Addendum: Chris Smith and the prevention of harm

The earlier Chris Smith article mentioned the earlier incidents that, given his recidivism, the control measures implemented failed or were inadequate. If these incidents had involved occupational health and safety (OHS) concepts and investigations, the latest incident may never have occurred.

OHS is big on investigations and contributory factors but usually after an incident. OHS tends to identify faults and failures after the event. However, this has become the norm because OHS and employers are less able or interested in investigating incidents with lesser consequences or what OHS call Near Misses. Chris Smith had no near misses, each of the earlier “misbehaviours’ were incidents that seem not to have been investigated to the standard or depth intended in OHS.

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Other OHS politics you might have missed

November 2022 was a very busy month of politics (and a football World Cup) which distracted many of us from our usual monitoring of OHS announcements. Below is a summary of some of those from the last couple of weeks.

The South Australian Parliament has sent its Work Health and Safety (Crystalline Silica Dust) Amendment Bill to the Parliamentary Committee on Occupational Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation for inquiry and report.

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Sexual Harassment advice needs to think deeper and face the challenges

Lisa Annese‘s article is interesting but, as with many articles on sexual harassment at work, only goes so far. It is discussive rather than practical, even though it seems to promote action. Sometimes the actions are not clear enough to inspire change. Below are my thoughts on the six steps to complement Lisa’s recommendations.

Continue reading “Sexual Harassment advice needs to think deeper and face the challenges”

More OHS activists needed

The Australian Government is set to introduce new workplace sexual harassment laws and obligations through Parliament. In The Saturday Paper on November 5 2022 (paywalled), businesswoman Lucy Hughes Turnbull wrote a short article that reminds us of the purpose of the new laws.

“The whole idea of the Me Too movement and the Respect@Work report was to make workers safer. So it was surprising that the politicians who resisted some of the Jenkins recommendations are often the ones most willing to drape themselves in worker safety gear. Protection from abuse and harassment is another key aspect of safety, like guardrails and fire exit signs. Now the legal system recognises it as such.
This latest work safety bill is the best gift the parliament could give to mark the fifth anniversary of the global Me Too movement. Together with more paid parental leave and greater access to more affordable childcare, it has been a great few weeks for women and indeed all Australians.”

links added
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Minister could have spoken stronger on OHS at a business event

Recently Australia’s Minister for Resources, Madeleine King, spoke at an event hosted by the Western Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The speech aimed to reassure the State’s mining sector to not feel threatened by the new Australian Labor Party government. However, her words about sexual harassment were a little odd.

According to the publicly released speech, King said this on the issue of the labour shortage in mining and resources:

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Webinar of insight and update

Recently 700 people registered for a webinar conducted by Herbert Smith Freehills on work health and safety reforms, primarily on psychosocial risks at work. These risks were presented in various inquiries into sexual harassment, fly-in fly-out work practices but also generated new regulations, guidances and codes.

Steve Bell spoke about the responses from occupational health and safety (OHS) regulators to these issues and said:

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Worksafe Victoria’s new gendered violence campaign

WorkSafe Victoria has actively campaigned against occupational violence for the last few years. The pandemic, understandably, brought the focus onto violence against emergency services workers and healthcare staff. Recently the campaign has focussed on gendered violence at work. The intention is to be inclusive, to address the variety of violent acts and the variety of people gendered violence affects, but it is not as inclusive as it could be.

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