Workplace sexual harassment inquiry releases submissions

The National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces has started to release some of its public submissions. The Inquiry has received a lot of submissions but this blog will continue its search for strategies to prevent sexual harassment and the related psychological harm, as indicated in the Inquiry’s terms of reference and reiterated repeatedly by the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins.

One submission by Anita McKay is very detailed and titled “Recent Developments in Sexual Harassment Law: Towards a New Model”.

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Is OHS a socialist plot?

As the dominance of neoliberalism weakens around the world, people are fearful of what comes next. In some sectors, that fear includes occupational health and safety (OHS). OHS is a business cost, in the same way as every other cost of running a business, but it is often seen as an interloper, a fun-sucker, a nuisance and/or an impediment to profitability. This misinterpretation needs to be contested.

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In an industry where there are no employers, who is responsible for workplace health and safety?

The Victorian Government has been running an inquiry for a little while on the “on-demand workforce”, a term which seems to be a synonym for the gig economy. The government recently extended the deadline for public submissions. This is often a sign that inquiries are struggling for information which is almost an inevitable consequence if you schedule an inquiry over the Christmas/New Year break.

This inquiry has direct relevance to occupational health and safety (OHS) and vice versa.

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Mining policy platform released

The Minerals Council of Australia has released its 2019 policy platform called “The Next Frontier: Australian Mining Policy Priorities”. The mainstream media will focus on taxation and jobs data given that Australia will face an election in the first half of 2019 but there is a specific chapter on occupational health and safety (OHS).

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Would Reckless Endangerment improve safety and health more than would Industrial Manslaughter laws?

The reckless endangerment provision of Victoria’s Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 is likely to be crucial to this year’s discussions on Industrial Manslaughter laws and the management of workplace health and safety more generally, particularly as Victoria’s Minister for Workplace Safety, Jill Hennessy, has announced an implementation taskforce that includes a Workplace Fatalities and Serious Incidents Reference Group.

Section 32 says:

“A person who, without lawful excuse, recklessly engages in conduct that places or may place another person who is at a workplace in danger of serious injury is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to—
(a) in the case of a natural person, a term of imprisonment not exceeding 5 years, or a fine not exceeding 1800 penalty units, or
both; and
(b) in the case of a body corporate, a fine not exceeding 20, 000 penalty units.”

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