The Australian Government is starting to address the silicosis risk associated with engineered stone. The Health Minister, Greg Hunt, has said in a media release on January 23 2020 that the government will accept all five recommendations of the interim advice of the National Dust Disease Taskforce. However, some of these seem half-hearted and some actions will take a long time, which does not necessarily help those workers currently at risk.
In occupational health and safety (OHS), there is evidence and then there is evidence. Regardless of the type of evidence, there is not as much as there should be. Many companies and organisations in Australia are required to publicly release annual reports that identify their financial status. Increasingly non-financial criteria, like OHS performance, is being included in these reports but why isn’t this mandatory and why isn’t it of a consistent type? Late on 2019, the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) looked at the issue of OHS reporting, with some assistance from EY.
ACSI’s CEO, Louise Davidson illustrates the problem in her Foreword to the report:
“Almost one third of ASX200 companies provide their investors and other stakeholders no information on health and safety performance. For the companies that do provide some information, the disclosure often provides no insight into how many severe incidents occurred…….”page 6
SafetyAtWorkBlog reader Tony wrote a long comment on safety footwear in response to a blog article from 2016. The comment deserves its own post, below.
Hi Kevin – arriving at this conversation incredibly late (though ‘better late than never’, as I believe someone once intoned), but there’s a decent reason I’m now invested in the conversation.
I recently spent an interesting hour or so with a sports podiatrist discussing, as you would suspect, footwear. More specifically, we talked about footwear to suite workers who spend the bulk of their time outdoors, working and walking on innumerable forms of uneven surfaces. And more specifically again, we discussed the degree(s) of ankle protection that, evidently, high-cut boots are able to provide.
One of the take-home messages I took was the (apparent) absence of data to support the continued promotion of ‘high-cut’ footwear, when it comes to trying to provide ankle protection.
The Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) published an opinion piece on January 20, 2020 concerning working hours in the medical profession and the risk of mental health and suicide from working excessive hours. It uses the Japanese problem of “karoshi” to illustrate the severity of the workplace risks but it misses a couple of points.
It references the amendments to Victoria’s Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) legislation that introduced an offence of Industrial Manslaughter but implies that this amendment changes the duty of care expected of employers and changes a worker’s right to a safe and healthy workplace.
The prevention of psychological harm generated by sexual harassment has been a recurring theme in the SafetyAtWorkBlog. It is heartening to see similar discussions appearing in labour law research.
An article, published in the Australian Journal of Labour Law, called “Preventing Sexual Harassment in Work: Exploring the Promise of Work Health and Safety Laws” written by Belinda Smith, Melanie Schleiger and Liam Elphick strengthens the role that occupational health and safety (OHS) laws can play in preventing sexual harassment and its harm.