Start the bullying epidemic without me

Australia has been told for a long time that workplace bullying was an epidemic.  Recent data seems to indicate that workplace bullying is a persistent problem which, to some extent, has blended into the miasma that is work-related mental health.  The Fair Work Commission released its 2017/18 Annual Report on October 18 (not yet online) adding further doubt to the epidemic claims.

Below is a comparison graph (page 19) of FWC activity which shows 721 applications concerning workplace bullying. It is ninth in the list of FWC activities.

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CFMEU steps up the OHS pressure

SafetyAtWorkBlog has dipped into the occupational health and safety (OHS) and political issues around the death of Jorge Castillo-Riffo in Adelaide in 2014.  On October 4 2018, the CFMEU issued a media release outlining the recommendations it made to the Coronial inquest into Castillo-Riffo’s death.  They deserve serious consideration:

  • Mandatory coronial inquests should be held into all deaths at work, with a mandatory requirement for the reporting of any action taken, or proposed to be taken, in consequence of any findings and recommendations made;
  • Families should receive funding to be represented;
  • An independent safety commissioner should be established in SA whose duty it is to review, comment and provide recommendations concerning the safety record of companies who tender for government construction contracts work over $5 million;
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A bad day for ACCI at the Senate Inquiry into Industrial Deaths

Jennifer Low, Associate Director of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry addressed the Senate Inquiry into Industrial Deaths in Perth on August 30 2018.  Much of her presentation would be familiar to occupational health and safety professionals as it reflects the ideological position that the ACCI has put to countless inquiries over almost 20 years.  It is fair to say that the ACCI did not have a good day at the Inquiry.

Low’s presentation commenced with a restating of the general commitments to safety and that the ACCI and its members hold the importance of OHS as a “fundamental belief”. This was followed up with

“Our employer network feels strongly that the prevention for workplace incidents, injuries and fatalities is a shared responsibility.” (page 1, emphasis added)

This

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Review of West Gate Bridge findings has important lessons for modern infrastructure projects

2020 will be the fiftieth anniversary of the collapse of the West Gate Bridge which resulted in, amongst others, the deaths of 35 workers, changed Victoria’s approach to occupational health and safety (OHS), instigated a Royal Commission into the disaster, strengthened trade union influence and established an industrial antagonism to the John Holland group of businesses that continues today.

Panorama of West Gate Bridge in Melbourne at sunset in summer.

Last week,

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Inquiry into industrial deaths moves to Adelaide

Conversations about occupational health and safety (ohs) occur very rarely unless you are an educator who talks about this stuff every day.  We manage health and safety and advise on it but rarely get a chance just to talk about safety with peers.  This is where documents like the recent transcripts of Australia’s Senate inquiry into industrial deaths can be helpful.  For instance Andrea Madeley said this on August 29 2018 in Adelaide:

“I do not think that the Robens model of work health and safety was ever based on anything beyond encouragement. It was a model designed to lift and encourage employers, not to enforce laws, and we see that today, still. The guiding principles, even today, on enforcing work health and safety laws really are more about encouraging and educating. I don’t have a problem with that as long as we’re not treating the people that are suffering in the process like outcasts. Their loss is virtually ignored unless you happen to be a financial dependant.”

Given that it occurred almost fifty years ago, it is easy to forget the times in which Lord Robens issued his report into the management of workplace health and safety.  It was controversial in its day and the Australian iterations of his OHS principles were similarly opposed when they were introduced in the 1980s. 

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