Flogging the banks could help safety

Australia’s Royal Commission into banking and financial services is a few months in and the evidence provided of wrongdoing is so substantial that those who were critical of the need for such an investigation are admitting they were wrong.

SafetyAtWorkBlog is applying the logic that occupational health and safety (OHS) succeeds best when it is part of the organisational culture.  Australia has often held its banking and financial services as “world-class” and many of that industry sector’s leaders have been prominent in speaking about the importance of leadership and corporate morality.

The financial and banking industry’s credibility and authority in Australia is gone and the OHS profession can learn much from this failure, even when the failure is in its early stages of exposure.

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Early WHS submissions are a mixed bag

The first lot of anonymous submissions to Australia’s Independent Review of Work Health and Safety Laws is an interesting mix.

One seems written by a regional paramedic calling for increased prescription of workplace first aid requirements. There are complaints about the contents of first aid kits which should have been addressed by the occupational health and safety (OHS) option of providing equipment to meet the results of a first aid needs analysis about which the submitter says:

“The recommendation to add additional items based on an appropriate risk assessment is almost, to my knowledge, never completed.”

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Danger Money has been internalised

Late last century I worked in the Victorian Department of Labour as an administrative officer, at a time when award restructuring and “structural efficiency principles” were in full swing.  The existing awards often included a swathe of special allowances for activities like working at heights or picking up roadkill.  These allowances were commonly called “dirt money” or “danger money” and were largely eliminated or incorporated in the base rates of pay through the restructuring of awards.

The concept of “danger money” has disappeared from the formal industrial relations (IR) processes in Australia but is an important one to remember in the context of occupational health and safety (OHS), particularly as there are renewed calls for IR reforms in Australia.

Workers continue to accept high risk activities in response to higher rates of remuneration, as was recently discussed in another SafetyAtWorkBlog article.  Below is one take on “danger money”and the OHS attitudes of trade unions

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First WHS Review submission released is hard work but useful

The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) has released its submission to the Independent Review of Work Health and Safety Laws.  It is a good example of the business-speak that can erode the effectiveness of clear communication, but the submission is still revealing.  Here is an example from its Executive Summary:

“A nationally-consistent, risk-based preventative Work Health and Safety (WHS) regulatory system, supported by industry-specific regulation, would deliver benefits based on greater certainty, consistency and efficiency. It would also help to ensure that compliance challenges do not detract from the practical tasks of identifying, managing and minimising risk and the continuous improvement of safety and health outcomes by companies.” (Page 3)

So, the MCA wants national occupational health and safety (OHS) laws?

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You have to be in it to influence it

Kevin Jones with Marie Boland in March 2018

The public submission process for Australia’s Independent Review of Work Health and Safety Laws closes today.  So finish up your draft and tell the Government what is working and what is not. BUT if you cannot finish the draft, do what I did, and contribute directly to the Review using its online (Engage) portal which will remain open until the end of May 2018.

Safe Work Australia has told SafetyAtWorkBlog that the Review continues to seek: 

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