Over the last few months, various seminars from law firms and others have focussed on how to comply with new and impending occupational health and safety regulations related to psychosocial hazards at work. Over the last fortnight, I attended two such seminars; they were as different as chalk and cheese, even though both had strong voices from lawyers, illustrating the sources of some of the confusion over the issue felt by some employers.
On March 28 2023, the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (the Chamber) issued an important media release called “Preparing for workplace psychological health reform”. As with most media releases related to occupational health and safety (OHS) matters, it received little attention.
Anton Zytnik a consultant for the Chamber, warned against “mental health washing”, but this media release also contains examples of avoidance and misdirection. And he’s not the only one.
Speculation is occurring about the introduction of Industrial Manslaughter (IM) amendments by the incoming Labor Government in New South Wales. It is likely, as the Australian Labor Party, when in opposition last year, introduced an IM Bill into Parliament. But Industrial Manslaughter laws promise more than they deliver as the push for these laws is based on politics rather than justice or workplace health and safety.
In December 2021, five children died, and others were injured when an inflatable jumping castle lifted into the air after a strong gust of wind. WorkSafe Tasmania continues to investigate the incident, as is the Tasmanian Coroner. Recently the Coroner postponed the inquest because WorkSafe would not provide documents essential to the process, prolonging the grief of the families and the local community who want, and need, answers.
An employment dispute over working hours has entered the mainstream media as it relates to the office of one of the crossbench independent members of parliament, a favourite target of some of the media. The dispute over the meaning of additional reasonable working hours illustrates several occupational health and safety (OHS) issues.
A New Work Relations Architecture is a radical book for Australia. Radical because its authors are proposing industrial relations reform, and Australia has had very little of this since Prime Minister John Howard‘s attempt with Workchoices in 2005. Radical also because it has taken inspiration from the Robens approach to occupational health and safety (OHS) laws.
The new “architecture” (thankfully, the cliche of “ecosystem” was not used) is described as:
The end-of-year reviews are starting to emerge from Australia’s law firms. The most recent release is from Maddocks, who have released several short reports on occupational health and safety (OHS) hazards and suggested controls for employers to apply. So this is a year-in-review for 2022, but it is also a forecast of what needs to be changed in 2023.