Large consulting firms have been getting a hammering lately. Fraud, leaking information, work-related suicides, corruption, unethical behaviour……. I bet they are nostalgic for the good old days when they were primarily auditors. There are several occupational health and safety (OHS) connections with the Big4, Big3 or Big 7. Auditing is the obvious overlap, but several recent books have identified some other strange relationships with Government that affect policy that, in turn, affect OHS. This is a brief look at one of those books – The Big Con.
Limited perspectives on working hours
On March 8, 2023, Giuseppe Carabetta, Associate Professor, University of Technology Sydney, wrote about how the current dispute between Politician Monique Ryan and her former Chief of Staff, Sally Rugg, could open the door to lots of legal action through the courts and the Fair Work Commission. Sadly the occupational health and safety (OHS) legislation is mentioned but does not feature. Let’s look at what he said and missed.
Any OHS strategy needs to generate spillovers
Reading Safe Work Australia’s latest ten-year strategy forced me to think creatively.
SWA’s discussion of Persistent Challenges suggests controls that are almost all at the Administrative Control level – education, awareness, knowledge, training, understanding, support, communication and more. This is after admitting that:
“Injury and fatality rates have fallen significantly over the last decade. However, progress has slowed.”Page 5
How can we increase the use of the Hierarchy of Controls (HoC) in determining safety-related policy? How can we get organisations to progress up the control hierarchy to show others that it is possible to prevent all of the incidents that everyone agrees are preventable? (Refer to WorkSafe Victoria’s Colin Radford for a recent example of this belief:
“Every workplace incident, every injury, every illness, every death is entirely unequivocally preventable.”)
WorkSafe Tasmania is not cooperating
In December 2021, five children died, and others were injured when an inflatable jumping castle lifted into the air after a strong gust of wind. WorkSafe Tasmania continues to investigate the incident, as is the Tasmanian Coroner. Recently the Coroner postponed the inquest because WorkSafe would not provide documents essential to the process, prolonging the grief of the families and the local community who want, and need, answers.
Silicosis campaign is about safety but is also about politics
The calls for banning engineered stone‘s importation are curious and likely to be acted on later this week.
Politicians, unions and some OHS associations have undertaken a risk assessment and determined that elimination is the most effective harm prevention strategy. Previous risk assessments of silicosis have been reported on in this blog for some time without banning the material. The risks have not changed even with increased inspection and enforcement. So what has changed? Politics.
OHS and the big picture
There is an increasing trend to look deeper into the causal factors of workplace incidents and poor worker health in the physical and psychological contexts. This is partly due to “systems thinking” and partly dissatisfaction with failed regulatory and psychological strategies that promised so much but have failed to realise the promise. The trend needs some boosting by the occupational health and safety (OHS) community, which itself needs upskilling.
Industrial Manslaughter laws are spreading in Australia but are inconsistent [Open Access]
This year the South Australian Parliament will likely pass that State’s Industrial Manslaughter (IM) legislation as the introduction of these laws was an election commitment of the new Labor government. The consultation period on the draft Bill closes on February 10 2023 after being open for just over two months.
New South Wales may follow if the Labor Party wins the March 2023 election
Industrial Manslaughter laws under the broader occupational health and safety (OHS) continue to be contentious as a new research paper by Professor Richard Johnstone shows. However, the introduction of IM laws will forever be a political act at its core.Continue reading “Industrial Manslaughter laws are spreading in Australia but are inconsistent [Open Access]”