Safety costs of harmonised laws revealed

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The Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) on Australia’s Work Health and Safety laws has been released and will be available through the Safe Work Australia website shortly (probably today given the media attention).  Much attention will be given to the cost estimates of the laws’ introduction but the 336-page RIS seen by SafetyAtWorkBlog  emphasises in the Executive Summary that

“While monetary values of impacts are estimated and an appropriate sensitivity analysis is undertaken, these results should be treated with some caution given the uncertainties associated with estimating changes in work health and safety benefits. Greater weight should be given to the general direction that the estimates suggest is the likely outcome from these reforms.”

This important point is likely to be lost in some of the expected argy-bargy over economic impacts and cost v benefit.

The core figures provided in the RIS are:

“While there will be one‐off implementation costs, the quantitative analysis undertaken at the national level for adopting the model WHS Regulations indicates net benefits (i.e. after implementation costs) of around $250 million per annum to the Australian economy over each of the next 10 years. This estimate does not include expected productivity benefits. While noting the difficulties Continue reading “Safety costs of harmonised laws revealed”

Regulatory Impact Statement to be released on 14 September 2011

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According to a media release from Senator Chris Evans, the Australian Minister for Workplace Relations,  the Regulatory Impact Statement for the new OHS regulations will be released today, 14 September 2011.  The release is not yet publicly available on-line so the full text is included below:

New health and safety regulations to boost national productivity

“Historic health and safety reforms will deliver up to $2 billion a year in productivity gains Minister for Workplace Relations, Senator Chris Evans said today.

The Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) for the harmonisation of health and safety regulations released today confirms the economic benefit of a national OHS system and demonstrates that the reforms are on track to be implemented by 1 January 2012.

“The Statement vindicates COAG’s decision in 2008, and the Gillard Government’s determination to pursue OHS harmonisation as a key economic reform,” Senator Evans said. Continue reading “Regulatory Impact Statement to be released on 14 September 2011”

Individual accountability – the Great Leap Backward (and into a legislative maze)

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Col Finnie, formerly WorkSafe Victoria’s Principal Legislation Officer, looks at what the notion of individual accountability might look like if it was incorporated in the Work Health and Safety Bill, all done with his tongue firmly jammed in his cheek

It’s a good thing new perspectives about getting Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) right are tossed around.  We love that sort of thing in OHS-World.  But this sort of stuff, that used to be called “blue sky thinking”, needs the next step: head out of the clouds, feet on the ground and working out whether that ostensibly good idea will actually work, how it will work, and what will be the consequences.  That reality-check can have that ostensibly interesting notion turn into no more than a puff of an idea; I think individual accountability is like that.

It seems that individual accountability is being touted as a contemporary “issue” for OHS.  The context of the tout would appear to be that OHS will be better if everyone takes more direct responsibility for OHS in the workplace, i.e. everyone was more accountable for “how things are done” around a workplace.  And yep, accountability and responsibility are different things, but not by much; clearly ya can’t be held accountable for stuff in the absence of any responsibility for that stuff at all. Continue reading “Individual accountability – the Great Leap Backward (and into a legislative maze)”

Free October 2001 safetyATWORK magazine

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SafetyAtWorkBlog evolved out of an online publication, safetyATWORK.  In 2001, safetyATWORK published a special edition of the magazine focussing on the OHS issues related to the collapse of the World Trade Centre (WTC) in September 2011.  That special edition is now available as a free download through the cover image on the right.

The magazine contains:

  • an article by Lee Clarke on planning for the worst-case scenarios;
  • an interview with Peter Sandman,
  • an article by me, Kevin Jones,

and other articles concerning

OHS will eventually need to address the big climate change impacts

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The latest edition of the Journal of Occupational Medicine (JOM) (Vol 61. No 5 Aug 2011) includes a short article on the occupational impact of climate change, an issue that must be addressed in the work context and one that places additional challenges for those involved with safe design.

The JOM article lists the following hazard categories that are likely to affect workplaces and activities:

  • “Increased ambient temperature (global warming) and resultant climate changes,
  • Increased air pollution (resulting from increased temperatures, ozone levels and airborne particles),
  • Ultraviolet (UV) radiation,
  • Extremes of weather (resulting from global climate change),
  • Vector-borne diseases and expanded habitat,
  • Industrial transitions and emerging technologies,
  • Changes to built environment.”

It is unlikely that employers will try to tackle climate change through OHS considerations as there are far more important economic pressures.  OHS, in this context, can only be reactive but several of the issues mentioned above are likely to substantially change work methods and planning. Continue reading “OHS will eventually need to address the big climate change impacts”