Early WHS submissions are a mixed bag

The first lot of anonymous submissions to Australia’s Independent Review of Work Health and Safety Laws is an interesting mix.

One seems written by a regional paramedic calling for increased prescription of workplace first aid requirements. There are complaints about the contents of first aid kits which should have been addressed by the occupational health and safety (OHS) option of providing equipment to meet the results of a first aid needs analysis about which the submitter says:

“The recommendation to add additional items based on an appropriate risk assessment is almost, to my knowledge, never completed.”

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Danger Money has been internalised

Late last century I worked in the Victorian Department of Labour as an administrative officer, at a time when award restructuring and “structural efficiency principles” were in full swing.  The existing awards often included a swathe of special allowances for activities like working at heights or picking up roadkill.  These allowances were commonly called “dirt money” or “danger money” and were largely eliminated or incorporated in the base rates of pay through the restructuring of awards.

The concept of “danger money” has disappeared from the formal industrial relations (IR) processes in Australia but is an important one to remember in the context of occupational health and safety (OHS), particularly as there are renewed calls for IR reforms in Australia.

Workers continue to accept high risk activities in response to higher rates of remuneration, as was recently discussed in another SafetyAtWorkBlog article.  Below is one take on “danger money”and the OHS attitudes of trade unions

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USA response on sexual harassment is interesting but can be better

Australia continues to develop various Codes and Guidances for the prevention and management of sexual harassment, particularly in the creative industries.  America’s Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG) released some guidance about its Code of Conduct on April 12 2018. It is educative but Australia can do better.

A positive in SAG’s announcement is that it clearly places sexual harassment under the category of workplace safety which allows for a broad approach to the hazard and one that is supported by legislation and an employer’s duty of care. 

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First WHS Review submission released is hard work but useful

The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) has released its submission to the Independent Review of Work Health and Safety Laws.  It is a good example of the business-speak that can erode the effectiveness of clear communication, but the submission is still revealing.  Here is an example from its Executive Summary:

“A nationally-consistent, risk-based preventative Work Health and Safety (WHS) regulatory system, supported by industry-specific regulation, would deliver benefits based on greater certainty, consistency and efficiency. It would also help to ensure that compliance challenges do not detract from the practical tasks of identifying, managing and minimising risk and the continuous improvement of safety and health outcomes by companies.” (Page 3)

So, the MCA wants national occupational health and safety (OHS) laws?

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FIFO, Fairness and the Future

Trucks in Super Pit gold mine, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia

SafetyAtWorkBlog’s article about the safety of Fly-In, Fly-Out workers has generated some discussion through its mention on LinkedIn which has raised some interesting points.

A common thread seems to be that it is impractical to build townships and facilities to support remote mine workers and which also provide services to workers’ families. One commenter posed these questions:

“Are we going to drag the FIFO families out to these areas, build houses for them, along with all the associated infrastructure to support them, for what may be only a 3-5 year construction program? Is it fair to drag the partners and families of FIFO workers away from their family supports (parents/friends, etc)? Away from decent medical care? Away from schools/universities?”

This may have been intended as rhetorical but prompts a question that I frequently ask when I consult with clients – “why not?”

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