Detention Royal Commission touches on workplace safety

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In June 2016, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation showed an investigation report into the detention of children who had broken the law in the Northern Territory.  The revelations of maltreatment were so confronting that a Royal Commission was announced by the Australian Government very shortly after.  The Commission’s final report was tabled in Parliament on November 17 2017.

All Australian workplaces are subject to clear occupational health and safety duties and obligations that relate to workers and to those who may be affected by the workplace and activities.  (The SafetyAtWorkBlog article “Royal Commission into juvenile detention should include OHS” discusses this at length.)

A brief search of the Final Report of the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory shows an acknowledgement of the OHS perspective but with little discussion of it. Continue reading “Detention Royal Commission touches on workplace safety”

Extraordinary, quiet, policy change at WorkSafe Victoria

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In April 2017, WorkSafe Victoria created consternation in the farming sector by stating that farmers who own quad bikes must fit operator protection devices (OPDs) to the vehicles in order to operate them safely. The quad bike manufacturers took WorkSafe Victoria to the Supreme Court and, according to various media statements, the issue was dismissed before getting to Court and everybody won! On 26 October 2017, the current policy position of WorkSafe Victoria on operator protection devices (OPDs) was clarified.

Continue reading “Extraordinary, quiet, policy change at WorkSafe Victoria”

Safety Awards nights are important but need constant maintenance

As October is Australia’s Safe Work Month there are several awards evenings. On 19 October 2017, Victoria’s WorkSafe conducted theirs.  It was a sedate evening in comparison to previous events.  Very few tables whoop-ed their nominations,  the MC did not leer at the female waiters and none of the winners danced across the stage.  But there were a couple of notable moments.

Richard Wallace

The most obvious was the standing ovation one winner received from the entire audience.

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Industrial Manslaughter arguments cover old ground

The Queensland Government is in the middle of a debate in Parliament and the media about the introduction of industrial manslaughter as an offence related to serious occupational health and safety (OHS) breaches.  It is both a good and a bad time for this debate. The laws are likely to pass but the debate is showing old arguments, weak arguments, political expediency and union-bashing but not a lot about improvement in workplace safety.

Timeline

Following two major fatal workplace incidents, in April 2017 the Government established an

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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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