Industrial Manslaughter comes to South Australia…. finally

South Australia is the latest Australian jurisdiction to introduce Industrial Manslaughter penalties.  The magnitude of the potential penalties is reasonable, given that they come from an employer’s reckless conduct that leads to a fatality.  However, many of the deterrent and preventive impacts expected by politicians and advocates have not been proven.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has an excellent article on the South Australian action.

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OHS is now a fundamental human right. So what?

Last year the International Labour Organization (ILO) added occupational health and safety (OHS) to its Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. So what? I hear you cry. According to one trade union website:

“Contrary to Conventions – which are subject to ratification by individual Member States to be applicable, all Member States (187 Members) are expected to respect, promote and realize Fundamental Principles and Rights .”

This change has been a long time coming. Expect to hear a lot of discussion about this change at the 23rd World Congress in Sydney later this year, if not Ap[ril 28 and May Day. What Australia will say about this change is unknown, but it will be expected to say something.

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Big consultancies sully their own nest

Large consulting firms have been getting a hammering lately. Fraud, leaking information, work-related suicides, corruption, unethical behaviour……. I bet they are nostalgic for the good old days when they were primarily auditors. There are several occupational health and safety (OHS) connections with the Big4, Big3 or Big 7. Auditing is the obvious overlap, but several recent books have identified some other strange relationships with Government that affect policy that, in turn, affect OHS. This is a brief look at one of those books – The Big Con.

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WorkSafe Tasmania is not cooperating

In December 2021, five children died, and others were injured when an inflatable jumping castle lifted into the air after a strong gust of wind. WorkSafe Tasmania continues to investigate the incident, as is the Tasmanian Coroner. Recently the Coroner postponed the inquest because WorkSafe would not provide documents essential to the process, prolonging the grief of the families and the local community who want, and need, answers.

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Legal Professional Privilege is the OHS equivalent of the Non-Disclosure Agreement

Pam Gurner-Hall is no stranger to this blog. Recently she appeared in an article by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) about access to information from South Australia’s occupational health and safety (OHS) regulator, SafeWorkSA.

SafeWorkSA has been under considerable scrutiny for the last few years. A “root and branch” review conducted by John Merritt is the latest inquiry. [Note: this article was written before the release of the Merritt report and the Government’s interim response last weekend. More on that report shortly]

Gurner-Hall’s concerns seem more about the government’s response to the inquiry and the application of Legal Professional Privilege (LPP). She is quoted saying:

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A fair dinkum fair go?

A New Work Relations Architecture is a radical book for Australia. Radical because its authors are proposing industrial relations reform, and Australia has had very little of this since Prime Minister John Howard‘s attempt with Workchoices in 2005. Radical also because it has taken inspiration from the Robens approach to occupational health and safety (OHS) laws.

The new “architecture” (thankfully, the cliche of “ecosystem” was not used) is described as:

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The bubble has burst. Bring on the next one.

The legal action by Self-Employed Australia’s Ken Phillips to hold the Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, ministers and senior bureaucrats accountable for COVID-19-related deaths stemming from the failure of the hotel quarantine program appears to have failed. At least it has in the courts, fringe community and political views still exist saying that Andrews should be pursued for murder or industrial manslaughter.

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