The Senate Committee inquiry into industrial deaths has released its report which, amongst many things, recommends the introduction of Industrial Manslaughter laws. At the end of this year, Marie Boland will present government with the final report of her review into Australia’s work health and safety (WHS) laws.
Before all this, in September, in Perth, Stephanie Mayman told a safety conference in Perth that:
“… I think we’re about to see industrial manslaughter recommended by Marie Boland.”
Boland has heard a lot about Industrial Manslaughter
Australia has been told for a long time that workplace bullying was an epidemic. Recent data seems to indicate that workplace bullying is a persistent problem which, to some extent, has blended into the miasma that is work-related mental health. The Fair Work Commission released its 2017/18 Annual Report on October 18 (not yet online) adding further doubt to the epidemic claims.
Below is a comparison graph (page 19) of FWC activity which shows 721 applications concerning workplace bullying. It is ninth in the list of FWC activities.
One of the noticeable things about the Australian Senate’s report into industrial deaths is the workload it expects Safe Work Australia (SWA) to do in the implementation of the 34 official recommendations. Whether Safe Work Australia has the capacity and skills to undertake these tasks is not addressed.
The Senate report expects Safe Work Australia to develop various data-sets and public lists and to work with State and Territory occupational health and safety (OHS) regulators. But the lessons from OHS harmonisation and Safe Work Australia’s Model Laws reinforced that workplace health and safety is controlled by the States and Territories and that, although an Inter-Governmental Agreement was signed, party and local politics knobbled the harmonisation program so that several years on, Australian OHS laws are only slightly more harmonised than they were before the program began.
In the early 1990s, a program for National Uniformity of OHS laws was cancelled for political reasons. Prior to harmonisation there were strong calls for a national OHS regulator but this could not be undertaken without Constitutional reform. That lack of a single National OHS regulator is all over this Senate inquiry report.
The Australian Senate inquiry into Industrial Deaths has released its findings in a report called “They never came home—the framework surrounding the prevention, investigation and prosecution of industrial deaths in Australia“. For those who have followed the inquiry, there are few surprises but the report presents big political challenges, particularly as a Federal Election must occur no later than May 2019.
It has been increasingly common for such Senate reports to include, not necessarily, a Minority Report, but an alternative perspective on some issues. Sometimes these reports show dissent in the Committee but more often than not these are statements that are aimed
On October 12 2018 the Australian Financial Review (AFR) published an exclusive article about an investigation by WorkSafe Victoria into excessive working hours at an Australian law firm, King & Wood Mallesons (KWM). The article was later expanded on line.
There are several curious elements of this report that could reflect other workplaces that may experience sudden high workload demands and fatigue. Some seem to see the significance of this article as being less about the workloads and fatigue but more about WorkSafe Victoria’s involvement in an industry sector where it does not usually play.
The Australian Government announced a Royal Commission into the Banking and Financial sectors in 2017. It was created urgently and given only 12 months to conclude its investigations. As a result banks and financial institutions