Recently a public relations firm has been promoting a statement about workers’ compensation and occupational asthma in support of the Australasian Asthma Conference. The statement was a timely reminder of the 2015 report – The Hidden Costs of Asthma. These documents are aimed at the management of asthma rather than the prevention but, coincidentally, the Australian Government entered some legislative amendments in Parliament that will help with the prevention of this important condition.
At Australia’s National Press Club on October 18 207, the Australian Labor Party’s Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Brendan O’Connor spoke, ostensibly on industrial relations but occupational health and safety (OHS) was mentioned. O’Connor provided several examples of worker exploitation and casual work and then stated
“There is something really wrong when those big, household-name companies apparently feel absolutely no responsibility, or consider themselves immune from reputational risk, for exploitation of the workers on whose labour they make a vast profit. This is why at the last election, Labor promised a National Labour Hire licencing scheme. We said we would issue a licence to only those who have a clean record of complying with employment, tax and OH&S laws, and that licences would be revoked for serious misconduct.”
In the discussions about the regulation of the labour hire industry OHS has been given, comparatively, little attention so it is useful to note even the small amount of prominence granted it by O’Connor.
Industrial manslaughter laws passed through the Queensland Parliament on October 12 2017. The debate about the laws on that day is an interesting read as it illustrates some of the thoughts about workplace safety in the minds of policy decision makers, business owners, industry associations, trade unions and safety advocates.
Lawyer for Herbert Smith Freehills, Steve Bell, has said in a LinkedIn post that:
“Will [industrial manslaughter laws] make workplaces safer? In my view probably not, but it will certainly affect the manner in which businesses respond to workplace incidents and external investigations.”
This perspective is understandable and valid when one considers the laws to be a part of the post-incident investigation and prosecution. A similar view was expressed in Queensland’s Parliament by the Liberal National Party’s David Janetzki, based on the submission by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland: Continue reading “Industrial manslaughter debate reveals commitment and misunderstandings”
The Queensland Government is in the middle of a debate in Parliament and the media about the introduction of industrial manslaughter as an offence related to serious occupational health and safety (OHS) breaches. It is both a good and a bad time for this debate. The laws are likely to pass but the debate is showing old arguments, weak arguments, political expediency and union-bashing but not a lot about improvement in workplace safety.
Following two major fatal workplace incidents, in April 2017 the Government established an
Queensland’s Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, Grace Grace is continuing to apply political pressure on the opposition (conservative) party over the issue of industrial manslaughter laws, prior to their debate in State Parliament this week.
In a media statement released on October 6 2017, Grace states that
“We owe it to the victims and their loved ones to ensure Queensland has strong industrial manslaughter laws to protect people on the job.”
This is an appealing statement during Australia’s National Safe Work Month but the relationship between industrial manslaughter laws and safer workers is not as clear and direct as the political statements suggest. Continue reading “Queensland’s Industrial Manslaughter push moves to Parliament this week”