Victorian Government refuses to release full costings of OHS laws

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FOI PwCThe Victorian Government has repeatedly claimed that new Work Health and Safety laws would cost billions of dollars to introduce. It has justified this political decision with a summary of a report produced by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in April 2012.  SafetyAtWorkBlog applied for the full report under Freedom of Information (FOI)  and was rejected.

The Department of Premier and Cabinet’s FOI Officer indicated that the full report existed but that it was not being released as the FOI Act

“…exempts from disclosure a document that has been prepared by a Minister or on his or her behalf or by an agency for the purpose of submission for consideration by the Cabinet.”

The rejection is difficult to understand as the government had already released a 34 page summary.

SafetyAtWorkBlog has been very critical of the summary report due to the amount of disclaimers, equivocations and selected data sources in the PwC report.  The estimated costs have appeared in discussions about the Work Health and Safety laws in other States so the full analysis of the laws by PwC would be enlightening. It was hoped that the full report would provide additional background and context to discussing the “costs of safety” but that is not to be.

Kevin Jones

Australia’s psychosocial barometer provides strong evidence for policy and corporate change

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OnlineMBA.com recently uploaded a video about “The True Cost of a Bad Boss“.  It is a good summary of the spread of negative organisational and employee effects that can result from poor management  poor understanding and poor communication.  It is well worth remembering this spread when determining the best way to manage workplace safety and increase productivity.

Cover of The-Australian-Workplace-Barometer-reportAlthough the video is from the US, there is research evidence to support many of the points raised. In December 2012, Safe Work Australia released  The Australian Workplace Barometer Report On Psychosocial Safety Climate and Worker Health in Australia, a report that has been largely missed by the Australian media. The report says that:

“A standout finding here is that depression costs Australian employers approximately AUD$8 billion per annum as a result of sickness absence and presenteeism and AUD$693 million per annum of this is due to job strain and bullying.” (page 6)

This is a significant impact on Australian business costs and, if one takes the OnlineMBA information concerning bad bosses, Australian bosses may need to undertake a considerable amount of self-analysis when lobbying for red-tape reductions and calling for productivity increases. Continue reading “Australia’s psychosocial barometer provides strong evidence for policy and corporate change”

Evidence exists of productivity benefits of OHS but no one is using it

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Cover of 47workhev1A lot of recent discussion of the impacts of workplace safety and productivity has centred on the Productivity Commission’s “Performance Benchmarking of Australian Business Regulation: Occupational Health & Safety” Report of 2010. However there was a 1995 report by the then-Industry Commission that can provide some broader context to the safety/productivity discussion. Recent evidence and research does not negate earlier reports and the safety/productivity debate should be considered over the longer time period, when there were different economic and political situations.

In 1995, the Industry Commission estimated the cost

“…to injured employees, their employers and the rest of the community of work-related injury and disease is at least $20 billion a year.” (page xiii)

(The March 2010 report stated the Australian Safety and Compensation Council

“…found the total economic cost of work-related injury and illness for the 2005-06 financial year to be $57.5 billion, representing 5.9 per cent of GDP.” Page 45)

The Industry Commission identified a ratio of costs associated with workplace injuries – 30-40-30:

“Around 30 per cent of the total cost

Continue reading “Evidence exists of productivity benefits of OHS but no one is using it”

Economic austerity should not be allowed to override safety priorities

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iStock_000009374843XSmallIn 2012 many countries have been required to pursue economic austerity measures.  A national or international economy rarely has any direct effect on safety management but the current economic status has led to an increase in harsh, or strong, political decisions and some of these decisions will affect safety management and professionals.  One obvious manifestation of political safety decisions is the UK Government’s decision to allow small businesses to step outside its occupational health and safety (OHS) laws in its pursuit of reducing supposed “red tape“.  This strategy is attractive to other government’s, including Australia’s, but the strategy could marginalise the safety profession even further if the profession remains insular and silent.

The Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has been campaigning for some time on the governments decisions to change its OHS laws in its quest for greater efficiencies and reduced business costs.  In the last few months, IOSH has turned its attention to the proposed changes to the  Continue reading “Economic austerity should not be allowed to override safety priorities”

Safety and productivity links at risk from ill-informed ridicule and media beat-up

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Yesterday Australia’s Fairfax Media reported on a “policy” supposedly being applied in the Western Australia resources sector by Chevron Australia that requires workers to stand, rather than sit, for the purposes of increasing productivity.  The initiative has been roundly ridiculed by various political and social commentators, including the Minister for Workplace Relations, Bill Shorten. However few have mentioned that the actions by the “policy” may be in line with recent OHS guidance issued by an Australian government safety authority, Comcare, or that the Victorian Government has granted $A600,000 for research into the use of standing workstations.

SafetyAtWorkBlog has been informed that Chevron has had no role in the production of the “leaked memo” and that this memo is likely to be notes and verbal advice provided at a low-level on a worksite and even simply as part of a regular toolbox meeting.  Fairfax Media is unfairly linking two disparate issues, dragging in Chevron who is not involved with the information and potential damaging valid safety information through unjustified ridicule. Continue reading “Safety and productivity links at risk from ill-informed ridicule and media beat-up”