Marnie Williams talks of farm safety, responsibility and a radical future

WorkSafe Victoria’s CEO, Marnie Williams, has had a horrid week. Last Saturday, while being ill with a cold, she stood in for the Victorian Industrial Relations Minister at a Migrant Worker Forum, at which she was asked “what you gonna do about it?”. However she continues to make herself available, a crucial element for any leader of a regulatory agency.

Farm Safety

A couple of days later at a safety conference run by the Safety Institute of Australia,  SafetyAtWorkBlog accused WorkSafe of not doing enough about the safety of Victorian farmers. Williams rejected the accusation and forecast a new, and surprising, approach for agricultural safety.

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OHS gets talked about in WA Parliament

On 17 August 2017, Matthew Swinbourn of the Australian Labor Party spoke, at length, in the Western Australian Parliament about workplace safety.  His address did not seem to be prompted by an industrial relations dispute or a recent fatality but is supportive of general occupational health and safety (OHS) principles and the changes in WA law to improve compatibility with the Work Health and Safety laws and obligations in other States.

The response from the former Minister for Commerce and Liberal Party member, Michael Mischin,  was a curious mix of rebuttals and was one of several Parliamentarians who chose to speak about workplace safety in that State’s Legislative Council.

According to Hansard for that day, Swinbourn mentioned the substantial cost burden on individual workers and their families of workplace injuries.

“Of these costs—this was a surprising figure to me—the overwhelming majority, 95 per cent, is borne by individuals and society. Workers bore 77 per cent of those costs, the community 18 per cent and employers five per cent.”

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What is Farm Safety Week really saying about safety?

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

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Canberra Hospital demolition deserves a unified safety story

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.

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WorkSafe responds on Strategy 2030

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.

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