Is it time for on-the-spot fines in Victoria?

The public comment phase of the Victorian Government’s Independent OHS Review into WorkSafe Victoria has concluded and most of the submissions are appearing on the review’s website. Some submissions are extensive, others are simply a whinge.  One topic did not get much of a mention in the 40 submissions currently available – on-the-spot fines. The…

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Andrew Barrett’s OHS interview on community radio

Some people have accused me of writing for the converted through the SafetyAtWorkBlog and the majority of followers to this blog are OHS professionals and safety regulators, but everything on the Internet is able to be found by anyone who wants to, so the broad audience exists.  Sometimes, however, you need to push yourself in the media. Continue reading “Andrew Barrett’s OHS interview on community radio”

Labour Hire Inquiry submissions address OHS, sort of

The Victorian Government has concluded the public hearing section of its inquiry into Labour Hire. Industrial Relations Minister Natalie Hutchins has said in a media release that

“Evidence has been put to the inquiry suggesting widespread  underpayment of award wages, tax avoidance, nonpayment of superannuation, poor occupational health and safety practices, maltreatment of workers and backpackers on visas, and, in some instances, allegations of illegal conduct.”

This article focusses on the occupational health and safety (OHS) evidence provided through the

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Safety is the highest priority. Really?

Workplace safety can have a bizarre logic.  A recent example can be seen in the continuing controversy about the deaths of two workers on a construction site in Western Australia.

In November 2015 two workers Joe McDermott and Gerard Bradley were crushed to death by a concrete slab while on a break at a Jaxon Construction site in East Perth. The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) concerns about the site have been discussed on ABC television last week and on the union’s social media. WorkSafe WA is investigating.

Some of the statements by Kim Richardson, the construction director of the Master Builders Association of Western Australia (MBAWA) seem ill-timed but reflect many of the perspectives held by employers towards occupational health and safety (OHS).

Shortly after the the incident Richardson stated that

“All workers have the right to go to work and have the expectation and the right to come home safely,…. That did not happen.

There’s been a move to have a tremendous amount of paperwork where people will tick boxes to say they have a safe system in place. But that doesn’t guarantee safe systems of work. The way the work is performed is where the focus needs to be.”

Richardson’s complaints seem to be that

  • occupational health and safety has too much paperwork
  • the paperwork misrepresents the level of safety at the workplace
  • greater attention should be given to how work is performed.

Few OHS professionals in Australia would argue these points but there are some uncomfortable implications in these complaints.

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Red tape as a force for good?

Red Tape” is often mentioned as a scourge on business growth and occupational health and safety (OHS) is frequently mentioned. But this week on Australian radio, red tape was described as a positive. It was a peculiar comment that should be noted in the red tape debate.

On ABC Radio’s AM program on 30 December 2015, in a discussion about vaccinations, Professor Raina MacIntyre, Head of the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of New South Wales, stated: Continue reading “Red tape as a force for good?”

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