Last year SafeWork South Australia was evaluated by that State’s Independent Commission against Corruption. A couple of years ago Martyn Campbell (pictured right) took on the role as the Executive Director. SafeWork SA had obvious challenges and Campbell has needed to recalibrate the organisation to meet contemporary standards and expectations.
SafetyAtWorkBlog had the chance to put some questions to Martyn Campbell recently. Below are his responses.
Australian research into
occupational health and safety (OHS) is a lot less than research into other
areas of business and management, especially in relation to the psychological
wellbeing of workers at all levels of the corporate structure. As such, it has become common for experts,
advocates and researchers from the social, non-work, public health areas to
overlay general and broad research findings on to workplaces – they are, in
effect, filling a vacuum. But just
because the OHS research into psychological harm is thin or immature does not
mean that work does not have its own characteristics.
Over many years OHS has
produced research and guidelines that include the psychological effect of
sexual harassment, but it has been ineffectual or ignored for may reasons. This submission is an attempt to illustrate
the potential already in existence
in Australia that could be used to prevent sexual harassment-related
This submission has
drawn almost exclusively on Australian-based documentation and research to
better satisfy the title and aim of this Inquiry. This is not saying that actions and data from
overseas are not relevant: there is some excellent information on the matter
from the European Union,
for instance. But quite often people seem to look overseas for evidence and
solutions when Australia already has good research and advice, if one looks.
Summary of key points
harassment often results in psychological harm to workers, and employers and
PCBUs already have a legislative obligation under OHS/WHS law to eliminate
(prevent) risks to health and safety, including psychological risks.
accepting that sexual harassment is a form of workplace violence, new
prevention options may be available.
has a range of general and specific guidance on the systematic prevention of
the psychological harm generated by sexual harassment, produced by Federal and
State or Territorial health and safety regulators.
of sexual harassment may be extremely disruptive to workplaces even though it remains
the most effective control measure.
strategy to prevent sexual harassment must have a multidisciplinary and
assessment of sexual harassment risks can be determined to internationally-recognised
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 trade union movement was instrumental in showing that workplace bullying was a pervasive problem in Australian workplaces. Many Codes of Practice and guidances for workplace bullying and occupational violence were written shortly after the action by the Australian Council of Trade Unions almost two decades ago. But, for some reason, although sexual harassment was mentioned in those early documents, it never received the attention in occupational health and safety (OHS) circles that, in hindsight, it should have.
Perhaps a more sustainable and effective strategy would be to focus on the “harassment” rather than the “sexual”, or in
The policy platform of the Victorian Greens party has been publicly available for some time but there is only one paragraph in the 22 page document that directly addresses occupational health and safety (OHS):
“We voted for regulating labour hire, we will support criminalising wage theft, and we have called for industrial manslaughter laws.” (page 26)
But if a generous definition of workplace health and safety is applied there are several other policies of interest.