Submission on Labour Hire disappoints on OHS

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cover of Ai_Group_LabourHireandInsecureWork__November 2015_Final2The public submission phase for the Victorian Government’s inquiry into labour hire and insecure work closed last week.  Public hearings have occurred this week and will continue in February 2016. One industry association, the Australian Industry Group has released its submission.  Its discussion  of occupational health and safety (OHS) of labour hire workers and suppliers is very disappointing.

Representing Members

The AiGroup says, in its submission that

“The interests of both groups [labour hire companies and users of labour hire], as well as the interests of the broader community, are best protected by ensuring that a competitive market is maintained for the provision of labour hire services, and that impediments to competition are removed.” (page 4)

It could be argued that the competitive market has allowed unscrupulous labour hire suppliers to succeed as they have been offering the cheapest labour.  These suppliers have succeeded, mostly, because there is a ready market for opportunities to maximise profit by reducing the legal rights of workers.  A competitive market may help fix the problem but it is also a problem that it helped create. Continue reading “Submission on Labour Hire disappoints on OHS”

The 39 (per cent) Steps

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ISCRR IICOT 251115 editAt lunchtime today, the Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research (ISCRR) conducted a short seminar of five 7-minute presentations, predominantly, from academic researchers.

The most significant statistic provided was by Dr Genevieve Grant who said that only 39% of injured workers submit claims for workers compensation.  The significance is that the Australian government, OHS regulators and policy makers rely on the number of claims being a measure of the level of workplace safety.

This figure illustrates the absurdity of many of the statements made about which is the safest State in Australia.   Continue reading “The 39 (per cent) Steps”

OHS ROI pilot research in Queensland

Work Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) recently revealed some early research into the Return on Investment (ROI) of occupational health and safety (OHS) controls. (Thanks to a reader for pointing it out) According to its website:

“Recent pilot research in several Queensland  organisations found clear evidence of the cost effectiveness of safety interventions, including:

  • an automatic shrink wrapping machine at Rexel’s Tingalpa distribution centre that had an ROI of around $1.82 for every $1 of costs, and a payback of upfront costs of less than three years
  • an ergonomics intervention at BP Wild Bean Cafés with an ROI of $2.74 for every $1 of costs and a payback within the first month
  • a workplace health and wellbeing program at Port of Brisbane that had an ROI of $1.58 for every $1 of costs and a payback of 15 months.”

None of this “pilot research” is publicly available so it is not possible to verify the data. (WHSQ has been contacted for further information for a follow up blog article)  

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Drug and alcohol testing does not improve workplace safety, so why have it?

cover of EN455_NCETA_2011-2 Testing for drug and alcohol effects in workplaces sounds sensible but what do you do when there is no evidence that it improves worker safety or reduces risk? Apparently ignore the evidence, create industrial tension and impose unnecessary costs on industry.

The Australian national government and the Victorian (State) government have both pledged to introduce drug and alcohol testing for the construction sector.  The Victorian Government also promised to introduce drug and alcohol testing for parliamentarians but everyone expects a backdown on that election pledge.

Recently two researchers in Adelaide, Ken Pidd and Anne Roche published a research paper in Accident Analysis & Prevention asking “how effective is drug testing as a workplace safety strategy?“.  The abstract states:

“…the evidence base for the effectiveness of testing in improving workplace safety is at best tenuous.”

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Building a better future but maybe not a safer one

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Cover of ACTU Blueprint 2015The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has a strong commitment to safe and healthy workplaces in Australia and would likely assert that nothing is more important than the safety of workers. However the latest submission to government on economic and social reform, “Building a Better Future – a Strong Economy for All” (not yet available online), has missed the chance to bring occupational health and safety (OHS) into the current policy debate on economic and productivity reforms. Continue reading “Building a better future but maybe not a safer one”