It’s on the books but we don’t read much

Victoria’s Trades Hall has criticised the Master Builders Association of Victoria (MBAV) over its opposition to Industrial Manslaughter laws.  The MBAV’s opposition is described as “tired” by Trades Hall in a small article in the OHS Reps SafetyNet Journal which illustrates how the gap is unbreachable.

This is what the OHS Unit of Trades Hall said about the

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Fixing the future by planning for the future

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) often sets the occupational health and safety (OHS) agenda, as it did on workplace stress and bullying.  On 21 May 2018 the ACTU released a research report entitled “Australia’s insecure work crisis: Fixing it for the future“.  The opening paragraph provides a clear indication of the report’s tone:

“The incidence of non-standard work in Australia is alarming. The fact that our national government and some employer groups seek to deny this reality and refuse to support reforms to better protect workers in insecure non-standard employment is a disgrace.”

There is a lot of useful information in this report but there is also a lot missing, a lot that could affect workplace safety.

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Still treating the symptoms of mental health

Suicide prevention continues to be a growth area in rainsingfund-raising and awareness raising.  On 17 May 2018, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull released a video supporting a treadmill challenge in support of suicide prevention.  It seems an odd campaign when there have been various walks and other events in the past that have more of a public statement that being on a treadmill in a gym.  But this is not the only odd suicide awareness event.  Last week, Winslow Constructions had a program launch that was also a little odd and a campaign that is worthwhile, as far as it goes.

In May 2018, Winslow Constructions held a media event on one of its residential construction projects to the north of Melbourne. 

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It’s not “all about safety”

The Australian media on May 16 and 17, 2018 contained several articles about the dropping of a blackmailing case against two prominent trade unionists, John Setka (pictured right) and Shaun Reardon.  There are many issues and allegations in this legal action which started from a contentious Royal Commission and an ongoing dispute between the CFMMEU and the Grocon construction company.

Some unionists, such as the ACTU Secretary, Sally McManus on ABC Radio, say that the current case was “all about safety”.  It is not all about safety and such misrepresentation needs to be called out.  The original dispute was over the election of Health and Safety Representatives (HSR) – whether these could be appointed by the company or the union.  This quickly became about power and influence not specifically about workplace health and safety.

There is no doubt that Setka has a

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Rebooting the Duty of Care

The primary occupational health and safety (OHS) duty rests with employers or, as they are known in most Australian jurisdictions, Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU).  Laws are based on an assumption that employers are aware of this duty and that this duty, to provide a safe and healthy work environment without risks to health, reflects the employer’s social position and social responsibility or the company’s “social licence“.  But there have always been employers who do not care and who see employees only as units of labour and who believe that “if you don’t like working here, there’s the door”.  It is time for a reboot.

Many Western countries are beginning to review their OHS laws in light of the changing nature of work but these reviews continue to be based on the assumption that employers care even though the emergence of the gig economy and the new

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