This week is Farm Safety Week in Australia. This means that a lot of organisations will be issuing media releases about how to either, improve safety performance (ie. reduce harm) or raise awareness of risks and safety. What is likely to be missing from the information is practical information. This is partly because of the unique nature of farmers – isolated, small businesses, politically conservative and working from home.
Safe Work Australia
On the first day of the week Safe Work Australia (SWA) released an
It is the twentieth anniversary of the explosive demolition of the Canberra Hospital. The demolition was meant to be an implosion but instead debris scatter well outside the designated safety zone resulting in the death of one person and injuries to nine. Such events are significant at the time but fade from memory until anniversaries are noted, however, there are important occupational health and safety (OHS) lessons from such incidents which do not have the drama of a Piper Alpha or a Challenger but are nevertheless as instructive.
Last week SafetyAtWorkBlog wrote about the release of a WorkSafe Victoria Strategy 2030 discussion paper. WorkSafe has responded to a series of questions that were clear and straightforward. The response is largely unhelpful.
“The discussion paper seeks feedback on WorkSafe’s next long term strategy which will support an even greater focus on injury prevention, the provision of tailored services and empathetic support to every injured worker and the transformation of WorkSafe into a technologically agile organisation.
The discussion paper has been promoted with a series of community seminars across the state, shared on social media, and sent to our employees and key stakeholders to promote and encourage feedback among their networks.
Workplace safety affects every Victorian which is why we are seeking the views of employers, workers and the broader community.
A summary of the feedback will be made available on the WorkSafe website before the end of the year.”
The questions asked by SafetyAtWorkBlog are listed below.
Victoria Australia has had a network of safety groups for well over 40 years with two or three enduring into this century. On 5 July 2017, the Ballarat Regional Occupational Safety and Health Group (BROSH) held an interactive seminar on Return-To-Work (RTW). The discussion was not revolutionary but allowed the audience – a mix of businesses, OHS professionals and students – to speak about their lived experiences with managing injured workers.
I brought the WorkSafe 2030 Strategy discussion paper to the audience’s attention and a WorkSafe representative from the seminar’s panel, pictured above, said that there are several weird technical suggestions for workplace inspections and advice emerging from the discussion within the OHS regulator. However the strategy is focussed always on the client and that it is “prevention-led”. OHS is all about the prevention of illness and injury but it appears that WorkSafe is extending this term to RTW.
The representative explained that the regulator is looking at interventions that prevent an injury or illness claim transforming into, or contributing to, another and new injury. They hope that by focussing on the injured worker and providing the right level of advice and support, the will achieve the best RTW outcome for all involved.
One of the questions from the audience was if there is a better RTW and workers’ compensation system that Victoria could move to or learn from. The panel agreed that the Victorian system seems to be leading Australia in terms of its financial health but, more importantly, the level of care and support options provided to injured workers.
The BROSH seminar was well attended and the audience was active, which largely resulted from the innovative and engaging seminar structure.
WorkSafe Victoria has released a discussion paper in support of its development of a WorkSafe Strategy 2030 but you wouldn’t know it. At the time of writing – there is no mention of it on the Facebook page, nothing on its news website. The paper is only available through this rarely used community engagement page.
One of this blog’s readers drew attention to this paragraph on page 8 which indicates that WorkSafe Victoria is basing part of this discussion paper on recent reports which seem to include the Independent OHS Review which is yet to be publicly released:
“A number of independent reviews undertaken recently have also highlighted opportunities for us to strengthen our approach to regulating health and safety in Victorian workplaces, and in further supporting injured workers.
We know in some cases we are not meeting the expectations of the community, and the outcomes of these reviews are informing the development of our strategy, and the way we deliver our services in the future.”
It would be good to know what failed community expectations are being referred to.