With little surprise, at the Australian Labor Party (ALP) Conference in Victoria on 26 May 2018, Premier Daniel Andrews has included the introduction of Industrial Manslaughter laws as a formal part of the campaign for re-election in November 2018.
According to his media release, if re-elected,
“.., employers will face fines of almost $16 million and individuals responsible for negligently causing death will be held to account and face up to 20 years in jail.
A re-elected Andrews Labor Government will make sure all Victorians are safe in our workplaces, with the offence to also apply when an employer’s negligent conduct causes the death of an innocent member of the public..”
There are a lot of steps between an incident and Industrial Manslaughter charges.
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.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) released two statistical reports on May 16 2018, one concerns eye injuries and the other, hospitalised injuries. Some occupational injury data is readily accessible, particularly on eye injuries.
“Eye injuries in Australia 2010–11 to 2014–15” states this about occupational injuries Continue reading “Good data but never enough”
There seems to be a growing community frustration with regulators who hesitate to prosecute about breaches of laws, including occupational health and safety (OHS) laws, and about options that sound reasonable, like Enforceable Undertakings, but still let businesses “off the hook”. The calls for Industrial Manslaughter laws are the most obvious manifestations of the anger and frustration from perceived injustices.
But perhaps there was another way to achieve change in workplace safety, a way that could be based on a model that Australia and other countries already have.
Each year thousands of people express support for International Workers Memorial Day and the World Day for Safety and Health at Work publicly and through social media. This is a statement of their commitment to occupational health and safety (OHS) as well as a call to continue action in improving workplace health and safety. However, this usually does not add to the state of knowledge on OHS.
This year there was a couple of contributions of information that may be useful. Shine Lawyers released the findings of a recent survey (not yet available online) into why workers do not report workplace incidents. The survey was largely overlooked by the media, perhaps because the full survey results have not been released publicly.