With little surprise, at the Australian Labor Party (ALP) Conference in Victoria on 26 May 2018, Premier Daniel Andrews has included the introduction of Industrial Manslaughter laws as a formal part of the campaign for re-election in November 2018.
According to his media release, if re-elected,
“.., employers will face fines of almost $16 million and individuals responsible for negligently causing death will be held to account and face up to 20 years in jail.
A re-elected Andrews Labor Government will make sure all Victorians are safe in our workplaces, with the offence to also apply when an employer’s negligent conduct causes the death of an innocent member of the public..”
There are a lot of steps between an incident and Industrial Manslaughter charges.
One of the Select Committees of the Australian Senate is conducting an inquiry into the “Future of Work and Workers” and is currently holding public hearings. There is a lot of interesting information that will affect how workplace health and safety is managed and there are some odd statements in the public submissions. However, it was the appearance of Airtasker’s CEO at a public hearing on May 4, that is genuinely scary.
Firstly a positive statement from the
The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) often sets the occupational health and safety (OHS) agenda, as it did on workplace stress and bullying. On 21 May 2018 the ACTU released a research report entitled “Australia’s insecure work crisis: Fixing it for the future“. The opening paragraph provides a clear indication of the report’s tone:
“The incidence of non-standard work in Australia is alarming. The fact that our national government and some employer groups seek to deny this reality and refuse to support reforms to better protect workers in insecure non-standard employment is a disgrace.”
There is a lot of useful information in this report but there is also a lot missing, a lot that could affect workplace safety.
Earlier this year the Safety Institute of Australia (SIA) was the beneficiary of funds granted as part of an Enforceable Undertaking (EU) after a company breached occupational health and safety (OHS) laws. This month it was the turn of the New Zealand Institute of Safety Management (NZISM).
As a result of an OHS prosecution of Fletcher Constructions by WorkSafe New Zealand, an Enforceable Undertaking was agreed to and one of the obligations was a $10,000 donation to NZISM. The EU says the donation is intended
“… to assist its work in supporting and providing educational development opportunities for health and safety professionals in New Zealand.”
Occupational health and safety (OHS), building safety and public safety often overlap but never more so than in the instance of the Grenfell fire of June 2017. The UK Government has just released the final report into the incident and there are many interesting lessons for workplace health and safety and its social role.