What is the “All Victorians Infrastructure Fund”?

ON 22 November 2018, two days before the State Election, the Secretary of the Department of Treasury and Finance released a document called the “Release of costing of election commitment“.  Most of the media attention was on the removal of a self-imposed “debt cap” by Treasurer, Tim Pallas, but there is an interesting footnote that seems to involve using some of WorkSafe Victoria’s premium income as a dividend to fund infrastructure.

Attachment A – “Summary of Labor’s 2018 Election Commitments” – lists the following table (figures are in millions):

Footnote 3 says:

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Firefighting, WorkCover and OHS

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia – 2011 July 10: Fire fighters supporting colleague on roof gaining access to a garage on fire in an residential area.

Some years ago there was a rumour that no workers’ compensation claims by firefighters employed by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) were investigated and/or rejected by the MFB. The reason was that the United Firefighters’ Union would question any investigation on behalf of its members which would likely result in increased industrial relations tension.

Workers compensation data obtained by SafetyAtWorkBlog from the MFB under Freedom of Information seems to have scotched that rumour but does provide some interesting information which may also justify radical workplace health and safety thinking for this sector.

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Is workers’ compensation less important than other insurances?

In late July 2018, the Victorian Auditor-General Office (VAGO) released a report into the insurance risks of several Victorian local councils.  It is reasonable to expect the costs of workers’ compensation insurance to be addressed in the report but this was not the case.  Although it is clearly an insurance product, the Auditor-General excluded workers’ compensation insurance.  This position continues to sideline workers’ compensation implying to Victorian Councils, if not businesses, that it is less important than other business insurances.

The best example of this implication is found on page 48 of the report in a graph

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A WorkCover book that works

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Many consultants publish books on the understanding that a published work provides legitimacy and authority to their advice.  Sometimes these books are vanity productions but increasingly, and particularly in the safety sector, small-run publications are appearing that are well-written, well-edited and well worth reading.  The latest of these, in Australia at least, is “Workcover That Works” by Mark Stipic.

Stipic has been planning this book for some time and developed a clear strategy for this book to address the workers compensation processes in just one Australian State – Victoria.  It is not a workplace safety book but it acknowledges the role of occupational health and safety (OHS) and devotes one of its four parts to “Foundations of Success” in which Stipic discusses safety climate and culture and those management practices that minimise the likelihood of a workers compensation claim being lodged.  Continue reading “A WorkCover book that works”

Near Kill – Jim Ward speaks

Jim Ward is hardly known outside the Australian trade union movement but many people over the age of thirty, or in the occupational health and safety (OHS) profession, may remember the person Esso blamed for the Esso Longford explosion in 1998.  Just after the nineteenth anniversary of the incident that killed two workers and injured eight other, SafetyAtWorkBlog interviewed Ward about the incident but, more significantly, also about how that incident changed his world view.

For some time now Jim Ward has been the National OHS Director for the Australian Workers’ Union.  Here is a long interview with Ward that provides a useful perspective on OHS while Australia conducts its National Safe Work Month.

[Note: any links in the text have been applied by SafetyAtWorkBlog]

SAWB: Jim, what happened at Longford, and what did it mean for you.

JW:   So, on 25 September 1998, I got up out of bed and went to work, just as I’d done for the previous 18 years of my working life, at the Esso gas plant facility at Longford in Victoria.

There was nothing unforeseen or untoward about that particular day.  But due to, as one judge elegantly described it, “a confluence of events”, it turned out to be the most significant day of my life.

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