In 2015, the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) took legal action against the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) and one of that union’s organisers, Pomare Auimatagi, over the organiser’s actions seemed to breach one of John Holland’s personal protective equipment (PPE) policies. The CFMEU and Auimatagi were found guilty of breaching the Fair Work Act and fined over A$58,000 by the Federal Circuit Court on 9 March 2018. The case raises a couple of occupational health and safety management issues.
Each year thousands of people express support for International Workers Memorial Day and the World Day for Safety and Health at Work publicly and through social media. This is a statement of their commitment to occupational health and safety (OHS) as well as a call to continue action in improving workplace health and safety. However, this usually does not add to the state of knowledge on OHS.
This year there was a couple of contributions of information that may be useful. Shine Lawyers released the findings of a recent survey (not yet available online) into why workers do not report workplace incidents. The survey was largely overlooked by the media, perhaps because the full survey results have not been released publicly.
Late last century I worked in the Victorian Department of Labour as an administrative officer, at a time when award restructuring and “structural efficiency principles” were in full swing. The existing awards often included a swathe of special allowances for activities like working at heights or picking up roadkill. These allowances were commonly called “dirt money” or “danger money” and were largely eliminated or incorporated in the base rates of pay through the restructuring of awards.
The concept of “danger money” has disappeared from the formal industrial relations (IR) processes in Australia but is an important one to remember in the context of occupational health and safety (OHS), particularly as there are renewed calls for IR reforms in Australia.
Workers continue to accept high risk activities in response to higher rates of remuneration, as was recently discussed in another SafetyAtWorkBlog article. Below is one take on “danger money”and the OHS attitudes of trade unions
The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) has released its submission to the Independent Review of Work Health and Safety Laws. It is a good example of the business-speak that can erode the effectiveness of clear communication, but the submission is still revealing. Here is an example from its Executive Summary:
“A nationally-consistent, risk-based preventative Work Health and Safety (WHS) regulatory system, supported by industry-specific regulation, would deliver benefits based on greater certainty, consistency and efficiency. It would also help to ensure that compliance challenges do not detract from the practical tasks of identifying, managing and minimising risk and the continuous improvement of safety and health outcomes by companies.” (Page 3)
So, the MCA wants national occupational health and safety (OHS) laws?
The Safety Institute of Australia (SIA) is an active supporter of Safe Work Australia‘s (SWA) recent attention to the risks of psychosocial hazards in the workplace. On 10 April 2018, the SIA reiterated this support and its anticipation of a new SWA guide on the issue but the media release includes a statement that may be a little too polite towards employers and not sufficiently inquisitive about the safety professional’s role.
The CEO of the SIA,