New President and new approaches to unionism

ACTU Executive with Michele O’Neil second from left

Day One of the Australian Council of Trade Unions’ Congress was memorable for a couple of reasons.  The appointment of Michele O’Neil, pictured right, as the President was a notable achievement, one made more memorable as she denied any desire to move onto a political appointment. The other memorable event was a string of shopfloor representatives outlining their innovative approaches to the recruitment of members and the creation of (sub)unions for hospitality workers, hairdressers and indigenous workers in the Northern Territory.

Workplace safety was mentioned a couple of times in passing but occupational health and safety (OHS) seems to becoming more a thing that is, rather than a thing that is named.  If we look for it, we find it.

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Trade unions need to look for change beyond legislation

Danny Glover addressing the ACTU Congress on July 16 2018

The 2018 Congress of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACT) is happening in the middle of a campaign to “Change the Rules”.  These “Rules” are largely concerning with industrial relations, of which Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) is a subset, or complementary, element. Legislation constantly needs challenging and review; much legislation, like Australian Standards, misses their expiry dates and persists too long,  becoming increasingly seen as irrelevant.

OHS has the “luxury” of having been reviewed nationally within the last decade.  For some Australian States this change was progressive but for most it was a catch up to contemporary standards and expectations.  OHS laws have not progressed since and a lot of hope is placed on the current Independent Review of Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws to enliven the discussions, yet that report is not due until 2019.

Trade unions have a great deal of faith in legislation to achieve change.  

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It’s what we do, not what we’re called

The Safety Institute of Australia Limited is consulting with its members about a name change.  This was flagged at the SIA’s recent conference and coincidentally follows the renaming of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) to the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP).  According to a recent statement from CEO, David Clarke, the SIA seems keen to include “Health” in its new title but this was not an option the ASSP took up.

The SIA has chosen

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The SIA’s National Conference is on the right path

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Let’s acknowledge the problems with this year’s Safety Institute of Australia (SIA) National Conference upfront before the good stuff is mentioned.

A speaker on the issue of Diversity failed to turn up.  Many of the rooms were setup in such a configuration that some delegates had to stand or, like I did, sit on the floor. Almost all the speakers were asked to speak for over 40 minutes which was a challenge for some and conflicts with studies about attention spans.  Some of the presentations didn’t seem to support the “in practice” theme of the conference. Lastly, what some described as challenging presentations, others found to be vanilla and too general. Some of these problems were beyond the SIA’s control but they were still negative experiences.

Over the next week SafetyAtWorkBlog will be writing about some of the very positive speakers and experiences at the SIA National Conference. Continue reading “The SIA’s National Conference is on the right path”

The good, the odd and the ignorant

One of the Select Committees of the Australian Senate is conducting an inquiry into the “Future of Work and Workers” and is currently holding public hearings.  There is a lot of interesting information that will affect how workplace health and safety is managed and there are some odd statements in the public submissions.  However, it was the appearance of Airtasker’s CEO at a public hearing on May 4, that is genuinely scary.

Job Design

Firstly a positive statement from the

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