The risks of having an OHS policy

If you ask a lawyer for advice about any issue related to occupational health and safety (OHS) their first piece of advice is likely to be “write a policy”.  There are good legal reasons for advocating a policy, but policies can also create major problems.  Policies are both a reflection of a workplace and the base on which improvements can be created.

Search for OHS policy guidance from the Victorian Government  and it takes you to a page that describes an OHS policy as

“Laws, regulations and compliance codes which set out the responsibilities of employers and workers to ensure that safety is maintained at work.”

NO it’s not.  The page also directs you to a WorkSafe page about insurance!

WorkSafe Tasmania

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Not even lip service to OHS

Australia currently has a lot of official inquiries into workplace issues that affect the occupational health and safety (OHS) of workers.  It is almost impossible to keep up with them and, as a result, some important voices are being missed, but even if they spoke, there is a strong chance they will not be listened to. The Victorian Government has released the final report of the Inquiry into Penalty Rates and Fair Pay.  There are two overt mentions of OHS that don’t seem to go anywhere.

In a submission quoted by the Inquiry, the

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Industrial Manslaughter laws remain muddled

The Australian trade union movement is confident that Industrial Manslaughter laws will be introduced in each Australian State and Territory over the next few years.  Recently the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Law Report program looked at these laws and their discussion in the current Senate Inquiry into “The framework surrounding the prevention, investigation and prosecution of industrial deaths in Australia“.

Much of the radio program contains a general discussion about workplace fatalities with agreement that the long term trend in workplace fatalities is downwards.  But no one seems to know the reason for this trend.

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OHS outcomes of ACTU Congress 2018

Below is the list of occupational health and safety (OHS) issues for the next three years, put to the Australian Council of Trade Unions and passed, at its Congress on 18 July 2018.  Some were expected but others will cause concern, primarily, for business owners.  Perhaps the major concern is that these commitments are to be rolled out nationally.

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Independent analysis of WorkSafe activities and strategies

Barry Naismith of OHSIntros has released his latest independent research report into the status of occupational health and safety (OHS) in Victoria. (Given the inquiry into SafeWorkSA currently occurring in South Australia, I wish that State had an equivalent researcher, for context.)  Naismith focusses on WorkSafe Victoria’s aim to address the issue of workplace wellness and asks how such an approach can be enforced?

It is a positive that an OHS regulator is looking at workplace wellness which encapsulates work-related psychological hazards. 

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