Industrial Manslaughter mentioned in Australia’s Parliament

Earlier in February 2010, the recently appointed leader of the conservative Opposition, Tony Abbott, said in Parliament that the Minister for the Environment, Peter Garrett could have been charged with industrial manslaughter over the deaths of four insulation installers funded indirectly by the Government.  It was all oratorical bluster with little legal credibility.

However, it did remind some that industrial manslaughter laws are a reality in some Australian jurisdictions and remains a policy objective of some political parties.

In the Australian Senate on 25 February 2010, the Green Senator, Bob Brown, moved

“That, with regard to the comments made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Abbott) on industrial manslaughter, the Senate accepts the need for strong national industrial manslaughter laws.” Continue reading “Industrial Manslaughter mentioned in Australia’s Parliament”

New safety alerts for foil insulation

The Electrical Safety Office of the Queensland Government has issued two safety alerts that relate specifically to the installation of insulation in domestic dwellings.  Several recommendations seem to address concerns aired by Chris Lehmann in SafetyAtWorkBlog on 12 February 2010.

One safety alert, concerning foil insulation, states:

“To reduce these risks, householders and tradespeople should not enter the ceiling space of a house where foil ceiling insulation is installed.  If access to the ceiling space cannot be avoided, householders and tradespeople should ensure that all sources of electricity supply to the premises are isolated before entry to the ceiling space.   Continue reading “New safety alerts for foil insulation”

Workers comp becomes political but not in a nice way

Workers’ compensation clearly has become a political issue in Australia recently due to cock-ups, and electioneering.


The Australian Financial Review has embarrassed the Liberal Party’s shadow Minister for WorkCover in Victoria, Gordon Rich-Phillips.  Rich-Phillips issued a media release claiming the Victorian Government had been inactive on some deficiencies in the WorkCover system that had been highlighted by the chief justice of the Supreme Court.  Unfortunately, the Government had responded with legislative changes that had already been in Parliament.  The Government was provided a free political kick in this election year. Continue reading “Workers comp becomes political but not in a nice way”

Good bullying advice needs grounding in prevention

Recently SafetyAtWorkBlog discussed the quality of media releases on OHS matters.  A very good one was received the other day from Firefly Marketing.  The noticeable quality of this release is that although its purpose is to promote a conference, the release provides fresh and unique comments that have stand-alone benefits.

The statement includes several comments concerning workplace bullying.


WorkSafe Victoria‘s media manager, Michael Birt  says

“The death of Brodie Panlock has received the most media attention of any WorkSafe Victoria prosecution – ever.  The case was covered extensively by Australia’s national media but was even reported in countries from the Netherlands to Russia.  The details will stay on Google forever.  The actions of Brodie’s tormentors will follow them.” Continue reading “Good bullying advice needs grounding in prevention”

Midland Bricks fined $70k for a ripped-off arm

WorkSafe WA has released a statement detailing the prosecution of Midland Bricks over a worker had his right arm and shoulder torn from his body by a machine in 2006.

Midland Bricks was fined $A70,000 over the incident.

The factors involved in this incident include the following familiar issues:

Is overwork part of the Australian Government’s project management difficulties?

On the Insiders television program on 21 February 2010, host Barrie Cassidy closed a long interview with the Communications Minister Stephen Conroy but asking about the workload of public servants in supporting government programs.  The video is available on-line and the comments are at the 11 minute mark.

Conroy says that the “cracking pace” the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, established from the start of his government has continues.  Rudd continues to expect high performance from his Ministers, staff and public servants.  Conroy talks about the change that has been demanded of the public service and that this has generated more workload.  He forecasts that the workload may ease if the Government achieves a second term of office.

Cassidy makes the link between the “pushing people too hard” and the failure of Government schemes such as the insulation scheme that was cancelled by the Environment Minister, Peter Garrett on 19 February 2010. Continue reading “Is overwork part of the Australian Government’s project management difficulties?”

Workplace bullying questions to WorkSafe

Following the successful prosecution of four people for bullying 19-year-old Brodie Panlock, SafetyAtWorkBlog, with the assistance of a lawyer put several questions to WorkSafe Victoria about the case.  Most of the questions and their responses are below:

“SAWB: Could you please advise the reasons for the decision to prosecute the recent workplace bullying case in the Magistrates Court as opposed to the County Court?    My understanding is that this choice limited the potential fine for the individuals involved to 500 penalty points instead of 1800 , and for the company to 2500 instead of 9000.

WV:  In this case, we thought the Magistrates’ Court had the appropriate sentencing discretion to impose a proportionate and fair sentence.

In addition, Magistrates’ Court proceedings takes less time and produce more certain results than County Court proceedings – these charges were issued in July 2009 and resolved in February 2010.   Continue reading “Workplace bullying questions to WorkSafe”

US report is aimed at the wrong workplace safety target

A media release from Utah in the United States has been circulating through the internet overnight that claims:

“A new study released today by VitalSmarts found that five threats to workers’ safety are commonly left undiscussed and lead to avoidable injury or fatalities.” [link added]

The release lists those five threats as:

Some OHS information is very questionable

Media releases are statements issued to the media for the purposes of informing that media’s audience of something they may find newsworthy or interesting.  Increasingly media releases are being used as a substitute for advertising.

SafetyAtWorkBlog has an editorial policy that releases advertising a product are not used as the basis for an article.  One example of such a strongly commercially focussed media release is HERE.  However, we read almost all media releases received and take great pains on those we “use”, to identify the original source be it a survey report, research or a court case.   Continue reading “Some OHS information is very questionable”