Inspection data offers COVID19 risk priorities

The coronavirus pandemic is an unexpected challenge for many employers and for workers. As this article from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation shows, there is confusion about the rights and duties of both parties at work.

Larry acted under his duty to not put himself at harm by raising his concern to his employer. The employer should have already determined that the workplace is safe and without risks to health and implemented control measures to reduce the risk of cross-infection. Guidance on how to do this has existed for several weeks.

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Industrial Manslaughter in WA but Federally? Unlikely

Gold warm sunlight on CBD of Perth city as seen from Kings Park. Source: istockphoto

The West Australian government presented its new Work Health and Safety (WHS) Bill to Parliament in November 2019 and debate has continued in February 2020. Joining with most other States in using the model WHS legislation is a major change for that State as it not only brings one set of occupational health and safety (OHS) laws to all businesses, including mines and petroleum, but it introduces the offence of Industrial Manslaughter. However, IM in WA has a two option penalty – “Industrial manslaughter – crime” and “Industrial manslaughter – simple offence”.

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Emerging OHS risks and strategies in Ballarat

On 25 February 2020, I spoke at a breakfast seminar at the Ballarat Regional Occupational Safety & Health Group (BROSH) on emerging OHS risks and strategies. Below is an edited version of that talk, which touched on CORVID19, bushfire smoke, sexual harassment, mental health, safety culture and communication:

Industrial Manslaughter

Industrial Manslaughter laws will come into effect in Victoria in the middle of this year.  Anyone who thinks these laws may relate to their workplace or how their businesses are run, should be afraid.  But they should also be ashamed.  If they are worried about going to jail because their OHS decisions may be negligent, they are not managing the safety and health of their workers in the way the law intended, or the Regulator and the community expects.  They should be ashamed.

If you need an authoritative and informative speaker on workplace health and safety for your event, or just good, practical OHS advice, email Kevin Jones
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Dreamworld presents a story bigger than just an OHS failure

Late yesterday the Queensland Minister for Industrial Relations, Grace Grace, issued a media statement that clarified the work health and safety (WHS) prosecution process that is likely to apply to Ardent Leisure, the owner of Dreamworld. Significantly she clarified the Coroner’s Findings and the misinformation of some media outlets. Ardent Leisure has issued a statement in support of safety improvements.

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OHS and wage theft

Australia is several years into a scandal of underpayment of workers referred to, by some, as wage theft. Occupational health and safety (OHS) would not normally figure in a wages and industrial relations (IR) scandal but the scandal has a legitimate OHS context.

The previous, and ongoing, scandals are not going to be summarised in this article as there are plenty of articles elsewhere in lots of different media but there is a common thread in many of the scandals. Workers are not being paid for some of the time they spend at work, work that is commonly described as unpaid overtime. This unpaid overtime extends the working day, for a variety of reasons, and OHS may not accommodate these additional hours (as they are “not official”) or OHS may be “stretched”, or risks downplayed.

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