The WorkSafe Victoria Business Leaders Breakfast earlier this week offered a chance for interested parties to hear from WorkSafe and its guest Rod Maule, the General Manager of Safety and Wellbeing at Australia Post. WorkSafe’s Colin Radford offered a “stump speech” that, although familiar, was important. Maule was a colourful speaker who, on reflection, wasn’t as informative as he seemed at the time.
Recently WorkSafe Victoria distributed two strategy documents to one of its reference groups. (They are not yet publicly available.) SafetyAtWorkBlog has seen the “Strategic approach to occupational health 2023-2026” and “Transport Fatality Prevention Strategic Approach 2023-2026”. The first includes the following occupational health categories:
It seems that being “mindful” is now more commonly advocated than being careful. “Mindful” has become the equivalent of “careful”, but these words have different meanings and are not interchangeable. Occupational health and safety (OHS) laws impose a Duty of Care, not a Duty of Mind.
Much of the social media discussion on Mindful vs Careful seems to originate from parental sites or well-being advocates. One example can be found here in a discussion of a child’s reaction to each of these words.Continue reading “From mindful back to careful”
Recently the annual Truck Drivers’ Memorial was held at Alexandra in Central Victoria. Worksafe Victoria’s Executive Director of Health and Safety, Dr Narelle Beer (pictured above at the memorial), spoke at the event. Her presence was welcome and important, for it reinforces the occupational health and safety (OHS) regulators’ commitment to the safety of truck drivers and not just to the risks associated with the loads there are carting.
Dr Beer said little that was new, but that is okay, as WorkSafe’s presence at workers’ memorials is about reassurance and remembrance. There were elements of her speech that should be noted by employers, and that also illustrate the difficult enforcement position of such organisations.
This is the first of, hopefully, many articles about what some of the weekend newspapers and media say about issues related to occupy national health and safety (OHS). It will not be comprehensive but short takes on what I see in the newspapers.
[Note, the article below mentions suicide and workplace bullying]
Workload and Suicide
It has been a year since an employee of the Victorian Building Authority, Rob Karkut, died by suicide. According to The Age (May 13, 2023, [paywalled] his suicide occurred:
“…amid intense pressure from the authority’s managers to meet ambitious inspection targets. A litany of failings within the organisation have been exposed since his death.”
Occupational health and safety (OHS) needs new thinking. One of the most important elements of successful OHS comes from Consultation – a sensible process and one required by law. A major process for OHS consultation in those laws is through the Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs). This legislative (recommended) option was practical but is now almost an anachronism, yet the OHS regulators continue to support the process because it is in the OHS laws. And few will speak against the process because it is being maintained by the trade union movement as one of the last legacies of political influence over workplace health and safety.
This month Queensland government released its report into the review of its Work Health and Safety laws with these two of the three categories of recommendations:
- “elevation of the role of health and safety representative (HSR) at the workplace
- clarification of the rights of HSRs and worker representatives to permit them to effectively perform the role and functions conferred upon them and to remove unnecessary disputation,….”
The absurdity of HSRs’ persistence can be illustrated by the rumour that WorkSafe Victoria will encourage sex workers to follow the HSR consultative process through the OHS guidance expected to be released later this year.
For the first time, the International Workers’ Memorial Day in Melbourne, Victoria, occurred in a park without a memorial stone with its anachronist crucifix motif. It was also thankfully sunny. The traditional location for the event in the shadow of Trades Hall was sometimes bitterly cold. The changed location was the most obvious difference to the previous ceremonies. It remains very much a trade union event when it could be so much more inclusive, even if not apolitical.
The absence of the Minister of WorkSafe, Danny Pearson, increased the focus of attention on the CEO of WorkSafe Victoria, Colin Radford. Radford’s speech was curious, with many commitments that are hard to satisfy.