On May 19, 2020, WorkSafe Victoria conducted an interactive webinar on Workplace Manslaughter laws due to be in place from July 1, 2020. The webinar was very good for those who are coming to the issue anew as the level of interaction was excellent. But the webinar also broadened beyond its topic, which was disappointing. At 90 minutes the event was too long, but revised versions of this consultation with the community should be scheduled regularly, even when physical distancing rules end.
The discussion of “organisational culture” has tried to remain apolitical or amoral, but it always relies of case studies to illustrate the academic and ephemeral. Largely these studies involve major disasters, but few people work in heavy industry, chemical plants, or offshore oil rigs. Better examples could be sought by looking at other industries, such as the Catholic Church. (I really hope someone is examining this relationship in a PhD)
This year’s International Workers Memorial Day/World Day for Safety and Health at Work is over. Many of the memorial events were conducted online and many gave healthcare workers prominence, especially in the United Kingdom. SafetyAtWorkBlog watched the online service conducted by the Victorian Trades Hall.
Many worker memorials are little more than a reiteration of the importance of occupational health and safety (OHS) laws. If the ceremonies are conducted by trade unions, as most are, they are usually advocating for the role of Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs). This year’s Victorian ceremony was typical. However, there were some curiosities and such ceremonies can, and should, be more than just a commemoration.
It is a common response by businesses and governments to respond to an incident or an issue by imposing a new level of control. Over time, this leads to confusion, clutter and a perception that action is more complex than it could be. Responses to work-related suicide are a good example of this and the recent announcement by the Australian Government of a permanent National Commission into veteran suicides is the latest, but it needs to be more than what has gone before.
“Coercive control” is getting attention in New South Wales in relation to domestic violence but there are similarities to workplace behaviours such as sexual harassment and bullying.
The Chief Psychiatrist of Victoria’s “guideline and practice resource: family violence” says
“Family violence is understood as a pattern of repeated andpage 5
coercive control, aiming to control another person’s thoughts, feelings and actions.”
The 2020 business year has started with a bunch of occupational health and safety (OHS) seminars. Given last year’s moves towards Industrial Manslaughter laws in several Australian States, a discussion of these laws is inevitable and there are some voices calling out the politics of the issue. Herbert Smith Freehills’ Steve Bell is one of them.
In late January 2020, the Australian Health Minister, Greg Hunt, announced new funding for suicide prevention programs. As the announcement occurred during the increasing concerns over the coronavirus, media attention to the funding announcement was minimal and this overlooked an important shift in suicide prevention strategies.
Six months ago the Prime Minister appointed Christine Morgan as his Suicide Prevention Adviser. As part of the funding announcement, Morgan spoke about a major change to suicide prevention strategies that acknowledges that not all suicides result from mental illness – a reality that has been emphasised by some Australian researchers for over several years. Significantly Christine Morgan is reported in Newscorp media as saying: