Leo Ruschena has been a fixture in the occupational health and safety (OHS) scene in Victoria Australia for many years. In a short while he retires from his work as an OHS Lecturer with RMIT University. Retirement often means that knowledge and wisdom becomes less accessible to the public so SafetyAtWorkBlog spent some time with him recently and asked him to reflect.
Ruschena began his career as a chemical engineer with an economics degree working for nine years at Mount Isa Mines. In the mid -1970s he received a scholarship to study occupational hygiene in London UK, achieving his Masters. At that time OHS was an emerging area of study, legislation and political discourse. As Ruschena sees it:
The Australian Human Rights Commission has released a report into the prevalence of sexual harassment and sexual assault in Australia’s university campuses. It has revealed some shocking statistics and brings Australian universities into the global phenomenon of reassessing university obligations for the modern world.
Australia’s occupational health and safety laws and obligations could be used as a structure for preventing assaults and harassment if the government and universities would be brave enough to use them.
Following a recent article about Enforceable Undertakings, several readers have asked for more information about the occupational health and safety (OHS) breaches that cause WorkSafe New Zealand to commence prosecution actions.
The investigation report provides some useful discussion on safety management failures and Board of Trustee obligations.
Enforceable Undertakings (EU) are a relatively new phenomenon in the occupational health and safety (OHS) world. They are, fundamentally, a legal process that allows organisations to avoid a prosecution for breaching OHS laws. The issue has garnered some attention recently due to application of an EU to a New Zealand school after two student actors received cuts to their throats, one on the opening night of a school production of Sweeney Todd. The Enforceable Undertaking will result in big safety changes at St Kentigern School but there are several assumptions that weaken the impact of an EU.