The review of Australia’s OHS laws starts

In 19 February 2018, Safe Work Australia (SWA) “launched” the independent review of Australia’s Work Health and Safety laws under former Executive Director of SafeWorkSA, Marie Boland.  SWA has released a 49-page discussion paper, a summary and a list of questions.  Below is an initial response to some of those questions.

What are your views on the effectiveness of the three-tiered approach – model WHS Act supported by model WHS Regulations and model WHS Codes – to achieve the object of the model WHS laws?

The structure works well, when business owners know of the relevant documents.

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Farm newspaper supplement gets a good wrap

The Weekly Times newspaper has included an 8-page wraparound to its 7 February 2018 edition about workplace safety. The supplement is timely, the contents are indicative of cultural and political changes and the supplement is a nice summary of the multiple hazards and management approaches needed in agriculture (the same as in most industries, really).

Data quoted liberally from

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SIA receives $50K through Enforceable Undertaking

Enforceable Undertakings (EUs) are increasingly popping up in the prosecution lists of occupational health and safety (OHS) regulators.  A curious one appeared on WorkSafe Victoria’s website in January 2018.

Ardex Australia P/L was prosecuted for breaching OHS laws after a subcontractor was burnt:

“…when a dry powder mixing machine was operated whilst hot metal slag from welding activity was in the plant, causing an explosive dust-air mixture.”

But what is most curious is the EU’s inclusion of a $A50,000 donation to the Safety Institute of Australia (SIA).

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Is a new OHS consultative model required?

A crucial element in achieving the aims of the independent review into WorkSafe Victoria, as discussed in an earlier SafetyAtWorkBlog article, seems to be the operation of the Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Committee (OHSAC).  It was difficult to obtain a list of the current members of OHSAC. Due to the appointments being considered “ministerial”, WorkSafe would not reveal memberships.

But it is worth considering whether this type of tripartite-dominated committee is the most suitable or effective way of consulting on occupational health and safety issues.  Can it represent the gig economy and new work arrangements?  Given the broadening of OHS into mental health and wellness, does the current membership still represent OHS? Where’s the Human Resources representative? Does OHSAC membership fit with the diversity we now expect from our company Boards? But, above all else, does the growth in social media make these often plodding, and sometimes secretive, processes ineffective or redundant?

A spokesperson for the Victorian Government has provided the following names of current OHSAC members as at December 2017.  SafetyAtWorkBlog has added titles and links to online member profiles:

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