The report, authored by Dr Peter Cotton, found that the issues uncovered in the review of firefighters in the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) are not dissimilar from the findings of other inquiries into emergency service organisations like the police or the ambulance service. More…
More details are appearing of the findings of an independent inquiry into mental health and suicides in the Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB), a report whose release has been stalled by the United Firefighters’ Union (UFU).
According to the inquiry’s chair, in an article in the ABC news website, Dr Peter Cotton,
“…the MFB has a mono-culture with few women or members from diverse backgrounds, making it difficult to assess the level of bullying and harassment.”
“… the MFB does not screen for alcohol or drug use, and has a lack of policies and procedures to address drug and alcohol issues.”
“Management’s handling of complaints were found to be ad hoc and inconsistent with a “lack of will to follow up” and “give them a wide berth” thought pattern.”
“the mental health of firefighters was comparable with Victoria Police and Ambulance Victoria,…”
The latter point is useful to remember as a similar report into the Victoria Police was released earlier this year. The most recent inquiry into Ambulance Victoria was undertaken by the Victorian Auditor-General in 2016. More…
Australia’s emergency services have had several reviews into accusations of workplace bullying, harassment, mental health or suicides. Melbourne’s Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) is the latest to undergo this type of review but the United Firefighters Union (UFU) is not happy about the release of the final report, which was due out today. If the final report is consistent, a dysfunctional safety culture will be found.
According to a report in the ABC news website, the review was
“…headed by clinical psychologist Dr Peter Cotton, who wrote a similar report for Victoria Police.” [link added]
SafetyAtWorkBlog readers may recall that an earlier article on psychologically healthy workplaces included this mention of Dr Cotton
“[Dr Chris] Stevens is not blind to the shortcomings of some of the trends in the area of psychologically healthy workplaces. He agreed that the modern workplaces and workers are subject to over-diagnosis of mental health issues and paraphrased some of the work of Dr Peter Cotton who estimated around 30% of workers compensation claims for psychological injury relate to low morale and not psychiatric diagnosis.”
As Australia’s Safe Work Month closes, the media is focussed on the four fatalities at Dreamworld theme park in Queensland. That situation is complicated as, although the incident is being investigated partly under Work Health and Safety laws, the decedents were visitors to the workplace. On the other side of the continent in Perth, prior to the Dreamworld incident, was another workplace fatality, this time of a worker. Her death was no less tragic and deserves not to be forgotten, particularly as it links to other occupational health and safety (OHS) and labour issues.
According to the West Australian newspaper for October 12 2016:
“Marianka Heumann, who was on a working holiday in Australia and had been employed at the site for three months, fell 13 storeys down a ventilation shaft at the Finbar and Hanssen development on Adelaide Terrace on Monday afternoon. She was rushed to hospital but could not be saved.”
Following, ostensibly, the Four Corners exposé of labour hire exploitation in Australia last year, the Victorian Government established an inquiry. That Inquiry’s final report has been released with lots of recommendations, several pertaining to occupational health and safety (OHS). The Government’s media release response is HERE.
The main recommendations related to OHS are:
I recommend that the Model Work Health and Safety Act approach to regulating labour hire relationships be adopted in Victoria. In the absence of Victoria adopting wholesale the approach under the model laws, I recommend that Victoria adapt an approach which matches the substantive provisions under the model laws in this regard.