CFMEU steps up the OHS pressure

SafetyAtWorkBlog has dipped into the occupational health and safety (OHS) and political issues around the death of Jorge Castillo-Riffo in Adelaide in 2014.  On October 4 2018, the CFMEU issued a media release outlining the recommendations it made to the Coronial inquest into Castillo-Riffo’s death.  They deserve serious consideration:

  • Mandatory coronial inquests should be held into all deaths at work, with a mandatory requirement for the reporting of any action taken, or proposed to be taken, in consequence of any findings and recommendations made;
  • Families should receive funding to be represented;
  • An independent safety commissioner should be established in SA whose duty it is to review, comment and provide recommendations concerning the safety record of companies who tender for government construction contracts work over $5 million;
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Workers’ Inferno

Recently the 20th anniversary of the Esso Longford disaster was commemorated in Victoria. Coinciding with this anniversary was the release of a book about the disaster and its personal aftermath, Workers’ Inferno, written by Ramsina Lee.

This book has been in development for many, many years and the Lee’s writing talent is on display in the structure of the book and the stories within.  These stories largely linear But the multiple strands allow Lee to jump from one to the other providing a variety tone.

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OHS needs to accept the influence of neoliberalism and rebuild

Many have been claiming that the era of neoliberal economics and the associated politics is over or, at least, coughing up blood.  However, occupational health and safety (OHS) is rarely discussed in terms of the neoliberal impacts, and vice versa, yet many of the business frustrations with red tape, regulatory enforcement strategies, reporting mechanisms and requirements and others have changed how OHS has been managed and interpreted.

One of the most readable analyses of neoliberalism in Australia comes from

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New reporting standard reflects the social licence

Inaccurate or insufficient data about occupational health and safety (OHS) plagues the decision-making of governments and business, and OHS professionals.  Technology has provided some hope on better datasets but only for the analysis of data, not necessarily the quality of that data. Workplace incidents and issues continue to be under-reported, especially non-traumatic incidents. The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) offers a framework for better reporting of OHS issues and incidents which also improves the credibility of companies, helping to regain the trust of the community.

Recently, GRI released its latest

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The risks of having an OHS policy

If you ask a lawyer for advice about any issue related to occupational health and safety (OHS) their first piece of advice is likely to be “write a policy”.  There are good legal reasons for advocating a policy, but policies can also create major problems.  Policies are both a reflection of a workplace and the base on which improvements can be created.

Search for OHS policy guidance from the Victorian Government  and it takes you to a page that describes an OHS policy as

“Laws, regulations and compliance codes which set out the responsibilities of employers and workers to ensure that safety is maintained at work.”

NO it’s not.  The page also directs you to a WorkSafe page about insurance!

WorkSafe Tasmania

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