Industrial Manslaughter laws are spreading in Australia but are inconsistent

This year the South Australian Parliament will likely pass that State’s Industrial Manslaughter (IM) legislation as the introduction of these laws was an election commitment of the new Labor government. The consultation period on the draft Bill closes on February 10 2023 after being open for just over two months.

New South Wales may follow if the Labor Party wins the March 2023 election

Industrial Manslaughter laws under the broader occupational health and safety (OHS) continue to be contentious as a new research paper by Professor Richard Johnstone shows. However, the introduction of IM laws will forever be a political act at its core.

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Zombies, Ghosts and OHS

This holiday season, in between new Val McDermid and Michael Connelly detective novels, I have dipped into a small book called “Zombie Ideas – Why Failed Policy Ideas Persist” in my quest to understand why occupational health and safety (OHS) is not as influential on companies and public policies as I think it should be.

The book is less than 60 pages but dense with ideas that I need a discussion group to fully understand, but there are some useful concepts that may help clarify the policy role, settings and effects of OHS and workers’ compensation.

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Serious questions about WorkSafe Victoria’s financial sustainability

Shortly after Christmas 2022, the Australian Associated Press (AAP) released an article about the financial status of the Victorian Workcover Authority. The article was about a 2020 review of the financial sustainability of the workers’ compensation scheme by insurance and actuarial firm, Finity. This was built upon in a couple of mainstream newspapers.

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How could OHS have helped manage Chris Smith?

SkyNews and radio host, Chris Smith, has been dismissed due to inappropriate behaviour at a company Christmas party. This type of behaviour has been on the occupational health and safety (OHS) and Industrial Relations radar for a long, long time. Recently the psychological impacts of this type of behaviour have come to the fore, placing the issue clearly in the OHS realm.

It is useful to look at the Chris Smith saga through the “new” OHS perspective.

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The bubble has burst. Bring on the next one.

The legal action by Self-Employed Australia’s Ken Phillips to hold the Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, ministers and senior bureaucrats accountable for COVID-19-related deaths stemming from the failure of the hotel quarantine program appears to have failed. At least it has in the courts, fringe community and political views still exist saying that Andrews should be pursued for murder or industrial manslaughter.

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Will WorkSafe need to become a VicSafe to address climate change?

Occupational health and safety (OHS) professionals are largely aware of the latest international standard for OHS management systems, ISO45001. This is the core standard for businesses to assess their safe systems of work. Others will be aware of the supplementary guidance to ISO45001, like ISO45003 -guidelines for managing psychosocial risks at work.

Recently Phillipe KL Lai Choo spoke about some of the other OHS guidances due for release or development. One of those relates to climate change which could create unexpected changes to how OHS is regulated and enforced.

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Dan Andrews and “safe jobs” and People versus Profit

“Jobs” is a term regularly used in election campaigns as creating jobs can provide wealth directly to those working and less directly to their employers. But rarely are “safe jobs” mentioned.  The Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews mentioned “safe jobs” in his campaign speech for the election later this month.  Perhaps more interesting is his pledge to put people before profit.

Andrews was speaking of his success in creating 600,000 jobs since he came to power eight years ago.  He said:

“…..when we came to government, we promised we’d get Victoria back to work. Since then, we’ve created nearly 600,000 jobs. More than 300,000 since September 2020. But it’s not just jobs. We want them to be good, secure, safe jobs. It’s why we introduced Australia’s first-ever wage theft laws. And it’s why we made workplace manslaughter exactly what it is: a crime. But when it comes to making Victoria stronger, safer and fairer, our work is far from over.”

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