On 26 May 2017, NT WorkSafe announced that Austral Fisheries Pty Ltd was charged over health and safety breaches that resulted in the electrocution of Ryan Donoghue. Enforcement of occupational health and safety breaches should be welcomed but Donoghue died in 2013! Why so long?
NT WorkSafe regret the delay:
“The location of the vessel meant the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland and NT WorkSafe potentially had jurisdiction to investigate.”
“The preliminary findings from our investigation were handed to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland after we received legal advice that they had jurisdiction,” Mr Gelding [Executive Director of NT WorkSafe] said.
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland completed their investigation on 3 March 2015 and decided not to prosecute. The Northern Territory Coroner held an inquest into the accident in April 2016 and referred the matter to NT WorkSafe for consideration.
Why so long? Jurisdictional arguments and enforcement variation. But didn’t Australia establish a National Compliance and Enforcement Policy in 2011? Yep,
Recently New Zealand stole some of Australia’s thunder on quad bike safety when, according to one media report, one of the country’s state-owned enterprises, Landcorp Farming Limited decided it:
“…will not be using quad bikes on its new farms, and is limiting use of the vehicles elsewhere, as it looks for a safer and more suitable alternative.”
The differing positions on quad bike safety mirror the Australian debate. Landcorp will remove or limit the use of quad bikes just as did the New South Wales’ National Parks & Wildlife Service. The Motor Industry Association argues against crush protection devices just as has the FCAI in Australia. Charley Lamb of Lincoln University echoes Australian academic researchers and believes:
“The argument that rollover protection killed riders was “rubbish”. Continue reading “New Zealand’s LandCorp reduces quad bike use”
Sometimes when there is a procedural or organisational blockage, an opportunity or potential solution appears out of the blue. A South Australian Supreme Court decision on 3 October 2012 (not yet available online) may be just such a case.
Almost seven years ago Jack Salvemini was working on a shark fishing boat in the Great Australian Bight when he became entangled in a net being winched and was, according to various reports, either strangled or crushed to death. SafeWorkSA prosecuted the company running the boat, Jean Bryant Fishing and the skipper of the boat, Arthur Markellos. Both were found guilty of breaching the occupational health and safety laws in effect at that time.
The company was fined $A71,000 from a maximum fine of $A100,000. Markellos was fined $A17,000. Arguments and appeals have continued on over this case since the original prosecution in the Industrial Magistrate’s Court in November 2010. (This judgement also provides the best level of detail of the fatality and its impact on all parties including Arthur Markellos)
Following the Supreme Court decision, Jack’s father, Lee, said he would like to talk with the Attorney-General to discuss what more can be done on his quest for justice. Later in the evening South Australian Premier, Jay Weatherill, commented on the case and offered to meet the family. There is a political element to the Premier’s offer as it makes an important point about the Work Health and Safety Bill currently stalled in the SA Parliament. Continue reading “The Salvemini court saga illustrates many problems with prosecutions, justice and care”
The Australian Financial Review (AFR) reported on 14 June 2011 (not freely available online) that Senator Jacinta Collins has publicly stated that an International Labour Organisation (ILO) occupational health and safety convention will be signed by the current Government in conjunction with other conventions on maritime labour, asbestos and part-time work. The announcement that “Australia will ratify four ILO Conventions this year” was made at the recent International Labour Conference.
Most of the AFR article focussed on the labour relations impacts of the conventions but RMIT’s Professor of Law, Breen Creighton noted that
“Ratifying a convention has no effect in Australian law unless the Australian parliaments legislate to give effect to the international obligations.”
Senator Collins’ speech identifies the OHS protocol as the “Optional Protocol of 2002 to the Occupational Health and Safety Convention”.
A brief discussion on this protocol occurred on this blog in late April 2011 when the ratification was mentioned during the World Day for Safety and Health at Work.
The Queensland Division of the Safety Institute of Australia regularly produces a newsletter/magazine of consistent quality and the November 2010 edition is available online.
This edition includes an article by Warwick Pearse on the Montara oil spill. Pearse did not have the luxury of access to the final reports or government’s response but he makes sound recommendations.