Sunset over Lockyer Valley, in South East Queensland, Australia.

The Queensland government was the first Australian State to introduce a licencing scheme for the providers of contract workers and temporary labour.  As a result, enforcement activity by the regulator there will likely set the scene for similar actions in other States particularly as Victoria has opened it public consultation on its labour hire regulations. Sadly workplace health and safety seems to have been overlooked in Victoria’s draft labour hire regulations and current consultation process.

Last week the Queensland Government

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Is the Senate a workplace?

Recently Australian media was entranced with an argument over gender politics between two Senators, David Leyonjhelm and Sarah Hanson-Young.  One of the elements in the argument concerns sexual harassment in the workplace but is the Australian Parliament a workplace like any other Australian workplace? And does this really matter?

In the aftermath of the initial argument, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said:

“David Leyonhjelm’s offensive remarks should have been withdrawn the moment they were uttered and he should have apologised. And it’s not too late for him to withdraw and apologise.

That type of language has no place in Parliament and it shouldn’t have a place in any workplace. We have to treat each other with respect, we must do that. Respect for women in particular is one of the highest priorities that we should be focused on. I just want to be very clear about this.

It is a, you know, we often talk about domestic violence and our concerns there and all the measures we’re taking to address it. I just want to say this, it’s a reminder to everybody that not all disrespecting women ends in violence against women, but that is where all violence against women begins. So you need to have respectful workplaces where we treat each other with respect. Where we disagree, we disagree in respectful language……” (emphasis added)

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Not even lip service to OHS

Australia currently has a lot of official inquiries into workplace issues that affect the occupational health and safety (OHS) of workers.  It is almost impossible to keep up with them and, as a result, some important voices are being missed, but even if they spoke, there is a strong chance they will not be listened to. The Victorian Government has released the final report of the Inquiry into Penalty Rates and Fair Pay.  There are two overt mentions of OHS that don’t seem to go anywhere.

In a submission quoted by the Inquiry, the

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