In 19 February 2018, Safe Work Australia (SWA) “launched” the independent review of Australia’s Work Health and Safety laws under former Executive Director of SafeWorkSA, Marie Boland. SWA has released a 49-page discussion paper, a summary and a list of questions. Below is an initial response to some of those questions.
What are your views on the effectiveness of the three-tiered approach – model WHS Act supported by model WHS Regulations and model WHS Codes – to achieve the object of the model WHS laws?
The structure works well, when business owners know of the relevant documents.
The latest push for Industrial Manslaughter laws in Australia has appeared as part of the Tasmanian state election.
The Tasmanian branch of the Australian Labor Party released its policy platform for jobs in February 2018 which makes specific and vague commitments on workplace safety which require scrutiny.
The Tasmanian Labor Leader, Rebecca White, states that
“Labor is committed to addressing casualisation and the outsourcing of work…”
Australia’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins, has been prominent in recent seminars about sexual harassment, particularly in the entertainment industry. In February 2018, Jenkins spoke at a seminar in Melbourne hosted by Screen Producers Australia and provided strong advice on how businesses can control sexual harassment.
Jenkins began her presentation with an uncomfortable reminder that business has been lax in addressing unlawful workplace behaviour.
The Weekly Times newspaper has included an 8-page wraparound to its 7 February 2018 edition about workplace safety. The supplement is timely, the contents are indicative of cultural and political changes and the supplement is a nice summary of the multiple hazards and management approaches needed in agriculture (the same as in most industries, really).
Data quoted liberally from
“Every year something like 1,000 people are killed at their work in this country. Every year about half a million suffer injuries in varying degrees of severity. 23 million working days are lost annually on account of industrial injury and disease.”
The existence of this statement is of no surprise to occupational health and safety (OHS) professionals. Similar statements are made all the time. The sad surprise of this quote is that it appeared in 1972 on page 1 of the Safety and Health at Work – Report of the Committee 1970-72, otherwise know as the Robens Report.
Perhaps it is time to begin contemplating what OHS fundamentals we should apply in the next generation of workplace safety health and wellbeing laws ?