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Host: ISCRR's Jason Thompson

Host: ISCRR’s Jason Thompson

The Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research (ISCRR) has tried a new format for its occupational health and safety (OHS) seminars.  It is not a lunch with a single presenter and it is not a Three-Minute Thesis.  It is five safety researchers in one hour, seven minutes per person and a single question from the floor – and it worked. More…

Whitlam’s dismissal diverted workers compensation reform 7

In October 2014, one of Australia’s Prime Ministers, Gough Whitlam, died at the age of 98.  Whitlam introduced major social reforms, many which still exist today (just).  One reform he valued but was not able to achieve was a national accident compensation scheme. It is worth noting when reading of the current economic and moral arguments over workplace responsibility and over-regulation that Whitlam’s national accident compensation scheme included workers compensation.

In 1974, during Whitlam’s time as the Prime Minister of Australia, the New Zealand government established a no-fault accident compensation scheme following the 1967 Royal Commission of Inquiry into Compensation for Personal Injury in New Zealand chaired by Owen Woodhouse.  Woodhouse was invited to assess the likelihood of a similar scheme being introduced in Australia.  He completed his inquiry (not available online) for such a scheme and legislation was drafted. The bill was in the Australian Parliament when the Whitlam government was dismissed by Governor-General John Kerr.  As a result of the political machinations of the Liberal Party of Australia, Australia missed the opportunity to have a national accident compensation scheme. More…

Short-sighted redefinition of worker 3

In May 2013, Workcover Queensland supported the government’s intention to change the definition of worker to match that of the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).  The definition re-emphasises the significance of the employer/employee relationship.  Workplace health and safety laws through most of Australia have recently changed to remove the reliance on the employer/employee relationship with the intention of clarifying the lines of responsibility for preventing harm.  The diversity between workers’ compensation and OHS definitions unnecessarily complicates the management of a worker’s health through the linear experience of employment.

The government believes such changes will reduce “red tape” but only in the narrow context of workers compensation.  The Work Health and Safety Act expands the definition of worker but another piece of legislation in the same State restricts it.  Inconsistencies of concepts are likely to lead to duplications, confusion and arguments that may generate as much unnecessary business and legal costs as the initiatives were intended to save. More…

Executive Director says WorkSafe has been reactive on workplace mental health 5

Ian Forsyth, Health and Safety Executive Director, for WorkSafe Victoria spoke at a breakfast seminar on 7 February 2012.  As a report on what WorkSafe has been doing and what they plan to do in 2012, it was reasonable but there were several issues that raised eyebrows or confused some in the audience.

Workplace Bullying

Ian Forsyth spent some time speaking about the importance of workplace bullying, repeatedly stressing that most calls to WorkSafe about bullying do not fit the definition that would allow WorkSafe to act.  No mention was made of the divergent views on workplace bullying coming through the public comment phase of the draft national code on workplace bullying over the last few months.

Several times Forsyth stressed that there were other avenues for action or appeal on matters that do not fit the WorkSafe definition, such as the Fair Work Ombudsman and other authorities.  This is the reality but the comments provide no real solution to handling the thousands of calls WorkSafe receives on workplace bullying each year.   More…

WorkCoverSA CEO faces hard tasks as new report damns WorkCover’s performance 7

Late April 2011 is becoming a period of turmoil in the South Australia’s WorkCover Corporation, on top of the government’s political turmoil from the sudden resignation of the Industrial Relations Minister, Bernard Finnigan, and a minister being charged with child pornography offences.  According to inDaily on 21 April 2011, WorkCover’s Deputy CEO, Jeff Matthews, and Chief Financial Officer, Ian Rhodes, left the organisation suddenly.  CEO Rob Thomson (ex-Workcover New South Wales) says that the positions were axed as part of a restructure.

On 27 April 2011, the most recent review into WorkCover’s operations was released.  The March 2011 report finds that the state’s workers compensation scheme

“…shows little evidence of improved return to work performance, in spite of very heavy referrals to and cost of vocational rehabilitation compared to comparable scheme.” More…