On 1 February 2019 the Minerals Council of Australia issued a media release about occupational health and safety (OHS) in the mining industry and, in particular, Industrial Manslaughter laws. SafetyAtWorkBlog approached the MCA’s CEO, Tania Constable, for clarification.
The release stated:
“The MCA cautions that the introduction of Victorian Government’s industrial manslaughter laws will give rise to unintended consequences which impair, rather than enhance, health and safety outcomes at Australian workplaces. These laws will not contribute to general or specific deterrence or improvements in health and safety outcomes. This must be the priority, not imposing oppressive and unnecessary criminal liability on selected individuals”
The Minerals Council of Australia has released its 2019 policy platform called “The Next Frontier: Australian Mining Policy Priorities”. The mainstream media will focus on taxation and jobs data given that Australia will face an election in the first half of 2019 but there is a specific chapter on occupational health and safety (OHS).
One of the common questions I am asked, usually face-to-face rather than online curiously, is what changes I would suggest for improving occupational health and safety (OHS). Following on from the broad perspective thesis by Dr Clare Tedestedt George, here are some of my thoughts.
Entrenched workplace cultures
Workplaces and industry sectors have established rigid norms, work practices, expectations, and a culture, that are no longer considered as safe and healthy as they were intended to be. This has happened due to the economic demands of neoliberalism, the (fake) empowerment of the individual and after years of weakness and neglect by the OHS profession and regulators.
Australia, as are many other countries, is in the transition phase for the latest Standard for Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems – ISO45001. The Standard has been accepted by Australia as relevant to its jurisdiction and discussion seem quiet. However, the work of the technical committee on this Standard (SF-001) continues. The Head of the Delegation for Standards Australia responsible for the 45001 series of Standards, David Solomon, provided the following status update.
ISO (International Organization for Standardization) has formed a new International Technical Committee (TC283) that has been charged with the responsibility of developing the following standards that are in the suite of international Standards that ISO45001 leads.
The occupational risks of exposure to excessive heat have usually been assessed in remote locations in Australia, and almost exclusively for outdoor workers. The changing environmental conditions, regardless of the global cause, are changing the risk assessment of heat for outdoor workers and, increasingly, indoor workers such as those in food production or kitchens.
Recently Safe Work Australia released a seminar online which discussed the issue of heat in the occupational health and safety (OHS) context.
The panel discussion operates from the perspective of what can be done rather than what could be done and remains within the occupational context. Professor Dino Pisaniello mentioned his recent research into the issue, which looks like it was meant to be the focus of this seminar and which found: