Addressing the invisible causes of visible harm

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

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What will the Greens do for Victoria on OHS?

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.

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Political tennis on silicosis begins

Pictured from Dr Ryan Hoy’s ANZSOM presentation

It was reported on October 11 2018 that Australia’s Health Minister, Greg Hunt, has called for:

“… state workplace regulators to immediately investigate risks to the health of stonemasons, and stop unsafe work practices.”

Some reports have said that a statement was issued:

“Mr Hunt issued a statement saying he and the Chief Medical Officer would raise the issue at a health COAG meeting in Adelaide on Friday. He said the meeting would be asked to consider whether a national dust diseases register should be developed.”

However the Minister’s Office has advised SafetyAtWorkBlog that no formal statement has been made.  This makes it a bit hard to determine what exactly he is asking for on the prevention of silicosis but the States have begun to respond.

The Victorian Minister for Health,

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A possible licence to be safe

The Victorian Parliament continues to consider the Building Amendment (Registration of Building Trades and Other Matters) Bill 2018. According to one interpretation in the unofficial Hansard:

“This bill’s objectives are to deliver better outcomes for domestic building consumers and building practitioners through further improvements to the practitioner registration and disciplinary system, improve compliance with swimming pool and spa barrier standards and implement some recommendations of the Victorian Cladding Taskforce and the Coroners Court.”

There are many aspects to this Bill, one of which is occupational health and safety (OHS).

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Focus on safety rather than the Standard

Recently the Safety Institute of Australia (SIA) published an opinion piece about the new international Standard for Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems, ISO45001.  The article professed to answer the question “what does ISO 45001 mean for OHS professionals?” Below is the SafetyAtWorkBlog’s response to that question based on the points raised by the SIA.

The SIA’s Roland Tan states that ISO45001

“provides an opportunity to benchmark with global best practice in managing OHS risks and initiate opportunities to improve OHS performance.”

Australian OHS professionals need to ask whether their clients need to benchmark globally. If not, how is ISO45001 relevant?  It is not.  You would be wasting everyone’s time.

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