This week Australia has been experiencing a safety roadshow built around the Deepwater Horizon movie and two guest speakers. The afternoon sessions have been well attended and the discussion fruitful but does the film improve the viewers’ understanding of safety or misrepresent it?
Following the resignation of Andrew Puzder, President Trump has nominated Alexander Acosta to be the new Labor Secretary. The United States media, generally, has been supportive of the nomination particularly in comparison to Puzder. However, there was a particular line in the President’s media conference that may indicate his approach to safety legislation and regulations.
“We’ve directed the elimination of regulations that undermine manufacturing and call for expedited approval of the permits needed for America and American infrastructure and that means plant, equipment, roads, bridges, factories.” (emphasis added)
President Trump’s plans for cutting regulatory red tape was forecast during his election campaign when he stated that regulations:
“… just stopping businesses from growing.”
President Trump or his Labor Secretary nominees have not mentioned occupational health and safety (OHS) specifically but the
The South Australian Branch of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) held a protest rally in Adelaide on 15 February 2017 in response to the political negotiations in Australia’s Parliament about the reintroduction of, what the union sees as, anti-union legislation. Throughout the rally’s presentations (available online through the CFMEU Facebook page), the issue of occupational health and safety (OHS) was raised and it is worth looking closely at what was said and the broader political and safety context.
The issues to be addressed in the protest rally included Senator Nick Xenophon’s “deal” with Prime Minister Turnbull that the CFMEU claims will:
- ” Make our workplaces less safe
- Put more overseas visa workers on our building sites
- Cut the number of apprentices in South Australia
- Threaten job security and increase casual jobs
- Fail to mandate Australian made products on construction sites”
After Joe McDonald opened the rally, the Secretary of the CFMEU SA, Aaron Cartledge (pictured above), spoke about how workers in South Australia had been dudded on safety because the health and safety representatives (HSRs) cannot call on external safety advisers to help them with an OHS matter. This may be the case but Cartledge’s comments illustrate a common perspective of trade unionists – a reluctance to consider safety management strategies other than those dependent on HSRs.
The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) is one of the most militant trade unions in Australia. That it angers many Australians by its strong support for its members is unarguable. Yet recently it has seemed to overstep the mark on its protest against the Australian Government’s introduction of legislation that the CFMEU sees…
Australia Post features regularly in the mainstream press. Recently, the media and Government discussed the pay packet of its Chief Executive Officer, Ahmed Fahour, but a safety management issue has been bubbling along for some time and reappeared this morning in the Australian Financial Review (AFR) “Australia post investigated over alleged manipulation of injury rate for bonuses” ($paywall).
The AFR writes that
“Comcare is investigating Australia Post over allegations that some senior managers manipulated data on injured employees’ absences from work to meet key performance indicators and secure hefty bonuses.”
This is allegedly done by
- “delaying injury claims,
- recording workers on sick leave when they are really absent on injury, and
- paying for medical expenses in lieu of workers lodging compensation claims.”
I once had to stop a potential fight on a construction site between a works supervisor and a safety professional. The verbal abuse and niggling occurred for several minutes before the men’s chest were inflated like roosters and it was at this point I stepped in to diffuse the situation by asking some questions as…
Today the SafetyAtWorkBlog has evolved into a more contemporary OHS media website. Most of the future articles and some of the past, will be available as exclusive content to those who choose to subscribe on a monthly or annual basis. There are many reasons for this change including reducing the likelihood of unauthorised use of the articles and the need to cover some of the costs of producing the blog.
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You may already have seen the “launch” article about OHS and the Trump Presidency. I am working on other article on issues concerning gender diversity in the OHS profession and am chasing up exclusive interviews with a range of people who have not, necessarily, spoken about safety before.
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Jen Jackson is a communications adviser who has come to prominence in the occupational health and safety (OHS) sector in Australia over the last 12 months for lots of reasons. She is young, female and talks clearly and sensible – all elements that many do not associate with OHS. Jackson is always worth listening to…
Corporate maturity, especially in the area of workplace health and safety, is an increasingly important consideration in determining the preparedness of an organisation to change and embrace OHS as a crucial element of its business operations. There are several advocates of determining corporate maturity usually based around Hudson’s five levels of maturity, the most recent seems to be the Australian Constructors’ Association (ACA) in conjunction with RMIT University (see parts 8-7 of the document pictured below), but these tools are often aimed at the upper levels of an organisation.
These levels include:
Next month Australia hosts the G20 but there is always a lot of activity leading to this meeting and labour relations is part of that preparation. In September 2014 the G20 conducted its Labour and Employment Ministerial meeting at which a Declaration was released that includes some occupational health and safety (OHS) information. The Declaration is full of “weasel words” and “soft verbs” but it is worth noting so that the actions of governments on OHS in the future can be referenced, even though tangible results will be few.
On promoting safer workplaces, the Declaration states:
“Improving workplace safety and health is an urgent priority that protects workers and contributes to increased productivity and growth. We agree to take further steps to reduce the substantial human and economic costs associated with unsafe workplaces and work-related illnesses. We endorse the attached G20 Statement on Safer and Healthier Workplaces (Annex C), and we commit, as appropriate, to implement its recommendations in collaboration with governments, international organisations and social partners.”
If we were to deconstruct this statement, accepting that the paragraph is extracted from the labour relations context, the Australian Government, and other parties, does not accept that OHS is an “urgent priority”, only that improving it is. Any government can prove that it is “improving” OHS even when controls are removed due to red tape reduction or by the ideological strategy of increasing employer control through increased flexibility.