Rita Donahy speaks at Australia’s Building Safety conference Reply

Donahy 2013 01The first international speaker at this weekend’s Building Safety conference in Canberra, Australia was Rita Donahy, author of the One Death Is Too Many report into the UK’s construction industry safety performance, and a member of the House of Lords.

Donahy stressed that workplace safety is, and should be, a social issue and not treated as a special case.
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New Zealand’s LandCorp reduces quad bike use 2

Recently New Zealand stole some of Australia’s thunder on quad bike safety when, according to one media report, one of the country’s state-owned enterprises, Landcorp Farming Limited decided it:

“…will not be using quad bikes on its new farms, and is limiting use of the vehicles elsewhere, as it looks for a safer and more suitable alternative.”

The differing positions on quad bike safety mirror the Australian debate.  Landcorp will remove or limit the use of quad bikes just as did the New South Wales’ National Parks & Wildlife Service.  The Motor Industry Association argues against crush protection devices just as has the FCAI in Australia.  Charley Lamb of Lincoln University echoes Australian academic researchers and believes:

“The argument that rollover protection killed riders was “rubbish”. More…

Prevention of harm is lost in the debate over workplace bullying 4

This week in Australia the conservative Liberal Party released its much-anticipated industrial relations policy.  Most commentary is that the policy is thin but in terms of occupational health and safety, the Liberal Party is supportive of the changes made concerning workplace bullying.  Sadly, the commentary is often lazy.

VWA+0518+28x5+Bullying+A3+PosterMedia Misunderstanding

One example of a careless  headline is in the Herald Sun newspaper for 11 May 2013, “$20 million Budget boost to stop workplace bullying“.  The Australian Government’s changes to the Fair Work Act do not prevent bullying, it only provides further options for remedy.  OHS is principally about preventing harm and the Fair Work Act changes do not help in this aim. More…

Workers Memorial Day ceremony, industrial manslaughter and red tape 2

ACTU President Ged Kearney addresses the event. (image: VTHC)

The President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), Ged Kearney, spoke briefly at the Workers Memorial Day ceremony in Melbourne Victoria on 29 April 2013.  Kearney reiterated the call for industrial manslaughter laws in Australia echoing the statements by the ACTU’s Michael Borowick yesterday and the ACTU media release. More…

Safe Work Australia vs Quad Bike Manufacturers 7

The chair of Safe Work Australia, Rex Hoy, makes an extraordinary challenge to the manufacturers of quad bikes.  In a media statement released on 26 April 2013, he

“…has called on the designers and manufacturers of quad bikes to urgently reconsider improving the design of quad bikes so they are not prone to roll over.”

Quad bike Say Safety_v151_04_10This sounds a sensible and safe suggestion but independent Australian research is still to be completed on whether these work vehicles are prone to roll over as a result of their design, and not simply driver (mis)behaviour.

Hoy notes that people continue to die whilst riding quad bikes and is quoted saying:

“We cannot sit by and watch people being killed and seriously injured by these vehicles. Everyone has a responsibility for quad bike safety but it must involve a safer product. We need to ask ourselves how much a life is worth opposed to the cost of a crush protection device.”

Quad bike designers and manufacturers have been emphatic in their position that rollovers are, primarily, the fault of driver behaviour and that crush protection devices are likely to contribute to rollovers or exacerbate worker injuries from rollovers. More…