The continuing argument over quad bike safety in Australia mirrors many of the other occupational health and safety (OHS) debates over whose evidence is truer, is the argument about politics or safety, the cost of change and whether one size of OHS laws and enforcement fits a splintering employment structure.
The Liberal National Coalition won the recent Federal Election in Australia, retaining power and with a stronger Parliamentary influence. In terms of quad bike safety, action on the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission’s report will follow the schedule set out by the then Assistant Treasurer Stuart Roberts. Several quad bike manufacturers and their industry lobbying arm, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), have ramped up the pressure on the Government now that they smell another three years of sympathetic government.
It is important to keep reminding ourselves that OHS, for most Australians, remains regulated at a State level and national positions and recommendations like that of the ACCC are unlikely to be implemented nationally without Federal laws.
For the first time in many years, the Safety Institute of Australia’s National Conference heard from two prominent industry association leaders, Mark Goodsell from the Australian Industry Group (AiGroup) and James Pearson, CEO of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI). The absence of a representative of the trade union movement to “balance” some of the comments was a weakness of the conference but perhaps unavoidable a few days after a very busy Federal Election campaign. Both conference speakers addressed OHS issues and the topic-de-jour, Industrial Manslaughter laws.
The Victorian Government released its State Budget on May 27, 2019. The Budget Papers include some references to occupational health and safety (OHS).
The Budget Papers state that new infringement notices will be available for WorkSafe Victoria to use.
“Workplace safety will be improved through the introduction of infringement notices for a range of occupational health and safety offences, adding to the suite of compliance and enforcement tools available to WorkSafe Victoria.”page 88 – Budget Paper 3 – Service Delivery
The Safety Institute of Australia continues to rebuild its member services, its finances and its reputation. In fact, it is so confident in its future that it has changed its name and brand to reflect this path. From July 2019 it will be known as the Australian Institute of Health and Safety (AIHS). A critical element of the SIA/AIHS strategy is it national conference, the second of which was held in Sydney at the end of May 2019, and it is worth asking whether the conference matched the Institute’s renewed pathway.
Matthew Peacock is an award-winning Australian journalist and one of the very few in Australia who can bring an informed and nuanced perspective to the topic of occupational health and safety (OHS). Last week he was invited to speak at the dinner of the Safety Institute of Australia‘s Conference. According to some delegates, he roasted the OHS profession; to others, he set the profession a deserved challenge.