Running with scissors in Parliament

The workplace death of Jorge Castillo-Riffo continues to raise important discussions about occupational health and safety (OHS), responsibility and accountability. The South Australian parliament discussed scissor lifts and OHS on June 6 2019. The criticism of the Coroner was concerning and the debate was a sadly typical political discussion but the issue of improving OHS in construction sites has not been forgotten by some South Australia politicians.

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New workplace safety laws set to pass in South Australia in October

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South Australian Independent Member of Parliament, John Darley, has been negotiating on that State’s Work Health and Safety laws for many months.  On 17 October 2012, according to a media release from SA’s Premier Jay Weatherill and Workplace Relations Minister Russell Wortley, Darley agreed to support the passing of the laws after achieving some amendments.  Those amendments involve changes to

  • height limits,
  • duty of care,
  • the right to silence, and
  • the right of entry.

Tammy Franks, a Greens MLC, was able to achieve an expansion of the number of days available for OHS representative training.

A spokesperson for John Darley told SafetyAtWorkBlog that another change was for any WHS codes of practice to undergo a small business impact assessment in consultation with the Small Business Commissioner.  Darley’s spokesperson said that the MP had met with Business SA after it changed its position on the WHS laws.  The amendment above is likely to address the small business concerns that BusinessSA raised in its letter to its members earlier this month.  The flip-flopping of BusinessSA on workplace health and safety laws was always curious and it is likely to put the organisation at a negotiating disadvantage once the laws passed.  It may try to claim a mini-victory through the small business change but the change appears to have occurred due to Darley’s efforts and not through any relationship with the South Australian Government. Continue reading “New workplace safety laws set to pass in South Australia in October”

BusinessSA’s backflip on OHS laws carries short-term gain but long-term risk

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Australian business associations have different perspectives on the need to harmonise occupational health and safety laws across Australia but BusinessSA has performed an enormous backflip in only a month on new Work Health and Safety Laws.  In a letter (now a media release) to the industry association’s members, BusinessSA has called on the South Australian Government to defer the laws until a scheduled national review in 2014.  The major points of the letter are discussed below.

Objections to the letter on some of the LinkedIn discussion forums have been voiced by some safety and legal professionals, the principle concern being that all state governments agreed to the initiative of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in 2008 to harmonise the OHS laws.  Employer groups, unions and OHS regulators have been closely involved in the harmonisation process.  Other parties, including BusinessSA made submissions.  According to the 2008 submission, these were the six key issues:

  • “Self-regulation: The appropriateness of the duty of care, consultative mechanisms, performance-based (as opposed to prescriptive) regulation, and education/training in facilitating an effective (self-regulating) OHS system.
  • Causality and uncertainty: Can, and should, governments attempt to regulate with respect to potential future hazards, given the enormous pace of technological change and uncertainty relating to that change and where causes of Continue reading “BusinessSA’s backflip on OHS laws carries short-term gain but long-term risk”

South Australia’s politicians prepare to grill the OHS regulator, SafeWorkSA

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On 19 May 2012, South Australia’s Parliamentary Committee on Occupational Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (OSRC) announced in the Adelaide Advertiser and inquiry into the operations of SafeWorkSA.  SafetyAtWorkBlog has been told that the inquiry was self-initiated by the committee as a result of no one particular reason.  The Minister for Industrial Relations was apparently unaware of the inquiry and nor was SafeWorkSA.

As the passing of Work Health and Safety laws stall in the Parliament, the politics of safety in South Australia is about to get even messier.

The notification from the OSRC committee lists the inquiry’s terms of reference: Continue reading “South Australia’s politicians prepare to grill the OHS regulator, SafeWorkSA”

South Australia’s postponement of harmonisation shows the political weaknesses of the process

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South Australia’s Parliament has delayed the introduction of its Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act until 2012 by postponing debate on the WHS Bill until February 2012.  The instigator for this action was the opposition (Liberal) parliamentarian, Rob Lucas, who SafetyAtWorkBlog has written about previously.

Lucas has issued a media release that states

“The Weatherill Government has continued to ignore the growing concern from industry organisations about the impact on housing affordability and the costs of doing business. Employer groups such as Business SA, the Housing Industry Association, Master Builders Association, Motor Traders Association, Australian Hotels Association, Civil Contractors Federation, Self Insurers of South Australia, and Independent Contractors Australia are all supporting significant amendments to the legislation…..

“It is also now clear there is no prospect of ‘harmonised’ work safety laws operation in all states and territories. Continue reading “South Australia’s postponement of harmonisation shows the political weaknesses of the process”