In late October 2018, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released a summary of the latest work-related injury and illness data, although it was easy to miss as few, if anyone, reported on it. On first view, that mental health is barely mentioned in the Summary is surprising and the workers compensation data raises interesting policy questions.
On the corner of Lygon and Victoria Streets in Melbourne is a monument to the 8 Hour Day. This represents a social structure of work that equates to
- Eight hours of work,
- Eight hours of recreation,
- Eight hours of sleep,
The concept started in Australia in the mid-1800s and was intended to reduce exploitation and abuse of workers, many of whom were children.
The intent was to establish, what we would now call, a work/life balance structure with the recognition that work is required to earn a living, sleep is required to rejuvenate the body, preparing it for work, and recreation was social time, time with one’s family, exercise, all sorts of personal and social activities.
Today that structure is an “ideal” rather than a reality.
The business sector of Australia has been remarkably quiet on the recent media attention given to hazard of silicosis in, particularly, the synthetic stone commonly used as kitchen benchtops. However the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) did make a media statement.
It largely emphasised its role as a member of Safe Work Australia and the action taken on silicosis matters through that mechanism. However membership of a tripartite consultative mechanism does not mean that that is the only pathway for change. SafetyAtWorkBlog put some questions to ACCI about silicosis and its Associate Director, Work Health & Safety and Workers’ Compensation Policy, Jennifer Low, responded:
SAWB: The media statement says that ACCI will continue to be active through its representation on Safe Work Australia. Are there any specific dust-related initiatives that ACCI is recommending to its members? Perhaps in relation to supply chain safety on high silica-content products? Continue reading “ACCI on silicosis”
It was reported on October 11 2018 that Australia’s Health Minister, Greg Hunt, has called for:
“… state workplace regulators to immediately investigate risks to the health of stonemasons, and stop unsafe work practices.”
Some reports have said that a statement was issued:
“Mr Hunt issued a statement saying he and the Chief Medical Officer would raise the issue at a health COAG meeting in Adelaide on Friday. He said the meeting would be asked to consider whether a national dust diseases register should be developed.”
However the Minister’s Office has advised SafetyAtWorkBlog that no formal statement has been made. This makes it a bit hard to determine what exactly he is asking for on the prevention of silicosis but the States have begun to respond.
The Victorian Minister for Health,