You have to be in it to influence it

Kevin Jones with Marie Boland in March 2018

The public submission process for Australia’s Independent Review of Work Health and Safety Laws closes today.  So finish up your draft and tell the Government what is working and what is not. BUT if you cannot finish the draft, do what I did, and contribute directly to the Review using its online (Engage) portal which will remain open until the end of May 2018.

Safe Work Australia has told SafetyAtWorkBlog that the Review continues to seek: 

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iWitnessed tool holds promise for workplace safety

On April 3, 2018, the University of Sydney launched a new app

”to assist victims and witnesses record information in a way that can help with convictions and prevent miscarriages of justice”.

This immediately sparked my interest in using the app as a record of workplace incidents.

iWitnessed is intended as a tool to assist a person’s memory when confronted by an incident or a traumatic event.  The app steps you through the basic evidence-gathering questions of what happened, where, when, who was injured etc.  

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The reality is all about perception

Occupational health and safety (OHS) policy makers are keen on making decisions based on evidence.  But evidence seems hard to get, for many reasons.

Some people, including those in workplace relations and OHS, often fill the evidence gap with “anecdotal evidence”.  Frequently people being interviewed are asked for evidence to substantiate their claims and respond that “anecdotally” there is a problem yet there is no sample size for this evidence, there is no clarity or definition of the incident or issue – it is simply “what I heard” or “what I’ve been told”.  Using anecdotal evidence is okay as long as its inherent uncertainty is acknowledged and it is not used as a basis for substantial change.

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Detention Royal Commission touches on workplace safety

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In June 2016, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation showed an investigation report into the detention of children who had broken the law in the Northern Territory.  The revelations of maltreatment were so confronting that a Royal Commission was announced by the Australian Government very shortly after.  The Commission’s final report was tabled in Parliament on November 17 2017.

All Australian workplaces are subject to clear occupational health and safety duties and obligations that relate to workers and to those who may be affected by the workplace and activities.  (The SafetyAtWorkBlog article “Royal Commission into juvenile detention should include OHS” discusses this at length.)

A brief search of the Final Report of the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory shows an acknowledgement of the OHS perspective but with little discussion of it. Continue reading “Detention Royal Commission touches on workplace safety”