Most suicide prevention conferences I have attended have been dominated by mental health analyses, strategies and spruikers. The slow change in that dominance began around Professor Allison Milner’s research in 2018 and her questioning of the evidence of a mental health base but stalled with her untimely death a year later. A recent research paper in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine may be the spark to reignite the discussion on suicides that do not have a mental health connection.
There are more work health and safety lessons from a Near Miss incident than a workplace death. There is also more information about how occupational health and safety (OHS) should be managed in an Enforceable Undertaking (EU) than there is from a prosecution.
Recently there were several EU’s in Queensland that illustrated these OHS management lessons. Here’s a discussion about one of them
The details of the death of disabled woman Ann Marie Smith are horrific. (Readers can look them up online but be warned that they are confronting) Last week the South Australian police (SAPol) charged two directors of Integrity Care SA, Amy June Collins and Alison Maree Virgo, and the company itself with criminal neglect causing death and failing to comply with a health and safety duty of care, according to one media report.
There are many occupational health and safety (OHS) lessons from Smith’s death, but one of particular note is that the South Australian Police and SafeWorkSA conducted a joint investigation. Deputy Commissioner of Police Linda Williams said, in a media release:
When Tony Abbott was the (Liberal) Prime Minister, he reduced the commonwealth grants program substantially as part of his austerity and “debt” and deficit” strategies. This resulted in defunding many occupational health and safety (OHS) support and research units of trade unions, industry associations, etc. OHS has been poorly served ever since. The new (Labor) government has an opportunity to resurrect some of these OHS units by allocating some level of funding and, perhaps, expanding it beyond the traditional consultation triumvirate.
South Australian (SA) Greens MP Tammy Franks has again proposed a Bill on Industrial Manslaughter (IM) to the SA Parliament. For at least the sixth time! Franks may remain unsuccessful as the recently elected Australian Labor Party has promised its own IM Bill. Either way, South Australia will likely have Industrial Manslaughter laws very soon.
In Parliament on May 4 2022, Franks reiterated the importance of these laws but also illustrated their weaknesses.
Recently the Chamber of Minerals & Energy of Western Australia (CME) released a guideline on alcohol consumption in the mining sector. It is a curious document reflecting many of the significant corporate misunderstandings about occupational health and safety (OHS).
This article is not primarily about alcohol consumption guidelines, drink limits, or snacks with alcohol or moderation. The misunderstandings are displayed through the language used in CME’s media release, which seems to be the default setting for corporate discussions of OHS.
The policy impacts of COVID-19 were missing from the recently concluded federal election campaign in Australia, but the coronavirus persists and continues to kill. Other than the issue of mandatory vaccinations, the occupational health and safety (OHS) context, outside of the health and emergency services sectors, has not been addressed since the initial SafeWork Australia guidance in March 2020.
The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work recently released a discussion paper on the “Impact of Long Covid on Workers and Workplaces and the Role of OSH”.