Is safety leadership the panacea for unsafe workplaces?

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National Safety Cover May 2013The May 2013 National Safety magazine has an article on safety leadership by Australia lawyer, Michael Tooma.  It is a terrific article but it also highlights the lack of case studies of the practical reality of safety leadership in Australia and the great distance still required to improve safety. Tooma starts the article with

“It is widely recognised that strong safety leadership is integral to work, health and safety performance in any organisation.” [emphasis added]

Later he writes

“There is little doubt that safety leadership is a prerequisite to a positive safety culture in any organisation.”

These equivocations may indicate authorial caution on the part of Michael Tooma but  they could illustrate that the role of safety leadership still remains open to question. Continue reading “Is safety leadership the panacea for unsafe workplaces?”

Workers Memorial Day ceremony, industrial manslaughter and red tape

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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. Continue reading “Workers Memorial Day ceremony, industrial manslaughter and red tape”

National Workers Memorial opens

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Yesterday Australia opened its National Workers Memorial in Canberra.  The Workplace Relations Minister  Bill Shorten, spoke at the ceremony with, largely, an edited and reduced version of the speech he presented in Brisbane earlier last week.  The Canberra speech dropped  all the ANZAC Day references and spoke about the importance of remembering.

“By erecting this monument, we tie the lives and memories and families of thousands of Australians to this place.  We stand here in this place as a mark of respect from a civilised community as an expression of failure and regret.  That’s what all memorials are, and this one is no different.  This is a symbol of the mourning for those lost too early from our tribe Australia.” Continue reading “National Workers Memorial opens”

Safety, business costs and regulation

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On the 28 April edition of the ABC TV show, Insiders, Gerard Henderson displayed a common misunderstanding about the role and existence of regulations.  In discussing the childcare industry Henderson,  Executive Director of the Sydney Institute, said that regulations always increase business costs, as if regulations are the start of a process when regulations are almost always a reaction to a hazard, an abuse, an exploitation or a risk.

Business leaders seem to be incapable of understanding that they have the  power to reduce what they see as OHS red tape by changing their behaviours, perhaps by embracing and implementing safety leadership.

Many politicians and commentators have linked recent factory explosions and collapses around the World Day for Safety and Health at Work on 28 April.   Continue reading “Safety, business costs and regulation”

Safe Work Australia vs Quad Bike Manufacturers

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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. Continue reading “Safe Work Australia vs Quad Bike Manufacturers”