Miserable failures in OHS of labour hire workers

Two recent occupational health and safety (OHS) prosecutions in South Australia related to labour hire employees and providers indicate changes in enforcement approach and clues for change as they illustrate how some people and companies have almost no regard for the safety of its employees.

According to a SafeWorkSA media release dated 28 May 2016 (not available online at the time of writing):

“The Industrial Court convicted Queensland based labour hire company, Fix Force (Qld) Pty Ltd, and imposed a penalty of $150 000 plus court costs.

On 22 October 2012, Mr Clinton Benson, a contracted employee on the South Road Superway project, suffered life threatening injuries when his head was crushed between a lifting arm and welding table.

Following investigation by SafeWork SA, Fix Force (Qld) Pty Ltd was charged with offences under the then Occupational Health Safety and Welfare Act 1986 (SA), for failure to ensure its employee was safe from injury and risk to health whist at work, as far as was reasonably practicable.”

Continue reading “Miserable failures in OHS of labour hire workers”

OHS consultant guilty of impersonating a SafeWork SA inspector

There are several important lessons from a recent conviction of an occupational health and safety consultant (OHS) in South Australia for impersonating a SafeWork SA inspector on multiple occasions.

According to SafeWorkSA’s media release, Sam Narroway has been found guilty of impersonating a SafeWork South Australia Inspector and fined $A15,000.  Presiding Industrial Magistrate Lieschke stated that

“In my view these are serious offences – they involved risk to the community, damage to the credibility of SafeWork SA and to professional work health safety consultants”.

According to LinkedIn and as acknowledged in the Court judgement, Sam Narroway is now the Chief Executive Officer of Australian Workplace Safety Group.  Narroway has described this new company as a successful venture and indications are that he intends to restart his career.

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There is no such thing as a Cone of Silence, accept the reality

At a recent seminar on managing serious workplace incidents, there was a brief discussion about how evidence is collected and controlled.  The response from the panel was that one should always assume that conversations are always being recorded or have the capacity to be.  A non-safety example of this appeared in The Age newspaper recently. It appears that someone recorded the Royal Australasian College of Surgeon’s examination process and the recording included discriminatory comments.  Two examiners have been stood down and the College is investigating the examination processes. Continue reading “There is no such thing as a Cone of Silence, accept the reality”

Are OHS professionals on the ‘B’ Ark?

In The Restaurant at the End of the Universe Douglas Adams has a character tell a story of a ship of middle managers being sent from a supposedly doomed plant to colonise a new world.  The ‘B’ Ark contains millions of

“Hairdressers, tired TV producers, insurance salesmen, personnel officers, security guards, public relations executives, management consultants,….”

I think occupational health and safety (OHS) professionals are lucky they were not included in the list because many people consider OHS professionals to be little more than a nuisance.   Continue reading “Are OHS professionals on the ‘B’ Ark?”

Don’t kill anyone. Don’t seriously injure anyone.

Tooma 2016Michael Tooma (pictured right) has been a leading writer on occupational health and safety (OHS) law in Australia for some time.  He is one of the few labour lawyers who is not afraid to express an opinion although he has always spoken within the legal context.

Recently Tooma participated in a roadshow with

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Quiet Outrage inspires

Last year Professor Andrew Hopkins‘ contribution to occupational health and safety (OHS) was celebrated in Australia.  At the event, a publisher was promoting Hopkins’ upcoming autobiography.  The book is not an autobiography, it is better.

The book is called “Quiet Outrage – The Way of a Sociologist” and was released in March 2016.  Don’t be surprised if you have not heard of this new release.  The publisher, Wolters Kluwer, seems to have done next to nothing to promote this book even though Hopkins’ works have been a major seller for the company.  Hopkins writes that 90,000 copies of his books have been sold around the world – an extraordinary achievement for an Australian sociologist. Continue reading “Quiet Outrage inspires”

NZ survey reveals useful OHS profile

Safeguard-Issue 156New Zealand’s Safeguard magazine is a long-standing institution.  Recently it undertook its first ever Safety State of the Nation survey.  The results are interesting and should provide a format for Australia and other countries or publishers to follow.  Cross border comparisons could be fascinating.

Safeguard’s editor Peter Bateman says in a media statement:

“Given all the scaremongering stories which have accompanied the new Health and Safety at Work Act, it is pleasing to see 40% of respondents feel health and safety is an opportunity to improve their business rather than just to comply with the law.”

The fact that the results are made publicly available is also significant.  Not only does this allow me to write an article on the results, it shows a level of transparency that other safety-related surveyors, particularly those who charge hundreds of dollars for a survey report, could easily follow.

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Safety footwear needs more safety research

Safety footwear is a standard item of personal protective equipment (PPE) in many workplaces but it can be contentious.

safety boots

The need for safety footwear

Some years ago I was asked to assess the need for safety footwear in a large manufacturing site.  The need was obvious, there was a lot of manual handling of cumbersome objects and the factory was old so the design and layout was based on the lifting and moving of objects rather than a flow of production.

The company wanted this need verified as one of the office staff, clearly of some influence, would enter the factory in high heels and refused to wear safety footwear.  This was a clear breach of the company’s safety policies and was causing unrest in the factory.  The safety solution was clear

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Trade unions temper language on ABCC safety role

The politics of industrial relations will be a crucial element of Australia’s Federal election due later this year.  The Federal Government has already used workplace safety as a reason for the reintroduction of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC).  The trade union movement’s latest response is a campaign launched on April 10, 2016 accompanied by an online video. Continue reading “Trade unions temper language on ABCC safety role”