Industrial Manslaughter laws explained to Senate inquiry

The trade union push for Industrial Manslaughter laws in Australia continues as the various State and Federal elections loom.  Last week the Senate Inquiry into Industrial Deaths heard the clearest explanation of the need for these laws for some time as Dr Paul Sutton of the Victorian Trades Hall Council went beyond the usual chants of “what do we want? when do we want it?”

Sutton’s proposal for the Victorian laws differs from Queensland’s by taking inspiration from England  to pierce the corporate veil to the senior manager level rather than leaving it at the top executive level. 

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SafeWorkSA described as dysfunctional and immature

South Australia’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) conducted its last public hearing into SafeWork SA on August 31 2018.  The Counsel Assisting, Holly Stanley, made several recommendations for improving SafeWork SA’s performance and governance, including body cameras for inspectors.  Rather than wrapping up the inquiry with this public hearing, Commission  Bruce Lander has asked for further submissions about these latest recommendations.

Stanley clearly stated  the conditions from which she was making her recommendation such as resource restrictions, previous

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Safety Leadership is a thing and not a person

For many years now workplace health and safety conferences have discussed Leadership and how it is vital to the establishment of appropriate safety performance and, often, the establishment of a safety culture.  NSCA Foundation’s SafetyCONNECT conference was no different in some ways but there was a major concession in the last couple of the minutes of the conference.

Many presenters implied, or stated, that Leadership is a critical element of successful safety management.  They also said that safety starts from the top.  It is not unreasonable to interpret these statements as meaning that Leadership is embodied in the Chief Executive Officer, Senior Executive or Director and that safety trickles down through the management structures like neoliberal nonsense.

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The banks are having their culture changed for them and OHS needs to watch and learn

Occupational health and safety (OHS) is easy.  Change is hard.  OHS can identify  workplace hazards and risks but it is the employer or business owner or Person Conducting Business or Undertaking (PCBU) who needs to make the decision to change. All of this activity occurs within, and due to, the culture of each workplace and work location.  OHS lives within, and affects, each company’s organisational culture but a safety subculture is almost invisible, so it is worth looking at the broader organisational culture and there is no better show, at the moment in Australia, than The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry (the Banking Royal Commission).

Public submissions are littered with references to culture but it is worth looking more closely at what one of the corporate financial regulators said in a submission in April 2018.  The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) wrote:

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People Risk = OHS for Human Resource professionals

The Governance Institute of Australia hosted a discussion about “Corporate culture and people risk — lessons from the Royal Commission”.  The seminar was worthwhile attending but there was also moments of discomfort.

The reality was that The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry was not discussed in any great detail as it was treated as a ghost hovering behind the discussion but not a scary ghost, almost a ghost of embarrassment.

And it seems that “People Risk” is what the Human Resource (HR) profession calls occupational health and safety (OHS) when it can’t bring itself to say occupational health and safety.

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