Governments could improve their OHS performance if they wanted

In 2019, the head of SafeWork South Australia, Martyn Campbell, told this blog that he agreed that government departments should be exemplars in occupational health and safety and that “we should be the pinnacle of safety professionalism and leadership”. It should not be a surprise to hear the head of an OHS regulatory agency claim this, but the origin of the question to Campbell stemmed from a review of Victoria’s OHS Act by Chris Maxwell QC in 2004.

Given the recent OHS-related scandals in various jurisdictions, which have often been related to the management of the coronavirus pandemic, it is worth reminding ourselves of the OHS performance standards that Maxwell advocated for all government departments and agencies.

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Wage theft needs more OHS analysis

Journalist Ben Schneiders has written an excellent book about wage theft in Australian businesses – where it came from, why it persists, and the inequality it generates through institutional and wilful exploitation. What is missing is a chapter, at least, on the occupational health and safety (OHS) contexts of this exploitation. OHS is touched on but is also missed when discussing some of the pay and working conditions.

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The good and the odd in Oz Minerals’ “Safety Stop”

Oz Minerals Managing Director Andrew Cole is reported in today’s Australian Financial Review (paywalled) saying:

“.. there had also been an ‘‘unacceptable’’ trend in workplace safety during the past three months at the mines, but he was confident the trend had stabilised.”

This is likely to have come from the company’s September 2022 Quarterly Report and webcast released yesterday.

The company’s one-day “stop” for safety consultation is admirable, but some of the discussion reported in other media implies that an older-style attitude to worker safety persists.

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Who is responsible for Burnout? And for preventing it?

I apologise for often referring readers to paywalled content. This restriction can affect the impact and flow of a story, but I want readers to be able to verify the sources of my comments and my information. And I acknowledge that this blog, for many, is an example of the economic reality of paywalled content.

However, there was an article in The Guardian on October 11, 2022, about burnout that is well worth reading (You may be able to get short-term access). Below are some extracts from that article with my thoughts.

The Guardian article “‘I didn’t see how I could ever get back to a normal life’: how burnout broke Britain – and how it can recover” by Gaby Hinsliff,, recounts several cases of burnout and near-burnout that are typical of responses to work-related mental ill-health.

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SafeWorkSA’s approach to psychological harm is as much as it can do but doesn’t have to be

The harm presented by working in Australia’s mining sector has been a concern for a long time. Over the last decade or two, the psychosocial harm from the same work has come to the fore. The occupational health and safety (OHS) responsibility sits clearly with the employers who, in Australia, are often well-resourced national and international corporations. Recently SafeWorkSA issued a media release entitled “Sexual harassment in mining sparks campaign“. SafetyAtWorkBlog took the opportunity to put some questions to the South Australia OHS agency, to which it has responded.

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Lymph v Blood – OHS at the Jobs & Skills Summit

If Industrial Relations is the lifeblood of the economy and the nation, then Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) is the lymphatic system, a less well-known supplementary system without which blood circulation fails and the body stops working.

Australia’s Job and Skills Summit that has just concluded focused on the blood. Media analysis offered mixed interpretations. The event was politically stage-managed with many agenda items pre-prepared for the Summit to confirm, but it was not a worthless gabfest, as some (who chose not to attend) have asserted. On the matter of occupational health and safety, there was one new initiative but most of the OHS change, if any, is now more likely to come through the (wellbeing) budget in October.

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OHS issues for the Jobs and Skills Summit

Last week the Australian Government released an issues paper for its upcoming Jobs and Skills Summit. The main topics are broad but still not as inclusive as possible. The paper says:

“The goal of the Summit is to find common ground on how Australia can build a bigger, better trained and more productive workforce; boost real wages and living standards; and create more opportunities for more Australians.”

Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) is relevant to training, productivity, and living standards but is hardly mentioned in the issues paper and is likely to be ignored in the Summit itself, even though the issues paper includes a question about workplace safety,

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