Below is the list of occupational health and safety (OHS) issues for the next three years, put to the Australian Council of Trade Unions and passed, at its Congress on 18 July 2018. Some were expected but others will cause concern, primarily, for business owners. Perhaps the major concern is that these commitments are to be rolled out nationally.
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.
Governments use legislation and the threat of punishment as a deterrent for dangerous actions and poor decision-making. Imposing harsh consequences is hoped to change the behaviour of companies and individuals. Occupational health and safety (OHS) laws are no different with deterrence being used to justify the introduction and enforcement of Industrial Manslaughter laws, for instance.
The Australian Senate’s current inquiry
South Australia’s occupational health and safety (OHS) regulator, SafeWorkSA, is being investigated by that State’s Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC). SafeWorkSA has been subjected to several inquiries over recent years but the current ICAC one is perhaps the most significant, and one that is generating a lot of local discussion, and that should be watched by all OHS professionals, Regulators around Australia.
It is important to note the specifics of the Inquiry or “Evaluation”.
SafetyAtWorkBlog will be reporting from the biennial Congress of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. For the first time Trade unions have been pivotal for the creation and enforcement of occupational health and safety (OHS) around the world.
Most of the past reporting on these events in mainstream media has focused on politics and industrial relations. OHS tends to get overlooked so SafetyAtWorkBlog’s attendance will be important.
Articles from the Congress will be available only to Subscribers. Continue reading “Exclusive reports from the 2018 ACTU Congress”