Queensland is undertaking a “safety reset” following several recent deaths in the mining and quarry industry. This government initiative has the backing of the resources sector and has collated a good amount of safety resources in support of what is a mandatory exercise.
What is a little different in this initiative is that it reinforces that the primary responsibility for occupational health and safety (OHS) rests with the employers and company owners. In the past, government initiatives have tended to take on the responsibility for the OHS changes or imply that it is the government’s job to fix the situation and the relative safety cultures, as if it was government (in)activity that caused the problem.
There are a few occupational health and safety (OHS) matters in Australia that happened in the last week that are of note. SafetyAtWorkBlog has put together a quick list of those matters of interest.
Big Mental Health Challenge
“The Australian Capital Territory has appointed its first “dedicated psychological health officer [who] will equip workplaces with the tools and resources needed to support the social and emotional wellbeing of working Canberrans.
The psychological health officer will provide employees, managers and supervisors with support such as information sessions, accessible resources and training programs. WorkSafe ACT inspectors will also receive training and access to ongoing mentoring for responding to psychological hazards.”
For many years, the Australian medical has been supportive of a “Health Benefits of Good Work” (HBGW) initiative. This initiative, started in 2010, is directly relevant to how Australia is determining its mental health policy and strategies especially as they relate to workplaces. The initiative was developed by:
“…. the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (AFOEM) of The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP). This initiative is based on compelling Australasian and international evidence that good work is beneficial to people’s health and wellbeing and that long term work absence, work disability and unemployment generally have a negative impact on health and wellbeing.”
This initiative can be seen behind many of the public statements about the mental health status of the unemployed as this sits within the public health and the social welfare sectors, but it is rarely mentioned by those providing occupational health and safety (OHS) advice.
The issue of Industrial Manslaughter laws continues in Victoria. Several organisations were invited to provide submissions to the Victorian Government’s task force formed to look at the implementation of these laws. Three of those submissions have been seen by SafetyAtWorkBlog:
The joint submission states that
“The laws will also improve health and safety outcomes in workplaces by providing a real deterrent to employers who are tempted to cut corners on health and safety.”
This week Safe Work Australia commenced another round of public consultation on the recommendations of the Boland Report. There was no hint of this at last week’s WHS Prosecution and Enforcement Conference. That conference had no speaker from SWA but it did have Marie Boland as a keynote speaker, and even she made no mention of this next stage of consultation. However, the conference was lively, challenging and revealing.