“The regulator should be respected, but not feared”

cover of Transforming Work Health and Safety Performance FINALHow different can occupational health and safety (OHS) regulators be? A review into WorkSafe Victoria was announced in February 2015 but the review into its equivalent in South Australia, SafeWorkSA, is more progressed and has released a public discussion paper entitled “Transforming Work Health and Safety Performance“. Its suggestions should be noted by James Mackenzie the reviewer of WorkSafe Victoria.

Maybe not surprising to many, the future is a reworking of the past.

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Politics before safety in South Australia

Occupational health and safety (OHS) eyebrows were raised in Australia recently as a State Government suspended the application of three construction-related codes of practice, principally, on the basis that compliance will cost too much.  The decision by South Australia’s Minister for Industrial Relations, John Rau, following a report by the Small Business Commissioner, Mike Sinkunas, illustrates several issues:

  • the SA government is overly influenced by the Housing Industry Association (HIA),
  • small business is being misinformed on how workplace safety works,
  • the application of “reasonably practicable” has been ignored, and
  • the unions and safety profession do not know how to respond.

Continue reading “Politics before safety in South Australia”

SafeWorkSA’s fatality ticker is a good initiative but other metrics could add punch

As part of annual safety week activities, South Australia’s Minister for Industrial Relations, John Rau, launched a workplace fatalities counter (on the right of the webpage).  Rau said in a media release that

“As Safe Work Week begins in South Australia, we are reminded of the nine workers who have not returned home from work this year…..  In a similar way to the reporting of the road toll, providing this information is a reminder to us all that we must make every effort to ensure this number does not rise.”

The comparison with the road toll is an admirable aim and one that  some have advocated for but there are other potential metrics that may have had more impact. Continue reading “SafeWorkSA’s fatality ticker is a good initiative but other metrics could add punch”