WorkSafe acts on allegations of gruelling workplace conditions in a Victorian law firm

On October 12 2018 the Australian Financial Review (AFR) published an exclusive article about an investigation by WorkSafe Victoria into excessive working hours at an Australian law firm, King & Wood Mallesons (KWM). The article was later expanded on line.

There are several curious elements of this report that could reflect other workplaces that may experience sudden high workload demands and fatigue.  Some seem to see the significance of this article as being less about the workloads and fatigue but more about WorkSafe Victoria’s involvement in an industry sector where it does not usually play.

The Australian Government announced a Royal Commission into the Banking and Financial sectors in 2017.  It was created urgently and given only 12 months to conclude its investigations.  As a result banks and financial institutions

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If you don’t prevent, you perpetuate

Systematic approach to psychological health and safety

One of the most important occupational health and safety (OHS) guidances released the last couple of years is the Safe Work Australia (SWA) guide “Work-related psychological health and safety: A systematic approach to meeting your duties“, but its significance is not being universally embraced.

Recently Australian law firm, Minter Ellison, released an

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Objections, support and deterrence

Several of the articles in the Safety At Work special edition on Industrial Manslaughter mentioned in a previous post were from a July 2004 Building Trades Unions Conference at which Reverend Fred Nile, Katy Gallagher and John Della Bosca spoke.  Below are some of the interesting quotes raised but before we reach them, in August 2004, the Federal Government, through its then Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Kevin Andrews, issued a media release saying:

“This is in stark contrast to the ACT’s punitive industrial manslaughter law which simply places employers and employees in an adversarial workplace setting. Industrial manslaughter laws are unnecessary and can only create uncertainty for employers and employees.”

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Industrial Manslaughter and the Big Picture (2004)

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In 2004, the hottest occupational health and safety (OHS) topic was industrial manslaughter.  In Melbourne, there were seminars on the topic that easily topped 200 participants.  However it was also a year of confusion and fear, which may have accounted for the good seminar attendance figures.

At that time I was producing an online PDF Magazine and I devoted a whole edition to the topic. Now it is a time capsule of the issues and objections raised at the time which provide a useful context to the current debates. Here is my article on the issue from August 2004, slightly edited with links included, where possible. Continue reading “Industrial Manslaughter and the Big Picture (2004)”

Talking about OHS could remove the need for Industrial Manslaughter laws

Gaby Grammeno has been writing about workplace health and safety (WHS) issues for longer than I have.  Her work for Workplace OHS, a subscription OHS news service, includes an “ask an expert” service and her latest is a comparison between the OHS/WHS laws involving “reckless endangerment” and “industrial manslaughter”.

The article is of interest to OHS people and reinforces some of the legal opinions on the proposed introduction of industrial manslaughter laws in Victoria.  There is disparity in sentencing and financial penalties in Queensland laws compared to potential Victorian ones and one includes “serious injuries” where the other addresses deaths.  But the issue of penalty sizes is a sideshow to the intended purpose of these types of laws – deterrence.

Will a penalty of A$3.8 million have a greater deterrent effect than A$3.1 million? 

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