Worker democracy reappears and OHS needs to be ready 4

Tripartite consultation of occupational health and safety (OHS) is largely a relic of the past. It remains in the structure of government policy formulation and in workplace safety legislation but, largely due to the decline in trade union presence in Australian workplaces; OHS consultation occurs more linearly than through formalised tripartism.

A recent example of contemporary consultation, that is likely to include OHS, was reported on in The Guardian newspaper on 17 July 2016. The incoming UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, wants to encourage the inclusion of a worker on company boards.  It is a curious suggestion from a Conservative Prime Minister which has been leapt on as “workplace democracy” by some commentators. The workplace democracy or “industrial democracy” push is not a new idea and was once seriously proposed in 1977 but, according to an article in The Conversation, the political time was not right.  Whether that time is now is debatable. More…

Culture – piss or get off the pot. 7

Andrew Hopkins has described organisational culture as “the way we as an organisation do things around here”.  The sociology of this statement is sound and the occupational health and safety (OHS) context seems to be an accepted element of safety management.  But for OHS professionals to continue to advocate the importance of a safety culture it is necessary for them to be aware of how culture is being interpreted and applied elsewhere. The Australian Labor Party recently stated that the Australian banking system needs a Royal Commission because, as Senator Sam Dastyari stated:

“We’ve seen scandal after scandal. We’ve seen failure after failure and we’ve seen a banking sector and a culture develop where effectively these matters are constantly being ignored”. More…

Miserable failures in OHS of labour hire workers 3

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.”


Quiet Outrage inspires 9

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. More…

Remember industrial manslaughter laws? 3

Cover of SIA_27(3)_BreslinLast week’s article on “A new option for avoiding OHS obligations” caused one reader to send through a copy of a 2005 article written by Paul Breslin about Industrial Manslaughter.

The article “Industrial manslaughter: Is it time for legislation in all Australian jurisdictions?“* is a good summary of the situation over ten years ago in Australia and is ripe for an update. More…