Governments use legislation and the threat of punishment as a deterrent for dangerous actions and poor decision-making. Imposing harsh consequences is hoped to change the behaviour of companies and individuals. Occupational health and safety (OHS) laws are no different with deterrence being used to justify the introduction and enforcement of Industrial Manslaughter laws, for instance.
The Australian Senate’s current inquiry
South Australia’s occupational health and safety (OHS) regulator, SafeWorkSA, is being investigated by that State’s Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC). SafeWorkSA has been subjected to several inquiries over recent years but the current ICAC one is perhaps the most significant, and one that is generating a lot of local discussion, and that should be watched by all OHS professionals, Regulators around Australia.
It is important to note the specifics of the Inquiry or “Evaluation”.
In 2004, the hottest occupational health and safety (OHS) topic was industrial manslaughter. In Melbourne, there were seminars on the topic that easily topped 200 participants. However it was also a year of confusion and fear, which may have accounted for the good seminar attendance figures.
At that time I was producing an online PDF Magazine and I devoted a whole edition to the topic. Now it is a time capsule of the issues and objections raised at the time which provide a useful context to the current debates. Here is my article on the issue from August 2004, slightly edited with links included, where possible. Continue reading “Industrial Manslaughter and the Big Picture (2004)”
Western Australia’s Parliament heard more about the State’s investigation into work-related mental health on June 26 2018.
On June 28 2018 in the West Australian Parliament, the Minister for Commerce and Industrial Relations, Bill Johnston, progressed the State’s move to towards harmonised Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws. According to Hansard, Johnston said
“Last July, I formed a ministerial advisory panel to advise on the development of a single, harmonised and comprehensive work health and safety act. The new act will cover all workplaces in Western Australia and be aligned with legislation in other Australian jurisdictions…..” (page 4146, emphasis added)
That WA will have new safety laws to cover all workplaces is a very good move;