The nature of news/media reporting is that any story must be topical, but the nature of occupational health and safety (OHS) is that topicality is stretched over years of investigation or it stutters over time when a new bit of information is available. This has been the case with the aftermath of the deaths of four people at the Dreamworld theme park in Queensland and there is a strong likelihood that other topical news, such as the possible pandemic of CORVID-19, will mask the important management issues of Dreamworld.
In relation to the release, last week, of the Brady Review SafetyAtWorkBlog wondered:
“It is worth asking whether a reliance on Administrative Controls could be interpreted as a level of negligence that could spark an Industrial Manslaughter prosecution.”
A seminar hosted by law firm Maddocks this week offered an opportunity to pose this as a question.
The 2020 business year has started with a bunch of occupational health and safety (OHS) seminars. Given last year’s moves towards Industrial Manslaughter laws in several Australian States, a discussion of these laws is inevitable and there are some voices calling out the politics of the issue. Herbert Smith Freehills’ Steve Bell is one of them.
The Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) published an opinion piece on January 20, 2020 concerning working hours in the medical profession and the risk of mental health and suicide from working excessive hours. It uses the Japanese problem of “karoshi” to illustrate the severity of the workplace risks but it misses a couple of points.
It references the amendments to Victoria’s Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) legislation that introduced an offence of Industrial Manslaughter but implies that this amendment changes the duty of care expected of employers and changes a worker’s right to a safe and healthy workplace.
There seems to be a spate of intelligent and knowledgeable people talking about the structural changes required by businesses to reduce and prevent psychological harm. Two Australian voices are Lucinda Brogden and Dr Rebecca Michalak. New Zealand has Dr Hillary Bennett who recently received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the New Zealand Workplace Health and Safety Awards. Bennett’s interview with SafeGuard magazine should be obligatory reading.
Bennett is asked about the Human Resource (HR) profession and nails a critical difference in the HR approach to the occupational health and safety (OHS) one: