Detention Royal Commission touches on workplace safety

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In June 2016, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation showed an investigation report into the detention of children who had broken the law in the Northern Territory.  The revelations of maltreatment were so confronting that a Royal Commission was announced by the Australian Government very shortly after.  The Commission’s final report was tabled in Parliament on November 17 2017.

All Australian workplaces are subject to clear occupational health and safety duties and obligations that relate to workers and to those who may be affected by the workplace and activities.  (The SafetyAtWorkBlog article “Royal Commission into juvenile detention should include OHS” discusses this at length.)

A brief search of the Final Report of the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory shows an acknowledgement of the OHS perspective but with little discussion of it. Continue reading “Detention Royal Commission touches on workplace safety”

What do Weinstein, Spacey and others have to do with OHS?

“Then I went, ‘Oh hang on, I’ve normalised so much of this as part of my industry…. This last three months has really made us all take a long hard look at what we have even let ourselves think is acceptable.” – Sacha Horler

Such a statement is familiar to those working in the field of occupational health and safety (OHS).  This normalisation, or habituation, has underpinned much of the discussion of what builds a safety culture – “the way things are done round here”.  As a result of revelations and accusations pertaining to

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Can flexible work arrangements apply in the construction sector?

On 30 October 2017, the Safety Institute of Australia and RMIT University held their annual OHS Construction Forum.  This year’s theme was flexible working arrangements – a brave choice that did not really work but was indicative of safety in the construction industry generally.

Several speakers discussed well-being generally and how flexible working arrangements were critical to fostering an appropriate level of  wellness.  One, a labour lawyer, outlined the legislative obligations that companies have to those types of arrangements with reference to equal opportunity laws, industrial relations and anti-discrimination obligations – sadly the workplace safety laws and obligations were not mentioned.  In all of the wellbeing-themed discussions, the application to the on site construction workers was rarely, if ever, mentioned.

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Acts of God, the morality of safety – interview with Sidney Dekker

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The latest episode of Safety At Work Talks is a return to the sequence of interviews with Professor Sidney Dekker.  In April 2017, Dekker published a book called The End of Heaven which discusses suffering.  This book has a very different tone from his previous books and is intriguing.

The breadth of the discussion was also surprising with concepts and references rarely talked about in relation to occupational health and safety, such as morality, Acts of God, train disasters and the Bible.  If this sounds heavy, it is useful to follow the discussion that leads to this statement from Dekker:

“Safety Culture is the new Human Error”.

This latest episode is available at



Kevin Jones

Extraordinary, quiet, policy change at WorkSafe Victoria

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In April 2017, WorkSafe Victoria created consternation in the farming sector by stating that farmers who own quad bikes must fit operator protection devices (OPDs) to the vehicles in order to operate them safely. The quad bike manufacturers took WorkSafe Victoria to the Supreme Court and, according to various media statements, the issue was dismissed before getting to Court and everybody won! On 26 October 2017, the current policy position of WorkSafe Victoria on operator protection devices (OPDs) was clarified.

Continue reading “Extraordinary, quiet, policy change at WorkSafe Victoria”