Government attention on the risks of silicosis, especially those related to engineered stone, continues to increase. Australia has established a National Dust Disease Taskforce to investigate the risks and to make recommendations to the government at the end of 2020. A national investigation is warranted but occupational health and safety (OHS) is regulated at State level so it could be many years until safety improves on this matter, if the States wait for the Taskforce’s final report.
Luckily, the debate on silicosis risks continue in various Parliaments and the Taskforce is seeking submissions.
In August 2019, lawyer and author Michael Tooma (pictured right) was the keynote speaker at the 2019 National Work Health and Safety Colloquium ostensibly talking about his May 2019 presentation to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). It was an important presentation of the paper he wrote is important. However, it was in the questions afterwards, on Industrial Manslaughter laws and accountability, where Tooma was most passionate and personal.
Occupational health and safety (OHS) discussions in the various Parliaments in Australia rarely get much media attention, but the debates continue and occasionally there is an interesting suggestion. Here are some of the recent parliamentary discussions that SafetyAtWorkBlog found interesting
Quad Bikes in Tasmania
In response to a question on August 8 2019 Liberal Party politician, Leonie Hiscutt, provided an outline of the budget allocated to the rebate scheme being applied to quad bikes and their safety accessories, but of more interest is the question from Independent Ruth Forrest. She asked:
Professor Malcolm Sim of Monash University spoke at the 2019 National Work Health and Safety Colloquium on an issue that he never imagined he would be speaking of, at his age, silicosis.
As it is in several countries, the emergence of silicosis related to synthetic stone is gradually getting the attention of governments as more, and younger, workers are starting to die from this aggressive occupational disease. Professor Sim outlined the risk of handling this new type of stone by asking:
The solutions to most occupational health and safety (OHS) issues are multidisciplinary meaning that solutions are rarely simple and rarely come from a single source of information or knowledge. Recently I have been challenging my colleagues to spread their voices and experience beyond their own disciplines to illustrate how a worker’s health and safety is affected by a broad range of hazards and environments. I extend that challenge to all organisations including employer and industry groups like the Business Council of Australia (BCA) which has recently released a report on “The state of enterprise bargaining in Australia”.
Many organisations undertake research into different elements of work but rarely take an overall perspective, or one that analyses the interconnection of societal and occupational conditions and pressures. The latest BCA report is one example